Galen's breath left his nose in wisps as he looked towards his men who were as ready as he was. There wasn't any movement but he knew that it was the time. A breeze rolled in and several arrows were released. The Khergits weren't famed for their armor or how covered they were. In the first volley, several of them fell to their barbed arrows while the others spun around to try and determine where the arrows were even coming from but soon they also fell. The Khergits could have only seen their quick movements before an arrow was pulled. Their shields only could absorb so much and their bodies could only take so many arrows.
Galen aimed at the man with the horse. He rose when the others began to fell but as he did, an arrow met his chest. That didn't kill him at first. He yelled in pain before trying to rip out the barbed arrow but his hands became bloodied. Galen stood with anger and walked down from the low rise. He let loose another arrow at the Khergit this time it hit his leg.
"Galen!" Verdan shouted but he couldn't hear him. A Khergit charged Galen but was struck in the neck by an arrow. "Galen!"
Galen let loose another arrow into the Khergit's shoulder but he was already on his way to the ground. Verdan drew his sword and ran towards Galen, protecting him but all the Khergits were already dead or dying. Their choking and gasps replaced the grasshoppers's chirping.
"Galen what the hell are you doing?!" Verdan gasped.
"Get that damned horse." Galen growled. He walked to the downed man with axe drawn. The Khergit was on the ground, writhing in pain trying to draw his sword but the pain was too much. Verdan grabbed the horse by its reigns, calming the beast. Galen drove his axe through the Khergit's hand and into the dirt. The Khergit screamed again.
"Remember this face." Galen pulled the man to a tree and threw him into it. The Khergit slumped down. "The horse."
Verdan led the horse to Galen. He took the Khergit's sword and stabbed it through the horse's neck. Galen pushed the dying horse onto the Khergit, pinning him to the tree.
"Galen! Is this necessary?! We could have used him! Sold him even!" Verdan shouted. The men started to go around the meager camp scavenging what they can.
"Men, look around for that merchant's things. If any of them are still living tell me. The dead ones you can scalp."
"Galen, this one is still moving!" One of his men yelled out. Galen walked over to the man who was riddled with arrows but was still alive. Galen pushed down on one of the arrows.
"Why are you here?" Galen questioned.
"I desire is a chance to prove myself."
The emir looked up languidly, studying Jakob in more detail. He seemed unimpressed.
"And who are you, then? Breaking an oath to a liege-lord is grievous treason. Risking our tenuous peace with Swadia for a common mercenary is hardly worth it." he said dismissively. "However, this is not for me to say."
He stood, and beckoned to a servant. The servant approached nervously. Mundhalir was not the gentlest man, even in his age.
"Fetch me the good captain. We will try our Swadian friend at arms, before he misspeaks himself and find himself short a tongue."
The captain soon appeared, a tough gray man in his fifties, probably. He led Jakob back into the courtyard, and tossed him a sword, Sarranid in style. The man drew his own blade, and stood straight and waited for Jakob's attack.
"Tell me how much did you get for James' stuff at market?"
The lad thought for a second, adding up the denar from various merchants.
"About 350 denar. Which is outrageous. But when a salty warrior-merchant Nord gives you a price, you take that price." the lad said with a shrug.
So he had 1350 denar for a day's work. A nice and tidy profit, one would think. Enough to get his men some actual weapons, and hire an archer or two, if he'd like.
Though a thought had presented itself as he watched the pages blacken and burn. He could try and ignore it, but it would come back to haunt him. These men, whoever they were, weren't the sort to be easily turned down. They'd be back. Whether with more cushy jobs or with some mercenaries. One could never tell.
Trish bowed once again. She prayed that she hadn't insulted the king in anyway.
The lord looked at hes bemusedly, then shook his head incredulously.
"A bolder knight I've never met." he said with a laugh. He turned to a courtier- apparently at random- and asked how much they could spare from the war effort. The noble looked confused. A man on the other side of the room, apparently the master of coin, answered for the bewildered man.
"A thousand denar, m'lord. The winter was hard, and the fighting to the east is fierce. With Rindyar fallen and Dhirim teetering, it may be foolish to throw away good coin to fight bandits."
Another man spoke out. "And you would let the bloody knaves run wild, and make a mockery of the king's justice?"
The room erupted into arguing, each noble feeling the need to state his opinion. The king looked around quietly, then sighed.
He spoke to Trish and only Trish. "You will have a thousand denar. However, if Dhirim does indeed fall, you must needs aid us in the eastern wars. This I ask of you. Otherwise, you have my blessing to root out the bandits who infest my kingdom."
The bounty hunters fell on them in the woods north of Weyyah Castle, straight west of Almerra. They were eight strong, the others having fractured off to follow other trails.
[You're mostly cavalry, so -1 for forest, -1 for fighting other cavalry. +2 for good commander.(I assume? It's not real clear. But he seems to be a competent commander, anyways.) And they've got better kit than any of your men, so -1 I guess. I really need to go add some things about that to the roll mods. :| So roll a d20-1, and try for 9 or above. If that sounds reasonable to you?]
"Why are you here?" Galen questioned.
The man screamed, and thrashed about for a moment before going still, breathing heavily.
"I was on my way to fuck your mum." the man spat, then laughed harshly. He was dead, anyways. So why not take the opportunity to strike out at his killer? "We got thrown out, you fool of fools. We lost most of our horses, and the Khan don't want no horseless soldiers in his army." he added, as Galen moved to hurt him again. So much for heroic resolve.
Whether or not to reveal himself to this strange man was up to Gerick, or whether to order his death for paying with evidently false coin.
Gerick internally sighed as he weighed the bag in his hand. It had all been going so well. "You have heard correctly." Gerick replied in a slightly disappointed tone. "But in times such as these a man is only as good as his word..." As he finished the sentence Gerick flipped the bag over allowing the contents to spill out on to the ground.
"I might have been able to arrange a meeting, but it's such a shame that you can't trust anyone these days." The second part was said a bit louder then the rest, it might have made sense enough but it was also a simple enough code. A signal that three or four hidden arrows might end the leader though there was no reason to kill the others unless they attacked.
Trish was looking at the king with an worried look, she had made a bold request a very bold one.If she had made this request of a Kahn he would have probably had her tong cut out, but King Harluas was known to be a more sensible king. "A bolder knight I've never met." King Harluas laughed and then looked at a nearby courtier, he asked him how much money they could spare from the war chest. Trish stood there in disbelieve, she hadn't though he would give her the money. The man across the room answered he looked like an intelligent man, Trish assumed he was the master of coin.
"A thousand denar, m'lord. The winter was hard, and the fighting to the east is fierce. With Rindyar fallen and Dhirim teetering, it may be foolish to throw away good coin to fight bandits." Trish looked down, it seemed not everyone agreed with the decision. "And you would let the bloody knaves run wild, and make a mockery of the king's justice?" A voice shouted. Trish looked back up, it seemed some people did agree. Suddenly the whole room was filled with people shouting at each other, she stood there surprised. The King sighed and looked at her "You will have a thousand denar. However, if Dhirim does indeed fall, you must needs aid us in the eastern wars. This I ask of you. Otherwise, you have my blessing to root out the bandits who infest my kingdom."
Trish bowed before the king. "You have my word King Harluas." Trish looked back up, she was smiling but the king couldn't see that obviously. Trish had one last thing to talk about. "While the others are arguing let me ask one last thing. I have heard rumors that some lords work together with bandits. They are paid bribes to allow them to continue to raid trade caravans on their land. What am I to do when I find such a noble? Report him to you?"
Maelum. Sargoth. 1350 Denar. 10 men (Nord recruit standard)
Well what could he do? it wasn't as if these folks left a forwarding address. He would just have to hope that they didn't think he was a threat to them if he left, and if they did, well he would have to show them he was.
He scooped up a portion of the coin for himself, no reason Lucius had to do all the bartering. "I'll see to getting supplies for us and the boys." He reckoned he had enough to buy food for a week, though he hoped the hunt wouldn't last that long and while he was at it he could get himself a horse. Make sure he looked the part of a company man.
"You make sure to get you and the boys some proper gear now, good stuff, uniform stuff." He grunted at Lou. "And find some men who can string a bow." Lou nodded and left to do his errands. No doubt there were men in this tavern who would sign up with them, as for the buying well the two of them could get to that tomorrow morning, when the stores opened.
It was the next day and the sun hung at its midday point. Maelum had found himself a tough enough horse and a healthy thing at that. He liked the Nordic horse breeds, they were less dandy than the Swadian breeds and their coats were thick and shaggy. His had a main (was that what it was called?) the was so long it hung like a fringe, covering the stocky fellow's eyes. It made him smile a little every time he looked at the dopey looking thing. It was friendly too, he would have to think of a name for it.
He fed the horse one of the carrots the stableman had thrown into the deal and checked his map, making a plan of how to go about cornering his prey while he waited for Lou and the men to finish their business.
"Let me show you what we do to funny men." Galen ripped off the man's helmet. "Dagger, Verdan."
Galen and his men took all that they could off of the Khergits which included their armor, belongings, and a few scalps. It took Galen a while to get back to Dhirm with all the things they looted off of the abandoned war party. It was a few days until he arrived and once he arrived he sold the Khergits' armor and arms for what they were worth. The rest Galen had he put in a chest for the fabric merchant to see. He wasn't sure what or how much the Khergits took from the merchant but to make sure of it he put them all in there.
Galen walked to the fabric merchant's stall with Verdan and another man carrying the chest.
"Merchant!" Galen yelled out. "I have something you might want to see."
Verdan opened the chest revealing all the things that the Khergits had in their possession at the time.
"Which ones are yours?"
"I might have been able to arrange a meeting, but it's such a shame that you can't trust anyone these days."
At the sudden shift in volume, several more guards placed their hands on their weapons, and peered into the forest. None of them were green boys, and they all knew something was up. The merchant held his hand up, his eyes glinting icily.
"Stay your blades. Jonaas, come here."
The lad stepped forward again. "Yes, m'lord?"
"Did I give you the code for 'false coin' or 'true coin'?"
"I... I don't know, m'lord."
"I realize I hired you barely a month past, but that is inexcusable. I did not say, "denar", I said "coin". What, exactly, is the point of keeping you in my caravan if you'll muck up such a basic command?"
He turned to Gerick, with a smooth, easy smile. "You will forgive him, I hope? He is young and inexperienced. If he knows what's good for him, he'll fetch the proper coin, now." The last part was directed at Jonaas. "I have a... Proposition for this leader of men. I think he'll find it a most interesting offer. Will you take me to him?" The honesty of the man could easily be questioned, and it was doubtful that the codes for true coin and fake were reversed. But it might now hurt to hear out his proposition. Might be a good opportunity to make a better name for himself in the land.
"While the others are arguing let me ask one last thing. I have heard rumors that some lords work together with bandits. They are paid bribes to allow them to continue to raid trade caravans on their land. What am I to do when I find such a noble? Report him to you?"
King Harlaus ran his hand across his stubble thoughtfully. "I do not know. Many would simply demand a bribe themselves. We keep the peace in this kingdom. Those who make waves often have a habit of... Disappearing. If you're set on bringing these men to light, gather your proof and bring it before me. We will see if it is acceptable." the man said with a shrug. "I mislike to think that one of my lords would be engaged in such grifting, but it does happen."
The man turned to an attendant standing nearby, who scuttled over to a guard near the wall, who passed the message along the guards, eventually arriving at the guards at the doors, who swung them open quietly. King Harlaus stood, nodded to Trish, and strolled out while the courtiers argued amongst themselves.
Maelum. Sargoth. 1350 Denar. 10 men (Nord recruit standard)
The horse had been the most expensive, at just about 600 denar, but it was a sound investment. He'd managed to procure 4 weeks' field supplies with only about 200 denar.
The huntsmen had taken some persuading, Lucius found. He managed to get five of them to sign on for 20 denar apiece, 2 denar wages a week and a cut of the loot, same as most army agreements.
This left them with 650 denar to upgrade the recruits into something more worth commanding, with new weapons and armor. It was a hard deal to make, but the armorer eventually sold them what they needed for only 250. They were left with 200 denar to do with as Maelum desired.
Lucius approached Maelum where he stood at the stables, and handed him the purse of the remaining denar.
"It was tight, but we managed to have some left over. What now?"
They could ask around the city and see if anyone was willing to talk about the outlaw. Or, they could simply ride out of the city and interrogate travelers. Either could work. Either could end badly. It was up to him.
"Which ones are yours?"
The man went wide-eyed at the contents of the chest. He reached out and ran his fingers across a few swatches of fabric.
"It looks like all of the fabric is mine, all from my last shipment. The rest comes from somewhere else."
He stared hard at Galen, then shook his head.
"It's rare to find a man willing to charge into battle without asking for something up front. You can trust everyone in the merchants' guild will know about you soon. I'll make sure of it. You won't be hurting for coin, methinks. Anyways, give me a few days to sell my stock and I'll have some money for you and Serina."
He kept his voice carefully under control this time, but his immense relief was readily apparent.
"Take your time merchant, as long as you pay off me, Serina, and spread word of my actions. That is all I ask for." Galen said, humbled by the thanks the merchant gave him. He smirked at Verdan who dutifully gave him an approving smile. "We'll be here for a few days before we depart once more. If you have anything to tell me, I'll be at the inn."
Galen and his men once again occupied the inn much to the Inn Keeper's dismay but at Galen paid the man. Night dawned once more and the inn was rowdy with Galen's men and the denizens of the night making a ruckus. The inn was heavy with laughter, and the shouts of men with stories to tell especially Galen's men who exaggerated their tales, doubling the amount of Khergits and adding a dragon or two. Verdan was drinking, and laughing with the men while Galen was at the bar, drinking to himself until Serina came along to refill his drink.
"I think I deserve some thanks for allowing the merchant to pay off his dues, if you didn't hear so already."
Maelum. Sargoth. 200 Denars. (10 Nord footmen 5 Nord Huntsmen)
Any trails around Sargoth would be dead cold by now and Maelum was anxious to put some distance between him and the shadowy groups he's no doubt upset. The bounty sheet gave a brief description of the mark and said that he had last been seen in the village of Fenada just off the coast near Sargoth. He might be able to get some information on his target there and maybe pass a few merchant caravans on the way, never know what travelers could tell you.
Anything would be better than what he had now, even a name would be a good start. this criminal was good at covering his tracks but no one could disappear without leaving a trail. He saddled up and got the lads organised and moving out, if they kept up a good pace they could reach Fenada village in a few hours.
Once they hit the trail he brought his horse to a simple trot and came up besides Lou in the formation. "How's the new armour treating you?"
"Good thank you sir." Lucius nodded back, his helmet falling over his brow. "It's much warmer than what I had before."
"Good lad, the others treating you all right?"
"Sven and grim have shown me a few good shield techniques, still not sure about using an axe though." He said, a little bashful.
"That's fine lad, you stick with your sword, you and I can keep training." There were times when Maelum doubted his young ward was made for the mercenary life but what did Lou have to go back to? The life of a shop assistant or farmer boy mucking out stables. This life may be dangerous but it had its perks and the chance for financial gain.
Maelum was feeling good today, he finally had some honest work and a good sized crew. yes sir things were on the up.
"I have a... Proposition for this leader of men. I think he'll find it a most interesting offer. Will you take me to him?"
Gerick narrowed his eyes slightly at the caravan leader. The man was already slightly dislikeable and his apparent willingness to throw his underling forward as a scapegoat earned him more of Gerick's ire. However, Gerick clearly couldn't just dismiss him either, there was at least no harm in hearing him out.
Gerick turned around and strolled back to his tree, returning to his lounging position; it was critical to appear in charge of the situation, make them wonder what made him so confident. "He is close enough already." Gerick responded offhandedly, "If you speak clearly enough then the bandit engineer will hear your proposition just fine."
As Asin rode through the gates of Castle Uhhun, he was surprised not to find his heart heavy, even though he was leaving his life as a prince behind. His brother, the new lord of Uhhun, would not tolerate his actions, and would forbid his return, maybe even name his a traitor. But Asin did not care; he felt more free than he had in a long time, and knew now that this was what he had been called for.
Behind him rode a mixed force; directly behind him rode his personal guard of Veterans, who casually maintained perfect, easy formation; then came the followers he had called to his banner, an assortment of Lancers and Horse Archers who rode in a pack. He would have to organize his troops into a more coordinated entity before they saw combat. He resolved to speak to the men that night.
When they made camp, they would have reached the Swardian border. Asin had his Veterans scout the path ahead of his main force, and gave orders for the watch to be strengthened while they remained in the active warzone.
King Harlaus ran his hand across his stubble, he seemed to be thinking. "I do not know. Many would simply demand a bribe themselves.....We will see if it is acceptable." Trish nodded, she was happy that she was allowed to pursue them. "I mislike to think that one of my lords would be engaged in such grifting, but it does happen." King Harlaus stood, nodded to her, and strolled out while the courtiers argued amongst themselves. Trish bowed to the king when he passed her.
After that she walked towards the master of the coin. "Greetings sir, when will I be able to pick up the 1000 denars?" Trish knew what the master of coin had though of her plan, and she hoped he wouldn't sabotage it.
"I think I deserve some thanks for allowing the merchant to pay off his dues, if you didn't hear so already."
The barmaid leaned up and planted a kiss on his cheek. "A right proper hero. But you're not like to get any coin off of us." She winked at him, and hustled away to serve others.
Word was already spreading through the merchants' guild. It wasn't exactly an important trade route, but there were a few who depended on it. And so Galen became a little better-known for his propensity as a problem solver.
Two days passed before a courier came to the inn with two purses of gold. They weren't exactly light, and the courier told him it was just over seven hundred denar, just over half of what was left after the merchant's debts were paid.
And so Galen was free again. He had a few coins, a few soldiers, and a nation to be hired by. His next move was completely his own.
Maelum. Sargoth. 200 Denars. (10 Nord footmen 5 Nord Huntsmen)
Maelum's troop arrived in the mean, cold village. There were a couple of pig sty's and a small field. It was readily apparent that the village was not flourishing. There appeared to be no specific reason, though the entire north was plagued by sea raiders.
The village was sparsely populated, but those who were out and about eyed the group suspiciously. A young boy slipped away to alert the elder.
There had been two travelers on the road, though only one knew anything of a criminal in the area, and had put a name to the bounty. The bounty notice was vague on every detail, but it would seem that the man Maelum was seeking was no man, but a salty spearwife who had left a tribe of sea raiders some years before to start her own. A old woman by now, by the name of Flaming Isi. The unusual moniker had no obvious explanation.
Asking around the village got them no where, only blank stares and directions to ask the elder. The man was not as old as some, but he seemed bright and canny.
"Greetings." he called as Maelum approached. "You require something?"
Gerick responded offhandedly, "If you speak clearly enough then the bandit engineer will hear your proposition just fine."
The man smiled. He was many things, but a fool was not one of them. He was fairly certain who he was talking to. He decided to keep up the pretense, however.
"I will assume you do not know who I am?" He began, then shook his head. "Of course not. I am the third son of good king Graveth of the Rhodoks. Unlike my elder brothers, I have no interest in politics. However, I have a fantastic nose for business."
Here he faltered, then pushed onward. "And I believe I have a certain job that could make us both fantastically wealthy. He and I, of course. There is a... Thing... I need taken, and there is startlingly few men who could both understand what I need and be able to get it." He rubbed his hands together, and looked at Gerick expectantly.
Asin had his Veterans scout the path ahead of his main force, and gave orders for the watch to be strengthened while they remained in the active warzone.
The Khergit-Swadian border was a strange place. There was no truce, but there had been little active combat in recent weeks. Skirmishes and raids, but no full-out battles. The Khan had led his forces against Rindyar roughly a month before, but had made no major moves on the western front since.
And so Asin's scouts found nothing of note. A few travelers and a group of slaughtered farmers, but no enemy soldiers. It made a couple of the veterans uneasy- the front hadn't been this quiet in a year or more- but it was a relief to not be fighting constantly.
It did raise questions of where, exactly, the Swadians were, but those were questions for another day. The veterans returned to camp, wearied from the road, but it fair spirits.
"Greetings sir, when will I be able to pick up the 1000 denars?" Trish knew what the master of coin had though of her plan, and she hoped he wouldn't sabotage it.
The man looked at her and sighed.
"This way, then. It may be tomorrow before things calm down enough to have the clerks count it out." The man sighed once again. It was readily apparent he had his misgivings about the whole deal. But Harlaus was known to be a shrewd man, and he wouldn't give away so much money without knowing he would gain much from it.
He led Trish to a small room off of the great hall, where he kept his offices. He flipped about in his ledger, then marked something down on a certain page.
"Sir Tristan de Molay, was it? Will you be in the city long? I must have the clerks count out your coin, and officiate it. You understand, I hope. Nothing is simple in this court." He sounded resigned.
"There is a... Thing... I need taken, and there is startlingly few men who could both understand what I need and be able to get it."
Once again Gerick could feel his disdain for the man grow. He didn't really care that the man was some royalty or whatever, and now it turned out that he just wanted something criminal after all. True, Gerick was a bandit, but far more out of necessity then desire. He felt like dismissing the prince, but the promise of great riches was undeniably intriguing, lots of money always did tend to make things go much smother.
"Theft then." Gerick didn't even try to hide the disdain in his voice. "Of course the reason bandits are bandits and not thieves is there are quite a few less guards out here." Gerick considered for a moment. "Well, stop beating around the bush already; what is this... thing... anyways?"
Galen measured the coin bags by weight in his calloused hands. Coins are a valued resource, even more valuable than meat he hunted for, or the hides his father used to provide. Without the coin then nothing would circulate nor advance and he hated that fact. He paid the men early much to their surprise and told them to get ready. Galen's new plan was to go Tilbaut Castle which hopefully the occupants there would either give him some place to rest or a task that needed doing. Tilbaut is still some distance from the icy lands of the Vaegirs but the cold was something he didn't exactly looked forward to. Still, Galen lumbered on and went through the gates of Dhirm and up north.
"Greetings." he called as Maelum approached. "You require something?"
The mercenary smoothed over his clothes and hair in an attempt to look presentable and shot the man his most civilized grin.
"Nothing much sir. Me and my boys here, well we're looking for a certain someone. A woman in fact, goes by the name of "Flaming Isi". I'm told she's given you folk and a few others a hell of a lot of trouble and well... we'd like to have a word with her about it. My information tells me she passed through here not too long ago. I was wondering if you could tell me anything about that? We'd be mighty grateful to you if you could sir."
[b]"Well, stop beating around the bush already; what is this... thing... anyways?"
The man took a step back, and eyed Gerick again. "You mistake me, sir. You think I would seek you out for common theft?" He laughed. "Not worth your time or mine. You see, this is no simple theft." He looked around, and rubbed his hands together.
"The Sarranids have a device. Big, clanking thing. I don't know what it does, but we've captured a few. We need schematics, plans, training manuals, anything to know what they do. No common brute could recognize it."
He sighed, and looked down. It would appear Gerick was not the first to be hired. "I realize the gratitude of the Kingdom of Rhodoks likely means very little to you, so in exchange, you will provided with a sum corresponding with what you bring us. At least a thousand. More, if it teaches us how to use it against the blasted Sarranids. Sound fair?"
Still, Galen lumbered on and went through the gates of Dhirm and up north.
He was not destined to make it far. He was intercepted by a clan of 14 bandits just north of the forests east of Dhirim. They were on foot, mostly on foot, in the plains just outside the forests. It would seem they'd been trying to ambush them in the forests, but Galen's men had unwittingly slipped by, or taken a different route.
Dispatching with any threats, the bandits immediately charged.
[16 v. 15, so try for 11 on a d20. The roll mods are on the main page, if you'd be so kind as to look yourself. Kind of in a rush. Sorry.]
"I was wondering if you could tell me anything about that? We'd be mighty grateful to you if you could sir."
The man sighed, and looked sadly at Maelum. "Better men than you have died hunting that sea-bitch. She camps to the north. North of Wercheg, on the coast of the peninsula." The old man turned away, and sighed.
"I tell you this against my better judgement. You may find her too strong of a challenge. But you must move quickly, she will not stay there for long. And she must come to justice. Now go, and leave me in peace. Gods help you."
The man looked at her and sighed. "This way, then. It may be tomorrow before things calm down enough to have the clerks count it out." The man sighed again, showing that he didn't agree with the deal. The man stood up and Trish followed him. They entered a small room outside of the great hall, he then grabbed a ledger and said "Sir Tristan de Molay, was it? Will you be in the city long? I must have the clerks count out your coin, and officiate it. You understand, I hope. Nothing is simple in this court."
Trish nodded. "I understand sir, and my name is indeed Tristan de Molay. I will be staying just outside the city, the horses get a bit restless in the city you see." Trish wasn't lying the horses didn't like the city much, she liked the city even less. "Do you have any more questions for me sir? If you don't I would prefer to take my leave, if you don't mind. You see I still have quite a lot of things to do, and my party gets restless if I don't return soon." Trish was happy that the king had promised her money, but she wanted to leave the castle now. She was planning to buy equipment for a couple of her strongest man at arms to make them full fledged knights.
"That's not saying much sir. Most men are better than me."
North of Wercheg? That was a strange choice of camp. Last he checked not much traffic came through Wercheg. But at the same time it limited the directions you could be attacked from. The land on that little peninsula was thich with woods and hills, hard to sneak a company around on it. Looking at the map Maelum could see that there was a mountain range dividing the mouth of the peninsula. If she was moving soon that gave her two ways to go.
South route would lead her closer to civilization, more targets but risky ground. North route would stick closer to the coast, fewer caravans but they'd be in the open and further from any armed authority. If he was leading a pack of motley sea raiders that's where he'd go. Better bets, familiar ground. But by the sounds of it this woman had been at this for a long time, no doubt she had some tricks up her sleeve.
His best option now was to stop at Albruq castle on the way to Wercheg. Maybe the local blue blood could give him some extra men or at least some more information, if this "Flaming Isi" had kicked up such a fuss then word of her must have traveled there.
"Thank you sir." He said, doffing an imaginary hat to the elder. "Let's move out!" He barked and his men set off for Albruq.
Luck wasn't on Galen's side that day.
"Galen! The forest! There are bandits coming out of the forests!" Verdan yelled. "Form up! Form up!"
Galen and his men turned to face the charging bandits who donned better gear than usual. Their shields were less battered and their armor was more clean which worried Galen who was used the usual rabble. "Fire!"
Arrows were let loose and a few of the bandits fell but the ones who still stood continued the advance. Their shields absorbed the incoming arrows with ease and the distance between them and Galen's archers began to dwindle. The infantry in front began to throw their javelins at the approaching bandits killing a few of them once more. Soon swords clashed with what infantry Galen had engaging the bandits and even a few of his archers as well but they would not last in this kind of fight. They had to retreat or else they face total destruction by the well-armed bandits.
"It's been an honor hunting with you, men." Galen spoke out. "Verdan, I need your help once more. Get four men and cover our retreat. I'll be waiting for you in Dhirm, good luck."
"It's been an honor, Galen. Just do me one favor, get our men back!" Verdan said. He charged into the fray, knocking some of the bandits down.
"Retreat!" Galen yelled to the rest of his men and they did so with heavy hearts. The last he saw of Verdan was a figure in the distance, taking a man to the ground before several swarmed him.
He arrived in Dhirm with his men with sad hearts. They had only lost five men but the group was very tight-knit and it was like losing family because they were the only family they had. Galen took to the inn once more intent on drinking himself to death but then he remembered what Verdan told him to do and he intended on following through. Galen spent the next few days looking for at least 5-10 men, going to back alleys and other taverns to get the toughest rabble who could shoot a bow or fight with a sword.
"...you will [be] provided with a sum corresponding with what you bring us."
However, Gerick was no longer interested in what the monetary reward would be. Instead he stroked his chin as he considered the device in question; it was what pecked his interest now. Gerick would almost prefer to get to see the machine himself, but if he really could get his hands on designs themselves they might almost be better; probably too good to hand over to this brute.
On the other hand, Gerick still had to be real about this whole thing. Such documents were likely to be well guarded and Gerick was no catburgler. He held no illusions about his followers either, they were neither delicate workers or stout warriors, and while they knew the woods and roads well that was a totally different place then a military workshop.
And yet, Gerick still couldn't drop the thought of this opportunity. The chance to get his hands, definitely not the Rhodok prince's hands, on these modern jems of construction was far to enticing to pass up. No doubt some opportunity would come up; otherwise Gerick would simply have to make one.
Still appearing to be in thought Gerick eventually spoke up. "Sounds to me like you still would prefer a house breaker, and of course it'd be hard to find a few slips of paper amongst an entire kingdom." He was silent for a few more moments. "But give me 600 now and at least 700 on delivery and I'll get whatever you want." Gerick remained perfectly calm and relaxed despite blatantly raising the fee by half.
"But give me 600 now and at least 700 on delivery and I'll get whatever you want." Gerick remained perfectly calm and relaxed despite blatantly raising the fee by half.
The merchant smiled broadly. "You drive a hard bargain. You understand, then, why you had to be the one to find it? Anyone else wouldn't be able to make sense of the all of the schematics and get the right one back to us. So I'll gladly pay you more. These damn Sarranids need to be put in their place."
He turned, and went to a small chest on the main caravan. He opened it, revealing around a dozen hefty bags of gold, all varying in size. "Let's see." He rummaged for a moment, then pulled a purse out, a medium-sized one. "Here." He tossed it to Gerick. "Your six hundred denar. You have two months before I start looking around for you."
And then he turned and left, into the caravan somewhere. The line surged onward, past Gerick. For what purpose, it was unclear.
Galen spent the next few days looking for at least 5-10 men, going to back alleys and other taverns to get the toughest rabble who could shoot a bow or fight with a sword.
He found his rabble, all right. Dhirim, on the new border between Swadia and the Khan's lands, is full of rough-and-tumble men ready to fight. None of them were especially well-trained or well-equipped, but six men where willing to follow him into battle. Four infantrymen and two more archers. They were hard men, Khergit and Vaegir and anything else you can think of. And now they were Galen's, replacing some of the men he'd lost.
They were ready to roll out. He'd lost around a hundred denar in the search and hiring the new six, and getting their equipment in marginally better shape.
"Let's move out!" He barked and his men set off for Albruq.
It wasn't too far, only a few hours' ride.
The gates were open when Maelum approached, with a steady stream of people in and out. It would seem Alburq Castle was right on several northern trade routes, and was flourishing for it. The lord was Maelum right away once he heard who he was after. This woman was obviously not well-liked.
Maelum was brought before the lord, who was introduced as Jarl Gerlad.
"Now, what is it you come seeking? I hear tell you are seeking the salty bitch, Flaming Isi. If this is true and you succeed, you will make me a rather happy man."
Trish was happy that the king had promised her money, but she wanted to leave the castle now. She was planning to buy equipment for a couple of her strongest man at arms to make them full fledged knights.
The man shook his head, and continued scrawling in his book. "You may go. I will have someone find you to deliver the coin tomorrow."
No better place to buy knight's equipment than Sargoth. Her men where, in theory, men at arms, and would normally use knight's equipment. But it was difficult to always afford it, and it was hard to come by out in the wilds. Wearing a knight's armor didn't make one a true knight, of course, but it did allow one to function as one on the battlefield, making the point moot.
So she visited an armorer, and bartered with him for armor.
He refused to give it to her for the promise of coin, of course, but he told her to come back with her men so he could fit it to them, to save some time once she was given her coin.
He told her just over six hundred denar, six hundred twenty-five. It was cheaper than what most would charge, but it was still not inexpensive.