By the Gods, I swear since I left the Empire of Oran, I have wasted more than half of my life waiting on men. Why must it always take them so long to do ANYTHING? Are they NEVER in a hurry?
When we decided to set out to track down Muin and bring him to justice, I expected us to grab our gear and be on the trail in a matter of minutes. I should have known better. They each had to pack enough gear to be on the road for a month. And they each had to bring a HORSE!! Now normally, I would be in favor of anything that would help them to travel a little faster, but they loaded down those animals with so much gear that they traveled slower than if they had walked. And they brought TENTS!! Can you believe that?? TENTS!!! Do they not understand the joy of sleeping under the open stars? I’m surprised that they didn’t want to bring servants!
We let Varas and Obadiah Milinthus know that we were going after Muin, and we FINALLY set out on the trail after him. Of course, by now he had an extra half day’s lead on us. Ulgaden Chinbat and myself could have caught Muin in under a day, but traveling at the speed of the rest of the group, it would take us several days to overtake Muin and his group.
For the most part the trail was pretty easy to follow. Muin had a large number of men with him, so he left a pretty obvious trail. We passed by a farm where a young human was selling some sort of fruit punch. It turned out to be half rotted. I spit mine out, but some of the others insisted on drinking it. They paid for it later when they puked their guts up on the side of the road. But at least the human boy confirmed that we were only a day behind Muin’s group.
Why do the humans insist on eating those disgusting dried rations when the woods are teeming with game? While we traveled, I kept an eye out for fresh meat. While I was securing us a goat, the rest of the party encountered a group of wood cutters. While traveling back to rejoin the party, I found the remains of the wood cutters and signs of 5 large humanoids. Morwenna tells me that they are ogres. I wanted to venture in to the woods and eliminate this threat, but the others convinced me that nothing could be done to save the wood cutters, and that the ogres would pose a deadly threat to our group. Reluctantly I agreed to continue on after Muin.
Muin must have figured out that we were getting close. He tried to mark a false trail, making it look like they had left the main trail and ventured off deeper in to the woods. It slowed us down for a few minutes as we followed the false trail, but we quickly figured out Muin’s ruse and returned to the true trail.
We decided to hang back behind Muin until nightfall so that we would have the advantage of darkness when we attacked. But at mid-day, we heard shouts and the sounds of battle ahead. I ran ahead to scout out the situation and saw a large number of bandits assaulting a merchant’s wagon. We weren’t sure at that point if the bandits were Muin’s men, but we couldn’t allow these innocent travelers to be slaughtered so we quickly charged to their rescue.
When we arrived on the scene, the bandits had subdued the merchants and their guards. There were nearly 20 men surrounding the wagon. Standing in the wagon was one of the largest humans I have seen in my time in the land of men. Maximus told me later that he was one of the men from Hammeh, the Realm of Frost. I bet he was as miserable in this accursed swamp land as I was! Back behind the wagon was a man who stunk of evil Olduwan magic. He had a contingency of bandits guarding him.
This was the first time that I had seen my compatriots in battle. I had briefly sparred with Ulgaden Chinbat and Maximus Decimus Meridius, but you never truly get a feel for your companions abilities until you see them in a real battle.
Things got confusing, so I am going to do my best to recall everything that happened.
Morwenna threw down one of her dolls, and a large gruesome humanoid appeared. She called it an ogre, like what had killed the wood cutters back on the trail. I lost sight of what happened to Morwenna after that. She stepped in to a glimmering portal and that was the last I saw of her until after the battle had ended. After being struck by a crossbow bolt from one of the bandits, the ogre let out a horrendous roar and charged the bandit, nearly cutting him in half with his giant sword.
Ulgaden Chinbat drew his crystal swords and charged a group of bandits that were attempting to flank us in the woods. I saw the flash of his blades in the sun and saw the bandits before him fall.
Maximus Decimus Meridius and Akatsuki charged in to combat on Maximus’ horse. Maximus dropped Akatsuki in front of a couple of bandits and her blades became a blur as she cut down the bandits in front of her. Maximus continued his charge, taking the battle to the large man in the wagon. He struck him with several mighty blows, but the large man would not fall.
I moved up to take on one of the bandits, when I became aware of something MUCH more important. There had always been something about Maximus that didn’t seem right, and it finally dawned on me why his presence unnerved me so. I realized that during his service in the war, he had slaughtered many innocent women and children!!! Suddenly, Muin, the stolen silver, the bandits… none of that mattered. I could not allow Maximus to live another day!! I would put an end to his days of murdering the innocent!!
I leaped on to the wagon, and swung to remove Maximus’ head from his shoulders. For a second, I thought that my crystal club had bounced harmlessly off of his shield, but then I saw Maximus fall from his horse to the ground, bleeding from a mortal wound. I guess my blow had been true after all! Not another innocent life would fall to his foul hand!
From here, things got a bit confusing. Somehow, there was a strange man playing a flute. Maximus’ horse charged towards the Olduwan witch, leaping over the bandits guarding him. The Olduwan fell to the ground as if struck by several mighty blows… and it was as if I awoke from a dream. I realized that the Olduwan had messed with my head, telling me lies about Maximus. Luckily Maximus’ apparent death had been another trick of the Olduwan, and I had not killed him as I thought. By the Gods, I hate mind twisting magic!
Several of the bandits had fled, but we secured the rest of them, along with the Hammeh man. The Olduwan witch was dead, cut nearly in half. His strange winged lizard started to feed on his flesh. I moved to eliminate it, but the others stopped me, telling me that it would return to the wild after it had fed on it’s former master.
There was no sign of Muin. He had apparently fled during the fight. We were able to recover the stolen silver however. It had been too heavy for Muin to carry and he had had to leave it behind.
The merchants were very grateful for our assistance and rewarded us with some silver. There was a guard’s tower at the nearby river crossing, so we accompanied the merchants and the captured bandits to the tower. The guards at the tower took the bandits in to custody, and based on the word of the merchents, had them shipped off to labor in the mines. We took Hallisin, the Hammeh warrior, back to Nemora Ater with us so that he could answer to Varas for his crimes.
Unfortunately, during our journey back, Hallisin was able to overcome Morwenna on her watch, and escaped. We discussed chasing after him, but decided that a lone man in the woods, especially such a stranger to these lands, would not survive long.
We returned to Nemora Ater and returned the silver to Varas. He was very grateful and rewarded us with more silver, and the use of a deserted house in the village for us to stay in. With our testimony as to the Olduwan witch, Obadiah Milinthus’s name was cleared and he was released.
I am not sure where my travels will take me from here. While we were dealing with this problem, the barge that I arrived on had continued on it’s journey. I can’t say that I am sad to have missed its departure. I would be happy living the rest of my days without ever setting another paw on a barge. For now I am stranded here in Nemora Ater. But that is a problem for tomorrow. I just remembered that the inn serves that wonderful ale.