I’ve met some mismatched adventuring parties in my day but this one takes the cake (and sells it in town to buy a magic cleaver so they can take more cake from people to buy a bigger cleaver so they can take more cake . . .) First and most obviously there’s six of them, when everyone knows that the magic number is four. Even beyond that their composition is all off. Two wizards is one wizards too many (possibly two) and as far as I can tell they have no warriors or religious types. It’s surprising how many groups don’t have a divine specialist – how do they expect to get the sweet magic healing? It shouldn’t be surprising since that’s the one occupation in the bunch that comes built in with responsibilities that don’t include wandering around murdering people on a whim but holy warriors are traditionally considered part of the iconic adventuring group mix. I suppose priests of Adariel are too nice, priests of Strider wander off too much, and Odobeninians want too large a share of the booty (if you know what I mean). I think the elf implied that s/he was a fighting type at one point but everyone knows that elfs are too willowy and ethereal to be warriors. Plus I saw her/him cast a spell – make up your mind elf, it can’t be both. Can you imagine an adventuring band with three wizards? It’s sheer madness. While the tiny woman went to speak with the commander of the Harmenkar forces I spoke to the other five.
“Thanks for the rescue folks but I need to get away from here as fast as possible.” I plucked at the silver chain around my neck “This bad boy is a magic homing beacon and as soon as they figure out that I’m gone they’re going to able to find exactly where I am. And you saw how many of them there are. I know that you’re used to facing long odds and coming out the victors but this is different, these are legitimately dangerous people. There’s one woman over there in particular that’s as ruthless as they come. The best thing I can do is put as much distance between them and me as possible before they realize that I’m missing.”
The Shirelings were so similar looking that I could tell them apart only because one had a shield and the other did not. I hope they’re siblings or something and I’m not just totally racist. The one with the shield asked me why they had a magic tracker on me.
“I really need to get out of here so I don’t want to get into a deep conversation, in a nutshell what happened is that I found out that the Królewna and Bonifacja Trading Company were betraying the King – he was still alive then – and the King’s advisors decided to hide me away rather than letting that information become general knowledge. I rabbited on them a couple times so they saddled me with this ugly thing so they could fine me.”
The other Shireling had a thoughtful expression “I never did hear a convincing reason why K and B was getting pulled apart, I assumed the King just needed money for the war.”
One of the wizards (you can tell because he was wearing robes) snorted at this “And I told you that made no sense, the tax revenue the Kingdom makes off of a trading company of that size would far out-strip any short term gains they’d get from seizing property.”
“Look guys, I really need to get moving, I don’t mean to be rude. So thanks again, but it’s time for me to go.”
The other wizard, who strangely was wearing a helm, motioned for me to wait “There’s no need to rush off in the night. May I examine that artifact?”
He said artifact like a total douche but I nodded my head anyway. He came forward, putting his face right next to mine while he examined the silver necklace the Baron yoked me with – he could have stood to the side instead of being obtrusive and weird but you know, wizard. His breath smelled like an old garment that has been stored in cedar chest for years. How would you even accomplish that kind of mouth smell if you wanted to? After a while he muttered some arcane words and the chain glowed for a few seconds while he stared at it sightlessly like I’ve seen Martialla do when she’s checking out magic shit. He nodded and then called the other wizard over to stand too close behind me – they had me bracketed pretty good. The second wizard took out a scroll and carelessly grabbed the necklace as well, choking me a little, as he cast a spell.
“That will misdirect them several hours, time enough for us to come up with a plan.”
“You mind backing off there champ?”
He blinked in surprise and then took one giant step backwards like a weirdo. I slipped away and to the side to get away from the other one who was still breathing on the back of my neck like a freak.
“I appreciate that, but I couldn’t ask you to do any more behalf, you’ve already done more than I could ever expect.”
The Halfling without a shield grinned “Nonsense, we love this kind of stuff. This is what we do darling, this is what we do.”
I have to imagine that the commander of the real soldiers was livid to find out about this little side trek his hirelings went on, but when the tiny woman returned she seems unperturbed. I suppose adventurers are used to doing whatever they want and getting away with it because they can kill you if you cry about it. That’s probably why real military people hate them. She said that her name was Diatala and we all talked for a few minutes (except the elf who was probably out doing mysterious elf things) before she suggested that I get some rest as I was “clearly exhausted”. How rude. Rude and accurate. I reiterated my opinion that I needed to run as far as I could while their magic locator was blocked but she shook her head resolutely.
“You’re under our protection now. You’re stuck with us until we figure out a way to get that necklace off of you.”
It’s kind of nice to have the insane stubborn intractability of adventurers on my side for once. I didn’t point out that they were basically holding me captive for my own good just like the people I’m running away from. Those kinds of details tend to me lost on these sort of people. The wizards promised me that they would put their heads together and come up with a solution. When I mentioned that my shoulder was fucked up they gave me a potion that tasted like crap but fixed me up eighty-eight percent. So much for the legendary stinginess of adventurers, I guess it’s different when you’re their rescue. All they had for me was a bedroll, but after the last few nights it was as welcome as a feather bed in a luxury suite. I fell asleep immediately. The funny thing is, not funny ha-ha but funny like when a mule falls off a cliff, is that it’s actually probably good that I haven’t been able to sleep. Without my necklace to protect me I was assaulted by nightmares throughout the night. I still woke up feeling better though, that’s how tried I was.
The sun was high in the sky by the time I woke up, I must have slept for more than ten hours. Diatala was sitting nearby fiddling with a kind of little puzzle that was made up of little rings of metal that fit together in some fashion.
“I won’t ask if you slept well, I know that you didn’t. Bad dreams?”
“The worst. There’s some kind of magic bullshit that makes me have nightmares all the time.”
“Królewna and Bonifacja really did a number on you didn’t they?”
“You can say that again.”
“Your captors have been combing the area on the other side of the river looking for you. They asked Baron Saltwheel’s men about you but they were uncooperative, I doubt they really think that you’re in their camp. Ibix used another scroll on your necklace to keep it from signaling your location but that’s the last of them. Before sundown they’re going to know exactly where you are. But we have a plan.”
“You really don’t need to take any more risks on my behalf.”
She held up her hand to stop my protestations “Just accept that we’re going to help you. Emam and Sarpol put their heads together and they have a way to get that necklace off you but it requires some components they don’t have. The good news is we’re not far from the home of Archbaroness Relonge and she owes us a favor.”
“Oh, Relonge you say? Have you spoken to her recently by any chance?”
We didn’t get to continue that conversation because there came a hue and a cry. Isn’t a hue a color? Anyway, Baron Saltwheel’s men and Kartak’s men were coming across the bridge looking grim. Kartak must know (or at least suspect) out that I’m over here and made some manner of alliance with Saltwheel’s goons. Martialla probably figured it out actually, she’s pretty sharp. The Harmenkar soldiers looked uncertain what to do, but the adventurers jumped on the bridge ready to fight – you have to give them points for bravery if nothing else. The commander of the Harmenkar soldiers looked horrified.
“Wait, stop! Don’t do anything you’ll regret, just hand me over to them.”
Seeing reason the adventuring party admitted that they couldn’t fight that many enemy soldiers, but that didn’t mean they gave up of course. They backed off the bridge and wizard number one hit it with a massive fireball while wizard number two attacked with a stroke of lightning. Even the elf got in on the action using its elf-power to warp the wood like it had been sitting underwater for decades. The men on the bridge sprinted back to safety as the wizards continued their arcane assault and the bridge collapsed with a massive sprout of river-water. Martialla barely made it off the bridge and I saw her standing, wet as a duck’s ass, on the other side of the river staring a hole in me.
I know that it worked out for me in this case but this is a good example of how insane adventuring types are. You know how hard it is to build a bridge? You know how important they are to the local community? And they just blew one up to save one person that they don’t even know. Although, that’s not even why they did it – they didn’t really do it for me, they did it because they wanted to win. At the core of every adventurous soul there is the belief that they are better than everyone else – even the nice ones think that without realizing it themselves. Working a job and obeying the law and being normal is fine for other people, lessor people, but they are too important for that. They have a destiny. They could never live the kind of humdrum boring exist of people like you, although they mean no offense by saying so.
So destroying a bridge to stop their opponents makes perfect sense to them. It doesn’t matter that without this bridge here the local populace with suffer. It doesn’t matter that for all they know I am a violent criminal who was being held legally. It doesn’t matter that they just screwed over the guy that hired them. All that matters is that they won. Adventurers would rather be alive then dead of course, but they would definitely rather die than lose – what would be the point of living if a normal person bested them?
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane,
Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler, Alice Kinsey , “ Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis, Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee, Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard, Forsaken Kin, Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo, Jey Rora, Colonel Tarl Ciarán, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage, Essa, eyeless hag, Baron Saltwheel, Baron Harmenkar, Colonel Tarl Ciarán’s wizard soldier, Victor, Beharri, Cebuano, Mayor Eryn, Chimera Trading Company