I awoke to a world of pain, with a knife wound in my side and everything I loved burning in the clearing before me.
As the human doctor tended to my wounds, I feared from the look in his sullen eyes that I was the only survivor, but still I asked,
“What of my wife? What of my daughter? There were seven of us.”
“Five are dead. The girl is gone”, they said. “Taken.”
Bandits have always been a reality in the life of a tradesman. When I was a young boy, I’d always hear tales of neighboring villages and farms being raided or razed, or of merchants who never returned. Always my thoughts were, “It is good that they did not come here. It is good that it was them and not us.”
Maybe it was that sense of safety that was my downfall. I’d heard that banditry was rife this year with the coming festivities, but I thought nothing of it. It seemed like such a faint possibility, and Amtira was only a week’s journey along the main road. There were so many other travelers, and such promise of good business, I didn’t think twice.
When I awoke, tied to a coolia’s saddle, I found that the heroes had dealt with the bandits, whose leader lied headless on the floor of a cave in the forest. My daughter was alive. My goods were recovered. My wife and all of those we met on the way are dead and buried in unmarked graves on the road. I grieve for them.
But looking at my little girl… she’s trying so hard. She laughed today, and was able to help me sell one of my wife’s rugs to a man passing by our stall. I have found other halflings in town who are helping to ease our burden, and I’ve found some kind of grim solace seeing the bandits swinging from the gallows in the town square.
I heard the adventurers who saved us got the bounty. It is certainly well deserved.
I am not sure what I will do. We can wait until summer is done and the bandits have gone and return home. I don’t know if I want to risk it. You said that there may be work in town for someone like me?
The stout halfling across the barroom table grins and gives a quick nod, the signet ring on his finger glints in the light from the sunroof. He takes a swig of thick Aphosian ale and gives a consoling pat on Fargo’s back.
“Yes, Mr. Fargo, our guild always has room for more hands.”