Almost the instant we exited the town gates, the heavens opened and a rain the likes we haven’t seen this season pounded us into the road. This leg of our journey should have been nearly a sprint, but we were forced to crawl, resting ourselves and our horses often. Eventually, we made it to the old forest, and set up our large tent, deciding to hunker down and wait out the worst of the storm.
By the time the rain had slacked off, our horses had stopped shivering and seemed ready (if not entirely enthused) to resume the journey. Our tent was far-too waterlogged for us to take with us, so we left it as is and set back into the rain. Now that the driving storm was over, we were able to make better time. Not much, we still had to stop regularly.
I lost my steed Keb during the first ambush. Chry’s Smartass also fell in the first volley, but Chrys and Luciatto easily handled their assassins. When I managed to extricate myself from beneath Keb, I heard a shout and saw someone attacking the Lady Nith. By the time I arrived, the assassin was dead. I kicked his corpse off of her, received her crossbow in my face as thanks. She didn’t kill the assassin, and I didn’t kill the assassin. That could mean only one thing:
Our Friend the Assassin saved her.
Not entirely certain how I felt about that.
As we stripped the bodies of weapons and useful gear, the assassin’s ponies came running up the road. Between Nith and I we were able to get them stopped, and wound up spending the next couple of hours shifting our gear around. Luciatto took Nith’s horse, I took Luciatto’s horse, and Chys and Nith each took a pony, while we rigged a make-shift pack-saddle to the remaining pony. Chrys, Lucy, and I each took one of the assassin’s cloaks and masks, which drastically improved our vision in the rain and helped keep us dry and warm through some minor enchantment.
The next interesting encounter occurred at one of the Xs on the map. Obviously a proper rest area built by the Empire, it was currently in use by a trade caravan, stopped for lunch. They were eating a hearty stew that smelled particularly amazing, and had apparently been given word of our approach by our friend Assassin.
I suspected it was simply a ploy to slow us down, so after a brief conversation, we continued on. The second ambush point was coming up, but instead of the expected assassins, we found a girl with an umbrella standing in the road, waiting for us. We followed her to her parents, both wounded, but tended to. Apparently, the assassins from this ambush point had attacked the girl and her parents.
Apparently, our Friend Assassin doesn’t take kindly to that sort of thing.
The men were hanging by their dislocated arms, with every bone of the legs and feet obviously broken.
Have I mentioned that I like this guy?
We took the assassin’s gear, and the farmer lent me his draft horse, an animal much more suited to me than even Luciatto’s beast. In exchange, I gave the farmer my plainsfolk talisman, and again we continued on our way.
The third ambush point we decided to screw subtlety and charge through, but as they say, no plan ever makes it beyond the first engagement. The assassins rose from camouflaged fox-holes, sending crossbow bolts into our midst. Had Luciatto not leaped from his horse to attack, and had Chrys not attempted the same only to end up on her own blade, the Lady Nith would have simply cast a wall of fire behind us while we charged through. Instead, both of our actual fighters were struck by poisoned blades.
The assassin nearest me caught a soul-charged crossbow bolt to the chest, while Nith used Hold Person on her attacker. The remaining two tried switching to blades, but caught vorpal daggers instead. Rather than waste time with the bodies or the held assassin, we hit them with water acorns and left.
As we broke through the woods and onto the final stretch to Dunbar, we were stopped by an army with our Assassin Friend at the forefront. Some discussion later and we found out that not only was the man behind our bounties dead, but that no one was paying for the job anymore. Instead, the assassin gave us riddle.
“I am felled by an ax. Your face is the last thing I see.”
Two answers popped into my mind: A Tree, and an criminal to be executed. Chrys answered first, offering ‘tree’ which turned out to be incorrect. Luciatto proclaimed a head, which the Assassin decided was good enough.
Long story short, Luciatto now owns several acres inside of Dunbar City, as well as a small, well-stocked and employed mansion. We ate, washed, and slept for an hour or three before being woken and lead to the Dunbar Thieve’s Guild. Inside, we met with Killian Salvatore Falconian, the head of Dunbarian Empire Thieve’s Guilds, to whom we delivered The Box as well as the Imperial coin press.
The box contained a gnomish device of some sort that Killian placed over Dunbar City on an impressive map. Two, impressive maps, actually. The first was a map of the world, and the world is a much larger place than I had ever suspected. The second was a highly detailed map of Dunbar city.
Deliveries made, were then taken to a party and inducted into the Dunbarian thieve’s guild.
The next day, I was given a big, ugly percheron by the name of Snotface. It is a very fitting name, and I am likely going to have to take him to our Tree to see if we cannot remedy his allergies. I also gifted my Vorpal Daggers of Sniping to Pip, who always manages to be where things are most interesting. The daggers were simply… Too powerful for one such as myself to carry. I hope Pip finds someone who needs them more, or at the very least finds some way to enjoy them.
Chrys and Nith both have received new horses as well, stronger horses well suited to a life of adventuring. I believe Nith’s is even properly armored, a step I will need to take when we return to Olympia. Speaking of Pip and Olympia, the Paiges Guild has expanded to Dunbar City, operating out of the Boar’s Head Inn and Luciatto’s estate. While I had not planned to expand that guild here yet, I am happy it has happened. Call it a test-run, to see how well the Paiges are able to blend into the new setting.
If they are as successful as I have every right to expect, then the rest of our plans will have an expansion model to work from.
As I write this, the draft horse has been returned, I have my necklace back, and my companions have all made their way home, but there is one more stop for me, a home I haven’t seen in far too long. I’ll be there by nightfall to return the last precious pieces of my Lady’s soul. In fact, I believe I hear her calling me now, so I will finish this journal now.
Go in peace, Keb. You were a damned fine horse, felled too soon by an assassin’s hand. I have avenged you, blood for blood, but you will always be missed.
~Mugshot Wolffang Dragontooth, Head of the Olympian Thieve’s Guild, Ranger of the Order of the Arches