Our visit to Stormhold had taken a bad turn, like a sudden storm appearing on an otherwise sunny day. Xocin and Tee-Wan had decided to explore the city on their own while Keshu, Vos-Huruk, and I spent the evening with our new Nord friends. When Tee-Wan returned, he was alone. He explained that Dark Elf slavers had taken Xocin captive. Keshu, of course, planned to rescue him. And, much to our surprise, Jorunn the bard, leader of our new Nord friends, wanted to assist us. "Nothing gets the blood running like busting a few Dark Elf heads for a good cause," he proclaimed in his deep, booming voice.
Keshu and Jorunn led the way to the Dark Elf enclave on the edge of the city. "House Dres," Jorunn said, but it came out more as a curse than a name. "I should have known." We scouted the enclave, taking note of where guards were positioned and how they moved about the encampment. We determined where the newly acquired slaves were being held and began to formulate a plan for setting them free. Keshu led the discussion on strategy and Jorunn listened carefully, interjecting a suggestion every so often but otherwise agreeing with her plan. Just as the sun began to rise in the sky, four Saxhleel and five Nords went to war with the House Dres slaver's enclave. And the battle was glorious!
Launching a surprise attack on an overconfident and unprepared enemy is easier than you might imagine. Especially when you have a handful of overeager, half-drunk Nords at your side. Keshu and Jorunn fought like whirlwinds, carving a path to the slave pen while the rest of us dealt with arriving reinforcements. It took the Dark Elves more time than we expected to get their defenses together. The late hour and the unexpected assault seemed to have totally flummoxed the slavers' usual routine. Jorunn explained that they were used to defending their caravans in the wild, but no one had ever had the audacity to strike at the heart of a Dres enclave. "And that's why your plan is going to succeed," he said to Keshu.
With relative ease, Keshu dispatched the guards trying to protect the gate to the slave pen. Jorunn stepped into the opening she created and smashed off the pen's lock with a single swipe of his massive battleaxe. Xocin emerged from the pen, leading a band of disheveled Saxhleel out of the confined space. By this time, the Dark Elves had rallied and were advancing on our position. "We're about to have company, Black Fin," Vos-Huruk warned. "And they have mages with them," I added. Keshu began giving orders, ready to fight to the last of us if that was what was required. But Jorunn had a different idea.
"Not every battle needs to be to the death, my Argonian friend," the big Nord said with a twinkle in his eyes. "Take your people and make your escape. My companions and I will keep the puny Elves occupied while you slip away." Keshu thanked him and promised to return the favor someday. "I may just hold you to that promise," Jorunn laughed as he turned to face the oncoming slavers. "Someday."
Keshu led us and the newly released slaves into the marsh as Jorunn and his companions took up our defense. The Nords fought with gusto, and we could hear them laughing and singing battle songs as we disappeared into the swamp. After we had run for nearly as long as it took the sun to reach the top of the sky, Keshu called for us to halt. She asked me to return to the city and make sure the Nords had survived the assault on the slavers' enclave. Tee-Wan, skilled at stealth and deception, offered to accompany me. We set out immediately while Keshu talked to the now-freed slaves.
We slipped back into Stormhold as quietly and unobtrusively as we could. The enclave was sealed up tight and a large contingent of guards had arrived to bolster its defenses. Tee-Wan and I made our way back to the inn. We found Jorunn and his companions there, appearing no worse for the morning's battle. He thanked us for showing concern and coming to check on him, but he told us not to linger. "The House Dres leader is very upset about losing his slaves," Jorunn said. "We're even getting ready to leave this place—after we finish our meal and our mead. Tell Keshu I look forward to our next encounter."
And with that, Tee-Wan and I left the city of Stormhold and made our way back to Keshu and the others.
|Keshu: Travels Beyond the Village|
|Keshu: Travels Beyond the Village, Part 1||Keshu: Travels Beyond the Village, Part 2||Keshu: Travels Beyond the Village, Part 3|