June 9, 2011

An excerpt from Balen's missives home (translated from Dwarven):

[continued from earlier]

Zaki and I were prepared when the alarm sounded and we both let loose with the heavy crossbows we had brought with us from the wagon. Zaki's shot went wide but mine hit the mark. It wasn't as solid of a hit as I would have liked, but I had never fired a crossbow before. We both dropped our missile weapons, readied out shields, and pulled out our weapons. Norkrak felt a bit lighter in my hand than I am used to, but Dwarven steel is much lighter than the rough iron my other warhammers are made out of.

Zaki ran down the path while I decided on a more direct approach toward the ruins. I'm not sure which of us actually moved faster because my progress was slowed by the tree branches and Zaki had to deal with a bandit. All I know is that I broke out of the trees closer to the ruins than he was....not that it mattered. A very large human, presumably the leader of these ruffians, stood in my way.

He tried to anger me by bringing up some gibberish concerning Kadir Ridge and he tried to put me off by stating he only wished to fight Krank. It was confusing that he wished me to leave him alone to battle another, but he was trying to disturb me. Trying to talk in battle, outside of simple orders for your men, is the purview of Elves and non-Dwarven women. I ignored him and pressed the attack. Norkrak landed a solid hit, but the bandit managed to slip aside somehow and escape the brunt of my blow. Zaki and Krank soon entered the fray and the bandit seemed most interested in felling Krank. Turning his attention away from me was a fatal mistake. He was knocked down just as I was about to swing and I was able to sink Norkrak several inches deep into his chest.

I later learned that while this was going on the rest of the party was facing more bandits to the North and once they had been dispatched they were able to attack some others that were trying to kill their prisoners. The guards from on top of the ruins saw the battle swinging against them and pleaded for quarter. I offered none to the one that had taken several shots at me and as he fled he was cut down. Again Norkrak landed a killing blow that was almost sickening in the level of devastation dealt. Had Norkrak an edge, I think it would have cut the bandit in twain.

The other half of the party did decide to give the last bandit quarter. Most of the prisoners were saved, but at least one is very badly wounded. Among those freed was a child clearly belonging to Krank. I do not know why he would work with her captors, even for a time, but it is very clear now why he worked against his fellows. There is more to his story than meets the eye.

We are at a crossroads of sorts. It is apparent that there is a horse missing and no doubt some word of our success has escaped to one or more of the other bandit cells. I doubt that there is much in the way of details, but we will need to be doubly careful as we continue our voyage. There is talk of talking the fight to the next cell, but I would rather that we continue our trek instead of trying to find a group that will prove difficult to locate, much less assault. If we are meant to fight these bandits and their dark leader then it will happen sooner or later. For now though I think we need to continue the task we have been hired to perform.

I'll send this dispatch off if we get a chance to stop at an inn. I could use a hot meal, a warm bed, and some strong brew. The humans tend to make very light ales and mulled ciders. Give me a simple full-bodied lager or a stout!

May the Ancestors watch over you,

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