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Travellers Woe CH.1

A region known as Rosemary Hill, in lands controlled by Igniseri, has been suffering from an increase in Bandit activity. The Marquessa, and her chosen companions, head out to identify and remove the problem.

Risk 3 anti-bandit action. Combat expected.

Contact Quenia about extra invites.

Date

Sept. 2, 2021, 8 p.m.

Hosted By

Pasquale Quenia

GM'd By

Pasquale

Participants

Brannen Caprice Lucita Nebulosa Olivando Zakhar Noah

Organizations

Igniseri

Location

Outside Arx - Lyceum near Granato - Rosemary Hill

Largesse Level

Small

Comments and Log


Runa the clever, seafaring raven arrives, delivering a message to Zakhar before departing.

Here in Granato it seems as if spring has already begun. The air has a chill to it but it is free of snow and whilst the ground underfoot is damp it is already starting to green up. Alas. You aren't here to enjoy the weather. You are on this particular stretch of road in the border region of Granato nearby Rosemary Hill on the trail of a gang of bandits. Mostly so far this has involved waiting for scouts to return and talking to the occasional travellers that pass you on the road. This time however, when the scout rides over a nearby rise on his pony, he's clearly worried. "My Lady!" he calls out. "They're attacking right now. Hurry!"{

Caprice is dressed appropriately for hunting, not sightseeing; it's not immediately obvious if the grim set of her features is to complete the ensemble or if she just has some regrets. Quiet, as befits someone avoiding a leadership position, the leather-clad woman turns her head towards the scout at the urgent call, then shifts her focus, tensing as she awaits a response.

Lucita has been standing next to her horse, idly braiding its mane in a neat little row along the arch of its neck. She looks over toward her cousin and the others in the group over the back of the horse as she says. "This is so much better than slogging through inches of snow back in ...." Her words are cut off on the arrival of the scout and with a simple little "Oh. Guess we better get a move on then." She mounts up and checks her weapon, reins in one hand, dagger in the other.

Lucita wields Ember Reckoning, a rubicund dagger.

Quenia has been resting nearby, looking over the map of the stretch of land they've covered so far. Her brow is knitted together. "I know they said that they saw reports of the bandits along this path." She furrows her brow somewhat. "If Sir Brannen had made it, I'm sure he'd know the right stretch," she speaks of the Knight of Solace who had to cancel at the last minute, a scheduling affair gone awry. Shaking her head, she puts her map away just at the right time, for that's when the scout arrives. "Well then..." she rises to her feet and calmly dusts herself off. "I suppose we should see what's caused them in a stir. I'd like to take prisoners if we can, so we can question them, but if that can't be helped, I understand. I'd rather know the full scale of the problem than not, though," she instructs those who've come with her.

Noah takes Light's Embrace, a diamondplate stiletto dagger from long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah takes regal diamondplate dagger with a griffin themed handle from long black leather belt with golden details.

Noah wields regal diamondplate dagger with a griffin themed handle.

Noah has been doing what Noah's do best, hanging around and observing. He might have grumbled just a bit about having to wear a color besides black, but here he is. When he hears the cries of the person approaching he at first opens his mouth to correct he's a HIGHNESS and not a lady. Then it occurs that they aren't talking to /him/. THE NERVE. Those next to him may hear the sound of metal on metal as daggers drop from his vambrances to his palms.

Lucita says, "Nice dagger Prince Noah. I keep thinking about upgrading this one but it has served me through so many conflicts, ever since 1008 back in Setarco. I did not fight with it there, just trained some others in using daggers, but it just feels 'right' in my hand after so many years."

A small fire has been set and over it is the old man, huddled in with a frying pan and some mystery back meats that are currently frying up. Grease sizzles and pops while Zakhar scratches at the snow-white hairs on his face. As the call comes from the scout about the battle beginning he simply smirks, reaches into the the fire to get a thick run of charcoal and runs it across in a line over his eyes, then starts to uncoil the long wool and leather scarf readying it for his head. The frying pan is given a quick toss to get at the meat, which he starts to chew on while the rest are screaming, giving orders? A shrug while the munches on the half cooked meat and waits for some instructions.

Quenia glances around and when she's certain the others are getting ready, she remarks in an amused manner in Zakhar's direction, "Is your scarf as lucky as Ian's is?" It's a sincerely posed question as she glances over to the scout, "How far away are they? What numbers are they in? Will we need to ride there on mounts or can we briskly walk," briskly walk, because a Lady never runs, "to the place of action?"

Still silent, Caprice's grimace speaks volumes. -Walking-? But her quiver is resettled across her back, the dagger at her hip loosened in its sheath and a bow that seems to have seen better days is set against the ground to aid in stringing it, one ear still turned to the conversation.

Nebulosa, it seems, was fully expecting a fight - or prepared for one, anyway, clad in full armor, her bright eyes narrowed and staring up the road while waiting for the scouts to return. Some soldiers try to take the moments before a skirmish to enjoy what they can, jest, relax. Nebula apparently opts instead for wariness and a hint of suspicion, but that's really only fair. Years of routing criminals out of the worst slums of a city can have that effect. She reaches for her rapier, murmuring to Quenia in reply, "If we've lost the advantage of surprise, I'd suggest the advantage of several hundred pounds of charging horse."

"Just over the ridge" The Scout responds to Quenia's question.

When you crest the incline you can see a group of rough looking men and women twelve strong swarming over a heavily loaded wagon. One of them seems to be sawing the horse free of the wagon harnesses, four are dragging sacks out the wagon bed, another four are dragging the wagon driver and his wife off towards a nearby stand of trees, whilst the final three bow-wielding bandits are technically keeping watch. Luckily the archers seem to be paying more attention to the struggles of the merchants than they are to the road just now. They haven't seen you.

At this point there are two (three if you include retreat) obvious options for you all. You can either charge in and interrupt the attack with weapons in hands or you can attempt to do something clever (whatever that might be.)

Noah studies the area before them as they crest. The man has been very meh the whole time. Not really smiling and giving most one word answers. Typical Noah is typical. "What I would suggest--" His low voice offers in almost a growling manner. "Is that part of us go in the trees and attack from above. I'm in red." There might be a sneer to that. He's not blending in anywhere. "Others can attack but we probably need a distraction." This is where a smirk curves his lips. "What is a better distraction than a Grayson Prince being a jerk? If it works for you all, just let me know where you are going to station yourselves. I'm going straight down the middle."

Lucita looks toward Quenia and Noah, gaze sweeping over the others, also. "I can try singing also if you wish,, to help cover the sounds of others moving into positions of choice.. or can simply go where directed, am no strategist.

One day, Quenia will get Igniseri emblazoned armor. Today she's wearing some of Dame Ida's finest made armor she created for those who needed some before going off to Pieros. So she's settled there watching over the ridge in shiny, blue and gray armor. She glances over at Noah, her lips quirking up ever so slightly. "That would definitely cause a distraction, your Highness." A pause, "However the Archduchess did say to bring you back in one piece. So if we do this, we should be stationed close enough to you that you're not overwhelmed." I think we should all head toward the trees, and stay in cover while Noah causes said distraction. I think we can take those four first, unless there are other suggestions?" she pauses to wait and see if there are os.

Caprice does probably match the trees, if that's the plan. Her contribution, however, focuses not on the targets. "Those two don't have much time," she states, eyes tracking the couple being dragged away. "I've more luck than skill; point me to where you want me."

Zakhar brings the meat with him and still holds onto the pan, hot and greased. "Or, I can go offer them some breakfast, then when they are confused, you take them out with some arrows, and those of us on the ground offer a slice up or missing thumbs benefit."

The scout looks between them all "I reckon that'll work." He gathers his reins up. "I'll go make sure there aren't any more of them." With a click of his tongue he trots off into the distance.

Quenia starts to say something in response to Lucita and then pauses to look in Zakhar's direction. Even she's a little bit confused about the breakfast meat and the hot frying pan. "Right." She clears her throat a bit. "Or, the trio of you could go in and offer multiple distractions and confusion, a traveling troup, with Lucita as a singer, Noah as the ... ah... rowdy protection," she seems uncertain on that, but he has daggers, so he'll do!. "And Zakhar as the cook. Wrong place, wrong time?" And what a story that would be.

"Which four, my lady? I don't much like the look of the ones manhandling the merchants," Nebulosa adds, her eyes shifting from the scene of the bandits to their small party. Archers? Archers, anyone? "And I'm more worried about them than the grain sacks, unless you've been transporting something you haven't shared with the rest of us along these roads." A little smile tugs at her lips, amused but grim. "And we aren't supposed to bring treats to the tutor's unless we're sharing with everyone."

"I was talking about the ones that were dragging the wagon driver and his woman friend into the woods," Quenia quickly clarifies for Nebulosa.

Lucita says, "Whatever we do, should be quick before they kill the merchants..." She looks in the direction of the reported attack on the wagon. ",,, or get away.""

Noah looks at Zakhar. Then he looks at the pan. Then he looks back to the man. He leans over just a bit to drop his voice to an almost whisper. "That's not people is it?" Noah straightens to his full height (enough to look down on you). "Sure. I'll cause a scene. This is the longest I've been sober and it sort of drags." He will wait for the others to start moving to get into position. Worry how he's going to distract. His eyes move towards Lucita as her mention of singing.

"Heh. Cook." Zakhar has a sly curl to his lip, almost a smile. Nods to Quenia, "As you wish." Then heads down the hill without regard for where the others are heading. Team distraction!

Now that the tactics have been discussed you split up into two teams. Noah, Zakhar and Lucita are to head down the road and distract part of the gang whilst Quenia, Nebulosa and Caprice circle around through the stand of trees and rescue the captives.

That seems clear enough for Caprice. Bow in one hand, first arrow in the other - and hood readjusted to cover all of that red hair - she angles for the roundabout route to the trees with the other two.

Caprice checks dexterity and stealth at easy. Caprice is successful.

Quenia checks dexterity and stealth at easy. Quenia is successful.

Nebulosa checks dexterity and stealth at easy. Nebulosa is successful.

Noah checks charm and performance at easy. Noah is successful.

Lucita checks charm and performance at easy. Lucita is spectacularly successful.

Caprice didn't agree to any tree-climbing, but her distaste for muck on her boots seems to serve her well in avoiding any obviously crackling of vegetation underfoot as she slinks ever closer to the couple and their captor(s?) A bush or some low-lying branches should be cover enough, by her standards, to take a quick survey and line up her shot.

Every prince needs an entertainer to help make the boring miles pass more easily. Thus Lucita trails along at his side, leaning and swaying in the saddle as she sings a rather popular, saucy ballad about a group of travelers, each having an amusing tale to relate. She beats the rhythm out with slaps of her hand on bulging saddle bag and her horse cooperates with the effort, prancing and dancing, kicking in time with the music, all a part of her distracting performance as she pretends to serenade the Prince. She seems so focused on the royal personage that she does not seem to notice anything awry till she is near the wagon.

Steel is not made for being stealthy. It really, truly isn't. It's heavy and thick and worst of all it has the potential to 'clang!' at the least opportune moments. Nebulosa should've worn her leathers today. She really should've. But by some miracle - or possibly by the very careful and deliberate placement of her steps - she manages to pick her way around through the trees, staying out of sight. Surely all that holding of her breath is the cause! Or maybe she's being that ridiculously careful, for once. Because clearly the thing she needs to be worried about is that they will somehow hear her breathing.

Quenia carefully, ever so carefully, makes her way towards the trees but with haste. She doesn't want to be too far away from where Noah, Lucita, and Zakhar are performing their distractions. She is placing her feet just so, so as not to clink around the metal armor, as well as not to crunch too much ground cover.

The approach goes off without a hitch. Caprice, Nebulosa and Quenia manage to get into a position to attack the kidnappers without being noticed whilst Lucita's serenade alongside Noah and Zakhar's bold presences draws eyes from almost all of the bandits before a bark from the one sawing the horse free returns them to their efforts.

When Noah, Lucita and Zakhar get into combat range one of the watch-archers calls out "Halt! Your money or your life!" The other archer rolls his eyes and the bandits start to turn just as Zakhar springs his attack.

Zakhar wanders along on the ground, giving the horses an eye to make sure he's not trampled by the horrible beasts. Nibbling on a sausage, then leading forwards to the caravan with a broad smile. Which in itself might be worrying to those pesky bandits.

"Well this is going to hurt." Noah offers and then clears his throat. He bounds over the ridge. There is a smile for Lucita. An actual smile. Look at that charm. Look at that smolder. The hair. The bod. It's what you get dealing with a dem-- wait no.. wrong movie. "HEY! You there. Stop." For a moment, perhaps it seems like he cares about people. "I, Prince Noah Grayson, /demand/ you stop what you are doing to bow to me. You are to offer me /proper/ affirmations to my title. Bow now. Or may the Gods weep for your sacrifice."

Caprice checks dexterity and archery at normal. Caprice is successful.

Zakhar checks dexterity and small wpn at normal. Zakhar is successful.

Quenia checks dexterity and medium wpn at normal. Quenia is successful.

Lucita checks dexterity and small wpn at normal. Botch! Lucita fails badly.

Noah checks dexterity and small wpn at normal. Noah is successful.

Nebulosa checks dexterity and medium wpn at normal. Botch! Nebulosa fails badly.

Noah checks dexterity and dodge at easy. Noah is successful.

Lucita checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Lucita marginally fails.

Quenia checks dexterity and dodge at easy. Quenia marginally fails.

Zakhar checks dexterity and dodge at easy. Zakhar is successful.

Caprice checks dexterity and dodge at easy. Caprice is successful.

Nebulosa checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Nebulosa is successful.

Nebulosa checks dexterity and dodge at hard. Nebulosa fails.

Noah brings his hands up and there are daggers in each hand that seem to have come from those steel vambrances. His left hand comes up as the others engage. There is a quick hit of his hand slicing outwards and it causes a thin red line to appear on one of the bandit's throats. Soon that thin red line opens to a larger one, but he faces the other. A quick glance at Zakhar and Lucita.

Quenia waits until the right moment to get in her attack, while people are looking at Noah, Zakhar, and Lucita doing what it is they are doing. She slips from the woods and very carefully moves in to attack one of the bandits, doing best best to slip past their guard and get her sword in. With so many, they only need a few folk to talk to! She manages to hit one fatally, stabbing them in the gut, and then attempts to dance out of the way of a second that swoops in and nicks at the edge of one of her vambraces. A flesh wound! It's only a flesh wound! "Who are you and what are you doing here?" she demands authoritatively.

Lucita stops singing abruptly and her lips part. "What money? You think would be doing this if my purse were bulging with coins?" She starts to dismount warily, eyeing the closest bandits. She manages to toss her dagger at the one who seems most threatening, piercing him but at the same time, there goes her weapon, stuck in one bandit. She has spares but it takes time to get hold of them, getting them out of her belt sheaths. In the meantime, between a horse that picks up on its riders unease and smells blood, a now-skittish horse that bumps into Lucita and knocks her into another bandit, she is at a disadvantage. From the widening of her eyes and a little gasp, something has hurt her, be it bandit or horse.

From the savage grin curling upon the old man's lips to the sausage that he is chewing upon to be spat out AT the first bandit he is in close range to, then the frying pan with drippings of grease is flicked towards the other guy. Watching Zakhar move is similar to watching a mystery puzzle slowly solve itself for another. Though, not slow. And with a lot more blood flying about, and then there's questions about / THAT / Pan of his. One would think blunt weapon, though a closer inspection, such as the one the bandit is now getting reveals that the lip has been sharpened to a point razor sharp. And thus, the assault is scalding hot grease, slice from the pan, blood and grease combine, then flat side of the pan to the head with another slice gutting his opponent. As his snow-white hair is soaked with spurting blood. He looks over to the one he threw the half eaten sausage at. "Care to restate your question?"

'Grace' is not a word that can be applied to Nebulosa today, as the distraction provided by one half of the part leaves the others an opening to attack. There's no pause, no hesitation, as the woman moves straight for the wagon and the bandits harrassing the driver. There's a thrust, and a parry, but they're hideously ugly blows, with close quarters and another person in the fray - one she's trying not to strike in the exchange. Another thrust, over the man's shoulder and - and the tip of her rapier buries itself in between two boards making up the front seat, stuck. A look of sudden panic crosses her face, aware of just how wide open, how vulnerable she is. A yank, and a another yank, and just before she jerks it free and goes stumbling backwards.... a dagger slips in between the gap in all that steel armor. She's bleeding. Rather badly.

Your first opening attacks are made easier by their relative confusion, poor equipment, and the lack of organisation amongst the group but they soon rally and start fighting back quite desperately. The various demands from the group seem to get lost in amongst the general sounds of combat. (Get him! Duck! No! My Fred! Die Murderer!) There is one thing worth noting. In the opening chaos the two captives are abandoned and they flee back towards the dubious sanctuary of their wagon.

Are the couple still alive? Being threatened, struggling to free themselves, or watching with dread as certain doom approaches? Hard to tell from her chosen remove. A rustle of leaves, and - thwip - the arrow flies true, embedding itself deep in a bandit's neck for a relatively quick if painfully gurgling end. The fletching vibrates as her target collapses; Caprice, dark skin having taken on a subtly greenish tinge, abandons her location in hopes of finding a new trunk to hunker behind before those left standing think to look her way.

Noah checks dexterity and small wpn at easy. Noah is successful.

Caprice checks dexterity and archery at easy. Caprice is successful.

Nebulosa checks dexterity and medium wpn at normal. Botch! Nebulosa fails badly.

Zakhar checks dexterity and small wpn at easy. Zakhar is successful.

Quenia checks dexterity and medium wpn at easy. Quenia is successful.

Nebulosa checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Nebulosa marginally fails.

Lucita checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Lucita is successful.

Lucita ducks under her horse's neck and tries to evade the closest bandit. She scrambles for a stable footing as she grasps not for a dagger in her belt but the one stuck in the bandit, yanking it out and wiping it off on his shirt as she turns and readies to deal with the next bandit. "Things not going well for you, just look around you! @wouldn't you rather surrender, much better than dying."

Noah swings up his right hand after the other one falls. This time the right hand is used and that thin red line comes up from sterum to chin up the middle of the throat. It's just a flesh wound really. You know, until that blood starts to spill out. Noah doesn't check on the people in the 'safe' wagon. He moves instead towards Lucita and the one or two found there.

Ian's instructions on what to do and not do in a battle are likely flying through Quenia's head. He's been her prime teacher when it comes to combat, Luis for her formative years and Ian for her latter and most recent years. Step in, let the movement guide, step out, turn, slash, step back, let the movement guide, half-turn, stab. Her motions are fluid, but not beauty and grace. Serviceable. They get the job done. Her second attacker is felled and then she turns to see where she might be needed most. Then she spies Nebulosa, and the troubles she might be having. She frowns, then swiftly makes her way to help out her liege lady. "I've got your back," she calls out to the Iron Guard noblewoman.

With a shrug, Zakhar looks to the bandit, "No answer, perfect." And proceeds to smash the frying pans flat bottom upside the man's head. As they slump down to the ground, Zakhar takes some rope from his belt and ties the bandit up in a proper hog-tie fashion, creating s noose that sits around the man's neck. Then patting the unconscious bandit on the back. "Struggle and it will be worse for you. Now stay there while we go have a talk with your friends." He then stands up and watches Noah and Lucita go after the other bandits. A grin on his face, blood in his hair.

Two for two, and Caprice has added some pale to the green, making for a...generally unattractive splash of sickly color across her features. A third arrow drawn but not nocked, the clothier darts a quick look around her new trunk shield to survey the scene, gauging the distance between herself and those still threatening Nebulosa, ready to - oops, to adjust for the added obstacle of Quenia coming closer as well, and - take aim for whichever bandit appears a safer target without risking the ladies.

"I'm fine, I'm fine!," Nebulosa stubbornly insists as Quenia calls out to her. Which would be.... well, let's go with an exaggeration. She's already bleeding, distracted by clutching at her wound with one hand, trying to keep the gouge in her shoulder from leaving her unable to lift her arm. She grinds her teeth, but it's too much. Nevermind trying to land a blow, she barely manages to parry one, deflecting the blow just enough to leave it digging into her side instead of her sword-arm. It's too much, though, and with the amount of blood running over her gauntlet, all sticky red, the blade slips from her hand.

Given a little thinking space it is possible that the bandits might heed Lucita's cry for surrender but right now, with the battle chaos on, and a Redshirt Prince barreling into the group they barely seem to notice. Meanwhile the group that attacked from the woods rally to Nebulosa's defense. Quenia's timely arrival, combined with nebulosa's brief disability, causes one of the bandits to turn snarling towards the marquessa.

Zakhar checks luck and legerdemain at normal. Botch! Zakhar fails completely.

Quenia checks dexterity and medium wpn at easy. Quenia is successful.

Caprice checks dexterity and archery at easy. Caprice is successful.

Lucita checks dexterity and small wpn at easy. Lucita is successful.

Noah checks dexterity and small wpn at easy. Noah is successful.

Too close a cluster between the one bandit, Nebulosa and Quenia. But the other not yet joining their scuffle blooms some feathers from his back and teeters forward to land on his face only paces from the trio. Perhaps nobody hears the softer thud from behind that tree... or the retching sound from Caprice, on all fours with her hooded head obscured by a bush.

Lucita keeps Noah in her peripheral vision as she angles around toward one of her opposing bandits. She shakes her head a little as she mutters aside to the Prince. "Shame they don't take us up on the surrender offer, Armorer Waldemai will have his hands full cleaning the blood out of this armor, again. Guess he may be used to it by now." And she lunges in close to the bandit opposite her. As he raises his weapon to bring down on her, she deftly slips her dagger into his armpit and jiggles it around to rather cut up the insides. She shoves at his chest as she yandk the blade out and watches him stagger backwards and drop down.

"You're fine, you're fine," Quenia grumbles under her breath as she attacks the opponent just about to stab Nebulosa. She takes him by surprise, it seems, as she finds an easy opening. "You're fine until the next one tries to gut you that is!" she calls out to the other woman, stabbing the man in the side and deftly pulling her sword from his side. She wipes the blade off in the grass and then looks around for the next bandit that might be nearby.

Noah is moving towards Lucita. There is a pause when he watches her take out one of them. Alright then. He comes up behind the other one and wraps his left arm around the man's neck. He growls in a low feral manner and offers to the man's ear. "Kneel." It's a command that carries the weight of so much. His blade slides across the man's neck as Noah kicks the back of his knees. The bandit falls to his knees as instructed/made to do. Then forwards more when Noah lets go. A slight spray of blood when his hand is pulled back. Others might still go help the others, Noah is going to see if these people have anything on them. Something to say if they are just regular bandits, if they belong to someone, if they have silver. No one ever said Noah was an honorable fighter.

With a bandit tied up and the others falling into their own puddles, he takes a moment to dig through the pockets and pouches of the one he has tied up. A piece of Paper! It's found, he goes to hold it up, then a gust of wind picks it out of his fingers and blows it into one of the puddles of blood nearby. "Fuuuuck."

There is a half-mad grin on Nebulosa's face, given in reply to the way that Quenia snaps at her. The woman must be out of her mind. Or maybe she's just lost a lot of blood and is getting very, very dizzy as a result. With what seems to be no more especially sharp things aimed her way, Nebulosa slumps back against the wagon, muttering, "I've survived much worse. And there were no pretty ladies that came to my rescue that day, Marquessa." Where did her rapier...? Down the muck. She ought to pick it back up. But it seems that Nebula is going to stick with slumping for the moment, thank you very much.

A quick check of the surroundings show that all the bandits are dead, dying or wishing they were. Zakhar has a prisoner who is getting quite the bruise on his head, Nebulosa has a badly hurt arm, Lucita and Quenia are slightly wounded, and the wagoneer and his wife are huddled by the wagon, scared but safe. There is now one bandit gang less in the world. But what were they doing with the civilians?"

Quenia checks charm and empathy at normal. Quenia is successful.

Zakhar checks command and manipulation at normal. Zakhar is successful.

Noah checks perception and investigation at normal. Noah is successful.

Scratched. Quenia is simply scratched. No really, she is. It'll heal on its own, overnight, likely. It's along her arm, where her vambrace didn't cover entirely. She sees that Zakhar has the prisoner well in hand, so she goes over to speak to those they rescued. "Hello. I promise we're not here to hurt you. I'm Marquessa Quenia Igniseri and you're in the lands of Granato. It's luck we happened upon you when we were scouting around the area, checking in on the rumors of bandits here. Is there anything you can tell us about them that you think might be of help? Was this the first time you encountered them?" Those are the start of a long line of questions, and she'll go back and forth like that until she has some answers from them.

Noah is done with killing for the moment, he also seems to have used all his words. He moves from body to body to look for items, money, and just things in general. They were stealing, it seems fair game. Although, there is a curious look towards the area they pulled the stuff from the wagon. Then back to the bodies.

"We don't know why they came after us." The wife says to Quenia. "We are just farmhands. It doesn't make sense!" The wagon driver puts an arm around her and says "I'd heard rumours that folks had been getting lost around here My Lady but we never thought they were real." the woman adds "Where were they taking us?" She starts crying and he starts making those soft shushing noises. It seems unlikely you will get more out of them.

Zakhar squats down in front of his playmate and slaps the man awake, then pushes him to a better position that allows him to practically sit upon them. "Now. We have a lovely game to play. It's called you talk, and keep you fingers." he takes out a spoon, and odd choice for this game and gives the bandit a crooked smirk. Then lightly dragging the edge of the spoon around the base of one of their fingers leaving a small trail of of blood. "You don't talk, or I think you're lying. And... I get another piece to save to my collection. Deal?"

Lucita checks perception and investigation at normal. Lucita is successful.

Whilst the bandits do have some items and a bit of money its not worth taking, unless Noah really enjoys collecting such things. A glance at the wagon suggests it is just a grain shipment - valuable food for a bunch of struggling bandits for sure, but nothing particularly exciting. Noah does however find a key in the pockets of one of the bandits who had been dragging off the captives.

The bandit eyes Zakhar with hate when he squats down, slaps him awake, and then sits on him. So friendly. Yet, even that hate in his eyes, doesn't mean he doesn't get the message loud and clear. "What do you want to know?"

Nebulosa checks perception and investigation at normal. Nebulosa is successful.

Zakhar watches the bandits eye sight, giving a clear indication that the man could just as easily be dead right now. Then looking over to Quenia, "Marquessa? He'd like to talk. What would you like to know?"

Noah pockets the key. Because. Well. He's Noah. "Hey Zakhar--" Noah knows the man that has haze. OBVIOUSLY. "Ask him about his friend's key and what it goes to, when you have a moment." There is a frown as he sort of looks around. Now, wine or something. He doesn't talk to the others. People are handling that. He does side eye at Lucita to see how she's doing.

It takes her a minute, and another, to be sure she's stopped the worst of the bleeding. Then with a grunt, Nebulosa shoves herself off the side of the wagon and fetches her rapier from where it had fallen on the soft, thawing ground. It gives her a moment's pause. Brows drawing together, she moves to one of the fallen bandits, nudging the man over onto his side with her boot, so she can get a clear look at his weapons. Any armor he's wearing. Gods knows she's seen enough common criminals to have a decent idea of what they usually look like.

As Lucita searches around for evidence of who the bandits are and what they might have been up to she comes across a piece of parchment. It seems to be half of a map. Luckily the half you have shows rosemary hill and one of the local towns (a place called Sandslip) along with a marked location. You have a good idea where that place is, should you want to visit.

Caprice is no medic. She might -need- one; she's staggering about just a little, looking a bit worse for wear though she's markedly clean of blood, and dirt. But with nothing else to see to immediately, the woman gingerly approaches the fallen bandits with the intent to, however inexpertly, confirm that they're living or dead. Particularly, the three wearing her arrows, which she retrieves... and eventually moves off again with, using the bloodied arrowheads to carefully add three new notches to her dagger's pommel - creating a neat column of four amongst the more chaotic arrangement everywhere else.

Quenia finishes up with the couple and gives them a bag of coin. It's about 5,000 silver, give or take. "Take this, to replenish whatever goods they damaged," she presses the bag to their hands, then turns toward Zakhar and the captive. She walks over to the captive, frowning. "What are your intentions in my lands, and why are you bothering the citizenry and travelers along my roads. There are plenty of honest jobs in Granato, with better pay than simply harassing people along the roads." She fixes him with a stern look. She's also probably partially aware of what Zakhar intends, and doesn't seem non-plussed about it at all.

Lucita has been looking through the pockets of one of the wounded. She wrinkles her nose and turns aside as he coughs up some bloody droplets and quickly slides a piece of paper out of the way before it becomes speckled. "Cousin Quenia? I've not been in this area too often, would you know of anything special where this mark is on this part of the map?" She looks at the bandit. "Is that your hide out or a spot you are seeking to loot or a landmark or something to avoid?"

Quenia also nods in Noah's direction, "And what's with the key we found?"

The bandits all look like average ruffians to Nebulosa. The sort of men and women who, given a little hardship, turn to robbing people rather than working really hard. Their weapons are a mix of adapted farmtools and actual weaponry. She eventually comes across a letter thats been stuffed into an empty dagger sheath worn on one of the bandit's legs. This letter is really hard to read - partly because of terrible handwriting and partly because its been written with a very smudgy medium. It seems to say that they will be paid for each captive they deliver.

The wagoneers wife rubs tears away when Quenia hands over the money to give her a wobbly smile and a heartfelt "Thank you"

The prisoner seems less pleased with his treatment. "We was hungry" he sulkily claims, as bandits so often do, "And they had plenty to spare. Why shouldn't we take it?" He just sniffs when asked about the key. "you'd have to ask him wouldntya." His answers about details tend towards the same but when pressed about the map location he'll eventually answer. "s'where the client is."

Noah looks at the dead guy with the key. "Okay." He lifts up the man to toss over a horse. "There are people that speak to the dead right?" He looks a bit interested though as he wipes off daggers and tucks them back into the gray metal at his wrists. "Obviously, we need to take a prisoner to this drop location. Borrow some clothing." He looks at the wounded ones and then the others. "Off up a Prince?" Red armor equates red shirt.

"Marquessa?," comes Nebulosa's voice from where she's crouched low over one of the corpses. She's prying at the strap to her gauntlet with her teeth, trying to get the thing off before she smears anything else on the page. Scribbled, smudgy. The page doesn't need mud or blood on it, too. Unfolding it carefully, she scans it quickly and then pushes herself back up to her feet. "Whatever he's said about why they're robbing your people, they're *taking* your people because someone's paid them to. Look."

Lucita stands up and extends the map piece to the others to see. She leaves disposition of any living bandis to Quenia as she says. "That is not to far away. Shall we get our own wounds checked over and healed and check on it or do you need a larger group, or more specialized one to see 'what' the captives are wanted for." She is giving a significant focused look to Quenia. "This could be more ... serious a problem."

"Felicia Harrow and Cufre Harrow are Deathspeakers," Quenia says right away to Noah. "They could potenitally speak to the dead. Though, it might be easier if we just travel to Sandslip and talk to their client, while we have a hot tra=" She frowns when she hears Nebolosa's words and walks over to see the paper she's pulled out. "Paid to take our people....?"

Her somber ritual complete, Caprice cleans and stores her weaponry once more and lingers at the fringe of the conversation, listening in, but ostensibly keeping an eye out for any new threats. Should anybody look, it would likely be apparent that she's staring off into space rather than peering for approaching bandit backups, but there's something to be said for the quiet companion type that stays out of the way. Right?

Next episode the group investigate the mysterious location on their newly discovered map fragment.



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