"That is true Neradin" Acaeb said. " There are far more things in the north to fear than just barbarianswould make one less thing to fear in the north. Unlike the halfling," he said with a glance at me, "I have not fought a dragon. But I can say I'd rather not fight a dragon whilst holding off a barbarian horde."
Kaer nodded, "Exactly. If they listen to strength... I'm sure anyone of us could provide a display. And if you think about it, either way we'll be getting a fight. We can either fight the dragons with the barbarians, or fight the barbarians and the dragons."
I listened to the debate while twirling one of my daggers. I hated deliberation. You arrived at the same decisions as a spur of the moment thinker except you A: took more time, B: made the decision too late to do any good, C: Were forced into making said decision because of problems which arose from not making the decision sooner.
I stood. "Let's find these barbarians. Like Kaer said, we're going to get a fight either way. This one will be on our own terms. If it comes to a fight with this rabble we'll win. I see no reason for more discussion."
"I think the halfling's eyes for battle may be bigger than his stomach" Sigurd said with a laugh.
I glared "Whether they are or not, I'm quite sure that neither are bigger than your mouth Elf. I'm starting to wonder if I liked you better unconscious."
He turned away to hide a laugh. I spread my hands "So are we settled? Yes? Wonderful. Let's go."
We set out. At our pace we covered ground quickly. It was no more than a few days before we saw the smoke of a barbarian camp in the distance.
"Should we elect a spokesperson?" Neradin asked. "As much as I'd like a good fight I'm not suicidal. We need to make sure the dwarves keep their mouths shut."
Acaeb nodded. "I believe the Half-elf should be the negotiator. He a has a good head for diplomacy and this was his idea in the first place."
No one had any objections so Kaer Fore took the lead and soon we walking through the gates.
Not long after that we were surrounded by multiple pointy objects.
A man broke through the circle of bodies entrapping us. "Who are you? What need have you for coming here? Do you search for death?"
"Yes! Do you know where we might fi-"
"NO. We do not." kaer fore said cutting off the dwarves before they could do much damage. "To whom do I have the honor of addressing?"
"I am Chief Lo-Aktha. A member of the council that governs this tribe."
"And where are the others? I would not want to disclude them from our negotiations."
"Negotiations? What negotiations do you speak of? You will not live long enough for negotiations."
Indecision played on Kaer Fore's face but he overcame it and stepped forward loosening his bow from his back.
"If that is the case Chieftan then I must warn you. You will lose many men before we are extinguished."
Being cautious is good in some situations. In this one... it wasn't getting us where we needed to go. It's true we hadn't gotten killed yet but... if the barbarians respected strength... caution was weakness in their eyes.
"Negotiation takes place between equals. Do you presume to claim equality with us? A fragile elf, an old wizard, two reckless dwarves, a mere man, a puny halfling, and you half-elf?"
I couldn't have heard that right.
Kaer opened his mouth to respond, but I stepped in, allowing my anger to shape my words.
"With all due respect Chieftan, this party has faced more danger in the past fortnight, than you and your town have faced collectively. We have prevented numerous attacks on innocent cities, destroyed several orc leaders, and wiped out entire battalions of darkspawn. Not to mention three of our group have defeated a dragon, and we have overthrown the wizard Merlin. You are incorrect. We do not presume to be your equals. We presume to be your betters."
The chief stared. He was trying to mask his awe with disbelief. His followers were a mix of those who were frightened, those who respected us, and those who didn't believe a word we said.
"If you truly... truly... have accomplished these acts... we will allow you to prove yourselves. You will face the council in battle. You will subdue us or you will die."
Kaer spoke up again. "How many are you?"
Neradin snorted, the twins grinned and brought out their axes. Acaeb closed his eyes and began to draw in focus, The elf and half-elf readied their bows, and nocked their arrows. I drew my daggers, and the horde spread out while the other fourteen council members came out of the crowd and stood in a line.
This was real negotiation.