Chapter 14; 15; 16 and 17

Chronicles of Mace

With the large force disappearing into the forested area Mace and Manto watch as the last few Kobolds disappear from sight.  Mace turns to Manto and says, “well Manto, I think that’s it, we’ve pushed our luck this far and done the best we could, but now I think the odds are slightly too much against us.”

Crouching behind a bush, not sure if there are Kobolds watching from the trees Mace continues, “As much as I dislike leaving our targets I’m afraid we must return to the convoy and then back to Zoon, the Council must learn of this.”

Manto agrees and both adventurers turn and leave the area, using plenty of stealth just in case eyes are watching or they come across some stragglers.  They head directly West towards the trail, when they will move northwards towards Zoon and hopefully find the convoy in the process.  Now the initial excitement is over Mace and Manto begin to feel tired, and the pace drops off considerably.  The frequent showers prove refreshing, as they trudge through the muddy ground churned up by the Kobolds.


Resting several times, by just sitting propped up against a tree, or lying in some relatively dry rough under a bush, reach the trail and move northwards.  Neither of them have gone far up the trail when what should happen to meet them but the convoy.  The Wagons halt and the members of the Convoy dismount and come racing to help Mace and Manto who by now are exhausted.


Fresgyt Wesford is now in charge and does all of the talking on the convoys behalf.  Mace explains in between drinks of water and lumps of Bread and Cheese, what happened and what they have seen.  Those in the convoy gasp when Mace details the army of Kobolds, and seeing Clyve and the girl in the Kobolds midst.  One or two people curse Clyves name and are very angry about what he has done.  Suddenly as Mace is completing his story a great thundering of hooves is hear approaching from the South.  People rush to Wagons and grab weapons thinking it is an attack, but relax when someone shouts out that it is in fact the Laster Rangers, or at least 40 of them.


The Laster Rangers rein in hard, mud flying up from the trail, and scaring some of the Wagon horses.  The lead Ranger dismounts and strides over to Fresgyt.  Frsgyt answers the questions of this Ranger as to who they are, what they are carrying, and their destination.  Fresgyt also mentions Mace and Manto and what they have seen.  There is a twinkle in the Rangers eye as he hears this news and says, “yes, yes, yes, this sounds like the break we have been waiting for.”

He immediately strides over to Mace and crouches down to where Mace sits eating some more Cheese.  He introduces himself as simply the lead Ranger of the Laster Rangers, and tells Mace it is of the gravest importance that he tells him about all that has been seen, going back to the original ambush.  The Ranger who looks quite old listens carefully squeezing the knuckles of his hands in a nervous show of concentration.


On finishing the story the Ranger pats Mace on the back and says, “In these troubled times heroes are born, and people to who the ordinary citizens owe many a favour.  The deed that you and Manto have done will go down as one of the heroic deeds that may have changed the course of history.  I applaud the two of you.”

Well, Mace glows with this praise but doesn’t view his acts as very heroic having kept a distance between himself and the Kobolds.


The Ranger then stands up, runs to his Horse and jumps on it, showing agility which belays his age.  His Horse whinnies and shies up into the air.  The Ranger controls it and turns it around to face Mace, “I will make sure your names are remembered Mace and Manto, and if you desire I offer you this one chance to ride with the legendary Laster Rangers in their quest to defeat dol Balaam.  But hurry, mount your Horse and join us as we waste not a minute.”

Manto turns to Mace and explains that he is more than happy to go to Zoon and warn them of all these happenings, and Fresgyt confirms that the convoy will push for Laster.


A difficult decision is left for Mace, as he can return to Zoon with Manto, carry on to Laster with the convoy, or do possible battle with dol Balaam alongside the famous Laster Rangers.


His mind spins as he must make an instant decision………………….


Chapter 15


His mind settles quickly after the initial surprise of the Rangers arrival and their offer to him.  He reflects on the fact he left Zoon in search of fame and fortune, and that this would appear to be another opportunity to gain both of these.  He feels he would rather face the dangers involved along with the Laster Rangers.  His decision made, Mace asks Fresgyt for the loan of a Horse, and prepares to join the Rangers.  Manto comes across to shake his hand as mace mounts up.  Mace asks Manto to pass on his best wishes to his father in Zoon, and also hands him his Shortbow, Quiver, Arrows and old Shortsword.  Checking the rest of his longings are attached to the Horse safely, the Rangers horses all seem to spur into life all at once, leaving Mace a few seconds behind before he reacts.


The Rangers horse speed off towards the East, following the trails as best they can.  The gallop is very fast, and mace has severe difficulty keeping up, his skill in riding being far below that of the average Ranger.  Never the less he perseveres and gallops gamely on behind the Rangers.  The Horse is also finding it hard to keep up, and mace is thankful when after about 15 miles continuous ride the Rangers halt for a twenty minute break.  Mace had intended to talk with the lead Ranger, and also make friends, but instead just collapses against a tree to rest his aching body.  One Ranger comes across and offers a drink of water, and makes a comment about mace being as bad a rider as Gywdion Moonseer and Beddly who had apparently ridden with the Rangers for a short while yesterday.  Mace is about to talk with this Ranger, and find out who the youngest and oldest Rangers are, when the signal is given to move out.  Mace lifts himself up, and has just about mounted he steed when the Rangers Horses again break into a very fast gallop.


Mace keeps up a little better during this second ride, mainly because the Rangers have slowed a little, and he manages to ask one or two questions.  Apparently the Rangers are trying to track down dol Balaam to find out where his army actually are.  This is so that Laster can relax and preparations can be made for the new target Balaam has in mind.  Mace and Manto have given the Rangers the first clue in ages, and they are keen not to lose the chance of finding the army.


The Laster Rangers have been around for many years, and started as the Militia for Laster Town, but then got involved with protecting the whole area around Laster, and begun recruiting and training better and better Rangers, until they became the elite force they are now.  They are all sworn to fight evil where ever it rears its ugly head.  The Rangers have no deity they follow. They are famed all over Nevron, and send agents out to get involved in all sorts of problems, what ever they may be.  They are renowned for supporting the underdogs.  Many of them work on their own, but because of the threat Balaam poses they have grouped together in one large unit to try and slow Balaam progress.


The Rangers rein in again, and the message is spread that they are to have a four hour break before they move again during the night.  They are to move North that night into the trees, and hopefully find the exact position of Balaams army in the forest.  This could be a very dangerous and exciting night.  Mace is told to get as much rest as he can for he will find it a tough night, with the potential of many fights.  Mace rests his sore back and bum against a tree, and thanks one of the Rangers who tends his Horse for him.  Mace is soon dozing against the tree waiting for the word to leave again.  Dusk begins to fall, and the showers of rain continue, if not with more intensity….


(GM note – Gwydion Moonseer was another Player Character)


Chapter 16


Mace reflects on the last few days, thinking on how much his life has changed in such a short space of time.  He rubs his aching muscles trying to relive the pain.  He smiles when he imagines how warm his old room in Zoon would be, and looking around at the wet cold landscape around he begins to wonder if he has gone a little bit mad.  This experience could serve him well in the future, and make his mind up that this adventuring lark in the wilderness is not truly for him.


He watches as the Rangers check their Horses over and busy themselves preparing for the action to come.  He envies the dedication that these Rangers show, and the acceptance of such hardship.  They really are a tough group of men.  He slowly gets to his feet, and begrudgingly checks through his own equipment, but pays little attention to it, far happier just to sit back down again and rest some more.


Mace watches the Rangers a little longer, hoping to try out his lip reading skill, but being disappointed when he sees that virtually all the rangers are working in silence.  Presumably this quietness is part of the Rangers training so that they can move and attack using their stealth.  Obviously a well practiced skill.  One or two Rangers do ask mace how he is and if he needs any help, to which Mace simply nods and thanks them for their concern.


The signal to move out comes far quicker than Mace was expecting, and within seconds the Rangers are up on their Horses again and ready to move.  Fresh tracks have been found that the Rangers are keen to follow today.  Mace aches all over, but mounts up and follows the Rangers.  The ride north is surprisingly slow, and the Rangers fan out riding in a skirmish style rather than an organised mob which they have been doing.  Mace can see the lead Rangers stop every so often to look at the ground, and then raise their arms to give directions.


The party have soon reached the trees which mark the edge of the forest.  With the days light nearly gone, Mace looks to the eerie scene of Rangers disappearing into the trees one by one.  Following a couple of Rangers in front of him, Mace also enters the trees.  It is even darker within the closely knit undergrowth of the forest, and mace can’t help but feel a little uneasy about this.


The Rangers dismount, as does Mace, and slowly they begin to wind their way along small Forest trails, following the path chosen by the lead Rangers.  There are signs that a large number of creatures have passed through here recently.  Mace tries to keep his head as low as possible as the walk becomes slower and more cautious.  Then after walking and stalking for what must have been about 5 miles, the edge of a clearing comes in to view.


It must be about 9pm, and the only light is coming from a bright moon hidden behind cloud.  It is quiet except for the occasional rustle of a Ranger or his Horse moving.  The tracks seem to lead in to the clearing.  The Rangers reach the edge of the clearing when suddenly the pings of bow strings are heard in all directions.  Mace ducks low and can just see shadowy figures moving all about.  Whatever they are rangers or enemy he knows not.  All he knows for sure is that there are four Rangers he can identify just in front of him.  He isn’t sure whether the Rangers are attacking or an ambush has been sprung on them.  Whatever the case mace has become embroiled in the middle of the early stages of a battle.  He looks around wondering what to do…..


Chapter 17


Mace keeps a low profile as the shouts of a battle echo around the clearing from all points.  How anyone can be sure whether they are firing at an enemy or not he doesn’t know, but his first instinct is his own survival.  All he can do at the moment is helping the Rangers in any small way he can.  A few more Arrows fly past where he and the four Rangers are keeping low.


The Arrows seem to stop for a moment and mace thinks through what he can do to help in a more positive way.  He grabs an oil Flask, and removing the stopper, spreads it over the bushes and trees near to the small trail they are on.  He checks to make sure his Tinderbox is handy, in case it is needed quickly.  If a retreat is called for then he will have the fire trap ready to help their escape.


A sudden sound of pain comes from just to his right, and still keeping low he slowly moves in that direction to see if he can help.  He moves his Target Shield into a better position, and also takes out the healing Tablets in case they are needed.  He finds a few yards to his right, a Ranger with an Arrow protruding from his neck in a gruesome fashion.  Blood still pours from the wound, and mace sees that there is nothing he can do for this poor soul.  He must have been hiding like Mace when a stray Arrow found its unfortunate target.


Mace leaves the body for the time being and returns to his original hiding place.  The missile fire seems to have stopped, and sounds of metal on metal can be heard in several different places around the clearing.  Odd sparks light up within the trees as armour s struck by blade of blades meet.  The fighting is fierce and the noise of battle growing.


The four Rangers in front of Mace suddenly stand up and one shouts, “come on”.  Mace has little option here but stands up and follows a few feet behind the Rangers as they break cover and dash across the clearing.  His heart in his mouth Mace just prays that he makes the dash across the clearing safely.  He feels as if dozens of Arrows are winging their way towards him.  He thinks he must be crazy, but he couldn’t let the Rangers down.  It is beginning to dawn on Mace that far from being ambushed, the Rangers are actually attacking, but exactly what they are attacking he doesn’t fully appreciate yet.


The Rangers and mace make the far side of the clearing, and press themselves hard against the rock.  Mace feels exposed, and hopes that the archers and defenders are now engaged in hand to hand combat with the other Rangers.  The Rangers and Mace look around the rock to get their bearings, and to assess where to go next.  They can see two defenders cowering in the cave entrance, and then see another entrance to a Cave, previously hidden by a Tree.  A slight clicking noise seems to be coming from the cave, but its cause is hard to tell with the mayhem happening all about the clearing.  The Rangers and Mace huddle together, and the decision is made that two Rangers will attack the defenders, and two will explore this new cave entrance.  Mace has to decide which group of two Rangers he wants to go with.


They then look at each other as if to say, “Anyone got any ideas?”


Mace sees that he is in to this attack deeply now, and that even crossing the clearing again and retreating would hold dangers.  He tries to calm his nerves and prepares himself for the dangers ahead…