They spent a short while recovering from their trek and then arranged to meet Joruus at his warehouse. He gave them an update on what was going down in Tradetown.
"The thing is,” he began, "there’s this Cyclops and it’s raiding the caravans leaving and coming into Tradetown.”
"One Cyclops?” said Zaen, "one Cyclops is causing problems?”
"Well, it’s not on its own, but no one survives to fill in the details. Anyway, there’s a 6000GP reward.”
"That’s ours, then” said Gul. "Where does this Cyclops operate?”
"I’ve not had time to find that out, the reward was only posted recently” said Joruus.
Everyone immediately set to work looking for information. Zaen and Goll, both familiar with the lower elements of society, hit the mean streets of Tradetown.
"You go to the inns and the doss houses,” said Zaen to Goll, "and I’ll try the red light district.”
"Why can’t I go to the red light district?”
"’Cos I thought of it first. Anyway, you’re too young and Brun would never forgive me if I let you go there.”
"Fair do’s” admitted Goll and they split up.
Meanwhile Joruus spoke with his merchant contacts. Firstly he contacted Zindago, but he was of no use, merely repeating the story everyone knew. Next he went to Tradetown’s most successful operator, Reska. He too was short on information, despite losing a substantial amount to the Cyclops marauder.
Goll and Zaen returned to the warehouse. Goll was decidedly unsteady on his feet and it came as no surprise to his comrades that he had found nothing of relevance. He did have an interesting tattoo, however, but good taste dictates that its whereabouts will not be revealed. Zaen came in with a smile on his face but looked a little worn out, despite his athletic stature. He, too, had nothing to report.
Brun suggested they contact the local Draconian guards so they proceeded in an easterly direction until they came to the nearest barracks. Across the road from the barracks they saw half a dozen Draconians waiting at a street vendor’s stall. They were munching on freshly made cakes and drinking a lukewarm herbal infusion.
"Excuse us, constables” Gul greeted the guards in a friendly manner. "We wish to try for the reward on the Cyclops and need information. Would you be in a position to provide it?” He smiled, "allow me to buy you all another cup of whatever that is.”
Gul’s natural charm and bonhomie soon had the Draconians eating out of his hand. Strange lot, these Draconians. They told him that most of the incidents happened on the south road, usually in daylight and north of the river. Armed with this information they set about organising a plan.
It was finally decided that a suitably harmless looking driver should be hired. He would drive Joruus’ wagon and the six adventurers would hide in the back, doing their best to sound like corn sacks and other mercantile goods.
Their first day on the road proved uneventful but on the second day they were met by eight ogres. Hidden under a canvas cover, the bounty hunters prepared to do battle. Zaen cast ‘strength’ on himself and then leapt to the attack. Goll let loose a fireball, killing two ogres and then he, too, leapt from the wagon. Gul followed his two colleagues, sword in hand, and closed with the ogres. Brun blessed the party and then joined in the fight. Joruus cast ‘haste’ on the party and fired a lightning bolt but failed to make a kill. Gorlab jumped from the wagon and ran to the attack.
Zaen took an ogre down as did Gul and Brun. Joruus cast ‘sleep’ and felled two of the raiders. Only Gorlab was without a kill as he was on the left flank away from the main fight. In desperation he was heard to cry "Over here, you elephants.” His prayers were answered as another four ogres appeared near to him. He prepared himself for blood, but five more advanced to the party’s front. This time the Cyclops was with them.
The adventurers watched in disbelief as the Cyclops called a retreat and the ogres melted into the surrounding fields.
Stay tuned for the next exciting episode.
Note: At certain points during the events related in this and the previous narrative both Goll and Gorlab could be heard calling on others to "look at these puppies”.
May we take this opportunity to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Preposterous New Year and all that swaddling.