While the Earl and his exploration group were exploring, those in the county had been training. The apprentices at the college were well trained, to skills more like a master than a journeyman, for the Countess was away and could not recruit new apprentices. The members of the college also gained some skills, with Silvandrel being trained to mastery of luck by Aerin, Elaine being trained beyond mastery in telepathy, and even Owain being taught, to expertise in acuity.
As his mentor Vanar was going on the exploration trip, and there were no planned manticore hunts for several years, Karhad returned to Gortoa to train with his father; before leaving, he had written a guide to regeneration, which he had wanted to but had not had opportunity to discuss with the college.
Karhad's guide to use of the regeneration skill.
Those of Janistaar's family and men not in the college and not devoted to guard duty also trained. Jessica learned reading, writing, numbers, and calligraphy, and gained expertise in riding; Hector taught both Fingladrin and his brother Andrew wizardry with the bastard sword; various guardsmen also learned various skills.
Even before the return of the explorers on 1647.06.28, Owain brought up with Carlia, by seeing stone, the issue of succession, and the selection of new council members for the college. In their discussions before and after the return, they agreed that the candidates most likely were Silvandrel and Tiana, but Tiana could be difficult to reach, perhaps even for the merpeople. Carlia suggested adding Silvandrel now, and looking for more candidates over the next decade.
Owain and Carlia also discussed assignment of apprentices and journeymen, and assistance of hunts, but without reaching conclusion. They did tentatively decided to bring back another telepath, similar to Athemenes, with the next round of apprentices. Marian, Suzette, and Tiana seemed like good candidates.
Having arrived in the middle of a monthly training cycle, the explorers were ready to join the next cycle beginning on 1647.07.15.
Some of those who had been training at the castle for years, however, were interested in getting out into the wild themselves. Thus it was that Hector led a manticore hunt starting on 1647.07.16, with David and Adrastus whose shields were now available, but also with xxx and Kyle, who had not yet had a chance to use their shield training; Andrew, Vanar, Henry, Marcus, and Dawn were also along, and Owain, Silvandrel, Elaine, and Aerin supported.
Only two nights out of the castle, the party's camp attracted a jabberwock. Dawn (?) saw the creature early enough for all to don armor, and when it came close enough to spit fire at David, the fighters charged it, the party lacking a counter magician.
The fighters having charged the Jabberwock, Marcus keeps the horses
calm behind the campfire while Vanar and Dawn support the battle
in a distance.
A view from beyond the jabberwock.
Continuing south, the party zig zagged along the troll hill gap, looking for manticore in the plains, once dismounting to discourage a group of 11 drax. Coming to the south end of the gap, they turned west to hunt in the plains between the troll hills and the sea.
Soon after turning west, on the last day of July, 1647.07.28, Dawn spotted three manticore flying together in the distance. Three being more than the party wished to engage at once, they turned back, and waited for the manticore to pass, before proceeding.
Four days later, they again saw manticore, this group two in number. This time they approached, hoping the draw an attack. The strategy worked; when they came within a furlong , the manticore flew around them on either side, then stooped on those at the rear of the party, Tomas and Kyle. Other fighters charged in on the manticore, and they retreated into the air.
The manticore circled, this time using their freezing gaze on Adrastus's horse before stooping. Adrastus tried to defend the horse, but was only partially successful. The rest of the party engaged, whichever manticore they could reach, in a melee of swords, fangs, and poisonous stingers.
The manticore reengage, trying to bring down Adrastus's horse, while
the rest of the party tries to bring down the manticore.
The melee results in two dead manticore and a seriously wounded horse.
Marcus and dawn try to attend to the horse.
Soon, the manticore were both down, though they had also brought down the horse. The horse, while near death, was not dead, and with Dawn getting it to swallow a physician's potion and Marcus using his horse healing skills, the two physicians were able to set it on the road to recovery. The party remained, skinning, bleeding, and butchering the manticore - for the skin, blood, meat, and ribs were all valuable to them - for two days.
Toward the end of the two days, a pride of lions approached to investigate the kill. The party, done with the manticore carcasses, retreated. When the lions found the manticore inedible and showed an interest in following the party, though, Vanar discouraged them by shooting arrows at the lead lion.
Curious lions investigate the humans' kill.
Later that day, the Earl's group stood off 18 drax. They headed for home, avoiding a dragonfly four days later. The following day, however, 1647.08.11, they saw another manticore, alone, and decided to pursue it, as they had equipment to hold the spoils from one manticore, though not two. Dawn watched as the manticore made short spotting flights, and when it appeared to stoop to make a kill, the party moved towards the manticore.
The manticore had indeed made a kill, of a rhinoceros. It watched the humans' approach with suspicion. When David's horse froze, eyes locked with the manticore, the party dismounted; Hector, Andrew, David, Tomas, and Vanar attacked while Henry, Kyle, Dawn, Adrastus, and Marcus stayed with the horses to protect them if the manticore decided to fly to them.
The warriors dispatch a manticore.
The rest of the party guard the horses and the spoils from previous
The manticore was quickly defeated, falling unconscious. The party joked about capturing it for the manticore farm Owain often joked of, but slaughtered and butchered it. They also cut off and took the rhino horn the manticore had conveniently provided them, for the horn was necessary to render the flesh of the manticore benign.
The party then proceeded to Malarme by way of Janistaar's castle, there sold the manticore blood, then returned to the castle, arriving on 1647.09.12.