Blood And Iron

The Hunt Begins ...

Week Two - Bandits, Brewing & More

Players Involved: Andrew (Popon), James (Manon Sèverin), Mark D (Rufio Bateu) and Dan (Jace Korsus)

The sun began to crest the hills of the Greenbelt, bringing with it a mediocre light that bathed the lands before it. Popon enjoyed watching the sunrise in these lands; certainly more than he did back in Llael. He’d only been there a few weeks after journeying there on his fathers wishes, but already this new way of thinking grated on him. The whole concept of selling yourself to the highest bidder was not in itself unusual to him; he was bought a slave after all. It was more that your loyalty once bought was only as good as the coin. Already the others in his “mercenary group” had spent far too long deciding who they should be supporting in the first place, when the choice was obvious to see. And still, he mused, they picked poorly. Alaina had good intentions, but this land was not hers to have these intentions with. He sighed loudly.

“Something you want to add to this discussion Popon? You’ll be helping to defend this place too I assume?”

Manon’s sharp words snapped Popon out from his short contemplation. She was staring at him, not quite angrily but certainly annoyed. She reminded Popon of the warrior women back home, strong, brave and determined to prove their worth. He looked her up and down; she really was quite beautiful, and-

“Hey, eyes up here. Within the hour, we’re about to be attacked by any number of bandits, and if Jace is right, we could expect Tharn involvement too. You know the area and the type of people around here, what can we expect?”

“Actually, I know more about the desert north of here, my tribe only been in the area once, and even then it about one hundred miles from here.”

“What? Then why are you even .. Oh I don’t even care, you’re still a part of this charter, so what do you think? Rufio’s plan of ambushing them from above the gate, or Jaces plan of surround and conquer?”

“I don’t understand either,” Popon exclaimed, with obvious confusion, “We should stand in the gate and await bandits. Then we beat bandits and they know our names, and never come back.”

Jace almost spat out his drink at this, which in itself bothered Popon; one should never waste good drink after all, “How can that be your plan? We stand there and get run over by who knows how many bandits? What if they have guns? Or bows? Or any kind of ranged offense?”

“Then we stand like warrior and beat them. Is easy.”

The rest of the party stared incredulously as they realised just how serious Popon was.

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She had caught sight of the new arrivals earlier that day. Keeping low to the ground, she stalked up to the fort, and effortlessly glided up and over the wall. Landing without a sound, she peered down upon this ‘change of circumstance’. They looked well armed, although unfocused. They argued with the old man, so were either not expected, or not prepared. She considered killing them here, but reconsidered. There was too many, and her sister wasn’t here to help. Better to watch them, see how they change the game. Silently, she moved back over the wall and through the grass.

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Popon stood in the stables next to Jace Korvus. Popon looked him down, and realised his disassociation with the party was most prominent with him. He was the very definition of a mercenary, only concerned with money and glory. His loyalty was purely based on the size of his paycheck. Popon shook his head as he thought about how entitled he must be, to put his monetary gain over the worth of other peoples lives, and for a long moment considered his father had made a mistake sending him to join with these people. Or maybe it was his mistake when he chose these mercenaries to join. He had spoke with Rufio, the hero of the people he had heard about, and thought that they would be the most noble warriors he could find. Now, he wondered how wrong he had been.

His breath caught in his throat as he spotted the enemy. Half a dozen bandits had entered the camp, laughing and making crude remarks about their host Svetlana. His hands gripped tight around his weapon as he fought the urge to rush forward and attack, but as instructed he waited for the signal. Manon would shoot the leader of these bandits, and then in the confusion they would rush out and attack. It was a plan that was-

CRACK

The crack of the musket rang out, and Popon looked in dismay as he realised Manon had missed. Any element of surprised had been lost, and they would quickly need to re-establish some kind of momentum. Roaring the warcry of his people, he rushed out and attacked the nearest bandit. Too slow the bandit realised Popon was upon him, and with a quick flourish he had cut the man from guts to chest, with the quick flick of his polearm taking him to the ground. Even as he went down, Popon spotted the second being attacked by Jace. His great-sword, a huge and heavy weapon in every regards, seemed lighter and swifter than Popon believed possible, as Jace destroyed the bandit with a single sweep of its glittering steel. His body literally tumbled in half to the floor, and Popon was taken aback by the savagery Jace fought with. It reminded him of the stories his father would tell him of the Skorne, and Popon reconsidered his earlier thought. Any man who could fight with such power was perhaps worthy of some measure of respect.

On the right hand flank, Manon and Rufio engaged their quarry at range, in a hail of crossbow bolts and a stead crack of bullets. Rufio had peppered his target, first taking his knee bot before a lethal shot to the throat, whilst Manons second shot proved lethally accurate compared to the first, with a considerable hole forming in the chest of another bandit. Before anyone could react, Jace had slaughtered a second bandit, and only one remained. Even as he turned to run, another bolt from Rufio and a quick sharp blow from Popon took the man down. He was badly injured, but alive … For now. Popon drew his Scimitar to deliver justice to the enemy.

“Wait Popon. He may have important information.”

“Why do we care Manon? He bandit, charter we have says kill bandit. So we kill bandit” Popon stated bluntly as he raised the blade to strike the bandit down.

“This land we soon be a vassal of Llael, and in Llael the man has a right to a trial. If he co-operates then we can-”

“Kill him and claim the 20 crowns we’re owed right? That’s what you’re going to say next right?” stated Jace. Popon might not like the reasoning, but agreed with the sentiment. “He’s a criminal, and a dead man. Unless you plan on paying for his release, which would be stupid as I’d just hunt him down again. The man attacked us, the man dies.”

“Agreed,” spoke Rufio, “I’m all for the rights of man, but it’s not like he turned on his would-be allies or anything. The man tried to kill us as much as we tried to kill him. He lost. Who knows how many others lost to him before we won?”

The argument was not one that would end quickly, but before the night was done, the bandits head was in a bag to be delivered to Ternon Crag.

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They had killed the bandits with lethal efficiency, as she suspected they would. Una signaled to her sister. Usa nodded back. These new players certainly changed the game, and their father would want to know. The bandits themselves were irrelevant, and more could always be found. Their deaths meant nothing, but the fact someone was standing up to them now meant everything. Whether something had to be done or not was not their decision. Quickly, they both left the area, and the party to their own devices.

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