(1867-09-09) Not In My Woods
Not In My Woods
Summary: After returning to Ironhold, Emilia scouts out to check out a far fetched rumor about bandits. And discovers some truth to it afterall
Date: 1867-09-09
Related: None

And a bunch of bandits NPCed by Clarke

Ironhold Forest - Ironhold - Sunsreach - Rivana

Ironhold Forest - Ironhold - Sunsreach - Rivana
"Stay on the roads in Ironhold!" is a common refrain amongst Rivanans. It's not that the County is particularly dangerous, though. Oh, certainly, there are a few dark legends about the shadowy, thickly forested hills that dominate the province, and every so often a group of bandits tries to take root within, though they are usually chased off or cut down in short order by the fighting men and women the County commands. There are also a good number of natural predators to be found…primarily bears, with wildcats less common but far from unheard of. No, the warning is simply because the forests are so. damned. thick. It would be very easy to get lost within them if you did not have a commanding grasp of the landscape, or at least very good navigation skills.

Fortunately, the roads that criss-cross the County are well-maintained, and the people of the villages that lie along them tend to be polite and pleasant to travelers, so long as said travelers return the courtesy (and if you fought for the Thorn in the Succession War, it's probably best to keep it to yourself). Occasionally patrols of the Iron Guard pass along the main thoroughfares (and even some of the side roads) or small groups of Ironhold's famed Huntresses might be met along the way, as well, but while the northwestern portion of the County does rise into the steep hills (mountains, really) that mark the iron mines from which the province derives its' name (as well as the mining outpost of Metalmire), and the newly granted western portion of the County boasts the bustling trading post of Rivergate, all roads really do seem to point to Iron March, the seat of the Cassomir family.


Few things walked for long in the woods of Ironhold. Few things survive off the beaten path of the woods. On this dark night in the fall, one of those pathways through the forest was being broken. Off a ways then from the area. The sound of quiet hammering, sawing, and stomping going through the air off the ways then in the darkness of the dim light.
In this case, some bandits that had taken it upon themselves to think that the stories were just that.
STories. Ironhold was too popular a series of roads with relatively few interceptors to otherwise want to miss out on such potential plunder. So a bandit group, with members who did not live in the territory, had moved into it. For the last few nights, they had been off the beaten paths, working on quickly building up a small harbor, a haven for themselves from which to operate within. Concealed huts, small fortifications of the men building in the forest.
And for the Huntress, for whom the woods had perhaps even whispered to their presence..
Tonight was one for hunting.

The stories, the tales…the common refrains about keeping to the roads in Ironhold were enough to keep most to just that..the roads. It was perhaps not as bad as some tales went, the bards were creative. But there were plenty of animals that would prey upon the lost. And there were worst things hidden within the deep of the woods. So it was when there was whispers that some bandits were so brazen as to not only camp in the woods but seek to /build/ a headquartrs of some kind, it was laughable. Surely a joke being played. But even still, such whispers and reports, however remote and implausible had to be checked out.

Thus Emilia had set out to hunt out the truth or not to the hint of a rumor. With so much upon her mind, and the likely hood of such a truth being..true..She had set out alone, seeking more to clear her mind and have time alone within the woods then expecting to actually come across anything. Perhaps a pass by a place were no sane person went. But it seemed not to be..for as she moved through the woods, silent and unseen as the very shadows…she heard that hammering. A fleeting twitch of her lips before she eased in closer to take stock of just what was being done. And how many were so foolish.

With every passing generation, there were those who thought that stories were just that. Stories. Things passed down to terrify children. Those from outside of the region whom thought that tales were just that. Tales. And tales made for quite good cover after all for their own actions. Because, if the patrolling soldiers would onlystay on the road they could operate over with almost unchecked freedom.

And as the Huntress slipped her way through the woods, they would slowly open for her. Giving light hints of what was ahead. Speaking. Guiding. Showing. Things that to others would be oblivious were gently gifted in small cusps of knowledge. About fifteen or so of them, a small group. Three or four were at the main camp, sitting around a fire in the late evening cooking some food. Another four or five working on building some huts, going to line the huts over with things from the forest to better hide them. The rest slowly patrolling along the area in a circle, making sure no one was coming in two grous of three going along about a kilometer or so away from the camp each in a slow transit.

The sounds of chatter around the campfire were quiet from the men eating. Depending on how close she got or what she looked, she would see a few scars. Not many. The men's clothes were leather, rough hewn, made from animal skins and discarded. They might have some experience but were not veterans. Just those who preyed on the weak and helpless.

The woods had been her playground and later her training ground, she was a Cassomir. A Huntress, she had hunted these woods, been hunted. It was her responsiblity to keep them safe, see their people protected. A faint breath was let out after she had scounted around the camp, easily slipping past the shodding patrols. Numbers were noted, as were the signs this was not to be some makeshift camp. They were not only foolish but so bold to think the Huntresses would not find them. In. Their. Woods. The Huntresses had earned their reputation well.

A perch was found, within shadows and the trees she knew. Her bow set to her hands, as foolish as they were…she was prepared for them to be ever more foolish. But warning had to be given. They were not criminals until they made themselves into be. She had chosen her place well, when her voice came the wind carried it and shifted it around, it would have taken a try huntsman and expert to pinpoint her,"You are of tresspassing upon the lands of Ironhold and are ordered to remove of yourself from this illegal encampment or face of the consequences."

It's effective - about half the group is spread out, most of the men don't have thier weapons immediately on them, and otherwise they're caught at night then with only the light of the fire to guide as several of them rise up. The apparent leader of the grou pof bandits lets out a curse, "You /said/ they wouldn't bother looking in the forest." Glaring at another man, a gnarled look on his face and a threadbare streaked white beard with some grey and a receding hairline, his second probably.

"Arm yourselves. Make sure that none of them get back to report and then we move." The men that had been working would scatter, going to grab weapons as were the ones at the campfire, going to try and quickly grab for the weapons set down near them (a mix of poorly forged blades and small bows of low quality) as the sounds off in the distance of the patrols hearing the commotion and starting to head back could be heard. But in the darkness and heavy undergrowth of the forest that did -not- welcome them, it would take them several moments to get back, and they would be harried and discombobulated.

And they were not expert huntsmen, assuming she did not start to pick them off quickly or engage otherwise, the men would start to try and form a quick perimeter, trying to duck low around and use what cover there was then and lean low and against things to try and spot her. "Find them you louts, we don't have all night!" The leader ducking back towards one of the half finished huts then. Foreigners of the woods. Unwelcome. Going to be dealt with.

An arrow was notched as Emilia heard the curse, they were truly stupid. Or beyond over confident. "These are our of forests, we live and breath within them. Nothing happens within them that we do not know." Her voice again carried by the wind. A counter to his curse.

The call to arms had that arrow being released, and ending up in one of those hands that dares to seek a weapon. Another arrow is fired in rapid succession, one a warning shot wings past the ear of the leader before a third is appearing in the hand of one of the others just as his hand touches his bow. But then Emilia is shifting and moving, the arrows could be traced back, giving them a location. If they were smart about it. Minor injuries, warnings in a fashion so far. "Continue of this path and you are of right, you won't have of all night." A shadow moving amongst the trees, the shadows themsleves. Already gone from where she was, on to another place as she kept an eye, an eye upon the men. The stupid, stupid men. Another arrow notched.

One of the men was reaching over for a blade at the campfire. The second of the bandits, letting out a howl as the arrow pierced through. The shot aimed past the ear of hte leader had him yelping, it taking off a small chunk of his lobe. The third grazes along hte wrist of the third man reaching over for a bow as he takes a stumble back, yelping in pain and falling over into the not quite smoldering fire, letting out cries of pain then.

One of theother men that had been working on the huts went to yelp, "Ambush! There's a party of them!" Huntresses, assuming. And that they bandits were the prey.

The leader called out, "Of course you lugnuts! They'll pick us off one by one if we run and ifthey catch any of you they'll give you teh noose! We take them out and then setup somewhere else!" Dumb, dumb men. Vain enough to think that they were above the forest. STupid tonot show proper respect. They had been warned.

Unable in the dimlight of darkness and the trees almost seeming to add to the shadow as the half of them stumbled and scrambled around the small encampment they had been making, cursing as the one whom had fallen into the fire was howling and trying to putit out on his body. The sounds of hte runners coming back, tripping up and tumbling as the forest almost /seemed/ to slow them. Trippin over roots, vines catching them, unsteady ground giving way. Sounds of pain as ankles twisted, knees gave out as they tried to run blindly through the forest.

The Voices howled within her head, seeking to end the stupid men who dared think they could take her out. Emilia took a breath and pushed Them back. But she did agree, the men were stupid. They would pay for that stupidity. That next arrow was no longer in warning as it pierced the chest of one of the now armed men. Several more arrows following, doing just as the leader said would happen…they were being picked off now.

Had they thought that the skills of the Hunstresses were just legend as well? What did the fools think of the northern Wraths? Already on the move again after the series of shots had been fired. Not giving them time to pin point her, and to feed that thought that there were others with her. Fear would be her aid. Fingers took up another arrow as she moved, counting the number left against the number of men. Each would have to count, but she would be short…unless any of them wisened up in the end. She did not have faith in that. Another arrow was fired, coming out of the dark of the forest into the camp and finding it's target.

Down by down the men went. One, then another. THe shadows seeming to lash out at each of them in turn as Emilia sniped them one by one. One held up over with hisankles stuck in the mud wiht an arrowto the throat. Another of the men that had been hammering going to try dive for the cover of the huts shot through the neck. The man in the midst of the fire shot through the heart and silenced. One of the patrolling men whom had been flailing forwards and tumbling in the dirt picked off.

One of the remaining patrollers,let out a panicking yell, "They're everywhere! There must be a whole platoon of them!" So silly, to think they were important enough to rate so many. Throwing down his weapons, trying to run headlong out to the forest then, away from the Huntresses. The forest would likely deal with himin it's own way if the Huntress and her Wrath did not.

Down to about half a dozen of them. Four at the encampment, including the injured leader, two more running from the opposite side on patrol. The remainder of them throwing everything fro thecamp, the leader shouting, "Come out and face us! Don't stick to the shadows! Give us a fair fight DAMMIT!" Trying to put on a brave face. LIke bandits whom preyed on the weak cared about fair fights as they hurled invective and anything at hand through the woods.

Others might have smiled to hear such a proclaimation, for an enemy to think that just a single person was so many. But there was not even a twitch of Emilia's lips as her dark eyes followed the movements of the remaining men. A bare flick of her eyes after the man who had discarded his weapons and turned to run deeper into the woods. He was allowed his retreat, to flee. He would get lostin the forest, prey to one of the animals…Or if he was lucky, he would grow wiser from this encounter and seek a new…trade.

Another arrow was notched and released, taking out one of the two men running in to the camp from the opposite side. Another arrow soon followed to take out his partner. Down to four now. But only two arrows left. One of the men furtherest out from the leader became it's target.

One arrow left. Three men. And such a challenge laid out by the leader. Out of the shadows, from the branch she had been perched, Emilia lept from the tree. Landing smoothly on her feet, that last arrow notched, her bow half drawn. Her Huntress leathers distinctive, but to their eyes likely only a young woman in leathers. "Would you have done of the same for me? A fair of fight? No, I think of not. " Foolish and unknowing as they are, they are not likely to recognize the indenty of the woman before them. Especially to think so little of Huntresses to invade the woods of Ironhold.

The men drop, one by one then over as Emilia picks them off silently. Well for herself. The men scream until the arrows take them to the next realm, and they pass on with but a gurgle then.

The leader of the men went to spring up, his hand hanging uselessly by his side thanks to the arrow she had shot through it. "Where're the rest of you?" Not knowing whos he was. NOne of them seemed to have an inkling then over as the remaining pair went to try and clamber for weapons. One grabbing a blunt club - improvised, one of the heavy bits of wood that they had been going to use for building. The other going for an axe that had been used for chopping earlier.

The third, the leader, going to use his off-hand to grab for a sword which was held badly in his offhand. "No, but we only take which can be spared. A little toll and we're on our way. The excess that those who have a bit much are free togive out and be generous where otherwise it would all be kept for themselves. WE just want a bit of sharing." The three men went to separate - the leader trying to stay in the rough coverage of the remainder of the camp, the other two going to try and slowly flanka round her, trying (badly) to use what bits of cover there was in the forest to try and not give her a clear shot from range with the bow whileshe seemed to (to them) Focuson the leader.

A few were sent instantly to that next plain, Emilia's shots hitting home perfectly into the heart. Or least more quickly than the others. "I am the rest of me," answers Emilia to the leader's challenging question. Her face emotionless and stoic as ever. Her dark eyes never leaving him, yet seeing the other two as they grab for weapons. "I warned of you. You are tresspassers and criminals."

As the men move to flank her, the bow is brought up the rest of the way in a blink of the eye and the man with the blunt weapon is brought low. Her bow is gone from her hands and replaces by knives, one of which is set to fly at the man with the axe. While Emilia herself leeps towards the leader,"Banditry and theivery does not go un-of-punished in of Ironhold. Nor does threatening and trying to of kill a Cassomir."

The man that is charging over at her from the flank then is caught over in the heart then. But wiht a silent gurgle he falls down to the ground, slumping then to it as he went to fall then and went headfirst over into the dirt then, blood pooling outfrom the clean shot then.

The man with the axe was charging over at her, stumbling through the darkness then and his own terror and shrubs of the forest making him stumble even at a fast run and his alreadydislocated ankle. The slung blade caught him cleanly in one eye, piercing through and hitting hisbrain then through the eye socket and optic nerve as he took a tumble on down and laystill.

The leader let out a squawk as he saw his men cut down, just holding up the wood that was his club as he let out a silent wail, "I.. I wouldn't have had Iknown you were a Cassomir! We just intended to take our share of whatever was passing throughand.." Pleading as she went to leap towards him, trying to awkwardly swing the wood in an arc to tryand block her in his offhand.

Her arm swings to knock the awkwardly swung and held piece of wood away. Her knife coming at him, yet it is her other hand that comes in to land a solid and rather powerful punch to his face. A powper to it that is unthinkable to one her size. All as she hits him and sends him over, flat to his back. "You knew it was of our land. Ironhold. Ours to watch over, yet you sought to steal fromm our people. To kill of me when of challenged. You earn you fair of share, you do not steal of it." Another punch landed to his face, before he would feel her blade at his neck. "For that you will see of justice. Or do you not of yield."

She casually knocks it away as he flails wihtthe club. He's disarmed. HE's terrified. He's already seent his Huntress cut down all of his men casually and assumes there are others wiht herin the forest. Heknows there is no escape for him. His hands drop to hissides then ashe lets out a whimper, "I.. I yield to your mercy." There will be but for him likely but the noose in the end, but a mad leap of faith to hoping that mercy is given is better than helplessly being cut down here in the woods.

The knife eases up on his throat when he does yield, Emilia swiftly to her feet in the after. A leather boot to his side to encourage along with the woods,"To your of feet." As he lingers, there is another kick incoming. But no others, his arms are quickly yanked back and tied, not mindful to his injuries. He had ordered her killed! She'd had enough of that lately. Planning and plotting to kill her. He would soon enough discover that there were no others, it was just her. Just one little 'girl' who had put end to his little bandit gang. One Huntress. Putting truth to those tales and the reputation of the elite women scouts he and his men had scoffed at. There was reason bandits were not long to last in the forests of Ironhold.

Marched back through the forest to Roseguard and put to a cell to be dealt justice. As some of the regulat scouts and huntsmen were disbatched to return the makeshift camp to see to the bodies and the camp itself. Some notation about the wayward bandit that had fled into the woods, should they come across him.

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