Kingmaker

Table of Contents
For your convenience.
Adventure Log Table of Contents


Stolenlands


SESSION 1: “Journal of Ser Bannon White, Volume 17 Entry 2”

SESSION 2: “Beaten by MITES?"

SESSION 3: “Liluye’s Choice"

SESSION 4: “The Darkness Beneath the Sycamore" – (SESSION 4 Side Story: “Delrus’s Journey”)

SESSION 5: “Assassins – The First of Many"

SESSION 6: “Journal of Ser Bannon White, Volume 17 Entry 10”

SESSION 7: “The Shrine of the Elk”

SESSION 8: “Poison” – SESSION 8: “Full Synch”

SESSION 9: “The Death of Delrus” Skull icon

SESSION 10: "Journal of Ser Bannon White, Volume 17 Entry 19

SESSION 11: “Sight Beyond Sight” – (SESSION 11 Side Story: “1: GENESIS”)

SESSION 12: “Mikmek the Champion’s Return” – (SESSION 12 Side Story: “2: EXODUS”)

SESSION 13: “A Good Chief”

SESSION 14: “The Final Days of Calistril” – (SESSION 14 Supplemental: “DM’s Diary”) Skull icon Skull icon

SESSION 15: “Troll Ahead!”

SESSION 16: “New Members”

SESSION 17: “A Letter to His Lordship, The Mayor”

SESSION 18: “Fortuna”

SESSION 19: “Wanted: Jac Steele”

SESSION 20: “Prelude to Victory” SESSION 20 Supplemental: “Into the Demon’s Womb” SESSION 20 Supplemental: “The Fool” SESSION 20 Supplemental: “Courage and Cowardice”

SESSION 21: “Forward to Future Victory”

SESSION 22: “The Pits”

SESSION 23: “My Own Side”

SESSION 24: “A Saver Lost” Skull icon


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A Saver Lost
Session 24

RUN!”
He tried to scream,
But his throat was gone.
Blood flowed from neck and teeth,
The wolverine skull drenched red.
The beast stood bleeding,
The man stood bleeding,
The other fell
To the rats at his feet.
An ant, big as a dog,
Lunged at the man
As Jac lay bleeding,
Now immune to the needle-teeth.

His life ebbed.
His mind raced,
Hopes to be saved,
Fears past escaped,
Sorrow of loss
And of hopes dashed.
Sadness and desperation gripped him one last time,
And then Jac Steele
-——————————-died.

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My Own Side
Session 23

Jac Steele lifted the lid of the trapdoor and stared down into the pit from which he had earned his freedom only a few hours earlier. For a moment, he paused to consider his motivations. The past few days had been exceptionally difficult. The smuggler had been tortured physically and psychologically and only saved himself from that by promising to work for the man he’d come here to kill. It bore weighing the impact on one’s psyche before taking any brash actions.

Akiros, whose life Jac had worked so hard to spare, shifted from across the opening. Jac looked at him and his resolve hardened. There would never be a better chance. The torturous little witch down those earthen steps was already wounded. The Stag Lord was asleep and alone. A storm roared over the fort, drowning out sound. Jac and Akiros would kill the little, twisted bastard below, then steal their way back up and cut the Stag Lord’s throat in his sleep.

Jac nodded once at Akiros and dropped through the trapdoor. Akiros followed silently behind. Both men were ready to shed whatever blood would be needed to ensure their respective survival. Tonight, people would die.

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The Pits
Session 22

ShelynDesnaCalystriaGozreh poisoned again.

My own fault this time. Good to know the stuff works. Stag Lord stuck down on the floor. Should have waited. Gods damn that Wiktor. Impatient. Brash. Crazy.

Fat guy’s still screaming. Akiros telling me to get loose and kill the creepy shaman. Can’t move. Gods…

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Forward to Future Victory
Session 21

My eyes opened once again to a brilliant and cloudless sky. For that brief moment, with the lingering magical euphoria of my recent healing still buoying my mind, I felt that I could just fall up into that sky and leave everything behind. Then I turned my head to see the closed wooden gate freshly stained with the blood and those feelings were rudely slapped aside. To say that this was the most hopeless situation I found myself in would obviously be untrue. However I can think of no other situation where I felt despair so acutely. In that moment I was certain of only one thing; no one was getting out of that fort alive.

To be fair the fact that these thoughts occurred after seeing my only ally leap blindly off a roof, falling through that same roof myself, and being pummeled to unconsciousness by a club wielding lummox with a penchant for blankets, may have contributed to my inability to view the situation objectively. It should have been obvious to any of us that an assult on the monestary fortress would be unsucessful. Liluye was missing, we knew nothing about the strength or dispensation of our enemy and more importantly we knew nothing of our own strength or how to figt together. We began the fight as throughly seperated as possible while still being in the same fortress. Wiktor lept headlong at the fight with the most opponents. Jac tried to occupy the Stag Lord, first with words and then by convincing the lieutenant Akiros to attack him for us. Reiner was on the roof with me and once the figting started attempted to sow more confussion by waking the lumbering hulk named Ox. I readied myself to destract as many bandits as possible to aid my allies. Within moments the Ox had decided the best way to deal with the chaotic situation was to chase the halfling with a whip. I probably should have been flattered. I would have been fine had overlarge man not chased me on to a weak section of floor and caused both of us to crash through to the chambe below.

That chamber turned out to be a filthy closet that I later learned had, until moments before, held a captured owlbear. Even now I’m still not exactly sure how that owlbear got out in the first place but I was thankful none the less. Trapped as I was in that dark refuse strewn alcove I would surely have died if not for Saoirse. I called and quick as an arrow he came to my aid. With the last of my strength I leapt upon his back and trusted that he would carry me to safety. I passed out from the strain and the repeated hits on the head from a giant metal stick. I awoke, not back in the forest as I had hoped but instead as I have already described. Liluye had returned in the proverbial nick of time in order to save my life. I doubted my recovery, as the next thing I saw was a dinosaur asking for healing. Naturally, I obliged, and the next moment Saoirse, Liluye, Wander carrying a very unconscious Wiktor and I were making a mad dash for the tree-line. It was only then I found out that Reiner had not perished in the fight but was taken away by the insane masochist Dovan. I asked but even Liluye was unclear as to what fate had befallen Jac.

~Chains and Crowns
Vedal Scryer

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Into the Demon's Womb
Session 20 - Lilu

Liluye had been summoned by Jhod’s eagle and had left the party on the cusp of their attack on the Stag Lord. But what could be so direly important as to call the druid away on a battle’s eve?

Please put this on while you read. Drama!

Moon icon

Ohgodohgodohgod

The tunnels behind them were caving in. The sweet violin choir played no more. Liluye, still half-drowned, vomited water down her front gracelessly as she sprinted down the corridor. Jhod ran just two paces behind her; she could hear his ragged breathing as they pushed their bodies past their limits. Jhod’s face was pulpy and unrecognizable from the mauling. Blood poured down the Liluye’s neck from the enormous bite wound. Poison darts protruded like porcupine quills from the elf’s body – there was no time to remove them. Her ankle oozed pus from the festering wound and she ignored the stabbing pain that shot up her leg when she put her weight on it to run.

Elf and cleric barreled out of the small tunnel and into the larger one.

As she ran, Liluye screamed down to Wander over the rumbling of the cave in. “RHEGED, WANDER!”

Wander was waiting for them, precious cargo tied about his neck. He danced in a circle, dark eyes showing their whites with fear. Liluye vaulted up onto his back in a motion as fluid as water, leaving an arc of her own spattered blood on the white canvas of the elk’s hide. In that same motion, Liluye reached back to help haul Jhod onto Wander’s back. The elk was already running.

The sparkling magical stream seemed to laugh in the voice of Delrus’s eidolon.

The cave in followed them, inches from Wander’s hind hooves. It seemed that every step the elk took was just barely enough to keep his three riders from dancing on the brink of death. His long white legs tangled and untangled themselves as he ran. The deer leapt over two of the red sinew traps that threaded across their path, but triggered the last one. Jhod yelled as a thousand blood-red darts fired from the encroaching walls. The elk was just fast enough to avoid the majority of the trap. A single dart spiraled in what seemed like slow motion, tearing some pale fur from the end of Wander’s stubby tail and pinning it to the wall for a only a moment before the wall itself shattered.

“RHEGED, WANDER, RHEGED!” hissed Liluye, pushing Wander harder than she ever had in her life.

She cradled the newborn baby to her chest protectively.

The tunnels wound endlessly in a corkscrew, hot as a womb. It was a miracle that Wander kept his footing as he ran. Their speed was so great that tears were pulled from Jhod and Lilu’s squinting eyes. The earth swallowed greedily behind them, determined to bury them alive. The motley crew spilled into the vine chamber. The altar and silver scales were in their way – there was no time to tip-toe through the entangling mass of murderous vines!

“Hedfan,” whispered Liluye. Wander’s ear flicked. And he leapt.

For a split second, elk, elf, man, and babe were silhouetted against the sparkling golden light Jhod had cast in the room earlier. Liluye could feel Jhod’s pulse fluttering in his arm where he clung to her waist. The baby’s giggle was almost too faint for Lilu’s ears. Wander’s entire body was a flexing muscle as he hurled himself into the air like a pale bullet. He leapt over the altar and across the entire room. From its nest in the ceiling the assassin vine surged down. It tried to snatch the baby from Liluye’s arms to add to its nest of bones. Time stopped. In a moment too heroic to recount adequately, Wander tore the vine away with his antlers…

And landed flawlessly on the other side of the room.

Don’t look back.


They rode on. What else could they do? In the distance Liluye could see the exit. It felt like they had been running for hours. Clods of earth were falling in front of them now, and Wander’s hind legs were showered constantly with crumbling rocks. The boulder was slowly moving to plug the doorway. This would be their tomb.

“C’mon, boy,” wheezed Jhod to Wander. The elk had pushed his body long past reasonable expectation, and blood dripped from his nostrils. The door was closing and the beautiful, ugly, sound of a woman’s laughter flowed through the earth behind them. There wasn’t enough room out the closing door, they wouldn’t fit, surely they would die here.

I’m sorry, boys. I suppose I won’t be coming back after all


But Wander hadn’t given up. The elk dropped his head and continued to barrel forward like a battering ram. His antlers clacked against the closing rock as they breached the demon’s womb and poured back into the light.

Mother
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Courage and Cowardice
Session 20 Supplemental

An excerpt from Jac’s Tall Tales

The heavy wooden door slammed open so violently the frame shuddered and the hinges nearly tore free. Through it stormed a giant of a man. Seven feet of muscle crowned with the horned and dessicated skull of a deer stormed through and came to a sudden, jerking halt in front of the man leaning against a ruined stone wall. The Stag Lord swayed as he stood, the bottle of green wine Jac had poisoned and given as a gift hanging in his right hand, but an evil light almost glowed from the sockets of the stag’s skull.

Jac Steele lit another cigarette.

“You brought this?” the Stag Lord demanded, brandishing the green wine. Jac inhaled, pulling the orange flame closer.

“Yeah.” The word was shrouded in smoke that caught beneath the brim of Jac’s hat, shrouding his face.

“There will be an extra 200 crowns for you this month.” The bottle dropped to the Stag Lord’s side as though the arm had suddenly lost all life. “I hear you think you’re better than my men and that you killed the northern patrol.”

Jac’s yellow eyes slipped past the terrifying figure before him to the man he dwarfed. Akiros stood as tall as ever but in the shadow of the Stag Lord he seemed almost to be skulking.

“Dat’s raght,” Jac said before drawing again on the taste and effect of tobacco.

“You’ll take over the northern patrol, then. You’ll keep an extra 10% of your take for the first month. Welcome to the Stag Lord’s army. Soon we will carve our kingdom out of these Stolen Lands.” The monster turned on his heel and swept back into his room, the door jarring behind him. Jac let out his breath and this time the smoke rose out beyond his overhanging hat to curl up into the air. Akiros gave Jac a meaningful look and began counting out gold.

The green wine was unopened and the chartered group’s current plan to kill the beast Jac had just seen depended on the poison. Jac knew he would have to make sure it was drunk. He glanced at Wiktor, sitting ten paces away and feigning involvement in the fat bandit’s game. Wiktor’s cold eyes met Jac’s gold ones. The northman’s lips barely moved, but a second later Vedal’s voice magically carried the whisper to Jac’s ear.

“Wiktor wants you to get Akiros to open the door again.” Jac nodded to the barbarian as Akiros handed over a pouch of coins. Beneath his hat, Jac’s eyes flicked towards the bandit seated with Wiktor. With his usual chains missing he was nearly as terrifying as the Stag Lord. Jac hadn’t realized how much of a comfort that strange habit had brought before now but rumors of the Stag Lord crushing a man’s skull in his hands twisted with memories of Wiktor beating his foes into oblivion without the aid of a weapon. Wiktor, too, was sober. And cold.

As Akiros moved back towards the gate, Wiktor made a sign with his hands. Jac understood the image of a man falling and glanced at the partial second story above the table. Surely Wiktor couldn’t mean to kill the only man in this fort isolated enough to turn against the bandits. There must be other ways to draw the Stag Lord out.

Jac caught the retreating Akiros.

“Hey, Ah told ya we’re bettah dan da rest o’ da mooks ya got heah. 10% fo’ a month ain’t enough. We deserve more dan dat.” Akiros turned and gave the smuggler a weary look. “Now why don’t you go back an’ fetch da Stag Lord back out so we can talk ’bout dis?”

“He doesn’t like to be disturbed. You’re lucky to get what you did and I wouldn’t push it, he might kill you. If you’d like to try, though, be my guest.” Akiros waved past Jac towards the Stag Lord’s door.

“Okay, sho’. Go get ‘im an’ we can discuss dis over a drink or somethin’.” Jac stepped aside, indicating the way for Akiros, and ashed his cigarette.

“Oh, I’m not getting involved,” Akiros declined, the trace of a smile almost reaching his eyes. “He’d be just as likely to kill me for rousing him.”

“Ah tought you were more important dan dat,” Jac chided desperately, watching Wiktor and the bandit rise from their table. He knew he’d made a mistake when Akiros’s eyes narrowed and he turned from Jac, leaving him to his whim.

All right, Jac thought. I can at least draw the Stag Lord out myself. He turned, pulled on the cigarette again and exhaled as he moved toward the door. Besides, he’s a well-known drunk. And that green wine’s supposed to be a mighty fine vintage. There’s a good chance he’s already downed the bottle. Might be he’s already passed out or dead from the poison.

Jac reached the door and could now see that the wood had indeed splintered where the hinges clung to it. I do wish I knew what baneberry poison did. He raised a gloved hand and knocked four times on the door. He pulled his hat from his head and put his ear to the door, listening closely for any sound of breathing.

“What?!?” The growl of the Stag Lords voice shuddered through the wood, catching Jac off guard and robbing him of his nerve. Only twice before had Jac been more sure he would die and his mind warped with images of still pools, a blood-stained apron, a smile, and a man with a cleaver. Whipping his hat back onto his head, he turned and fled, walking as quickly as he thought he could without arousing suspicion. He rounded the ruined stone wall’s corner and nearly slammed into Akiros, who had taken up position leaning against the wall.

“’e’s asleep,” Jac tried to lie.

The old man smirked. “I thought you were more important than that.”

Jac realized his teeth had clamped down on the still smoldering cigarette. He loosened his jaw and managed to return the smile. Beneath his hat, his eyes shot to Wiktor, rounding what feebly passed for a stable in the fort and heading towards a staircase.

“Ya know, you’re raght.” Jac steeled himself and returned to the door. Not wanting to further irritate the man within, Jac pushed open the door and stepped inside.

It was a bit like walking into Hell.

The room was dark except for a furnace on the right wall. The flames of the furnace cast shadows and heat throughout the room, creating an oppressive atmosphere. As Jac looked, he noticed that fueling the fire were stacks and stacks of wanted posters, all featuring Jac Steele’s own face.

“Sit down.” Jac jumped as the Stag Lord’s voice rolled out of the shadows. The man was sitting bolt upright beneath a mass of furs. Jac glanced around, searching for a seat. All he found were dozens of sacks overflowing with gold and gems. Inhaling the smoke again, Jac chose one against the wall near the door and sat. He reached down and drew one of the coins from the sack, rolling it over his fingers.

“What do you want?” The Stag Lord’s head was down, as though he were watching Jac through the eyes of the skull he wore, rather than his own. The coin rolled faster across the fingers of Jac’s glove.

“Ah know you ain’t seen mah men outside, but we’re bettah dan anyone else you got in dis place.” Jac paused, waiting for a response. When none came he continued, “Now Ah’m thinkin’ we deserve somethin’ mo’ like 90% o’ our take.” The Stag Lord stared and Jac felt the heat grow. He was about to go on when the Stag Lord interrupted.

“Drink.” He held out the bottle Jac had given. Jac swallowed and then swallowed a mouthful of the wine. Thank the gods I drank that antitoxin. He watched as the Stag Lord took back the bottle and then downed a full half of it in a single swallow.

“Youll get 10% extra for 2 months. After that, I’ll make you a lieutenant, but you have to do something to earn it.”

What?" Jac asked.

“You came in with another man. He looked strong. Kill him.”

The coin stopped spinning for a moment. Then Jac continued. “Ah came wit four men. Ah’ll kill ‘em all but den dat won’t leave me wit none. Leave your army da smaller.” The man on the bed rose, throwing back one of the furs to reveal a massive recurved bow. Jac’s coin spun faster.

“Do I know you?” Jac casually tugged the brim of his hat lower and failed to keep from glancing at the piles of his picture sitting five feet from him.

“No…” There was no way not to see through the lie, Jac was sure. The coin was flying. The Stag Lord drew back an arrow and knocked it.

“I do know you.” Jac dropped the coin back in the sack.

“You remind me of my father.” The cigarette fell from Jac’s mouth in his haste.

“Raght, so we’re goin’ to go wit’ dat 90% and Ah’ll get outta your way.” He lunged for the latch and pulled the door open, bursting out of the heat and into the open air. Akiros was waiting.

“Ah got 90%,” Jac boasted, feigning calm. Akiros shook his head.

“Lieutenants get 75%, same as everyone else. They just have more responsibilities.” Jac would have retorted were it not for an earth shuddering crash at that moment. Jac looked up just in time to see Wiktor leap from the second floor onto one of the bandits…

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Prelude to Victory
Session 20

Looking back, one of the most pivotal points in the development of the Greenbelt was the inevitable confrontation between the Chartered and the bandits lead by the Stag Lord. In the years that followed many tales would be told, songs sung and drams performed, that attempted to portray the heroic actions taken by the five adventurers. However, none of them (including my previous writings on the subject) ever came close to representing the truth of what happened that day. The tales tell of a carefully planned infiltration of the bandits’ monastery headquarters. I picture now only the vaguest notions of a plan, careful or otherwise.

When the party woke that morning it was with high spirits. The hunter the group rescued provided a wealth of information concerning the Stag Lord’s operation. Armed with this intelligence Reiner, Jac and Wiktor decided to press forward despite the mysterious disappearance of Liluye the day before. The decision was made to pose as perspective bandit recruits seeking to join the Stag Lord’s operation. Our disguises were meticulously implemented. Reiner did not shave that morning and each of us chose eminently plausible aliases. There was little doubt that we would be recognized as anything other than ruthless bandits.

The plan worked surprisingly well considering we were not immediately shot as we advanced up the exposed path to the gates. Once there we let Jac speak as our leader as he appeared the most bandity. To my great surprise the Stag Lord’s lieutenant, Akiros, seemed to accept our story and was willing to let us leave alive. This was not enough for Jac who pressed our advantage and wormed his way into an audience with the Stag Lord himself. Sadly the bandits were a suspicious lot and only allowed Jac and Wiktor to enter the fort. All probably would have been lost there except that Reiner, showing impressive insight, managed to flirt with the creepy knife loving bandit we learned was named Dovan and get us let in as well.

As we approached the Stag Lord’s monastery fortress I prepared a number of magical effects that would hopefully allow us to keep the upper hand. One such spell was one that I had learned only days before. I set up a message relay between myself and the rest of the party that would allow us to stay in contact. The set up was not ideal as I was the only one able to both send and receive messages and would have to pass along any whispered missives meant for the other members of our band. What follows is an accounting, as best I can recall, of the messages I received.

“There are six that I can see on the ground floor.”
“At least three on the towers.”
“Akiros and the one in the corner look dangerous.”
“I think some are unhappy here. Maybe we can turn them.”
“There is some kind of locked door on the west side.”
“The Stag Lord is coming out. He looks drunk.”
“That didn’t go like I thought. I will try and speak with him again.”
“The fat one looks like a good candidate. I will try and lead him off so we can talk.”
“Vedal, he’s talking to you. Wave and play along.”
“He’s not answering the door.”
“Wait, here he comes.”
“My gods it’s hot in here.”
“I don’t care what he wants to do to you. Try to keep him busy.”
“This is bad. This is bad.”
“Now!” This last was punctuated by a loud crash from the main hall and the sound of many heavy things falling from a great height. The sounds most associated with a successful attack.

~Travels in the Greenbelt
Vedal Scryer

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The Fool
Session 20 - Wiktor

How do you play this game Fat Neil?

The bandits face lights up as he begins organizing the small piles of papers and dice in front of him. A neglected dog given warmth and companionship.

Well, you see, we roll up characters, and we adventure in a setting that I run. When there are battles, you roll your dice and add the appropriate modifiers, and that determines whether or not you hit my enemies and how hard you hit.

This is no game Wiktor has seen before. He picks up one of the dice rolling it around his hand. The edges are worn. It is used daily.

I do not understand Fat Neil. Why do you play?

Momentary confusion gives way to an intake of breath. A rolling of eyes. Wiktor is about to be talked to as a child.

For the sake of adventure, silly! You can slay dragons

I have seen dragons slain.

and rescue the princess

I have taken a wife.

and if you get high enough level, change the world

Wiktor nods slowly.

I understand. You play so that you may control that which is outside of your hands.

Well, yes, I guess. I just play to have fun. Here, let’s roll up a character for you.

Very well.

Fat Neil can be persuaded to join them in the fight. Wiktor knows he cannot do it. He looks to Akiros and sees him deep in conversation with Jac. He spits and whispers a message to Vedal.

Get Akiros to open the gate.

Vedal and Reiner stand just forty feet away but could have been forty miles for all their use now. To fight they must be inside. To be inside the gate must lift. To lift the gate without death a member of the Stag Lords army must do it. Akiros can also be persuaded not to fight. Wiktor has seen his soul and knows.

Akiros will fight and die. Neil will die. Jac can only save one. Better it be Akiros.

Wiktor, what class do you want to play? You can be a cunning thief, a brave warrior, a mystical sage, or a holy prophet.

I am none of these things Fat Neil.

Yes, but you can pretend to be any of them!

Very well. I will be the mystic.

Sage.

Yes.

The table is too out in the open. Wiktor sees the battle happen. Fat Neil stands in confusion. Wiktor uses him as cover. Jac is ends Akiros and falls to the Stag Lord. Wiktor kills two men before Neil understands. The Stag Lord kills Fat Neil as he blocks the path. Wiktor kills the third man when the arrow pierces his skull. Darkness.

Even upstairs the scene ends the same. There are too many men to fight. Too many unknowns. Wiktor looks up to the wooden bridge so fragile it is to an old man as an old man is to the Stag Lord. The wooden bridge that continues directly over top of the other table of bandits. Wiktor looks at Fat Neil again. He is soft and has not seen war not seen blood flow down his chest and his arms blood so dark and fresh it is black upon his skin. But Fat Neil is large as a small boulder. Wiktor looks to the bridge once more.

The scene plays differently.

Fat Neil we will play upstairs.

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Wanted: Jac Steele
Session 19

“Yeah I heard o’ Jac Steele. They got posters and everything up. He’s wanted alive for rape and murder.”

The words hit Jac like a club. Had he not been leaning against the wall of the hunter’s small cave, the smuggler might have actually staggered. It didn’t help that Wiktor, wrapped in his chains like always and standing nearby, laughed. Reiner stared at Jac with his bright blue eyes, the glare promising later interrogation as to the nature of these crimes.

“Interesting,” was the Vedal’s only reaction. The halfling then returned to scribbling in his little book. Jac sorely wished Lilu was here so that someone who had known him more than a few days would speak in his defense. He was surrounded by strangers.

Jac’s hat, tilted over his face as was the smuggler’s habit when trying to get more information than he wanted to give, concealed the shock from Jonathon Wood and the hunter went on,

“Yeah, there’s a five thousand gold piece reward out for the guy. I’m kinda surprised he hasn’t joined up with the Stag Lord yet, to be honest.”

Again, Wood’s words snatched Jac’s thoughts. Five thousand! That’s as much as I lost getting caught by… I need to find a way of getting that gold and walking away to spend it. Maybe Algie and his friends can get me something to make myself appear dead for a bit. Of course, that doesn’t solve the problem of…

“Who did you kill?” Jac’s thoughts were interrupted by Wiktor’s growling voice muttering under a description of Jac’s image on the posters.

“Ah ain’t killed nobody,” was Jac’s immediate response. “Ah mean, Ah’ve killed a few bandits recently and dat kobold voodoo guy.”

“Those do not count.” Wiktor’s words thankfully interrupted Jac. Well, not recent enough to be relevant. Besides, Theo killed that one and the I didn’t mean the other.

“Ah ain’t raped none, either.” As soon as the words were out, a stream of images flashed through Jac’s mind, starting with a blond prostitute too drunk to know she hadn’t been paid. That kind of thing don’t count, though, do it? Jac thought before the mental parade drowned out his feeble argument. “Well, Ah mean, uh… Not really. Sorta.” His voice sounded feeble and wavering. It clearly convinced Wiktor even less than it did Jac, himself.

“Why, do you know the guy?” The hunter glanced from face to face, but Reiner’s voice echoed in the small cave.

“He is Jac Steele.” The soldier nodded at Jac.

“Oh.” Jonathon Wood looked afraid again. I just kept Reiner from killing you for being a bandit and now you’re looking at me like that? Jac didn’t speak, but Jonathon continued. “So you’re off to join the Stag Lord now, are ya?”

“No,” said Reiner. “We are going to kill him.”

“Oh.” Wood was no warrior, that much was clear from the fact that Jac and his group had rescued the hunter. The battle with the grigs had hurt the chartered group more than it should have, but in the end Wiktor’s strength had dispatched the fey.

The conversation turned toward tactics and information before everyone retired for the night. Jac and Reiner took first watch. Not overeager to discuss possible crimes with a man willing, even eager, to kill anyone so much as suspected of banditry, Jac kept the conversation to more planning.

The conversation was interrupted by a scream from Wiktor.

The man was thrashing in his chains. His hands were clasped together so tight that his nails were cutting into his hands as rage drove him into convulsions. Reiner stood over him for a moment as the chained man began to wake and calm down again.

“That’s why he wears the chains,” Reiner said pointedly to Jac, before returning to watch outside.

“Yeah, think they maght be a good ahdea, now,” Jac muttered. Wood and Vedal were both sitting upright, staring frightfully. Jac knelt next to Wiktor, who was still panting heavily. “Y’all raght, now?” he asked.

“Yes.” The reply came between breaths.

“All raght, then.” He turned to the hunter. “You can go back t’ sleep now. Ah’m sure ‘e does this all the time. ’e’s safe now.” Jac wondered how reassuring he was being. The answer came when the bedrolls were dragged a bit farther away.

I hope we’ll be able to get enough rest after that, Jac thought. After all, tomorrow we attack the Stag Lord.

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