Don’t let anyone tell you the life of an adventurer is glamorous. Not until you have spent 30 minutes crawling on your stomach through wet grass and boar manure so as to keep off the skyline! My knees and elbows were rubbed raw and I was straining to remain silent as I approached the brigands camp. A shield and spear are fine things but not when you are crawling.
I was in this situation because I hade volunteered to help Chief Grimbaur. He told me “My job is to guard Bree. I don’t have the men to waste patrolling the countryside, but of late I’ve had reports of brigand-raids near and around the town. I need someone to look into these rumours, and I’ve coin to spare for anyone willing to help.
There’ve always been a few outlaws in the hills and dales north of town, but it seems that recently they’ve grown both more numerous and more bold. If you can find out what is going on, it would be appreciated. Careful though. Once these outlaws would flee any armed man, but now they are more prone to attack without warning. There are brigand camps throughout the hills north-west of town, you just have to go and find them”.
Asking around, I discovered that brigands had overrun Dogwood’s Farm, across the road and north alongside a small stream. It was this camp that I now approached. And suddenly there it was below me, down in a copse of trees.
I managed to sneak into the camp and retrieve a letter that looked important. I returned to the stone house near the crossroads outside of Bree where Grimbaur was stationed and reported my discovery of the camp. Grimbaur was disturbed but felt he needed more information before proceeding. It seems as though he has access to a spy in the robber band and I was tasked with meeting with the spy and collecting information from him.
That night, I travelled east to find a grey rock in a stand of trees, north of Bree-town. It took a little while but eventually I spied the fellow skulking behind a tree. Lucky for him that I did find him because just as I arrived, 2 more robbers burst from the trees in an apparent attempt to kill the spy. We made short work of them and afterwards the spy gave me some notes for Grimbaur.
The spy’s notes further supported the brigand’s letter, verifying that Sharkey is no brigand himself, but an influential man of the south. Grimbraur must know.
“We now know that the Brigands’ Watch, to the west of here in the foothills of Bree-land, is a staging ground for future assaults. The brigands’ captain hands out orders from Sharkey himself to his lieutenants. Likely they are kept somewhere safe: a lockbox or even on his person. We need those orders. Head to the Brigand’s Watch and get those orders”.
The Brigands’ Watch sits on a hill north of Adso’s camp, and directly west of Grimbaur’s Post. Off I went.
It was quite a large camp and there were a few brigands about the place. The terrain worked against them however and I was able to sneak around and approach the leader’s tent with only a couple of brigands to deal with. A sharp rap with my spear butt to the head took care of them. The leader I had to fight, there was no other recourse.
Now, a small digression on the techniques of shield fighting and how to disable your opponent. My grandmother had always told me that the thing to do was “jab ’em in the stones, girl”. Apparently these were located between a man’s legs though why a man should keep stones down his britches was beyond me. Uncomfortable, surely? And jabbing my spear into stone would only chip the blade?
However, all became clear during my training with the Warden trainer in Bree. He told me “nothing like a jab in the stones to make a man think hard about what’s important in life. Kinda concentrates the mind”.
He also ingrained in me the two basic techniques of shield fighting. These work fine against untrained opponents. The first is a simple feint towards the head with your shield, followed swiftly by a slash of your blade across his legs. Amazing how often this works.
The other technique (which I used against the brigand leader) is best against another shield-man. Swing a little to the right then back sharp right. As you do so, hook your shield behind his shield. This drags his shield away from his body and opens him up to your inswinging blade from the right. Whoompf – my spear went straight between his legs.
What an amazing effect – he went very, very still for a second or two, then his eyes bulged and a small scream escaped his lips. He dropped his spear and went to clutch his stones (interesting when you still have a shield in your hand) while slowly dropping to his knees and curling up into a ball. Well, Grandma, seems you were right after all!
He seemed disinclined to continue further discussion so I approached his tent. Not only was the lockbox there but to my joy also a treasure chest. This I promptly looted as any self respecting Hobbit would do.
I returned to Grimbaur who asked me to come back the next morning after he had a chance to think things over. I returned to the Inn where we had a small celebration of the brigand’s defeat. Truth to tell, I didn’t stay long, being a little tired, and retired to my room. I did take the opportunity to first “liberate” a lovely looking pie that would do nicely for my breakfast.