Working for Emerald.
The players are all under the employ of Emerald Shines. He has a building which serves as a boarding house, a tavern, a stable, and a warehouse for various mercantile endeavors. The players live in his building. Currently, Emerald has two others in his employ besides the general staff of a cook, waitress, and stable boy. These are Brand, his right-hand man and bodyguard, and Switches Way, an elderly scholar who is away at the Library.
The First Trip to Red Fern.
Red Earth and Billhook make the first trip out to Red Fern, the closest village in Sun-dweller’s Kingdom to the village of Tail.
It is a three day trip. On the first day, they met two well-armed kings-men patrolling the road on horseback. When they camped at the first meadow, they met a fancy coach with many well-armed men. This was the Lady Amethyst. She is niece to Lord Lion’s Pride, the King of the Sundwellers. She was going to Howling to see the Library. She has a scholarly interest in history, archeology and anthropology, specifically the old ruins one finds in the lands to the south that predate the cultures currently living there. Lady Amethyst’s guards mentioned that they had been attacked by bandits on the first day near Red Fern, but had easily beaten them back.
On the second day, they come to the Southern Road Fort. This is a simple palisade fort with two long bowmen as guards and a few armed spearmen inside. They have a blacksmith, stable, and a simple barracks. They ask for each of the players’ names and for whom they are working. They gossip some about the bandits.
That night at the second meadow, which is much smaller, they encounter a wretch. The wretch is hiding in the bushes watching them at night. He has a short bow but does not attack. Red feels he is being watched and wakes Bill. Red “feels” him with his magic for a location, and Bill sneaks around to get near him in the dark. Red spooks him out by hitting him in the leg with a rock, and Billhook cuts him down. He is unarmored, wearing only scant, filthy rags. He has a coin purse with a few coins, a knife, and simple symbol of an eye on a string.
The last day, they come to a ravine, and Bill pauses because it is a perfect place for an ambush. Red senses a group of four men with his magic, and the two move into the woods with a mule to defend themselves. Three of the bandits come right to them and attack while a fourth circles around to the road. Using the mule as a shield, Red and Bill engage the least armed of the two bandits – one carrying a spear and the other a club. Bill parries a blow from the leader of the gang, a bandit with a leather jerkin and a falchion while he stabs the other in rags and kills him. Red empowers his fist with magic and crushes the shoulder of the bandit with the club, also wearing rags. The leader immediately surrenders, begging for his life. The fourth bandit apparently runs away and is never seen again.
Besides a small amount of treasure and arms, the leader also had a nice colored piece of cloth in his coin purse with the symbol of an eye embroidered on it. He said that it marked him as a leader of men and that he had personally been contacted by the Master. The Master only spoke to him at night and he had never seen him. He had been recruited by a man known only as the Commander in a newly cleared camp out in the middle of the woods a couple of weeks to the north, never to be used again. He said that the Master tells him who to hit and where.
Red and Bill brought their captured bandit into Red Fern and turned him over to the Barracks there. It is a walled fort with about twenty men. The captain there was so impressed with the capture and the chance for information that he gave them a reward. They also sold some of their loot to the blacksmith in Red Fern, who bought the lot for a small amount of money. Finally, they met with a short, fat, shifty man named Merchant Goat, who is Emerald’s contact in Red Fern, at the First Bird Inn. He took out something from the lockbox that was on the mule and replaced something else inside it. He had a key, which he used to lock the box again.
On the way back to Tail, the bandits having already been killed and routed, the trip was much quieter. When they reached Southern Road Fort, the guards there had already heard of their adventure and were much impressed. Emerald was also pleased with the successful trade.