A Case to Present

The group that travelled along the road from the town of Resurrection towards Bozageest seemed a rather somber and thoughtful lot. It consisted of six men and one woman, each riding in relative comfort upon seven of the finest horses to be found in the Wenigzustand. They were dressed well but not garishly, and the signs of their wealth were hidden well enough to deter would-be bandits. An insightful eye would have noted the exceptional quality of the weaponry they carried and the clothing they wore. Aside from that, though, they appeared as normal as anyone else along this increasingly busy route.

The man in the front of the group seemed to be lost entirely in thought. He was by any account an ugly man. Surely not a judgement to his character, but he would have been viewed as handsome among many orcish societies and in polite human company he would likely be shunned. He wore a heavy golden chain around his neck with a large golden locket. On his right hand was a big golden ring that had a goodly sized chunk of finely polished bloodstone mounted in it. His hands were as rough and weathered as was his curiously misshapen face. A heavy beard and moustache helped to hide the more glaringly objectionable aspects of his countenance, but there was a seriousness in his sharp, steel grey eyes that suggested this was not a man to be trifled with. He was a warrior and an accomplished one at that. A well-used and even better cared-for collection of weapons lay across the saddlebags of his horse, all within easy reach should the ugly man need them.

Beside him rode an older man, clearly human, and bearing the unmistakable air of fine culture and detailed personal grooming. While as somber as the rest of his companions there was a slight smile on his lips, and one might think that it was present regardless of circumstances. He had on fine plate armor that had been shined within an inch of its very existence and on the breastplate was the unmistakable form of a holy symbol carefully mounted and surrounded by intricate etching. He wore a flowing red cape that hung down behind him and across the back of the horse. On his belt he wore a longsword that seemed to be of normal construction and yet gave an aura of something magical, perhaps even supernatural. His proximity to the ugly man indicated that he was important to him in some way and nobody who first looked at the ugly man would ever have had reason to think he would need such a fellow as this to settle a disagreement.

Behind these two men rode the one woman in the group. She sat sidesaddle on her horse, and her armor and modest head covering marked her as a militant nun, perhaps of some smaller order who might venture out with other like-minded adventurers if the cause was just and true. She held the reins of her horse in one hand and rested her other hand on the handle of an artistically crafted footman’s mace that bore several engraved holy symbols. On the back of her horse were two saddlebags and on top of them were several leather-bound packages. From her vantage point she could see both ahead and behind the group as they rode, and she switched her gaze back and forth with an attitude of seriousness that might suggest she was not prone to jests and levity.

Behind her rode a man that must surely have been aware of her disdain for frivolity, and in fact he likely embraced the same ethos. He was heavily armored and his shield that was slung across his back had the same holy symbol emblazoned upon it that the well-groomed man at the front of the group bore on his breastplate. This fellow, though, did not have the same enigmatic smile. Instead, he had a number of nasty looking scars that had been left on his face, doubtless the result of some dreadful combat that this man had survived. As he rode, he read silently to himself from a well-worn volume that any casual observer would identify as a prayer book. Only occasionally did he look up from his reading before continuing on.

Next to this man rode another man dressed in a somewhat flamboyant red and yellow robes. He too was reading to pass the time, but he had an elaborate bookstand mounted on his saddle that held the book in place, leaving his hands free. The size of the tome would have suggested it was a spell book, and the manner in which the pages were being studied by the red and yellow robed man would have proven this beyond any doubt. There was a staff in a leather holster that hung down next to the rider. The staff had enough precious stones imbedded in it and mystical carvings along its length that it could not be mistaken for anything other than a powerful sorcerer’s prized implement.

Behind the two readers rode a man who was much more concerned with his surroundings. The steely gaze of this man indicated that he was tremendously difficult to surprise and the way he carried himself that he would not be easily caught off guard either in this setting or any other. His armor was as well-tended to as his companions’ equipment, but there was more ornamentation on it than on theirs. Still not veering into ostentatiousness it was nevertheless nicely decorated with tasteful bits of precious metal and small gemstones. However, the man’s boots and clothing while of excellent material bore the signs of being put to good use by a fellow who was both active and not afraid to get dirty. In his hand he carried a collapsible spyglass. Like the ugly man in the lead of the group, this rider also had a collection of weapons on the back of his horse within easy reach should the need arise.

Bringing up the rear of the group was a hooded man and who’s horse made almost no sound at all as it walked. This man also kept a sharp eye out at his surroundings, his practiced gaze indicating he fully expected there to be an ambush at most any moment. He carried a crossbow that was locked and loaded, and there were two short bows on the back of his horse along with two quivers of arrows and a quiver of crossbow bolts. His well-worn cloak was a dark green on the outside, and black on the inside. It was likely reversible should the wearer prefer to be cloaked in black, and there was a quality about the garment that suggested it might be extremely effective at aiding the wearer should they wish to vanish into the darkness of night or shadow.

None in the group spoke, so it was somewhat jarring when the older man at the front with the immaculate bearing said softly to the ugly man, “Are you well, sir?”

The ugly man grunted and looked over at the somewhat smiling man riding next to him. “As well as can be expected, I wager.” He looked back at the road ahead and silence ensued for a bit before the ugly man turned his attention back to his friend. “Do you think we will be well received?” he asked.

The somewhat smiling man replied with a slight chuckle, “I wouldn’t think so, sir. But then the Lord shall decide in His own time how this ordeal will play out. All we can do is stay focused on our goal.” He looked at the ugly man and said softly, “Justice, sir. That is the operative word. Vengeance belongs to God, so ours is not to seek revenge. We are here for justice.”

The ugly man grunted again and turned his attention back to the road ahead. In the back of the group the hooded man said to the wary fellow next to him in a whisper nobody else could have heard, “But revenge is easier, my lord. Make no mistake. If they deny us justice, then I say God is givin’ us the go ahead on revenge.”

“Agreed.” the other man whispered back. And as silently as shadows themselves the two men fist-bumped and continued their watchful journey.