We arrived in Stonefield well into the evening. Our mounts were a bit skittish, still getting used to us after Hirath and I purchased them in Meridian. I had always liked horses and my steed served me well, but Hirath had insisted on getting a Najmok, a beast resembling a troll that had been punched in the gut so it could have a saddle slung on its back. We received directions from a merchant near Far Mine Loop and started up the road toward Quarrystone Basin.
We were still sore from our battle with Jakub, but the tyrant would be of no use to Regulos and Alsbeth any longer. Hirath expended so much favor with his spirits that I think he will be in debt most of his life. Freemarch was again free of the bastard and, because of our efforts, the Defiants had gained a valuable ally among the wardens in the area.
Stonefield was much different from Freemarch, with rocky, mountainous terrain segmenting the landscape. The area was home to trolls and trogs and other earthen beasts. Our ultimate goal was to reach Granite Falls, but we needed to rest and water the mounts on the way. Quarrystone seemed a logical stop. We stuck to the road to avoid the animated rocks wandering the surrounding hills. Hirath broke our prolonged silence. "Trouble ahead," he whispered.
An orange glow pulsed within the Quarrystone camp, and not the expected warming glow of a campfire. We dismounted and tied up our mounts. I took to the shadows to investigate. It was instantly clear that the camp devoid of Defiants, a foothold from the Plane of Earth established in the center of the camp. I motioned to Hirath to circle around and come from the back side.
To eliminate the threat, we had to kill the four Earthguards and destroy the idol they protected. I summoned a razorbeast, a talent I had learned from recently taking on the soul of a ranger, and sent it in to distract one of the guards. As I did so, I signaled Hirath to move in. Between the razorbeast's attacks and Hirath's initial spells, the guards were quickly launched into chaos. I fired off a quick arrow that lodged in one guard's neck. As it fell, I leaped over its limp body to impale a second on my sword. I looked up to see how Hirath was doing, just in time to see his mace embed itself in a guard's skull. The final guard, unaware of its impending demise, continued to battle my razorbeast. I finished it off quickly and dismissed my pet as Hirath bashed the defenseless idol back to the earthen plane it had spawned from. Hirath and I dropped to the ground, unscathed from the fight, but sore and exhausted nonetheless. The Ethian gathered some dried twigs and foliage for a fire to ease our chill.
No sooner did I start to relax than the sound of crumbling rock had me up in a defensive crouch. I relaxed, though, as I saw a merchant stumble awkwardly as he cautiously peeked around a tree. "Are they gone?" he asked. "We couldn’t fend off the invaders, so I hid." As he talked, other Quarrystone inhabitants emerged from the shadows.
"Thank you for the assistance," a Defiant mercenary said as he entered the camp. "We were no match for them, but they were obviously no match for our Ascended. We salute you. Please, rest. We will rouse you in a few hours."
I didn’t need to be told twice. We brought the mounts into camp and left them to be tended. Hirath removed his helm and stretched out on a bedroll. He gazed at the stars above. "I sure hope a rift doesn’t open above us," he said with a smile. "It would spoil my view."
I chuckled. Unfortunately, it was to be the last laugh I would have for several weeks.