For a moment, Hrafen looks like he is going to argue (after all, manual labor is not something that he enjoys), but then he realises that there *must* be a good reason for Coramus' unusual request.
"Sure thing; I will probably need to stay mounted, though in order to be of any real assistance - you big folk tend to sit quite high compared to wee ones such as myself!"
The first floor is one large room with ascending stairs against the wall to your right. There are four six-chair tables, then a raised area toward the back with a bar, five barstools, and three four-chair round tables.
Turning his attention back to Ethelson, "I take it that Natty is the village constable or something of sort? Based solely on your comment of him coming out to meet us, had he noticed our approach."
"Yeah. That's about right." He glances one more time at those still outside, then enters. "In fact... I'd better--"As the last of the children head up the stairs and through a couple doors visible on the mezzanine, an adjacent door opens.
Ethelson looks up and says "That'd be Natty Tulnov."
The man follows the glance of one of the children, and notices your group entering. Natty Tulnov turns toward you and leans on the rail of the mezzanine above the bar. He is a fairly large, richly dressed dark-haired man with full sideburns.
"Guests? And here I'd been expecting yet another dreary day."
Natty Tulnov then walks along the mezzanine to the steps, and down as he greets you.
"Welcome to our quaint little corner of the wild. My name is Narsegnio Tulnov... Natty to my friends, good citizens, and of course... best customers."
This is what Coramus saw, and I assume what he is drawing to your attention
Not a traveler's saddle (no saddlebags) There is an odd piece of "flair"... A braid of (human?) hair attached to the pommel and saddle by a metal ring to make a "jug handle" (side handle to assist in mounting)
Also attached to this metal ring is a pendant-sized silver stag head.
Vorik dismounts and follows Vlad into the bar, stopping just inside the door. "Aye the weather has taken a nasty turn." Vorik says with a slight growl. "It's nice to find a dry spot to rest before we continue our work."
He briefly turns to Ethelson. "In fact, with this kind of weather we may want a room for a night or two."
With a slight bow to Tulnov, Vorik focuses his attention on the man trying to sense if the man poses a threat. "Vorik Torgrimson." He says. "It's nice to find a warm fire, a pint, and a decent meal out here in the wild as you say."
Detect evil on Tulnov.
Coramus - you see no one else around, everyone you have seen is now inside.
He is emitting a faint evil aura.
Ethelson breathes deep before answering Vorik. "As you wish, sir."
Tulnov bows Vorik in return. "A warm fire is an excellent idea." He turns to Ethelson - who nods, then squats by the wide-hearthed fireplace on the wall to the left. As Ethelson prepares the fire, Tulnov lightly taps his forehead with his palm.
"Silly of me.. I believe I may have blocked the flue upstairs in my room." He gestures to the chimney which runs up through the room from which he'd first appeared. "Wyelna... ale for our guests." He stops at the base of the steps. "And whatever you'd meant to prepare... certainly not something we'd serve to paying customers, no?" There is a slight glance to Vorik and Vladimir as if to be certain there was no misunderstanding of 'guests equals paying customers'.
Wyelna shakes her head "Dried beef gravy, sir."
Tulnov scoffs "No no... you may serve that to the children... they seem to be content with it.... simple palettes. See what we have in the larder for our good guests."
Coramus' eyes settle on the man who must be the infamous 'Natty' as the man implores the woman to feed something to the children.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (15) + 10 = 25
The priest continues into the entry room, wary of this rustic scene in light of the evidence he has seen. He locks eyes with Vladimir and slowly shakes his head, flicking his eyes to the now vacant stairwell.
Tired of the charade, Coramus starts up the stairs after the man, speaking forcefully. "Enough games, Natty. Come peacefully and you may yet be spared and redeemed. Resist, and you will be brought to a swift end." He calls over his shoulder to the innkeeper. "And you stay put, sir."
Will wait at this point. Will gladly let a more martial character pass me by.
Natty whips around on the mezzanine at the top of the stair.
"Come peacefully?! What is this?!" He then turns and looks down glaring upon Wyelna.
After a moment of shock, some realization seems to come to Wyelna, then panic. She protests "No! I said nothing! I swear!"
Tulnov looks across the three doors on the mezzanine.
Assuming Coramus has reason to call Tulnov out on the spot, Tulnov has three doors on the mezzanine which he could bolt toward. His is furthest... the children's doors are closer.
Ethelson stands dumbfounded with one hand over his mouth.
Sensing the man's darker nature, Vorik moves toward Vlad as Natty heads up stairs. He starts to whisper a warning to the others, but follows Coramus' lead as the man seems to have already discovers more tangible evidence.
Placing his hand on his hammer Vorik nods, "Aye, you're days of holding power over these poor folk are at an end. We're bringing an end to banditry in these parts." With an eye on Natty and one on the tavern keeper and his woman he continues. "Those who have commited banditry and surrender peacefully will be treated fair. Those who choose to fight will be sent straight to the pits of the abyss."
"You a darkness in your heart Natty, but you haven't given yourself fully to evil. You've a choice to make now. What'll it be Natty?" He adds as he slowly draws Astridsonior.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (11) + 9 = 20
Not knowing Coramus as well as he knows some of his other companions, Vladimir is taken a bit aback by the priest's statement.
When Vorik takes up a similar stance, the swordsman knows that Coramus is in the right. Drawing his blade, Vladimir stands silent awaiting Tulnov's answer.
"You think I'll go quietly? Think I will be muscled out so easily?"
Natty turns, and steps away from the stairs.
"Jorfin! Come out here... I am taking you for a ride."
Ethelson gasps "the children...", then yells out "Jorfin! Lock the door!"
Jorfin Init: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 1 = 17
Natty Init: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 2 = 11
One of Natty's hands has slipped into the folds of his layered garb. He looks like he is drawing a knife.
12 initiative or higher beats Natty
Vorik and Coramus are a stair-flight away 20', Vladimir and Hrafen are an additional 10' away.
Natty is 10 feet from first door. 20 from second and 25 from third.
Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (6) + 6 = 12
Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 2 = 14
Assuming I am reading the description right, Vlad is 30 ft away from Tulnov
Hearing Ethelson's gasp and Tulnov's defiance, Vladimir rushes up the stairs toward Natty, readying his shield along the way.
Upon reaching the bandit, the swordsman enters his familiar stance, slashing at Tulnov.
Combat Expertise/Threatening Defender; AC = 19
Attack: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (1) + 8 = 9 (vs. flat footed AC)
Damage: 1d8 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
Trying to keep room for Vorik on the stair, Vladimir clutters his swing - his blade clips the railing and is deflected well wide of Tulnov.
The thin line of light at the crack of the second door goes out with a thump, and you hear the click of a lock.
Tulnov growls seeming to realize he will have little time to break down the door to get to his apparent intended hostage.
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25.
Initiative: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (3) + 9 = 12.
"Look out, he's got a knife!"
Hrafen glares at the man.
"You do not get to threaten children; not on my watch!"
He then throws a trio of force bolts at the him.
Magic Missile: 3d4 + 6 ⇒ (3, 2, 4) + 6 = 15 Force damage.
Hrafen's arcane projectiles slam into Natty Tulnov midstride, and send him sprawling against the far wall.
His dagger skips across the floor, and he groans... barely moving and laid out flat.
Ethelson pipes up quick "Wyel'... check'n make sure we're clear.", nodding to the front door.
She goes as asked and peers out.
"We're good. Neither one of em are in sight."
"Sarboda brothers... Others who split off from this Stag Lord at Tuskwater Fort. They're likely inside the inn - boarded up building across town." Ethelson wipes his brow and pinches the bridge of his nose. "Used to just raid us... then these three decided to move in. There're least half-dozen more who come by every so often. Don't know where they're holed up."
Coramus looks to his companions. "Let us fall upon them whilst they do not expect it. Let's secure this one, first." He moves up the stairs and quickly ties the man's hands and feet together.
As he comes back down, he pats Ethelson on the shoulder. "It's alright, friend. You did what you had to do to protect your family. Now these men will reap their just rewards for their actions. Keep your family locked in here, and take no lip from that one, if he awakens." He nods up to where Natty lays slumped.
He will wait for his party mates, then proceed to the inn.
"Agreed. We should deal with them quickly and quietly, before they can cause any further harm to these folk... and then find out where the other 'half dozen or so' are holed-up."
A sour look crosses his face, but he wryly continues:
"I just wish the best time wasn't now, when it is raining - we will become thoroughly soaked!"
Wyelna scoots up the stairs, and steps around those restraining Natty Tulnov to check on the children. After peeking in, she turns... "Hope you don't mind... I'd like to stay in here with the kids til this is all settled."
"...and thank you. I know a little gratitude in't worth much, but I appreciate your coming here 'n gettin involved."
"Askin for help hasn't worked out so well in the past." She seems to be keeping Ethelson from hearing the last part...
"We are sorry about any half truths we had told you. In truth, we are explorers as I had said, but we have also been tasked with duty of eliminating the rampant banditry in the region. We will do just that, and you and yours shall be able to live in peace."
Heading toward the door, the swordsman states, "Let us put an end to this."
You step off the porch onto the part of Middleridge which serves as Main Street to the crossroads. The rain lightly falls - just enough to make the atmosphere grey at distances beyond a few dozen feet.
As you make your way to the boarded up inn, you spot a couple peering faces at the windows of the storefronts flanking your path.
There is a set of double doors on the front of the boarded-up inn, and you notice a path which leads around the near side to the back - suggesting there may be a back door as well.
There are two windows on the front, six on the side (three ground level, 3 above). All the windows in your view are boarded.
On the second floor is the wooden-railed balcony which sits at the corner of the front and the side facing you. A sheet hangs covering the doorway to this balcony.
You are 30 feet from the building... no sign yet of the occupants.
As Vladimir and Hrafen creep around to the back, they hear muffled voices from within.
"Rain's clearin up... dump these leak catchin buckets and lets get you all back to work."
The front door is boarded, but appears to be nailed in a way to still open. There is a lock under one of the door pulls.
The back door atop the simple stone stoop is unlocked and barred on the outside. The light in the small room is extremely dim... the open door provides the most ambient illumination - slight as it is.
There is a doorway through which you can see a faint warm glow of candle or lamplight. The interior doorway is offset, so you cannot see very far in from the back entrance.
In this 10'x 15' room, there are stacks of crates, and burlap sacks which appear to be nearly empty.
There are two faint shadows casting from near the lamplight's source. You also hear a floorboard creak - seeming to be coming from the same place (near where the source of light would be in the next room... maybe just past.)
You hear a faint "Psst. Shhh." as you enter (from the next room).
You also are able to determine from the faint shadows, (Which seem to be shadows of reflected light, rather than "direct shadows" from the lamplight.) that the further figure is likely standing - the nearer is seated.
At the front, Vorik tests the door, and finds it locked. The lock and doorpull fixture looks far from impenetrable, but it will make some noise - and very likely a couple attempts - to deal with.
Through the slats boarding the door, you make out movement. The "tiny slice" of visible form is nowhere near enough to identify without putting an eye right up to the crack in the boards.
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (18) + 8 = 26.
Stealth: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 23.
Hrafen follows Vladimir into the building, drifting from shadow to shadow like a wraith... but winces when he hears the racket made by the man.
Well, at least they will probably only hear one of us...
Vladimir steps into the room - inadvertently lightly kicking an empty bottle on the floor as he advances.
In the corner of the room to his right, a wide-eyed man struck silent sits at a card table - a pile of goods and valuables lie behind him... including a large mirror.
At the far side of the room is the front door. Another man - bearing a short sword - appeared to have been preparing to stab through the slats in the door at Vorik and Coramus. He now turns toward Vladimir, and growls.
Vorik's shoulder slams into the door, and a wide rail of light is visible between the double doors.
To the left of the door is a common room. Several people in shackles start to rise in the unlit room.
Vorik and Coramus continue to push against the door until the insubstantial lock pops. The door bursts open.
1d20 ⇒ 13
1d20 + 4 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 4 + 2 = 18
enemy init: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9
Coramus and Vorik are 10' east of Shortsword thug, 20' northeast from sitting guy
Vladimir and Hrafen are 15' from both. West of shortsword, north of Sitting guy.