Sunday, October 25, 2020

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies

How’s it going Rey,

Well our plan certainly had some interesting results, but first and foremost, we’re all ok and safe in Smallwood. But I don’t want to jump too far ahead, you’re probably interested to know what happened in the bandit stronghold with Benna.

After my mistake at the common house, we decided we should head straight to the main building where Benna was sure to be held up. Looking around, there was the infirmary, and some pretty hurt folk inside. There was little Spoke and I could do for them while we were in a hurry to not get caught.

Another building caught our attention, this one was locked. Don’t tell mom and dad, but I picked up some talent with lockpicks and was able to find us a way in. This happened to be their storehouse for much of their valuable loot. There were boxes of coin, pictures and other fine art, jewels and jewelry. This was a small fortune, but a stolen one. We figured it was best left alone, but we all had fun entertaining an idea of a grand heist for a moment before moving on.

We went up the to the last building, no other place for Benna to be but there. Entering, we found ourselves in a feast hall, lots of food for the bandits to come eat. It looks like the guards must have been here for their turn because there were two left inside. Slow eaters it seems, plus two more posted by a door to the side. We figure Benna must be inside but wasn’t sure how to get past these guards.

Farah being the boldest of us just entered and sat down to start eating, making small talk with one of the guards. The rest of us slowly shuffled in and kind of waited for confirmation to possibly join. It seemed safe enough and the guards didn’t pay us much attention so we sat and started eating.

Farah told them we needed to speak to Benna, our captain had died and she is currently taking that responsibility and needs to report to her. The guards being inquisitive asked her who the old captain was. Not wanting to give us away, she was quick to say we weren’t really on a first name basis with the old captain, and he got his position because the previous one died as well. All of this because of the fires. Well the guards were a little suspicious, decided to take a note and give this to Benna herself.

With that plan failed, I had one other idea. Poking Farah, the two of us headed outside. I told her that along our travels, I picked up a new trick, invisibility. I would like to use this to follow the guard and get in the room with Benna and poison her drink with the sleeping herb we mixed earlier. Farah agreed and tried entering in a way to let me back in without causing suspicion while invisible. It wasn’t exactly as subtle as we had hoped, and the guards were again suspicious. Rakuno quickly picking up what had happened, called out the suspicion on possible ghosts haunting this old fortress. I then hid and waited for any opportunity to get to Benna’s possible quarters.

Time was ticking though, I was getting restless and moved to a more advantageous spot by the front table near the doorway. Luck would have it, both good and bad, Benna emerged into the feast hall and sat down, right where I was hiding. I had to move over quickly to not be discovered.

Safe for the moment, Benna began questioning her new guests at the tables. Farah giving a convincing tale of our banditry plight, the one guard with the note confirming to her what we told earlier. Again, the identity of this previous captain comes up, and we give them a possible name, something that felt common among humblefolk. Benna wanting to find out more sent one of the guards to go to the captain quarters and look this individual up.

In the meantime, I sprang into action. There was a nearby candelabra stand that I reached over and knocked prone. Again Rakuno questioning the validity of a possible ghost haunting, I pulled out the poisoned and spiked her drink. The planned worked as there was no one calling out my actions.

Spoke came over to help clean up the mess and I made my way back to the door and followed the guard heading out to get the captain’s information. After a few minutes I removed my spell and came back in. Benna taking the bait and drinking while reading over some documents. She was getting rather tired but was slowing down on finishing the last bit. So we decided we should find a way to get her to finish. This is where the light of Ardea faltered and our good luck ran completely out. Farah tried setting me up to give a toast to our fallen captain, asking what was bothering me. I played into it, acting sad at the loss. But when she asked why I was sad at his loss, I panicked and my beak slipped “Because we grew up together.” Everyone stared at me. This supposed guy that we didn’t really know the name of, I grew up with? What the heck was I thinking.

That awkwardness was broken with even further complications. The guard had returned and whispered something to Benna, causing our cover to be completely blown at this point. She got up, and asked who we are, and what we were doing here. We were at a loss, trying to say something. Rakuno seeing the writing on the wall got up, walked over and said we were sent here by her mom and initiated combat.

The fight was fierce, but quick. We had ganged up on Benna as soon as we could. After all, if you cut the head off a snake, the body dies with it. She could see the writing on the wall as well, we had them outnumbered and outmatched in this hall, so Benna reached up with an amulet on her arm. Sycamore and Farah could see there was some possible danger with this move, but I was able to get a bigger picture. The glyph on the amulet was the same as the glyphs on the roof. If activated or if she went down, the glyphs would collapse the roof, possibly killing us all. The fight halted.

Benna, close to collapsing asked if the council sent us. I admitted to this, but also stated we were here to talk, but circumstance changed the course of that plan. We had some back and forth and got some insight into her motives. The fire burned her village like so many others, and she tried to get help from Alderheart, but was shoved like so many into the roots. She was from a line of leaders in her village and that heritage lifted her and many humblefolk to try and cause a disruption and get some sort of fairness between birdfolk and humblefolk. From that fire, she lost her mother, her wife, her children, and was physically scarred. She was angry, and so too was Spoke, but for a very different reason.

Spoke chided her for the decisions she made. He too lost his family and friends, but scolded Benna. He did not take on banditry, he didn’t feel like lashing out at the city, he didn’t try and hurt others. The situation was getting out of hand. Benna doubling on her commitment to the folk, Spoke losing himself like the fires taking the forest. Spoke lashed out, attempting to silence Benna, deadman’s switch be damned. His attack almost taking her out, but I tried to keep a calmer head and put Spoke to sleep with my magic. I hope I didn’t ruin our friendship.

The situation was deescalated, we were able to discuss terms of surrender with Benna, and settled on a parlay with the council in which if she was to answer for the crimes of the bandits, she would turn herself in. This is why we are now in Smallwood, a neutral ground for negotiation.

Right now the others are confirming her story to ensure she’s being truthful while she is under our guard. Rakuno and Farah are bringing the council’s envoy to talk to Benna. We shall see how this will unfold soon. For now Reya, I want you to know I’m thinking of you, mom and dad. I hope this is over soon as there’s talks of possibly heading down south to the coast. I am a little anxious as I’d like to come see you all when we’re nearby.

Until then, I love you all




Saturday, October 10, 2020

Leader of the Pack

Good day Reya,

I hope these letters find you comfort as they do for me to write them. The world stage is larger than I had anticipated, and the problems stack up.

After the raid with the bandits, the guard was able to arrest a bunch of them. Since we were asked to do something about the leader Benna Seridan, we asked if we could talk to the imprisoned ones for more information.

Rakuno and I set up a sort of good guy, bad guy routine to get information out of one of them. Well, it went about as well as you’re no doubt imagining Rey. We botched the whole thing. Luckily Spoke was there and bailed us out.

We were able to confirm the location of their stronghold was in the Crest Mountains, learned a little more about their management structure, and how they recruit desperate Humblefolk.

Tables began to turn though. Everyone has their story, a cause to believe in, and truth be told, Spoke looks to have empathized with their position. He's even considered taking their side, aside from the banditry of course. I’m still on the fence about what the person said, but it was worthy enough to investigate further.

The bandit told us about the devastation the fire is doing to all the smaller villages, like Hedgewatch, where he was from. He was just a farmer then and lost everything, came to the city and was forced to make a home in the Underfall, the root system of the Alderheart tree. We decided to visit the Underfall ourselves, and it was a squalor.

For now, we need to stop this conflict because the fire is a more pressing matter, but after we do something about Benna, I will have some words about representation of the Humblefolk to the council. The council members are nothing but Birdfolk, how can they truly serve all the citizens?

Oh, that night before we were to head out, we spotted the strig knight from the raid before. Turns out he is Riffin the Ash Knight. He was in Ashbarrow when the fire hit. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know much what happened there as he was overwhelmed and then woke up in Alderheart. An interesting story for sure but wish he had more to it. Also turns out, he adventured with Susan too. Imagine that. The woods are a small place it seems.

Once daybreak came, we set out for the stronghold. It would take us a few days journey, so we made last minute preparations. It was a hazardous road, being stopped by a bandit ambush. Fortunately for us, Farah played out her great idea. Using the sword, she convinced them we were long time members away for a while and headed back after the raid on the fort, and we lost our leader putting her in control. We hid out in the woods for a while before finally coming back in. They bought the story and let us through.

Further down the road, we were attacked by mountain lions. They got some licks in, but we ultimately triumphed. Since we had this extra meat, I had a plan to get to the stronghold and hand them over to further help our story that we were bandits.

Arriving at the stronghold, the feeling was tense. There were no birdfolk I could see, but that was to be expected. Farah explained to them that we were from the same village when the fire took it, and I kept my beak shut. If only I had kept it that way.

We had walked inside, offered the meat and made our way to the common house where we observed some of the other bandits. Here is where I made a mistake. In my anxiety of trying to fit it, I made some small talk with the table next to us claiming we’re new members around here and was a shame what happened to the fort from the raid. This of course ruined Farah’s story she established with the ambush party. As soon as they come in, it would ruin our cover so my slip up caused us to start to expedite our plan to confront Benna sooner.

Our plan was to spike the drink we give to Benna to put her unconscious, then find a way to haul her out to a safe place. Now we’re more or less going by the seat of our pants.

I’ll continue this story in the next letter for you Reya. For now, enjoy the lion jerky I sent along with this letter.

Your brother




Rumble in the Humblefolk

My Sister,

I hope all is well in Saltar’s Port. The conflict here in the city grows bigger even as we try to rest. I had just gotten back from my walk and had started sleeping when a loud commotion echoed through the city. Merchant caravans at the gates were being assaulted by brazen bandits.

Everyone had barely enough time to grab their weapons before rushing down and helping the guard. It was chaos. All of us tried our best to push back the bandit raid. A few of them were put down in their rush, but many got away. The guard captain herself began recruiting any abled bodied folk who could fight and give chase. Naturally, your brother volunteered to help stop these assaults.

We followed the trail left behind by the thieves and came upon an old fort of some kind. This place was being used by them to coordinate their assaults. The group decided to try and flank them in the fort. Farah and I were to take to the cliffs, Brin would climb atop the other one, and Sycamore, Spoke, and Rakuno would go into the camp along with the other members of the party. Unfortunately, the bandits were quick to discover us, routing most of us as we split up.

Sycamore and Spoke were confronting the main force. The combine fierceness of their presence and ferocity of their abilities kept the largest group at bay. Rakuno snuck around, taking out the bandits attempting to pick off anyone with their bows. Brin was a marvel, hitting our foes with precision strikes.

Farah and I would support from above until she had a brilliant idea. She set fire to the main tent, causing panic and chaos. I had just recently purchased some lantern oil and thought there would be no better use than right here. The bandits inside were in a panic to put it out giving Sycamore and Spoke the time to push through and setup in front of the tent. Rakuno was trading and dodging blows with one of the mapachs, it looked rough, but I could tell he was just toying with them before finally cracking them up the head with a well-placed punch.

More bandits showed up from the other tents, but Farah and I were able to distract them long enough for Spoke to try and deal with the leader. Though I think we were all surprised that their boss was the vulpin we had confronted before on our way to Alderheart. The one that was terrorizing poor Eliza. The battle was terrible, but with Brin’s help, Spoke’s fiery demeaner, Sycamore’s many axes, Rakuno’s speed, Farah’s quick thinking, and my magic, we were able to put down the bandit known as Fray.

Spoke quickly put out the fire and tried collected what he could from the tent while the others searched for anything from the raid throughout the fort. By the guiding light of Ardea, we were very lucky that we had found some folk taken as hostages that weren’t in the tent we set ablaze. That could have been a terrible mistake. Some other treasures were found, but we took back everything that was stolen to the city and returned it.

On our way back, I meant to talk to a strig I noticed helping us fight in the battle. I saw him taking on 3 bandits by himself. I’m sure he has some interesting stories to tell. Although I was distracted by Spoke’s unusual curiosity of my walk earlier in the evening. I think he was able to suss out that I had taken Brin out on my walk as well. The ol’ hedge is rather wise to my short response. I suppose I have too much of a tell when it comes to my close friends. Well what more should I say? That I think Brin is very beautiful …

Much of the letter has been ripped out here

I’m sorry Reya, I kind of went off on a tangent and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to hear your brother gush over Brin.

Either way, there was something interesting with a sword we brought back. It was the Fray’s that lead the bandits. Rakuno recognized that it was a guard captain sword, one the bandits use to show off as a way to establish rank. Farah is holding onto it, she hopes it comes in handy.

When we arrived back, we had the injured taken to the hospitals, and the city held a makeshift parade to celebrate. The council requested for us and wanted the details of what transpired in the fort. We gave them all that had happened, about the bandit leader, how many we encountered, and what all they had taken. Bita then graciously awarded us for our help, a rather nice sum of money. She had also told us that they will be sending a caravan of supplies to Meadowfen. I don’t think it is quite enough to deal with the looming threat of the Scorched Grove, but it is something and Meadowfen needs it.

Before we could leave, Bita requested that we deal with the bandit fortress nearby. The source of a lot of these outlaws. We’ll need to deal with Benna Seridan, their main leader.

Will write you soon, sister. I’ve included some interesting notes about herbs I picked up that you may like.

Enjoy the sea breeze for me