We reached a small lake of healing hot-springs about a week ago, and everyone was ordered to bathe and wash their clothing (and rightfully so). I picked up some very nice herbal soap that ‘Nali approves of. I don’t know that the waters are actually healing at all, but my men and I all were definitely more fresh minded (and scented, thank the gods) after scrubbing down.
Before we left, the five Principals ran a full inspection of the caravan. In my section, the two suspicious Principals did their damndest to ensure the remaining three do not look long at the third wagon. There was great temptation to intervene, but I held my tongue and my place as I made sure my guards were properly positioned. Inspection complete, they moved on.
It wasn’t until a couple of hours later that I noticed a note tucked into a sheath on my belt. Bearing the mark of the Lady Principal whom I trust significantly further than either of the slime balls (which, to be fair, is not saying that I trust her further than I can throw her, but considering our disparate masses, I’m confident that I could actually throw her about a wagon-length if necessary), warning that the forces we are up against would likely make a move in the next forty-eight hours.
Apparently, the Mage has some additional skills. Good information to have.
There are only two further items of note at this juncture. First, a representative of Dwarfman and Lobo enterprises. A lizard man with inscrutable facial expressions (to myself, at any rate, and I didn’t think to ask Nali if she had experience with them), who noted that Dm & L would be taking over security for our section when I left. Load off my back. He also signed Thieve’s Cant at me, and displayed his Imperial Badge, leading to enough authenticity that I explained the current situation to him.
He didn’t appear to be happy that he might be inheriting a bit a shit storm, but understood the situation and took his leave.
Secondly, it turns out I have at least one more professional colleague within my guard roster. The lizardman apparently outed me to Hansen who happened to be watching our exchange. As it turns out, Hansen is also a guilded thief put in place by the Dunbarian thieve’s guild for the same reason we are, though until the Lizardman blew my cover, he did not know that I was anything beyond what we had made ourselves to be.
Hanson added some more valuable information to the mix noting that the Healer Captain had apparently attempted to join the Dunbarian guild and was not allowed to. Comforting. Hanson also has apparently run with some unsavory folk, very much like those who have been attacking us lately.
We hit the road the next day.
I noticed a group of a dozen riders with lances and pikes on a shallow intercept course, and brought my guards to a low alert level. I gave orders to Ashe to drop the lead rider when I gave the command, and otherwise had my guards watching their surroundings more closely in case the riders were merely a distraction.
Hanson caught my attention and mentioned that they looked quite a bit like some his former compatriots, and further that if so, they were very, very good with those lances.
More good information.
Later in the day, a full-stop is called sometime before our scheduled stop. My guards are rightfully on edge. A call is sent out ordering all healers to report to the head of the caravan, where it turns out that one of the Slimebag principals has come down with the swampfever. As none of the healers are able to cure him, and all of ascertained that he is indeed ill with the fever, it is decided that he will be brought ahead of the caravan to the next town to receive treatment.
When this knews gets back to me, I bring Hanson up to speed on the time-frame that was given to me by the Lady Mage Principal. My guards top up their laughing water, and we all are now on duty.
The attack came the next morning. My first inkling that there was a problem was a spear being jammed into my side. The attackers had snuck to us under the bog wearing camouflage, and attacked as they rose from the water like so many monsters.
To my credit, my first action was to bring the entire guard cadre to “WE’RE BEING FUCKING ATTACKED” levels of alert, followed immediately by diving off Snotface and punching my attacker in the face. He tells me he won’t die like some little girl. I explained that, “No, you’re going to die like a little bitch.” and cleaved him with Brichard’s Axe.
Of course, by the time I had finished him, Ashe and Garrus had both finished their respective areas and were taking the time to lob arrows up the caravan to steal kills from other sections, and the cries of, “ONE HUNDRED GOLD!” as my men felled the enemy were music to my ears.
Teemo yelled for me, so I called for Ashe and Garrus (and got Shepherd as well), and hauled ass for Teemo and the third wagon. By the time we arrived, there were multiple attackers laying broken in the marsh, with six more and a chanting cleric remaining. Varrik was wounded, Braum was wounded, and the jewlery merchant was dead, obviously (and stupidly) having tried to defend his wagon.
Leaving the remaining pikemen to the rest of my men, I flung a pair of daggers into the cleric, only one finding it’s mark deep in his shoulder. Thankfully, this interrupted his spell, allowing me to close the distance and bring my axe into play. He fell quickly, as followers of Keemosh are wont to do, and rapidly began emanating a fetid cloud of disgusting. I stomped his festering corpse into the bog as Nith, Jarvan/Melvin, and Luciatto made their appearance.
Jarvan did an excellent job protecting Nyth, while Lucy did an excellent job of murdering the bastards, and Nyth did an excellent job of patching up our men and not getting killed herself.
The fight did not last long after that, and I began taking stock of our casualties as soon as we were in the clear. Among my guards, while there were a couple of critical woundings, we scraped through intact, with the majority of my men uninjured and back at their posts. Seven wounded, in total, plus myself, though thankfully my werewolf healing had kicked in and was closing my wounds somewhat quickly.
I must have been worse off than I thought, as Nyth took one look at me and used her most powerful healing spell on me. My side is a bit stiff thanks to the new scarring, but that’s nothing that some stretching and exercise won’t sort out.
There were only two deaths in my section, aside from the 35 attackers. The merchant, as I mentioned earlier, and Leto, Chrys’s kitchen boy. The Captain arrived to the party badly wounded, and I filled him in on the situation, and showed him the body of the cleric. The Captain, being largely immune to the diseases that plague humans and demi-humans, pulled the body from the marsh and removed his mask, revealing the man to be the ‘sick’ Principal, and very obviously a follower of Keemosh.
At the Captain’s orders, I grabbed six of my men to stand guard over the body and kill anyone who approached, with Hanson taking my place when I moved back to the wagon. A scribe of Deneer had arrived, followed shortly by the Captain of the Healers. The Scribe gave Nyth a scroll of Resurrection for the Jewler, per a gaurantee of the Caravan. After resurrecting him, Nyth handed me her scroll and sent me to bring Leto back. I pulled her aside before I left to let her know Hanson’s revelation about the Captain of the Healers, and booked it for the Kitchen Boy with Chrys.
While I brought the kid back, The Captain of the Healers had Luciatto carry the dazed-but-no-longer-dead old man into his wagon, forbidding anyone else from entering. After sharing her misgivings with our Captain sent Mondar and Nyth in after Luciatto and the shady Healer. Inside, they found the Jewler unconscious and bleeding again, Luciatto on his ass, and the Healer opening a trap door in the wagon. A fast thinking Lucy dumped a Cure Serious potion on the injured Jewler, while a surprisingly fast thinking Mondar tagged the Healer with a marble of Paralysis, allowing them to tie him up and get the Captain inside and involved.
By the time I had returned to my post with the body, the remaining four Principals had arrived. As it turns out, the Lady Mage is the top dog. Getting to watch her throw her weight around was fairly entertaining. She inspected the body in our care, had as wrap it and move it to the Healer’s wagon, and then, despite protests from two of the remaining Principals, order two guards from every other section to take our place over our section, as my entire cadre was shifted to guard the Jewler’s wagon and the contraband it was carrying.
For we are the biggest bad-asses in this caravan.
The caravan skipped all intervening stops, and went straight to Easton, where the Caravan guards were heavily supplemented by Dwarfman and Lobo soldiers. Liad arrived shortly after the Caravan had, and the Blue Bastard went and outed my whole crew as he called us to assist him with his work.
Important facts that were revealed: We found Imperial Crown Guard tabbards with the stone of power. We found a stone of power, thankfully interrupting a plot that had been put in place apparently before even the Emperor was born. The BadHealer has been sent to Lobo, and the Jewler is largely innocent.
With my guards receiving a much needed reprieve, I was able to break news to Hanson about his promotion, and then to my guards that the caravan, in honor of their badassitude (I know that’s not a word, dear, but I’m keeping it. It’s MY word.), would be giving them all-expenses paid time off to come to Olympia for the games to see me fight!
I also promised them drinks on me when they arrive. Jarvan has also had an offer extended to him by the Lady Nyth for a post as one of her private guards if he was looking for work when his caravan contract ran out. Everyone in my cadre has similar standing offers for letters of recommendation should any be interested in moving to Olympia, whether they’re looking to join the Guard or really anywhere else.
On our return to Olympia, I gave Russet Chrys’s request to have Leto join up in either his or Sarah’s resturaunt as a line cook, gave Jaffa a headsup that we were going to get some friendly color entering town before too much longer, let Rolph know that there were people I had vetted and was willing to put to Rolph for vetting should any be interested in joining the guard, found out Sarah was pregnant, got tackled by eight-hundred pounds of very happy feline, sent Luciatto to check on the Training Keep and our demon dragon friend…
Hm, also of note, Olympia looks to be getting a very high-quality Silk merchant, I think in no small part thanks to our Lucky Luciattio catching the eye of the merchant’s daughter. She seems a fair match for him, and it should give the old biddies something else to gossip about.
While we were gone, apparently Jaffah finally realised that the Paiges guild had full run of the Thieve’s guild. And also that Pip was terrifying. Apparently not all fo the assassins knew we were on a caravan, and so tried to strike at home.
You would think with this town’s reputation, they wouldn’t have done that, but…
It is nice to be home, but this is most definitely the calm before another storm, one that will likely break at the Games. To that end, I am opening the guild coffers to ensure that every member of both my Thieve’s Guild and the Paige’s Guild are equipped with a Cure Disease potion at all times. The Lady Nyth is getting the Temple outfitted and stockpiled with similar potions and ingredients. Rolph, and by extension Reggie (and likely on further extension, Dar’s Brother) have been warned that servants of Keemosh are on the move.
While not actually my intention when the offer was made, I will be glad to have my guards with me again during the games. More friendly faces I can trust in a fight is never a bad thing, and friendly faces that are experienced in working together? Couldn’t possibly ask for more.
One final note, as ’Nali reminds me of my bed.
Each of my companions, as well as myself, have been offered a boon by the Emperor for our mission running longer than he’d promised through Killian. I have been thinking hard about this favor, and I’ve come to a conclusion.
My first boon I might request would be to ensure the protection of those I care about, in other words, a boon that not even the Emperor could truly fulfill. I realize that there is little more I, or anyone can do to better protect my city, my friends, and my family, that at some point I have to trust to their skill, luck, and wit to get them through.
I would like to find the slimeball that helped the plot against the Empire (and more importantly, my men), but that’s already on the Empire’s radar, and I can simply put a hit on him through the Assassin’s guild.
Do I ask to be put in touch with a decision maker for the Companion’s guild to begin the same talks that have already proven successful with the Bardic College? Do I ask for a way to return Nali to a mortal form, if such a thing is even possible?
My eyes grow heavy, so I’m going to take the less than subtle hints.
~(Ret.) Sergeant Mugshot Wolffang Dragontooth, Head of the Olympian Thieve’s Guild, Ranger of the Order of the Arches