I’m no tracker, but you don’t have to be to follow the rut marks of that cart. I was about 1/4 mile behind them when all of a sudden the ruts stopped.

They didn’t turn off, the just stopped, as did all the footprints in the snow.

A ranger is indeed among them I thought as I sped my rescently stolen horse to a trot. No need to go slow now, either I’ll never find them or I’ll run right into them.

About two miles down the road I could have sworn that I heard the creak of a cart wheel, but it could have been the wind. This was not my terrain and the sooner I got back into a town the safer I would feel.

When I’m on the road, I’m dressed as a nobleman. Better to be prey and lure in the predator.

I recalled the day when I first met Bryce. Only he didn’t call himself that at first.

You get wind of petty coups in my line of work. Always a good time to make a few coins. It’s also the ony thing that would drag me as far North as Vestygg. I was on my way out of town as the old Lord was being lead to the stockade.

Then ahead of me, in the trees, a portal opened and something came tumbling out. With just a satchel the boy priest landed in a heap.

When I’m luring in highwaymen, traveling alone is my usual mode, but traveling with a priest has its advantages. He kept to the trees, but stealthy he was not.

I stopped my horse and yelled out, “No need to hide priest. In fact, I could use some prayers.”

Instead of a priest, a sea captain peered around the tree.

“No priest here.” brogued from the captain’s lips.

To a casual hearer, this mimicry would pass muster, but I know what I’m seeing and I know how the Lady’s servants work. You study one side of a coin long enough, you are bound to pick up something about the obverse.

“Oh well then ahoy captain, won’t you walk with me?” I questioned.

Fear can’t be disguised. This boy was out of his depth. He sauntered, or attempted to saunter down the slope and seemed happy to have the company.

We rode and talked, he told me of his ship: The Seaboard. It had a mast, and sails, and beyond that not much detail. And of Vestygg he couldn’t describe much more than what you can see from the chapel near the Market gate.

As the time past he hardly noticed that he no longer looked like the sea captain, but still was affecting the accent.

“You see the sea, she is, a cruel mistress, she is.” he opined.

“As cruel as Tymora?” I barbed. And he took the bait.

“The Lady is not cruel,” he said as he pointed a finger at me. A finger attached to an arm no longer adorned with the fine robe of the sea captain, but of the simple cloak of a priest.

I never heard his whole story, but he did admit to being a novice from Vestygg, it was about then we were robbed, right on schedule.

Looking like easy pickings is actually fairly easy. These were the type that ride along with you for a while to size you up and get you when you aren’t looking. This time it was at dinner that I found myself with a knife to my throat.

I had let it happen, and I was ready to break free when I was blinded by golden flames that burned the hat right off my attacker. He fled into the night, tunic smoldering.

And Bryce had no idea what he had done.

“I, I, just asked the Lady to protect you,” he stammered, “I never meant to hurt anyone!”

“The Lady works in mysterious ways.” I lied. It is true that gods are fickle but my experience is Tymora tends to protect with deception not with fire.

My young friend must be holding some hurt, some anger. Something that makes his prayers have urgency.

I’m currently playing through a campaign DM’d by the indomitable Erik Maxwell. As a writing exercise I’m giving myself 30 minutes to recap our weekly adventures. I’m starting to write a parallel story focused on Thenardier, a Rouge Mastermind.