Sielaph 38th, 44
The boys got it in their heads that they could swing the efforts of the war in “our” favor if but given the chance to lead, so I had to tag along and make my mark when they decided to enlist in the king’s army. Expecting to slip away on some recalling of my uncle or other, I was taken by surprise when the army came to collect before I could leave. The other boys went to other groups and I ended up with what I fear is the most dejected and worst the army had at its disposal. Most are criminals or captures bound into service. How do they expect that to work? If not for the need to keep my name clear, I’d desert as soon as I’m sure these others will when given half the chance.
Agiel X, 45
Our crash course in training is “complete” if you can call it training. While I can use a spear effectively now, most of that was due to my own efforts at training and little to do with the “guidance” of the officers. If this is an indication of the next couple years, perhaps Artemis Taggit has lived too long. For now, I give it my best and encourage my comrades. The voice has been quiet these few months and asked nothing of me. I must continue to conceal my abilities around these men and women. They are simple and superstitious and just as like to lynch me as buy me an ale.
Agiel 29, 45
The sky has been significantly active lately. Meteor showers covered the sky last night. Strange, robed cultists known as “tax collectors” have all over the place lately and seem fascinated by the happenings overhead. I’ve seen some of them on the road in my travels, but never taken much of an interest in them and never believed there were this many.
Zielel 10, 45
Last night, something fell into the forest and exploded miles and miles away, but shook the ground at our feet and we could hear the noise from camp. The cultists all mobilized and went off, I assume in search of what caused this explosion.
Zielel 13th, 45
We finally received orders that are taking us away from the war and toward a place called Lands End. I was worried we were being prepped for a trip to the front lines, in which case, I would be due to make an early exit from this service. Gerald may need to make an appearance and hightail it out of here. But, we’re to head away after all. Guess Artemis will endure.
Zielel 27, 45
While marching, Loney has procured the most remarkable berries I’ve ever sampled. For several days, she’s handed them out to those around her and I’ve not had a touch of hunger the rest of the day. Amazing. Magical in nature? I’ll have to keep an eye on her. Perhaps I am not alone in concealing my abilities.
We heard the sounds of bears and wolves nearby. Shortly, a couple bears and a very large one descend upon our regiment. Not surprisingly, most of the farm boys and dullards took off at once. Our illustrious leader was sent to his backside almost immediately. It fell to Shelly, Loney, Rohan, Balvarax, and I to handle the situation. During, Balvarax continues to amaze when he literally spit acid at the bears from nearly 30’. Like an actual dragon! He did not seem to mind a little collateral damage in hitting Taggert and a few farm boys, however, though, we’re I as bound as he here, perhaps I would not have minded either.
Zielel 27, 45
We arrive at Lands End, a little wood post-fortified town. While there, Taggert takes Shelly, Loney, Rohan, Balvarax, and I aside and for the first time since I’ve been here, recognizes our efforts. The fact that many of those who fled did not return may have lent some weight to his remarks. He told us that the local official, a Baron Pedigrast, is to be sought out, with us as an advance scouting party. Apparently this area has not been sending supplies and aid to the King as arranged. We’re to see if this is the cause of banditry in the area or whatever the cause may be.
Zielel 28, 45
We pass through a small hamlet outside the baron’s estate and the looks of shock and fear we eventually do see upon the locals, having Shelly and Balvarax both along with us will prove interesting, seem staged. Odd. When I attempted to engage a few of the locals and get a sense of recent events and travelers, most were tight lipped and did not hint at a reason for this feigned surprise.
Zielel 29, 45
We arrive at the baron’s manor and it is quite impressive. Older, larger, and more opulent than one would expect for a man such as he in a place such as this. The baron himself is a welcoming enough fellow and sets his household at our disposal while we stay. When inquiring about local events such as banditry and such, he brushes these concerns aside with the fact that he and his local men-at-arms are more than capable of securing any banditry. Hmm, so why the lack of support to the king and the war? Could be he is hiding something, though he could just be arrogant.
Zielel 31, 45
A look around the manor has given me and my comrades a little to ponder. His armory is well stocked and with better gear than we have seen to date while in service. His men at arms are equally equipped and appear ready to depart in mass for some reason. The baron does not share the reason, but does invite us on a boar hunting expedition for the day. Loney, Rohan, and I accept.
Moments before we are set upon by a group of boars, for the first time since I’ve been in service, the voice sings to me and tells me that I must protect the baron. The boars seem focused on going after the baron, for some reason and when an archer shows up sending volleys at the baron until he falls, it is no longer a wonder why my patron’s warning came when it did. Finishing off the boars, the archer flees and I give little thought to pursuit as the baron needed immediately to be back at his manor and receive care. Loney proves herself to be a magic user when she touches myself and Rohan, and some of our wounds melt away, leaving only light scars that will disappear in time. I should find time to talk with her privately.
Upon our arrival, we spot several individuals scattering from around the manor and into the surrounding woods. Balvarax and Shelly we find outside by the body of such a person. Within, they had captured one and killed two others while they were attempting to raid the manor in the baron’s absence.
We secure the baron inside and once seen to, I ascend to the second floor to see if I can determine what the bandits were after. Shelly and the others see to questioning the captive in my absence. Based on some of the noises I can just make out, they are asking some hard questions. Artemis, you are not their leader, they are not your responsibility, could I even try to command them otherwise? Most are here completely against their will. Back to the search. It did not appear they were looting, but looking for something midst all his paperwork and records. Doubly odd.
Based on the clothes and recognizing one man from the nearby hamlet, it appears these may all be locals. Why would they be after paperwork at their baron’s manor? I’ll have to save those questions for when the baron recovers.
The others seem oddly tense when I descend. Shelly is off somewhere and Balvarax and Loney are conspiring in the hallway, casting odd glances at everyone.
Zielel 34, 45
Balvarax and Loney are missing. I have not seen them since the evening before and no one else seems to have either. Damn. I should have made time to talk to her earlier, but I was distracted by whatever is going on here. Deserted most likely. By how poorly the war sounds like it is going, if Taggert told it true, can I blame them? Should I abandon Artemis before he becomes an enemy of state if this war is lost? Table that line for later.
Zielel 34, 45
The baron is awake and furious. The men-at-arms have not returned and the baron went into a fit upstairs when I told him what I thought the bandits were after. He searches a small room near the stair on the second level and then his bedrooms. I followed him and tried to suggest that I could aid him, if he let me in on what was going on here. He turned on me and flew into a rage, calling me an imposter, having never heard of the name Taggit. I’ve run into that before, obviously, but usually get the chance to make the case putting doubt in their mind of how far off he lives.
I could talk no sense to him and considered for the briefest of flashes of slaying him then and there to cover my name. Where did that impulse come from? Out of the question. I grappled him and bound him in his room. Gagged him to keep from calling out. I took his keys, used his surplus of writing examples to forge a note putting me in charge in lieu of the baron as he was injured and recovering and did some digging in the rooms he checked.
The men-at-arms returned and had clearly seen battle. The captain seemed to take my note at face value and said that their attack went as planned and they were successful. They then all retired to the barracks.
I consulted Rohan, Shelly nowhere to be found, perhaps also deserted, who am I to keep track at this point? I revealed all that I had found in the baron’s offices including the baron’s own confession to betraying the king and supplying the opposite side of the war, and apparently a penchant for child entertainment. Ugh, perhaps he would have been better slain. It must be the stress of this place that has gotten into me. Rohan went to find Shelly and return to the hamlet with the rest of the men we have here and see if they can turn up Taggert. He should have been here by now.
While away, I figure Rohan will return within a day or so. If he does return with Taggert, I’ll have all the evidence against the baron and the man himself, bound up and ready for arrest. Otherwise, I’ll flee with the bundle of documents I collected and present them to Taggert to do with as he will, if things at the manor turn. I release the captive citizen under cover of night and with a word revealing the baron’s activities. I have the servants supply the men-at-arms with spirits so that if Rohan returns with Taggert, they’ll be easier marks.
Zielel 35, 45
Rohan returns the next day with Sergeant Oxheart, Taggert apparently missing after an ambush a couple days ago. From the sounds of it, the baron sent his men-at-arms to intercept them. If I had to guess. The men equip themselves in the armory and march out to the barracks only to find them deserted since last night. The remaining servants fled that day as well. I turn over what I discovered on the baron and he is taken away.
Hmm, what do I say about Balvarax and Loney? Nah, Oxheart can figure it out on his own. Serves them right for sending the lot of us up here unsupervised. If we were as simple as the rest of the men that seem to fill the ranks of this army, we’re like to have discovered nothing and more probably would have been dispatched by the baron’s men. Maybe Balvarax and Loney had it right. Perhaps I’ve worn Artemis too long.