"Are you planning on going back?"
"Well." Sabine considered this. "And during the course of the attack, Dubricus was hit?"
"A good three times, at least," Robin said.
"He always wanted to adventure," Sabine sighed. "Came here a couple months ago, and that was the only thing on his mind. We were able to convince him not to for a while, but...."
"If he still wants to in the morning, he's an adventurer."
"He didn't do terribly badly by himself, he just got taken by surprise," Harrick told their audience. "Caught an unlucky spear."
"He didn't do badly at all," Robin shrugged.
"The one in the leg was more bad luck than anything else."
"When are you planning on heading back?" the guardswoman asked.
"Day or two," the orc said, looking around and seeing agreement from the others.
"Thank you for the information, I do appreciate it."
"One of the orcs, by the way, was commenting on the fact that apparently they're having problems with the bandits, that the human bandits in the area had gone in and killed a whole bunch of them."
"Do you know how many bandits there are supposed to be around here?" Robin asked.
Sabine shrugged. "We had thought that they were one and the same. See if you can't find more information the next time you go out there."
The other woman pushed her chair back, nodded to everyone, and walked out.
"Armiger?" Harrick asked Sabine.
"The old baron's squire's daughter. She's not the armiger, but we think she'll probably take the position. Reeve is a little more accurate, but that's not quite official either. I'll let Devereau know what's happened, and I trust that you'll continue with what you've been doing, and hopefully not draw any unnecessary danger down on the Keep. Thank you." She departed, and the group concentrated on eating and telling the bones of their story to the townsfolk. Terzin kept his mouth shut; he was no longer sure what he could say and what he wasn't supposed to mention, and didn't want to betray their commission from the Countess. The silver coin Adrianne had given him still seemed to burn.
Afterwards, they returned to Brother Martin's to see how Dubricus was doing.
"He'll pull through," was the verdict. "He took some serious damage, but he should be okay in a week, week and a half."
"Good," Harrick approved. "Thank you."
"What did you run into? Bandits?"
"They thought we were the bandits," Terzin added.
"Well-established little colony up there," Harrick said.
"How many do you think are there?"
"We ran into twenty-one or so."
"Slightly less now," Robin added grimly.
"Let me know when you're leaving again," Martin decided.
"Do you think he'll be up in the morning?" Harrick asked, glancing at the silent Dubricus.
"He won't be able to walk, he'll be conscious."
"I'll come talk to him."
"He's a well-meaning lad," Robin judged, conveniently forgetting that the 'lad' had a few years on her and her companions.
"Actually, if one of you could give me a hand with the other end of the stretcher, we can bring him back into his quarters."
Harrick was happy to assist.
They returned to their room and slept soundly, woke somewhat recovered, although Robin would need another day before she felt ready for another fight. They hadn't found any treasure or anything, but they had learned quite a bit in their first foray, and felt sure that time would bring greater success. They spent the day resting and exploring the nooks of the town that they hadn't seen before, and Harrick and Jared spent some time at the blacksmith's to see about making some sort of weighted gloves, since he was most comfortable using his hands in a fight.
The almost-reeve approached the travelers at dinner that night.
"I'm Jedael," she introduced herself. "I believe we met earlier. You said you saw fifteen or so unmarked graves on the side of the road?"
"Yes," Harrick answered her.
She pulled out a crude map of the countryside. "Can you show me where?"
"I'm sending out an expedition tomorrow to go take care of the grave sites," she explained. "Would you like to come along?"
"Sure," was the consensus.
"Excellent. We'll meet you at the front gate tomorrow morning."
Afterwards, they went to visit Dubricus, who was sitting up in bed and seemed immensely cheered to see them.
"Friends! Are you all well?"
They assured that they were all relatively unhurt.
"We were worried about you," Harrick added.
"A couple of minor scratches," he waved it off.
"We carried you back," the orc pointed out.
"Well, very deep cuts, actually."
"'Life-threatening wounds' I think is the word you're looking for," Terzin corrected.
"Ah, but they would only truly threaten my life if I let them break my spirit."
"It is entirely possible to be both dead and unbowed," Harrick informed him.
"I would choose that over the opposite," Dubricus maintained. "When are we headed back?"
They were a bit impressed by his perseverance despite themselves.
"You are not going anywhere," Robin stated.
"For a while," Harrick qualified.
"Martin's saying not for another week, at the very least," Dubricus admitted.
"We'll see what happens," she relented a bit; he looked so downcast.
"I will endure," he sighed, then perked up. "But, when I am well again, I can accompany you?"
"If you wish, yes," Harrick said.
"You did not... find me useless?"
"Far from it," Robin assured him.
"You did well enough in the fight; it was quite good, except for the bleeding," Terzin approved.
"They took me by surprise; it shan't happen again."
"They took us all by surprise," Jared remarked.
"Did you at least learn something?"
They related Harrick's hypothesis that the bandits had been bothering the orcs.
"If you do not mind, could you keep me informed of what you discover on your next venture out?" he asked earnestly.
They agreed to do so, and departed with wishes that he would soon recover.
"He's just so enthusiastic," Harrick muttered wonderingly, shaking head as they returned to the inn.
"He shouldn't be so obsessed with being an adventurer," Terzin judged.
The next day they met the assembled party at the gate, consisting of the reeve, two guards, the bouncer from the tavern, the tattooed woman, and a man called Cobb who bore an unfortunate resemblance in both demeanor and aroma to Old Man Jenkins. They headed out without much chatter. As they neared the graves, they spotted a caravan coming down the road from the north. A small one, only two wagons, a couple guards.
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