Bandit Leaders in Beregost

Aegon and his troupe have returned to Beregost, hunting those behind the sabotage of the Nashkel Mines. In their letters to Mulahey they showed a connection to the bandits on the Coast, suggesting a larger conspiracy is at play.

28 Kythorn 1368

Before we seek out Tranzig, we go to the Jovial Juggler to meet with Officer Vai. The Flaming Fist might be able to help us hunt the bandits.

Drake: Ho there, lovely officer! Surely you have not forgotten me?

Officer Vai: Much as I would… prefer to, no. I see you have found company, sir Caulfield.

I can almost hear ‘sir’ in lower case.

Drake: Haven’t I told you before to drop that ‘sir’ nonsense, Jessa? Come now, you may call me Drake, after all.

Bassilus has fallen, did you know that? I should thank you for all the ‘assistance’ you’ve given me on that matter.

Officer Vai: I had no power to assist you, Caulfield, as well you know. My contingent here is stretched thin as it is.

Drake: Oh, I know, worry not. Speaking of stretching, might I add that…

Officer Vai: Shut up. Now.

She turns back to me.

Aegon: I am honored to be found worthy of your notice, Officer. How may I be of assistance?

Officer Vai: My contingent and I are cut off from Baldur’s Gate. We haven’t received new orders for close to a week and, to be honest, I don’t like the feel of this at all. The bandit raids have been getting worse since you returned from Nashkel. I used to think that they were just your usual brigands out to make a quick buck in troubled times, but not anymore. They’re working for someone… One way or another, I’ve got to get my troops back to the Gate. I’ll bring 50 gold for every bandit scalp you can bring me – and spread the news. I want this whole region cleared before winter comes.

We sell her the few bandit scalps we took from the Trade Way. Her mission is noble, but we may have a better way. Perhaps if we can cut off the head we can destroy the bandit’s organisation.

According to the notes we took from Mulahey, Tranzig should be staying at Feldepost’s, and Tarasch Blackhelmet will be waiting around at night. The sun hasn’t quite set, so we will start at Feldepost’s Inn.

On our way to the inn, Drake complains about the people of the Coast.

Aegon: They wanted to get rid of you? Why?

Drake: I’m not exactly popular among my fellows in the Radiant Heart. They say I’m a bad influence.

Perhaps I haven’t mentioned this yet, but there’s a reason I’m allowed to remain with the Order despite their disdain for me. My father, Durand Caulfield II, is one of the three prelates of the Athkatlan Order.

While he doesn’t care much for my attitude than anyone else in the Order, he’d consider me a disgrace if I resigned or were dismissed. For the sheer number of public displays of drunkenness alone, I expected to be kicked out several times over. It never happened.

Aegon: Is your father the only reason you can’t leave?

Drake: Mm, well, I can’t say he’d be all too happy if I did, but… I’m not exactly opposed to the Order. It’s just that we don’t always see eye to eye.

You see, things weren’t so bad when I was just the squire for some old knight, cleaning his armor and carrying his sword for the first few years. But when I was done with that, I was set loose for some, er, ‘hands-on’ experience in enforcing justice at home.

Bear in mind, I was born and raised in the capital of Amn, which was practically run by the Shadow Thieves. Deceit and corruption were around every corner, so I was quite glad to have a hand in countering some of it with what chances I had.

Aegon: That sounds like something you’d enjoy. What went wrong?

Drake: Thing is, I quickly learned it wasn’t quite so simple. Wiping out underground coverts of slavers and thieves was simple business, but what I wanted to deal with were the snakes in the aristocracy. These weren’t people I could go after with a hammer in hand.

I can’t tell you how many corrupt nobles I brought to the attention of the Order, only to watch them go free because witnesses would mysteriously vanish or evidence was conveniently found at court.

It frustrated me, watching those I knew were despicable monsters walk the streets of Athkatla as free men, taunting me, continuing their acts. I brought their cases back up to the council and the Order, only to be rebuked repeatedly. I lost a lot of respect for both after those times.

Aegon: Why couldn’t you bring them back to court?

Drake: You’d need to know how the nobility of Amn work to understand, Aegon. True, I am noble by status, but the Caulfields began as commoners who rose up in status because of their heroism in war. The nobles, the ‘real’ nobles, treat us as worse than the lowest class.

It hardly helps my case when most of the bureaucracy come from one of those noble families, and at least half of them have the Shadow Thieves in their pockets. It’s near impossible to achieve anything by law or justice.

So, when I was to take my first knighthood trial, I… ah, didn’t attend. I didn’t see the point, really, in donning shinier armor if it meant I had to be further restricted by the tenets of the Order. So I remained where I was, and was mocked by several of my younger fellows for it.

Aegon: That’s why the other members of the Order have so little respect for you?

Drake: Right. Of course, they don’t know all my reasons behind it, they just think I’m a lazy bastard who’d rather drink his years away than make something of myself. Not that they’re entirely wrong, mind you.

I suppose if I were playing it safe, I shouldn’t be telling you any of this, but… I think it’d be best if you knew the kind of person I am.

Would you trust me, now that you know I have less scruples than a typical man of my station? Or are you the sort that thinks along the same lines?

Aegon: Actually, knowing this makes me trust you more.

Drake: Good, I was hoping you’d say that. I’ll lose less sleep this way.

I think I’ve spoken all that I need to for one day. Carry on, if you will.

Perhaps rooting out some corruption in Beregost will ease his mind. We go into the inn and climb up to search the rooms. We find a majn rushing to leave the place.

Aegon: Perhaps you could tell us WHY you are in such a hurry?

Tranzig: I’m not gonna tell youse guys anything. Git outta my face.

Aegon: You needn’t be so rude, we were just curious.

Tranzig: That’s nice, but ya can be curious someplace else. Now git outta here!

Drake isn’t convinced by this. He senses something.

Drake: Sorry to bother you.

Tranzig: Ya better be sorry, and ya better never bother me again! Wait! You’re Aegon! Well isn’t this a nice surprise? Time to die!

Drake’s instinct was right. This must be Tranzig! He raises his hands as we prepare our own magics. Drake readies his Rift Hammer.

Cat slashes at the mage, while Xan fails to put him to sleep.

Finch manages to knock him unconscious, however.

Tranzig raises a Shield, so Mur’Neth prepares its Ooze Touch instead of relying on its crossbow.

Tranzig resists my Hold. I decide to try and Silence him instead.

Rose summons some gibberlings through the Weave.

Tranzig is resisting our magic, so Rose prepares her spear, and Xan draws his Moonblade.

Rose impales the mage, interrupting his spellcasting.

Finch Blesses us before closing in with her flail. My Silence has no effect so I rush in with my Hammer of Corrosion.

Tranzig manages to hurt Drake with his staff weapon.

Xan strikes him from behind. As blue flames lick his cloak, Tranzig attempts to surrender.

Drake: Gah, that’s just pitiful. Knock him over the head and throw him at the fist, Aegon. He’s making me sick to my stomach.

Tranzig: No, anything but that, please!

Aegon: Spill your guts then! If what you say satisfies us, then we’ll let you live.

Tranzig: Okay, okay, I’ll talk. I’m a messenger fer a man named Tazok. I just ferry messages between him and a fat priest named Mulahey. I meet with Tazok either at Peldvale or Larswood, east of the Friendly Arm Inn. Tazok pays me good, so I keep my yap shut. Can I go now?

Aegon: Where can I find this Tazok?

Tranzig: Tazok? You can find him in the Wood of Sharp Teeth. He’s the captain of two groups of bandits. Their camps always movin’, so I don’t know how much luck you’ll have findin’ them. Can I get outta here now?

Aegon: We have to kill you, otherwise you might warn this “Tazok”.

Tranzig: I’m not gonna go down without a fight!

Mur’Neth paralyzes him, then we literally spill his guts.

While we contemplate the corpse, Xan feels this is a good time to ask about our goals.

Aegon: Why do you ask?

Xan: I know it is difficult to convey in a few phrases, but bear with me.

You remember we talked about fellow adventurers and recognition of our exploits? I’ve been thinking about it for a while.

It might be wrong, but it seems that every our step is directed towards achieving immortality. One way or the other.

I would like to think on this, but I would also like to know your thoughts.

Aegon: So all people do – writing books, helping people, reaching for power, raising children – is for this purpose? It might be.

Xan: I wonder if it is another futile pursuit… but in any case, thinking on it may lead us somewhere. Shall we compare notes later today or tomorrow, perhaps? That is, if we are still alive.

Immortality. Is this why Tazok, and the others, are doing this? Tranzig and Mulahey have certainly failed in that regard. Although, their names may still be written in the history books…

Tranzig has a scroll of Glitterdust on him. I attempt to copy the spell to my spellbook but fail.

He has some gold and a Potion of Extra Healing. He also has a Wand of Magic Missiles which Xan takes ownership of. He also has a ring and some gauntlets that seem enchanted. Neither Xan and I can identify them, however.

I take a look at the note Tranzig gave us while begging for his life. They have already noticed that their operation in Nashkel has been shut down.

It looks like our next stop will be either Peldvale or Larswood.

We go back to the Thunderhammer Smithy. We can hear Braegar hard at work with the iron we gave him. We decide it’s best not to disturb him.

Taerom is able to tell us what Tranzig’s ring can do. It is a Ring of Protection. Drake is usually on point so he wears it for now.

He can’t tell us anything about the gauntlets. Perhaps someone else could help. We try Magnus, but even he doesn’t know. Eventually, Drake just tries them on. It turns out they are cursed.

Luckily we still have Gellana’s Curse Removal Soap, so we are able to get them off the paladin.

Night will fall soon, which means Tarash might reveal himself. Before we set off for the wilderness again, we wait. Drake and I talk about how we are dealing with the conspirators.

Aegon: I wish I didn’t have to become so familiar with killing.

Drake: No decent person finds enjoyment in going around and sending people to the gods, Aegon. It’s just what we have to do sometimes, much as we dislike it… sometimes, worse things will happen if we don’t kill.

I probably shouldn’t have sprung that on you all of a sudden. If you want to know why I asked, well… I don’t mean anything by it. I’m just curious.

You seem like a decent kid, all things considered. I’m having a hard time looking back at all those bodies we’ve left behind and connecting them to you. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying they didn’t deserve to die, but… something about it just seems wrong.

Aegon: What about you, Drake? What was your first kill like?

Drake: My first experience with fighting for my life, well… you might be disappointed to know it wasn’t much of a shock for me. I didn’t see my first real battle until I was in my twenties, when I enlisted in the army.

Amn wasn’t in open war with any other human nations back then… so all I fought were orcs and goblinoids in the Sythillisian army. That was easy… I never though of them as much more than monsters. I didn’t realize how difficult killing could be until I had to turn my weapon upon my fellow man.

There was a bit of unfortunate business with a rebel uprising in a settlement close to the Amnian borders… it was supposed to be an easy task… put down the rebels, leave a warning, and go home. They weren’t soldiers. They didn’t have weapons or magic like the Sythillisians did. Well… I learned that sometimes, fighting can be more difficult when it isn’t kill or be killed.

Aegon: What caused those people to rebel?

Drake: Nothing. Even today, I don’t know why… they weren’t evil men. I suppose they were just poor folk who were tired of the way they were treated. They might’ve been going too far, but they didn’t deserve to die.

I’m not going to pretend my hands are clean. I helped my fellow soldiers kill them. One of the rebels, a boy around your age, as I recall, pointed a spear at me.

He snorts.

Actually, it wasn’t much more than a metal point tied to the end of a stick. His hands were shaking, but he still made the first move. I swung back in retaliation, not to kill him, but to knock him out… but I had forgotten that it wasn’t an orc I was fighting.

It’s a whole different feeling when the blood and bits of broken skull on your weapon is colored red instead of black. I remember dropping my weapon and feeling as though I was about to retch. In fact… I did.

Aegon: You sound as if you regret it deeply.

Drake: Is it that obvious? I guess it’s difficult to pretend like I’m not.

I didn’t know if what I did was the right thing, but I did know what I felt mattered: that boy wasn’t a threat, and he wasn’t my enemy. But I put him down just like the ogres and goblins I had slain before all the same.

Needless to say that I felt disillusioned with the army afterwards. I almost resigned after that, even though it would have disgraced me… if not for my brother, I likely would have.

Aegon: Your brother?

Drake: Ah. I’ve said a bit more than I care to. I wouldn’t mind telling you about my dear brother, but I feel like I shouldn’t be talking about him in the same conversation as my gruesome experience. Let’s save that for another time.

I didn’t retch or feel any of this after my first kill. Was it because my assassin wasn’t elven? Humans bleed red as we do. Perhaps it was because the assassin had truly malicious intend. Perhaps.

We all become killers in the end.

The sun is setting, and I feel a storm is coming. It’s almost time to confront Tarasch. Will we be spilling more red tonight?

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