My day began as every other; I went to check the traps. It had been a fairly successful day. I caught some squirrels and even a scrawny rabbit. I couldn’t believe that new snare worked! I could even gather some herbs for cooking. That was going to be a good night.
That was until I came near the end of my trap line. I wandered out into the open, crouched low as always – that much had become habit. And there it was, a trail full of bodies. I could tell some were still alive, little wisps of vapor rose from their mouths. The looters didn’t seem to notice this though. People always made me nervous, but these were soldiers. There even more weapons than armor on the ground!
It would be easy to just leave them to their fate – likely a slit throat. Waking them was a frightening thought. What would they do to me out here in the mountains with no eyes to judge them, and no consequences? If I woke just one I wouldn’t feel so guilty. Guilt is a weakness though, so I left them. However they got here couldn’t be good, and they probably deserved whatever they got, and I didn’t need to get involved anyway… I was careful to be even quieter as I left them to the looter’s knives. And then there was another living one lying in the snow away from all the others. This one I could save, but what if he hurt me?
He was surrounded by bodies, two seemed to be his friends; they wore the same insignia. Guilt won this time. It took a big shake but finally his eyelids fluttered and opened. I warned him to be quiet with a finger, and he was. I backed up so he couldn’t reach me and pointed to his danger. There my job was done, I could leave and not feel bad. But then he did something very stupid. So stupid. He pushed me behind him and raised his bow to fight back! This day had started so well.
The looters had just begun to kill one of the living people when he put an arrow through the attacker. The other looter ran away when the body he was looting stood up and he found himself facing an archer and a swordsman. I really hoped I wasn’t seen… Please, please I couldn’t have been seen…
The two living (now walking around) bodies met each other down the hill and started seeing if any more were still alive. On second thought this might not have been so bad after all. I did just save them, maybe they could give me food as a reward. I’ll just wait here and see what they do.
They took a very long time arming themselves and separating the dead from the mostly dead. They all looked very cold. But then they got together and began talking, the man I woke up pointed at me and they both looked at me. I knew it! I should have left them. Why was I so stupid? Why did he fight back? Stupid! I left as quickly as I could, stumbled over a rock and dropped my dinner. I couldn’t go back for it; they’d surely get me. Tonight wasn’t going to be good at all.
The next day started very differently. I’m going to follow them. They have to hunt, and they’re so stupid they’ll probably try kill something way to big and just wound it. Then I’ll have an easy time. They’ll never even know I was there.
They seemed to get everyone conscious – miraculous – and were traveling south. Good, there is good hunting south. I followed them for two whole days eating berries and eggs when I found them. So far they’d only killed small things. They were a curious bunch and I must have been staring too long because he snuck up on me from know where. I knew that other looter saw me! And stupid me I let out a shriek when he grabbed me. It let me get away, but the others heard to. I’m fast, but his legs were longer and he had me after just a few steps. He also had a knife and smelled like sweat and rotting meat.
Why couldn’t anyone just leave me alone? Why did I interfere? Now I’m going to die for my trouble, but the scariest part is what he might do to me before he cuts my neck. He dragged me by the hair into the camp of mostly dead people. I could feel it being torn out by the roots; it hurt so much. The others raised weapons and he pressed the knife to my neck. I tried to kick and punch, but he was so big. He didn’t even notice. And then the strange one looked at the looter with so much hatred I was suddenly more afraid of him than my captor. The man with the knife felt it too. He started to tremble and pushed the blade further into my skin. It would be over soon…
But then the strange looking one ran up and near cut the man in two! And then he was right there over me, curved blade waving, but all I saw were the eyes he used to disarm the man who had overpowered me. They still scared me more then the knife. He was talking and moving away, but all I saw were eyes.
After some time, I thought they didn’t mean to hurt me, or at least they hadn’t yet. And, as it turned out, they saved me from the looter. They were camped in a very dangerous spot – the wolves would be chewing on them by morning. And there it was again, guilt. I hate guilt. I brought them back to one of my camps – they did give me some food, which was good.
The next morning they left – out of the mountains and to the cities where they belonged. They’ll probably stop being mostly dead and finish the job in a few days. But I did what I could; now they’ll have to fend for themselves. Always avoid people – no good comes of it. Hopefully it will be another few months before I have to worry about any decisions like that again.
(and for Alex…
after leaving the mountains the party gets price gauged to sleep on a floor, accused of having the plague, avoids a plague infested town, gets attacked by plague infested dogs, bitten by plague infested dogs, and is now wondering if this has become a plague infested party…)