The party awoke at dawn to depart for Lievestrum. Forte’s inventory contained 190 silvers, a gravitite broadsword, leather armor, and a small knapsack. He had not heard from his dragon since the skirmish with Jorhan, but he was not worried. Nightmare could take care of himself, that he was sure of. Horace was armed with a bronze mace, a chainmail vest made of steel, and brass knuckles. Eric, their client, was dressed in a flowing gown with a hood. He was armed with a dagger.
They departed at 5 in the morning. Forte tried to ask Eric about the contents of the caravan, but the merchant remained tight lipped despite hinting that the packages were of modest value. Forte considered weighing the risks and rewards of backstabbing his client. He would have to deal with Horace and the merchant, but even if he won the fight, his F class 20 points status would be downgraded due to failure of his assignment. The package would have to be sufficiently worthy for him to consider such an act.
The carriage was a standard issue dual horse drawn carriage with a covered cart in the back. Forte and Horace sat in the cart as deterrence against potential bandits. Lievestrum was the closest town north of Sawen, and was renown for its dry wines and luxurious vineyards. It was also a gathering spot for mages of all kinds.
Magic was a rare art, and combat mages were almost nonexistent. Mages were persecuted by the King, who overlooked minor instances of magic, but persecuted any instances of blatant witchcraft. But this made mages all the more alluring to the common people. Almost all magicians were scholarly by nature, and therefore could not muster up the stamina fueled mana to cast spells of force. Magic was commonly used to perform trivial tasks such as lighting candles, creating small illusions for children’s amusement, and aiding in the concoction of potions. The study of magic was thought to be an evil but benign version of the study of jesterhood and astrology. There were also many phony magicians who claimed to possess magical talent, but actually used tricks of light and mind to create the illusion of magic. Most mages possessed little to no magical ability, and certainly not powerful magic. But Jorhan was different. Forte had never heard of a swordsman who could cast magic, much less such potent combat magic. Forte vividly remembered the spell that smote him, fyrza.
“Fyrza,” whispered Forte. Horace stirred. No matter how many times invoke the incantation, the power eluded him. They had travelled unperturbed for the whole day, and a near full moon shone brightly in the sky.
Four pairs of yellow eyes approached from in front of the carriage, causing the horses to neigh and panic. Forte nudged Horace, who mumbled and then turned alert.
“Wolves,” Forte whispered.
“Aye, a bloody pack of them.” Horace replied.
The two of them leapt off the carriage and stepped in front of Eric, who was busy calming the horses.
“If ye can’t deal with them let’s make a dash for it.” Eric said softly.
Horace snorted. “Don’t you worry. We’ll take care of this.” He dashed off and swung at the leading wolf.
Forte unsheathed rippling grey Blothe and swung at a wolf with a heavy swing. The wolf dodged and the blade missed, leaving a large dent in the dirt. Two wolves pounced at Forte, but he quickly unhinged his gravitite greatsword from the ground and landed a sweeping blow on the torso of the wolves. As the wolf recoiled in pain on the ground, Forte raised his greatsword and slammed it into the ribcage of the wounded wolf, crushing the ribcage and killing the wolf instantly. The second wolf paced cautiously, and this time it was Forte’s turn to attack.
“Rahh!!” He yelled, running forwards and smashing the hilt of the blade into the wolf’s jaw, which broke several teeth. Forte then elbowed the wolf’s face and sent it recoiling. He then took his greatsword and swung down, instantly crushing the wolf’s neck and spine. The second wolf died instantly.
Meanwhile, Horace had killed one wolf with a crushing mace blow to the head, and was pinned on the ground by the second. His brass knuckles dug into second wolf, as Forte landed a killing blow with his gravitite greatsword. The fight was over.
The party regrouped and continued their journey. They camped near the road, eating boar-meat-and-leek pies, and drinking spiced apple ale prepared by Eric. The pastry coating of the meat pies stopped them from turning rancid for weeks, and thus meat pies were a delectable food for long journeys. The next three days were uneventful. They were a day and a half away from Leivestrum. On the fourth night, they had rabbit-meat-and-cabbage pies, and drank spiced apple ale.
A mouse appeared on their picnic cloth, nibbling away at their rabbit meat pies.
“Where’d this bugger come from?” Horace said, shooing the mouse away.
Suddenly, four small mice charged onto the picnic table, and Eric tried stomping them to get thetm to leave. Horace and Forte scooped up the food, but could not save the ale. The ale was spilled and the mice lapped up the spiced drink. It took a while for the party to shoo away the mice.
Suddenly, Eric stood up and shouted. A flapping sound could be heard in the wind. It was the sound of the caravan’s cart, opened. The trio rushed back to see what had transpired. Eric leapt into the cart, and several mice spilled out. Forte managed to kill a few of the mice, but the rest got away.
Forte managed to peek into the caravan’s cargo. It looked like a normal shipment of assorted goods. Eric shut the curtain, and the sound of shuffling belongings could be heard. He emerged a quarter of an hour later.
“Nothing’s missing, except a tome.” Eric explained, exacerbated. “How can this be? How did they know? Ye see, this shipment is a normal shipment with the exception of one item. It was a favor for my cousin. He’s a strange lad, always poking his head where his head doesn’t belong. And this time he asked me buy a tome for him when I was visiting Adith, The History of Dark Magic. I bought it off this bespectacled mumbling bloke in a little magic shop. Cost me a pretty silver, that tome did. And now with that little spectacle of witchcraft, it’s gone…” He shook his head vigorously.
Eric continued. “I’m a busy man. I’ll take it as a loss, and continue my work in Lievestrum. Will you do me a favor Forte? I’ll pay you thirty silvers to tell him what transpired, and to gently inform him that his brother is a busy man who has no time for this sort of witchcraft.”
Forte nodded. “Sure. I’d love to speak with your brother as well.”
Eric smiled. “He’s an eccentric one, my brother. His name is Phillip Lockheed. You’ll find him between the self proclaimed mage’s guild… how silly… and the merchant’s guild. Owns his little shop.”
Horace grunted. “Enough chit chat. Let’s get moving.”
The party rode off. Not before long, they reached the quaint city of Lievestrum.