You are all sent a charter:
Be it so known that the bearer of this charter has been charged by the Swordlords of Restov, acting upon the greater good and authority vested within them by the office of the Regent of the Dragonscale Throne, has granted the right of exploration and travel within the wilderness region known as the Greenbelt. Exploration should be limited to an area no further than thirty-six miles east and west and sixty miles south of Oleg’s Trading Post. The carrier of this charter should also strive against banditry and other unlawful behavior to be encountered. The punishment for unrepentant banditry remains, as always, execution by sword or rope. So witnessed on this 24th day of Calistril, under watchful eye of the Lordship of Restov and authority granted by Lord Noleski Surtova, current Regent of the Dragonscale Throne.
After days of weary travel and looming threat of bandit attack, you eventually arrive at the gate to Oleg's Trading Post. The Post is surrounded by a wooden Palisade about 10 foot high. As you pull closer the thick wooden gate slowly opens and you see a short man holding in scraps of leather armour holding a spear.
"Get in quick, sit on the bench with the fud. S'nt the boy to get Oleg. He be d'wn shortly." He rubs his thick grey stubble as he speaks, his calloused hands grating against the bristles. Deep wrinkles hide sad grey eyes.
As you enter you see what must be a small market square. You see several buildings and to your right two large tables. The furthest one holds potions, furs and fresh meat. Whereas the closest table has seats prepared with food laid out neatly. The smell of fresh bread wafts over and you see a bowl of mouth watering fruit. Cooked meat steams on small plates.
Caelus rides into the outpost asride on his horse. He had borrowed it from the Sortova's stables as he wasn't used to riding himself. He nods to the short man with the spear and gallops to the outpost's main building where he dismounts. He places his hand on his sword hilt in a relaxed position, a non threating pose, but reasuring to himself as his only prized possession is his sword.
He takes a quick look around the outpost. This won't be a bad place to defend in an attack, but it needs a lot of work... He hobbles his horse to a nearby post and walks into the main building, smelling the delicious smell of food. As he is the first to arrive, he sits and waits for Oleg and anyone else to join him. He removes his riding gloves.
Thanking the short man for his offer of food, Kaylee dismounts her horse and leads him into the fort. Walking him over to a suitable post, she hitches him there, making sure to remove her bow and arrows from the pack. Kaylee then heads over to the table bearing the food, giving a friendly nod to the young man already seated there.
"Good day to you. Do you work here at the post or are you here because of the charter as well?" Willing to bet he answers charter. He looks too well geared compared to that fellow at the gate to be working here. Hope he's not some spoiled little lordling boy.
He's a spoiled lordling boy... lol
Caelus looks up as a woman walks into the outpost and gets up as she walks in as it is proper to stand when a lady walks into a room. He bows slightly at her approach, "My lady... the pleasure of making your acquaintance is all mine. Please let me introduce myself! I am Caelus Vraie of House Vraie, Swordman extraordinare! I am here as a representative of the Aldori Swordlords and House Surtova."
He holds out her chair for her to sit in before taking a seat at the table as well. He rests his hand on his sword hilt in a relaxed manner almost out of habit, but takes his hand away when he realises it.
"So who would have sent such a lovely lady like yourself to be their representative?"
The longbow over his shoulder and the stout quarterstaff in his hand gave Arial a warlike look to those manning the walls as he approached the trading post. His pack and clothes showed signs of wear and tear, and while his features seemed youthful, elves seldom wrote their experience in lines on their faces. Just as the gate began to open, however, any martial impression his gear might have given was dispelled when a damselfly alighted on a branch near by. Though the insect was too small for the men to see, the elf's reaction was not. Bandits and charters forgotten, he dropped everything and pulled a piece of charcoal and a sheet of rice-paper from his belt, quickly sketching the creature and excitedly muttering to himself.
The men at the gate looked on while he sketched, and saw a smile of pure joy on his face when he pocketed his materials and looked their way. He blushed, seeing the bemused humans, and nearly handed the grizzled man at the gate his drawing. He took another moment to come up with the charter and then hurried to the table with the food.
Seeing the two humans already at the table, he gave a smile and leans his staff against the bench.
"Good morning," he says, waving to them. At that moment, a white rat explodes out of his vest in a desperate lunge towards the food. The elf's hands are quicker, though, and he holds up the creature by her tail before tucking her away in his vest again. "I'm Arial, and this is Alger."
At the mention of House Surtova, Kaylee's eyes turned hard and she looked a lot less friendly as she recalled where's heard that house's name before. Willing herself to remain calm and polite for now, for the sake of the mission, she sat herself down and table as she replied to his question.
"My name is Kaylee Veridian and I see myself as the representative of the common people of this land. Here to make sure that no poor settlers are mistaken for and hung as bandits during the exploration. As well as giving guidance on Erastil's will." Though obviously too young to have had anything to do with uncle, he is still part of that corrupt house. Obviously full of himself and his manners too. I mean really, "lovely lady"? I've been on the road for days and feel like I've got layers upon layers of dirt embedded in my skin.
Noticing the elf's arrival, Kaylee returns his wave, giving a little start of surprise at the sudden appearance of the rat. "Good day to you and your little friend.
Caelus nods to the new arrival and holds out his hand, "Greetings friend elf, I am Caelus Vraie and the lady here is Kaylee Veridian, might I inquire if Alger is an albino? My father used to keep various creatures of all types in the manor back home in Taldor... unfortunately that was a very long time ago..."
Caelus seems lost in thought for a moment before smiling again.
It wasn't quite clear what Shalia had done to deserve the clear honour of heading out into the bandit filled wilderness, so far away from the bars and taverns deep in civilisation that she had made her home, but she knew well enough not to refuse such a letter. Seldom were such rights granted without there being an expectation of those rights being used, and if such a charter had arrived for her unrequested, then clearly someone out there wanted rid of her. Or maybe that was just her mind playing tricks on her once again, seeing enemies where there were none.
Either way, the opportunity being offered was somewhat tempting. There were possibilities of gold and treasure, of making a name for herself.. of having some grand stories to tell the next time she had to pay her tab. At the very least, a trip out to the country would mean her style and character back in the city wouldn't get too stale.
It was with those positive thoughts in mind that Shalia found her way walking up to Olag's Trading Post. Her initial impression of the place was that it seemed rather surprisingly fortified for a trading post, a clear indication that the wilderness was as unsafe as she thought. Entering the fortifications, she sauntered over to the table, before speaking to those present in a refined sounding voice.
'I don't suppose a place like this is going to have anything good to drink, is it?'
At the sight of the trading post, relief seems to creep into Tam's face and his steps become more lively. It feels like he has been on the road forever. A bit of food and rest will do a world of good. Add a bath to that list--or at least a chance to wash up.
With a nod to the man at the gate and a "Thanks, neighbor," He walks into the trading post. His mind strays back to his family's trading post back home. Oleg's isn't as large, but it is defendable and looks cozy enough.
The smell of food and the sound of conversation focus his attention to the table and it's occupants. The human male has the look of a swordsman. The elf... and a rat? A wizard perhaps. He can't tell for sure the woman's trade, but did he hear the name Erastil? Perhaps a cleric, or a fellow Paladin.
Standing here won't tell him anything. Neither will it fill his stomach. He walks up to the group and finds a spot on the bench. He sits down and introduces himself, silently assessing his table mates. "Howdy. My name's Tam. You all are here because of the charter?"
As he spears a piece of meat with his dagger the refined woman approaches. "I'm not sure about drink, but I'm told Oleg will be down any time now. Come, sit, and introduce yourself."
Caelus holds out his hand for Tam, "I am Caelus Vraie of House Vraie, and I am a swordsman extraordinare! I am here on behalf of the Aldori Swordlords! Feels great to be a part of something again..."
He joins the man in eatting the food and scoops some of the stew into a bowl before eating it.
Kaylee takes in the appearances of the other two newcomers. Another noble, and a female one at that. *mentally sighs* I hope she doesn't need rescued from vicious rabbits and squirrels too often. At least the other fellow looks like he knows how to handle himself in the woods.
"Good day to you Tam. I'm Kaylee and yes, I'm here because of the charter." As she speaks, Kaylee finishes filling her plate with food and begins eating.
'As we're all introducing ourselves, I suppose I'll follow suit. I'm Shalia Amelin, and it's a pleasure, I'm sure.'
Nitpickingly examining the bowl of fruit for a good piece, she continues speaking to the people around the table before biting into one of the juicier apples available.
'And in answer to the question posed, yes, I too am here in regards to the charter that was delivered to me. Quite a surprise really, but it'd have been rude to refuse such a generous offer.
Arial was distracted, wrestling the fiesty animal back into her place in his vest, and his eyes barely strayed, though his sharp elven ears picked up the sounds of the others arriving.
"Thank you, huntress," he said to Kaylee, noting the symbol of Erastil she wore. "I hope we'll have the chance to shoot together. I find it an excellent method of focusing the mind."
"Not precisely an albino," he said to Caelus, releasing the rat again and holding her up for the young man's inspection. "You see her eyes are the ordinary brown color. Taldor, hm? I read a quite impressive piece on the care of exotic pets by a man named Vraie...."
Before he could go into any greater length about the essay, two others arrived at the outpost. He turned, extending his hand in greeting in the human way, forgetting for a moment that he still held the rat. After shuffling it back into his vest, he awkwardly waved instead.
"Hello. I'm Arial, I suppose I'm joining you on this expedition. I have that ... yes, here ... the charter." He pulled the paper out again and looked at it. "I suppose they felt the support of the elves was wanted in this venture. I certainly hope the mystery will be revealed soon enough."
An apple floated from the bowl of fruit into his outstretched hand, and he took a bite, savoring the sweet tartness.
Tam took Caelus' offered hand readily. He then moved to take the elf's offered... rat? The mistake brought a small smile to his face, though he hoped that the elf was more dependable under pressure. "Good to meet you," he said.
Not yet feeling up to conversation with the seemingly scatterbrained wizard, he turned his attention to the Ladies. Shalia had the airs of a sophisticated woman--close to the court perhaps. Those were always dangerous. He gave her a polite nod for now. He then turned his attention towards Kaylee.
"I see that you bear the symbol of Erastil," he said. "Are you a follower?"
Kaylee barely suppressed a laugh as she watched the newcomer, Tam, almost took the offered rat instead of a hand to shake. If the elf thinks shooting focuses the mind, we may be doing so multiple times a day.
Turning to Tam as he asked his question: "My whole family has followed Erastil for generations. Some of us have also answered his call to serve as clergy."
Caelus tries not to roll his eyes too much at the talk of gods and worship. He was a stanch atheist for one reason and one reason alone, he was in control of his own destiny, and no all powerful being would prevent him from becoming the best swordsmen in all of Golarion.
Mentioning in an offhand comment to Arial, "...Talon Vraie would have been the author, father was always fond of academics. I'm sure you read his collected work on the Thassilon empire. He wrote that during his Pathfinder days, he works as an archivist in Absalom now for the Society... but enough about Father..."
Caelus turns to Shalia, "My Lady, I heard you said you required a drink. Well I have a bottle of Taldan Red in my saddlebags and would be willing to share it with everyone once we are addressed by our still absent host!"
Before any more conversation can be had you see the double doors, to what is obviously Oleg's home, swing open. Two humans stand in the entrance, the man is huge easily more than 6ft, however fat has replaced what was once considerable muscle and his face and hands are smeared in dirt and sweat. The woman is also tall but slight and she wears a beautiful jade green dress that flows down to her ankles. She smiles warmly at you all, small smile wrinkles tugging at the corners of her mouth, she holds a bottle of wine in her hands.
The woman speaks first "Welcome to our humble trading post, I am Svetlana and of course this is my Husband Oleg." She indicates to the man next to her, he speaks then his voice rough "Yes glad Restov finally sent some guards our way. Been needing you for a while." He heaves himself onto any of the available seats picking up a chunk of beef in his considerable hands and chewing into it. Svetlana grimaces "I think what my Husband was trying to say was thankyou." She looks at the group "Although you do look like a strange company of Guards." She pours wine into several glasses and offers it around the table.
Caelus inclines his head to the two hosts, "Master Oleg and Lady Svetlana, I humbly thank you for inviting us to your table, but I'm afraid you are mistaken. Our rights of access state that we are here to explore, there was nothing mentioned of guards or any guard duty. I appoligize for any confusion."
Caelus hides his smirk slightly, the politics of Restov always seem to follow him, even here. He pauses for a long second before continuing. "I am also here looking for my adopted Brother, he may have passed through here at some point as he was setting up a monastery in the Stolen Lands. Did you recall such a man, he was nine-and-ten, clean shaven and of Tien decent?" Caelus looks slightly on edge and worried before sealing it away behind his stone cold demenor.
Oleg stops his eating and simply stares at Caelus. He throws the meat down on the table and says slowly "Here to Explore are we. Here to tame the Green Belt are we. But not here to help Oleg keep his Wife safe? Did they not mention that this is bandit land. All of you just lea..." Svetlana interrupts suddenly "OLEG STOP!!!" she sighs "I am sorry for my Husband, we are...on edge to put it lightly. We thought that you could help but I see now that we were mistaken. I apologise." She smiles wryly clearly upset about her Husbands out burst.
She tries to change the subject. "Your Brother...yes I believe I recall the name vaguely but that was some months ago and we haven't seen him since."
Kaylee stands up as she speaks, thinking of her home settlements problems. "If I may interrupt, though the gentleman is correct about our charters not mentioning any guard duty, they do however state that we should strive against unlawful behavior. Is there perhaps something you need assistance with before we move on Master Oleg?"
'Regardless of what our charter says, I am certain that we could look into this bandit problem. After all, you have graciously offered us food and hospitality, so the very least we can do is repay such. Shalia spoke up quickly, thinking it'd be smart to smooth over relations with this Oleg, after all this seemed to be the only place around for miles with somewhat good food and the chance of a decent drink.
Besides, given the nature of the charter, it was somewhat inevitable that this group would come into conflict with bandits eventually, so it'd be nice to get some credit for doing so.
When Oleg began his outburst, Caelus' eye's stared at him through tight slights. He would never understand how some men could become so angered when he always strived to be calm. Anger clouds the mind, a clouded mind is a weak mind... he thought to himself.
Caleus nods at Kaylee's request. "I agree with the young lady, if there are any current threats or any assistance you need, you can count on my support, I am a swordman extraordinare after all!" He chuckles and slaps Arial on the shoulder.
Bluff 1d20 ⇒ 6
A scowl adorns Tam's face before he can conceal it. His opinion of Caelus now damaged, he moves to speak when Kaylee stands and does it for him. Yes, they are going to get along just fine.
"The ladies are correct. Our charter is very clear. We are here not only to explore but to stamp out any unlawful behavior or banditry we find." He glances around the table before settling his eyes on Oleg and Svetlana. "Please, continue. We are at your disposal."
Sense Motive Check: 1d20 ⇒ 9
Tam's inner scowl dampens slightly as he feels that Caelus's initial protest was partly for show. Still, he is wary. It reminds him of the sort of double talk that the more "important" family members would use.
Arial watched the scene like a spectator, though he stood in the middle of the stage sharing an apple with his rat. The bloated Oleg had been on the verge of sending them all away, mere minutes after they had arrived. He was by no means sure how long the others' had traveled, but he had been on the road for some weeks, goaded on by the curious charter and the possible discoveries to be made in the Green Belt.
Then, apparently spontaneously, the others had volunteered themselves. For what, precisely, he was uncertain, but he did not wish the honor of his race to suffer by his silence. Hhe opened his mouth to speak, just as the swordsman slapped him on the back, and for a moment it must have seemed that the words had been waiting for that extra push to come out.
"Of course we will lend you our aid," If it seemed as if he were reciting a heroic verse of an obscure elven epic, it's because he was, translating it into the common tongue on the fly. It had always been his favorite moment in the legend, when the heroes agreed to take action. "If thieves and ... ah ... ruffians are threatening your home, we will find them and do what must be done to see that peace and tranquility are restored. Arial of Rostland sees ... no, will see that it is done."
The young elf had raised his hand in a brave gesture, but having finished speaking, took a large bite from the apple he had been holding in his hand, crunching contentedly.
Oleg turns a deep red and hangs his head as you all offer your aid. Slowly he lifts his head shame is written across his face and he smiles awkwardly before sighing. "I...I am truly sorry for my outburst. It was wrong of me. I just thought that...that you had been sent to help." He stands up abruptly "But if you truly do wish to help then you must prepare for a fight. I give you charge of defences my men are at your disposal." His smile is suddenly beaming "Speak to Caleb or my wife if you need any information. I got some repairing to do." with that he runs off around the back of the house, you hear him shouting for supplies and tools.
Svetlana watches him leave then looks at you all before speaking "Well I guess an explanation is in order. For the last three months we have been getting...threats from a group of Bandits. They come and take our fur, food and well everything." She looks them all in the eye "The first time they came, they came in force. Their leader was their, a vile pig of a woman who...enjoys doing worse things than killing." She looks away then at the table, the memories clearly eating away at her, she visibly calms herself before continuing "The last time they came she wasn't there, just who must be her second in command, A strange hooded man. I have never seen his face. He was there with maybe four other men."
"That is all I can really tell you. Caleb may have more information." She points to the guard that let you in. "Oh and thankyou, not only for the help. But that's the first time I have seen him smile since this all began." A single tear rolls down her cheek.
Caelus listens to the exchange and nods his head to Svetlana. "You have nothing to worry about, for I, Caelus Vraie, master swordsmen, will protect you! I must take a look at your defenses and speak to this man Caleb myself!" The grin he displays covers his entire face as he walks out of the main building. His grin disappears almost instantly once he is outside. He walks over to the main gate to the guards.
"Caleb, Oleg and Svetlana said I could speak with you regarding the bandits. Main thing I need to know is when is the next arrival of the bandits, and how man of them arrived. Each visit I want to know how many. Don't skip on any details."
Caelus waits for the man to speak. All pleasantries are gone and Caelus remains stone faced.
Caleb looks Vraie up and down once before speaking, his voice hard and grating "Next Bandits. Tomorrow at sunrise. First time they came was 12 of them. The leader, second in command and 10 thugs. Next time was jus the second in command and 7 thugs. Last time jus 4 thugs and the second in command." He looks thoughtful for a second "When they come we have the wares ready just inside the gate. Quick in, out. Less time we spend wit them the better."
"We tried fighting a'fore and...and we lost some good men. More than just good men. I jus hope that you can help enough."
Well, it certainly seemed as if this group needed little encouragement to do the 'good and virtuous' thing. That was interesting. And if Oleg here was desperate enough to hand over command of the defences to this group, he'd probably be all the more appreciative once the bandit problem was resolved. All very interesting.
She continued thinking of various angles as Oleg and Svetlana talked, appearing to listen intently while looking terribly concerned about the whole affair. She waited until they finished before speaking.
'Well, I don't know how many of us are experts in wilderness travel, but surely some kind of scouting mission to ascertain where these bandits are, and when they might approach, might be in order?'
"I'm not sure if scouting out their location would be a good idea. If their scouts are good we might be spotted and have to take on an entire camp. Better to surprise some here and lessen the bandits numbers. We could try following their tracks back to their camp later to deal with the rest of the group." We best make sure to deal with the whole bandit group or the survivors could strike back here for revenge after we leave.
Turning her attention to Caleb, Kaylee asks: "Were any of the bandits magic users?"
Caelus listen's to the answers that Caleb gives, "So the bandits will come tomorrow morning. Doesn't really give us time to mount any real defenses. So the best course of action is an ambush. You say the load up and leave, where do the load up from and where do they saddle their horses or cart if they have one?"
Arial listens as they make plans to deal with the bandits, his eyes searching the hold as if for any assistance. He knew that when it came to fighting, he was best in a place where he could use his bow, or fire spells at the enemy. On the wall-walk seemed the best place, but much would depend on where they planned to have their fight.
"Didn't use magic doesn't mean they couldn't," he muses, strolling to the gate and pushing on it. "If you didn't put up a fight, they may not have seen the need to show their hand."
Caleb points to the cart near the small long building. "Last two time they been we just fill the cart over there with goods. Then they come to the gate with a small cart that's pulled by a single horse and they fill it up from there. The rest of the Bandits normally have a Horse each."
Caleb remains quiet a while mulling Tam's question over in his mind, pain is etched across the deep lines of his face. After what seems like an eternity of awkward silence he speaks once more. "A girl came to the gates, she looked scared and helpless. Naturally we wanted to help, ain't no good seeing a women like that, ya know?" he sighs "I...I told my Son to open the gates and...and as quick as that he was dead. One minute alive the next on the ground his life blood spilling out." He looks at you all one by one before continuing "Before we could move they were in. Must have been hiding in the undergrowth nearby, must have been planning this a while. Well a couple shot down the men on the walls but most of them preferred close sword work." He hangs his head then holding back the tears "Especially her. I can still hear her laughing."
"There is only several of us in the fort now. Me, two more guard. Oleg, the Lady and their boy."
Caelus looks about the fort, an idea forming in his head.
Is there an easy place to hide and a place we can put our wizard and archer friend, preferably on top of a roof of a building?
Upon hearing how the bandits got in the first time, Shalia gains a little bit of respect for their methods and skill at executing their plan, as well as noting that the bandit leader must be quite skilled herself if she killed a guard as easily as Caleb described.
'So, I trust some of us have some skill at coming up with a plan to deal with these brigands? Because they don't quite teach small unit tactics at finishing school, I'm afraid.'
"This looks like our killing ground," the elf says, gesturing to the area just inside the gate, before the cart. Though his words are violent, his tone is casual, as though this were simply a puzzle to be solved. It was the only way Arial knew to face danger, was to bury his fear under cool and careful reasoning. "With myself and the archers on the wall-walk and the rest hidden behind the cart. Then we hit them while they're loading the cart."
The description of the bandit's tactics disgusts Tam. he puts a hand on caleb's shoulder. "I'm sorry for your loss. We will do whatever we can to avenge your family. Tam looks up at the walls and at the rooftops. "I'm better with the bow than with the sword. I will join Kaylee and Arial.
is there enough cover for 3 people to hide on the rooftops or the wall?
Caelus continues to take a look around before stopping. "Two archers, on the roofs of either building. As for myself and the rest of everyone else... I thinking of hiding in the stables until the arrive and begin to load up the cart, and then we surprise them."
"What cowards they are to use such tactics. I grieve for your loss." Kaylee shakes her head in disgust, thinking of how people use the kindness of others against them.
Thinking about tactics for the upcoming fight, Kaylee remarks: "Perhaps I should take one of the spaces on the wall where I can look over the gate. That way if it looks like they would rather make a run for it, I may be able to cause them to be hindered and entangled by the plants along the path. We don't want any to get away and bring reinforcements before we are ready."
Caleus nods at Kaylee's suggestion, "Agreed, we do not want them getting away for two reasons, one to get reinforcements as you said, and the other, as representatives of Brevoy, we must punish them as dictated by the laws of such."
Caleus goes off in search of as much rope as he can find
Shalia, I'm planning to hide in the stables with the door closed. I think that should be the best bet for melee's
"If no one objects, I'll take the position on top of the gate opposite Kaylee," Arial said, walking the ground and seeing the vantage point that gave him. "I also would like to add something to their tribute."
He unwraps a small ceramic jar that had been carefully padded with cloth.
Alchemists Fire. I am proposing this thinking that I will be able to use the Mage Hand or Open cantrip to set it off when the baddies have their hands on it. If that's a no-go, I'll just chuck it at 'em
Caelus finds a long coil of rope by the shed and begins coiling it into nooses. He takes his time with the work, the methodical nature of the task prepares him for the ambush to come. He continues the work until he has enough rope for six nooses, he thinks that he will only need four, but better to be safe then sorry.
Once finished that task, he sees to his horse. She is a beautiful brown mare with a white diamond on her nose. Caelus had always preferred riding mares instead of stallions, even though they weren't as fast, they were certainly calmer. Making sure she is brushed down and comfortable, he feeds her the oat bag he was saving for the end of the trip.
Mage Hand actually sounds pretty awesome for Alchemists fire. Just be careful where you explode it that wall is wood ;)
Caleb looks at both Tam and Kaylee kindly "Thankyou." He then directs his next question at no one in particular. "Any particular place you want me and the other guards to be." He thinks for a moment "Is there anything more you need from me." He waits patiently for an answer.
"I guess you and the other guards should appear to be going about your normal business of the day so that the bandits won't get suspicious. I think we're done with our questions for now, thank you for your help Caleb."
After they're finished with Caleb, Kaylee goes to care for her horse and then take her backpack into guest house and clean the worst of the road dust off herself. The she goes back out and walks about the inside and outside of the little fort to familiarize herself with it before the fight tomorrow.