Dragging Bandit-Bait with Targets on Our Backs
It all started with Ditmore Shury and Exter Shury, the glass merchants who were with us that wretched night at the Wickshine Inn (aka Hellmouth). They were passing through Elweir on their usual trade route … and when they are in Elweir, they stay at the Abyzinian Night. The next stop on their route was Farport … and they were looking for some extra protection for that leg of the trip … because the road goes through the area where the Bandit Lords are known to operate. There was a guide lined up and some other merchants were going. They remembered that we had handled ourselves well in the fracas that night at the Wickshine Inn, so they thought they would hire us to help protect them on this leg of their travels.
Well, why not? It wasn’t like I had anything else to do at the moment. So I agreed as did Darkarus and Fiona. The brothers introduced us to Malmon, the trail guide who would lead the party. Malmon thought Fiona and I looked okay and could be useful on the trip. As for Darkarus, Malmon wasn’t so sure about him … mostly because he couldn’t figure out just what Darkarusdoes that would be so useful on this trip. (Good luck with that one! We’re all trying to figure out just what it is he does … besides round people up and exchange them for money … but whatever it is, it probably has something to do with magic.)
The next morning we were heading out. A couple of people from Bridget’s Armor shop (where Fiona got her new armor) were there as well as a couple other merchants. Then, at almost the last moment, two members of the Prince’s Guard show up, with a rather small, very heavy chest that could only be full of coins. Lovely! We were going to be dragging bandit bait through bandit-infested territory. (And if the Prince’s Guards were going this way anyway, what did they need us for?) Malmon did confide to me at some point that he wasn’t too happy about the presence of the guards. However, it was the Ditmore Shury and Exter Shury who were most disquieted by the appearance of the guards – and that seemed really odd because I would have thought they’d be more comforted than unsettled.
Nothing happened the first night out … except that the guards kind of kept themselves apart from the rest of us. While we were on the trail, Malmon would occasionally ride ahead with Fiona to do some tracking and observing. By the time we made camp the second night, he was pretty sure we’d be entertaining a party from the Bandit Lords that night. Sure enough, we did. Malmon got us up in time to grab weapons and get ready. Callista and her colleague, from the armor shop were well-armed and ready along with Malmon and Fiona and Darkarus and me.
Not too surprisingly (even with the distance they were keeping from the rest of us), the Prince’s Guards joined in the fray as well. One of them, Colvin, jumped in big time! He’s got two long swords he’s named “Slayer” and “Widowmaker” and he swings both of them around in this whirling blades of death way. It’s pretty impressive to see … and it took out a fair number of the bandits, too. I took care of the one he missed. But I didn’t kill him. The ones who weren’t dead or nearly so gave it up and ran off pretty quick. The one I hit would survive, so Colvin took him captive and we headed on to Farport.
Nothing like fighting off some bandits to break the ice, I guess. The Prince’s Guards were a lot less stand-offish by the time we headed to Farport. Okay, yeah, Colvin didn’t want to talk to Darkarus – but that’s more on Darkarus’ end. “ Can I interrogate the prisoners? ” is not exactly an ideal entrée into a conversation. Colvin talked to me well enough. Mostly we talked about swords and fighting. He wanted to know where I was from and all of that – but I was not going there conversationally or geographically. The other guard mingled with some of the rest of the party. Ditmore Shury and Exter Shury were still keeping their distance, though. Fiona and Malmon were getting on well enough, both of them being outdoorsy types. He invited her to visit his family at their farm just outside of Farport. She has this thing for farms, even though her people are more nomadic than settled. She has fond memories of staying at one shortly before we met at that Wickshine Inn/ Hellmouth place. Thus we reached Farport without any further incidents.
Frankly, there isn’t much to Farport. It does have a port … and just about everything there is about the port. If it isn’t directly connected to the port (more or less), then it doesn’t’ exist there. Fiona spent the full day we were there out at Malmon’s farm. Off and on at different times around town, Darkarus or I would see Ditmore Shury and Exter Shury making some of their deliveries. Some of the crates seemed way out of proportion to the amount of glass that would be delivered to the business in question … and sometimes it was a real question what use that business would have for any glass items they might be selling.
While I was out and about, I did see Colvin come storming out of the town mayor’s office, but I didn’t know why. Oddly enough, Darkarus knew. When we met up at midday, he’d heard the shouting coming out of the office when Colvin as in there with the mayor. It seems Colvin was insisting on a proper hanging for the bandit we captured (the one I injured). But it turns out that particular bandit happened to be the nephew of one of the Bandit Lords … and to further complicate the matter, the Bandit Lords and the town of Farport have an arrangement of sorts that neither will interfere with the other too much … so, hanging the nephew of a Bandit Lord was definitely going to upset the delicate balance that exists in that area. Of course, Colvin, being the straight-arrow, law-and-order guy he is, would not hear of any sort of “catch and release” program for bandits. The guy was going to hang even if Colvin had to drag him all the way back to Elweir to do it … which was exactly what would have to happen. As Darkarus (none too cheerfully) pointed out, we were going back to Elweir through bandit-infested territory with giant targets on our backs … not to mention the bandit-bait chest of money the guards would be bringing back.
One mystery solved … on to the next. Darkarus went out for some reason and Fiona returned to the inn where we were staying. I told her that when Ditmore Shury and Exter Shury returned, I would be crying my eyes out and she should appear to be trying to comfort me. She seemed puzzled by my direction, but she didn’t ask questions. ( Fiona isn’t one to ask a lot of questions; she pretty much rolls with things.) So we waited. Eventually, [:ditmore-shury | Ditmore Shury]] and Exter Shury walked in and I began sobbing inconsolably. They immediately came over to us and wanted to know what was wrong. I blurted out that Colvin had toyed with my affections and now my heart was broken. (It’s a safe enough ploy; there’s no chance they’d repeat it to Colvin as they keep as much away from him and the other guard as possible.) So I blathered on for a bit and expressed appreciation for their listening and understanding because I knew they didn’t like the Prince’s Guards either. They agreed with that. At first they were rather vague on their reasons for that. (Darkarus came back and passed through the room around that point in the conversation. However, for once, he sensibly did not try to inflict himself in the conversation.) Soon after that, one of them finally blurted out that they’d had some financial problems and to get out of those problems they’d become entangled with a shady character who now had them smuggling contraband substances under the cover of their glass business. They wanted to be away from him, but they were so deep in debt it didn’t look like they’d ever make it. That solved that mystery.
That night we tried to sleep as best we could, knowing that in the morning we’d be heading out with, as Darkarus so adroitly put it, giant targets on our backs. Malmon picked out the best place he could for the night, knowing we’d likely be attacked. Those who were not on watch tried to sleep, but really we were all rather wary because we were quite certain the bandits would come. Come they did, but the ones who were on watch spotted them quite a way off. Everyone with some kind of bow was asked to start shooting … which we did. Fiona was the best shot. She went up a tree and did very well picking them off in the dark. (We’ve taken to calling her “Death on the Wind.”) I don’t think I hit anyone, but then I never claimed to be an expert markswoman. Suppression fire is about all I know how to do. (They only asked me if I had some kind of bow – which I did. No one asked if I could actually do anything with it.)
There was still a good-sized crew of bandits that made it to our campsite. Down with bows, up with the swords. Colvin jumped into the fray with his “Whirling Blades of Death” business. Darkarus, taking a cue from Colvin naming his swords, yelled something about “the Abyzinian Blade of Death” as he took on a bandit. I asked if they wanted to join “neffy-poo.” They didn’t surrender, but it was clear they didn’t expect to meet so much resistance. We overpowered them fairly quickly and collected several more to join the Bandit Lord nephew (now known as “neffy-poo”) in his unpleasant fate.
On the way back to Elweir, Darkarus did manage to talk to Colvin and persuaded him that executing the whole collection of bandits might not be the best idea. Darkarus suggested a number of them could be sold as galley slaves … which he took care of once we reached Elweir. I think Darkarushad ideas about collecting bounties on a couple of the others. However, he left it for Fiona and me to take them to the jailer … and since neither of us is comfortable with the idea of getting money as payment for a human being, we declined the reward. Darkarus was rather put out when he discovered that: “How much bounty did you get?” he asked; it was clear we had no idea what he was talking about.
It wasn’t’ like we didn’t get anything for our efforts. [:ditmore-shury | Ditmore Shury]] and Exter Shury paid us as they promised. But most of all, we were back in our rooms at the Abyzinian Night. All’s well that ends well.