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In the beginning
I had met most of these people once or twice before. The simplistic fisherman, woodsman, pyromaniac cleric and the others. I thought it was rather strange that Ames had requested my presence for an expedition as most of my service had been ... well, consultative, but he pays well enough that I can continue my own research, and he doesn't complain if I disappear for a few weeks at a time like some of the other employers I've had over the past couple of years.

A caravan had disappeared, some of Ames' other mercenaries had been hired out as guards, and apparently their agreement extended to recovery of the goods, and possibly the merchants, if something tragic were to happen. The area is known to be infested with bandits, thus the reason for the sell-swords in the first place, so this wasn't a huge surprise to anyone. I suppose we agreed to help, though I don't recall us discussing it amongst each other. Presumably everyone else there felt the same as I did, we needed the money, and this didn't seem like it was foul or dirty work, or likely to take weeks.

Some of the other mercenaries in town are a bit cliquish, and prone to trying to pick fights with those who aren't part of their merry little bands. One decided he was going to interfere with the ranger's drink, by causing him to spill it on himself. The ranger seemed content to let it go, which is noble enough... no real harm was done. My experience with these people is somewhat different, unfortunately. In my experience you have to set an example, and do it quickly, and publicly. So I did. The fisherman just happened to have fish, I just happened to have one in my hand, and neglected to think about it when I turned around too close to the offender to speak to someone else. His friends accepted my apologies on his behalf, but I believe they got the point. If not, I suspect I'll be beaten rather harshly in a back alley at some point in the near future, but I'll worry about that when it happens....

So we wandered towards Luskan, since we knew this caravan had traveled that direction last and eventually stumbled upon the scene where they were taken. No blood was spilled, which I didn't consider at the time, but in retrospect seems rather odd considering there were 4 armed guards and that we know of, only 8 bandits... a couple of those didn't seem like warriors when we fought them. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

We didn't really need a skilled tracker to follow the massive array of footprints leading north along the river to the cave... Personally, I would have lookouts posted if I were a small bandit enclave operating so close to the road, but they weren't me. Our ranger scouted the way in, discovering at least two people through a door and another in the tunnel up ahead that wrapped around in to the rest of the complex. I'm still not sure why we waited for the people in the door to come out, and why we weren't ready for them when they did, but I tend to leave the decisions about how to smash people up to those who are better at smashing them.

At any rate, the door did get opened, and then the screaming started, followed swiftly by the bleeding. All theirs, though. For all that our thrown together little crew isn't that widely experienced, and almost completely green at working together, we managed to subdue the "bad guys" without a single drop of our own blood lost. It didn't hurt that the three I put in to dream-land shortly after the fight broke out dropped their weapons as soon as I asked, but I suspect things would have probably ended the same for them given that we had them outnumbered by then.

According to what I could get out of them, and I'm not a seasoned interrogator, they were operating independently... striking out from their little hideaway to take whatever they could happen to ambush. I wanted to kill them off after I was done asking them questions, not out of any sort of real malice you understand, but I'm of the opinion that it's generally easier to remove evildoers from society permanently than to take the chance that they'll simply find another place and another crew to resume their bad habits with. Enough of us felt we should take them prisoner and return with them that I didn't push the issue, though.

As we were loading the merchant's wagon with the recovered goods, I had time to take a look around the hideout, and a couple of other thoughts dawned on me. One, this was indeed an impressive hideout for such a small disorganized band. I suppose I can't pass judgement on their level of organization, we snuck in to their home and laid in to them while they were cleaning up from lunch, after all. But still, it was a nice place for all intents and purposes. I mean to revisit it at some point and see if might be secured for my own use, but I suppose I will have to speak with the others who were there. I don't really have any more claim than they do.

The other thing that bothers me to no end is why the merchants were on the side trail with their wagon in the first place. We discovered the scene of the struggle, what little there was, well off the main road that led past Tamar out towards Luskan. If they hadn't left that road, they wouldn't have been in the place where they were presumably ambushed. I don't know that it would have changed anything, maybe the wagon was moved afterwards... I certainly can't read trial signs well enough to know, and didn't think to ask anyone until now, when we're back in Tamar. I may see about talking to the prisoners again, or the merchants for that matter, but for right now I need to work on this batch of potions and get some rest...

Wyldrik Oleran
Some day in some year...
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Pathfinder Core Setting (3.5)
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