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Just another job Part 9 - Forest fishing

AragmarMay 19, 2019, 12:23:59 PM

“Do you want my advice? Yes, of course you do, otherwise you wouldn't have taken me on the job. Anyways, what I think is – we should find and take care of those mysterious lurkers first. That or at least find out who, or what they are, and why are they trailing those useless idiots. What Bortom described was advanced invisibility, the same what your cloak is capable of and trust me, I know my magic gear. What other stuff may they be packing under their cloaks? It'll be better to tackle them first than get pancaked between a bunch of useless and some unknown group of invisible, probably well armed individuals, with indiscernible goals.” - That was a sound plan. Even if those lurkers were competition, or sent by one of Rem's enemies to take him out, he could at least retreat if they proved too tough. Rem spent the rest of the day to carefully plan all eventualities or at least those he could think of at this moment in time. When evening fell, he and Felk had already traveled half the distance between that hidden clearing where the useless loitered about and the area which Bortom's scouts claimed they've seen the lurkers. That was also the meeting place where he had to inform the backup for which he'd paid so handsomely, for his plan of action.

Some forests are indeed eerie.

The eerie, evening forest was full of little deaths ready and able to make the unfortunate or unwitting traveler into their next meal, although with his level of skill and equipment, they were not a problem. Beautiful as it was, the greenery was just as deadly. Not as dangerous as The Old forest yet, still, one could easily meet their doom had their luck ran out and they faced an ancient beast or even a remnant from previous Rift horde invasion. Those chaotic, all-devouring monsters were incredibly dangerous and often mutated, completely changing after they've eaten some of the mysterious, magical denizens of The Old forest. Thankfully, they safely reached the small pond where he had to meet with Bortom's war band - not even one of the many dangerous animals dared to attack them. Some sages theorized that throughout the millennia, magical beasts had adapted their hunting patterns to the presence of powerful adventurers. Whatever the real reason was, Rem was thankful for the short, safe trip into the forest outskirts. Both he and his floating friend took a good look and appreciated the almost serene patch of greenery growing around the crystal clear pond. The six deadly marksmen, armed with arcane muskets were well concealed and even he had to look a second time to locate them. Smiling behind his metal skull mask, Rem muttered quietly his ally password which incidentally was the same phrase the stocky dwarf used to activate his prized magical map:

“Fresh fishy fish, hundred wriggling little fishies in a fish basket!”

The six Hoods slid out of their hiding spots, rifles in hand, still wary and ready to do battle. One of them ran a magic ring across his chest – he was checking if indeed Rem was... Rem. This was Krart and certain body & image changing spells were commonly used to assume the identity of ones allies. Rem had in fact done the same on certain occasions and murdered more than his fair share of naive fools, who assumed that he was their party member or ally. After the shooter was satisfied with what his ring told him, they guided Rem to their concealed temporary camp. The magic tents were set up under one long dead, giant tree, yet nobody actually slept in them. Like everything done in this line of business, the tents were trapped and instead of resting Hoods, each contained different sets of deadly traps. The marksmen themselves were holed up under the tree's roots, in a hollow which formed after the plant had stopped “walking”. Although Rem was feeling a bit uneasy, he followed them in. Nobody knew for sure what drove those deadly plants to migrate, nor why they outright attacked certain people and spared others. Nevertheless, he and Felk enjoyed the Hood's hospitality for this evening and shared rations with them. The second day of his Job's time limit, one ninth was now spent. He had seven more to complete Countess Levoah request or... poke the dragon's ass, as his friend had so colorfully mentioned earlier. Hoods and especially those of them who became marksmen were the silent type. Indeed he'd met some after that job he did for them earlier in his career but none were as professional as these six. All of their equipment was top grade, especially their arcane muskets, which were immaculate and looked well maintained. For close range encounters, each Hood carried their broad, punching sword & turtle shield combo. The sword was akin to that ancient punching dagger, yet its blade was twice as big and wide. The weapon had a well protected handle, with a half-plate glove covering the wielder's hand. They used it together with a turtle shield which was again fathered by another old as the city item of war. The buckler was shaped as a turtle's carapace and worn over their left forearm. The marksmen even used it to stabilize their musket and placed the gun in a groove they fashioned on the shield's side. It's bulged surface was designed to help glance off blows harmlessly and indeed was one of the items he always desired to posses, yet was unable to find one. Perhaps after this Job was over he could pester Bortom and ask one of his master blacksmiths to fashion one for his arsenal? He chased away the thoughts of future item requisitions and concentrated on the here and now.

That looks totally safe for some strange reason...

“What do you think of our plan, boys?” - Asked Rem, after laying out his lich's idea and studied the Hood's faces as they exchanged some of their secretive hand signs. One of them plainly shrugged, still holding the rifle trained at the entrance of their camp – while they ate, there was one of the marksmen who was always aware and ready to shoot dead anyone who walked past their traps.

“That be a good idea, Master Solver of Problems. One gotta ask, what by the Vortex are those mages or them obnoxious nobles, always sneakily transporting around our part of the forest...” - Another one of the Hoods mumbled while munching on a piece of dried fish - “You gotta decide how wer'e gonna do it too, Boss. The usual gig would turn out like dat – you be sneaking with your sword drawn, cloak shrouded wif invisibility magic, and after ya stab one of em, they would, of course, pounce at ya. Then we shoot em, all sneaky like and in dem backs!” - Certainly that was a good idea, yet those lurkers were perhaps not to be taken lightly. - Regardless, if that is Rem's choice, post 1 in the comments below.

“Nah!” - Chimed in another one of the Hoods, who'd disassembled his musket and was diligently polishing the already squeaky clean weapon. His face was obscured by a bushy, milky white beard and one of his eyes was an alchemist prosthesis. Indeed that old elf almost looked like a wizened sage, if only you removed the gun and healed the multiple decade old, well pronounced scars, of course.

“Master Rem should stay together wif us boys! He's got that awesome warbow of his and can shoot deadly accurate arrows... in sixty paces was it?” - Rem could only nod, agreeing with the old marksman while Felk chuckled, floating above his head, blue mana forming a halo around his helmet protected face. As always the lich stood silent when actual battle strategy was discussed – he was a magician and an alchemist, not master of war.

“We should better concentrate our firepower boys and shoot a volley at those lurkers, first! Then take those of them who survive it in melee, again together with Master Rem. Me thinks they will be trouble if we do anything else...” - That too sounded well, and came from the mouth of a Hood veteran shooter. That case, if anything unexpected happened or their mysterious enemy had more magical items, they could at least protect their behinds. Indeed, Rem spent a couple of sleepless nights thinking about marriage and... kids. Though for that to happen one had to protect the “family jewels” so to speak. It was far better to stand together with those veterans, who despite being expert marksmen, were very competent warriors too. – If that is Rem's choice, post 2 in the comments below.

Veterans... nuff said.

“Wait, Master Rem, ya can do som trickster shots wif that bow of yours, right?” - Asked another of the Hoods, the youngest of them, who was still sporting clean, beardless (and scar-less) boyish visage.

“Yes, I can do special shots with the 'Stake'. Shoot two arrows at a time, curve shots and point blank, punch shots too. What do you have in mind?”

“Umm, see 'ere, we could be firing dat bout at them lurkers, Boss. Then you, still sneaky, shrouded by dat cloak of yours, move almost in point blank range... and shoot dem in their asses. They would be coming directly at us though, Master Rem, so you is got'a be fast, real fast like!” - The rest of the marksmen gave their youngest number slightly confused, worrisome looks. Seems he rarely spoke and even when he did, he uttered very few, chosen words. The old veteran elf scratched his beard, looked at Rem and then his youngest shooter with a strange, almost happy smile on his grizzled face.

“Well then, that too is somefin we could do boyos! It is always the one who pays, who orders the music, em I rite, Boss?” - His alchemist made eye looked to the side and his companions, while the elf's natural one was still inspecting his arcane rifle. Sneaky basterds! These Hoods were always full of surprises and very capable, but was that something he could successfully pull on his own while they battled in melee? Rem was quick, indeed he was very fast, wonderfully dexterous some called him, but... – If that is Rem's choice, post 3 in the comments below.  

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Link to part one.

Link to part two.

Link to part three.

Link to part four.

Link to part five.

Link to part six.

Link to part seven.

Link to part eight.

Link to part ten.

Link to part eleven.

Link to part twelve.