To: Berholt Eisenhauser, Captain, Imperial Roadwardens
From: Pieter Konrad, Patrolman, Imperial Roadwardens
Re: On The Road Again
I’ve become quite certain that my chances of retiring from the Roadwardens with anything approaching all of my bits and pieces, has become vanishingly remote. Take our current situation for example – After all of our troubles in what should have been a fairly mundane escort of a local merchant, we were all looking forward to getting back to the Delta and a certain amount of normalicy. Instead, when we arrived at Schramleben, we found that our home had been invaded and forcibly taken over by a mercenary group called the “Iron Circle”. If this had been merely a “might makes right” situation, it may have been tolerable. However, we were in possession of evidence that pointed to the fact that the Iron Circle was involved in the forces of Chaos by summoning demons at the very least.
As this weren’t enough, we soon discovered that the Iron Circle were looting and pillaging at will, and that significant numbers of halflings were being detained and hung for no other reason than the fact that they “were” halflings. Now, I understand that there are people in the empire who would not find this particularly distressing. However, these were good people whom I had known for years and loyal subjects of the Emperor. They certainly deserved more than the arbitrary treatment they received.
Shortly after our arrival in town, we were accosted by a group of these mercenaries and were told to disarm. Given the state of affairs we found, my mood was less than objective where these fools were concerned. In one my less diplomatic moments, I expressed my opinion of being disarmed by drawing my pistol and pointing at the leader of the group and demanding that he leave us alone. When he refused to do so, I shot him in the head. He must have thought I was bluffing. In any event, my actions touched off a fight and we were forced to flee the Village. Wilhelm Niederlitz told us to head for his ranch and that he was sorry, but he needed to disavow us and put some distance between us and him. We understood his decision as there was nothing to be gained by his being killed with the rest of us and his stature in the community my bear fruit in the future.
We saddled up and charged out of town. The gate guards attempted to stop us, but aside from a crossbow quarrel in the arm that almost ended Axel’s life, we escaped unscathed. We had been told that the village of Sigmaringen had been razed by beastmen after they refused to submit to the Iron Circle. We thought it would be a good place to pick up a boat and lose any pursuers we may have on our way to the Niederlitz ranch. We headed south along the river to search the ruins, and also to see if we could find evidence establishing a link between the Iron Circle and the beastmen. After spending a miserable night camped in a hollow in the hills, we continued onward and reached Sigmaringen at midday. The was a pillar of smoke rising from the village common as we topped the rise overlooking the village. The keen eyed Dolwen spotted a group of beastmen still in the village and him and Erik decided to do a recon and see what we were getting ourselves into.
When they returned they told us that they found at least one boat that was probably seaworthy and at least twenty beastment encamped in the ruins of the village. We spent some time discussing tactics and it was decided that we would ride up to the guard post at the village entrance, dressed as Iron Circle members in the uniforms we had managed to acquire. Our two halfling members would pose as prisoners to add veracity to the ruse. If it worked, it would certainly prove conclusively that the Iron Circle was working with the beastmen.
Obviously they were because our arrival at the gate was greeted with no more concern than mild curiosity. One of the gor guards went into the centre of the village to summon whatever passed for leadership in the warband. Everything was going according to plan until one of the guards appeared to notice that Dolwen was an elf. Fearing our cover was about to be blown, we fell on the remaining gors and hid their bodies to prevent accidental discovery. It was a good thing we did because shortly afterwards a larger group, ungors, gors, and a bestigor, approached us. As the new group approached, one of the gors sniffed and paused and then said something to the bestigor. The group became more alert, but proceeded towards us. When the gor paused a second time, we attacked.
Arrows and sling stones flew towards the beastmen while I held my attack until I could charge the bestigor, hitting him a solid blow on the arm. The rest of the group engaged the ungors and gors, while I kept the bestigor otherwise entertained by yelling taunts and making faces in hopes of keeping him out of arms reach of my comrades. He spent his time alternating between telling me how he would prepare me for consumption, and roaring at the top of his lungs for reinforcements. When the reinforcements came into sight shortly thereafter, I figured my time was just about up as Gustav, my noble steed, began to get just a little nervous about how close they were. I made the best pistol shot of my life, and put the ball up the right nostril of the bestigor, rocking him backwards. I then charged him and Gustav knocked him down and danced on his head on the way by. Once I pulled safely ahead of the reinforcement, I reigned in and put another bullet into the bestigor, finally finishing him off.
The appearance of another wave of reinforcements plus what looked like a shaman behind the first wave definitively tipped the balance of force in their favor, so we retreated and regrouped. We made camp for the night and the next morning headed for the Niederlitz ranch. We were greeted by Wilhelm’s butler who informed us that the Iron Circle had already been there looking for us. He then led us to a hidden cellar under the barn and the battered and terrified survivors of Sigmaringen. A hedgefolk woman and one of the survivors filled us in on the details of the fall of the village. The Iron Circle were present, but made no effort to protect the villagers from the rampaging warband – a harrowing indication of their intentions and loyalties.
It was decided that we needed to seek allies outside of the Delta, as the Iron Circle were too powerful to engage with purely local forces. As we needed to cross the river, Dolwen volunteered to sneak into Sigmaringen and see about stealing us a boat with the intention of meeting up with the rest of downstream. Apparently it got a little hairy (ha!) but he managed to get the job done. I’m penning this on the banks of the river as we prepare to cross over on our way to Blackfire Pass. I’ll post this as soon as possible and if you could see your way clear to make some inquiries on our behalf and on behalf of the entire Blue Reach Delta, I’d be eternally grateful.