Saturday 26 August 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #223: Am-bushy Hills

Ten hexes northwest of Alakran.


"Am-bush" is not just a terrible pun, but solid etymology. Ultimately it comes from the Latin in boscus, referring to an attack conducted from concealment "in a wood," and "bush" likewise derives from boscus. While the travellers of the Road of Flowers speak a different language, the many shrubs and low trees that cling to the highlands to the west give rise to thoughts of danger as they pass this section. There is even a tale about it -- in which bypassers may find themselves a character, if you'll allow it.

A merchant with two armed guards, passing by this spot, was hailed and threatened by two bandits. His men, though, convinced the attackers that a fight would be to their mutual detriment. They then agreed to join the ambush, doubling their numbers, and the greedy merchant assented. The next passer-by was a tough veteran, clinking in bronze. He might have taken on three, if not four assailants, but was instead persuaded likewise to join the gang lying in wait.

The tale goes on for three or four repetitions, each time swelling the numbers of the ambush band with more and more colorfully described personnel, including five members of the Obliterating Fists on furlough. Finally, along comes a stooped, white-bearded, pulling a hand cart laden with goods. The forty or so ambushers leap from their bushes with a terrible yell, and the poor old man drops dead on the spot. But the battle they had all sought to avoid breaks out at last among the would-be bandits, for they cannot agree on a division of the spoils, which turn out to be just bundles of alfalfa. The few survivors limp away in shame, having unleashed such a bloodbath over a month's donkey fodder.

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