Averhiem is not a small town. No indeed, rather it is a large city in one of the oldest provinces of the Empire, a home of industry and immense wealth. So in light of this, I find it bewildering that when it comes to the order of Colleges, its denizens behave like the meanest mongrels of the smallest mud washed Thorpe in the Imperium. There seems to be little respect in this dung heap for those who wear the White. In places where the colleges aren’t recognized as the protectors of the realm that they are, I at least find the respect that fear induces. Generally speaking even a commoner knows that a Wizard is a fearful master of the arcane, capable of handling the very winds of Magic and worthy of polite respect. Yet in this social dustbowl petty servants demand absurdities from those who bear the staff. Like this puffed up swine herder Curd Wiess.
I’ve met his sort before. Born likely of middling wealth, but outside the gentry, his fondest dream is to be inducted into the perceived grandiose heights of the upper class. His pretensions have pretensions, and he treats all those whom he believes he can not be threatened by with airs and scorn. It’s much like the village idiot who thinks that if he could just make it into the swine herders guild he’d be something to admire, and spits at the good folk of the town seeing himself as a cut above.. I cannot understand why my fellows are taken by him. Octavius claimed he could aid us in our investigations, and Otto was similarly convinced. I think I’d rather be lit on fire than spend another minute in the presence of Curd Swine Herder, however I have been away from the fellowship for a while now, and I feel I must endure this red herring so as not to lose contact with them entirely.
We were introduced to a plan to try to draw out bandits who are suspected of waylaying Red Arrow shipping in the local woods, and putting a scare into them that would end their predations upon the outfit. One Lady Clothihed von Alptraum was to be used as bait to draw the bandits out, while we (my compatriots and I) were to be liveried in the Arrow’s colors and pose as guards to the Gravin. Now it is all very well and good that Otto, Octavius, and the veteran Jaymin were to be so fitted, however what sense is it to thus cloak Lisa or Eisadryil? The pair are clearly slight ladies, and hardly appear as the warrior breed (though in both cases appearances are deceptive). Yet more absurd is it to so equip an old man with a walking stave. What a fearsome warrior I’d make, limping forward in the charge, but beyond the obvious brainlessness of that plan, I wear the White! I bear the searing light of the college of illumination and what could impress such banditry more than facing the wrath of an enraged wizard protecting the personhood of the Lady? I think the collective wits of the empire are draining out into the south sea, I have encountered such vacancy of the head since my leaving Altdorf. Naturally I refused to don the livery.
The Lady Clothihed von Alptraum however, was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal day. Lovely and charming, she turned a drear ride into a pleasure outing. Typically I find little in the nobility of the empire to recommend it, however the Gravin was a happy exception. Decked in finery, and wearing more cut stones than an overturned jewelers cart, she none the less outshone them all. She played her part well, displaying her wealth as the Red Arrow carriage was paraded about the city, so that any fool with a sword would be tempted to accost us upon the road; then headed east at a leisurely pace. I cast a glamour of protection upon both the Gravin and myself to ward us from harm during the journey. I must acknowledge that Lisa is very capable of entertaining even the highest ranks of the nobility. She has a surprising versatility, capable of charming the commoners as adroitly as the upper classes. A very clever and helpful companion indeed.
It weren’t long after our leaving the more populated outskirts of Averhiem that my senses caught on to the fact that the coach was being followed. As our pace was slow it is no surprise that this was so, and the ostentatious display of the Gravin’s wealth in the city made such a thing quite likely. Soon we were stopped on the road by some cut trees, and I was able to quietly alert Octavius about our being shadowed, and he perfomed a rather wet examination of our perimeter, discovering a concealed trail paralleling the road. This served to increase our awareness, and I believe prepared us for the ambush which came next.
A group of riders approached the stalled coach from beyond the cleared trees, and the lead among them demanded that the Gravin toss out the Alptraum diamond. I imagine that must be the pebble sized rock perched upon the Gravin’s right hand. Of course we refused and a fight ensued. I cannot well describe the battle. Each of the approaching bandits were mounted upon horses and equipped with powder weapons, a more well equipped group of thugs is hard to imagine. As I have an acute allergy to bullets, I spend my time hopping in and out of the cart hurling bolts of penetrating light into our assailants. It was Otto and the Lady Gravin’s man Werther who did the most damage, tearing into the grouped bandits with their powerful blunderbuss weapons. The fight was quickly over, with the same Werther taking down the leader with a powerful blow and only one chap escaping. I can only assume that he was let go, to report back to his fellows not to mess with the Red Arrow shipping any longer.
I cannot imagine that the fact that each of these men had a horse, and expensive armaments has been lost upon my companions. Hardly the type of equipment one might expect from common bandits in the woods, and also how they operated quite close to the city is quite odd. Where was the city’s road wardens? Where the local watch? It’s all rather convenient and suspicious. I hope the desired message was delivered, however I cannot help but suspect that whatever the message, it went to someone a bit more connected than a bandit camp leader. Something isn’t adding up right in all of this.