Hellride to Greymoor

On the path down to Arden, just as Finn is about to commence shifting, a small garrison of mounted rangers pulls aside as they ride by. As Finn trots by, he recognizes the men he led in Arden for some time. They are well equipped and ready for an expedition.

The path is dark and the half moon can barely light the dirt they ride on. As the trees begin to thin, the lot of them can feel Shadow shifting around them, slowly at first, then the moon's light becomes more intense and they can see enough of the path to increase their speed.

Finn concentrates on the destination, shifting things to ease their passage at first. Less trees… A clear path… A downward valley…

Then changes begin to occur naturally as the four travelers are increasing the speed of their mount again. White and grey rocks begin to pop up on the horizon.

Grey rocks… The scenery changes dramatically as Finn concentrates on a single element. Wind picks up and blows autumn leaves everywhere… The grassy fields have yellowed… The moon's light changes to a heavy blue hue… The sound of hoofbeats dulls out as the path changes to looser dirt…

horse. "Back!" she commands of both Blake and Demon, though she won't be surprised if all the horses took it as a command to them too because it was just a good idea. Just as Finn leaps clear, and in a show of almost mind-boggling ability, Rebecca snapped her whip and wrapped it around Finn's waist and used it to bring him back to the yet unmoving earth.

As Finn shoves the crates out of the sinking area, it begins to widen. Finn's foot is stuck briefly in the crumbling dirt, but he is able to dislodge it and climb the cart quickly. The area has sunk about four feet and widens to 8 feet in diameter, it will soon engulf the entire cart. Rocks the size of heads begin to fall from the left side of the canyon.

Finn is about to make a leap for solid ground when the whip wraps about him and swings him to better footing near to Rebecca and Demon. He lands in a crouch, and once he's on solid ground, stands up and heads for the crates.

"Can't take ya nowhere, can I?" Rebecca calls to Finn. She sounds more annoyed then concerned, but he can see both clearly in her eyes. The whip stays around him for now, but she turns her eyes to watching the sinkhole. "We need ta get outta here, Finn. Grab what ya can and c'mon!"

He does not reply to Rebecca's warning, because it would just be adding to the obvious; of course they had to move.

"No, no, no," Faylinn murmurs, leaning forward slightly in the saddle.

Kade grimaces, his left hand moving to his temple. He concentrates on his surroundings once more and barks out an almost enraged, "Aagh! Not today thank you sirrah!"

The sinkhole itself stops expanding very suddenly and everything goes very quiet and still. The tension that was building in this place has seemingly faded. The rocks are held in place by Faylinn's sorcery. The expression of intense concentration never leaves Kade's face although he does smile mirthlessly as he gazes into the middle distance.

"We should make an attempt to be brief here," Faylinn remarks. "I have a spell up to hold the earth, but earth is not the easiest realm to contest unknown powers in…"

Finn grabs his bedroll from Blake, and uses it like a sack, throwing as much ammo into it as he can, and sliding firearms into it as swiftly as possibly. He tucks two pistols behind his belt, and grabs up a rifle for himself, tossing a shotgun to Rebecca. He seals up the bedroll, and ties it across Blake's rump as if it were body-bag. Then he mounts up, "Everybody out! Go! Go! Rebecca you lead them out! Faylinn, you go ahead of me, I have th rear! Go!"

She holsters her pistol to catch the shotgun, which she quickly slipped into the long pocket insider her duster meant to carry her rifle. Rebecca's whip stays around Finn until he's tying on the bedroll. Then she flicks the leather wrapped handle as she leaps back into Demon's saddle and the length of leather is snapped back into her gloved hand.

Demon rears, spins and bellows at the Poppin and Sha'lee to follow him as he gallops between them. Rebecca's pistol is out again as she leans low over Demon's neck, heading for the exit and keeping an eye out for the Black Road that had seemed to followed them.

Sha'lee seems to hesitate but follows Demon while Arkadios is concentrating intensely.

As they exit the canyon, they see a great amount of dust on the horizon… Riders! Twenty, maybe thirty of them! They are a fair distance away and hard to discern, but are definitely headed to the canyon.

Arkadios is very suddenly and powerfully kicked off of Sha'lee by something unseen. He is shaken for a few moments, semi-conscious and dazed. Sha'lee is bucking frantically.

Holding his head Kade tries to stand but falls to the ground, tears stream from his eyes and a slurred exclamation erupts from his mouth, "Naooo!"

Demon wheels around and Rebecca vaults off his back towards Sha'lee. She goes for the reins while trying to calm the frightened mare. Demon skids to a stop near Kade and takes up what looks like a guard position.

"Sha'lee! Whoa! Calm, girl. Tell me what's wrong so we can fix it!"

Rebecca can tell that Sha'lee is not just surprised by Kade being attacked. She's been spooked by something, as if she, herself, had come under attack. She tries to pull away from Rebecca violently.

The moment everyone is clear of the canyon mouth, Faylinn releases her spell. Then she hauls her mare to a stop a few feet from Rebecca and Kade, turning her to face the approaching riders.

"Beasts! Monsters everywhere! I've seen them!!!" ** Sha'lee bucks and pulls, screaming into Rebecca's head **"LET ME GET OUT OF HERE!!!"

Rebecca is stronger then the horse, and she digs her heels in and holds on to the reins. "It's a trick, Sha'lee!" Rebecca yells between the horses fearful bellowing. "It is just us! We want to leave, but we can't until you calm down."

"Demon! Tell her!"

Rocks crumble and the area is quickly leveled. A great cloud of dust engulfs the entire area and it has become hard to see further than fifty feet. The sun's light is quite eerie, filtered in these conditions. This does not help Sha'lee's condition…

"Rebecca!" Faylinn calls. "Don't let her run towards those riders, or we will be down one horse! I am attempting to buy us time to deal with whatever that was." She gestures loosely in the direction of Kade.

Rebecca doesn't even bother responding to that. She is well aware of the situation. Giving up on the usual way of doing things, Rebecca moves herself to Sha'lee's side. and the next second the mare's front hooves are on the ground, Rebecca leaps into the saddle, swinging herself up by the saddlehorn and a handful of mane. She waits for Sha'lee to toss her head again and grabs the reins in midair. The horse is too spooked for common sense, and Rebecca has to fall back on the physical techniques used for breaking the wild ones. She wraps the reins around her wrists, not giving the mare much freedom of movement.

"Dammit, Sha'lee! I ain't let nothin' hurt ya before, and I ain't gonna start now! But ya got ta control yerself!" She jerks the reins to get her attention to the much calmer Poppin. "Look! What yer seein' ain't real!"

Demon puts in his two cents, trying to explain it so the mare will understand before she hurts herself.

Strong winds begin to move the dust away. With Demon and Rebecca helping, Sha'lee begins to settle down, but is very fearful.

Dismounting, Rebecca digs through her saddlebags, and comes up with an apple. She uses one of her daggers to force a hole through the middle that doesn't quite go all the way through. Reaching into her duster, Rebecca pulls out a silver flask, twists the lid off with her teeth, and pours some of the contents into the hole in the apple. "Here, girl," she murmurs to the mare. "Eat this. It'll calm ya."

While Sha'lee's busy with that, she digs around into the jack-of-all-trades pack and pulls out a set of blinders to slip onto the skittish horse.

Demon sniffs at being left out of the serving of alcohol, but there's no time and Rebecca ignores him. She continues to stroke Sha'lee to soothe her while trying to keep an eye on the approaching riders.

Finn continues to focus, speaking in a detached tone. "Arkadios, up on your feet soldier. Amberites don't wither, we endure."

His glares into the middle distance, as if trying to divine some secret from the Shadow around them. "We have two minutes, two and a half at most!"

"I reckon I'll be needin' some shotgun shells," Rebecca says rather calmly, looking up at Finn. "An' ya better load someth'n fer yerself an' arm Kade. Shame there weren't a Gaitlin."

Kade stands, but he sways slightly, after a second his eyes focus and he looks at Finn.

"I saw them, or felt them, someone or something from the Black Road! I think Sha'lee did too through me."

He looks at the advancing horsemen, "Now isn't the time to explain." he says rubbing his temples and frowning, then seemingly noticing Rebecca's actions for the first time Kade strides over to her side and grasps the reins of Sha'lee, "Please leave her to me." he says with a weary smile.

Placing his hand upon the horses neck he talks quietly and soothingly, in with his words he weaves a short working designed to calm the horse enough for him to be able to mount up if need be.

Sha'lee is now calm and allows Arkadios to mount back up. Arkadios' head feels a bit better.

Rebecca notices first that something is odd about the dust following the riders. There shouldn't be enough of them to create such a large cloud… There is something else there, concealed.

They can now hear distant yells from the group of riders, but nothing they can distinguish or recognize.

"There's more then jest riders comin' at us," Rebecca cautions as she remounts Demon. The horse paws the ground and eyes the oncoming riders menacingly. She looks over at Finn, and decides not to distract him from whatever he is concentrating on. Pistol in holster, she brings out her rifle and brings it up to pick out a target among the oncoming riders.

Finn's eyes seem to finally focus, and there is something — distinct about him. Even if no one could see him, he would be very there, very REAL. He stares out at the riders and scowls again, and then turns to look at Faylinn for a moment, his eyebrows rising.

"The riders are out of the Black Road." He glances to Rebecca, "Whatever else there is either rides with them, or is chasing them." He looks to Arkadios, "I hope you can do whatever it is you're doing quickly — we're leaving." Finn states firmly, "Follow me, we'll be moving quickly. I've the Design to mind."

Finn gestures, "Now! Follow me! Stay Close! I can't do this forever!"

He begins to lead them away from the Black Road, taking advantage of the symbol and carrying them ahead through Shadow as swiftly as can be done. "Rebecca, mind the rear, if the riders draw to near call out and I'll find a place to make a stand.

Rebecca scowls and nods. That wasn't as easy as it sounded when one is supposed to be keeping up and keeping the leader in sight. While waiting for the others to move ahead, she leans down to Demon.

"Keep up with 'em," she says before pulling her bandanna up to cover the lower part of her face to keep from inhaling the dust.

Then she stands in one stirrup and then turns herself around before remounting her now moving horse, facing backward.

Faylinn releases her spell with the booming voice of the earth. There is a great crack and the landscape seems to collapse entirely, to the side of the Black Road, and a great cloud of dust rises alongside them, shooting straight up. A wall of obscurity.

Arkadios' spell descends from the sky, a powerful swirling tower of winds that quickly moves towards where the riders were last seen.

As the group rides away from the canyon, before they shift, they witness the half-dozen remaining riders separated from them by a great rift. A chasm 250 feet apart at its widest, from one end of the horizon to the other. They can clearly see what it is the riders were speeding away from: three great scaly worms, plunging in and out of the earth with ease.

As they ride away into Shadow, they quickly outrun the riders and worms alike.

They have weapons. everyone is doing well once again and the Black Road does not seem to be shifting with them for the time being. The horses are feeling better about moving, the changes brought on by Shadow shifting is taken as a positive occurrence.

Rebecca is clearly shaken when she turns back to face the front; and it isn't because she's stunt riding on a speeding horse. She looks grim as she yanks her hat down and lays herself along Demon's neck to cut the wind resistance. The rifle stays in her hand against Demon's side, and she looks periodically behind them so there are no surprises.

Finn takes them as far as he deems safe, envisioning a small hunting lodge with food and supplies for a rest stop. A place with proper facilities for the horses as well, in order for them to let the horses get a little rest. He will load his buffalo rifle as they approach their camp.

"We're going to make a stop, give the horses a chance to rest. Don't get too comfortable, we'll be moving along shortly."

The shift through Shadow is fairly easy now, as they are sufficiently away from Amber thanks to the hellriding. The landscape prevents them from seeing the Black Road, but Arkadios and Finn can feel it work on the land wherever they go. It follows them… No more threats appear though and soon enough they have traveled to a nearby shadow, into mountainous and pined lands, following an easy slope of dirt road. No recent tracks appear except woodland creatures. Faylinn can tell this forest is vast, but no spirits dwell here.

There they come upon a large log home, with the necessities that Finn was looking for.


TOCCabin in the Woods

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