Monday, 2 October 2017

Abnormaliroll - Fighter Part 5

It was no use. The thick wooden support pole of the tent showed no signs of breaking or even cracking. The ropes around her neck and wrists was also thick and tough, not something that could be easily snapped. Reezka growled loudly in frustration, earning a sideways glance from the disheveled monk bound to a neighbouring pole. But she had to do something! Come the dawn Reezka, Verina and Stei were facing the very real threat of execution. She didn’t know where Asla, Machi, Hesh or Badger were but she hoped that if they were killed, they had at least taken a few cultists with them. Or maybe there was the slim chance of a rescue….

They had all taken a rest after the battle at the ridge. Feeling some of her strength and vitality returning, Reezka had scanned the surrounding area with a wary eye. As good as the rest felt, they couldn’t afford to let their guard down too far. Her instincts seemed to be correct when the sound of stealthy footsteps could be heard coming up the path towards the group. Wheeling around, one hand on her axe, Reezka was relieved to see the slight form of Stei heading up the slope towards them. Badger wasn’t with him however and Hesh had quickly slipped off to see if he could pick up any trace of her, he had more chances of avoiding any patrols that might be in the area after all.

They had followed the tracks of the large mob of cultists until early afternoon when the narrow path opened up into a large quarry. In the quarry was a large encampment of tents and crude shelters. Concealing themselves behind a clump of rocks the group observed the camp for a short time. Numerous campfires were being kindled in the darkening light and they could see a considerable amount of movement, including a few random groups entering the camp. There didn’t seem to be any sort of check or password and Reezka wasn’t sure that the kobold guards could recognise each individual group. There were a few ramshackle guard towers but other than that there seemed to be no defences around the edge of the camp.

They had had a discussion about how to approach the camp. The suggestion was raised of just walking in, but Reezka wasn’t sure that she, as a half orc, could walk through the camp without arousing any suspicions. Eventually it was decided that they would walk around the ridge overlooking the quarry to see if they could find another way into the camp. Machi had protested this plan and had kept trying to tell them about some dream he had had. He became quite agitated in his speech and, fearful of his cries alerting the inhabitants of the camp, Reezka had clapped a hand firmly over his mouth and had manhandled him along with the group, around the edge of the quarry.

By this time it was getting dark and the ground was slightly rocky and uneven. Reezka was so focused on not making any noise as she walked, that she was startled when the crossbow bolt flew out of the trees on their right hand side and thudded into the ground in front of them. Two hunters stepped out of the woods, a human female and a male who, to Reezka’s eyes, appeared to have more than a trace of half orcish blood in him. The pair weren’t exactly forthcoming with any helpful information about the camp or any potential prisoners that could be their missing monk. Suddenly Machi had given a great heave and twisted himself out of Reezka’s grip. Before she could catch him, he had rushed towards the big male hunter, waving a flask of some liquid. The hunter took it, sniffed the contents carefully and then, to Machi’s apparent consternation, had drained the flask with seemingly no ill effects.

This had seemed to thaw both hunters demeanours somewhat and they had told the group everything they knew. They had been employed to supply the camp with fresh game every evening for the rather paltry sum of 1 gold apiece daily. They didn’t recall seeing a prisoner that matched the description of the monk they were seeking but did give the valuable information that the kobolds at the front of the camp were a sort of early warning system to deter anyone from slipping into the camp and then into the back where the higher up members of the cult had made their quarters.

Over the course of the conversation it transpired that the pair had been making their way back to the camp with the days catch, a large skinned deer carcass. Verina had offered to pay them 5 gold pieces for the carcass, allowing the group to walk into the camp under the guise of a pack of hunters returning with food. After finding a large sturdy branch to lash the deer to, Reezka and Asla had heaved the carcass up between them and they had all set off back towards the entrance of the camp, with Machi trotting along in dog form to help sell the illusion of a hunting party.

Much to her relief, they had been waved through the camp entrance with very little problems. Walking past the mobs of kobolds and their tattered, hodgepodge tents and shelters had been tense but for the most part the kobolds ignored them. Once they were past the main kobold encampment they had come into a slightly more ordered section. Unfortunately there were also quite a few armed guards. There were no visible sigils or insignia which suggested to Reezka that the cult had employed the services of mercenaries to aid them in their aims. She had little time to look around though as they had been approached by a small number of guards, demanding to know why they were so late back. Asla had quickly replied that feeding the large camp had taken a toll on the local wildlife and they’d had to go further afield than usual to find anything worth bringing back. The guard had grunted, seemingly satisfied, and had left them alone.

They had found the butchers tent without too much trouble, mostly thanks to Machi’s canine senses. With the deer carcass safely delivered to the butcher, the group had scanned the surrounding tents for any that might be where the prisoners were kept. Stei had spotted a tent that was rather shunted to the side with a rather unhappy looking guard standing outside it. Reezka thought that perhaps the source of his displeasure was the large and rather full latrine pit near to the tent. Somehow Asla had managed to convince the guard that she was there to take over his shift and he headed off towards a campfire, throwing a few suspicious looks over his shoulder as he went.

Reezka, Verina and Stei had been so preoccupied with the exchange between Asla and the guard they had failed to notice another guard coming up behind them. Thinking them to be workers that had been slacking, he had quickly set Verina and Reezka to work extending the latrine pit whilst Stei was sent off to hand out the meat rations to some of the other soldiers around the campfires. Machi had wandered off and Reezka could only hope he was scouting for signs of their missing monk and not getting into trouble.

Reezka soon became absorbed in her task, digging was something she was familiar with and in her determination to not draw attention to herself she failed to take in anything that was going on around her. It wasn’t until Verina nudged her hard that Reezka looked around.

It’s Machi.” Asla said quietly. “I think he’s been captured and taken to the main command tent over there. All I can hear is him screaming.”

Reezka hadn’t stopped to think. Asla had indicated that there were slaves in the tent that she had been guarding so Reezka decided that freeing them would provide a distraction whilst they tried to rescue the druid. Asla had severed the chains holding the slaves in one mighty but incredibly loud strike from her axe and then dashed out of the front entrance. The slaves hadn’t moved, just milled around slightly with dazed expressions. Reezka lost her patience. Why were they not rushing to freedom? Why were they just standing there? Unleashing all of her rage and concern for the rest of her group, Reezka let out a mighty roar that sent the slaves scurrying out of the front of the tent towards the waiting guards. Whilst they were fleeing, Reezka had turned to the back of the tent, sliced through the fabric and escaped that way.

Only to run nose first into the solid canyon wall.  She was trapped in between the tent and the wall! Before she could even decide what to do, a large group of guards was closing in on her. Her Orcish blood rose. She had to fight! Her hand was on her axe before she was able to get control of herself. She wasn’t well rested, still carried some wounds from the previous battle and had no-one around to help her. She was in no fit state to take on half the camp, which she realized was a likely outcome if she fought this group. Instead, still fuming with rage, Reezka allowed herself to be dragged towards the main command tent. At least, she told herself, I can be sure that Machi is still alive and avenge his death if they have killed him.

As they reached the front of the tent a woman in robes and a headdress emerged. Reezka recognised her at once as the woman that Nighthill had pointed out as Wyrmspeaker Mondath.
“Another intruder?” she asked the guards. “Bring her in, she can join the others.”
As the guards dragged Reezka into the tent, they were met with a very strange sight. There seemed to be a half man half rat creature, wearing Machi’s clothes. Even as she watched, the clothes crumpled into a heap on the floor and a small rat rushed past their feet and out the front of the tent.
“Let him go,” Mondath said with contempt. “He’s some sort of gibbering idiot. I’m sure one of the kobolds will eat him. Tie this one to the post and we shall see what she’s doing here.”
The guards obeyed her with a will, trying Reezka firmly by the neck to the main support post and binding her wrists with strong ropes.
“Now,” Mondath said “Who are you and what are you doing in our camp.”
“Was in Greenest. Thought there might be money to be made with your lot.” Reezka grunted in response.
“Lies.” replied Mondath. “I’ll ask you again, half breed. Who are you and what are you doing here?”
“Told you.” Reezka said. “Thought I could earn some coin working for you.”
Mondath glanced at the guard behind Reezka and nodded. A fist slammed hard into Reezka’s kidney, making her wince with pain.
“Once more,” Mondath said with barely contained fury “who are you and what are you doing in my camp?”
Through the rising rage and pain, Reezka felt something snap. “I’m here,” she said “to find Cyanwrath and kill him.”
“Well then,” Mondath smirked “I’ll make sure to help you find him. He can be the one to execute you and your friends at dawn.”
With that, she swept out of the tent with the guards in her wake, leaving Reezka to struggle in vain against her bindings.

Left alone in the tent, Reezka failed to even realise for a good long while that there was another prisoner tied up with her as she was so focused on freeing herself. Before long there were the sounds of fighting on the outside of the tent and before long Verina was dragged in and tied up. Thankfully none of the others followed so Reezka could only hope that they were safe…...

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