Chapter 2A, Part II: Resolution For the Past
Ogdelbur took a deep breath. Here in the hinterland of Veluca, the smell of flowers and sweet fruit everywhere permeated the pre-dawn air. His men were in high spirits, though Ogdelbur took care to maintain the appropriate discipline, keeping a constant pace on the road. Despite the various wars brewing in the realm, they had not encountered any bandit parties since departing Reyvadin. Or perhaps they had deemed Ogdelbur's party to be not worth the trouble, given the rich pickings available everywhere for less effort - bands of refugees rarely travelled with many armed escorts, if at all. Whatever the reason, Ogdelbur was thankful for it. He was still a few days behind his quarry,and every additional hour counted.
A sudden gust of wind brought with it the stench of smoke and vague corruption under the overpowering scent of fruit and flower as Ogdelbur and his ragtag band passed over the crest of a small hill, and then Ogdelbur saw it - the city of Veluca, and the large host encamped around it. From the heraldry Ogdelbur guessed it was a Sarranid host, though from this distance he could not be sure.
Ogdelbur sighed, and dismounted to drink at a nearby pool that was fed by a picturesque waterfall. It was, Ogdelbur thought as he drank the cool clean water, not entirely a bad thing. If his wife and the traveler were in the city when the siege began, they would have been trapped there, and then it would only be a matter of time before Ogdelbur found and gutted them. There was, of course, still the problem of getting in. Ogdelbur was not affiliated with the Rhodok Kingdom, but it made no sense for the Sarranids to allow even unaffiliated travellers to freely enter and potentially supply the city defenders. Ogdelbur was pondering how best to get into the city when a number of people burst out from behind the little waterfall and into the little pool, fouling the water.
They were initially reluctant to say where they came from, but none of them were armed, and the moment Ogdelbur drew his sword it was pathetic how eagerly they began to spill their beans. It turned out that the fools were city-dwellers in Veluca who were escaping from the siege using an underground tunnel that led straight into the city. Ogdelbur could hardly believe his stroke of luck, and after sending the ertzwhile townsmen on their way and telling his men to make camp there, Ogdelbur leapt through the curtain of water.
Ogdelbur had never been in Veluca before, but by all indications it was unremarkable, though so far unaffected by the siege. Unfortunately, according to the guild master of Veluca, his wife and the merchant had left Veluca for Praven before the siege, a tale corroborated by a few other townsmen and tavern keepers.
Resigned to the fact, Ogdelbur went into a tavern for a drink, only to see Alayen. He was alive and well, if drunk, as he once again mistook Ogdelbur for the tavern keep, which was less forgivable this time around as the tavern keep in that particular establishment was a wench. Nevertheless, he was glad to see Ogdelbur, and offered to rejoin his company. Ogdelbur was only too happy to accept - his men, while enthusiastic fighters, were unsophisticated, and he would need a lieutenant as his little band expanded.
In the tavern he was also approached by a farmer-
Ogdelbur agreed to help the village, though he gave no guarantees.
Before he departed the city with Alayen, Ogdelbur bought a round shield for himself and had the arms vendor paint it with the horned horse sigil of his clan. The battered old shield he gave to Alayen, who sniffed at the condition of the shield but took it anyway.
After Ogdelbur and Alayen reunited with the men outside Veluca, they marched around Veluca and the Sarranid host to the nearby bandit-infested village of Chaeza. As Ogdelbur appraoched the village, a deputation came out and demanded to know Ogdelbur's intentions. When Ogdelbur told them about the farmer that invited him to free the village from bandits, the deputation protested, explaining that they were merely Rhodok loyalist elders of Chaeza, who had seized power from the previous Sarranid-leaning village elders for the good of the village. At this Ogdelbur's face darkened, and, abruptly riding forward, beheaded the leader of the deputation with a single blow. His men, seeing this, surged forward and killed the rest of the deputation.
The rest of the vilagers, seeing this, took up arms against the loyalist faction, and a battle ensued in the streets of the village. Ogdelbur ordered his men to charge against the loyalists, who due to their small number were quickly overwhelmed. After the battle Ogdelbur demanded that the seven loyalists who surrendered be put to the sword, which the villagers complied, despite being previously inclined to pardoning them. Nevertheless the villagers were very grateful for the help of Ogdelbur and his men, and offered their meager produce to him as tribute. Ogdelbur took it as his just due, pleased that the peasants knew their place.
After this short detour Ogdelbur and his men headed east, into the Culmarr Highlands, one of the few broad valleys that forked away from the lowlands of Veluca. Unlike the lands surrounding Veluca, the Culmarr Highlands were steep and infertile, and there were no orchards or grapevines in sight.
Ogdelbur stumbled upon an interesting sight a couple of hour on the road. There were a row of spikes, with rotting heads mounted atop them. Glancing idly at them, Ogdelbur was startled to realise that he recognised one of the heads. It was hard to tell, but it was the only female head amongst them. The jaw had rotted and fallen off and the nose was a bloody black ruin, but Ogdelbur recognised the Khergit braid and tassles that he had once found so attractive.
Ogdelbur had, at last, found his eloping wife.
Bandits would have usually taken any women they captured back to their sordid lairs, but the unfaithful hag must have been too old and ugly for even that consideration. Ogdelbur was darkly amused by that notion. In a twisted way, he supposed he should thank his wife for her betrayal. Before, he had been a pathetic excuse for a man, living out the remainder of his little life in an inconsequential corner of the world, but her infidelity had torn the veil of complacency from his eyes and made a new man of him.
Ogdelbur had his men pull the stake free from the ground, and he held it high like a proud banner as he led the warband. Alayen curled his lips in distaste when he saw the grisly trophy, but to his credit did not protest.
++++++++++From the journal of Alayen the Vaegir
30 March 1257
I can't stand that damned head. It's not that I have no stomach for the dead, and I'll rip out the tongue of any insolent wretch who claims otherwise, but by Ogdelbur's own admission that head used to belong to his wife. Now, a woman has no right messing around behind your back, but now that she's dead you'd think that'd be enough. I always knew my captain had a savage streak in him. Can't blame him, Khergits are a savage race. I just hope he doesn't make a habit of it. I've heard tales of Khergit raiders who carry the heads of slain enemies with them into battle.
We've been chasing a band of mountain bandits up the Culmarr for most of the afternoon. In the meantime we've spotted a few more such roving bands, though they seemed eager to avoid us. I'll bet there's a bandit lair close by, I've seen the same pattern of behaviour in taiga bandits before.
31 March 1257
I am writing this in Culmarr Castle, where the Lady Adelisa has graciously allowed us sanctuary. Ogdelbur is still unconscious, but the Lady Adelisa's daughter, Calantina, says he will survive. She is, of course, guided by no more than Galen's words, but Galen has always been reliable. For a man of his age Ogdelbur has the constitution of a bull. Of the other men only time will tell.
We finally caught up to the mountain bandits late in the evening yesterday. The battle went well initially. Ogdelbur rode out to distract and scatter the mountain bandits, while I led the men to guard a position on a high ridge. We charged on his command, but these were no looters but hardened fugitives and cutthroats, and when the two sides crashed together our men struggled to hold the line. I killed a number of them myself, as did Ogdelbur, but when Ogdelbur was thrown off his horse the men lost heart and fled the field. I managed to mount his horse and scoop up Ogdelbur in time, but I could have sworn that his horse was going to give in. Luckily the old horse had some grit, and we managed to escape unscathed. Part of it, no doubt, is that the mountain bandits did not seem interested in pursuit, for which we are lucky.
At times like this I wonder if I made the right choice in following Ogdelbur out of Veluca. It's true that my coin was running out, but I had a shot at bedding that merchant's daughter - what was her name? Moira? In any case it seems like I'm honour-bound to follow Ogdelbur for the time being. I hope at least that our fortunes might improve from here.
It can hardly be any worse.
|Party size and composition/Companions:||7, low level infantry, horseman/Alayen|
|Combat inclinations:||1h weapons|
|Character or save notes:||Not much, didn't level up or anything, just bought him a better shield, and found Alayen. If anyone doesn't like MU, I'll upload it somewhere else, like MediaFire.|
| Author's Notes:||I actually did not expect to play only four days, but it seemed like too logical a stopping point to pass up. And, turns out that's a good thing, or this thing would have been even longer. :/ I've left the wife dead but fate of the travelling merchant unknown, so the next player can pursue that, or do his/her own thing. Sorry for the wall of text.|
EDIT: modified chapter naming to fit in with numbering scheme.