“Meat,” I recall thinking to myself as I removed my axe from my third poached kill, bisecting the ribcage of my prey cleanly. The breastmeat of road bandits and assassins tends to be juicy and well flavored. The arid mountain climate lends itself to a humanoid sustenance by way of liquor, which has a unique flavoring effect. It’s a shame that Uurt didn’t opt to make the journey with us.
Our first opposition since leaving the ruined and now abandoned-but-for-the-maggots-devouring-the-bodies-we-left-behind keep, a small cluster of assassins who apparently sought either portions or the entirety of Del‘s body for some unknown bounty, proved more formidable than the more frequent goblin tribes we’ve slaked our bloodlust upon. In addition to the standard assortment of toughs who, puzzlingly, made the decision to bring themselves closer to the edge of my carving axe — voluntarily! — there were also the odd pair of shaman who wielded dark, painful magicks and summoned huge, meatless forest animals. Del fell at least once that I could recall, Linden nearly so, and while I didn’t personally see it I assume Armand was knocked down at least three or four times. Soren proved capable with the alleviation of wounds to keep the remainder of our coterie alive long enough for me to get around to personally slaying every foe.
We decided that our (my) performance in combat should be rewarded with an evening in a bed with vaguely-laundered sheets, so we continued along the road to the small village of Appleton, where there were no apples. Certainly not a ton of them. This continues the bizarre trend of the River Kingdoms of naming their cities after things not wholly associated with them; there is no blood in the Bog of Blood, save that tarnishing my armor, nor any extraordinary amount of lice in Lysoria save what nests upon me. Anyway, we sought out an inn to lick our wounds — in Val‘s case this might be literally a thing, the licking, he’s into some dark and twisted stuff — and doze.
The innkeeper, Merle, rented us a few rooms. I like Merle. He has clearly seen some shit, given the lack of hesitation in his hand regarding slicing open the necks of the few horse-thieves we left alive. Oh, right. Yeah they tried to take the horses. Why did six bandits happen to stumble upon this village so small it hardly shows up on the road, nevermind the map? Why did they decide to target travelers whose mounts are literally burdened with the bloody equipment of everything we’ve slaughtered on the trip, hanging from packs like effulgent trophies in the moonlight? Why do some people say lizards taste better pickled?
The answers to these questions, like many others, remained unspoken because we (I) killed most of the thieves. Val’s strange magic caused two of them to fall asleep, and the only reason they both survived for questioning is because Armand and Lokaas tried and failed to stab a sleeping body with their blades. This has been an ongoing issue with those two. When Val puts something to sleep, you can kill it. You don’t have to TRY to kill it, you just kill it. You slit its throat, you filet the loin. You don’t wind up like you’re in the throes of an epic duel with an elder swamp elk. It’s a motionless body. You kill it. It’s not hard. I do it with moving bodies. I will have to dedicate some travel time giving that pair some pointers on the finer arts of butchery.
As I pondered whether I could salt and pack some thigh meat from the holey-men without the holyman noticing, there may or may not have been some discussion about whether Merle’s punishment fit the crime. I recall that the usual sentence for thieving horses is to be drawn and quartered, and given the immediate presence of many, many horses I’m not clear on why we didn’t tie them up then and there. It would have helped me with the portioning. Instead, Merle took care of business.
The next morning we set off again towards the goblin stronghold, to discover that the road here had been paved. Paved roads mean bridges, and bridges I’m learning generally translate to mixed melee/crossbow goblin ambushes. Thankfully this time we’d already perfected our standard battleplan for this type of obstacle, which involves Armand drawing out the melee into our sometime-later charging trap. I’d like to report that there was some variety in the nature of this combat, but we both already know that I killed everything efficiently while the remainder of the party offered enough distractions to make a show of it.
So here we sit, on the banks of a small stream, sifting through the possessions of the dead while I stealthfully record the excellence of my adventure into the surface of this dried bogboar hock. I believe, beyond the hill’s crest, we can hear the voices of the human-ish prisoners we’d come to liberate. I hope their captors are hungry. FOR STEEL. ALSO FATTY MEAT NOT MAKE BEST JERKY. LEAN IS BEST. HOPE THEY HUNGRY.