10th day, 1st ride, April, 1372 DR
Having been sent out on patrol in the Border Forest again looking for Zhentarim, it strikes me that either we have heavily underestimated the amount of Zhents lurking in those woods, or Beshaba, Lady of Misfortune has simply dealt us a really bad hand. This is has been the third or fourth camp of Zhents we’ve encoutered in these woods. The camp counted maybe eight Zhentarim thugs and a mage supervising them. They were halfway through completing another landing platform in the branches of a tall tree, probably allowing Zandos to land his mount there so he can resupply the various groups in the forest.
After much bickering back and forth over the plan we settled on the simplest one; we’d concentrate our ranged attack on the mage in order to drop him as quickly as possible, while Thorim and I would keep the thugs from attacking the rest of the group, giving them enough time to take out the mage. Unfortunately, when the battle finally commenced, we didn’t get the mage down quick enough and he managed to unleash his unchecked arcana in the form of a large, fiery explosion. Many of us managed to jump out of harms way, but my bum leg didn’t allow for such nimbleness. For an instant, my world exploded with the fury of a thousand suns and my exposed skin blistered and cracked. The fire ignited all the air around me and sucked it out of my lungs and only through the grace of Abaddon did I manage to remain standing long enough for the fire to die down and the cool, forest air to tickle my tender skin once again. This Zhent mage had laid waste to half his own troops as well as myself, but I was still standing but he went down soon after.
Rounding up the rest of his crew was a piece of piss after that.
For the longest time after the fight, while I was nursing my wounds a discussion was raging about what to do next. Roland was strongly in favour of setting an ambush for Zandos by trapping the landing platform and engaging the mage when he’d arrive. While I saw the reasoning behind the plan, I had a hard time justifying it in the face of the bad odds we were facing. Abel didn’t want to and I felt hesitation coming from Thorim as well as Ebon. We thought we needed more information and there was some accusations about why we didn’t leave some of the Zhents alive for interrogation. I entertained the option of asking Abaddon to allow me the possibility to commune with the dead, to get answers to the many questions we had but the mere thought of dealing with the non-living made me deeply uneasy.
Bodies were looted and I managed to obtain a fairly well fitting half plate armour set. Some documents were obtained from the corpse of the mage, but unfortunately they only held arcane formulae and no trace of any Zhent troop movements, tactics or strategies. Some other items and baubels were pilfered but it all went too fast for me to notice what it was.
The platform was sabotaged and we left the rest. We’re planning to travel further north before heading west towards the Desertmouth Mountains.