Topic: The Fletchlings (an AAR)


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    Avatar photoMicrobru

    The Fletchlings
    A Hopefully lengthy AAR by Microbru

    Introduction: So I have been playing a little over a month with the basic game, but this is my first Ironman and my first AAR. I don’t do many images, if any, so hopefully I am descriptive enough or you have a good enough imagination. The names are of my own creation. Some in game text is used. The premise is that a freelance reporter has “embedded” themselves with a new mercenary company for in-depth reporting.

    A New Beginning
    By Bodukal the Reporter, published in the Harkenstadt Barker

    The morn is already hot enough for the sweat to begin to pour in the armor as 3 men march through the Harkenstadt city gates, looking for a job, new recruits and a cold drink, not necessarily in that order. They move with the easy familiarity of men who are used to matching each others steps on the battlefield, the back and forth of war. Harkenstadt is a large city, but such men know how to find a tavern quickly. A table in a dark corner is found and food and drink is ordered. A good time to make introductions.

    Were you to meet them sans weapons and armor, you would immediately recognize these are dangerous men, but you probably would guess wrongly about their roles in this new company of mercenaries. At my left is Pulraka, his hood down revealing his sand and blood shaded hair. He drinks just water. The hot head, you might guess from common stereotype, but as the spearman of the company, he is as steady as it comes and shows little emotion as they discuss their next moves in town. Moving down the table is Lindol, the oldest of the three. His hair is grey but there is none in his neat little mustache. A scar on his jaw has left him with a permanent snarl on his face. He looks like a man who charges on the front line with axe or mace, ready to split the foes in twain and he was at one time, but now his hand rests on his light crossbow which sits on the table before him. And then there is the mutton-chopped, tired-looking man known as Nidonar. It is he who carries the axe and provides the general guidance for the Fletchlings, for that is their name after a vicious bird found on the Eastern coast. As for me, I met Nidonar when all 3 men were still in the Ashen Band. Nidonar saved my life as the caravan I was traveling with was attacked by bandits. We kept in touch through letters the next few years as I began making my name as a reporter. When he told me that him and a few buddies were splitting off, I begged to meet them and travel with them. I would make them famous and shed light upon the mysterious life of the wandering mercenary. Thus begins the tale of the Fletchlings.

    The First Contract
    By Bodukal the Reporter, published in the Harkenstadt Barker

    As we left off, the men of the Fletchlings sat in a quiet tavern, still too early in the day to attract more than a few regulars, but then they are joined by a townsman who comes over with goblets of wine. He is Radull, a merchant of Harkenstadt and he was expected. As the goblets are placed, Pulraka reaches over and drains his like it was water.
    “That wasn’t cheap. You’re supposed to enjoy it,” Radull says, but Pulraka just shrugs, “Sorry. Can I have another to get it right?” Nidonar moves ahead with the business at hand, sipping from his goblet delicately. It is caravan work to the town of Weidenau. A hot, dusty job for 160 crowns. The negotiations over, Nidonar tells the man they will have their answer tomorrow. Obviously dismissed, he takes his leave and drink to another part of the bar.
    “I hate caravans,” grunts Lindol. The others agree. It is boring and tiring, but one never knows when they will run into one of the many threats found on the roads these days. “And the worst part is the lack of control. We are just the flunkies along for the ride with no say as to direction or speed until it’s time for the killing to start.” After a long round of complaints about it, they surprised me by then taking the job. “A beginning company like ours can’t afford to be picky and this is a comfortable, prosperous trading town with little need for sellswords.”
    “Not a sword in the group,” put in Pulraka unhelpfully.
    The party decamped from the tavern. Lindol went off to the market to buy supplies as his brutish face often gave him “special discounts” by merchants eager to get him to move along. I joined Nidonar and Pulraka on their way to the Hiring Hall. The Hall was a large room where prospective employers and employees met, mostly for town jobs, but there were a sizable amount of folks ready to join the mercenary life.
    After an interview process that took most of the afternoon, discussing motivations and having the candidates demonstrate claimed skills, they took on 2 new members. The most promising was an experienced caravan hand named Skinup. He was cagey at first as to why he left the profession but eventually Nidonar got it out of him that he killed one of his fellows in a scuffle which left him persona non grata here. “Does that include Radull?” asked Pulraka. “No, I worked for one of his competitors,” said Skinup. After some negotiations, they tentatively agreed to take him on. As the fellow came with decent protection and a weapon, Pulraka left to tell Lindol they only needed one set of gear. Also, I gathered he was going to verify Skinup’s story with their new employer. The other fellow, Rannika, greeted them heartily, claiming them as comrades in the Ashen Band and warning them darkly of some of the other candidates’ ulterior motives. Neither mercenary specifically remembered him, but it was a big group and as the afternoon went on, his asking price kept dropping. “He’s probably a fraud and a bit of a loon,” said Nidonar to me, “but he looks healthy enough and works cheap.”
    As night approached, I headed to my bunk with the company books (I am earning my food and board by acting as the company accountant as well as publicist). With the equipment Lindol purchased, the Fletchlings treasure box had about 2000 crowns with 59 crowns going out a day in pay. Tomorrow we leave with the caravan to the first step in the life of a new band of battle brothers.

    Fletchlings on the Road
    By Bodukal the Reporter, unpublished

    If I had any notions of the exciting life of a mercenary, they would have been crushed into the dust and dirt of the road to Weidenau. We walked beside the pack mules and the traders, the only change happening as the Fletchlings switched positions within the caravan, watching for danger. I was unlucky enough to but ensconced with the caravan master, a portly man named Dolnud. If you wish to learn more about his “exciting” life, you can find my article I put in the Weidenau Review. Privately, I found him tedious and listened to him talking to Nidonar about “if he hadn’t become a prosperous caravan master, he could have been a famous warrior instead.” I began to see why mercenaries had a reputation among merchants as being gruff and off-putting.
    We arrived in Weidenau safe and sound. While it did not leave me with much to write about, I was happy that the company did not have to utilize their deadly talents. Our time in town was fairly short. While there were jobs out there for mercenaries, the group decided they were all too dangerous for a small group, half of which were people who had little experience in battle. I was curious to see them buying a load of cloth rolls on the market. “While we are not professional merchants, most companies will buy trading goods if the price seems right,” explained Lindol, “They act as a supplementary income and a bit of a bankroll.” The things you learn.

    "Oh no, why did I do that? Stupid, stupid, stupid" - Napoleon Bonaparte

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    Paying the Toll
    By Bodukal the Reporter, published on the Nordholz Longhouse Walls

    Days passed as the company headed further north, bypassing a castle town. “There’s hardly any work for common sellswords there,” spit Lindol, “You gotta have some kind of in with the local nobheads to get a job.” I got to know the new recruits a little better. Skinup, the ex-caravanner, knew some good stories and played a mean game of Pegboard, a card game both me and Nidonar enjoyed. Talking to Rannika is an interesting experience. If you assumed half of what he said was nonsense and half were lies, you would not be far off, but to discount him entirely would be a mistake. While I doubt he taught at the Univ. of Gelenbracht, he definitely picked up an education somewhere and he seems to have a good sense of what a person is like quickly. Had he been the one doing the guessing about the founding Fletchlings, he would have been quite accurate as to their true nature.
    We arrived in a small lumber town called Nordholz where Lindol sold his cloth for a small, but not inconsiderable profit. Shortly we were met by Len the Burgomaster of the town who took us to his house. There he told his tale of woe.
    “I was robbed on the road and left with only my life. The bandits jeered at my helplessness and claimed the were only taking the tolls they were owed for travelling on THEIR road. I still hear their words at night when I try to sleep. If tolls I must pay, I will pay them to you, sellswords-”
    “Still no swords,” mumbled Pulraka.
    “Take this money and when you have killed them all,” continued the burgomaster,” I will further reward you.” There was no opposition to taking the job. The only question was whether a 6th member should be added before their first fight. As they strolled back to the town square, they discussed it. The conversation was interrupted by a large man, nearly naked in the spring air and sporting a number of unusual blue tattoos. “You need fighting man, you people? I, Kalpubo, will fight for you,” he exclaimed, brandishing a well-used club. This I learned later was a wild man, unused to civilized life, but knowledgeable of the forest. Rannika said he looked untrustworthy, but was outvoted.
    “Hah, the men who steal from people? Kalpubo knows where they lair. I pay you 10 crowns a day to go and fight them.” While Nidonar explained how the mercenary business actually works, Lindol found some better gear for the new recruit, an ill-fitting tunic but a fine used hand axe to replace the club. After holding it in his large hands, Kalpubo somehow looked even bigger than before.
    The bandits lair turned out to be a dilapidated hermit’s hut. They had no sentries and by the time they realized they were being hunted, the Fletchlings had already taken the high ground. I was able to see the fight from cover atop a nearby hill. The first shot from Lindol hit the man Len had identified as the leader from the spear and shield he carried. The second shot followed and down he went. The bandits were not dispirited from their leader’s fall, but only because all of them were fighting for their own lives and losing. Skinup and Pulraka double teamed one bandit, clubbing him unconscious. Nidonar faced another foe while an enemy wielding a pitchfork stabbed at him from a distance. This did not hinder him from decapitating his man in a quick sweep of his axe. They then made short work of the pitchforker (note to self: is that a real thing?). Counting heads, they realized Kalpubo was missing and went in search. They quickly found him walking back through the bushes cleaning his axe on his tunic. Apparently, there was another pitchforkman (is that any better?) trying to flank them. The one prisoner begged for his life, but Nidonar just said coldly, “You haven’t paid the toll yet,” and they swiftly beheaded him. It was a moment of brutality, understandable brutality, but shocking from a man I had been friends with for years and yet had never seen that side of.

    A Homecoming
    By Bodukal the Reporter, published in the Albstadt News

    As the band of battle brothers approached their next stop, the city of Albstadt, I looked at Pulraka, the spearman. By now, I knew him well enough that this normally unflappable warrior looked uncomfortable. When questioned, he said, “This is where I am from, where my family still lives.” I have found mercenaries rarely talk about their families. Many who find their way into this life had bad or even tragic experiences as youths. Others found their otherwise loving families unable to accept that their little boy was going off to kill people for money. Thus my questioning got even more gentle at this time. “My parents are both merchants. Mom has a shop in town and Dad travels the road buying and selling. I used to travel with Dad until a close call with some bandits worried him enough to leave me home. They refused my requests for weapons training, but even Mom could see I was miserable counting inventory at the shop. When the Ashen Band came through town recruiting, she bought me some armor and a keen dagger and told me to chase my dreams. This is the first time I’ve been back since I left,” he counted on his fingers, “15 years ago.” I asked about siblings. “Oh, 3 living ones, my oldest brother still works with Dad, the next does something here in town, and news reached me about 5 years ago that I have a younger sister now, at least I haven’t heard anything otherwise.” He trailed off and I could see the talking was done. Nidonar wandered over, gave his friend a pat on the shoulder and said, “Well, we have a meeting with one of the town elders about a job. Both of you come with me for the preliminaries.” Arriving at the town hall, we were ushered into a small antechamber with fruit and poor quality wine. A curtained doorway was flung open. “Hoy mercenary, how long has it been since you’ve slaked your sword with the blood of evil, cruel men?”
    “We don’t have any swords, you. . . brother?” said Pulraka.
    “I knew that was you, Pul,” the man said, dropping the sarcastic voice and embracing his brother. He was dressed in a green tunic with the head-dress marking his status in town, “you are still the spitting image of Mom with a beard.”
    “Nidonar, Bokudal, allow me to introduce my brother, Dulsk.” The town elder got back to business. “Your timing is great, a local group of brigands is growing too big for their britches and need a good spanking. I can’t get the town militia to stir out of town, so I think the answer to this issue is to hire some finely armed men like you, so are the Fletchlings interested?” Nidonar said they would have to take it back to the group, but that the 400 crown payment made it likely. “Fine, fine, I heard you mercenary types were slow thinkers,” Dulsk snarked, then said quietly, “would you join me and Mom at dinner, brother?”
    Contract in hand, we left the next day. Kalpubo rejoined us on the road. “People of so many make Kalpubo shaky. In the forest I stay.” Lindol handed him a light cap to protect his head. The wild man looked dubious at it but put it lightly on his shaven head. Nidonar was marching off to the side, swinging one of the pitchforks they seized in the last fight. “I like the feel of this. I think I’ll try it out.” I worried a bit how casual everyone seemed to be acting about the upcoming fight. The last fight was, by all appearances, an easy one. Perhaps they were overconfident? And Pulraka seemed lost in thought, likely due to the reunion with his family. I saw him talking with Lindol and Nidonar but I was not invited to join that conversation.
    These outlaws were more organized than the last group, if not more numerous. Their sentries spotted Kalpubo in the woods and raised the alarm. Rushing into battle, he found himself beset by two bandits. Meanwhile, Pulraka drew first blood with a wicked spear thrust and Lindol’s opening bolt found its mark in a bandit’s leg. But then a strike to the head knocked Kalpubo’s unfastened hat askew and he was left momentarily blinded. In that moment, a spear struck him in the chest and he went down. Pulraka finished off his man and left the line to face the men who took the wild man. A gasp and Skinup staggered back. Nidonar called for Rannika to support his fellow recruit as he moved forward. From behind my tree, I saw Skinup fall and abruptly the situation looked dicey. Even Lindol had to abandon his bow to defend himself with his back-up knife. Pulraka pushed one man off Lindol, then hit the other man hard. Nidonar managed to brain his opponent with the blunt end of the pitchfork and they converged on the final bandit who surrendered.
    In the post battle check, we confirmed the wild man, Kalpubo, was no more, but that Skinup was badly hurt, though alive! As for Rannika, he said he had circled around behind the bandits and killed a hidden bowman. “Lies,” croaked Skinup, “he was fighting next to me until he pulled back. That let the swing that hit my face through. He was running like the Devil last I saw. I spoke up and confirmed I had seen him heading northwest, not east like he said. He blustered and claimed Skinup was against him covering his own incompetence and besides, Pulraka left the line also. Nidonar listened then motioned to Lindol who was standing behind Rannika. Head grabbed, a knife in the throat, and the coward went down, choking in his own blood. “Now then,” said Nidonar turning to their captive. The bandit could not have been more than 14 and I was tempted to call out to my friend to stop the slaughter. But he just said, “You have received a second chance today, boy. Make it a good one.” They stripped him of his weapons and sent him scurrying away through the forest.
    Now back in town, we stopped at the Temple of Joy to get Skinup treated. “He has an obviously broken nose which we have set,” the temple doctor explained. “His elbow is also broken and while we have put it in a cast, I suspect he will never have the same range of motion or strength in that arm again.” Functionally, this left the Fletchlings back where they started, except with only 1,964 crowns. What will they do now?

    "Oh no, why did I do that? Stupid, stupid, stupid" - Napoleon Bonaparte

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    Rebooted Company
    By Bodukal the Reporter, published in the Albstadt News

    Back to his original comrades, minus Skinup who was left with the temple to recuperate, they again entered a city’s hiring hall with their goal to rebuild the company back to 6 functional members. Their first hire was plainly a recent monk with tonsure and robe. He had been kicked out of the Fellowship of Skinsk for embezzlement, but claimed he was both repentant and eager to start a new life. He did not appear to me to be a strong candidate, but unexpectedly, Pulraka vouched for him. “I knew him growing up when he was an orphan. I believe he is a good man.” For the next recruit, they took someone with some military experience. Nippun had served in the local militia and his talents were also vouched for, this time by Pulraka’s brother, Town Elder Dulsk. With money now down to a thousand crowns in the treasury, they took on the lowest bidder, a miller named Skado. Not originally from Albstadt, he seemed to be as bright as a blown-out candle, but Nidonar said intelligence wasn’t everything in a mercenary. “Give him a pointy thing and turn him in the right direction. Plenty of soldiers know little more than that.” That sounded dubious to me, but he was the expert here.
    They then switched to job seeker mode finally being directed to the office of Lobold the Wise. “Eh, word to you, Nido,” said Pulraka, “‘the wise’ is a title here. It means he’s the hereditary mayor of the town. He’s not all that bright. On a scale from 1-10 with you being a 10 and Skado being a 1, he’s about a 3.”
    I was not privy to the discussion, but Nidonar was suppressing a grin when he returned. “Apparently some thief stole a fertility idol and now he’s afraid to go to bed with his wife without it. If we get it back, he’s got more jobs for us.”
    They followed the tracks north and found the surprised thieves. After the last almost disastrous battle, Pulraka worked with his new spearmen, Karanika and Skado, in the art of “spearwall”, a technique to both damage enemies and keep them at bay. So anchoring themselves against a tree, the three prepared their wall. Nippun went wide east to try and hit them from the side, but was seen. The bandits charged and I marvelled at Skado’s spear usage. I saw him wound 4 different men before anyone reached a range to strike back. Nidonar started with the pitchfork, but two men snuck around the woods to attack Lindol and he switched back to his trusty axe, though in doing so took a stab wound to the chest. I could not see Nippun. He was knocked down in the bushes, but they were so thick, his opponent couldn’t reach him before he staggered back to his feet. Pulraka finished off one of Skado’s victims then rushed to relieve Nippun. His mighty axe in play, I saw Nidonar demolish his two opponents. The last man, menaced by both Skado and Karanika, lost his nerve and ran, only to get both of their spears in his back. Ransacking the camp, we found the “idol of fertility” and speaking just for myself, I wouldn’t want this thing displayed in my bedroom, even if it gave me the endurance of an ox! I heard a groan and Nidonar toppled over. Apparently, the adrenalin of battle wore off and the pain of his wound overwhelmed him. We hurried back to town. I helped carry my friend. “Chest wounds are never good,” said the doctor, “but it doesn’t seem to have hit any organs. He’ll recover with a few days rest.” The others decided to leave him back with Skinup as they went shorthanded on Lobold’s second job, a package delivery to Waldhain up North.

    Deja Vu in Waldhain
    By Bodukal the Reporter, published in the Albstadt News and Waldhain Broadsheet

    As they marched north, I noticed everyone sending sidelong glances in Pulraka’s direction. After all, this was the first time he was leading the Fletchlings with Nidonar in recovery from his stabbing. If I was correctly interpreting the glances, it was not so much “I wonder if he can do the job” and more “maybe he should be leading us permanently”. Part of that was due to the events just before we left Albstadt. He threw the company into a “goodwill blitz”, encouraging the men to volunteer around town. When a toddler got lost, it was Skado who found him trapped in a root cellar. “That’s where I would have gone,” said Skado. I guess there are advantages to having a brain like a 2 year old. In return, Skado and the Fletchlings were honored by Lobold and Dulsk in a grand ceremony. It appears Pulraka’s homecoming was a successful one.
    After we dropped off Lobold’s package, the merchant Lupodin pulled us aside. “Uh, I heard you helped out Albstadt’s mayor with his, uh problem. Well, I was expecting my own idol from the same cult but the shipment never arrived. There’s bandits in the forest to the north of town. I think they have it. If I uh, give you money, could you get it for me quiet-like?”
    The company was still considering it the next day when a trading caravan arrived with a familiar passenger. It was Skinup, still banged up, but ready to head back to action. “Nidonar offered me a fair severance, but what do I do then? Caravanning is out, I guess beggar would be my next choice?” The company back up to six, they went looking for the merchant’s lost erection creator. Out of the woods came 7 bandits. Pulraka called the troops to a spot of high land. As the spearwall failed, the attackers came at the pointman, Karanika the ex-monk. Facing 3 opponents, he prayed and shielded himself as best he could. Lindol, meanwhile, kept picking off enemies around the periphery. Both sides fought methodically, strike, then shield, strike, then shield, but gradually the advantage swung in favor of the Fletchlings until the final two surrendered. They were later freed after they showed where they had buried their treasure, including that god-awful idol everyone seems to be crazy about. There were two in the loot and Skinup claimed the extra as his share. “I know I couldn’t fight well with my bad arm. Maybe I could become a gigolo if this doesn’t work out.”
    The trip back was more hectic. The woods were chock full of bandits looking to steal back the fertility idols and the Fletchlings had to detour all the way down to Albstadt before working up the road to Waldhain and the waiting merchant. “Sellsword, sellsword, sell me word of your success,” he said gaily. Pulraka opened his mouth, but the rest of the company beat him to it “No swords for sale in this company!” we yelled. Pulraka glared a bit, then handed the merchant his thingie. The work of the Fletchlings, sex idol deliverers, was complete.

    "Oh no, why did I do that? Stupid, stupid, stupid" - Napoleon Bonaparte

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    Fateful Fletchling Decisions
    By Bodukal the Reporter, published in the Albstadt News and Waldhain Broadsheet

    The Fletchlings had a base. As part of the agreement with Albstadt, the company was given an abandoned farm north of town to build a stronghold. Right now, due to finances, said stronghold was a dilapidated barn. They had another contract to Waldhain, but there was first some internal business to discuss. An ongoing discussion over the company’s next move had exploded into a leadership struggle. Nidonar said the wise move for the future was to have a battle standard made to distinguish them from any old band of fighters. It would cost, but would be worth it in publicity. Pulraka disagreed. “If we are to pull out of our financial hole, we need more recruits to enable us to take more contracts.”
    “But more recruits is more money out of our pockets for little return” Nidonar countered. Finally a vote was taken. I was even given a half vote as an unofficial member of the Fletchlings. They voted in reverse order of joining.
    Skinup, Nippun and myself voted for Nido. Karanika and Skado voted for Pul leaving Lindol as the deciding vote 3-2 ½. He scowled more than normal and pulled his two quarreling comrades to the other side of the barn. He returned with them in tow after a long discussion and could see it growing calmer and more civilized.
    “We of the Fledglings have never had an “official” leader and despite today, we are not going to establish one,” said Lindol, “ I will continue the Quartermaster duties, Nidoran will handle the contracts, and Pulraka will be the battle leader. And we have agreed to get the company up to 12 before purchasing a battle standard. Now get to bed. We leave for Walhain at first light!”
    The company got into marching order and prepared to leave the next day. “Cousin Skado! Cousin Skado!” shouted a man rushing up to us. “Cousin Rapun! Cousin Rapun!” shouted Skado back.
    “Apparently this is Skado’s cousin, Rapun,” Nido said to me wryly. Well indeed it was, another ex-miller looking for a job. Pulraka turned to me and asked if we could afford another man right now. I pulled out the tallies and told him it would bring us to 348 crowns with 99 crowns paid daily in wages. He grimaced, but felt Skado’s performance in the short time he’d been here earned him a favor. We handed him a hand axe and told him to march next to his cousin.

    Tragic End to a Loyal Brother
    By Bodukal the Reporter, published in the Albstadt News and Waldhain Broadsheet

    I try not to insert myself too much into the story of the life of a mercenary, but I received my first indication that my work as a reporter was doing the company good. The Burgomeister Karapun pulled me and Nido into his office. “I’ve been reading good things about the company” (I should point out that the version you are now reading is the unexpurgated one. My published copy leaves out the insults to important people and plays up the heroics and drama, the latter because that sells and the former because I don’t want to end up in the stocks.) I’d like to hire you on behalf of the town to take out one of those roaming groups of bandits plaguing the area.” Nido took the job. The company needed a quick influx of crowns.
    Sortieing into the woods, they met the bandits on even grounds. The densely packed trees prevented the Fletchlings from practicing their Spearwall technique, so the fight quickly devolved to brutal little 1 on 1 or 1 on 2 skirmishes. I was up in the center, so did not see it myself so I get this from Nippun’s account. “I had taken position on lumpy ground to the west when I spotted two enemies, one of which was obviously the opposition’s leader. He stood back to hurl axes my way while his comrade rushed me. I hollered for assistance and around came Nidonar with his pitchfork. I forced back the spearman with a shield blow and abruptly there was a lane between him and Nidonar. It is not my place to assign motive, but he rushed right up to the bandit and grabbed for his large axe. I watched in horror as the bandit lunged down from his high point and split Nidonar’s skull. As much as I wanted to immediately avenge him, I had little choice but to stand my ground, avoid the throwing axes, and wait for support.”
    The rest of the band lay dead and we were shocked and angered to see Nido dead. The enemy leader ran for his life with Skado and Nippun in hot pursuit, but he had too great of a lead and eluded them. I sat beside my friend’s body for a long time. He had always said, “I have no home. Bury me where I fall.” and so we did, digging a deep hole in that miserable forest. Pulraka swore to the grieving Fletchlings he would do two things.
    We would return and give his friend a proper burial marker and
    We would hunt down the worthless brigand raider that slew him and make him pay!
    I barely remember marching back to town and collecting our pay and even less of the next few days of drunken mourning. Goodbye Nidoran. I will miss you greatly as will all the Fletchlings.

    Curious if anyone is reading this? Comments?

    "Oh no, why did I do that? Stupid, stupid, stupid" - Napoleon Bonaparte

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    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.

    Unsettling Opponents
    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

    Avatar photoAnonymous

    Thanks for the AAR! I never play ironman myself , its just not my thing.

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