Kall Horst is heading back the way they came, in an attempt to find Belvar.
After what seems like hours, he finally comes across the barge. It’s sails has been cut and it lies tied to the shore. Kall cautiously investigates it but finds nothing of use. Clearly it has been ransacked. He does however find tracks leading into the forest and also tracks that belong to a horse. Belvar!
He follows the tracks for what seem like an hour until he comes across a camp. He remains unseen and creeps up to get a better view.
He spots six bandits sitting around a low fire for warmth and his beloved horse, Belvar, is currently tied to a tree. The bandits seem completely oblivious to his approach as they talk amongst themselves.
Kall decides to get closer and heads north through the trees until he gets into some heavy foliage. There he waits…
After a couple of hours observing and waiting, the bandits get ready to move camp. Kall see’s his moment and aims his crossbow at the nearest one, and waits for them to begin packing their stuff. His aim is somewhat afflicted by the heavy cover, but he still manages to land true when he shoots. He hits his target, although not a kill, he wounds his target severely as the target ducks for cover.
The bandits react as another bolt from his repeater crossbow comes flying out. This one misses.
They dive for cover and return fire by shooting bolts in his direction, but none hit.
Kall then shouts “Wardens have got you surrounded! Ernst, shoot that one hiding behind that tree!”
Kall continues to bluff and bullshit as he continues shooting with his repeater. Already it’s having an effect; two of the bandits decide to run, one of them whom Kall had already severely injured. They run south but run into Kall Horst’s caltrops that he dropped when he first arrived. The caltrops manage to slow down one of them, while the other avoids it.
Kall, continuing his bluff, now aims for the leader of the bandit group who has been shouting out orders for his men to stay and fight. He shoots twice and each one hits, killing the man outright.
With two gone that had fled, and now their leader dead, the remaining 3 bandits morale is shaky at best. Another one of them decides to flee, but a man wielding a crossbow shouts for him to hold his ground, and proceeds to wonder whether or not they are indeed surrounded. The man known as Jenkins shouts for them to advance, stating, “There’s only one of them lads! Or at least two! But no more than that! Look, whoever it is, is shooting from only one direction and we’ve only heard one voice! Advance on that fucker!”
With Kall Horst’s bluff now fulfilled its purpose, and with the advancing bandits who plan to flank his position, Kall decides wisely to move and heads a few strides north in cover.
He’s spotted however as the bandits advance fast on his position, and Kall tries to shoot with his last two remaining bolts. He misses both shots. He gets shot in return by Jenkins in the leg, and is severely injured. With no other option, he shouts, “I surrender! Hold your fire!”
The three bandits approach, Jenkins now has his sword drawn and points it only a few inches away from Kall Horst’s neck.
“Your a canny little shit. Markus, bring him to the camp and lets search him. We’ll have a little chat and then we’ll do him in.”
– Jenkins, now the new leader.
– Markus, the grim quiet type. Slow mind.
– Barthold, short scruffy man, not the brightest.
They drag Kall Horst over to their camp and search him.
“Can I cut him from ear to ear now boss?”
“Not yet Markus, gotta ask him some questions. Then you can have fun.”
Kall’s belongings are stripped from him, including his heavy set coin purse that contains 42 crowns! As the reality of this sets in that they now struck gold, Jenkins turns to look at Kall, “What are you? Some kind of noble?”
Kall nods, and says his name is Thanateous Sapnatheim, cousin of Graf Wilhelm Sapnatheim. The man snorts, “You can have your fun now Marcus.”
Kall however shows them the signet ring he nicked from the body of Sapnatheim. The bandit looks at it, and recognizes the crest of the Wilhelm family.
“Well I’ll be damned… this fella is speaking the truth boys. Looks like we have the Graf’s cousin, and I would wager he’d miss his cousin terribly, wouldn’t you boys? I’d even say he’d pay handsomely to see his cousin returned to him safe and sound, wouldn’t you?”
“So what now then?” asks Barthold.
“Now we move camp. Head for the Skaag Hills I reckon, high enough ground to see anyone approach, and from there we hatch a plan to snag ourselves some find Sapnatheim gold, what say you lot?”
They agree, but not before Kall’s 42 crowns is distributed among them, and unfairly as Kall notices that Jenkins has taken most of the gold and the two other men are clearly not able to count when they get handed their amounts. Kall also notices that Jenkins is keeping his pistol, but offers up Kall’s repeater crossbow to Markus when Markus kicks up a fuss about being treated unfairly.
Kall takes some mental notes…
The bandits get moving and shift camp, making their way south-west towards the forest and heading for the river crossing that crosses into the Skaag Hills. Kall’s hoisted over Belvars backside, with his hands binded.
Along the way Kall asks if he can stretch his legs, to which Jenkins obliges him and asks Markus to straighten him up. Markus does indeed shove him off the horse, and boots him to move. Earlier on Kall noticed that Markus was having trouble fiddling with his repeater crossbow, unable to figure out how to work or load the damn thing.
Kall tells him that its broken, and maybe he got a bum deal when Jenkins was distributing the loot. Markus takes up issue with Jenkins over this, and in reply Jenkins tells him to gag their noble friend and hoist him back onto Belvar. However Markus still takes issue with Jenkins over the crossbow, and Jenkins flips him a single crown.
They continue on for sometime until they come to the river crossing. (At this point, the player for Kall rolls a 1d6 on a random encounter list. He gets the worse one..)
As they look for the shallowest point of crossing, they hear rustling and the sounds of a horse from behind.
Before they even react, they hear someone shout, “Well hello their friends! Might I ask you to drop your weapons kindly, and very slowly…”
Jenkins and his boys turn and see seven heavily armed men step out. The one that shouted at them rides on horseback, on a mangy scruffy looking beast.
Jenkins raises his crossbow, but realizing its futile, drops it. “What’s the meaning of this!”
“The meaning you say?” replies the man on horseback, “I mean to take your stuff, that’s my meaning. Now dismount slowly and tie that horse to that nearby tree…”
Jenkins does as he’s told while Markus and Barthold drop their weapons and remain very still.
At this point, Kall removes the gag, and speaks up, “I would just like to say that my name is Thanateous Sapnatheim and I would like you hire you all, as you seem like a fine bunch of mercenaries. Perhaps we can come to some arrangement?”
Jenkins tries to speak over Kall, and goes as far as to try and smack him, but gets a bolt in the leg from the man on the horse for his efforts. “Go on. I’m listening. You mentioned employment?”
Kall replies, “Yes, you see these men here are bandits, and tried to rob me, not just that but they took my horse also. Now I would like to hire your services to escort me to Castle Graunberg where I’m sure you’ll be rewarded and I’m willing to pay handsomely.” (The player may not have said it like that exactly, but its close enough)
“Well that isn’t very gentlemanly of them… My name is Gundar, and I’d be happy to discuss business. After all, we are mercenaries, aren’t we boys?”
At this one of Gundar’s men heads over and unties Kall, and helps him off the horse.
“Now, what shall we do with these… bandits?”
“Whatever you like,” says Kall, but points to Jenkins, “That one however was very mean to those two. Not very fair.”
Gundar nods, “Hang that one. As for you two, I’m willing to offer you employment if you’ll have it.” Markus and Barthold nod vigorously at the behest of Horst who is also nodding. “Good, now we are all friends.”
Gundar dismounts from his horse and heads over to Kall, and extends his hand. “My name is Gundar, and your Sapnatheim, right?”
Kall shakes his hand and nods. Kall gets his gear and coinage back from the bandits, and him and Gundar discuss business as Kall mounts his horse, although its still tied to the tree and Gundar currently holds the reigns.
Seeing Jenkins being hung, Kall decides to cause some confusion in the middle of all this. He aims and fires his repeater crossbow which is now reloaded at the rope that was hoisting up Jenkins. He misses, and misses again on his second shot. Gundar, mightily confused, pulls Kall off his horse, saying, “Your a very dishonest man friend…”
Kall replies “What do you mean?”
“You tell me.”
“I was only wanting to make him suffer, I want you to hang him twice…”
Gundar doesn’t look impressed, “More work for my men is what your saying…”
“No, I merely want him to suffer. He stole my horse, and shot me in the leg, and he’s not a very nice man.”
Kall slowly wins Gundar back over, “Ah, I see. Well I can understand that, although you should have said before hand. Men, draw out his suffering a bit. Make him struggle. Now, there is the matter of our pay for escorting you to Castle Graunberg.”
The two begin to discuss payment, and Kall agree’s to pay him 40 crowns in total, not including the possible rewards that await him at the castle itself. Gundar however says that an advance payment would need to be paid, and Kall agrees to pay him 20 crowns up front, handing it over to him.
The amount of coin being handed over with relative ease puts Gundar and his men at ease, putting them into a false sense of security as they believe that their little story about being mercenaries is actually ringing true with this noble. In truth Gundar and his men are actually bandits, and would have no doubt have ransomed Kall Horst to Sapnatheim, although such a ransom would fall through because Kall Horst is not the cousin of the Graf, and he’s only using the name of the dead noble that he killed earlier on.
With the thought that they may get payment and more through legit means without even the hassle of going through a ransom and possibly getting into a fight, Gundar and his men are no doubt happy to oblige and go along with this little scheme. But unbeknownst to them, Kall Horst is already plotting his escape.
This plan that Horst has in mind is not complex. It isn’t a daring multi-layered plan that involves intrigue and convoluted schemes..
No, it’s a simple case of running when they turn their backs.
As Gundar walks away from him, 20 crowns richer and dreaming of further riches, Kall Horst has already cut the rope and is galloping away. By the time his men -at least the ones that didn’t take their eyes off their fat prize – begin shouting, Kall is already truly away, galloping through the forest. Belvar has had enough time to recover from his earlier ordeal and shows it as he gallops full speed into the forest and out of reach. With no way to catch up with having only one horse, the masquerading mercenaries can only curse their luck. But at least they are 20 crowns richer. Not a bad haul.
Kall makes his way towards the canal bank and then heads north. A few hours go by and he reaches the barge, which is now a charred ruin. Someone has set fire to it, for whatever reason.
He continues on, resting along the way and hoping to reach the others soon.
Kall gets to live another day.
He must surely have Ranald’s Luck.
The long-haired bastard…