Brash Young Fools
I don’t expect fawning adoration (well, maybe I do, but the prospect of Boris actually fawning is franking revolting, so I’m better off without it) but a little gratitude where it is due would be nice.
After recovering sufficiently from my illness to rejoin my companions and be brought up to date on their misadventures without me (see previous entry for details) I found myself dragged along further into the wilds without so much as an “are you feeling up to it?” from any of them. We followed what Victor assured us was the trail of the dead beastman (not Boris’ latest conquest as a glance at the corpse more-or-less confirmed) in the direction of what any fool could see was a fairly prolific lightning storm. Before long we approached a glade where a large beastman was performing some manner of profane ritual before a monolith to which was tied the “lightning stone” I had been told about. Around the edge of the clearing stood a horde, or at least a herd, or smaller beastmen. I counted around twenty.
On seeing that all three of the others were resolved to obtain the lightning stone, or worse still to instigate a fight with the chaos spawn, I recalled a treatise I had once read on the behaviour of pack animals and suggested to Victor that if he must employ his bow he try his hardest to take out the pack leader, thereby instigating a leadership crisis within the pack.
Victor’s aim was as true as ever, but his arrows were no match for the thick hide of the beast, which roared instructions to the pack and set them charging towards us. In moments my fellows were beset by lesser creatures while the alpha identified me as his opposite number and set about me with his axe. I endured his mighty blows (although I will bear the bruises for days to come) and answered with my own swift blade, pausing only to jest (for even in the face of death my nerve remains unbroken) that any offence caused by overtures made by Boris towards the creature’s mother was entirely unintentional.
Needless to say, my skill at arms greatly exceeded his own, but just as the beast was set to fall, Boris interrupted our contest with a shot from his pistol, felling the beast but earning a savage cut from its axe as it dropped – a just reward for his ungentlemanly conduct – and falling bloodied to the floor himself.
Taking advantage of the resultant lull in the fight, I played upon the feeble wits of the creatures to convince them that we were but the vanguard of a whole platoon of trained soldiers from Stromdorf set to wipe out their tribe. If we few were more than equal to the task of slaying even their mightiest warrior then what hope did they have against our rapidly approaching fellows? I must confess that the beastmen may not have understood every word, and even regular conversation (for want of a better term) with Boris was insufficient practice for the task of relaying information to such limited intellects, but the core details concerning the death of their leader struck a chord and the remaining beastmen lost their appetite for the fight. As they turn on each other in a struggle for dominance (per my earlier prediction) I helped Boris to safety while Victor and Karl took advantage of the distraction to liberate the lightning stone.
The stone itself turned out to be some sort of elven artefact once we cleared off the profane markings of the beastmen. Lacking a better alternative, and being wary of the lightning strikes that seemed to follow it, we elected to bury the stone outside Stromdorf with a view to collecting it at a later date.
Once within the town, we confronted the halfling innkeeper and extracted reasonable compensation from her for our troubles. Sadly it appears she has already disposed of the merchant’s ring to some travelling pedlar.
We also made the acquaintance of the local militia captain, who I gather is a senior figure hereabouts. He at least seemed impressed by our exploits against the chaos spawn, and pledged to investigate those families which had previously colluded with them.
For now, we are recovering. Karl seems rather taken with a drunken Estonian whose lectures on sword play could bore any right-thinking man to tears, but perhaps they are more compelling for those without my natural talent. It appears that Boris will survive his wounds, which is something. Although whether it is something good remains to be seen. All that is missing is my just thanks for saving everyone from a herd of beastmen using nothing more than my skill at arms and my ever ready wit. I fear I am in for a long wait on that front.