"How well acquainted are you with parts south down here?" Rufus interjects. "Much as Restov & New Stetven would like to believe otherwise, This is not Brevoy. This is the River Kingdoms & the six River Freedoms are the closest things to law here. As far as those are concerned, their crimes are Slavery, assuming he is any more trustworthy than the others", pointing to Rejin "and failure. Are you lot ready to kill men because they were incompetent bandits?"
|Kari of the Wylds|
"So far as I recall, there were two incompetent bandits hanging from the gallows beside the lord Mayor's tent, and a third spectacularly captured there," Kari muses and picks a live spider from the silk of her hair. "Not a one of you raised a protest then, myself included," she adds.
"And fra what the lad tells us, we are not speaking of incompetent bandits here but rapists," she continues, her voice a low growl. "I'd happily slit every one of their throats if you find yourself unequal to the task. I believe that the divine Mistress Shelyn would consider that a most pleasing end."
Kari's smile is wicked. "Course, I would also like a moment or two with Aedon's new darling Reijin, were it?" she purrs. "May well be that one is jus' a wee mite more cunnin' than his lads, and can't see as it is in his favor to meet mah blade sooner as it is for him ta slip out that gate and back ta freedom, ne?"
She taps her upper lip with the tip of her tongue. "I recognize our golden idol is not as rough as I," she says and picks another insect from her hair, "but I cannot as see how four rough lads would not goad the darlin' idiot into sharing what piece they stole to entertain themselves. Les' he were the entertainment hisself..."
"The display was in Brevoy, and Brevic law held sway. Here...." With that drawn out word Rufus leaned back, eyeing each of the other writ-holders in turn. "Here, until such time as we are replaced as such, WE are the law, it's interpreters AND it's executors. How many men have you killed oh Wyld one?" Looking directly at Kari, then turning to each of the others in turn. "How many have any of you? I can tell you I have killed at least a brace more than we have here now & it was never easy... Are they murderers? It seems likely. That they are thieves & bandits is obvious from their actions today. That they are likely rapists, or at least some are... Also seems... Well, the one I spoke to was even less willing to talk of Celeste than of my other questions. If it is the 'rule' of this company that these men die for the proven crimes of incompetent theft & suspicion of rape & murder, then I will kill them all right now."
Closing his eyes & breathing in and out, Rufus once more matches his gaze with each of the other writ-holders. "But let us be honest with ourselves as to why we are really killing these men, if that is our course. We are killing them because we haven't the strength to risk what might happen if we don't. We are killing them because we are afraid of what they might do if allowed the same chance some of us have been given, a second chance. There are six of us; my apologies Goodman & Goodwife, but you are not the ones who will do the deed, nor did you act in your own defense today, reasons not-withstanding; I will abide by the consensus of a majority. Aedon, you & Kari seem to have given voice to a death verdict, though either of you are welcome to change your vote. Lyster, Gizsmith, Salvator? What say the three of you?"
"We are agents of Brevoy, sent to pacify the region in the name of the King, to bring the Kings justice to the area. I won't let them go, just so they can ambush us later or go warn their friends. We could take them back to the nearest garrison, but that will only delay their neck popping."
He thinks for a moment.
"I guess we could just geld them and cut off their thumbs, but somehow I doubt they would thank us for our leniency."
|Kari of the Wylds|
Kari studies the filth on her hands a moment after Rufus's tirade. It appears at the very least that she will not have to work exceedingly hard to convince him that beating bound prisoners is less than humane.
"Have not killed a one," she answers, "but watched my mate beat another ta death for the crime of trying to push his rotten meat in me. Limpin' Pete he were called, and had the hate in his eyes when that stank descended to have his piece.
"I hate rapists. Every one. Ain't too great a number of women who will spread their legs as easy as me, but a trinket or some gold change hand, and that is oft enough for most.
"What of Celeste's second chance to be a girl who weren't savaged by these beasts?" Kari inquires, her amber eyes holding still to Rufus's. "For that matter, what of Celeste? Hmm? Hale is she? Delivered home by the dapper gents to bury the bones of her father with her own hands?"
Kari looks to Gizsmith when he speaks. "Removin' their c*cks makes 'em docile. Removin' their thumbs makes 'em useless. That's just earnin' us five more mouths ta feed that must needs learn to hold a cup. Better their first two fingers."
Lyster has stood back and watched the conversation move and sway back and forth. "Valid arguments on both sides. However, our charter states that unrepentant banditry has only one charge, death. There is no other option provided. If we are to remain true to our charge, then our course is clear, and may Pharasma have mercy on their souls."
Thanks for helping to move things along
"Seems to me that makes one more voice for their deaths & another for something else. As to some lesser punishment, maiming is near a death sentence out here, t'would be as effective to brand them visibly & see to it others are aware, that way if we see them again, we know they are unrepentant and respond accordingly."
Turning once more to Salvatore, "Well, it's down to you, abstain or join your voice to Aedon, Kari & Lyster, and I will execute them. Vote in favor of mercy, and we keep this argument going until we find a clear majority."
"I agree with Lyster. It is a harsh justice, but it will not be the last time we will have to execute fellow sentient beings, if we are to clear these lands." Salvatore tipped his hat low. He wasn't too proud of what he was saying and his tone showed it, but he at least wanted to cover his face.
"In that case, I request that those of you who are able heal them to at least consciousness. If they are to die today, the least we may do is allow them to make peace with their gods first." That said, Rufus turns out to begin cleaning & sharpening his sword while he waits.
|Kari of the Wylds|
Kari narrows her eyes when Rufus volunteers to execute the bandits.
Observe and report.
Aye, and when these lads go the way of mine on account of Artyom, my luck with the bow will plant me in the ground, too.
"Listen, you, false idol," she says to Rufus, stepping very close to the sword she is sharpening. "You can like fool these bravos, but if there be one thing I know its men. And you can sit here and sharpen your blade and believe yer the only man of sense, yer lordship, and not a one of us could bare the shame of takin' a life well as ye, but ye would be wrong."
Kari looks to the collection and scowls. "If ye knew bandits half as well, ye'd take the heads as trophies, and mount them on the palisades. Else when we have gone, our host is like ta suffer greatly."
She shakes her head, then rolls her neck to release pressure with several audible 'pops'. "Salvator, and Aedon, might ye help a vulnerable female gather wood ta construct a pyre lest these beasts poison the ground our hostess plants her herbs and potatoes in?"
Aedon asks Oleg if he would be interested in purchasing the mundane equipment we got from the bandits for resale? And to go a step further, is he interested in purchasing other items we may find? Anything particular he wants or does not want?
There is also a bottle among their belongings, perhaps somebody with some magical skill could identify it?
The camp is two days away, and it's still relatively early, so getting started today seems like a good idea.
Other than those actions/comments, Aedon helps Kari, snorting as he does so while muttering "vulnerable female" with a smile. "Let's get to it."
Salvator raises an unamused eyebrow in response.
I've been bitten by snakes more vulnerable.
"If you know men so well, why do you speak like a viper when ask one for a favor? Look at yourself for conceit before you blame Rufus." He did not make a move to assist Kari yet.
And we were all getting along so swimmingly too...
"I suspect she was commenting on my perceived tendency to treat her with kid gloves. Burning the bodies to ash will only require that our hosts watch the fire to make certain it does not spread, burying them will likely take longer than gathering wood. It is well thought. Would you assist her Salvator, please?"
In response to Aedon's request of Oleg, "Belike some of that gear is already theirs, the bandits have been looting this croft the past several months. Would you charge a man for the return of his own goods? If so, for my part, I'd not say no to that fine bow their 'leader' was carrying."
|Kari of the Wylds|
"Satire is a difficult art to perfect," Kari says to Salvator and smiles brilliantly.
"I care not for the gear, myself," she agrees with Rufus, then looks to Aedon, and continues in Giant.
"Might we see if your friend Reijin is truly repentant? I am willing to pay him a wage to carry my share while I keep my bow trained for threats."
|Oleg Leveton - NPC|
Oleg's lip almost quirks into a smile at Aedon's request. "None of what they have came from me, ye may have it as yer reward for risking thine lives. If I have the coin available, I will purchase yer goods. Most times, I work in trading. Most peoples about these parts are just after more supplies rather than coin."
Oleg nods to Svetlana, "Best go inside, what they be doin' next... Ye needs not see it."
Oleg looks about the others, "Ye have yer charters, ye can leave 'em hanging from the walls. Mayhaps it be a lessen to their kin," he then turns to head inside after his wife.
|Kari of the Wylds|
Kari chuckles at Oleg's suggestion. "How Avant-garde," she compliments and tips her rain soaked head to her host's wish. "Unfortunately, it is also incredibly silly. The stench will attract predators and carrion eaters, who might just as well assume that they'll find something equally tasty within. And there is the issue of pest," she adds sourly.
Kari stretches and smooths mud off her slim body with her hands, not quite preening for their elder host. If she were about to watch men who could be her fellows die, she would not looking like she had taken the odd tumble in the glades with Duma. The thought of her former lover excites her for a brief moment, but ultimately leads to thoughts of her former band and the days she spent starving in the gallows. Her countenance turns to stone, and she spins on her heel and marches from the shelter to complete the task she set for herself.
Aedon watches Kari as she smiles, "Aye, Salvator. Our Kari isn't a viper, but a rose. She has thorns, but treat her well, and she's a beauty." He finishes with a bow in her direction.
As he rises, he responds to her:
As Oleg walks away, Aedon calls, "Oleg, I would certainly like to look over your wares later.
Aedon finds Rejin, "Rejin, we could use some help collecting firewood. Since you're a respectable man now, you should get paid for your work - so I'll treat you as such. What do you say to a silver piece for carrying a load of wood?"
He follows Kari out of the fort (with Rejin if he accepts).
As Aedon, Kari & Rejin make their way to gather brush & wood for a pyre, Rufus gathers the bandits & moves them outside the walls of the trading post, seeing to it he does no further harm in the process. Once he has them all outside he proceeds to bring them to such wakefulness as he can.
I figure he should be able to at least rouse the ones who took mostly non-lethal damage.
Once he has them conscious & reasonably upright, "Good news! Ye get to die as men & not wild beasts- Ahem, my companions seem to be rubbing off on me. Having been found guilty of stupidity, incompetence, sloth & poor manners in your chosen profession, it is my sad duty to administer sentence. On the bright side, you now have the opportunity to make your peace with whatever gods you hold close to your heart. You've five minutes to shrive yourselves as best you are able. You waste it on cursing me or the Levetons & I'll just take your heads here & now."
That said, Rufus does exactly what he said, if they spend the time in prayer or even just silence, he gives them the five minutes (or as near as he can tell), if they start swearing at him, he lops their head off.
Happs begs for mercy and cries pitifully as he promises riches and rewards for sparing his life, to no avail.
The angry bandit fights aggressively and manages to get one hand free, his last words are "that little girl was so nice, you just wish you could have something so young and juicy. The way she screamed w-" Rufus didn't wait to hear the rest of that statement.
The last mumbles quiet prayer, to one god after another, eyes closed and trembling slightly as his sentence is carried out.
The bandits have been quickly and mercifully dispatched.
Aedon quickly gets the bodies moved into position for the pyre and watches as the murderous criminals are consumed.
It's better than you scum deserve. he thinks to himself.
After some time passes and the pyre begins to burn down, he approaches the rest of the group, "If it is our plan to assault the bandit camp, I would suggest we prepare to leave as soon as possible. It is a two day ride and we are unfamiliar with the land, so it may very well take us longer. The group we captured would be expected back tomorrow or the day after, so we only have a short time if we intend to surprise them."
"Rufus, I don't have any problem with you claiming the bow, but I only speak for myself."
Aedon also asks Oleg what he has for trade, as well as for any information he knows about the surrounding area (other trading posts, settlements, streams, rivers, etc)?
|Kari of the Wylds|
It takes all the effort of Kari's impressive will not to cut the c*ck off the mouthy one and shove it between his jaws before rigor mortis sets in and she mounts his head on the palisades. Of a school with Limpin' Pete the bastard was, she knows, and given several hours alone with the bastard he might die, if she ever grew tired of his screams of pain. Kari feels nothing for the others when she plants their gruesome blooms on the wall, nor when she watches what remains burn on the pyre. They are the lucky ones - dead in an instant, not left to rot for days, subject to molestation from every ignorant, impotent, piece of filth society protected.
Kari glances Aedon's way when he leaves the pyre. With the rain, and their precautions, it is highly unlikely that the fire will spread to do any damage to any structure nearby.
Back inside the shelter of the walls, Kari removes her leather armor, and begins picking through what remains of the bandits things, looking for the least well tended set, physically gripping the armors and rending them between her two fists to check how much noise the leather makes. The least creaky she grins over and adds her brand new set to the pile. She listens to Aedon's proposition and rises, her feminine curves highlighted by the lack of armor and any particular decorum or desire to wear anything between her skin and the leather than her tunic.
"Aye. With Mikhail gone, I've no reason to stay on here," she says and shrugs into the battered armor she has claimed. She looks to the skies and attempts to gauge when the weather will be more favorable Survival check 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (15) + 4 = 19.
I thought there were four bandits beside Rejin?
Well, I've killed in the heat of battle, now I've executed men in cold blood, what's next?
"Do we leave Rejin here, or bring him with us?"
You're right: Happs, "shakey", the one Rufus interrogated, and the one that was barely alive outside the storage shed.
"Oleg said he would take him in, so I think it's best if we leave him here. I think he can handle Rejin."
now would be a good time to determine if sentence was delayed on 'shakes'. I am certainly enjoying the cavalier's outlook on the situation.
Rejin nods eagerly, "I work hard for mis'r Oleg. He give me a bed!"
@DM: I thought Oleg's comments and your OOC posts on the Discussion thread indicated 'shakes' was one of the bandits that deserved to die. If I misinterpreted, then Aedon would have insisted on speaking with him before passing a judgement. I'm fine with either the "he was an evil SOB" or the "he's okay and staying with Oleg too" DM hand wave.
Unless someone kept him from executing 'shakey' as well, Rufus did so. That may have wound up being bloodier as he would have used a dagger to slit his throat first & then beheaded him. I can't imagine attempting to behead someone while they are in the middle of a seizure is likely to be a clean or accurate process, neither can Rufus.
@DM: Yeah, five years squired to a Paladin & now this, Rufus got his cherry popped hard!
Happs was likely noticeably smaller than Rufus, wasn't he? I ask because Rufus is thinking it might not hurt to dress like the bandits when we go after their camp, it could give us the element of surprise, which is what saved our bacon this fight, at least to his mind.
After a few minutes by himself, Rufus returns to the bodies & sees to it they are stripped to their small-clothes before being placed on the fire. He then keeps each bandit's clothes separate, appraising each of the other companions as he does so. "Before we go after the camp I'd consider it a kindness if you lot would indulge me for a moment or two." If they do so, Rufus pairs them off into teams of two (generally a melee & a ranged if possible) & shows them the rudiments of teamwork in combat. He will burn his daily Tactician use to give everyone 'Swap Places' for three rounds & then show them how they can use it to their advantage. "I'm not the best teacher, so don't be surprised if it doesn't stay in your head for long. That said, when we really need it, it can save our hides."
In the interest of expediency and keeping movement going, I did allow that the characters would have taken time to figure out that only Rejin was obviously salvageable. Had any of the characters wanted to try and rehabilitate a bandit, one of them might have been swayed. Unless your characters are against the killing itself, none should feel guilty that any of the four were innocent.
I hand wave that clothing is generally fits all within the size category. Characters may certainly RP making appropriate adjustments and as long as the changes are within reason, I am good with that. (No turning burlap sacks into red leather breeches though)
And, should enough time be spent on something like teamwork training, I may give rewards for that too, and this would be the start of it.
Lyster readily steps in and assists Rufus by standing forward in the front-line, brandishing his longspear. He runs through a few defensive and offensive exercises. It becomes evident that he would do well to have someone holding one of his flanks as the reach of his weapon has botha benefit and a weakness.
Basically, I just wanted to RP that everyone in the group had experience with Rufus using his Tactician ability so that when we are in a fight I can say Rufus activates it & the PC's know they get to use whichever Teamwork Feat Rufus activates with it. Right now that is Swap Places, later, I might pick up others.
As it becomes obvious Kari has no interest in wearing the clothes that Rufus suspects will fit her best, he tosses them on the pyre as well. Rufus then proceeds to take such of Happs' clothes as he can get to fit him into the Barracks for a few minutes, coming out dressed to look more like the former bandit, at least from a distance.
Am I correct in guessing that Rufus can switch his Longbow for the composite Longbow Happs had?
|Kari of the Wylds|
Kari's eyes widen as she spies Rufus looking between her and the pile of filthy rags he pulled of their defeated and now burnt foes.
"Ye best collar me and beat me senseless lest ye believe I woul' put a one of that filthy mess anywheres near mah gash," she slurs. "Might wish ta hold 'em to a fire ye'self, watch the critters writhe around 'fore ye put 'em near yer nethers, too. Beasts who woul' do rape on a harmless girl might well be passin' things 'tween themselves in the longer nights, nae?"
Kari looks away, apparently disgusted.
During combat training, Kari plays her pipes and watches the various pairs move through their motions. When pressed, she will approach and use a clever application of her spells and intimidate skill to stagger her opponent, and dash about liberally with her sickle, treating the exercise as a dance.
Durned, ninja'd. She would have said it! :(
@ DM: Thanks, that's cool with me.
Aedon participates in the training, standing in line and moving through the instructions as Rufus calls them out.
The clothes are definitely a good idea, and Aedon also indulges by finding several garments that fit him.
Nobody has said otherwise, so I guess the bow is yours, Rufus
Do we need a kick in the rump? I believe the course of future events currently lies with the players...
Ah, was thinking it was with you! :)
Aedon suggests heading south via the most direct route possible, hopefully tracking back on the bandits' trail as much as possible. "The bandits indicated two days south, near a river or stream, so hopefully that's enough information to give us an idea of where to look. The place we're looking for also has towers or guards in the trees, so be alert to enemies possibly being overhead."
He pulls at the bandit clothing he's now wearing, "Even though we have these on, I assume we will assess the situation before simply riding into their fort?"
Unless anybody has something that can't wait until they're on the road, Aedon saddles his horse and readies himself for the journey.
Rufus actually saddles up one of the bandit's horses. Before leaving he has Boon & Twinkle smell Svetlana & tells Boon to watch for her & obey her, he also tells her the commands Boon recognizes & has her try a couple to make certain Boon will obey; he tells Twinkle not to savage her & to return when she calls him back to the stables. If Oleg is willing, Rufus also has Boon & Twinkle smell him, in which case he tells both of them to go to the stables & loose Twinkle if they are attacked. He will also reassure Twinkle that he will return.
"So, south until we find running water, then follow until we find forest. Then follow within the forest until we find the camp? How about we see if yon Wyld thing can determine their trail instead?"
At Aedon's inquiry regarding engaging the bandits, "Never give your opponent an advantage you don't have to. Of course we want to assess their camp before we act, but we also need to be ready for the possibility that they may gain the advantage on us."
"As a group seem cool, collected, and unafraid." Salvator observed, mounting up his own horse. Learning who he was fighting with was as important as who he was fighting against.
"Has everyone done this before except me?" He asked.
Gizsmith doesn't bother putting on any bandit clothes.
"I doubt the blindest of bandits will mistake me for one of their own."
He does get his two mules packed and ready to leave.
@Salvatore: "The killing, not so much, but I'm a fair hand at ambushing and knowing when to cut my losses and run."
"What, raid a bandit camp? Honestly, I don't believe I have. Bandits weren't the greater problem south in Liberthane. Refugees & their 'liberators' were. On the other hand, the difference between a bandit camp & a camp of 'honorable citizens looking to bring decadent traitors to justice' isn't always readily apparent to the untrained eye..." Thinking a moment, "You fare no worse than you did today, you have no more to fear than the rest of us."
|Kari of the Wylds|
Kari smiles at Rufus's designation. "Woul' tha nae be the pot namin' the kettle?" she purrs, and deliberately tongues an incisor when Salvator can see.
She stretches and preens, petting the fox tail in her hair, then sets her plait full of animal trophies to swinging near her neck. "Well, the lads say their kin has towers in the trees, hmm?" she hums. "I know tha it be commonly said of us lads that we nae have a lick o' sense 'tween the odd dozen of us, but... One with an uncommon bit tween their ears maylike camouflage them towers with other trees," she says and glances at her nails. "Tower like dat, like ta attract the wrong sorts of attention in this plain."
Kari slides an arrow from her quiver and begins picking dirt from beneath her fingernails with its point. "I say we go where da trees are, hmm? And like ta find this stream."
Still picking dirt from beneath her fingernails, she absently listens to Rufus's tirade about Liberthane Knowledge Geography, 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (14) + 4 = 18, Knowledge History 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6 and reflects on what she might have heard about the country. "Fra far away are ye? Nae other explanation needed fra yer ignorance of the lads then, eh?" she slurs and then tucks the arrow back into her quiver.
"Woul' nae be an ambush when they've erry advantage," Kari says to Gizsmith. "Best keep an eye fra traps, and a good forty feet fra me," Kari suggests, and pulls herself aloft on Pan. "Shall we be ridin' then, elsewise stay here and admire our lovely hostess and continue to diminish her stores with our wyld appetites?" she jests and digging her knees into Pan's flanks, ambles the large mule from the trade post.
I had to go back digging through my old postts to find when the encounter started... (mid afternoon)
The party gets ready to set forth upon the next leg of their adventure, gearing up mounts, bantering with each other about various topics, and so on.
Kari recalls that Liberthane is a small, as in tiny, chunk of land in the southern portion of the river kingdoms. Unfortunately, she can't recall having heard anything memorable regarding its history.
|Svetlana Leveton NPC|
If Kari knows where in the River Kingdoms Liberthane is found, she may recognize it as being closest to the border with Galt. Of course, whether or not she recognizes the significance of this is another matter.
"Valid points Goodwife Leveton, though I believe with our pointy-eared company members the dusk holds less concern than it might. It is a frequent tactical consideration whether speed is of more use than caution. For my part, I would argue that speed serves us better now. If the worst of this band yet remains at the camp south of here, I should like the world to see less of them sooner, rather than later..."
The bandits had field rations among their gear I believe? If so we should take it with us so we don't have to slow down to forage, at least for ourselves.
|Kari of the Wylds|
Kari nods. "Aye. Not a one of those bastards assumed responsibility for Celeste, or spoke of where they lay the lass down," she adds, her expression clearly pained. "Like too much to hope we might find 'er, still clingin' ta life... What little of it there be for 'er now..."
"Well, now it would be a shame to let this fine lady's cooking go to waste and after a few days of trail rations we will be missing home cooking dearly. It sounded like the camp was days away, so losing an hour now probably wont matter much."
"My heart longs to head forward, I feel unease at rest. I fear that no measure of wholesome food will taste more than trail ration while this enemy looms over my head. An hour wait for the meal will mean a delay quite a bit longer than that, I feel."
However, nodding towards Gizsmith, he finished.
"Still, I can't exactly leave on my own, so if the company wishes to rest, I'll wait."
"So far, the only member who is advocating rest is Gizsmith." Rufus responds with aggrieved nod in the Gnome's direction. "Both myself & the femme of ferocity seem to advocate an immediate departure, leastways that was my intent." Now turning and directly addressing the Gnome in question, "As it happens, the point Salvator made is quite pertinent, to delay our departure simply to eat a 'home-cooked-meal' rather than trail rations, will slow us far more than just the hour itself. If we are to leave today, than we needs leave now."
Perhaps it's a Gnome thing? Is it some grievous insult to disregard a hosts cooking? That, or he really is the twit I was beginning to think him...
I apologize for having been away for far too long.
"As much as my bones would enjoy rest, banditry waits for no one. I follow Rufus' choice on this one. No offense to anyone's cooking of course."
The days ahead of us will need everyone to start losing their homely ways. The River Kingdoms, especially the Stolen Lands are no place for friendly chit chat and home cooked meals. Not today at least. Only time and blood will most likely change this place...
"I appear to be out voted."
@Svetlana: "I apologize my dear lady, my wounded and tired friends feel that recuperating in the wilds is the best course of action and that a scant few hours of travel and a cold night will serve them well."
Before mounting up, Gizsmith goes about making this last Prestidigitation based preparations. He colours his mules pitch black and makes their eyes glow red. Smoke curls from their nostrils and sparks strike at their footfalls.
"As I gather that you humans see quite poorly in the dark, we had best be off."