Title: Bride Price
Date: Late Trilan, 1332 Avard
Synopsis: An ME team is dispatched to escort a bride and her dowry to Palatus, only to be caught in an ambush.
Morning of the 24th of Trilan, 1332 Avard.
In late 1331, the city of Teras began a slow plunge into terror, as werewolves infiltrated the city and held the children of the city's leaders hostage against their might. There were those who could see the slow decay of the city into fear, and so they moved what assets they could out of Teras. Included in the list of assets were members of the Guard with unbreakable morals and a strong sense of duty.
Many people throughout the world had a touch of alien blood, from demons to dragons. Rain had a touch of something primal, perhaps raksasha, but it was a manifestation that rarely showed itself except in the dead heat of battle. Rain was also a practical, logical, moral member of the Guard, immune to bribery or blackmail; coupled with her keen mind and keen senses, she was quickly made a reeve within the Guard – one who investigated crimes. She used twin axes to mete out death when death came for her, and yet she had a reputation for bringing in thieves, murderers, and other lawbreakers alive.
Rain spent several months in the city of Kashin, before the Guard transferred her to Chasadan and promoted her to Corporal. While in the city of former Inquisitors, she was assigned to the Ducal Mage's guards under Captain Aeron. The captain of the guards, however, was supposedly at Mount Lavanor; this left Sergeant Orren in charge of the guards, to whom Corporal Rain reported directly as a special reeve.
Sir Galewind of Palatus had recently arrived in Chasadan, having brought the sword Il'Ensee to the Ducal mage. On Sir Galewind's return trip, he was supposed to bring back with him the bride-to-be Lady Irradia, the only daughter of a very wealthy merchant family in Chasadan. Escorting the Lady Irradi were several ladies-in-waiting, her childhood nanny and matron sponser, and enough servants to keep her carriage and the dowry-wagon maintained. The dowry-wagon was so loaded down with gold and riches that the weight threatened to break the wagon.
The Lady Irradia's family had no concept of overland travel, or rough living, but Sir Galewind was somehow supposed to get the whole lot up to Palatus – normally just a four day journey by swift horse. While Sir Galewind was a tough and battle-hardened knight, he was no fool, and begged of the Ducal Mage additional escort. The dowry was a rich prize, and the wedding was no secret. Sir Galewind feared professional bandits the whole of the trip long.
The Ducal Mage, in turn, assigned Rain and whomever she could find of Meridian Explorations to go with her. Rain's first choice was a recent addition to ME whom she had known in Teras, Evaristhenilathe (more commonly known as 'Evar'). Rain and Evar managed to find the dwarf Wreckless and the eladrin Io in the ME manor, and drafted them into the mission. Wreckless and Io made Rain grimace, but no others were available, and she had to work with what she had. How such a bald and seemingly effiminate dwarf and an eladrin with a paunch who seemed to live in a drug-induced state had made it onto the ME team made Rain think twice about her assignment to the Ducal Mage and Meridian Explorations.
After acquiring mounts for the team, Rain led them to the North Gate of Chasadan, where Sir Galewind waited with his small caravan. Rain realized immediately that Sir Galewind was a man she could fight beside – but the caravan would be a huge hindrance in a fight. The giggling girls – barely 'women' – of the enterage would scream at the first sign of trouble. The men of the carriage and the wagon would also scream like girls. They were the scions and servants of rich people accustomed to being sheltered from the trials of the war.
Sir Galewind coordinated with Corporal Rain, and then the small caravan set out at a snail's pace. The carriage and the wagon both were overburdened, and there were no spare mounts. Rain dispatched members of her team forward and back as vanguard and rearguard, and kept a careful vigilance.
The caravan took three days to reach Fasra, the capital of the duchy. They had to deal with one of the wagoneers attempting to steal a gold ingot from the dowry, but Sir Galewind ensured that the man would never steal again, and would help keep a vigilance for other thieves among the caravan. Another two days went by, and then the caravan was ambushed by well-camouflaged bandits.
The bandits had a crew-served ballista guarded by shielded spearmen. The score of bandits were all armed with primitive bows or blades, and quickly overwhelmed the limited defenses of the ME team and Sir Galewind. The ballista bolt forced Io and Wreckless to seek cover between the wagon and the carriage, before they could once again take the offensive. The dwarf and the eladrin were a storm unto themselves, with Wreckless using death magics to weaken and drain his opponents, and Io using spirit magics to beat and batter the bandits.
Despite herself, Rain was impressed with the two, even as she and Evar killed, and killed, and killed. Rain's axe blade would fend off one attack while another came in from her side, and then she would be forced to defend herself all over again from a third attack as the bandits attempted to overwhelm their limited line, covered by their allies and the ballista.
The ballista's bolts nearly severed Wreckless' spine, and went clear through Io's leg and the flank of his horse without hitting anything critical.
And then Wreckless unleashed all the pent up death energy he had accumulated in the battle on the crew of the ballista. The ballista's fire haltered, and Rain pressed the attack, moving forward against the foe even as bandits sacked the wagon and the carriage.
Io breathed new life into their mounts, and revived Sir Galewind, whom had gone down in a hail of swords without being killed. The bandits hoped to ransom the knight, the maiden, and the ladies-in-waiting. Burdened as they were with gold and live bodies, the bandits were easy to chase down and finish, one by one. There was nowhere for them to hide in the vast short-grass prairie, and so the clean up was easily done.
The Lady Irradia was quite thankful for her rescue, showering thank yous on the ME team and Sir Galewind. After a careful accounting, the only losses were a dozen golden coins lost in the grasses, and the dignity of having been carried off by bandits, even if only for a short distance.
That night, they rested, tended their wounds, and made preparations in case other bandits return. The ME team found the man-pulled wagon that had been used to transport the ballista, and towed it behind their horses in a rotating manner.
In Palatus, the caravan was met with a grand entrance, for the town had been preparing for the wedding. The ME team was required to attend by the Baron Koord of Halgrimar. After the wedding, the town's smith and cooper were put to work to make a towed wagon for the ME team's ballista. Baron Palatus at first attempted to keep the ballista, but Sir Galewind's word stalled the feudal lord long enough for a retired barrister to intervene and award the weapon to the ME team.
Evening of the 2nd of Vor, 1332 Avard.
Dinner was cheeseburger soup, and it was good. (I'm beginning to realize that I mark time in meals, and when I can't remember my meals, I can't remember time.) Dave was spending quality time with his daughter for the summer, and Bill was called away for family business. Jami wanted to give playing a try, as she'd never experienced Dungeons and Dragons or any other table-top RPG, so we were happy to accomodate. Nick managed to rejoin us for a second time to reprise his role as Io.
Note to self: next time, use minions for the bandits, and use TWO ballistas, albeit less powerful ones.
RPG System: Dungeons and Dragons, 4th Edition.
All characters were 12th level.