D&D 5E Intrepid Adventures of Legend or Hobo Murderers on the Loose (a pogre storyhour)(11/3/15)


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pogre

Legend
Intrepid Adventures of Legend or Hobo Murderers on the Loose (a pogre storyhour)

Episode 14
Nothing Gets Out Alive

The adventurers splashed cold water on the bound dark elves to bring them to consciousness.

"Which of you wants to live?" Cabo asked.

Osbourne took the gags out of the dark elves' mouths.

"Whoever talks to us and tells us what we need to know lives. The other two," Cabo made a motion across his throat with his index finger.

The dark elves made some hurried whispers to each other.

"Shuddup!" Brodek yelled and kicked the nearest dark elf. "We need to split this trio up." Brodek roughly grabbed the elf he had kicked and yanked him to his feet. Brodek dragged the elf out into the hall and Cabo addressed him in common. The Dark Elf spoke two or three languages, but no one in the group could understand him.

“Enough of this!” Cabo yelled. “Brodek bring him back in here.” Cabo gestured for Brodek to bring the dark elf back into the chamber with the other dark elves.

“This is to make a believer of you two,” Cabo announced to the other two dark elves and promptly sliced the neck of the first Dark Elf. The other dark elves winced, but revealed no further emotion.

“What now?” Osbourne asked. “They clearly do not speak any language we share.”

Cabo whirled around with an angry glare and then composed himself and in a low voice said, “You know what, you are right.” The halfling thief then nodded at Brodek. Brodek sword flew in two quick swipes and both dark elves’ heads flopped to the ground.

“That was a quality use of our time,” Gideon stated as he watched the spreading pool of crimson beneath the elves’ corpses.

“Yeah, well thanks for all of your helpful suggestions,” Cabo retorted.

“There could be no better use of our time than killing elves,” Brodek snarled. “Let’s move out.”

*****
Cabo burst into the room and stabbed one of the dark ones and then zipped back out before the piscean creatures could react. Gideon and Brodek stormed in and attacked. The melee went quickly and soon all of the Deep Ones were done.

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*****
The group flung open the door and found a pair of hideous creatures.

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At first, the melee went very well, and the adventurers quickly had the pair of monsters heavily wounded. As the creatures struggled with their many wounds and unearthly howl came from the creatures and they broke into a berserker rage, Now the blows from the creatures were staggering the adventurers and the group was put on the defensive.

A wide sweep of Brodek’s sword saved the battle for the adventurers and turned the tide. The monsters were finally put down and the group collectively heaved a sigh of relief. They rested and patched up their wounds.

*****

This level was mostly explored and in one of the last rooms the group discovered a group of marooned dark elf warriors. In what quickly was becoming his standard, Cabo jumped in and stabbed a dark elf and then quickly exited.

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The dark elves never got their footing and the combat was a one-sided slaughter. Only a pair of stairs remained to be explored.

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*****
As the adventurers descended a thick, swampy, foetid odor rose to their nostrils. Osbourne complained briefly. Brodek growled in reply, “Deep Ones - lots of ‘em.”

The level was a maze of collapsed tunnels and stagnant pools. The group struck down Old Ones of all sizes, young and old, and was forced to dig out many passages to make their way through.

*****

The group came to a chamber that resembled a primitive temple. The mostly bare chamber had numerous runes scrawled on the walls and a large arcane circle surrounding a pit entrance.

“What’s in the pit I wonder?” Gideon asked. As if in answer to the halfling monk’s question a low, deep, rumbling growl came up through the pit entrance. Gideon edged closer to the pit to take a look.

“Stop!” Osbourne commanded. Gideon froze in his tracks and turned to face the sorcerer. “We have no idea if the circle has bound some horrible beast. Breaking the circle might release it.”

Brodek stepped forward and stomped on the circle. The dwarf ground the ball of his feet into the painted arcane symbols like he was putting out a stray ash from a campfire. “Old Ones’ magic holds no sway over me,” Brodek announced. His devilish grin revealed he was clearly enjoying Osbourne’s discomfort.

The cat out of the bag, the whole group edged closer to the pit to take a closer view. Another low growl came echoing up from the pit.

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Cabo started fishing a coil of rope out of his gear.

“What are you doing?” an alarmed Osbourne asked.

“Going to get a closer look,” Cabo replied.

“It will see you and you won’t see it,” Gideon reminded him.

Cabo hesitated. He pulled out a copper and instructed Osbourne to cast light on the coin. Osbourne reluctantly complied and his light source immediately extinguished as the coin began to emit a golden glow of light. “Right, now make me invisible,” Cabo demanded of the sorcerer. Osbourne objected, but the combined cajoling of the party forced him to relent and he cast the spell.

Cabo had the trio hold one end of the rope with Brodek serving as anchor. He then dropped the coin down into the pit and the group was plunged into darkness. A deafening roar issued forth from the pit. A short time later the noise dissipated. “Now, when I tug on the rope pull me up.”

“Jigging with peck bait; this is my kind of fishing!” Brodek proclaimed.

The trio felt tension on the rope as Cabo lowered himself down the pit shaft. The group could hear the low rumbling of the monster below. A few excruciating minutes later, the trio felt a violent tugging. All three pulled with all of their might and they could hear Cabo’s muffled curses as he bounced up the pit shaft.

A bruised and battered Cabo finally emerged from the pit. Osbourne quickly re-cast light to illuminate the chamber. Cabo’s chest was heaving from exertion as he tried to catch his breath.

“What was it?” Gideon asked.

“No idea, but it is enormous,” Cabo replied. “It looked like a whale-lizard with big teeth. It’s head was gigantic with a jaw to match.”

“Could swallow you in one gulp, eh?” Brodek asked.

“Easily,” Cabo confirmed. He began looking around the room for something.

“What are you looking for?” Osbourne asked.

“I need something solid to anchor this rope to. Something that can support Brodek’s weight.”

“You want to go back down there?” Gideon asked incredulously.

“Yep, I’ll go first invisible. I’ll jump it and you fellows can attack it then,” Cabo replied.

“Peck, I admire your style, but there is no way I am shimmying down that hole to fight an enormous beast,” Brodek stated.

“No way I’m going down there,” Gideon concurred.

“I did not come down through ten levels of this place, fighting goblins, troglodytes, undead, elves, goatmen, and fishmen to turn around and leave. We are going to kill this thing. Now grow a pair!” Cabo retorted.

“I’m in,” Osbourne said. The dwarf and the monk turned to look at the sorcerer in disbelief. Osbourne shrugged, “He’s right. I did not come all this way not to fight this thing.”

“No way Peck!” Brodek growled. “It is certain doom.”

“Let’s put it to a vote,” Cabo suggested.

“Why?” Gideon replied. “It’s clear it is two against two.”

Cabo retrieved the imp carcass from his bag that he had fashioned into a puppet and held it aloft on the mummified hand he had taken from the crypts. “What do you say Spot?” Cabo asked the gruesome puppet. In a high falsetto voice he replied, “I say we go kill the monster or die trying. We should ignore fraidy dwarf and sister monk and prove we have a pair!” Cabo smiled broadly, “I agree Spot! It’s decided.”

“It most certainly is not decided,” Gideon replied. “And, put that thing away. Better yet, throw it away.”

“That’s not helping the cause,” Osbourne agreed.

“At least Spot has courage. Something sorely lacking here right now,” Cabo pouted.

“You can see you have aligned yourself with a lunatic,” Gideon said as an aside to Osbourne.

“How about this? We go back to the larder and bring back all those barrels of oil. We pour all the oil down in the pit and set it on fire,” Gideon suggested.

“Is it a closed chamber peck?” Brodek asked cautiously.

“No idea,” Cabo admitted.

“The plan does have merit. The problem is a fire that size could very well snuff out all of the air. We could suffocate,” Brodek explained. “Let’s explore this level further and see if there is another entrance. I’d rather not face this beast after shimmying down a shaft like a chimney sweep.”

*****

The group tripped their way through a moist, algae-ridden chamber full of breeding ponds and young old ones. The chamber soon looked like the deck of a cod trawler and the besmirched group pushed on.

They entered yet another swamp-like room. This one was occupied by an enormous Old One and his mates.

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The huge Old One gurgled some threat at the group and began casting spells at them while his mates rushed to his defense. The halflings avoided the mates and concentrated their efforts on taking out the big Old One. Brodek bladed the two mates in short order and joined the attack on the chieftan. The groups combined efforts put the creature down, but not before nearly everyone was wounded.

*****

Gideon rubbed the sleep from his eyes and stretched, recovering from his slumber in the larder. Brodek was happily rubbing his stomach after enjoying the bounty of the storage room yet again. “Good thing we are done,” Brodek said. “We’re nearly out of food.”

Gideon began rolling oil barrels towards the door.

Osbourne awoke and looked over with half-open eyes. “What are you doing Gideon?”

“Getting ready to take care of some final business.”

*****

The whoosh of the oil catching was not explosive, but palpable all the same as air rushed down to the pit. The group could hear the awful screams of agony from the terrible creature below as they fled the area.

“Fry Fishy! Fry!” Brodek shouted during the retreat.

*****
Back at the Old Ox Inn there was a great celebration. The proprietor Lant gave them a fair price for their sizable cache of hand crossbows and Cabo put on a bizarre puppet show with ‘Spot’.

Following a fortnight of celebrating and carousing Lant approached the group.

“I have this problem I am hoping you can help me with…” the Innkeeper began.
 

pogre

Legend
Intrepid Adventures of Legend or Hobo Murderers on the Loose (a pogre storyhour)

Episode 15
A Giant Farming Problem

A young, female dwarf approached the group’s table. Brodek’s face lit up in a bright grin. “Helja! How are you lass?” Brodek exclaimed.

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“I am well Brodek,” Helja replied. “I received your message and came straight away.”

Brodek made introductions all around to the rest of the group to his friend.

“I think Brodek is smiling,” Osbourne whispered to Gideon.

“Must be a nervous tick,” Gideon replied.

“Helja, it is a shame you missed the puppet show the other night! It would have given you some real insight on your friend Brodek,” Cabo said.

“Ignore him lass,” Brodek interjected nonplussed. “The caverns and complex I wrote to you about will have to wait. We largely cleaned them out anyway. However, the barkeep here has asked us to stick around to talk after dinner. We could always use another blade.”

Helja took a seat at the table and promptly ordered some ale.

*****

Lant finally came around and gave the group a very sad tale of how local farms had been depopulated with apparently no fight or struggle. No living thing had survived these attacks, not even a barn cat. The always sympathetic adventurers most pressing concern was what the owner of the Old Oxen Inn was offering them in solid, hard gold to investigate. An accord was reached with Lant fronting the group a few healing potions and promising a sizable monetary reward if the mystery was solved and the local farmers’ minds put at ease.

*****

Two local farms were known to have been raided and as the group approached the first of these it was clear just how desolate the site was.

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The interior of the farmhouse showed some signs of minimal struggle, but very little in the way of blood stains or trails. The barn and stalls had more signs of struggle and the adventurers did find some large canine tracks.

“Wolves?” Osbourne asked no one in particular.

“Very big wolves,” Gideon replied.

“Dire wolves or worgs,” Helja added.

“How could wolves steal everything alive without a trace?” Cabo asked. “Maybe we are dealing with a lycanthrope?”

“Possibly,” Gideon replied. “Could just be tracks of scavengers moving through the aftermath of the conflict.”

“Well, it’s what we got,” Brodek stated. “Let’s at least follow the tracks to see where they lead us.”

The wolf prints led down to a small stream and the adventurers followed along cautiously.

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It did not take long for the adventurers to find a large wolf den teaming with the large canines.

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The group huddled up to make a plan of their approach.

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After careful consideration and a thorough examination of all the possibilities, the group decided to charge. The resulting melee was a wolf slaughter. The rewards for the group was several new wolf pelts and 8 dire wolf pups, not yet weaned. Brodek suggested euthanizing the pups under the ‘nits make lice’ theory, but was soundly rejected by Gideon and Cabo who were intent on saving the pups as pets.

The group returned to the Old Ox Inn with the pelts and pups and no closer to solving their mystery. Following a quick arrangement whereby Cabo and Gideon essentially quintupled a stable boy’s salary for taking care of the pups, the group set off again.

*****

The group spent much of the following day in a frustrating investigation of the farms that had been depopulated, visiting other local farms, and trying to discern some sort of pattern for the destruction. The group ruled out the remnant tribe of gnolls living in a nearby forest and decided the threat must have come from the foothills or mountains to the north.

Following a rough trail, the group came upon a hollow in the hills, where a large wolf padded around the entrance.

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The adventurers began moving up, threading their way through the boulder field in front of the grotto, when a huge humanoid emerged and tossed an enormous rock at them. The boulder clipped Brodek and nearly smashed the dwarf. “God’s Teeth! Take cover!” Brodek yelled.

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The hill giant continued lobbing boulders at the group. None of the large rocks hit, but the adventurers continued moving forward under a spray of rock fragments from the impacts. Gideon broke cover and charged the hill giant.

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The monk’s strikes were effective, but the giant’s answering attack almost put the halfling six-feet under. The rest of the adventurers piled into the combat, trying to save Gideon from certain doom. Osbourne put the dire wolf down with an effective spray of magic missiles. The rest of the adventurers closed and tried to keep the hill giant off balance, while opening a number of small wounds on the beast.

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The combined efforts of the adventurers toppled the giant and the group sighed with relief over its corpse. An exploration of the shallow cavern revealed it was stuffed full of bags. Most of the giant sacks contained bones and other worthless items, but they did find a few valuables. Most importantly, the group found definitive evidence that the hill giant was the culprit responsible for sacking the farms.

Gathering all the valuables, the group headed back to the Old Oxen Inn. They stopped along the way to turn over some bags of seed grain to local farmers and to assure them the threat had been overcome. Upon their return, Lant rewarded the adventurers richly and place the giant’s head upon a large pike in front of the coaching inn.

Little did Lant or the adventurers know - they would soon be facing a far more dangerous and insidious threat to the Old Oxen Inn and the surrounding territory...
 


pogre

Legend
Intrepid Adventures of Legend or Hobo Murderers on the Loose (a pogre storyhour)

Episode 16
Dirty Deeds Indeed

The Old Oxen was teeming with folks as people from far and wide came to the inn for Mutton and mint night. The lamb roast with mint jelly was a special dish that had a well earned savory reputation. As the group pushed their way to their favorite table they could see a diverse multitude of folks enjoying the fare. One table caught their attention immediately as it had a large group of liveried coachmen drinking, eating, and singing foreign songs.

“What songs are those?” Cabo asked.

“Dackian, I would say,” Osbourne replied.

Dackia was at the far end of a revived trade route that went through the Old Oxen Inn. Many of the exotic goods were imported into Brostatntia, a substantial Dackian port. Nonetheless, it was unusual to see so many Dackians under the inn’s roof.

“Looks like there having a good time,” Brodek noted. “No harm done.” All in the party agreed and sat at the table. Soon, the group’s favorite server had the table piled high with lamb, jelly, bread, and beer.

The harried proprietor of the Old Oxen Inn Lant Marrowkind bustled by the group’s table and shouted quickly as he passed, “I’d like a moment of your time when things quiet down.” Several in the group nodded in assent and Lant motioned to the group’s server and pointed to himself to indicate he would be picking up their bill for the evening’s fare. Lant did all of this while dodging his way through the lower tavern and working his way out to the upper tavern.

“Wonder what he wants?” Gideon asked.

Before anyone in the group could answer they noticed one of the liveried coachmen from the loud table had approached their table and now stood expectantly before them. The coachman cleared his throat to catch the group’s attention. “It will be wonderful to welcome such delightful new subjects into Dackia, though they be of low stature.” The coachmen tittered while delivering the last part of his address.

“This is your one warning,” Brodek growled.

“Ohhhh, a warning,” the coachmen crowed, “You had best learn how to address your superiors: You are a servant to the Dackian crown take knee now and…

Brodek’s hand flashed so quickly it was nearly impossible to see as the backside of the dwarf’s hand impacted the coachmen’s jaw. Blood sprayed in a wide arc from the coachmen’s mouth as he staggered backward. The group was on its collective feet in a moment drawing weapons.

The coachmen continued waving his hands in front of his body in defense and disbelief. Two of the coachmen’s fellows rushed forward grabbing him by his arms and pulling him back to their group. Several of the coachmen were scurrying out the door. Brodek pulled out his sword and the rest of the group readied their weapons and stalked forward. The adventurers collective blood was up and there was going to be a reckoning.

The original coachmen was whining, “I’m bleeding, I’m bleeding.” While many of his compatriots called out that they were not looking for a fight and wanted no violence. Only quick action by the wait staff and bar keeps, placing themselves between the coachmen and the adventurers stopped the group from cutting the coachmen down. Brodek and the rest reluctantly lowered their weapons. The lower inn’s staff called for the coachmen to exit now and the remaining Dackian coachmen scrambled to comply.

The original, taunting coachmen turned and called, “You barbarians will learn some manners.”

Before anyone could verbalize a reply, Cabo pulled his bow up even and shot an arrow square in the man’s buttock. Squealing in pain, the coachman was dragged out of the tavern.

One of Cabo’s favorite barmaids gave him a stern look of disapproval.

“Not my fault,” Cabo muttered looking down sheepishly.

*****

Only a few patrons remained in the lower tavern and the staff had started the arduous task of clean up after a big night of business. A tired-looking Lant Marrowkind entered the tavern and made his way to the group’s table. “I hear I missed quite a ruckus,” the portly innkeeper said with a smile.

“Aye, and nearly a massacre,” Osbourne replied.

“They were warned,” Brodek stated flatly.

“I’m sure,” Lant said. “If you think they were a pain you should have been with the high born fops I was dealing with in the upper.”

“That would have been a massacre,” Osbourne quipped.

Lant motioned for the group to follow. “Come with me. There is a matter I need to share with you.”

******

Lant began with some small talk asking how the adventurers’ meals were, and so on. After being encouraged to ‘get down to business’, he said, “You have been a big help to me. Unfortunately, I need to ask another favor of you. It is a bit of a dirty deed, but I think I can convince you it will be for the greater good. Over in the Upper Tavern is a snobbish fop by the name of Bogdan Comeaga. He is a Landgrave of Dackia and a nephew to the Grand Duchess Sorana Comeaga, in other words, he is a big wig from the east with lots of connections. Now, take a look at this map.”

“Here (Lant pointed at Brostantia on the map) is one of the main trading ports of Dackia. Many of the luxury goods that come through this inn originate in Brostantia. Here (Lant pointed at Highland on the map) is the closest city in Anglia. The majority of coach traffic and trade that comes through this inn is coming and going from these two places.

When I came to this place it was only a small, rundown coaching inn. The countryside was dangerous and there was a trickle of traffic. Through these hands and this (Lant pointed at his heart) I carved this place out of the wilderness. Business is good, the countryside is safer, and people are moving back to the area. I’m finally starting to see a profit. Now, like vultures here come those fops from Dackia.”

Lant paused and took a deep drink.

“Landgrave Comeaga has arrived and is making a demand of me. Dackia has an ancient claim to this area that stretches back to the time before the Grey’s were even around. With this flimsy claim they want taxes from me and a permanent outpost here at the inn. They want to take this over now that I have it rolling, and by the gods, I’m not going to let them!”

“But, there’s a problem. If I just refuse their entreaties it could really hurt us. I am not that worried about their military, although that is a concern - the real threat is the trade. They could choke us out of existence.”

“What I need is time. I own this land through a tenuous deed grant from the Empire of Harl. Everyone knows the Empire is dead and has been for a very long time. However, by terms of that deed I am the rightful purchaser of this property. My claim is certainly as strong as the Grand Duchess’s, which ain’t saying much.”

“However, I know well that the Viscount of Highland will not want Dackia securing such a claim in his backyard. If I could get a pledge of protection from him through higher channels to Dackia that probably would make the Grand Duchess back down.”

“Here’s where it gets a little dirty. I need to stop the Landgrave from getting back to Dackia. If his entourage were attacked by bandits and the Landgrave fell that would buy me some time. I was wondering if I could count on you to do this for me?”

“I’m in,” Cabo immediately said. There was a glint in the halfling’s eyes. Not a mischievous, fun, and slightly naughty glint frequently attributed to the small folk. This glint was born of pure malice and had more than a hint of madness with it. The rest of the group, sufficiently shocked at Cabo’s sudden acquiescence, did not even get a chance to speak before the thief began babbling about their needs for the operation.

“We’ll need a set of carpenter’s tools,” Cabo started.

“Done,” Lant replied.

“A one-horse wagon with a driver with no family ties to the inn,” Cabo continued.

“Probably not a problem, but why no family ties?” Lant asked.

“We don’t want him coming straight back here. So we will have to pay him off to go somewhere else for a long time. If he has family, they may start asking questions,” Cabo replied.

“I see, I can arrange that,” Lant confirmed.

“A large amount of poison,” Cabo continued.

“That’s a problem,” Lant replied. “First, as I said, this inn cannot be tied to the event, and second, poisoning would raise a huge red flag with the Dackians.”

“We have some of the Dark Elf poison,” Gideon offered.

“We need to see the Landgrave and his party,” Cabo said.

“They have headed to bed. That will have to wait for morning and again, they cannot see you. This cannot be traced directly back to me and the Old Ox,” Lant replied.

“We could interview one of your servers who worked their tables tonight then,” Osbourne suggested.

Lant stood up and went to the office door. He called to one of his help to go and fetch Gilda.

“When are they leaving?” Brodek asked.

“Soon, I hope,” Lant replied. “Given the demands they have placed on me I have a feeling that bill will not be paid.”

“Oh, it will be paid,” Cabo sneered. The glint in his eyes had returned.


*****

The interview with the serving girl, Gilda, revealed that the Landgrave was accompanied by two veteran, noble knights, at least eight men-at-arms, and a large amount of servants. Counting coachmen and other able-bodied males that put the fighting force of the Landgrave’s party at 30 at least.

Following the interview, Cabo grabbed up the proffered carpenter’s tools and made his way towards the stables. The thief’s initial thought was to assassinate the pair of valets guarding the stables, but he reconsidered realizing that might put the Landgrave on alert. He moved stealthily past the valets and a stableboy to the carriage house. Locating the Landgrave’s coach was a relatively simple matter due to its ostentation.

Carefully, and slowly, Cabo whittled away at the inner wooden spokes of the carriage’s wheels. Following a couple of hours of work, Cabo was well satisfied that his handiwork would cause the carriage to breakdown after a few hours on the road. He found the other carriages and unbound the three spare wheels he discovered, which he hoped would make for a long and tedious repair. Finally, Cabo gingerly sprinkled the Landgrave’s supply of horsefeed with poison. Probably not enough to kill the animals, but more than enough to make them mighty sick. The thief gathered his tools and made a stealthy exit.

*****

Late the next morning the Landgrave’s large caravan marched out of the Old Oxen Inn and took to the road. The adventurers waited a couple of hours and set off after them. The adventurers rode on the wagon and took turns conversing with their driver Harry. Harry was a widower who had lost his wife and children to a plague that had swept through his village three years back, but he was ready for a new start on life. Everyone liked Harry, and even Cabo had to admit he was a decent fellow.

Just a few miles from the Old Ox, the group spied a large pavillion surrounded by smaller tents set off a few dozen yards from the road.

“Surely they have not stopped already?” Halja asked.

“Maybe their carriages broke down?” Cabo suggested.

“I don’t think so, peck,” Brodek replied. “Everything looks intact and they are not working on wheels or anything else.”

“They’re bluebloods,” Harry said.

“So?” Osbourne said.

“They be done travellin’ for the day,” Harry answered. “They’re softer than regular folks.”

“Let’s keep going then Harry,” Cabo said. “Take us on past.”

“What if they stop us/” Gideon asked.

“I doubt they will,” Harry volunteered. “A wagon like this won’t catch their attention.”

Harry was exactly right. The Landgrave’s caravan did not even look up at the simple wagon passing by on the road. The servants were bustling setting up fires and cooking meals, while others were tending to horses and unloading coaches.

Harry pushed the cart on down the road a half league until the group found a small wood near the road. They pulled the cart off road into the wood and concealed it.

“Harry, we are going for a while,” Cabo started. “If we are not back by morning, head to the next village and wait a week for us there. If we are not there in a week, head back to the Old Ox.”

Harry smiled knowingly, “Give them bluebloods hell.”

“That’s the plan,” Gideon replied and the group headed back towards the landgrave’s encampment.

*****

The group had worked themselves into a hiding place in some low hills north of the landgrave’s camp and the road. Using their current vantage point, they could see four men-at-arms were posted at each corner of the grand pavillion. As darkness began to fall many folks of the entourage piled into the pavillion and servants came and went bearing piled high platters and wine skins. There were numerous campfires and torches situated around the pavillion illuminating the entire area.

As the group watched, a figure in a cowled cape emerged from the surrounding wilderness bound his way down to the camp.

“Who is that?” Halja whispered.

“No idea,” Brodek admitted.

The caped figure was stopped at the entrance of the pavillion by a pair of men-at-arms, but after the intercession of someone within the pavillion was admitted into the giant tent.

“What’s going on now?” Gideon asked.

“I don’t know,” Cabo replied. “But I am going to find out.” Cabo moved from the hiding place and stealthily began creeping down towards the camp.

“What’s the peck up to?” Brodek demanded. Gideon just shrugged in reply.

Cabo skillfully glided past the guards and wormed his way under the pavilion's outer canvas wall. He found himself below a table and in this small backroom of the pavilion he could see the caped figure speaking with the Landgrave and one of the knights. As the caped figure removed his hood Cabo could see clearly he was a Dark Elf. Cabo listened intently, but could only catch snippets of their conversation. He did catch the words ‘hold’, ‘slaves’, ‘agreement’, and ‘fortnight’. The Dark Elf replaced his hood and the three exited the small room.

Cabo wiggled back under the pavilion’s outer wall and began cautiously making his way back to the group’s hiding place.

*****

Cabo reported back to the group on what he witnessed. The group in turn shared that the caped and hooded dark elf had made his way back out of the camp and into the wilderness before Cabo had returned. A brief debate followed on what they should do next.

“The camp looks mostly quiet,” Brodek observed. “I say we go down and slaughter them.”

“We can’t do that,’ Cabo replied.

“Why not?” Gideon queried. “Sounds like a perfect plan to me. Besides no matter what convoluted scheme we concoct it always comes back to charging in and killing anyway.”

“We have to kill the main fops,” Cabo countered. “If we charge in and do not get them, it will make our job a lot harder. Let me sneak down there and kill the Landgrave. Once the hue and cry goes up we can slaughter as many as possible before hightailing it out of here.”

“”You want to go in and try to kill him by yourself?” Helja asked.

“It’s what I do,” Cabo replied.

“Sounds good,” Brodek stated. Everyone looked at the grizzled dwarven fighter in surprise. “I mean it will all probably come down to what Gideon said anyway. This has the added bonus of having the peck’s hide in the fire.”

Cabo did not look the least annoyed or perplexed by Brodek’s comments. “Alright, give me a 100 count head start. Once you start hearing screaming come running and killing.”

*****

Cabo slid past the men-at-arms guarding the pavilion and eased back under the wall where he had entered the large tent earlier in the evening. From his under the table vantage point he could see there were a half dozen men slumbering in the room. Cabo carefully left his spot and tiptoed over the sleeping men. He emerged from the smaller room into a narrow hallway. To his left was the larger pavilion area, where he could see numerous bodies resting on cots, the ground, and even some atop the tables. Cabo hoped that Landgrave Comeaga was not among them or his task might be beyond even his skills. The halfling thief cut a slit in the fabric wall of the hall and revealed another room beyond.

Cabo carefully squeezed through the slitted fabric and waited for a tense moment while his eyes adjusted to the oil lamp lit room. There was a large four-poster bed in the room and at the foot of the bed was a pair of young women sleeping in each other’s arms. Cabo moved gracefully to the edge of the bed and moved back the surrounding curtain. There in a deep slumber was the Landgrave.

Cabo’s next movements were swift as he removed his short sword and cut through the noble’s throat. The halfling’s blade cut deeply through the Landgrave’s neck, nearly to the spine. Comeaga awoke with a look of pure bewilderment and terror and as he attempted to scream a bubbling red mess issued forward from his pale lips. In seconds, the Landgrave was dead in a pool of crimson. Cabo gently wiped his blade off on the bed sheeting.

Cabo considered the pair of young women at the foot of the bed. He thought perhaps he should kill them both quickly before moving on. However, they were both very attractive lasses and looked angelic sleeping gently. It was just too much of a waste - he would let them live. They were likely to sleep through most of the night and showed no signs of stirring. Cabo left the area in search of the knights accompanying the late Landgrave.

Cabo slipped out of the room, back through the rent of the fabric, and into his original entry chamber. There he thought he saw one of the knights sleeping amongst several other fellows. Cabo carefully edged his way around the room to position his blade gingerly above the knight’s exposed neck and …

There was an ear-piercing scream from the next room. “God’s teeth!!” Cabo thought. “Should have killed them! Good looking women will be the end of me!” The halfling made a stab at the neck of the knight, but it was not as clean as he hoped and he was forced to retreat in the stir of waking and alerted men. He stole out of the tent and gave the signal.

The rest of the group approached the pavilion. When one of the men-at-arms started to confront them, Cabo sunk a shortsword deeply into his back.

“Did you get him?” Brodek shouted.

“Yes, but not the knights,” Cabo replied.

The pavilion was erupting in chaos within. Screams and cries mixed with bellowed orders as pandemonium broke loose in the tent.

“I’ve got a job to finish,” Cabo said. The halfling took off at a sprint and slid back under the tent wall in the back of the pavilion.

“Wait,” Brodek ordered.

Cabo meantime took advantage of the chaos in the tent. The halfling was tumbling through legs and even concealed himself beneath a lady’s nightgown without her knowledge for a split second. He finally spied one of the ladies he had let live earlier in the night trying to staunch the bloody neck of the knight he had stabbed in the neck. He saw a group of soldiers cowering in another section of the tent as the remaining noble knight screamed incoherently at them. Cabo rushed forward and delivered a vicious stab to the knight’s chest.

The lady tending to the knight let out a blood-curdling scream as the doomed noble coughed gobs of blood up on her.

“Shuddup you wench! It should've been you!” Cabo said. Turning, Cabo now saw the knight pushing through the mad crowd towards him with a retinue of men-at-arms in tow. Cabo dashed to the back of the tent and slashed at the back fabric. He slipped out and shouted at his waiting fellow adventurers, “It’s killing time!”

The knight emerged from the tent and was almost cut in two by the combined efforts of Helja and Brodek. The men-at-arms were cut down nearly as quickly. A few soldiers tried to retreat, but they were pursued and killed. While the rest of the group were occupied with the few remaining soldiers resisting, Cabo cut the ropes supporting the pavilion. The entire tent began to collapse on the mass of humanity within. The canvas started catching fire and soon the entire writhing mess became a nightmarish, burning inferno.

Cabo watched the tent burn with glee until he was disturbed from his reverie by Osbourne grabbing his arm. “We have to get out of here.” Cabo nodded and whistled at the rest of the group.

*****

There were only a couple of hours of dark left before dawn when the group returned to Harry and the cart. They bedded down and Cabo offered to take first watch. “I’m glad you are safe Mr. Cabo,” Harry called.

“Aye, Harry. We’ve done good work this night,” Cabo said with a smile.

Osbourne rose from his bedroll and came over to Cabo. “Are you sure you want first watch?”

“Cannot sleep anyway. My blood’s still pulsing,” Cabo said. “I guess I’m going to have to kill him.” Cabo said thumbing at the sleeping Harry.

“What?” Osbourne said with horror. “No, Cabo. He won’t tell anyone.”

Osbourne moved over to Harry and nudged him gently awake. “What is it Mr. Osbourne?” Harry asked rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

“Well Harry, we have a gift for you,” Osbourne plunked down a bag with gold coins. “There are more than 30 crowns in there. Enough for you to get your new start.”

“I don’t know what to say Mr. Osbourne,” Harry replied.

“That’s just it Harry - you have to say nothing. Nothing about us. Nothing about this night. Nothing at all. Just take your cart and go as far away as you dare and start your new life.”

“Oh I will Mr. Osbourne. I promise,” Harry replied.

“Good Harry, good. Now, get’s some sleep,” Osbourne said.

“Oh, and Mr. Osbourne?” Harry asked.

“Yes Harry?” Osbourne replied.

“Thank you so much. That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me,” Harry said.

“You are welcome Harry. Everyone deserves a new start. Now get some rest,” Osbourne turned to look at Cabo who had been watching the whole exchange. Cabo gave a nod to indicate he was satisfied and the whole camp was quickly asleep again.

*****

Osbourne woke and looked around the camp. He pulled himself up from his cot and stumbled into the brush to relieve himself. As he attended to his call of nature he could see Cabo was piling stones atop a mound. A shiver of horror ran down his spine. “What are you doing Cabo?” he called out.

“Burying Harry,” Cabo replied.

“Cabo, why?” Osbourne blurted.

“He seemed like a decent fellow - the least I could do is bury him,” Cabo replied.

“No!” Osbourne screamed. “Why did you kill him?”

“Knew too much,” Cabo replied as he nestled the final rocks in place on the cairn,

“He was not going to say anything!” Osbourne sunk to his haunches. He fought a wave of nausea.

“Maybe,” Cabo said indifferently.

“I would have bet anything on it,” Osbourne said sullenly.

“Yep, well, it still would be a gamble wouldn’t it. When it comes to choosing between a gamble and a sure thing - that’s an easy choice in the end for me,” Cabo replied. He lifted up the sack of coins Osbourne had given Harry the night before and tossed them towards the mage.

“You keep them,” Osbourne spat. “It’s blood money now.”

“Fair enough,” Cabo said as he scooped up the sack on his way past Osbourne. “Come on, let’s get some breakfast.”

to be continued...
 
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Hey, I like Pogre's account of the adventure. He makes my character sound better than he is. Its similar to dating a really small girl, makes your penis look like a sewer pipe in her hands.
 



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