The Hijacking of the Hijacked Shipment
“Girls Ride Horses, Too!”
Once Darkarus was safely returned to our party – along with Raganash, Aliella needed to go shopping. It seems like she always has some reason for going shopping. Whatever she was looking for this time, it had something to do with a shop that Darkarus frequents, too – the Arcane Beaker. (Hmmm, I wonder what in the world he could possibly be doing with stuff he can only buy there. Let’s see … it has five letters … the first one is “m.” Aliella makes a big show of spitting whenever the word “magic” is uttered and denying that any such thing exists; however, I think the lady protests too much.) Anyway, off they went to the Arcane Beaker.
As it turned out, something one of them (Darkarus, I think) was looking for wasn’t available. It was part of a shipment that the shop owners were expecting … but that shipment had been hijacked. Without the shipment, the shop owners were likely to lose their business … and then Darkarus and Aliella would lose a source for their needed supplies … the only source, it seems. This would not concern me at all – except that Darkarus suspected agents of Barius were involved … and Barius’ activities do interest me. (I want information!)
So Aliella organized a flurry of activity (including shopping, of course) to prepare us for tracking down the lost shipment. Darkarus briefed us (a tiny bit) on what we might expect to face – skeletons, mostly. That being the case, what weapons did we need if we were to take those creatures on? My answer is to chuck stuff at them from a distance; I have no interest in getting close enough for hand-to-hand combat with those creepy, freaky things. Packed up, saddled up, off we went in pursuit of the purloined goods.
It took some hard riding and tracking, but we caught up. Along the way, Aliella put on shows when we stopped for the night and there were people around … usually trying to work us into her act, too. We did pass by the Wickshine Inn where everything is fine and peachy now – literally! The peach trees were setting fruit and everyone is looking for a great harvest later this year – the first one in a long time. It was too early to stop for the night, so we pressed on.
In the end, that proved to be a good move. By making as much time as possible, we were able to catch up with the group that had stolen the shipment and to gain an opportunity to scout the road ahead for a good ambush location. We found one around a narrow bridge over the river. Raganash saw to rigging a log so it could be dropped on the far side of the bridge right after the leading guards had passed. It would block the way for the rest of the party and create a scrum on the narrow bridge when the rest found their way blocked. Fiona would provide cover by shooting arrows from a nearby ridge while Raganash and I dealt with the rear guards. Darkarus was “helping” somehow – not hand-to-hand, though. Aliella was supposed to get the shipment. It was a good plan.
Like most good plans, though, it didn’t exactly work. The log dropped just fine and created the exact situation it was supposed to do. Fiona definitely had the range and a fair amount of accuracy for her shots, but the core of the party (one woman and two men … and from what Darkarus has said, think the woman is one of Barius’ apprentices – who are supposed to be very powerful) were well-shielded. I don’t know what Darkarus was doing. Aliella’s role, which was to get the shipment, didn’t go as planned. But Raganash and I managed the rear guards fairly well … which is a big reason I’m not quite sure what happened with everyone else.
In any case, I took out the guard I was assigned and saw the mule with the stolen shipment packed on it. I could cut the mule loose from its lead rope and lead it away … but the woman and her near guards were still mounted and would easily overtake me leading a mule. Even if I got on the mule, the horses were still faster. The answer was obvious: what I needed was a horse – and the only horses available were theirs.
Well, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. I took a flying leap at the guard on the nearest horse, knocking him off the horse, into the river, and landing myself in the saddle in his place – and, to top it all off, the pack mule was attached to this very horse. The horse recognized something had happened, but a few hard pulls on the reins and some knee work let him know there was still a rider in charge. With the horse settled, I turned to the woman and the remaining guard and hollered, “We have what we want; now let us go.” I wheeled the horse about and took off. Spotting Aliella coming down the bank, I timed the pace so the mule would be right where she could climb up on it. Then we took off to where we left our own horses and supplies.
The whole way back to our stuff, Aliella kept blathering on about how sorry she was for messing everything up, that it was all her fault everything went wrong. (It didn’t go that badly astray. The plan basically worked. We got the shipment … and a rather nice battle charger as a bonus.) That was bad enough. But she also kept going on and on about how great I was and blah blah blah. (I seriously considered sending her off to my brothers. They’d tell her how great I’m not – and toughen her up quite a bit, too, while they were at it.)
I’m not really sure what happened after Aliella and I hauled the ass with the shipment out of there. Fiona caught up with us soon enough. But Darkarus and Raganash took a lot longer. They were so long in coming back that we decided to head back to the river to find them. We met them along the way. That night, we stayed at the farm Fiona was so fond of. As she said, the family there was very nice. Aliella dealt with a few minor medical and priestly issues and those activities restored her confidence (and not a moment too soon!).
We made it back to Elweir without incident. In addition to the items the shop owners at the Arcane Beaker needed, there was a small box of something that was mislabeled as “Albino Horse Bone” (if I remember right). But it was actually some other kind of bone … the name involves some bad wizard and this is used for (apparently) the most foul forms of magic. Darkarus disposed of it by dumping it in the river.
But all’s well that ends well. Darkarus wanted the horse I commandeered. That’s fine. I’d much rather have my own mare because she was a gift to me on my 13th birthday. What I really wanted at the end of the escapade was a bath – which I got.