Tales of the Sea Bitch (11)


    The countryside was beautiful.  The land became increasingly hilly, and the mountains loomed ahead of us.  Soon the country became more wild and hilly, with evidence of rockslides and so on.
    It was late afternoon.  Tony was leading us, and realized that we were entering an area that would be perfect for an ambush.  He didn't see any direct threat, but made sure the samurai were alert for trouble.  He pulled his shield off his back and started carrying it at the ready.
    As the caravan came over a crest, there was a very large log lying across the road, obviously deliberately put there.  Tony held his hand up to stop.  He told the samurai to fall back to the wagon.
    The arrows started to fly from both sides.  We all dived for cover.  Most of us went for the wagons, but I went for a rock to the side.  I figured spread out the targets for the archers, and make it harder for them to pick out returning fire.
    The ambush was well set.  The block was placed ahead of the ambush, so that the wagons would be right in place in the middle of their fire.
    Tony, at the front, split out forwards in two groups with his four samurai, aiming to outflank the attackers.  He went left with one samurai, placing his shield between himself and the archers, while three samurai went right.  A hail of arrows fell around him, but he made it to cover.
    Lady Miyara worked her way towards the second wagon, planning to stick her head in and talk to our wizard.
    Once the initial volley had come in, the fire came in scattered shots until we all reached cover.  The shooting then stopped mostly, except at Tony and his groups moving up at the front.  In Nipponese he shouted loudly, "Where's our damned mage?", intending to put off the attackers.
    Phoebe was under a wagon, but not just hiding.  She looked like she was assessing the archer positions.
    Tony and his mate started working their way from cover to cover.  The samurai took an arrow badly, but Tony kept working his way up.  After a pause, the samurai started rushing up too.  Tony rushed on then, not pausing, and it threw off the enemies timing and they didn't take advantage of him in the open.
    I popped up and charged up the hill with rapier drawn, determined to reach the top.  Arrows flew around me, but they fired without spirit or even good aim and they all fell wide.
    Tony kept moving up, still trying to outflank and overlook them.  Soon it was clear that there were a lot of them, in separate ranks.
    "Come on, you landlubbers, let's see you fight like seamen!"  Arrows fell all around me while I ran.  Tony and I would take some of them with us, surely.
    Then Tony yelled "Charge!" and the samurai started running up the hill behind us.  The boy kept dodging the arrows hailing at him.
    A random arrow finally hit me.  I winced at the pain, but kept running.
    Suddenly the archers stopped firing, broke cover, and ran up the hill away from us.  We kept pursuing them.
    "Go on, run from the Sea Bitch!  Shame you can't jump overboard here!"
    I was slowed by the arrow and was not going to catch them if they kept running, but that didn't stop me moving.  Young Tony was faster, and stood a chance at it.
    ((Phoebe took down three of them, so four of the archers were moving much more slowly.))
    Tony charged one of the archers, yelling, "Squad One, back to the wagons!"  He sliced into the man with his katana, hurting him.  Suddenly he yelled, "Donku!  Fire!  Wagons!"  Tony himself kept fighting.
    I was too far away to help with the wagons.  I kept charging, hoping Phoebe was safe.
    ((There's no flames visible to the people outside it, but there is a lot of smoke coming out from inside the wagon.
    Phoebe: Miyara is behind the wagon, unconscious, and several guards around it are unconscious too, as is the merchant driver just inside the front, as is Peter.  In the wagon, the goods are on fire.  While it's not completely engulfed yet, it will get there quickly.  It is full of smoke.  She dived inside to try to find someone to drag out.))
    Tony kept fighting, and landed a heavy blow right as the archer was making a break for it.  He wasn't out yet, but was knocked to the ground by the blow.  Dropping his shield, Tony attacked him.  As the man stood, Tony had drawn his wakizashi as well and laid into him.
    ((The fire started most intense in the center where the chest was.  Phoebe started dragging the people from the inside out the front.
    Donku reached the wagon, unfastened the tailgate, then ran to the front and unhitched it.))
    Tony charged into him all out.  I cheered him on as he ripped at the archer and sliced him open.  The man fell dead.  He called to the other samurai to keep two alive, as he switched his short sword for the wakizashi and ran back down towards the wagons.
    I kept running after the fleeing archers.
    ((Donku prepared to lift the front of the wagon and prepared to dump the contents out the back.
    Phoebe started kicking things out of the way among the burning pile of things in the wagon.  Her spirits protect her pretty well, but she does get burned slightly.  Eventually she reaches where the box would have been, and all that's left is evidence of a very intense fire straight through the bottom of the wagon.  The box was not there anymore.
    Donku lifted the front of the wagon and started dumping stuff out the back.
    Phoebe kept searching for the box.))
    Halfway down the hill, Tony quickly scanned the area and made sure that some of his men were not all going to go rushing down the far side.  They had stopped at the top.  Tony shouted for them to make sure the enemy did not come back.
    I reached the top of the hill with two other guards.  The attackers had fled into the woods on the far side of the hill and were clearly not coming out.  Two more of the attackers had been killed on the way up, and two more were down.  I tended to my wound, then came back down the hill.
    The samurai brought down the bodies and two unconscious archers to the wagons.  No-one on our side was significantly hurt.  The unconscious people of ours were simply unconscious, and they woke up unharmed a little later.
    There was a charred hole through the bottom of the wagon where the chest had been.  The box was missing.
    Our wizard was dead.  He was not burned to death, and there were no obvious wounds on him.
    I wondered if the copied scrolls were used as a spell target so it could be burned without seeing it.
    Phoebe came over to work on my injury.  Her spirits quickly healed me.  She then moved on to Tony.
    Grieg was missing.
    Tony sent four of the samurai to fetch the horses.  Once they were back, Tony took charge and suggested to Lady Miyara that we should move on a mile or so to a safer place.  He and Donku moved the log out of the way.
    The merchants wanted to load up the goods before moving, and we did so.  The wagon was still usable provided the hole was dealt with.
    Phoebe noticed that the stuff that was around the box, on top of it, was still there but charred.  It wasn't completely gone.  It seemed less likely that the box burned up.
    Tony suggested that Lady Miyara and two samurai go back along hte trail to see if Grieg had poited back there.  The Empire brat could only poit to places he'd seen before, so maybe he'd managed to do that.
    They left me in charge.  We loaded the wagons and moved on up the road until we reached a good place to stop.
    ((Lady Miyara's group rode back along the trail about five miles or so.  They found nothing.  By they came back it was starting to get dark.  As they passed through the valley of the ambush, they heard Grieg calling help from the opposite side of the valley from the battle.
    They lit lanterns and carefully made their way up the hill, leaving the two samurai with the horses.
    Grieg was on the ground, badly wounded with an arrow on his back.  He told them that he thought he had been left for dead.  He did not have the chest.  He went to do his attack thing, and was successful a couple of times, but then he was hit by an arrow and went down.
    Tony dealt with his wounds and made him more comfortable.  He and Lady Miyara helped him down the hill, and mounted him on a horse to come carefully to the caravan.))
    By the time they came back, it was dark.  We'd camped for the night.  Phoebe's spirits dealt with Grieg's wounds, which made her somewhat tired but it was easy enough to rest here.
    Tony was sure that these guys seemed to have put peasant clothing over their arms and armor.  His guess is that they were ronin trying to look like bandits.  Lady Miyara agrees, they were very well organized.  They did very little damage on purpose.  Given their numbers and strength, they could have wiped us out, and they did not.
    Now we had to find the scrolls.  We'd need to interview the two prisoners.  We would probably be able to follow them, since there were so many.  On the other hand, they were several hours ahead of us, and there was not time in our schedule to go chasing around after it.  We had to decide what the one right thing to do would be, and do that only.

    (Festival lasts ten days, scrolls awarded at end.  Nevertheless, expected to be there at the beginning.  Getting there late would be better than coming without the scrolls, but still would be bad.  If another clan turned up with the scrolls, it would be bad for us too.
    Lady Miyara needs to weigh the tradeoff.  If she doesn't show up when expected, her father would send out people to try to find her, and find out the scrolls had been lost.  But if she went to her father now, getting there on time, he may freak out (not his style) but he might be willing to cover it up to buy us time to go back out and get them.  That of course would put us several more days behind.)