The next installment of Nimloth’s Saga, a series told in first-person by a Dungeons and Dragons (Pathfinder) character.
Warning: Violence follows.
After an hour of morning meditation, I head down to the common room of The Queen’s Minotaur. My comrades have mostly assembled, save for Tuesday, who is still sprawled out on the floor near the fireplace. Nine steps over to him and nudges him in the side with a boot, and Tuesday springs into life. Pan appears to be attempting to stealthily pluck a feather from Harvey, and nearly does it, before Tuesday’s sudden explosion of energy startles him into ducking under a table.
We head to the office of Councilman Jaal. We’ve heard he recently became the head of the Northern Expansionary Council for Adamantine Gate, and I am optimistic he will have some work for us to do. Upon reaching Jaal’s offices, his receptionist confirms that the Council is looking for hired hands. Maps of the area surrounding Adamantine Gate plaster the walls. The receptionist takes us to Jaal, who tells us that the Council has their eyes on a previously-deserted mansion in which a company of bandits has taken residence. Jaal offers us a fair 300 gold pieces each if we clear out the mansion. We agree to take the job, and to split any plunder we find seven ways among ourselves.
We take off on the road to the north. The parcel of land on which the mansion sits is evidently a good four-hour walk away. On the way, I have a difficult time mustering conversation with my companions. Pan lies on his back on top of Aswaithe’s pony, who doesn’t seem to mind the gnome’s extra weight. He stares sullenly at the sky but occasionally chuckles quietly . Tuesday is vigilant, peering into the marshes and frequently scouting ahead on the road. Nine’s hand rests comfortably on the hilt of his sheathed sword as he strides forward.
After a similar few hours on the road a light mist materializes before us. I hear Harvey curse quietly, and Mathghemhain’s eyes narrow as we slow. Tuesday freezes as a man steps out of the mist, the hem of his black robes sweeping the ground under his feet. We halt our progress, and Tuesday hesitates before turning to Nine and muttering, “He’s not alone. There are three more men, in the bushes on either side of the road.” Nine glances around slowly and nods. Tuesday adds, “It looks like they have bows.” He then shouts toward the newcomer, “No closer! We are armed!”
The man barks, “You trespass on our land!” I see the men in the bushes now, three of them; they crouch with bows at the ready. I feel sparks begin to gather in my fingertips.
Nine sighs, having already drawn his curved sword. He has the demeanor of one being told a dull joke with a punchline he’s heard before. I see him roll his eyes before yelling to the robed man, “What do you want from us?”
“We want your money, your weapons and armor, and your lives!” The man barely has time to finish his sentence before an arrow from Tuesday whizzes past his head. It is answered by a volley of shots from the bushes, which we were expecting and misses our party entirely.
Tuesday looses a few more arrows and several sink into the shoulder of our robed adversary as I call fire to my hand. Flames leap from my fingers and the man mutters something. A pale light glows around his wounds, and he attempts to retreat into the thick undergrowth as his companions continue firing–and missing.
“That was a healing spell!” Nine shouts to us as Aswaith charges at one of the bandits. Harvey springs into action in a blur of feathers. He reaches the robed man in a few seconds, who pulls out a mace and twists around to aim for Harvey. One of Harvey’s taloned fists makes devastating contact with his jaw, which yields a satisfying crack as his knees buckle and he falls to the ground.
Suddenly, another thug appears in the bushes, and though we are surprised, her errant shots fail to find their marks. I hurl flames from my hand, charring her badly before Nine reaches her with his sword. A gleaming missile from Pan flies by.
Tuesday has rendered one of our attackers unconscious with a well-placed arrow and help from Pan’s missile. Another burst of flame from me and a few solid punches from Aswaith lay out yet another bandit. We strike to incapacitate, not to kill.
One manages to escape the blunt of our force, or at least or attention, and steps into the road, hands raised and bow left behind. My handful of fire sizzles out, and Nine approaches him. Mathghemhain tends to the two unconscious men just enough to keep them alive, though the woman who attempted to surprise us has bled out in the bushes.
Nine begins drilling the remaining bandit with questions, who reveals they were under the employ of a cult-like gang living in the nearby mansion. During the course of the questioning, Math reaches the unconscious robed man. He appears to recognize the red, star-like symbol on the chest of the robes for he simply says, “Asmodeus,” before pulling out his mace and brutally shattering the man’s skull.
He then takes his bloody mace to the remaining bandit, whose eyes widen in fear as Math brings the weapon to his face. “Please, no. I will leave this place forever, just let me live!”
Instead of striking, Math smears the blood of our fallen enemy over the bandit. “Let this be a warning, then.”
The rest of our party stands with mouths agape. I can hear Nine growl, “Clerics.”
We send the now-bloody bandit off with Math’s barbarous warning. We collect what we can from the would-be highwaymen–not much more than a handful of gold pieces and some spare armor–and take off on the road again. It is less than an hour before we see the mansion high on a hill ahead.
The smell of blood on the wind from Math’s savagery died a mile ago, but there is more to come.
Next episode: Episode 4.