The next job is, like most things, not simple at all.
On the surface, a five-squad team-up sounds like we get to emulate the heroes of legend, fighting bandits for the good of the neighboring territory, following the prince’s orders. It’s fascinating and feels legendary, but our group feels unnaturally close to all these important events and people. I won’t be shocked if the Emperor himself descends upon us in the next month.
We are kicking the hornet’s nest, and that probably isn’t a good thing.
A group of bandits have kicked out the squatters living in a nearby garrison, two days away from the city, and the prince has tasked five local guilds with removing the threat. The Lost Causes, the Silver Swords, Cannon Fodder, the Red Warriors, and, of course, Ravengaurd are the five.
Kyser met with the other leaders of the groups and created a gameplan, though he says there was a lot of infighting, particularly between the Silver Swords and the Lost Causes.
We left the following morning, mostly keeping to ourselves, Corda following along and leading the team of Silver Swords. We didn’t notice it at the time, but on the first night, the Lost Causes sent a scout ahead to “look for traps.” Unfortunately, as the situation unraveled, the Lost Causes are perhaps the singular reason why the attack failed.
It was a brilliant plan. The Lost Causes were to scale the mountain forming the back wall of the garrison, while the Ravenguard and the Red Warriors went in through the western gate and the Silver Swords and Cannon Fodder headed into the eastern gate. The bulk of our forces would begin an assault from the eastern gate, and then while distracted, Blackfire would use his magics to silence the gate and we would sneak into that side of the gate, to help out the battle from behind.
Ziggy, the musician, curiously had his own plan, pretending to be traveling on his own, after falling out with his band. Not quite a lie, but not quite a truth: the best kind of politics, according to my father.
Somehow, as he tells us later, Ziggy had several fans among the bandits, and they caught on right away. He slipped inside easily, and the battle on the other side seemed to begin.
The guards rushed toward the eastern gate, leaving our side relatively undefended, and we essentially scaled the wall and headed inside, Chains throwing people over the wall excellently. Romero essentially teleported to the top of the wall, using a curious spell, and then opened the gate so that the Red Warriors could join us easily.
It seemed to be going well for several minutes. I snuck inside what appeared to be the bandit commander’s quarters, on retrospect, still using a spell to remain unseen, though it was unoccupied. Heading back downstairs, I quickly headed over to the opposite side in order to open the gate, because the Lost Causes seemed to have failed, and the Silver Swords were getting peppered with projectiles.
Once I got the gate open, I ran back to help my guildmates and the Red Warriors with their side of the fight. Blackfire’s homing divine energy attacks were effective, though the Commander seemed sort of unharmed, Ziggy, eventually, revealed himself to the bandits be on our side, but his attempt to betray the Commander’s trust was unfortunately a failure, missing his attack.
Kyser struggled where Chains succeeded, and my lightning prowess merely added to the situation. Corda and Dulgamar, at the other side of the battlefield, were fighting brilliantly, though it seemed the Lost Causes had joined the side of the bandits and were fighting directly against the Silver Swords now.
But it was all for naught.
Soon, dozens more men poured from the innards of the cavern system, a long dried-out mine, surrounding the group.
I had only one option available to me. Perhaps later, I will regret this moment, but for now? It seemed the best plan that we had.
I reached into my bag as the bandits tried to force us to drop our gear, into the pocket where the ring sat, and slipped it on my finger.
A cacophonous explosion of pure magic, manifesting as blue flame centered on my body, spread into the crowd. I cried out as Chains collapsed from the damage, several more bandits incinerated from the sheer power. The spell fire continued to ooze just above my skin like a deadly aura, and I had no real idea what was happening at all.
Somehow, a creature materialized from within the explosion, a behemoth of bone mere feet from me. It seemed to look toward me for guidance, even as I cowered from it. Every set of eyes turned to me now, and all I could do was ask for the creature to get away from me.
And it did, following my lead. I… can’t know for certain, but I think that I summoned it? One of the bandits cried out, “He’s a necromancer!”
I would learn, as I returned to the city when this debacle was over, that it might be far worse than that in the future.
Ziggy used the distraction to blast the enemies around him with a burst of sound and then zipped backwards, disappearing from sight. I don’t know where he went to this day, but boy am I glad that he did. I checked on Chains quickly, though every bandit was turned toward me, weapons still drawn, expecting me to attack at any moment. Probably thinking I had an entire undead army hidden under my cloak or something.
The idea is… appealing, I must admit.
Romero and Blackfire were missing as the bandits rounded the surviving guild members up, and then shoved the rest of us into some room within the cavern system. Turns out that they had fled the moment that things went south, which might have been the right solution, admittedly.
My magic bound by some kind of odd magic contraption, I was powerless to escape the prison cell, even as I tried to break the stones for the next several hours, waiting for something to happen.
Dulgamar. I need to keep my eye on him. His first instinct was to turn coat on us, though he admitted that it was to infiltrate their group and hopefully free us if he could make a good impression. The two Red Warriors locked within the room with us continued to beat on him all night, and even I enjoyed a little bit of violence, though that was before he admitted the truth to us, when no guards were listening. Either way, it was a fine plan that might have worked, had Ziggy and Corda not managed first.
Ziggy, disguised as a bandit, entered the cavern system, found our supplies, found us and gave us our supplies, and then Corda found him. She managed to intimidate them enough, alongisde her Silver Sword companions, that they willingly handed over the key to unlock the cage. But they also had terrible news: the Praetorian guard were here.
What the fuck? None of us knew how to process this information, but I had to know.
Now free, though the shackles were still limiting my magic, we pulled Dulgamar into consciousness with a healthy dose of Ziggy’s odd drug, which didn’t seem to effect me at all. Maybe I got a bad pinch or something.
Dulgamar located a secret passageway that lead outside, and we came up with a plan to disguise ourselves as bandits, the ring of disguise actually working in my favor this time, and made Dulgamar look like Kyser was carrying out a dead body, to place it outside the walls. But before we could enact it, the commander was somehow flown through the wall of his own home and then intimidating by a woman whom we didn’t recogize, though she seemed decked in the appropriate attire for a Praetorian guardswoman. She pulled the Commander in, basically by her teeth, and the moment that she disappeared inside, we made our move.
The guards seemed to buy the explanation that we were just moving a body out, though they tried to task us with taking all the bodies out. As if.
The moment that we were outside, Ziggy utilized one of his spells to create a loud distraction, everyone turning to investigate, and then Corda lead her team outside, Chains appearing with them and looking particularly smug as he jumped down from the wall.
We kept moving for several minutes and stopped within a mile of the garrison, noticing that we weren’t being pursued, and Chains helped free me from the shackles, at the cost of his hands. Thankfully, when we found Blackfire later, he was able to heal them effectively. Ziggy used the same spell he used to create the distraction and broke one of Corda’s bindings, doing a little bit of harm to her own arm as she freaked out, though the other arm was still bound.
I took the time to concentrate, holding the crystal within my palms, and divined the inside of the commander’s home.
Shit. Shit shit. Shit shit shit.
Those were my thoughts as we watched Daniel Arch, Gabriel’s son, ask the Commander whether or not he had information about Gabriel’s death and the Order we keep hearing about. That was the big takeaway, the Praetorian Guard apparently asking the bandit commander to continue working for them, somehow, and implicating that they had several sources within the city, some of whom we might have worked with before, even now.
But one of them within the room seemed to sense my presence, I pulled away, and made sure the others understood how fucking seriously we needed to leave, now.
We eventually crossed paths, much closer to the city now, with Romero and Blackfire, alongside Flora and a group of SIlver Swords. She explained that she wanted to-
Ah fuck, I’m sick of writing this. I’m not… tired, perse, for some reason. But there’s only so much time I can afford to spend on writing this, and it’s approaching dark. I’ll finish this one up in the morning, after a hot meal.