Dark Shadows of Theah

Bernd's Journal #1

Tirdas 14, 1518
Bader and I finally discovered the rogue’s den in the Walden. To be so bold as to hide in shadows and mythos of the dark woods made them brave fools, the lot of them, yet fools nonetheless. It appears greed can truly cause a man to cast caution to the side if it helps to line their coin purse. The few men we gathered rallied around us, yet their courage vanished when we arrive at the edge of the dark forest. I do not fault them in the least; it simply made the odds less favorable towards us. Regardless, Bader and I pushed onward through the eerie shadows towards our quarry. The forest creaked and moaned in warning to transgression. Never in my life have felt my soul feel so cold in the wake of such a despairing place. I found refuge in reminding Bader to stand firm as he did unto me. We have been forced to make camp in the woods. We need rest, though I fear little reprieve will be given. The forest stirs and moves unnaturally.
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Tirdas 16, 1518
By the next night fall we had found the rogue’s makeshift camp. There were nearly a dozen of them so we had to think abstractly. Bader and I hatched a plan to bait and use the lore of the woods to our advantage. Bader and I drew out a couple of brutes tending watch and subdued them. The fear of their disappearance unnerved several as the lead highwayman tried to hold them together. Two more braved the search and we subdued them as well. Soon, panic arose and several left taking their chances in the woods. The number dwindled and the odds tipped in our favor. We cast stones to cause misdirection and shots rang out wildly. We took the advantage of the reload time and charged. They tried recklessly to surround us, though in true fashion, Bader and I stood back-to-back and took them on. We moved as on; he went high, I went low as we moved like a spinning whirlpool. It was over as soon as it started.
Moments passed in a blinding rush. The leader of the rogues stood his ground like any true Eisen would and would not yield. Bader deferred to me and I squared off with the man. He was skilled with a blade and fought tenaciously. In the end, he was brought down by my axe. I knew not the man’s name, yet despite his thieving ways, he still managed to die with honor. I hope that the people will see this as justice served, though I shall take his body to prove the issue has been dealt with in hopes a latent message will spread to any would be future brigands.
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Tirdas 18, 1518
By the time we returned to gather the men we had subdued, the forest had taken them. I am left to ponder why we were not beset upon prior or post. It was not till later that we discovered what befell them. There was little left to properly identify them. Bader and I were forced to secure the body to a make sled and watch it through the night. All manner of hissing calls and various colored eyes of scavengers glare at us from the shadows this night. We grow weary, yet we remain vigilant.
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Tirdas 20, 1518
We made our way out of the dark woods to find our horses minced and stripped of meat. ‘Twas a long walk carrying this body all the way back to town. Upon arrival we were welcomed again as champions. Praise and accolades showered us. I did my best to suppress the situation as I spoke of the displayed honor of the dead rogue. Bader keeps reminding me that it is ok to indulge in a bit of pride and not be so modest. I do what I must. I need not buffing of glory to remind me that what I do is noble. I prefer to look at what is best for others beyond myself, such as the Good Book says. Personal Glory is a form of vanity, and excessive vanity is a sin after all.
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Tirdas 23, 1518
The town proctor was kind enough to refresh our horses as we made our way back to the barony. We were greeted by heavy rain our whole way back. Bader and I watched as two horses ran hurriedly past us dragging a snapped yoke through the muddy road. Bader and I looked at each other and without word we knew something was amiss and hurriedly made our way up the road. The rain had caused part of the road to wash out and took a wagon with it. We saw an elder man and a young woman crying for help as they desperately clung to a tree. We had to move fast. We secured ropes to our saddle horns arced them over a sturdy limb of an oak to keep them free from the passing debris. We leapt out and used the stuck wagon as our waypoint. The water beat against us violently yet my armor and Bader Shield latched to his back buffeted most of the pressure. We used the drift to sweep us to them and secured them to us; I took the elder, Bader the fraulein. With a crack of the ropes and curt whistles the horses pulled us out of the wake, though a bit waterlogged, to be sure, as were we. The two were victims saved and had Bader not been there, I doubt I could have saved them both as the tree they were on soon snapped and was taken by the torrents as we were pulled away. Theus favored us this day.
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Tirdas 24, 1518
The rain has let up, if only to a little drizzle. With the wash still turning before us, Bader and I each took a turn heading opposing directions to find a viable means cross, to no avail. We were fortunate enough to come across the freed horses that managed to escape. Alas, all we could do was wait for the waters to recede enough to continue on our way.
We attempted to remain as dry as possible given the weather and lack of practical cover. Regardless, we made the best of it and share tales. The elder man, Lon, told us he was a simple cobbler and all his tools, materials, and wares were now lost. I sympathized with him for in one fail swoop everything he had was lost to him, save his granddaughter, Tanja who had accompanied him as his apprentice. She too had nothing as her parents had succumbed to illness years earlier. Bader and I spoke later of the issue and I expressed how I felt obligated to do something. Bader jested that I was only expanding my influence on the people, yet he would support whatever I chose to do.
The waters show to be pulling back slowly now. I can hope they are manageable by morning and I will have any better idea ready to aid Lon and Tanja.
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Tirdas 25, 1518
We managed to ford the washout and free Lon’s mud soaked wagon. The water had warped and mangled the frame and wheels, though it was still manageable to travel, if only at a slower pace. Bader and I secured the horses to the broken yoke and rigged it to be operational. I insisted on seeing them through to their destination. I did not want something else to go afoul and leave them stranded once more.
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Tirdas 28, 1518
It has taken a few days to arrive yet we have managed to deliver Lon and Tanja safely to their hometown. Though Bader denies it, I feel Tanja fancies Good Bader and he her, beyond being her “hero” in saving her. She is an attractive fraulein and only four years his junior. I jested with him over the matter to which he tried to shrug off any notions through embarrassment. Ha-Ha!
I deferred my station in my dealings with Lon and Tanja, simply bearing my name. I gave what coin I had to Lon so he could rebuild his life and livelihood. I was content to leave it be, yet it was not until we prepared to head out of town when someone had recognized me and soon the whole town was in a titter. Lon, realizing who I was thanked me profusely, despite my modest attempt to defer.
As we left them in the safety of their townsfolk, Lon left me with the words that “I have never met a man with such truly noble breeding and humble bearing that I should be the one who is Archduke.” I chuckled at the notion and thanked him for his kind words. Despite my modest attempts Bader used the words at my expense to have a jest over the matter.
I admit I am now torn by the words… I cannot think of anyone I know who would have done such acts, let alone the Archduke himself. Though I could be very wrong and hope that I am.
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