The night had brought little sleep. Hands and feet bound there was little ability to situate comfortably. Rustiver looked over at his captors, most tending to camp and beginning to bed down for the night.
Slavers by trade, they had surprised and ambushed him as he traveled along the path west of Mhavo. When pressed, with punches and kicks, Rustiver gave them a false name and their greed delayed further questions. The price they’d get for a strong slave was sufficient enough that they would let him live but his book, sword, and flask were confiscated.
Traveling south, he walked bound and tethered to a specific captor. The bandits would trade off shifts of supervising and cursing at him. He said very little back to their insults but their incessant jeering had begun to wear on him by the end of the third day. Feet aching he slumped next to a fallen log and tried to get some sleep before attempting his escape.
An explosion of yelling and activity roused him from his slumber. Groggily he looked over to the source of the commotion. The camp had emptied of the bandits who were collected around a hulking body some distance off. Glinting steel swung and flew in the air and Rustiver immediately began to search for his gear.
Scooting and inching, he checked a pile of cloth and burlap but found nothing. A scream, a whimper, and steel falling to the ground redirected his attention to the melee. Considerably less bodies were left standing and a frightened bandit surged past him. Rustiver shrunk himself into a ball and muted his breathing.
The hulking man stomped after the fleeing bandit and Rustiver caught sight of the gigantic sword he carried. The former adjudicator hastily fumbled with his bindings.
Finally the bonds gave and Rustiver heard the familiar sound of a blade puncturing flesh. Looking up he saw approaching him was the lone combatant, walking slow and purposefully. Having emptied the camp of bandits the man now looked at Rustiver and likely considered him apart of the ruffians.
“How’s your night going?” Rustiver asked, narrowly dodging the response.
Again the blade came around. He moved but was sure it wasn’t enough, he closed his eyes and waited for the contact that never came. Quickly realizing his luck he dove away from the man and toward a nearby body. Hoping for a sword, or shield, or anything to defend himself he reached the corpse and frantically searched.
The flambard impacted onto the corpse just as Rustiver’s hands gripped hilt. He pulled hard as he rolled out and immediately rose up to a knee. Extending his weapon, an unusually short dagger, he looked the warrior in the eyes.
The man laughed. Rustiver pursed his lips and waited a moment. The delight took hold of the savage warrior and he relaxed. Rustiver stood calmly but kept his gaze on him.
“Slavers,” Rustiver nodded to the bodies scattered around.
“I know,” the response came.
“They ambushed me on the road and took everything.”
No answer returned.
“You certainly did me a favor, cleaning up the camp as you did.” Rustiver thought he saw a sign of pride or possibly amusement peak through the man’s serious countenance. “Seems we have mutual feelings towards bandits. Two is better odds than one, I’m Rustiver.”
“Jerold,” the man returned and, bored of the conversation, began to eye the camp.
“If you see a big tome on a chain, let me know. It’s,” Rustiver paused. “It’s important to me.”