The third day of Pharast was not the nicest day to begin an adventure. Near dawn, the sky, fat and pregnant for days with huge dark clouds, had finally opened up, spilling a light rain which steadily grew towards torrential as the day wore on. By now, near dusk, anyone travelling has been thoroughly soaked and those without careful steps have had their legs covered in mud. As you round a hill you can see before you a light, which slowly forms into a clearer shape of a gate, standing within the wall of what looks like a light keep. The gate is made of worn old oak and the wall is half-crumbling, no determent to a truly eager foe. The light comes from a single lantern hanging from a hook outside the gate, miraculously not yet doused by the torrent.
Each of you realizes after a moment that this must be your destination, Oleg's Trading Post, the last southern port of Brevoy before The Stolen Lands beyond, and the only amount of civilized shelter for a week's travel in most directions. As you trudge toward the gate you each remember the day you recieved your charters, now tightly wound within a (luckily) waterproof scroll case on your person.
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.
With the shelter before you, you hurry to get out of the wet cold.
Feel free to describe your character and/or how you recieved the charter in your opening post.
Arkady pulled the hood of his cloak tighter around his face. He'd dismounted a few miles back to spare his horse. It's not likely any self-respecting bandit would be out in rain like this, anyway.
He thought back a week to the warm and well-lit hall in Restov. How bright he'd been, his red tabard fair (with only a few travel rips) showing his family's white horseshoes, with the motto "Endurance Overcomes All" stitched below by his mother.) He'd wondered how to show his new calling after the vision on the road, perhaps with the horns of an elk atop the field, but coin had been tight, and Erastil's faithful abjured waste and needless display. Though a knight on the field needed to make a bold display, to hearten himself and his men, and strike fear into the foe -- the Swordlords had been resplendent, dressed in bright colors and fair armor.
City men, his father would have said. Polished peacocks. Ride well, strike straight, tell the truth -- that will serve you better than their fancy ways. And, Beware the cheating merchant, learned at his mother's lap, usually after a peddler had been past selling trinkets, and not cheaply. But the Swordlords weren't merchants, and didn't seem greedy, though any noble worth his lance knew the basics of how to cheat an enemy across the table as well as how to fight them in the field. He'd been proud as he accepted the charter, trying his best to make a good impression (for his family, for his new-found cousin Katya, for himself... and for the old god he served, whose people he would protect, whose ways he would try to follow.)
Now, in the rain, it all seemed far away. The land here was good, but wild waste, without defenders and prey to bandits. (Did the Swordlords mean to reward them with the bandits' goods? Or with the true wealth of land? Either way, he'd doubtless earn them with his blood, and stand shield over those who would wrest a living from the fertile earth.)
As they drew near Oleg's Trading Post (a merchant? why no noble or lancer out here?), Arkady called a halt. "We need to make a good impression," he told the others. "If they see us firm and strong at the start, some part of them will always remember that even when we are wounded and unlucky. If they first see us look like a drabble of dogs slinking through the mud, they will remember that too." Wearily, but masking weariness, he climbed into the saddle and threw back his cloak and hood, letting the rain wash away some of the mud.
Near the gate, he reached to his belt and drew a horn, a name-day gift from the old horseman who had trained him day in and day out in the arts of lance and saddle. He sounded it thrice, high and haunting even in the rain, then raised his voice. "Ahoy, the fort! Travellers inbound!"
(More about Arkady's thoughts about the others once they've posted. We have been together for a week, and Katya somewhat longer, so he has been paying attention...)
I was ninja'd my Arkady so this will seem a little disjointed.
A very tall figure trudges wearily down the road, the feeble light revealing the green complexion and red hair of a well armed and armored warrior. For the thousandth time the young man marvels that he did not buy a horse and again remembers the many horses over the years floundering under his bulk and ineptness, the memory of the fast relays of coaches the sped him along the way fading. Suppressing a sigh unworthy of a warrior, Anton walks up to the gate as he contemplates coming here...
...The office of the Lord Mayor of Restov is quiet as the servants leave. The Mayor sits in the great chair besides the fireplace looking at the silent figure before him, wondering how such a young man with Orc blood can be so patient. Abruptly the Mayor says, "Young Lord, you know how delicate the situation has become since the Vanishing so you appreciate Rostland's difficult position. House Lebeda is a good friend to all the Sword- people of Rostland but also is eager to not offend the current regent. It seems by adding you to the party which has already left, the support of House Lebeda is leaning toward us. But I don't think you see it that way."
After a long pause a very cultured voice replies. No, Lord Mayor I do not. I will not speak for the Lebeda HouseLord but I know that civil war in Brevoy would be catastrophic. Iobaria is prostrate these many years and Numeria is ruled by madness, Brevoy is the only reliable route for the supplies that the Crusade needs. Without that the demons of the Worldwound would overrun these and many other lands. The battles would be glorious but doomed. My House and my temple appear to be in agreement -" The young half-orc barks a laugh. "For the only time I can remember. They feel that more order in the south and balancing Issaria and Rostland is the best chance at, well peace is not the right term but sufficient order for the world to not fall to demons. My part is simple, beat the Stolen Lands into submission and make its many resources available for exploitation for the battles ahead."
The Lord Mayor sighs uncomfortably, saying, I fear your house play the game too close right now, it may find itself without any allies instead of everyone their friend. But we cannot afford to offend your House so here is a charter backdated to the time of the others. It's the same text to show no favor, I doubt the regent will believe it's all a Lebeda greedy grab, that he could tolerate but I can hope. May Abadar watch over you." The young man takes the charter and prepares to leave. Turns and replies, "Thank you, I think your god will and may Gorum fire your heart with courage, not all battles are fought with swords." The young man sets out ...
Missing each other in the storm and the party sparing their horses, the young half-orc arrives just ahead of the party. Hearing the horn (not being deaf) he turns and hails the travelers. "Hail and blessing of Gorum on the night." He says in a high class voice. " A fellow traveler stands at the gate and bids you and those inside peace for as long as Gorum grants."
Marcus pulled his cloak tighter around him as the rain storm pounded the group relentlessly. His horse, bought only the day before they had left Restov, whickered in the downpour but Marcus knew little of calming animals and thus had to pray to Abadar that the beast didn't bolt with him clinging on for dear life.
Out of the corner of his eye, he watched the man known as Arkady. Noble-born, without a doubt. In their week of travels, Marcus had done much to uncover the background of his new travelling companions while attempting to hide his own. For a moment, his mind was cast back to the day he was informed of his new mission.
"Marcus," the Arch-Banker declared, sweeping Marcus into his opulent office, "You look well. I trust that Restov is to your liking?"
"Indeed, Arch-Banker. After all those years in New Stetven, the change of scenery is to my liking," Marcus stood at least a head above the Arch-Banker but there was a powerful sense of presence about the shorter man.
"Good, good. Here, please, take a seat," the Arch-Banker indicated towards one of the highly decorated seats that stood in front of his desk. As Marcus sat, the Arch-Banker strode around to his own seat which was even more fancifully decorated and bore the holy symbol of Abadar above the backrest.
"I'm intrigued to know why I was called here," Marcus had been plucked, from relative obscurity, to make the lengthy trip from New Stetven to Restov just over a week ago.
"I should think you are," the Arch-Banker said with an appraising look, "In three days time, the Swordlords are going to announce a series of expeditions to tame the Stolen Lands to the south."
Marcus rocked back in his chair. An obvious power play by the Swordlords who held dominion over Brevoy. Whilst Marcus wasn't actively involved in politics, any man of Abadar kept at least a passing interest in the direction of civilization.
"I fail to see what that has to do with me," he replied, although he already had a gnawing feeling in his gut of what the Arch-Banker was about to say.
"We need an agent on each expedition, someone not directly affiliated to the church. A paladin, cleric or inquisitor would be far too overt," leaning forward, the Arch-Banker dropped his voice to a whisper, "We cannot permit the Swordlords to found a new kingdom without proper oversight from the appropriate body." Of course, the appropriate body would be the Church of Abadar.
"You are to pose as an independent scout, using the skills that have served you so well in Abadar's service thus far," the Arch-Banker sat back in his chair, "You will report back once a week on the progress of the expedition. For your services, assuming you are successful of course, you will be greatly rewarded once the kingdom comes into being."
Marcus could scarcely believe what he was hearing. From the lowly beginnings of a street urchin, he was being offered great power in the Church of Abadar.
"I trust you accept?" the Arch-Banker asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Of course, Arch-Banker, anything for the Church."
It all seemed a lifetime away now. Out here, barely beyond the borders of Brevoy, Marcus could already feel the loss of civilization. He had lived in cities all of his life where most greenery was resigned to parks. Oleg's was the first sign of life they had seen in a couple of days. He cocked his head to one side as Arkady spoke.
"I agree," he said into the prevailing wind, "It wouldn't do to have the occupants think the Swordlords had simply send a rag-tag bunch of scions and chancers." Marcus grinned. He had attempted to angle himself as something of a comedian, hoping that would draw suspicion from his true purpose. Although pain flared in his backside, he sat up a little straighter in his saddle and pulled his hood back, blinking in the driving rain.
He waits for a response from the fort following Arkady's call.
Kata pulls her cloak closer, retreating further into her hood to keep her face out of the downpour. Her already tiny figure looks like it might disappear altogether if she just gave one last tug. She feels Blackthorn squirm against her chest, hidden from the cold inside her cloak. Kata's boots are muddy, but seems to have somehow managed to keep the muck off the rest of her.
Her mind casts back to the day they received the charter, an unexpected boon in Restov. Kata had been convinced that she and Arkady were destined to part ways in the city, but it was an unexpected surprise when the pair were contacted by the Swordlords to be part of an expedition to the Stolen Lands. Kata knew her way led south, so it was good to be guaranteed of traveling companions. Besides, she had grown to like Arkady, even if he seemed a bit righteous at times, he was a good companion and certainly knew his way with a weapon much better than she. Kata hoped she would be able to make up to Arkady the debts she already owed.
The man called Marcus has been an interesting companion as well, possessing a great sense of timing that had made for a few laughs on the road. He seemed so at home in Restov with all of those people, but seems lost her in the wilds where Arkady and I are so comfortable. I wonder what he would think of the fey?
And Kheldor, a bit of an enigma. The only companion that the Swordlords had recruited that did not hail from Brevoy. Certainly the man seems to know how to handle himself, but I worry that he may be associated with the dark fey.
As Arkady calls the halt, she tilts her head up toward her newly found cousin. A trickle of rain spills off her hood onto her cheek as she nods at his words. I'm glad to have met Arkady. He's lucky to have spent more time with the House. He has a much better grasp of manners than I, though perhaps he may be a bit too trusting. She gives a little start at the sound of the horn and suddenly feels the weight of days of travel in difficult conditions come down on her body. I hope they have a warm place to curl up and a bit to eat. I'm exhausted.
When the noble voice calls from the gate, her head whips back from Arkady to the keep. "Hello, we are making for Oleg's. You're a traveler? Why haven't you entered? Is there a problem?"
And so you did! Your posts did not show up right away.
The hulking figure turns from the stockade, the wan light glinting green from his rather aristocratic face marred by tusks, one slightly broken. Dressed in heavy clothes that do not conceal the breastplate that covers his chest, a Greatsword with a handle of quality is strapped to his back, along with an excellent backpack of the finest make. He waves and replies, "I was just about to call into the fort when I heard the mighty blast from yon horn as everyone for miles must've. You must be the other members of the charter group for this area. But where are my manners?" Anton sweeps his arms apart and give a most courtly bow. "I am Anton, son of Domna, of House Lebeda, a Blooded Chosen of the Iron Lord of Battle, at your service, gracious lady. You are a welcome sight indeed, I thought I was behind you but my coachmen must have missed you in the storm before I had to, sadly, leave them behind. I hope your travels have been tolerable given the unfortunately seasonable weather?"
Kata looks side to side seeing little in the storm but the half-orc in front of them.
Perception1d20 + 5 ⇒ (8) + 5 = 13
The Swordlords warned of bandits. But this one wears fine clothes, though drenched like the rest of us. Better get inside before we get jumped by him or any of his friends. We can figure out if he is friend or foe within.
"Wretched actually now that you've mentioned it. I wish we'd had the luxury of a coach, I'm Kata. Let's get acquainted inside, hopefully by a nice fire." She raises her voice, only to find it drowned by the howling wind,"Hey, anyone inside?!? You've got travelers about to float away out here!"
Arkady stays in the saddle, waiting for a response from inside the keep. So the Swordlords had sent someone else along behind them. Another warrior. Any Chosen of Gorum will fare bravely in the battle. And this one is courteous, more so than many -- a flash of memory; his father's chaplain bellowing in rage as the battle lines begun to form. Courtesy for courtesy."I hope your coach is not bogged down too badly, Chosen. Or did the coachmen see in time what rain would make this sorry excuse for a road?"
He wasn't worried about Katya; she was family, and did not lack for courage, even on such a night as this. It felt like old Aunt Tanya's tales, of the Queen of Air and Darkness in a vile mood, or one of the Shadow Hunt riding a cloud-grey horse out of a storm across the Lake of Mists and Veils to trade riddles with a cunning man.
Speaking of cunning, Marcus seemed somewhat flighty, but he had thought that before about others. You know a man's heart when the test proves it, not before. His words had lightened loads more than once along the way.
And Kheldor? Hard to say. His father thought all robed men were cowards, but Arkady had butted heads -- no, horns -- with the old man before, and been right once or twice. Well, maybe three or four times. And more often against Petrov. His next-oldest brother was a great wrestler, but sadly lacking when it came to wits.
His horse trembled slightly under him. Patience, Gildas, patience. I know you're weary, but soon you'll be under a roof with dry hay, if this Oleg knows his business.
Anton turns to the man on a good horse, the warning chop of which tells him that it is war-trained. Hail warrior, the coach is fine, I had to leave it at the last farmhouse on this road this morning, the coachmen would go no further. I've walked since but my travails pale compared to yours. May I inquire as to your name or do you prefer the same anonymity as this night brings till better light comes forth?"I grow uneasy at the delay at this gate; wonder if something is amiss? Anton looks to the gate and frowns a bit. Goodman is something wrong? Good coin awaits for an open gate and hearth!
Male Shadeling Shadowcaster Wizard 5(Shadow Subscool)
Kheldor visibly winced when the horn was blown announcing their presence. "Shadows take you man! What in the name of The Great Dreamer are you doing?? You just alerted anybody within at least mile of our presence. Have you no concept of subtly?"
Nobles. How he despised them. They thought they could do whatever they wanted just because of being born into the right family. Many had tried to control the young shadow mage, but his spirit was too wild to be bound.
He thought himself blessed by the Song of Spheres herself, being chosen to take part in this expedition. It seemed pure chance that the innkeeper of the tavern he was staying in was a cousin of some important person of someplace he didn't care to know about. And when word came around that there was going to be a venture into the Stolen Lands, the innkeep strongly suggested Kheldor be assigned to the team.
While he desperately wanted to create a home for himself and Zeldana, he was beginning to think this was a bad idea. After all, what sane man blew a horn in the middle of the night??
He leaned against a tree, barely visible, his golden eyes twinkling in the lantern's light, waiting to be let inside. Thankfully, while he was rather wet, he was starting to dry a bit, as the tree currently kept most of the rain off of him.
As everyone waits outside the gates to the fort, a larger man with a barrel chest, wild red hair and small, angry eyes opens the gate a crack with an ugly look. "I heard you men. How could I not with that damn horn?" He says angrily, then opens the gates calmly for you all, displaying his previously hidden crossbow as he puts it away, then points to the largest building. "My wife Svetlana is in there. Feel free to get some food and drink, stable your horses in there," He points to an obvious stables to the side. "I assume you're the guards sent from Brevoy?" As you head inside he waits for everyone to stable or move in then comes in behind you, opening to a large kitchen and dining area combination where a svelte, pixieish blonde woman in a ponytail works away at a stove. "Are these our visitors dear?" She asks, pulling a large pot of stew from the fire. "Aye. Hungry and thirsty as you could ask." The large man, presumably the titular Oleg, gives his wife a chaste kiss as he takes the pot from her, placing it in the center of the large table in the middle of the room. "Feel free to eat. Bread will be out in a bit."
The stew is a delicious venison blend. A bit light on vegetables, but quite tasty nonetheless. The black flatbread which comes later is even better, served with dark peppers that sizzle the mouth.
Male Shadeling Shadowcaster Wizard 5(Shadow Subscool)
Before stepping inside, Kheldor speaks a quiet word in a language nobody could understand and waves his hand down his body, instantly drying himself off. Casting Prestidigitation. He then nods his thanks to Oleg and sits down to eat. He doesn't say much, but will respond to anybody who talks to him. When finished, he says "That was a most deliciously amazing meal. Thank you very much for allowing me to eat at your table."
Anton starts and looks toward the shadowy tree where the voice came out, his nostrils flaring and sniffing like a bloodhound, a figure lurking just outside his darkling vision. By Gorum, I had no idea you were there! Give a man a stroke! Well A good eve... soon, I hope, to you."
Anton turns as the gate open and an irascible man admits them.
Thank you, Master Oleg for succor on such an eve, I'm Anton Lebeda. We'll speak more out of the rain and with the gratefully appreciated food." Anton follows Oleg into the inn having no horse to stable. He starts wringing out his clothes near the doorways as to not drip all over the place. When Kheldor does his magic he asks, "Hello good mage, could you help me not to bring a mess into this lovely home?"
"This meal is great Goodwife Svetlana, this cooking is surprising given the isolation of this place, your labors do not go for nought. I just met these other travelers at your gate, I believe we are on common purpose. When the meal closes we can discuss upon our business and perhaps yours Master Oleg. You mentioned guards coming, are yours missing or failing?"
Anton looks over everyone and seems to stop and do a dog-like sniffle every so often.
Kata winks at Arkady as Oleg becomes the third in about three minutes to critique his horn. My, it seems Oleg is a bit testy tonight. Hopefully just the weather. She follows Oleg past the gates, looking around to get a good look at the keep.
Perception1d20 + 5 ⇒ (15) + 5 = 20
Guards? She decides to let it go for a moment and just go along with things until everyone gets inside.
With no horse to stable, Kata follows Oleg into the building. The warmth of the room washes over her and Kata shrugs off her cloak to let it soak in. A tiny creature, looking like a cross between a lizard and a bird unfolds, then stretches and perches on her shoulder.
The smell of the stew leaves her mouth watering as Oleg's wife speaks. Visitors? Are we expected or are they just confused. After dinner, we really must get this straight. Kata sits down and breathes in the aroma of the soup. She eats the stew slowly, savoring the first warm meal in some time and trying to keep from being distracted by Anton's snuffles. Must he do that? What a strange habit. And now it begins... Waiting for Oleg's response, she plucks a piece of venison out of the stew and feeds Blackthorn.
Marcus nods in greeting to Oleg, content to let the others speak first. He knows little of animal husbandry but the man from whom he had bought the horse had told him to remove the saddle at night, and that's what Marcus does.
"A fine meal," Marcus tells Svetlana as he finishes off the last of the stew, "More then enough to shake off the chill of travelling." He sits in silence, observing the interactions between the party and their hosts.
"So then, Oleg, tell us what troubles there are here abouts," Marcus is keen to know what issues there are locally. Information will be important to taming these wild lands.
Arkady smiles in return to Katya's wink, then turns to Kheldor after he dismounts. "Sounding a horn tells those inside the keep that we come openly, not being raiders, who strike without warning. As for those outside, any close enough to hear the horn, and willing to be out in tonight's rain rather than seeking shelter, mean harm rather than help. Better that they know we are here, and give up any idea of attacking. And last, if any other travellers be lost in the night, perhaps the horn may guide them safe to shelter." He pauses, looking doubtfully at Kheldor. "Or have you cause to suspect scouts observing this place? I saw none, but in such wilderness as this sharp eyes may see what others miss."
Once Oleg comes out, Arkady waits for the others to enter first, then nods to Oleg as he passes. "Goodman, let me stable my horse first, then will I gladly take comfort of your table." Once in the stable, Arkady makes sure his horse is comfortable, with water and fodder, then gives it a rubdown. He advises Marcus to do the same. "First the mount, then yourself. Otherwise the horse may be ill or tired when you need him." Arkady also glances over the other stalls to see what beasts are there, and what might be the standard of their care.
Handle Animal check, 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (11) + 4 = 15
So by the time Arkady reaches the table, a good chunk of the food has already disappeared. He digs in quickly, eating a good deal but not more than his share, and listening to the conversation but not interjecting more than a few words. After Katya starts feeding her familiar, he looks at it with interest. "I have seen little of that clever creature on the road, cousin. Where did you find him? I have not seen his like before."
Svetlana approaches with a tray of bread; Arkady leans back and obviously luxuriates in the taste, then thanks her gracefully. "Well cooked, indeed, and more than welcome on such a dark and stormy night." When Marcus asks Oleg about local troubles, though, Arkady perks up, brushing his hair back and paying close attention to the conversation. "Yes, tell us of these troubles, if you would share them."
"Such polite guests too" Svetlana says brightly as she disappears for a moment.
Oleg sits down and digs in heartily, his hunger obviously undiminished from your perceived rudeness. He talks between bites of stew. "Lookin' like you're not guards. No uniforms and such. Probably a charter group then. Still might be a help to us, since the guards seem to be late." His expression darkens in anger. "Figures the Gods Damned Swordlords in their high towers wouldn't even tell you that we were having bandit problems here. And no my guards ain't an issue. Never had any. Never needed them afore now. Used to be fine with just my crossbow." He makes an angry gesture towards his wife, who comes back with a bottle of wine. "Oh and my wife brings out my wine. I'll tell you now. You'd better be helping if you're drinking my wine." Svetlana has a decent vintage wine which she pours for each of you while Oleg glares at all of you in turn, then continues. "Damn bandits have been bothering us for four months now. Threatening us each month." His face darkens to a rich plum color with unbridled rage. "They. Threatened. My. Wife." He says with slow emphasis, the rage plain in his voice. Svetlana steps over and hugs him, with a quick whisper in his ear and he begins to visibly calm.
Svetlana takes up where he left off. "The men forced us to give up our furs and trade goods, as well as the meager gold we'd made that month. They keep coming back and taking our livelihood. Luckily my husband and I kept a bit of credit with a few friends who are keeping us afloat, but we can't continue if they keep taking our profits. They always come near the beginning of the month. They're late right now, so we can expect them any day. They always arrive near midday." She bit her lip, gathering strength for a moment. "The worst of them is the woman with the hatchets. She's... cruel. Purely cruel. She threatened to take Oleg's hand and... smiled... when she said they would... would..." She stopped. This time Oleg pressed her into the chair before standing ahead of you.
"The woman don't come with them much anymore. Usually it's a big cloaked fella they call 'Happs'. Used to come with 20 bandits, but it's been less each time. Last time they only came with six men." Oleg looks up, an obviously uncharacteristic look of shame on his face. "We need help... and we can pay well, including room and board until they get here. You get them to stop bothering us and we'll keep you rested and fed any time you need it." He wrings his hands in shameful anger. "Just make sure those bastards don't bother us anymore."
Backing up to dinner banter and Arkady's question about Blackthorn...
The small creature extends its long neck and then snatches the meat from Katya with its tiny, sharp teeth. Its head is long, narrow and almost all mouth with yellow reptilian eyes that seem to take everything in. The creature's skin is made up of blueish-purple scales mottled with dark blotches on a light base. Its tail is as long as the rest of its body and wraps around Katya, occasionally twitching the end back and forth.
Katya smiles and answers, "Yes, Blackthorn can be a little shy and he simply hates this cold, wet weather. The warmth in the kitchen is much more to his liking." She closes her eyes for a moment. Ah, where to begin and how much to tell." When she opens her eyes again, you see a far-away look, her expression a little sad. "After we left Stoneclimb, my mother and I lived in the Gronzi Forest. The woods there are ancient and the paths don't always lead you where you might expect. Fortunately, my mother knew the ways better than most and taught me where it was safe and where I needed to be cautious. But, I'm sure you all remember times when you didn't listen. And so I found myself alone in the First World. Fortunately, it wasn't a bad place. Once mother found out, she made sure I knew the danger. I walked for a while, taking in all of the dazzling color...I don't know if any of you have ever been there before...when I found Blackthorn following after me. I was enamored of him at once and he was really friendly right away. Then, this terrible crashing came from the nearby wood and I caught a glimpse of some that looked a little like Blackthorn, but a whole lot bigger. I ran. I was terrified. Thought I was going to die for certain. And then I heard laughter and there were bright lights and I found myself back in the Gronzi Forest in the middle of a thorn bush with Blackthorn at my side. Thought at first that he'd grow big like the other one. But, he hasn't grown a bit since the day he came back with me."
And at the end of dinner...
Katya listens carefully to Oleg as he rages about the Swordlords and the bandits. "Its not that they didn't mention bandits at all Oleg. They certainly warned that there would be bandits in the Greenbelt. But, you're right that they didn't share that you had a problem. Perhaps they were concerned it would make us apprehensive." She pauses for a moment, "First of all, thank you for all of your hospitality already and thank you for your offer of further hospitality to come. I for one, am disgusted by what has happened to you and Svetlana. I am willing to help. What can you tell us of the arms and armor of these bandits other than Hatchet-Woman? Do they come on foot or by horse? And how do they approach the Trading Post? We might be able to set a trap for them."
The small reptile breaks off eating for a moment as Anton leans over and sniffs, its tongue flicking out to sample the air. Both return to their meals satisfied that the other is not a threat. How unusual a creature, from the First World you say? Never heard of that before but I leave such matters to the learned. Rumors have it the the mysteries of the forests of the Stolen Lands are as great as the ones of the Gronzi. Hopefully you can find out, I don't think our charter extends to exploring another world!" Anton concludes with a good-natured laugh.
Listens to Oleg and Svetlana's tale
Anton is expressionless throughout the tale. After they and Kata conclude he remarks in a polite, neutral tone, "How unfortunate you lacked the strength of arms to battle down these miscreants, they sound like bullies rather than warriors, but the strong do as they will. Twenty men would be a bit much for our group but six bullies I think can be won against. No opportunity to miss a worthy battle should be missed, thanks to Gorum for this blessing."Anton had goes to his holy symbol and waves it about the table. "To practical matters then once this small group is taken the others will likely miss them or at least the tribute. We cannot stay here to protect and fulfill our charter, does anyone have suggestions as to follow up?" Anton mops up the last bit of stew on his plate with the bread and finishes eating as though talk of robbery and battle was an everyday thing.
Arkady's nostrils flare and his face flushes as he listens to the innkeeper's tale, particularly Svetlana's choked-off words. "Indeed, a worthy battle we will have, defending honest folk against bandits. I think Katya has spoken well." He smiles at his cousin, then looks around the table. "But shoot the stag before you butcher it, Anton. Before we can ride against them all, we must know more than we do. And first of all, we must deal with this Happs and his men. Foolish of them to fall into so regular a pattern as Oleg tells of." He pauses, thinking deeply for a while. "I did not see much of the nearby land through rain and darkness, to know where we may fight. Safer for our hosts if we meet the bandits in battle outside their walls. I do not want to let them inside the walls if we can avoid it."
He dips his finger in the butter and begins sketching a quick square on the table, counting out distances with a dubious expression. "But we are not an army to form a shieldwall, nor do we have many riders to surround them in the field. We must not let even one escape to warn the others. Six or eight we can defeat. But twenty -- and there may be more! -- well, we do not wish to fight three of them to one of us. If we meet them in the open, they will know the local land and how to run and hide in it far better than we. If they always arrive near noon, their camp is likely only a half-day away, and a single straggler could bring them all upon us far too fast. So I fear we must let Happs and his bullies inside the keep, then close the gate to trap them. More, we should try and take prisoners to question. Happs most of all; he will know more than his men. So do not be swift to make sure of the fallen."
He turns to the innkeeper. "Oleg, you seemed ready to use that crossbow earlier. Can Svetlana shoot it? Do you have others? You and she could stay behind barred doors, shoot through windows at bandits in the open. Do any of your buildings have an upper story?"
A2-Bunks, Sleeping Areas
A7-Dining Room/Kitchen (Current Position)
The walls around the fort are roughly ten feet high, with the walkways inside them 6 feet up. Characters on the walkways have high ground against enemies on foot and cover from those outside the fort. The gates are solid, weathered oak and open inward. The catapults at the four corners are sadly not operational, and it would take several weeks of work by well trained men to get them in working condition.
Oleg takes you on a tour of the fort after dinner, making sure to keep himself well insulated against the wet and the mire. He answers your questions one by one with a slow drawl. "All the bandits use short blades and bows, and Happs has a mighty fine bow, looks tough to pull though. They most often come by horse, pack nags not real warhorses, and from the southwest. I'd guess their camp is no more than a full days ride, though I ain't certain on that." He climbs the stairs to show you around the walkways as he answers Anton. "No need to worry about staying, that guard contingent should be here a day or two after you, and a few good men could hold this fort fair easy if they was well trained, just need to get through to their arrival. The nearby land consists mainly of flat grasslands, no real cover or anything to speak of in that direction till you get to the forest near 8 hours out a-horse, about a day on foot." The big man's ruddy face darkens at Arkady's suggestion. "NO." He says firmly. "I'll help defend my land with my crossbow if you need. I'm not a great shot with it but I can hit the broad end of a barn, but my wife will stay inside and far from any fighting. You need me I'll serve as the bait on the hook but I don't want those bastards to see hide nor hair of her."
Kata leans forward as the plans start to come about. She huddles in the cloak again, Blackthorn well out of sight. "I have a couple of suggestions for the role I may play in this fight. I have two spells that may be useful. I can cause our warriors to grow larger. The spell will double you in size for about a minute. You'll be larger and stronger, but also easier to hit. Best of all, you can strike our foes from further away because of your greater size. I also have the ability to put people to sleep. it will depend on how many there are and how strong they are, but I should be able to disable a few of them. That may be particularly helpful if we want captives." She pauses for a moment and looks around the fort, peering out into the darkness. "We should see if we can separate them from their horses so I can get as many bandits as possible. I don't need to touch you or them for either to work."
Marcus had remained quiet as the group discussed tactics. However, as Kata discussed captives, he shifted in his seat.
"On the subject of banditry, the law is quite clear," he speaks as Kata stops speaking, "Any bandits are to be executed either by sword or by rope. Whilst the thought of taking captives is admirable, we have nowhere for them to be held and I balk at the thought of leaving them with these good people, even if the guards do turn up."
Marcus was aware of the irony; that his own presence here was due to clemency but this was a harsh land and not the cities of Brevoy. Repentance amongst thieves was easy to find in civilized parts where punishment was not as harsh. In this harsh environment, Marcus surmised that repentance would likely be a ruse until they could stick a knife in your back.
"Whilst we have been dispatched to this land to aid in turning it toward more profitable ventures, we cannot create our own laws," he continues, "Regardless of our tactics, the bandits must be punished appropriately."
"Speaking of tactics, I might not be an expert tactician but I suspect that an ambush would be our most likely avenue of success. I am a decent shot with a crossbow myself," Marcus patted the light crossbow that leant against his belongings.
"Marcus, I fear you misunderstand. I, for one, should like to know more about these bandits. Where is their camp? How many are there really? The best way to learn these things will be catching some of them. And, I have the ability to get them to talk too. The unrepentant lot will see the rope soon enough."
Male Shadeling Shadowcaster Wizard 5(Shadow Subscool)
Kheldor is silent while the talk of tactics goes on. He was not much for working with others, but that was his lot now. He does speak up however when talk of the time the bandits arrive is brought up "Noon you say? Ugh, the worst time for me. I am at my best when there is at least some dim lighting or shadows. Oh well. I can aid in a variety of ways, depending on what is required."
He grows quiet again, as if those few sentences was somehow a strain for him. In reality, he preferred to only speak when necessary and use only as many words as needed.
to have a worthy battle. Need to hire a proof reader :) Where is the well on the map? I don't see it. Not that we need it today.
Anton listens to the company plan its battle. To Kata he says, "That spell to grow larger I know, Gorum sometimes favors me with it but no more than once a day. I've fought at that size, in the open it can be decisive. I would not want to see brave warriors made helpless in battle with a spell that renders them helpless but simple bullies deserve no better." After Marcus and Kata exchange their thoughts he adds, "The fate of the fallen belong to the victors as is always true. However if they show courage in battle and are willing to repent of their cause, maybe we can arrange with the coming guards to have them sent to The Temple in New Stetven, trained troops are hard to find, and the crusade can use an unlimited number." He frowns at the ambush plans, "I see the need to prevent them from fleeing to warn their fellows but I cannot countenance an attack from behind, they must have the chance to draw weapons and fight if they chose to do so. If not they deserve nought but contempt." Anton turns to Oleg. "Master Oleg, what do the bandits expect to see when they enter, where is the tribute placed for them, and where do they expect you and your lovely wife to be?" Anton awaits Oleg's reply.
There doesn't seem to be a well on the map. I'd assume it's within a few minutes walking distance if it matters.
"I usually give them what they need. I've tried to keep Svetlana inside since... the first time." Each time he mentions this incident you can see that it pains him. "They made her make them food once, but haven't asked about her since. I think they just enjoyed making me squirm."
"My copy of the charter says 'unrepentant banditry' is to be punished by sword and rope", Arkady said. "My father would agree with you, Marcus. I have seen him hang a dozen bandits, one after the other. And you are right about prison. We might keep some locked in a room here for a day or two, but not longer. There is no space, and likely no food to waste on thieves, and we would wear ourselves out with watches." He turns to look at Oleg. "A starving man who steals to feed his family I might excuse, and then find work for him to earn his living. Those who indulge in cruelty such as you describe, I doubt will be easy to redeem. But surely some fell into this life because they knew no better, nor found any good lord to serve, or good men to follow as example, or a good woman to share life with. I doubt many of them can be turned from the bandit's life -- it is an easy one in the beginning, to take and take and never work or give. We need not spare them if they have weapons in their hands, nor if they keep to their ways. But some of them might be brought back, made useful. Soldiers for the crusade, as Anton says, or hunters of deer instead of men. We should at least give them the choice. He grins suddenly. "We could say to them that any who abandon banditry would surely reveal all they know of the lairs and trails and habits of such folk as he renounces. If they stay silent, or if we judge they lie, we can hang them after hearing their tale as easily as before."
Arkady waits to see what response is made. When discussion turns to tactics...
"There is little space to charge here, or fight from horseback." He spends a long while studying the arrangement of the courtyard, pacing back and forth with lantern in hand and staying under the catwalk as much as possible to stay out of the rain. He gets rather wet examining the gate and how it opens or closes.
I assume from the map that the gate is the usual two-leaved one. If not we'll have to adjust.
"I suggest this. We close the west leaf, maybe wedge it and kick dirt over the wedge. We leave the east leaf half-open, where it conceals the alley between wall and bunkroom, and use the cart to block any remaining space. Marcus and Kata and Kheldor stand ready behind the cart, or perhaps in it covered with hay; Anton stands in front behind the gate-leaf, hidden by it from those who enter. Kheldor can stay under the catwalk, shaded from the sun -- if there is sun tomorrow. Oleg stands in his doorway, holding his crossbow behind it. Svetlana locks herself someplace safe."
"We put food and goods and such tribute as bandits take on the tables outside, where they will see it as they enter, and make straight for it. I stay behind the stables on horseback where they cannot see me. When all have entered, and perhaps dismounted, Anton calls on Gorum to make himself a giant and slams shut the gate. I come from behind the stable blowing my horn, staying where I can charge anyone who tries to open the gate or attack Anton. Then we demand their instant surrender. If they draw weapons, or do not drop them, then Marcus and Oleg can shoot any who show fight. Anton and I brain anyone who makes for the gate or tries to fight us, while Kata and Kheldor use their magics as they see fit. Could either of you craft an image of soldiers coming out of the stable, it might further dishearten them."
Who knew all the time I spent sparring with my brothers would pay off so well. Now if I haven't forgotten anything like I did that time with Petrov
"That keeps us together, all between them and escape. What say you all?"
"Repentance is a voluntary act, not one which comes at the end of a sword point," Marcus continues with his own moral guidance, "I can understand that some of you may wish to attempt to rehabilitate these bandits, but the word of the law is clear. Were any of these bandits truly repentant, then they would have left their organization already."
"For those bandits who come here, they come not through repentance or a will to change, but to pick on those they view as weak," Marcus looks at Oleg and Svetlana, "We do not have the manpower to guard these men, nor to escort them back to Brevoy proper. They will be executed for their crimes as it stipulated in the law. I would not insult our hosts by leaving those who had previously threatened them here."
"I can understand that some of you might find this disagreeable, which is why I'll nominate myself as executioner should it need to come to it," Marcus says without pause.
In response to Arkady's tactics: "As I am better with a crossbow, I could hide myself on the battlements with a commanding view of the courtyard and pick the bandits off from there."
"That plan is good if what the bandits see is what they expect long enough for them to fully enter the compound. Oleg, do they usually remain mounted or do they dismount to at least stretch and relieve themselves? They have a chance to fight if they choose to do so, good for me. Anton listens to the moral discussion between Arkady and Marcus with an faint air of amusement. I care not whether they are cruel or not, only if they have any valour or only bully the helpless. If they have courage, even of the cornered rat variety, they could prove useful.
Anton turns to Marcus, "Do not misunderstand me, if they lose the battle, their lives mean as little as our do, if we lose. Rehabilitation is a concern only for those that follow gods of morality, I care only for valor, not virtue. As to the law, most noble lords interpret repentance to suit their own needs or desires, Brevic law leaves most decisions in the lords or magistrate's hand; the law says only repentance, true or not we can accept it if it serves our purposes. It is interesting that our character is explicit in our duties to 'strive against banditry and other unlawful behavior' without directly giving a lordship or magistrate's authority."
"I say we can do as we think best, few in Brevoy, great or small, will care what happens to a few bandits. I will kill anyone in battle but I will not execute a helpless foe who showed courage; though if the decision is for death, I'll fight to the death any with valour who wish to die with blade in hand, no need to be the only one to kill. Not to impose on you, Marcus, but your view of law seems strict and harsh, are you a follower of Asmodeus?"
Possible fireworks time. Abadar has no greater rival than Asmodeus but Anton does not know what Marcus is about.
Marcus smiles at Anton. "I'm being pragmatic," he replies, "Where would you imprison these bandits? While we cut a swathe through the Stolen Lands, would you expect Oleg and Svetlana to keep looking over their shoulders in case the prisoners escaped?"
"I don't intend to execute every single bandit; once word gets out that there is a group in the Stolen Lands enforcing the law then we can permit bandits an amnesty. This would show true repentance, as they must make the conscious decision to approach us. Throwing themselves on our mercy after we've eliminated their compatriots is not repentance, it's survival instinct. What use is there in destroying the viper's nest when they sleep in our own base of operations?"
"Accepting every bandit who throws down his sword and cries crocodile tears will quickly deplete our meager resources for little benefit," Marcus rises from his chair and stretches his muscles.
"And to put your mind at rest, I'm no follower of Asmodeus. I'm merely pragmatic," he smiles at Anton again, "However, if we are to engage in battle tomorrow, I wish to get a decent night's rest. I'll leave the discussion to the rest of you, as I've made my own viewpoint clear."
"I will swing the sword of judgment, if it comes to that," Arkady says. "If a man must die, the least he owes is that his killer look him in the eye. But since you are being pragmatic, Marcus, how do you expect to gain information from these bandits about their lair and fellows, if you give them nothing in return? I would give them a chance to earn their lives and be useful men again, but they would have to change in deed as well as word." He frowns, considering, and obviously struggling with the thought. "You are right that we must not be deceived by false contrition, and I am no skilled judge to sift out clever lies. Old Deadeye has given me the sight to see those who do great evil, but a man may lie in fear for his life without sinking to the depths where I can see them." Detect evil picks up major evil, not garden-variety bandits -- and alignment is not deeds, nor a sure guide to future intent "Kata, you said you could convince them to talk with your magic? Just what can you do? Kheldor? Anton? How shall we judge them?"
Tactically, to Marcus "I agree a higher vantage would be useful. I thought to keep you with the spellcasters in case some enemy fought toward them, but I suppose they can use the cart as cover, and Anton will be there as well. Place yourself for the best vantage."
Kata smiles and listens as the debate continues, finally responding "Dear Marcus trust that I have means of ensuring that we are not deceived by crocodile tears. Here is what I would suggest. Let me put as many to sleep as I can. You all can slay any that do not succumb. Once the battle is done, we wake the sleeping and I charm one of them. From him, we can learn much. Where is their camp? How many are there? We can even learn more of their nature, motivation, and future plans to ensure that we execute them with a clear conscience."
Male Shadeling Shadowcaster Wizard 5(Shadow Subscool)
Kheldor sighs loudly and in much exasperation "All this talk of laws and law enforcement is starting to give me a headache. Do you any of you posses a sheriff's badge? or how about a judge's gavel? Unless you have one of those, or something similar, you are not truly in a position to enforce the laws. I have spent much time in the River Kingdoms, and your laws will hold no meaning to them. However, murdering any who lay down their weapons is, in my opinion, as bad if not worse than banditry. The path to Hell is paved with good intentions after all"
"You're right Kheldor...what is the expression...something about chickens, counting, and hatching. Really right now, we should be concerned with whether we are going to simply attack them all or try to take captives. We can determine what to do with them later. I, for one, strongly recommend that we take captives - at least one. Clearly there are more bandits than have been coming to Oleg's recently. We need to know more about what we face."
Anton grimaces saying, " As was said do not count victory before it's in hand. I just wish to make it clear that anyone made helpless and unable to show valor should not be killed out of hand nor any that do show courage. If they should die, under the law for their crimes, then it should be in battle, blade in hand. I would lose the favor of Gorum should I slay the valorous helpless, even if some good person would say they deserve it."
"As to the mere symbols, they mean nothing without power and with power they are unneeded. I hold a blood-line deemed worthy by the law of rendering judgements and in wielding my blade, Gorum judges by who has victory, not pieces of paper. And the charter you hold requires you to challenge the unlawful and describes the punishment you need to render. I've already pointed out the strangeness of the document but I don't need it."
"Those we capture, slay the cowards out of hand, if you will, the brave should live or die with respect. Any information you get is of course useful. As for keeping them, we can hope that the guards will show, that should suffice. And if good intentions lead to Hell, I'm safe, I have none. I am not good at fighting to capture, I'm trained to kill."
Anton stands ready to defend his position but clearly thinks there is nothing more to be said.
Moving on Anton says to all, "I hope you all rise at dawn for that is when I hold services. If you do not know they can be rather loud. Anyone who wishes may join me, mock battles are hard to do alone, but I'll manage, if need be."
He will wring out, in some dry out of way place, his wet clothes and polish his armor and weapons. He will change to the studded leather armor for sleeping so as not to be tired in the morning. He see no reason for a watch in a somewhat defensible location but if others insist then he would like the pre-dawn watch. Chanting prayers will occupy the rest of his time unless events change that.
"I am not adverse to gathering information," Marcus says before he leaves the room, "However, we are the extension of the Swordlord's arm in this land. As such, we are the judge, jury and executioner."
"Perhaps it will take the murder of our good hosts for you to see the true way in which these cutthroats operate and then you can explain to the Swordlords precisely why the only trading outpost in the Stolen Lands will require new proprieters," Marcus seems completely set on this course of action.
"Anton, I can appreciate that your deity would frown upon the killing of the unarmed," Marcus strokes his beard slowly, "Perhaps we can mollify him by a trial of combat?"
"Whilst we can hopefully count on the guards, we have no jail and at the moment, no means of constructing one. Look around this fort, it can barely stand to keep people out much less in. I mean no disrespect, Oleg, of course. Until we are at a point where we can be assured of the repentance of any prisoners and we have somewhere to hold them, then we simply cannot afford to capture and keep them alive beyond interrogation," Marcus leans against the wall nonchalantly, "And whilst I do not doubt your abilities, Kata, I am led to believe that magic has a finite time limit. How do you intend to ensure their compliance when we are leagues away and the spells run out, leaving Oleg and Svetlana with wolves in their midst?"
"We are all aiming for the same outcome," he says in an attempt to mollify the others, "I simply propose that we stick to the letter of the law until we are capable of providing an alternative. Believe me, I would take no joy in taking the life of another but if you ask me to choose the life of a bandit over the safety of innocent, tax-paying citizens then I will execute every last bandit in the Stolen Lands myself."
I'm loving the roleplaying! Marcus' stance is difficult to move; he was brought up a thief in New Stetven and through years in Abadar's church has come to know the mindset very well. Out of interest, Ryuko, I'm aware that unless we opt to remain in the fort until the guards arrive we'll have to leave the prisoners with Oleg and Svetlana. Oleg is also a pragmatic man; what would be the outcome of doing that? :P
"We will see what the morning brings," Aekady says. "Our charter, I think, gives us sufficient authority, and Oleg's request for aid gives us the blessing of the local folks, though no honorable soul need scruple to fight the foes of all. Let us sleep, and think, and take new counsel in the morning. We must defeat the bandits before we judge them, after all."
Aekady checks again on his horse, then finds his bed and sleeps as deeply as he can. He rises before sunrise and attends Anton's service, while praying to Erastil for strength to defend the weak, and wisdom to judge after the battle. Afterwards he takes his horse for a brief ride, and returns to work on getting things set up for the reception of the bandits. If anyone has tactical suggestions or improvements on the plan, he's ready to discuss them.
"Marcus, let us see what questioning the survivors reveals. It may be that none of them are willing to abandon their thievery, but I mislike to judge a man unheard. How of this, then: since they will be taken in the very act, the burden will lie on them to show why they should not be punished as the law demands. And it will be a hard burden, as their deeds were hard. We will not spare without proof we can believe. Let us sleep, and think on what that may be.".
Male Shadeling Shadowcaster Wizard 5(Shadow Subscool)
Looking directly at Marcus, his golden eyes staring deeply into the man, Kheldor asks "And what would you say if I decided your killing of helpless, beaten defenders to be unlawful and decided to execute you? Would that too be within my authority? Let us first defeat our foe, before we decide what to do with them. After all, there's no guarantee we'll be victorious or that they will even be any survivors."
Marcus eyed Kheldor with a smirk. "I suspect that the Swordlords would take a dim view of it, Kheldor, and that you'd have to join the very bandits we seek to eliminate just to evade their wrath. Although there is no guarantee that we'll be victorious, I'd wager the odds are in our favour. Anyway, I must get some rest if I am to be ready for the morning's events."
Marcus turned the evening's events over in his mind. It would appear that his compatriots were a touch squeamish. Not a good trait, if they were to tame these lands. He asked for a piece of parchment, a quill and some ink from the good lady Svetlana and found a discrete spot to pen a quick letter.
The party has arrived at Oleg's. Evidently, some bandits are due to arrive soon to collect on protection earnings. Whilst the party are intent on stopping the bandits, it would appear that most of them have qualms with doing their duty by the letter of the law. This may prove a dangerous gambit.
Having penned his letter, he asked Svetlana to post it with the next available trader heading back towards Brevoy, giving the name of his contact to ensure it found it's way back to his superiors in the church. Digging into his backpack, he retrieved a signet ring with the seal of Abadar upon it to let his contact know whether it was read or not.
That entirely depends on which bandits you leave with them. The bandits have different personalities and motivations and each would have a different reaction to being imprisoned.
Eventually Svetlana and Oleg show you to the bunkhouse, which has been warmed in preparation of your time here. There is a partition to seperate the males and females, which is movable so as to allow a variable number of people. As each of you takes a bed Oleg mentions that Svetlana will make a breakfast around 8 then shows you a small tub under an overhang behind the bunkhouse for cleaning, then excuses himself to head to bed.
The Fourth of Pharast dawns better than the night before, with a cloudy dark sky but no rain falling. The muddy ground sucks at everyone's boots as they sit to eat with Svetlana, who makes a warm, filling oatmeal, bland but edible, on the firepit in the center of the fort, nervously attempting to make sure everything is set to their guests expectations. Oleg spends most of the morning fixing a few loose tiles on the roof of the bunkhouse, obviously working to keep his mind from the battle to come.
At around Eleven in the morning, anyone watching can see five riders approaching at an easy pace on horses, with one pack horse moving behind them. The lead rider is wearing a green cape and matches Oleg's description of Happs. The riders will be upon the fort within 15 minutes.
Male Shadeling Shadowcaster Wizard 5(Shadow Subscool)
Your precious Swordlords must have an abundance of extra soldiers if they would be willing to send some after me for killing you, were I to deem your actions unlawful. Oh wait. They don't. Which is why we're here in the first place. Hopefully one day you will quit relying on the strength and support of some vast organization or religion to provide you with a backbone and courage. Me? I like to rely on my skill and personal abilities to see me through the day." Kheldor won't sleep during the night, instead going to bed just before dawn and waking up not too long before noon.
For this upcoming encounter, I'll have Shield and Magic Missile as my normal spells, Color Spray as my bonus Illusionist spell and Vanish stored in my shadow, per Shadow Spells.
Kata yawns, "All right. I'm exhausted and going to bed. Let's win this battle first. Good night everyone. Oleg and Svetlana, thank you for the hospitality. I hope to help repay it in the morning." Kata stands and shrugs her cloak back on. Blackthorn curls back inside. She heads for the bunkroom and goes to sleep wondering, Goodness, I am already concerned for the unity of our group. I don't think any of us question the need to stop the banditry and most likely we will need to execute the lot. But to not even consider the possibility that we may run into men that have been forced into their lot by circumstance or even threats and might welcome the opportunity to help tame this hard land. Sigh. Hopefully things will prove to be clear cut and not gray. Worries aside, Kata sleeps soundly.
She wakes early when Blackthorn nuzzles her cheek, looking for a bite. Kata digs through her things and finds a bit of smoked meat that she keeps on hand. The tiny creature begins breathing in deeply, smelling the meat in her fingers and then jerks its neck forward grabbing the morsel and swallowing it with little fanfare. "So, Blackthorn. I think I have decided what is needed today." Kata enters a deep trance, clutching her familiar against her chest. She bows her head and casts her mind far away. Images of bright landscapes and beautiful swaying flowers accompany an elusive song, familiar, but just beyond her grasp. As always, the trance ends with the sound of laughter, this time far-off and high-pitched. Memorizes detect magic, guidance, message, sleep and two charm person spells.
Kata wakes in the morning, eats with Svetlana, and engages in as much small talk the other woman is willing to engage. She is particularly curious what brought Oleg and Svetlana to the trading post and what they know of the surrounding lands.
When the bandits are spotted, Kata rushes into the bunkhouse to wake Kheldor (sticking her tongue out in response to his smart ass remark) and then takes up a position hiding on the catwalk west of the gate, hiding behind the stockade in a spot that permits a clear line of sight to the area beyond the gate. I suspect this is close to where Marcus wishes to hide as well, she definitely does not want to hide where she could be engaged in melee. She waits for the bandits to enter the compound.
Readies action to cast sleep (DC 16) centered on Happs once all of the bandits have entered the compound.
Marcus shakes his head at Kheldor's naivety. He'll learn a short, sharp lesson, Marcus thinks to himself.
In the morning, Marcus rouses himself shortly before nine in the morning and sees to his equipment. As the riders come into sight, Marcus hauls himself up onto the battlements and selects a suitable hiding spot.
Okay to take 20 for a Stealth check of 26?
In the event that combat begins before I can get on tomorrow, Marcus will aim to eliminate the bandit at the rear of the bandit's group once they enter the fort. He does not intend to allow them to flee the fort to warn any other bandits.
Male Shadeling Shadowcaster Wizard 5(Shadow Subscool)
Kheldor smiles at the sight of being awoken by Kata "I could get used to waking up this way." He clearly is in no rush, but does get up and readies himself for the coming battle. He finds a shadowed spot within line of sight of the gates and waits for the group to enter. Once they do, he will cast Color Spray on them. Readied action to cast on them as soon as they enter the compound, DC 17
Arkady spends the early morning making sure that the cart and gates are arranged as described above (west leaf of gate wedged shut, east leaf half-open and folded back so Anton can be in place behind it, the cart behind him in the alley blocking it to give Kheldor and Kata a place to work from), and checking to see where Marcus is hiding so Arkady doesn't ride into his line of fire.
Once word gets out that the bandits are approaching, Arkady arms and mounts, and moves behind the stable (just west of the southwest corner) so he is out of sight of the entry but ready to move quickly into battle. He has lance and signal horn in hand.
Readies an action to ride to slightly west of the gate, sounding his horn -- not right by the gate but 10' west of the half-open leaf, just enough space to charge anyone trying to open the gate -- as soon as combat begins or Anton shuts the gate.
Poor Arkady is assuming that since nobody spoke up differently everyone will follow the plan he as outlined it. Low Wisdom score = lack of checking.