A Welcoming Committee
By Bodukal the Reporter, published on the Nordholz Longhouse Walls
“Join the Fletchlings and see the world,” said Lindol, “at least that one road of it.” I admit I was grateful that the new contract was sending the group West back to Nordholz rather than up and down the road from Aldstadt to Waldhain. There was a large crowd gathered in the Nordholz town square and they looked rather agitated. Pulraka quietly ordered the men from stand down to a loose battle formation. “You,” shouted the man on the small stage,” you Fletchlings!” As everyone turned to face us, the order was given to put hands on weapons. The frantic man rushing over paid no mind. “You remember me, Len the Burgomaster?” I need your help again. See- shut up you,” he yelled back at the crowd, “can’t you see I’m negotiating here! Anyway, we’ve had a few setbacks since you last come this way. Bandits, beasts and now bad weather. There used to be this stone in the town square in the olden days that promised the weather we need when we really needed it. I don’t know if you noticed but the timber is dry as a bone and this whole forest could go up in flames if we aren’t lucky. The Elderstone was moved to mark the tomb of Sir Al the Brave and now the forest has reclaimed the old burial site. Can you take your team to retrieve it?” He didn’t even bargain, 800 crowns it was. “Hurry, or I may not be Burgomaster when you get back!”
Pulraka and Nippun looked over the likely candidates to join and was unimpressed. “Plenty would join to get their rainstone back,” said Pulraka, “but then they’d quit.”
“Might I suggest a trip to Falkenstein Castle? It is likely to have a better selection.” said Nippun.
“Also,” put in Lindol, “ I can likely sell a few loads of their cheap timber to give us some spending money.” That decided it, though if Len was happy to see us heading south rather than north to the tomb, he hid it well.
It was a day’s trip to Falkenstein and Lindol did make an 80 crown profit. We did not have time to wait for the next Hiring Hall, but the castle steward kept a list of those seeking jobs out of town. I could see Pulraka struggling with the unfamiliar job made even more difficult by having to take men sight unseen. Finally, he went with Bodduka, a bowyer and a butcher’s apprentice named Dukanipu. Their interviews then happened on the road north. Bodduka, it turned out, was a good bow-maker but not much of a shot himself, due to weak arms from a childhood illness. Thankfully, he was also a competent teacher of the bow and identified Karanika as a good candidate to learn. As he had struggled with the spear, the ex-monk welcomed the suggestion. Skinup had gotten Nidoran’s pitchfork, but traded with Bodduka and tried his 3rd weapon, a spear. “If I’m going to be lousy with weapons, I might as well be lousy with a whole bunch of them. Maybe it will get me a job in a weapon’s shop someday?” Dukanipu, “please call me Duke” was the son of a barmaid and a wildman, thus the outlandish name. He inherited his long-gone father’s wandering foot and wanted out of town. They gave him a cleaver Lindol had in inventory.
Smoke rose in the distance. Fire had started southwest of Nordholz.
By Bodukal the Reporter, published on the Nordholz Longhouse Walls
No one noticed as they passed by Nordholz. Everyone was frantically chopping trees to build a firebreak between the town and the blaze. Thankfully for the Fletchlings, it was out of their path of travel. They followed the directions to the overgrown tomb. Pulraka left half the men at the edges to watch for danger and sent the rest in to grab the stone. After all, what danger lay in an abandoned graveyard? I chatted with Pul until we heard a yelp and the men running out. Skado was carrying the stone and yelled “Bonemen! Moving Bones!” Lindol came last covering the retreat. “Get in battle line. This isn’t going to be fun”. Pulraka wrestled everyone into place and was still trying to get sense out of the men when the figure emerged from the old stones. It wore armor of a type I’ve never seen and carried a wicked rusty weapon. 3 more similar figures followed, all decidedly dead and in an advanced state of decay. We waited as they shambled forward, grinning skulls looking evil. Rapun couldn’t take it any more and lunged forward and hit a skeleton in the ribs with his axe. It collapsed into bones and dust. Encouraged, the rest of the Fletchlings engaged (except me. I was now holding the stone) Dukanipu took a wild swing with his cleaver and it stuck in dead bone. The grinning creature stuck an antique spear into his unarmored side and he pulled back, jerking the cleaver out. Skinup then lost his spear into a ribcage and pulled out his flail, cracking a skull. Nippun swung Nidoran’s axe to great effect and finally the undead horrors lay once more unmoving in the dirt. Aside from Duke’s stab, Rapun had a nasty slash on one arm. Pulraka pulled off an odd looking helmet, pounded the dirt off it, and wore it himself. “Strip the bones of anything useful and let’s get the Hell out of here.”
From one Hell we left and into another we entered. The fire had carried and we were coughing and sooty by the time we got back. Part of Nordholz was on fire and it was difficult to find the Burgomaster. “You’ve got it,” he shouted hoarsely, “quickly, to the town square. He placed the unassuming little stone in a hole in the paving stones. He drew his dagger and slit his palm, letting his blood drip over the Elderstone. I had travelled around enough with Nido to see a publicity opportunity so I too slit myself and joined my blood. Several other townsfolk and Fletchlings did the same. I swear the stone glowed a bit and I could see people all silently chanted one single syllable word. It grew dark. Clouds appeared in the ashy skies and rain, blessed rain, bloody heavy damn rain fell, all across the forest. “Let’s go in and get paid,” growled Lindol. A mercenary in the presence of miracles remains a mercenary.
Regroup in Weidenau
By Bodukal the Reporter, published in the Weidenau Review.
For the first time in a while, the Fletchlings were not in a hurry to take a new job. They rented a room in the inn and rested to heal up. Their presence did not go unnoticed (possibly due to my article in the Review titled “The Fletchlings are in town” with a summary of their recent action.) The leading councilor, a man named Doran met with us in the pub. A new bandit group was growing in the hills. Small now, but powerful. We questioned him if any matched the description of the man who killed Nidaran but he couldn’t say. “With Duke and Rupin still out, we’ll need to recruit a bit before taking the job,” Pulraka said, sending Nippun and Bodduka out to scout the available talent. They returned with a jaunty looking fellow known as “The Rooster”. No one seems to know why. He does wear a hat with a rooster feather, but that can’t be it, can it? Lindol handed him a spear and said, “Let’s see how well you cockfight, then.” to rough laughter. He joined in himself. “If you want me to show how I cockfight, why you give me such a small stick?” On a serious note, Pulraka confided to me that he was worried about the lack of good armor in the company. “We meet direwolves or orcs and we will take heavy losses.”
The lack of heavy armor did have one advantage in this fight however. As the two sides scrambled for position, the Fletchlings barely got to high ground first. A raider with a billhook was the only one to make it up and he was swarmed by Skado and Skinup. The rookie showed his skill by holding a cliff side for half the fight until an axe penetrated his tunic and he retreated. Lindol and Karanika enjoyed the height advantage and rained arrows and bolts down upon the enemy, never for huge damage but enough that the melee fighters could finish them off. The last man to fall was that billman who fought 2 spearman to a stand-still until the rest of the Fletchlings fell upon him. And what of Nippun? Had he abandoned the fight? “I saw him heading around that-a-way,” said Skinup. They found him looking up sheepishly in a large hole. “I was trying to get around those rocks to that blasted billman and I slipped.” he said after the team stopped laughing long enough to get around to pulling him out.
"Oh no, why did I do that? Stupid, stupid, stupid" - Napoleon Bonaparte