The travels of Tamas Gavril Blackwood
I had read the posters, Restov sought adventurers to explore and pacify the lost lands. A nigh hopeless mission for sad souls who had nothing to lose. Good enough, for I counted myself as one of those. Too many ghosts haunt my sleep and way too many people avert their gaze as I ride by. A high time to leave this realm.
It was a crisp spring morning, crowd had gathered to see brave heroes off to glory. Our party was not one of those. We were a sad bunch who signed the last contract. A bookwormish scribe, a beggar or a reprobate with big knife and clothing only (These two I came later to know as Antoni and Dragan, and while they proved their skill and mettle later, in the beginning they were as I have written here.), myself in arms and armour which had seen way too much use lately. Fourth and final member to sign the contract was a lass dressed as a warrior (Tyrillia, she at least had sense to bring her own horse).
Taking pity on Antoni's and especially on Dragan's gear, the swordlords of Restov gave us some simple gear to aid us on our journey. Or at least to make sure we made it past the border to river kingdoms.
During the week it took to make our way to Oleg's tradepost, our basecamp in the area, very little was said about our motives to become ”adventurers”. Antoni had an urge to be elsewhere, which I can sympathise with, and asked no more. Dragan said nothing which made any sense, he propably just wanted money. Tyrillia kept her distance, and possibly her distaste. For my part in this little team building excercise, I told them vaguely about my reasons.
After an akward week we made it to Oleg's, a fortified trading post fallen to slight disrepair. In the courtyard we were met by Oleg and his wife, Svetlana, who greeted us warmly and upon reading our charter which Dragan showed them, told us a tale of bandits collecting regular payment from them (threathening with violence, of course). So I made my mind about teaching those bandits a severe lesson, and others on their own also reached this or similar conclusions surprisingly swiftly. We had just got our horses to the stables when others grew agitated. Initially I tought they had seen a moose, or maybe a fox, but soon sound of multiple hooves reached me as well. Our resolve was to be tested immediately.
A lone rider was approaching the trading post with four other riders in pursuit. Tyrillia let the lone rider (turned to be an elf, Turalyon) in and closed the gate. Dragan and Antoni made it to the palisade and traded futile insult with the bandits. Bandits had longbows, all of them, while our guys on the palisade had a sling. Seeing as the bandits came on horse, and we needed a few of those, I ordered Tyrillia to open the gates. Our guys on the palisade were making a nuisanse of themselves, or rather Antoni was pestering the bandits with lightning and stone. Dragan was likely feeling himself very useful hunkering behind the crenellation. As the gate opened the bandits surged in, and were met with my polearm. Seeing how easily I and Tyrillia held the gate, Dragan charged in the fray. It was short and bloody work. The leader of the bandits attempted to flee as he saw how his men fell. He in turn was slain by the elf they had chased, Turalyon had climbed to the battlement and felled the leader with single arrow. In the aftermath Antoni proved to be a very decent mystical healer, and Dragan showed some pragmatism helping me to bury the bandits. He also disposed one who clung to his life, and might have killed the other one as well had Antoni not appeared and saved that poor bandit. All in all, we gained a few horses, some gear, and a prisoner.
Turalyon the elf was forthcoming with his past. A rite of adulthood gone bad. Two of his kinsmen were missing and he feared they were dead. As we were already waging a war with the bandits, he decided to join our cause. At least until he knows what happened to his kin, and/or a bloody revenge was had. He also took the bandit leader's bow as weregild. That night my spectres were slightly diminished, either by distance or maybe because of the good we had done. Nevertheless the next morning others interrogated our prisoner, while I was enjoying a decent cup of coffee.
Conserning the prisoner, and a bit earlier with bandits being defeated but still clinging to their lives, we had a small discussion about repentance. For every bandit not repenting was to be killed by steel or rope. So a bandit pleading for his life, is it repentance, or just animal reaction? I mostly abstained from this discussion, but finally suggested we have our prisoner lead us to their camp. If he is does this and does not try to run or warn his fellows, he has shown us he is repentant and might be spared. The rest of the gang agreed and we quickly set forth to raid some bandit camps.
Our guide was true to his word. Firstly he lead us to an abandoned little campsite close to Oleg's. And then, to the vicinity of a bigger camp. As these were the two camps he knew about, we let him go. He was whining about not making it alive out of the wilderness, Antoni took pity and told him to make it towards Oleg's and then follow the road, or maybe beg Oleg for supplies (I am bit sceptical about this, he might try to make some trouble to Oleg. So to encourage him to just keep going I gave him my spare cloak.)
We raided this larger camp showing marvelous lack of tactics or coordination. The bandits were propably dumpstruck by our chaotic approach as they were slow to answer to our threath. A total of five bandits were slain there that afternoon, one suiciding by jumping off a platform and their boss dying to two strokes of the sword delivered by yours truly (she still made a number of me...).
Searching the camp we found 12 bedrolls. That should leave several surviving bandits somewhere, so we set camp/ambush at the recently liberated campsite. We shall see what night/tomorrow brings.