Day 3 on the road to Three Rivers. I was awakened by a commotion in the camp. A boar had blundered into the site, attracted by the stores I assume. A lot of chaos for one little boar. I set the dogs to harrying it and took it down with several shots from my crossbow. The dogs had quite a feast for breakfast.
We had only been on the move for a couple of hours when I saw one of the guards take a sling-stone to the side of the head and topple over. I had a gut feeling that this was not the time for crossbows, I jumped off the wagon and took cover as dozens of tribesman came out of the forest in a rush. They didn’t look exactly like Kostelos but their language was similar.
I slipped under the wagon as it rolled to a stop. It quickly became apparent that 3 guards and some drovers were going to be no match for this attack. Thel was taken down quickly but Belskar proved to be a holy terror, laying about with a bastard sword and a broadaxe he took down several of the savages. In the end he was surrounded, being attacked on all sides, but still he fought on. He was only subdued when a shaman took him out with a spell.
The cook, Mags, and Phora had taken cover under the wagon with me as the tribesmen set about methodically killing the wounded and smashing the wagons for no other reason other than the joy of destruction. Phora had a short blade gripped in her hand and a desperate look in her eye. I grabbed her arm and spoke to her quietly and firmly –
“Get rid of that right now. If you try and fight these men you will die. You have no chance. You do whatever they want you to do. You stay alive. If you’re dead that’s it, there are no moves to make, it’s over. You do whatever you have to do to stay alive and you wait for a chance to get away. You do whatever you have to do, you understand me?”
The blade slipped from her hand and I tossed it away quickly. The look of terror in Mag’s eyes was heart-wrenching. I used my ring to give me the buckskin dress of a Kostelos woman. Crawling out from under that wagon was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I was so frightened I stopped breathing for a moment. I beckoned to Phora and Mags but they couldn’t move. In the end I had to drag them out. Once in the open I held my hands up and called to one of the attackers in Kostelos.
My submissive posture didn’t stop him from belting me across the face with some kind of instrument – we’d call it a blackjack back in the civilized world. Still dizzy from the first smack, he hit me again between the shoulder blades, just for fun I guess, before demanding to know what I was doing with these city-dwellers. I told him in halting Kostelos (the only kind I know at this point) that my father had traded me to these people as a servant because he was ashamed of my low intelligence.
He found this very funny. He referred to the Kostelos as “leaf-people”, I thought at first because they lived in the forest but I learned later it was because they thought the Kostelos were weak and could be torn apart like leaves.
Mags, Phora and I had our hands bound and were secured together by cords around our necks. Belskar was lashed to a pole and carried like a dead animal as we were dragged along by one of the warriors, stumbling and trodding on each other’s feet constantly.
It was several hours after dark before we came to their campsite which was little more than animal-skin tents and a few firepits. Belskar was conscious at this point and cursed his captors as cowards and half-men, they couldn’t understand him but his intention was clear. He was tied to a second pole frame that had him splayed out like a scarecrow that was secured with ropes. They’d lower him into a fire for a few seconds and then pull him back. He didn’t scream at first, gritting his teeth so hard I saw blood running down his face , but as the night wore on and this continued he literally screamed himself hoarse.
I’ve seen a lot of cruelty in my day, nobles do all sorts of evil things for their amusement, but nothing prepared me for this kind of casual almost bored sadism. This went on all night, and honestly they barely even seemed to be entertained by it. It was just something they did, like washing your face before bed or brushing your hair in the morning.
At first I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to block out the screams. But after a while I made myself watch. I watched the entire time. I wanted to remember this, I wanted it to be seared into my memory so that I could never forget. A day would come in the future when these people’s fate would be in my hands and I wanted to remember in lurid detail the kind of treatment I should give them.
As the sun came up Belskar finally died.
Inventory: Signet ring, Ring of Many Garments, traveler’s outfit
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane, Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum,
White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler , Alice
Kinsey , “ Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Cardshire Arms manager,
Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis, unnamed tribe
Anti-Revenge List: Dorehe the maid
Rumors : Murderous servants (Reoccurring), exiled noblewoman (Reoccurring), vigilante “Litheria”(30%)
Caravan – Destroyed
Progress to Three Rivers – 67 miles
Behind the curtain – The caravan event today was Ogre Assault. I used the same stats but decided to have it be a different tribe of barbarians. There were some poor rolls for the caravan but odds were pretty bad anyway. The caravan combat rules aren’t very favorable, I suppose the idea is that the PCs are supposed to deal with that kind of thing.
I rolled randomly to see how far the caravan got before the encounter and got 13 miles.