Sturmik strode purposefully into the Great Tower, as the Warden of Iron Keep, the sentries simply nodded and knew to get out of his way.
“Where is he?” the Tiefling demanded on the way past.
“On the roof, sir.” one of the sentries acknowledged.
Sturmik smiled to himself. Order. Good. He liked that. He didn’t care if the sentries respected or feared him. Perhaps a bit of both, but either way it maintained discipline. Something that some of the patrols seemed to have forgotten.
Making his way up through the Great Tower, he found Nazin Redthorn looking north over the battlements. A huge man, Redthorn was an intimidating form with or without his armour. While his red hair was obvious, he kept it extremely short.
“Sturmik.” he nodded, What do you have for me?”
“Mixed news.” he said grimly. The tiefling saw Redthorn’s jaw tighten up, yet he was one of the few people that didn’t fear provoking the Captain’s temper. Instead, he admired his sense of control.
“It seems that the Daggerburg Goblins are making more demands. Apparently several of their patrols were ambushed, and they’ve lost their foothold north of the White River.”
“Hm…” Redthorn thought for a moment. “A setback, but fixable. What else?”
“We’ve lost another patrol.” Sturmik replied matter-of-factly.
Despite the Captain’s well known discipline, Sturmik could feel Redthorn’s rage beginning to seethe.
“Another? How many does this make now?”
“Four since we occupied Harkenwold. Two within the past week. Plus…”
“Plus what?” Redthorn interrupted.
“Plus three supply caravans near Easthill were ambushed.” Sturmik answered.
“Okay. I need more information Sturmik. What do we know of the ambushes?”
“Bandit raids, it appears. Several of our men were wounded, two killed I believe, but our supply losses were minimal. I have a report from the soldiers.”
“I should like to see it Sturmik. What of the missing patrols?” he queried.
“Until this morning, I had no leads.” the Tiefling replied, “Late last week, one of our patrols north of the White River simply did not return from a toll run.”
“I know about that one. What about this latest one?” Redthorn rubbed his head trying to think his way through the problem.”
“I spoke with one of our informants, who was able to provide me with some second-hand details.”
“Second hand details?” he grumbled. “We’re going to need more than that Sturmik.”
“It’s what we have, sir. Our informant wasn’t there when the incident happened. It appears that one of our returning patrols had stopped in Albridge, and had some sort of altercation with a group in the Mallard Inn.”
“An altercation? What sort of group? A patrol that doesn’t return is not an altercation.”
“It appears that there’s a small band of independent mercenaries out there, sir. The people of Albridge regard them as heroes, because they stood up to our patrol, and put out the fires that resulted from the fight. I don’t have much more information than that.”
Redthorn paused. His face moved between concern and barely contained rage.
“Up until now, we’ve had this under control.” he began, “This is now beginning to be a problem, Sturmik. I want those so-called ‘heroes’ found. I want them to go away. Do you understand? If necessary, we’ll make an example of them, and show these people what happens when they cross the Iron Circle.”
“If the people of Harkenwold find someone or something to rally around, it will make our next steps difficult. Vhennyk and the others will not be pleased.”
Sturmik swallowed hard, suddenly finding his mouth going dry. He nodded, rubbing his right horn nervously, but remained quiet as Redthorn continued.
“We may need to set another example to keep the Harkenwolders in line. Put the troops on standby. Also, see to it that we provide another bribe for the Daggerburg Goblins. They may be unreliable, but they are useful in keeping the residents off-balance.”
“Yes, sir.” Sturmik saluted.
“Is there anything else?” the Captain asked.
“Kaltis reports progress. The rest of our Adepts should have regular access soon.” Sturmik smiled.
“At least there’s some good news.” Redthorn replied. “I was impressed with what she did with Marl.”
Turning on his heel, Sturmik turned and headed back down the stairs. They had some work to do.