Had a short game - we had to integrate a new player and needed to stop a bit short. Anyway, Pherin, the new character, was supposed to go with the others , but had been away on a retreat, Yes, a retreat, He was an alchemist, an herbalist, and something of a soldier. The Company found him, hustled him on a fast ship to Straum, and he figured out where the rest would be crossing from ar Jinnyah and went there.
Now he had been waiting for two days on the top of the cliffs above the Hole, avoiding the Straum border patrols, and waiting for the others to cross the ten mile wide Hole. The others were flying mostly owls, he knew, and he needed some way to signal them without the heron mounted Straum patrols seeing the signal. That day he had brewed a potion from concentrates of Fire Flower, for fire, and Brain Fruit, for concentration. This he unstoppered and poured on the ground. A spot of intense heat without fire grew. The owls, with their fantastic night sight would see it if they passed over.
Meanwhile, at the fall of night, the others left the "safety" of the cavern and headed aloft up the Hole. They spiraled up far out in the hole, miles from the cliff face, where patrols marched and flew, then flew inland over the Straum border. Arjuna and Kumar noticed the Owls were all agitated about something on the ground, right near the cliff. They talked - well, yelled to each other - about it, and decided it was just Straum patrols. Sanjay and Nadila, overhearing this, reminded the others that Pharis might be waiting there instead of in the Straum capital. He *was* supposed to join them when he could. At the insistence of Sanjay and Nadila, Arjuna "volunteered" to fly his kiwi in and see. Nadila would cover him with her bow.
Pherin heard the whirring of wings, and making his Lore check, identified it as a kiwi, which only Arjuna's family bred and rode. He never heard the owls of course, as they were like ghosts in the night. Arjuna came in and landed, on confirming it was Pherin. He and Pherin talked for a moment, as Pherin gathered his things. Up above, Nadila got mischievous and sent an arrow thunking into the ground beside Pherin. Pherin stared at it like it was a snake.
Arjuna figuring Nadila would never let a Straum air patrol get above them without warning, knew she was playing a game and decided to play along. "Run!" he shouted. "They've found us!" Two more arrows thunked into the earth, bracketing Pherin. ""I'll hold them off while you hide!" Arjuna said as he fired into the air, nowhere near where the others would be. Pherin ran to the edge of the cliff, and scrambled out onto a ledge just under the lip, where he should be invisible.
As he looked up, three shadows blocked out the stars above him as they silently glided in to land on the cliff top, Nadila howling with laughter. Realizing he had been had, Pherin sedately walked back up to the top of the cliff, to the razzing of his friends. "Where you been?" "What's a retreat? That doesn't sound very soldierly, does it." "That was nice retreat - right off the cliff!" He put up with it, in his oddly distracted manner, and loaded his stuff on the back of the birdmaster's owl. He himself had just scrambled up behind Nadila when three flaming javelins flew through the air and thudded into the ground all around them.
"It's the patrol! They've found us!" shouted Arjuna. "Go! Go! Go!" Nadila and Pherin, Sanjay and Kumar, and Arjuna few off into the night, but Rupta, the birdmaster, was not so lucky. Three arrows shot through his chest, and dead, he fell forward out of the saddle, slamming his bird's head into the rocks at the edge of the cliff. The bird, who had also taken several arrows, plummeted off the cliff and down the hole. If it wasn't dead, they'd never find it again. "My things! My alchemy kit!" shouted Pherin. "It's gone!" shouted Nadila. "Get over it! You can afford a new one!"
Through the night, they streaked over mountainous Straum, flying just above the treetops. Just after first light, they spied a hanging valley above the valley they were flying down. On climbing up to it, they found an abandoned rookery - a place where giant birds were raised and bred. It had been abandoned not too long ago, and there were lots of buildings still standing. They brought the owls into a huge barn designed to house birds, and went to sleep.
About mid-day, as Pherin was on watch, he noticed a large naval ship flying right towards the hanging valley. He woke they others up and they had plenty of time to secrete themselves around the barn before the ship landed. It few up and dropped an anchor, then a strange rope and bamboo scaffolding folded down from the ship's belly. Sky sailors swarmed down the scaffolding, hauling lines and staking out the ship with a web of lines and stakes. Meanwhile, others swaggered off to another of the buildings, from which they hauled six two-meter cubed boxes on sledges, twelve men to each hauling on the ropes. They started to bring the boxes up to the ship through the scaffolding.
Arjuna and Nadila were high up in the bird barn, in sniper positions. Arjuna motioned to Nadila, and they sneaked across the grounds of the rookery, dodging behind buildings. The sky sailors didn't even look. They went to the barn the sailors were dragging the boxes from, and crept inside. There were four more boxes, just like the first six, and no one was watching. "Nadila whispered "Should we tell the others?" Arjuna agreed, so she wrote a quick note, wrapped it around an arrow, and sent it into the side of the bird barn, right next to Sanjay.
Arjuna opened one of the boxes, and slipped inside, while Sanjay came across without informing the other. Nadila told him that Arjuna had gone into one of the boxes, and Sanjay went into another. Sanjay scuffled around and found under the excelsior that the box was filled with books. He popped out of the box, and returned to Nadila, who informed him that Arjuna never left his box. Unfortunately, at this time, the sky sailors returned and began hitching up all four boxes. At Sanjay's plea, Nadila Faked him out as a sailor, and he tailed onto a rope behind the last sailor on the last box, and was brought up into the ship.
Meanwhile, in the barn, Kumar recognized his lover Sanjay disguised as a sky sailor. He told Pherin, and they crept out to the scaffolding as the last sailors swarmed up to the ship. Pherin and Kumar used a potion of web shooting to stick themselves to the underside of the scaffolding floor, and they were brought up to the ship as well. Nadila stayed behind, thinking she had to watch Kumar and Pherin, not realizing they had gone as well.
Sanjay, with his tattoos and eyepatch, fit right in among the sky sailors, as did Kumar, but Pherin wwas an aristocrat, and the Chief of the Boat caught on to him in no time, and took him off to see the Captain.
End of session