There’s no way for you to help him now; you’re outmatched in every regard. The best course of action would be to turn back and get some help.
So you do just that. You turn around and rush back to the horses. You untie them from their post and gallop back towards town. When you finally reach the gates, you yell out, “Open the gate!”.
A head pops out from behind the battlements and yells back, “Where’s the stablemaster?”
“He’s been captured! Open the damned gate!”
“Captured!?” The gates then open wide, which allows you to dash your way into the city, narrowly avoiding the townsfolk walking by. You rush into the barracks and report straight to the captain.
“What is it?”
Struggling to catch your breath, you mutter, “He’s…”
“The stablemaster’s been captured. Send for help immediately, I beg of you!”
“Captured?! How did this happen?”
“We were riding outside the city walls, and he wanted to test my skills. We got separated, and he got captured. I found out where they’re keeping him, but I couldn’t rescue him alone.”
“Damn it. You will have five of my finest riders. Go!”
With that, you rush out of the captain’s quarters and straight towards the stable. There, the riders are already waiting. Once you debrief them on the situation, they spring into action and mount up on their horses. You yourself take a fresh horse and lead them out, galloping through the town streets, kicking up dust all over the place with your horses’ hooves.
After you depart the city, you ride straight for the mountain, reaching it in a quarter-hour. All of the riders jump the creek, following you until you reach the spot where the stablemaster was being held.
Nothing. He’s gone.
Your entourage surveys the area, but they cannot find any lead. The camp that was here is now gone without trace, and it seems the stablemaster is lost to the enemy.
Defeated, many of the riders let out a sigh of regret, before forming up and heading back home. One even yells out to you, “Come on, rookie. Let’s go home. You did what you could. Don’t beat yourself up too much — these things happen in our line of work.”
Maybe if you acted in a different manner, you could have saved him. Damn! you think to yourself, before replying, “I’ll join you soon, but I’ll keep on searching for a little while longer.”
“Suit yourself.” The riders then depart for Mach’Cathair, while you remain behind. You traverse the mountain for hours. The whole thing is pointless, but you cannot just give up; you feel as if your guilt will eat you up if you do otherwise. Finally, the sun begins to set, and you decide to end your search and go back to base.
As you’re making your way home, you suddenly hear voices to your left and up ahead. As you get closer, they become more and more audible. You stealthily dismount your horse and tie it to a tree. As you cautiously make your way forward, you realize… You’ve just come upon the enemy’s main camp!
As you peek between the bushes, you notice the stablemaster tied up to a tree, being interrogated by a Nulst man with short, dark hair. From the distance, you’re barely able to make out what is being said.
“…go to Gehel…!”
“Why are… here?”
“To…. the roses!”
“You bas– Don’t you know your baron’s… own people?”
“Do I look like I care?”
A third smack!
“You don’t care that we’ll have to abandon our…?”
“Good! The less of you… the better!”
A fourth and final smack, louder than any of the other three. You can’t bear to watch anymore. There are too many of the bandits around, and you perceive you cannot save the stablemaster now. The only thing you can do is go back and report what you saw.
So, you do just that. You go back to your mount, untie it from the tree, and hurry back from Mach’Cathair as quick canter. You catch up with the other riders a little ways from the town gates.
“I found where they’re keeping him!” you exclaim.
“That’s a sick joke, rookie.”
“No, I’m serious! I found the camp where he’s being held.”
“You fooled us once today, rookie. Don’t test our patience.”
No one believes you. It was like the story about the boy who cried nekru… Perhaps the only thing you could do was trot back to base with your head down.