The revelation about the gloves was interesting, valuable, and as usual, confusing. The two clerics seemed determined to while away many hours discussing its relevance and meaning, and so it was that the other four members of the party started to get bored. At first, they retreated to an out of the way place where they might discuss further Blueblood’s decision not to accompany them on their next big adventure – to the lands of Vahassa. Although some of this conversation revolved around friendship, camaraderie, and devotion to the group, much of this discussion was about drums. Since they did not seem to fully know the nature of the drums and their spread, they decided to let their feet take them to Chan Ma Rai, where they could ask the wizards there more about the thumping bass menace.
It became apparent that the large drums did not simply create sound, but shook things, people, to such an extent that rest was impossible even in complete silence. They had a radius of about five or so miles, and did not beat constantly – ever four hours was enough to prevent any spellcaster from memorising. Along with these, every smaller detached tribe seems to have smaller drums that travel with their units, which are just as capable of disturbing rest, albeit in a smaller area. This seemed only to strengthen Blueblood’s resolve – he more than ever believed he would be of little use in Vahassa, and so the conversation turned from why Blueblood was not coming, to what he expected to achieve if he stayed behind. It was apparent Blueblood felt he could to much – complete taskings for the Merchant Mages Guild, learn more about the rogue mage who attacked them under Ken Ta Ral, perhaps even study under a dragon. These things seemed more like dreams (or in the case of serving the merchant mage guild, nightmares) to the rest of the group, rather than things that might actually take place. But as they exited the tower to move on, their own thoughts were interrupted by a familiar sounding bellow.
Moving across the courtyard towards them was a large minotaur, criss-crossed in leather wrappings, wielding a large, angry looking scythe type weapon – Fecundus, the one whom had bested Kage in a single duel outside Ken Ta Ral. Vargas had promised to fight him the next time they met – well, here he was. But what the party did not have presently were its clerics, and Vargas was not keen on getting himself pasted by this hearty warrior without a hope for healing. So he refused, like a coward. Fecundus let him know as much, and then passed his hand over the rest of the group – would none of them fight him? With such a challenge, of course, a Kensai could not refuse. Kage, somewhat unwillingly, but in defence of his honour and that of the group, stepped forward, and nodded to the minotaur. Fecundus was more than happy to go for a second round with Kage, describing him as an honourable warrior, and when Kage suggested they take it outside the gates, Fecundus was willing to wait the few moments it took to get outside.
The battle was swift, it was bloody, and it was both honourable and viscious. In these ways, it was the same as the last battle. There was one important, vital difference this time – Kage’s speed, the flashing of his twin blades this time too much for Fecundus. Kage had learned his lesson – to get within the long reach of the mighty blade, and do his damage quickly. The minotaur fell, bleeding quite considerably, and it took some effort from Blueblood to save his life. However, he managed to get the bleeding battler back to consciousness. Fecundus thanked Kage for the battle, saying he was a true warrior of skill, and giving him a magic ring, that made Kage feel warm inside. But there was more than just a feeling of warmth at the acceptance of the ring. Indeed, there was more than even savouring the victory over his foe. It was almost as if this meeting was meant to be – as if in drinking that potion from the temple of Hesed, the god of mercy had not only restored Kage to what he was before the fight with the shadow monsters, but had even restored his opportunity to prove himself as a kensai. Perhaps this was a blessing to Kage for his own mercy, in choosing not to utilise the gift of Paliyl against someone who sought only an honourable battle.
No sooner was the minotaur bandaged up an sent in the direction of the Hesed temple that the party were approached by a myconid, as always with a caravan slowly towed by an oxen. This caravan had several large amphorae, seemingly empty by the way they tonked against each other in the back of the caravan. This myconid, whose name was apparently Wish, had been sent to collect some royal jelly from a giant bumblebee hive, for a celebration at Pa Dimeh for the ogre queen. Since Kage and Blueblood were from there, seemed capable fighters, and also were part of a party that seemed quite interested in earning a few gold coins (200 each, to be precise), there was little reason to turn the offer down. Indeed, they had a plan by which to gain the assistance of an acolyte of Carna – since the bee’s hive was apparently in the sacred grove – to go and speak with the bees, and therefore hopefully deal with them without resorting to violence. Blueblood was able to turn the amphorae into paper, so they were easily carried, and the next morning the group set off to the sacred grove. There, they went first to the place of the Carnites, finding a goblin acolyte who was more than willing to assist them in their endeavour, encouraging them in their seeking a peaceful resolution with nature.
She led them into the depths of the grove, where the trees and the flowers seemed to swell in size. Obviously, if there were going to be giant bees around, they were likely to be found with the giant flowers. Their hive, it seemed, was wedged into the cleft of two rocks, and there could be heard a loud humming buzz coming from within. A huge, fuzzy bumblebee climbed out from the rocks and sped off on buzzing wings into the forest, and a few minutes later another returned – obviously things were business as usual in bee town. That is, until an emissary from the Carna grove came to visit. Performing her ritual, she was granted by Carna the ability to speak with the bees, and made an effort to speak with the queen bee. However, the queen bee was less than impressed. She felt that the party had come to simply take what they wanted, and were asking politely more to salve their consciences than because they really respected her rule over this little part of the forest. They did not ask permission to approach, and they had not put any thought into what they might offer as a tribute to her, in order to then ask her for some honey.
The goblin buzzed away at the queen for a few more moments, and they sought to work through her demands. She wanted a myconid to eat. Or, she would accept a kender slave who would tend to a herd of goats for them to eat. There was a little more toing and froing, the exact words of which were not to be heard, because as she turned to translate to the party, a large bumblebee flew out of the nest, and stung the cleric through the heart, dropping her instantly to the ground in death. Five more bees buzzed out of the hive, swarming around the adventurers in a buzzing, stinging frenzy. Many stings were had, and with them much pain, but the bees were eventually all dispatched, leaving only the buzzing hum to come from within the cleft of the rock.