The Whisperer in Darkness
The canopies above the market stalls stopped fluttering, made taut by the feet of five figures in white robes. Standing above the crowd, the bandits issued a number of threatening demands. Everyone was to stop moving. Upon their command, wallets and pess purses were to be removed and dropped. The city guards were elsewhere. Anyone who made a move would die. Silence washed over the milling shoppers and merchants as all present looked up in either disgust or fear.
How would Wistark and his companions react to this threat? The members of this new party were divided by layers upon layers of suspicion and distrust. Wistark was suspicious of Norman. Norman was suspicious of Ignatious. Ignatious was suspicious of Wistark. Grimlock was unfathomable to all concerned. Yet the possibilities of their alliance shone forth for the first time as all four acted in unison.
Grimlock leapt forward and smote a canopy-supporting beam with his axe, sending two thieves tumbling into Moor’s waiting blade. Norman leapt onto a stall and attempted to uppercut one of the figures through the canopy’s thin fabric. Wistark waited until the attempted robbers converged on Grimlock, then sent them flying with a sudden pulse of electricity. In a confident voice he told the frozen crowds that they were not going to be robbed and that they should leave the vicinity immediately. The shoppers fled. The group were united!
But so were the bandits. All were lithe and nimble, able to catapult themselves around the market battlefield. Working together, they aimed to take down the group one at a time starting with the biggest threat – the gigantic dragonborn. Grimlock was surrounded on all sides by a circle of swords from which he could not escape, and began to make mistakes in his attempts to break free that the robed figures rewarded with rapier cuts. Out of the blue, Ignatious egged the dragonborn on with a rallying cry. Norman joined in, and soon any hope of overpowering Grimlock with numbers was overrun by this supportive, co-operative effort.
After being scattered by arcane thunder for the third time, the thieves were forced to duel different targets. One made for Wistark and parried his clumsy staff attack with a knife slash against his leather armour. He then struck at Shizbitts again, but a second staff lunge knocked him off balance before the blade touched flesh. A second thief somersaulted behind Wistark and tried to shank him in the back, but the wary wizard also deflected this blow. No sorcerer can duel two close range opponents for long, but fortunately Norman came to the rescue and knocked out one foe with the flat side of his halberd.
The remaining bandits drove the pair into a confined space with Grimlock and Ignatious, who had also spent this time fighting as a pair. Funnily enough, they were battling right in front of the parrot stall, and Grimlock’s attention was drawn to the red macaw even in the present chaos. Wistark stepped behind the brawny cover of his comrades and cast a thunderwave that electrocuted one enemy to the point where he fell to the ground defeated. In front of him Ignatious formed an impenetrable barrier with Grimlock and Norman – making clear a natural ability to lead.
The bandits, now tiring and wounded, had no chance against the solid mass with which they were now presented. Victory assured, Wistark ordered the three comrades not to kill their targets. Between this leadership and that of Moor, even Grimlock resisted the urge, and the dragonborn bludgeoned the last thief to the floor with the non-fatal end of his greataxe. The battle ended with no casualties. Wistark and Ignatious tied up the oblivious bandits as Norman sought out the city guard. Just before the crowds returned and began to applaud, Grimlock took advantage of the deserted marketplace to stuff a red parrot into the head of his werewolf skin cloak.