Alturiak, 3rd Giovedi, 14th Year of his Lordship Kresimir, Kotor Barony;
This day would be Arnaulen 5, The Claw of Snows, at home, and my thoughts today find themselves often lingering upon my family. They cannot yet know that I have taken this foolish venture into the Beastlands, and it may be that by the time they receive my letter I will be feasting at the feet of heroes in Kanassas’ Hall.
Still, I am bound by oath and honor to Lady Samaras and she is headstrong and willful and cannot be dissuaded from her course of action. Even though it takes us both into the Beastlands, stories about which I have been fed since childhood that are numerous and entertaining, in a perilous and often bloody fashion. I pray only that the battle we engage in this eve will serve as the beginning of our own story that leads to the Lady’s ultimate redemption, rather than to our own ignominious deaths.
Alturiak, 3rd Dillundi, 14th Year of his Lordship Kresimir, Kotor Barony;
I survived the battle, and having done so, I realize that my last entry was quite doomladen. The battle was a hard fought affair, and I did not emerge unscathed. I was gifted a well broken rib by a sharp blow from a club, smartly wielded by one of the bandits. But, perhaps I should start at the beginning of the story!
We had agreed to handle a group of thieves that had been making trouble at the Leviton Homestead and on Arnaulen 3, the night of which the snows returned, Zan Kruhalk, nephew of Oleg Leviton, and Jetei, 2nd son of Teleboge, brought news that they had finally discovered the bandits haunting a ruined hilltop castle half a day’s walking distance.
We set out before first light the next morning with the two homesteaders as guides. It looked as though Andoni and Manus would earn their coin after all! Of course in the snow, a half day’s walking distance took most all of the day and we neared the castle as night fell. We were exhausted from the day’s march and needed to rest before we could make any assault so we found a vantage point from which we could observe the comings and goings of the bandits.
When we stopped moving the cold began to set in, but Lady Samaras put an enchantment of warmth upon our boots and cloaks to keep us in comfort. We counted a half dozen bandits and assumed there to be at least twice that number. Their leader was a great beast of a Yrchish warrior, but the others looked to be a motley group of Mannish and Yrchish peasentfolk driven to evil acts by hard times. They appeared poorly equipped with clubs, small swords and leather breastplates with few bows present.
We laid our plan and approached the castle under the cover of full dark and a light snow. Zan and Jetei circled around the castle, to keep watch in case any bandits fled during our attack, or attempted to flank us. There was a single guard posted at the entrance with a blazing fire to keep him warm, and also to provide illumination for our arrows. Another fire blazed just within the entrance and another guard was there. We attacked late enough that most of the rest of the bandits were sleeping.
When we had approached as closely as we could without danger of being detected we waited while the Lady began to prepare a spell for attack. When she was ready us menfolk charged to the attack (well, Andoni and myself did) or feathered the bandit standing guard (that’s what Manus and Koldo did instead).
We had surprise and luck was on our side. The two bandits on guard were quickly dispatched, one by an arrow Manus delivered unto his gut, the other from the ball of my morningstar upon his unprotected head. After that the battle became a confused and desperate affair. Much shouting and hullabaloo was raised within as the resting men roused and readied themselves against our assault.
In truth and eternal thankfulness however, they fought like the rabble they were. A stream of foes emerged from within the castle, individuals rushing to the contest as they felt themselves prepared. Neither waiting nor coordinating their counterattack with their fellows. This allowed us to engage them in turn and without becoming overwhelmed by their superior numbers. Andoni proved himself a doughty warrior as he laid about with his mace. Manus feathered any who made it past Andoni and I wherein some took advantage of the distraction their fellows provided as we smashed them down. Even goodman Koldo plied his shortbow with a will and gave much distress to those bandits awaiting their appointment with our mace and morningstar.
Despite the valor and effort of us menfolk, all would have come to naught had Lady Samaras not taken her part at key moments. Once it was that a bandit managed to avoid all of our bludgeonings and featherings to gain an advantageous position upon us, poised to strike a blow most deadly when a bolt of lightning flashed from the dark to strike and dispirit the foe. This unfortunate victim of her attention immediately retreated into the castle, both of his arms hanging limply at his sides, where we found him later, poorly bandaged, for all the good it did him in the end. The second was the very leader of the bandits who was knocked back and off balance by the blast she delivered to him.
Andoni had been hard pressed by the mighty warrior who wore a fine quality steel breastplate and wielded a heavy war mattock with dangerous skill. When he was forced back by the Lady’s power, Andoni was able to move to aid me when I found myself under an enchantment cast from within the castle that left me dazed and unable to effectively defend myself against the two bandits assaulting me. It was at this time that I received my wound, courtesy of the club of one of my opponents. Andoni quickly dispatched those two while I recovered my wits and Manus finished their leader with a brilliant shot, putting an arrow through his head that killed him standing.
After that the will to fight left the remaining bandits and we heard shouts of panic and surrender from within. Zan told us that they counted three taking flight, including one wearing heavy robes that was probably the one responsible for casting the stunning spell upon me. Well would I like to match with him while aware of his presence and not obstructed by a mob of underlings! Alas, I was not in any shape to press the issue in the dark and snow.
We took occupancy of their lair for the remainder of the evening, Jetei handled the disposition of the injured thieves who had retreated into the castle during the fight and were unable to flee. The next morning we gathered what portable valuables they had acquired and created a stash of the bulkier items to reclaim when the weather turns. Then we returned. I would like to say it was a return to a hero’s welcome, but these folk in the Beastlands live lives where they work hard and expect nothing less of those they offer their hospitality to. They made their gratitude apparent, but it was equally plain that we had simply done the work they expected of us.