Dorak - The Raiders

Captain Hector,

A quick update:

Unit effectiveness is increased. Ian has been a true godsend and is getting better all the time. He’s a more subtle weapon in our arsenal than Coatl, but no less effective.

I relay to you a tale of a recent encounter to better reflect his growth… we were traveling through Drusas back towards the Silk Road proper. We were apparently going through some fiefdom or lordship – I don’t care much for politics, but a group of armed escorts tried to take us to see their lord to which we declined, asking instead only to pass through. For reasons unknown, they decided to escort us – which raised my suspicions a bit. While the road upon which we ventured is not part of the high traffic trade routes, for a free land to limit our travel thus put me in a less positive mood.

Actually, all told, the party is in a somewhat sour mood – Dusky has been ill treated, and Smriti and Iz and even Ian wish to help her, but when someone on an important task is insulted, the best thing that can be done is to achieve progress in that task, because recognition of your sacrifices to the cause helps soothe the personal disappointments. Given your duties, I am sure you can appreciate the comfort, however slight, one feels in knowing you have gotten closer to your goal.

Still, despite our mood and the fact we miss Kumori and we feel insulted or helpless to help a friend, the escorts were seemingly not incompetent. Ian, for his part, showed the best competence by using a lower level spell to ward the bank opposite the creek which we camped next to so if anyone approached, we’d have warning.

Indeed, that someone approached is not an issue – a campfire on the road is an invitation and a warning – an invitation to share warmth if you are friendly and a warning to change course if you are not. However, to properly answer the invitation, even a dwarf would light a torch or call out before they were within 100 feet or so of the camp.

The rationale behind this is easy:

  1. It allows the most room to retreat and denies effectiveness of most missile weapons and some spells
  2. It is a sign of respect – a raider rarely announces their presence until their forces have sprung upon you
  3. It is a measure of strength – I acknowledge you are there and you may be strong but I am strong enough that if you engage me it will not be without consequences, especially for you

The issue is that the night-blind humans who approached did so on an overcast night without the benefit of torch or firelight of their own. Ian woke to the alarm and pointed me in the direction of the approaching raiders, and I suggested (since I knew not whether these were re-enforcements for our escorts or raiders who picked the wrong camp to attack) that the creek had to have fish which we should flash fry.

Sadly, the ruse was seen through by the escorts, but Ian had a better plan, and put up a most stunning display in the same area as his alarm, catching a mighty fellow in rough hide armor. The friends to whom he signaled were apparently out of reach – he was their scout.

Having been a scout, an investigator, and a guide, I thought he was either the fastest or he was the most predatory of the group. It’s tough to say, but Ian played games with the spell, catching the rest of the group and using a new addition to his arsenal to great effect, while Iz put on her armor, our escorts put on their armor and picked up their weapons, and we debated what to do.

The issue, it seems, was simple – Ian could end the spell, but most likely they would come to fight us, when we really didn’t want anything like that. Smriti, bless her kind heart, was eager to go back to bed. I had no interest in killing them, but I disliked our escorts plans to slay them while the lot was helpless. I am not Kumori but trespass being met with death was an unfair rule if I saw one.

The matter came to a head when Smriti charged towards the trapped foes and beat them with less than her full force – how better to break the spell and drive off the raiders than to wake them from it.

I advanced and drew steel but did not swing, interested to see whether the raiders cut their losses or pushed on with their plans. It was when the raiders attacked, and tried to surround me, that deadly force came into use.

Smriti fought well, though her heart was not in it, and she knocked out the foe more than hurt them. Their canine companion fell to her punches more than anything, though Iz – being her frequently forgetful self – summoned a skeleton to aid Smriti and the skeleton raked the dog a bit.

That meant that I could take a step to deny my attackers any seeming advantage and stab the first raider to deadly effect. A plan I enacted to no guilt or joy on my part, though I did appreciate getting a chance to test my improving skills.

The raiders, other than their scout and apparently leader, fled soon after, which with the hail of arrows from our escorts stopped because of the danger and evil of Iz, meant that they would survive.

Dusky, for her part, did not participate in the affair, and glowered in the shadows. I don’t know if she is going to seek the raiders out of her sense of injustice over what the escorts planned to do to them or because they planned to attack our party, possibly hurting her friend Smriti in the process, but she is nowhere to be found, even moreso than usual.

The escorts have allowed Iz to leave but are eager to see no more of us, thinking us all evil or corrupted because of the company we keep. If there is any plan to her, I somewhat hope the divine powers find a different power for her than the ability to raise the dead – perhaps something that causes her opponents to wither or bleed to her touch or hardens her soul against poisons and and diseases. Honestly, for the good it has done, the ability to bring a dead spirit back has been more detrimental to party cohesion and reputation in some of the areas we have passed through.

Ah well. We’ll see what comes and we’ll hope the road ahead is easier for everyone, despite the challenges we’ll find.

- Dorak

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Dorak - The Raiders

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