Something Must Be Done...
Part 1: Something Must Be Done
Torres & Aric Olsen, used by permission, all rights reserved
"I've lost 3 shipments!"
"The countryside is in terror!"
"The supplies I was waiting on never arrived. I'm almost out of
"The king has done nothing! Serves him right he'll not get his taxes
because we've lost so much."
"Something must be done!"
Bentir rose above them all. "ENOUGH!" The Guildmaster looked around
the room, meeting each pair of eyes, staring them down if it looked
like he had to in order to forestall another outburst. "We will
simply have to stop the destruction. Since the King is disinclined
to help us, we will take care of this matter ourselves."
No one stood. No one spoke. Bentir sighed. He was no fighter either,
but he disdained the cowardice of his peers. "We will hire someone
to go out and find the source of our troubles and rid us of it, once
and for all. How much can we raise with what we have left?"
Again the clamor arose as each merchant and tradesman complained
about his losses, whined about being broke, swore there was nothing
left to live on, let alone use to pay for a quest. Bentir held his
peace, eyes hard. "Rolf," he spoke to the fat cloth merchant.
"Perhaps you could gamble on saving your silk instead of your weekly
dice game, eh?" He turned to another man, a scrawny weasly fellow
with a pock-marked face. "And you, Jimthan...perhaps you would like
to swing your own sword in defense of your precious jewelry?"
Jimthan's mouth closed, his eyes dropping. Everyone knew he was as
clumsy with a weapon as he was gifted with the finest gems nature
could offer. "Perhaps you could spare a stone or 3, to save your
And so it went, one by one, as the Guildmaster called them out on
their petty luxuries and weaknesses, wringing from them a share of
what they retained, despite all their heavy losses. When it was
done, they had gathered about 800 gold pieces worth of coin and
gems, a potion or two, and enough supplies to outfit a small team,
if enough brave ('or stupid', thought Bentir) souls could be found
to take up the challenge. Signs would be posted and word would be
spread. Now there was nothing to do but wait, and hope...
Greywarden listened thoughtfully as the heated discussion continued.
For all the politics, and all the greed, he had always been forced
to give a certain amount of respect to Bentir. Watching him call the
merchants and tradesmen, one-by-one, to task made an impression on
him. True leadership always did. He was a formidable individual -
and his charisma was on display for all this day.
There were times in Greywarden's past that this kind of leadership
wasn't present...when it was so easy for the mob mentality to take
over. His skills as an apprentice wizard were kept hidden because of
the wrong kind of attention being focused on him. Hidden to protect
him against a lack of leadership to control the fear raised in so
many by the unknown...
The joint was ill-constructed, joined by a common laborer with his
mind on the coming dice game at the tavern, or possibly his favorite
girl instead of the task in front of him. Even as that fact
registered in Greywarden's mind he became aware of the foreman’s
footsteps on the walkway above. A cry of warning was all there was
time for as the joint let go, and thirty feet of scaffolding began
its slow collapse toward the earth, promising the injury or needless
death of the foreman. There was never really any choice, and the
incantation sprang from Greywarden's lips even as his arm rose in
gesture. The weight and momentum of the man was arrested, his mass
temporarily taking on the characteristics of a feather as he floated
gently, unharmed, to the ground below amid the wreckage of timbers
and stones. Instead of thanks, Greywarden was met with fear. The
witnesses were filled with their misunderstanding of what they had
seen, and their collective temperament appeared to be turning for
the worst. The foreman, at least, had some clue that his life had
been saved, and managed to disperse the crowd before they could set
upon Greywarden. But he saw the handwriting on the wall. Later that
evening he collected his pay with the boss' apology and set on down
the road, the incident only a memory in the villagers' memory...
As he stood listening to the excuses in the guildroom, he realized
that he owed Bentir an unspoken debt. Here was a man doing what he
could to solve a sticky problem. "Well..." Greywarden thought to
himself, "...without that shipment of tools I ordered last month,
there won't be any work for me anyway."
"Excuse me, Master Bentir."
"Journeyman Greywarden, isn't it?" Bentir replied. "What can I do
"I believe it has more to do with what I can do for you, sir. I'd
like to volunteer to be the Guild's representative for the
expedition you're putting together...for an equal share in the purse
of course." If I survive...
There was no going back now.
“Well,” replied Bentir, “I’m glad to see this Guild has at least one
stout heart. It’s a start.”
"I do have some questions, Guildmaster." Greywarden continued.
"Keep it short, journeyman." Bentir was a busy man.
"A short list, sir. Are all of the shipments into the village being
hit, or only the ones from a certain direction? Are they well armed
caravans being wiped out, or smaller shipments and lone travelers?
Are there any survivors I can interview? When was the last attack?
Was it one attacker, or several? Human? Orc? Ogre? Giant? Is there
ballistic evidence I can examine that hasn't been seen by the king's
men. Or - worst case - are the shipments disappearing entirely? Oh,
and one more thing: can the guild supply me a horse or pack animal
to use for my mission?"
"That was a short list, Greywarden? I'd hate to see a long one!" A
wry smile touched the guildmaster's face - too soon replaced by his
familiar stern countenance.
"I'll need some time to close down this uproar- uh, I mean, this
meeting. Meet me at Adele's for lunch in an hour - I'll buy you a
bowl of her stew and answer your questions - the ones I can. Until
then I suggest you ready yourself - chance favors preparedness."
"Thank you Guildmaster."
Bentir held up a hand to forestall more questions. "Your enthusiasm
is admirable, and your questions well spoken, but peace now. We
don't have all the information in yet, but this we know: Some
shipments are making it through just fine, but those that don't have
no survivors. As for your request about the horse, I'm surprised you
don't have one, but yes, the Guild can provide that. Please hold the
rest of your questions till we meet at Adele's. I'll try to find out
more for you by then." He eyed Greywarden, taking in his youth and
lean carpenter's frame, "and hopefully we’ll be joined by a few more
Nodding respectfully to the Guildmaster, Greywarden moved toward the
exit. At the door, he paused to speak with Bearnam, the construction
foreman in charge of his project. After giving his notice, and
collecting his pay, he parted company with the burly man on good
terms - for once he is welcome to return to the crew if he becomes
The letter of marque from Bentir was exchanged for a sturdy mount at
- the horse he chooses isn't built for speed, and appears to have
been neglected... The mare isn't a razor, but with a bit of care,
she looks to be a durable friend on the trail. He named her Stepper,
and purchased an oat bag and a twenty-pound sack of oats. It
wouldn't last long, but a lasting friendship with an animal can be
started with food....
Afterward, he took Stepper on a short ride north of the town,
keeping the buildings in sight, but climbing the low hill called
the" Giant's Pouch" which offers the best view around. The familiar
trail leads to a secluded place offering a clear line of sight all
around - a spot Greywarden found when he arrived at the village
several months ago. It is here that he studies his Art - not
carpentry, but Magic. Turning Stepper loose on the sweet grass
nearby, he pulled the Spellbook open and again wrestled with the
passage on Clairvoyance.... Someday he'll understand it... He can
locate a missing object unerringly, and the divination for
clairvoyance is a similar spell... If only he can find a suitable
After a time, when his mind was full, he secreted the precious book
in his bedroll, and saddling Stepper, he leads her to a different
vantage point on the "Pouch."
From here he can see the road into town. How far away are the people
responsible for the break in trade? Are they within a ten-mile
radius? What are they planning next? Why would they choose this way
of life? No matter. They can be found and brought to judgment. Then
he can go back to work.