Tallavanor’s Tales: The Plot Thickens

Welcome Back to Tallavanor’s Tales: Last time our brave heroes were ambushed on their way back to the Count. Was this a conspiracy from the count, or were other forces at work? Watch Officer Tallavanor is totally in the mood to play bad cop (and also enjoying his first natural twenty in the pistol shooting department).

With the ambush fought off and the carriage driver stabilized, the gang reassembled. Vimx went off into the woods to patrol for more bad guys (read – he missed this session) and thus Claudia, I, and Gregario were left to deal with one unconscious bandit, one conscious (but laughing) bandit leader – the blacksmith from the village, and a very injured driver.

With a terrifying show of intimidation, I was able to scare the blacksmith into giving us what we wanted. My hands gripped his tunic and shook him as he babbled out the names of his co-conspirators.

“I knew that acolyte was shifty.” I said as I dropped him back on the ground. He’d been giving the villagers potions for years, and they all looked suspiciously young. Whether or not it was an anti-aging potion as the blacksmith believed or just snake oil, we had to put a stop to it.

“The acolyte’s just the leader.” The blacksmith mumbled “All the leaders are in on it – the innkeeper, the acolyte, the main farmers, everyone.” Great, just great. I thought as I tried to figure out what to do.

“Give us a reason not to kill you?” Claudia asked, testing the edge of her knife idly. Both of us knew we wouldn’t be killing him, but there was no way he’d know that. Gregario probably would be willing to do the dirty deed anyways, if we had thought to condone it.

“I know a secret way up to the castle!” The blacksmith blurted out.

“Now that’s a reason for us to keep you alive.”

“So what are we going to do about him?” Gregario asked, pointing to the unconscious man we’d tied up and left in the carriage.

“Can you take him back to your village? Not to Usher?” I asked the driver. The man, heavily bandaged but alert, nodded. “Then ride like hell and keep him locked down.”

We moved out for the castle into the ever darkening forest. With my companion’s

trees during foggy morning
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

darkvision helping guide my steps, I kept one hand on the manacles, one hand on my pistol. We found the trail soon enough and made a slow winding way up to the castle.

“I see someone coming.” Gregario  said suddenly as we walked through the forest. Claudio quickly gagged the blacksmith as I shoved him into a tree and took cover.

“Tackle him!” I ordered. I couldn’t tell if Gregario heard me, but it was too late now. He leapt out, tackling the man running down the trail. A quick scuffle ensued until Gregario pinned the man to the ground.

“Surrender, and tell us your business here!”

“I’m just trying to get away from the castle!” The man spluttered, his voice breaking in surprise. “I am Sir Alastair, a now-retired veteran of the wars. Perhaps you’ve heard of me?” (Side note – the character has much more background but this is all I wrote down! I’ll fix it later!)

None of us had heard of him, although we all knew some vague information about the wars. He professed to know nothing, although upon pressing further we ascertained that he had come from the castle after delivering a wagon load of alchemy supplies. This confirmed my belief that the count was deep in the business of making some type of potion, and that the castle was at the heart of it. Perhaps that was what we had been sent here to fetch?

“But the castle was burning when I fled tactically repositioned. All I remember is being chased by several people. I found a way out – a secret way. Now if you don’t mind, I’d like to be let up now. I’ve been most decent to you.” He gestured above our heads. “I’d hate to have to ask my friend to intervene.”

Into the light of our single lantern came the most impressive creature I’d ever seen. A metallic wasp about the size of a barrel hovering in the air floated down on his command. I motioned to Gregario to let him up. Alastair didn’t seem to be that much of a threat, and we could use a fourth person to help round out our party.

“So, shall we continue back up to the castle?” I asked. Alastair was not pleased at our plan, but we insisted. No man left behind.

Besides, we could use a giant flying metal wasp.

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Author: Daniel Ottalini

Author of the Award-Winning Steam Empire Chronicles Series

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