This is just a short one-off involving a few of my characters. It's not related to any quests ingame at all, I just got bored at work and whipped it up. I'm quite happy to hear any feedback, but please keep it out of the thread. Just drop me a PM if you fancy critiquing my work.
(Make sure it is critique though. If you just send a PM with an angry rant in it I'll just ignore it.)
It was a cold evening on the Sembian Coast and a small campfire flickered in a clearing; three figures were gathered around it. An old man leant on his staff and gazed into the forest, as though he could pierce the swaying bark and waving leaves with nothing but thought alone. This man was Nathart Lyonsbane, a wandering scholar from Thay. He had come to Trinity to further his magical knowledge, but had found himself dragged into an adventure. A rustling in the bushes caught his attention. He turned his head to look as a humanoid shape extracted itself from the foliage.
“The tracks lead towards the north, Nathart. They're quite fresh too, we'll catch our prey soon,” said the shadow. Nathart nodded.
“Good. All this travelling does my old bones no good,” he muttered. As the shadow strode into the light of the fire, it was revealed to be an elf. Elros Telemnar was his name and he had been Nathart's travelling companion (or one of them at least) for quite some time. A more skilled ranger he had never met. The elf had an uncanny accuracy with his longbow, and he was just as deadly up close with his shortswords.
“We should make good time if we follow the trail; whoever leads these bandits has some skill in forestcraft,” Elros said. The other two figures stirred and rose. A younger man and a dwarf.
“Auch, I dinnae ken how ye find anythin' in this forest,” the dwarf grumbled. Aldrek Vareksson was his name; a shield dwarf sworn to the service of his taller companion. A shield almost as large as he was hung across his back and a waraxe of typical dwarf make was hooked through a loop in his belt. The final man grinned, showing his slightly fanged teeth.
“I am sure our ranger knows what he's doing, Aldrek. Wood elves are born in trees, or so it is said,” he chuckled. He was a tall and lithe figure, with tanned skin and a twinkle in his eyes. This was the final member of the company; Vicho Ayloud, a Dragon Warrior and Hexblade from a far-away land. His bastard sword was slung across his back, and a buckler lay atop it.
Nathart turned to his companions and a smile creased his face. They were misfits, but powerful fighters every one.
“Come, we should be off. Every minute we tarry these bandits increase their lead,” he said, in a surprisingly powerful voice. The others nodded and moved to follow Elros. Vicho kicked the fire out as he passed it and took his place as the second of the group. Nathart walked behind the Dragon Warrior and Aldrek brought up the rear. The party vanished into the gloom as the evening grew darker.
Several hours later
Elros stopped suddenly. Vicho nearly walked into him, such was the darkness of the night.
“What do you see Elros?” he whispered, sensing that the elf had spotted something. Elros stared ahead for a few moments before he answered.
“Six men hidden among the trees, about fifty metres to our front. I would say we've found our prey,” he hissed. Vicho nodded and passed the news to Nathart, who in turn told Aldrek. It was obvious that the bandits were trying to spring a trap on them, but they had not counted upon the keen sight of the elf.
“Well then, my plan is this,” Nathart began, “When I give the signal, shut your eyes. I will cast a spell to blind our foe. Once they are unable to see, we shall strike. Are we all clear?” he asked. A trio of whispered affirmatives answered his question. Aldrek slipped his axe from his belt and hefted his shield onto his arm. Vicho quietly unsheathed his blade and held it ready; his shield would be of little use in this fight. Elros nocked an arrow to his bow; his target was the bandit furthest away and the most likely to run. The seconds ticked by.
“Now!” Nathart shouted and a brilliant flash lit up the forest. Night turned to day as the radiance of the spell hit the bandits full on. Several howled and clutched at their faces as the light stabbed into their retinas. Elros's bow twanged and an arrow whistled through the air to embed itself into the chest of a bandit. The rogue toppled backwards, his sword falling from his lifeless fingers. The rest of the party sprung into action.
Aldrek and Vicho barrelled towards the closest bandit. He was still recovering from the blinding light when Vicho's sword burst from his back in a shower of blood. Aldrek, having missed his chance, veered off and engaged another of the bandits, this one slightly less blinded. The man swung at Aldrek, who ducked behind his shield and allowed the blow to bounce off harmlessly. He struck back and scored a gash across the bandit's leg, drawing a howl of pain. The dwarf bellowed a mad war-chant as he fought, enjoying himself immensely.
Vicho had moved on to his next victim. This one had regained his eyesight and was only slightly groggy. Steel clashed against steel; a flurry of blows flew back and forth. It was clear that the Dragon Warrior had the upper hand, but the bandit was determined not to go down easily. Vicho feinted left, then brought his sword round in a brutal stroke that the bandit only barely parried.
Nathart muttered a spell and raised his hand. Lightning bolts flew between his fingertips as he readied himself for another cast. One bandit who had avoided the initial flare noticed him and ran at him screaming. Whether he was screaming in fear or in anger, Nathart didn't know. Nor did he really care, for his spell was ready. With a word of power, a bolt of lightning arced from his outstretched hand and struck the bandit in the chest. Blue streaks coursed across the man's chainmail as the unstoppable force fried his internal organs. As soon as it had begun, it was over and he collapsed to the ground, a charred, smoking wreck.
Elros nocked another arrow to his bow and fired again, narrowly missing his target. The bandit decided that Elros was a problem and charged at him. Elros shot another arrow at his foe, which thumped into the man's shield. There were only a few metres between him and his challenger now, so Elros quickly swapped weapons. His shortswords flew from his belt and he took up his fighting stance. The bandit closed the range and swung. Elros diverted the blow and riposted, his strike tearing a gash in the bandit's leather armour.
Aldrek fared well against his opponent. The bandit had overstretched himself and was quickly tiring. Blow after blow thudded into Aldrek's shield; when he judged the time was right, he lashed out with his axe. The dwarven steel bit deep into the man's ribs and tore free in a torrent of blood. The bandit toppled over and slammed to the floor, blood gushing from the gaping wound in his torso.
Vicho cackled as he fought. The bandit had put up a good fight, but he was slowing now. Vicho knew he was close to victory. His bastard sword flashed back and forth; a rain of strikes crashed down on the bandit, who desperately parried. The moment came and Vicho took it; his sword flicked to the side and arced back round. The bandit tried to divert the blow, but the sheer force of Vicho's swing ripped his weapon from his fingers. Vicho's return stroke parted the man's head from his shoulders and he dropped.
Nathart looked on. The fight was almost over, that much was obvious. What he was curious about was that none of the bandits had put up a particularly good fight. He knew that Vicho's opponent had lasted the longest, but he also knew that the Dragon Warrior liked to toy with his enemies. He studied the battle for a moment more, then closed his eyes and cast his consciousness forth, searching for anyone they might have missed.
Elros dodged a wild swing and jabbed at his enemy. Another cut opened up on the man's arm. His foe was bleeding from several small cuts, including one across his forehead. The blood had dripped down into his eyes and further obscured his vision. The man was sobbing as he swung blindly at Elros. The elf cut his opponent twice more, before finishing him off by sending a blade through the man's throat.
The bandits had all been felled. The party stood around, breathing heavily in the aftermath of their exertions. Nathart opened his eyes. He had sensed nothing unusual and there were no other presences except from a few small animals in the immediate vicinity. He nodded to his companions, who were cleaning the blood from their weapons.
“Search the bodies, one of them must have the tome on them,” he ordered. They nodded and began to tear apart the small backpacks favoured by bandits. After several minutes, a shout from Vicho attracted Nathart's attention. The Dragon Warrior was holding a small leatherbound tome covered in sigils and runes. Nathart gently took the tome from Vicho and flipped it open. A glance at the first few pages confirmed what he had hoped.
“Well done gentlemen, we have what we came for,” he said, smiling. “Now, I think we should start to make our way back. We shall camp in the clearing we left several hours ago, I think,” he finished. Elros sheathed his blades and began to make his way back, following the trail they had left on their way.
“Nathart, if I may ask, what does that book contain?” Vicho asked. “I would also like to know why you hired us to kill these men for it, though of course I do not complain,” he added.
Nathart snapped the book shut and glared at the tall swordsman. “Never you mind,” he grunted. “All you need to know is that I'm paying you a lot of money for getting this back for me,” he finished. Vicho grinned, then shrugged.
“It is of no matter,” he chuckled. “Merely curiosity led me to ask,” he explained and lengthened his stride slightly, in order to keep up with Elros.
Nathart tucked the book into his satchel. It was a powerful tome, no doubt. He had spent years trying to decipher the writing and had had no luck at all. Then, the bandits had stolen it. A quick round up of the local tavern and the promise of payment had attracted his companions, and now the tome was safe again. Perhaps he should consult his old studying partner Brandrick, he mused. The party wound away into the forest to begin the trek back to the city of Trinity.