At the Prancing Pony



I had hoped, while I weren't able to sleep at Brandy Hall last night, that it'd be likely Miss Adri would be able to find out whether Bogo was being held, and even get him out, with her sneaking, without me and Beoda having to let an arrow fly; but it couldn't gone much more unlike that. It were too quick to count for sure, but I got seven less arrows in my quiver now and I picked up one on the way, so I put at least eight arrows in people, and most of them won't never get up again. Beoda did near as many, I think. And it's not bothering me at all, after I see what they said and done, and I wonder if it should.

The bandits had a proper camp, with wood palisades and all, about midway atween Bree and Buckland, or maybe a bit more to the Buckland side. The folk at Adso's camp had seen the bandits, and I guess there were some kind of uneasy peace atween the two groups -- the bandits had other plans, I guess, or maybe they wanted Adso to finish building his inn, or whatever it’s to be, so they'll have something else to rob. We met Miss Adri near it on the road, left the horses and Rascal by the camp she'd set up there in the woods, and set out going around the camp to the right looking to come at it from higher ground. I figured as me and Beoda would be perched above it, ready to send arrows down into it, while Adri did the sneaking inside it.

Turned out that the high ground had another bandit palisade on it, so that plan didn't go like I imagined. Beoda and I waited while Adri snuck up on one of the patrols. I don't know what I figured as she was going to do, but soon found out, as she says, why she wears armor painted a color what won't show when blood gets on it. She snuck up on the patrol easy as lying and her knife left the bandit flat without a sound. I barely saw it though; about then I heard footsteps behind us and whirled around. Another bandit what we'd missed patrolling had just come up and seen us and was staring, I think at Beoda, but probably both of us on account we was right together, but in my chest I felt like she was a threat to Beoda first, and didn't think any farther than that before my hand had drawn and released. I almost felt like the arrow had cast itself, and watched it lodged in the bandit's throat, cutting off any cry she were about to let out what would have called more of them on us.

Then we was rushing up behind Adri and taking positions to take out three more of the guards at once, and then we was at the top palisade, fast as falling, and there were a guy there, big and ugly with scars, that was pretty clear to be the leader. Beoda and I both had arrows pointed at him, and he had his sword drawn, but he wasn't moving to fight, nor did he holler for others. Which makes sense. To get there, we'd had to have taken out the guards outside, and the next nearest were way too far away to get to him in time to save him. So his best chance were to talk his way out, not shout.

Pointing at him, Adriellyn said, "If'n I reckoned 'e'd give useful answers an' no' yell 'is 'ead off, I'd try askin' 'im. Shootin' makes more sense."

But afore Beoda or I could make up our minds to let fly, the man said, "Depends on what answers you want. I didn't get this far being a fool."

I held off in case Adri might think different, and said in Rohirric, "On your word, Adri."

She moved in slow and careful. "Why'd y' take the 'obbit, then?"

The ugly fellow stared a moment, then laughed, deep in his gut. "The hobbit! Oh, aye, couple of my fellows took one. Gave them a long chase too. Slipped them for hours, but they had the sense to wait for him to come out. Fancy clothes. Worth something, for sure, but he took too ill to find out what. Tell you what, I'll give him to you for fifty silver."

Adriellyn seemed to consider the offer, then shrugged. "Only go' forty with us." Only I were sure we had more than that atween us, but just afore I went and blurted it out, I thought, Adri's the clever one here and knows this sort of thing, and I better just leave the talking to her. Thinking back on it I figure she were just trying to tease more information out of the fellow, but never meant to pay.

The big fellow thought about the forty silver, but made a counter-offer. "He had a box, but we didn't find it. Find out where he hid it and tell me, and you can have him for nothing more than that."

Sure enough, Adriellyn were toying with him, and didn't hesitate a moment in turning the truth inside-out. "Broke under the pony. Din' find nothin' bu' mud-ruint parchmen' in it."

Don't know how, at the time, but the bandit chieftain knew better. He laughed, but you could tell he knew this wasn't going his way. "Maybe you'd be lookin' to join my crew? Only I prefer my people lie to the marks, not me." Later found he and his men had been questioning the hobbit some, so maybe the fellow let something slip as made him know better than that.

I guess that's where Adriellyn figured we weren't going to get anything more out of the fellow. She shrugged and insisted, "Tha's where it were," then in Rohirric, said, "Loose." I didn't even think about whether it were time; I had it firm in my head that Adri was our leader, knew best how these things go, and in any case even if she weren't smarter and wiser in every way on this, you don't go doubting orders when there's blood in the air. Two arrows sunk in the fellow's chest at once, and he fell to his knees. It's a wonder he didn't cry out, calling more the bandits onto us, but instead, with blood bubbling up out of his mouth, he croaked out the word "Liars…" and fell back.

That was the second time Beoda had put an arrow in a man. I glanced to her, not sure if the act might haunt her. They say it does, sometimes. But she already had another arrow nocked, and was saying, "Now fer Bogo." I got back the arrows from the dead man's chest and gave her back hers -- no sense in letting them go to waste.
From this high place we could see two more palisades, but could see into only one. It didn't have prisoners, but Adri thought the other one likely would, so we snuck down and around the first palisade. I wonder what come of the bandits in that one, when they later found near everyone else around them were lying in the mud with knife-wounds or arrows in them. Guess I can hope they take up a different line of work, but I reckon one of them will just take up the charge of leadership and afore long they'll be getting new folk to do wicked things with them in hopes of easy coin.

At the last palisade we took out a few of the patrols around the outsides -- there were more here, which made Adri figure this must be where the prisoner was, and I wonder if might not also be where treasure was, but we never stopped to look -- and then made some noise to draw out a couple more what were inside. This fight's more of a blur on account we was running and firing and there was more bandits than anywhere else. Still, it only took a few moments and we were inside, with a few bodies lying face-down in the mud, rain washing away the blood.

And there he was, a well-dressed hobbit in a cage, looking like he didn't know what were going on; he asked us if we brought the cheese he asked for. Turns out he's delirious with fever from exposure, and sometimes he's clear of thought, and other times not so much, and he goes to sleep a lot too; but it were him, Bogo Brockhouse, sure enough. Adri got the cage open somehow, I didn't really see how, maybe she found the key, and then I got to carry the hobbit while we made a quick getaway back to the horses. It were clear the hobbit needed a healer and we wasn't sure where we could find one in Buckland so we rode back to Bree, the rain finally stopping as we did. Miss Adri found Miss Cesistya and brung her to a room in the back of the Pony, and also got us and the hobbit some rooms.

By this time, with so much having been done on a day with not much sleep afore it, I was starting to drift off. Hadn't even had supper and barely anything for breakfast, and at this point I wanted sleep more than food. We did find out as Bogo had been drifting in and out for days, having took ill from being out in the freezing cold and rain so long, but sometimes when the bandits questioned him about who'd pay his ransom, or where the box was, he was clear enough of thought to understand, but pretended to be still too ill to think straight, just to avoid having to think of a good answer. Miss Adri seemed impressed by that. But then when he saw Miss Cesistya were an Elf, he thought he must be dreaming again, and she told him he needed to rest. He agreed, so long as he might later get to see his beloved Forsythia. And if there were more after that, I missed it. I carried Bogo to put in his hobbit-size bed, then found the room Adri had hired for us. Weren't sure if we had separate rooms or we was sharing again, so just in case, I settled on the floor, so if Beoda and Adri came in later they could have the beds. I barely got my armor off before I was snoring. Sure as it were a day I won't soon forget.