6th of Pharast, Along South Rostland Road
After ten long days on a featureless, Rostland road to nowhere, a trio of hunters and outcasts look up in relief, their destination finally in sight, Oleg's Trading Post.
Yes, the group remembers it being mentioned in the charters they all received:
Be it 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 known as the Greenbelt. Exploration should be limited to an area no further than thirty-six miles east 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 the sword or rope. So witnessed on this 24th day of Calistril, under watchful eye of the Lordship of Restov and authority granted by the Lord Aoleski Surtova, current Regent of the Dragonscale Throne.
The Post is intimidating and old, a bit like a veteran grandparent if they were a building. It is surrounded by a worn, but sturdy, wooden palisade that stands 10 feet high. At each corner of this palisade are 20-foot high watchtowers, each sporting ruined piles of machinery that were catapults, back in the Post's prime. There is a single entrance, a thirty-foot wooden gate. It is invitingly, and conveniently, open.
You'll be using this later.
A1. Market Yard
A4. Storage Pen
A6. Main Hall
A7. Dining Room
The trio quickens its pace, and hastily makes its way through the gate. They are greeted by three buildings, a large one to the west resembling a stable, a medium sized house-like one to the east that faces a small barrack. Smoke rises from the house-like building's chimney and the smell of good food wafts toward the newcomers.
A gruff man is busily repairing the roof of the barracks, when they enter. As they breathe in the hearty smell of a finely crafted meal, he turns and nods his head, giving a gruff greeting.
"Welcome, I'm Oleg Leveton, be wit' ya in a moment."
You now have control of your characters.
- Oomlowt Schwaa, Kobold Rogue 1
- Garhan Ghaidos, Tiefling Witch 1
- Calanthe, Goat Familiar 1
- Woden Cernnos, Elf Ranger 1
Oomlowt surveys his companions. Both were disgustingly scaleless, covered (if that was the correct work) in vulgar, naked skin and little else save a few patches of thin fur and their own crude clothing. It took all of the kobold's social grace to keep from heaving up the contents of his stomach whenever he was in the presence of humanoids, though thankfully he was getting better at curbing this impulse. Soon he might not feel any revulsion at all!
As a kobold, he wasn't sure whether that was a good thing or not.
The reptile decided to prolong actually talking to his fellows a little longer. He turned his attention to his other ally in this odd job: a massive canine of mixed pedigree. It was a magnificent beast, rippling with muscles from head to toe and nearly twice the size of Oomlowt himself! Yes, it was a mighty creature, worthy to be his steed.
He called the hound Woofles.
Oomlowt stretched as far as he could to reach the dog's head. His clawed, scaly hands scratched the dog's head as gently as he could. Who's a good warbeast? Is it you, my hound? Is it you? he whispered to the dog in the sweetest voice his gnarled reptilian vocal cords could muster. The dog grunted in contentment as its tongue lazily slid out between its lips. Oomlowt smiled to himself, pleased at having boosted the creature's moral. Surely it would be a more efficient steed now.
Again the reptile looked to his companions. The hairier of the two was least offensive to his senses, so that was the one he decided to approach first for the inevitable and sadly necessary exercise in social bonding required to make this a lucrative gig.
Sooo... horn head... you smell of goats. That is pleasing to your fellow horn heads, yes?
The young man looked at all the surroundings in awe. The buildings were so impressive, tall and old, they had a noble aura to them. Well, of course the buildings didn't have actual magic auras or anything, but it sounded good in his head, so he decided to keep thinking about that. Yes, noble aura. Noble buildings. Good.
The tiefling, too, stayed silent. Not because he'd think either of his companions would be revolting or anything, rather simply because he didn't know what to say. It had been long since he'd have this sort of... Err, humanoid contact, and he really wanted to make a good first impression on the kobold and the elf.
Garhan looked down to his familiar, Calanthe the goat, as for advice. The goat was busy eating... Something. It might've been grass at some point, but right now, it rather looked like gravel and dirt. The goat looked up to meet her master's excited eyes. Calanthe swallowed whatever she was eating, but instead of sharing any wise words with Garhan, she just bellowed like a goat, and looked away again, as if to tell the Witch to mind his own business.
"You don't want to help me with this... OK then..", the man sighed. Much to his surprise, though, the kobold started a conversation with him just now. Delighted, Garhan's face turned into a happy smile, though he tried to control it, not wanting to seem like a complete idiot right away. The kobold would have to figure that one out later.
"Oh, yes, defenitely! Uh, I guess? She never comments my smell, really", the tiefling explained, wondering how to continue this. "Uh, your dog looks healthy."
Oomlowt beamed at the compliment. Perhaps this ugly mouth breathing ape had been blessed with more taste and refinement than the bulk of his breed - faint praise, of course, but notable nonetheless. Yes, he is a magnificent canine, built equally well for both combat and labor. It was truly an act of great providence that led him to my possession.
The kobold noticed that the horned one was also followed by a beast. It was similarly horned and matched its master in many respects, though the goat thankfully covered its skin with a healthy coat of fur. You seem to have taken interest in the art of beast taming yourself, horn head. Does the goat serve your purposes well?
"He does indeed seem magnificent and well-built..! It's been long since I've seen such a healthy dog!" Garhan nodded. Hahaha, yes! He was actually able to communicate with the kobold without insulting him, at least for now! Mental victory dance!
"Oh, yes!" the tiefling said, somewhat proudly. "She serves my purpouses very well. She's the best goat I've ever come accross." Calanthe rolled her eyes, deciding to eat some more of that mysterious stuff off the ground. It just might be moss.
Garhan turned his eyes to the third person present, the elf. He felt like he should make some sort of contact with the elf too, otherwise he might feel left out. "So, uh, how about you? You... Interested in beasts?"
After standing idly by whilst the two chat, Woden sees that the Tiefling has finally addressed him. Looking down at him he smiles and gives a friendly nod.
"Why yes I am!" The tall elf said excitedly. "I have always taken a great interest in beasts! Unfortunately most of the time I am more prompted to kill them for survivals sake...Though those are only the wild ones! Never a domesticated one! If only I had the opportunity to raise one, oh it'd be a fine beast indeed!"
Woden drifts off into a happy smile, thinking of spending his days raising a fine beast like his comrades. The bond he would share, the wonders he would experience!
Oh, the hunting of game is a fine practice as well! Oomlowt beamed again at finding more common ground with his partners. It would definitely aid him when it came time to practice the subtle art of manipulating them to work for his own ends, which of course formed the crux of any kobold relationship. The act of taking a creature that is physically superior and subjugating it with the power of your cunning alone is a most gratifying experience. The meat has such a sweeter flavor when you have drained the life of the beast with your own blade. He grinned to his comrades in hopes of further winning their approval.
Garhan smiled by himself, doing another mental victory dance. Yes! He was able to connect with the elf too!
The tiefling nodded at the conversation about hunting.
"Yes, yes, hunting is indeed fine! I'm not much of a hunter myself, though, but I admire hunters..!"
Calanthe let out a blee, causing Garhan to look at her direction.
Garhan's tail - though very well hidden somewhere under his trousers - drooped sadly. Nevertheless, though the goat seemed to dissaprove his high spirits, he wasn't ready to give up. He felt too accomplished about actually conversating with others.
"I've spent most of my life actually herding goats... But hunted meat does have different flavor than raised one!"
Ah, yes, the noble work of a goatherd! Oomlowt said with partial sincerity. Keeping the tribe fed is a noble act as well! Your eyesight must be keen, even beneath the glare of that abysmal light here on the overworld. That shall be most useful on our venture! The tiefling seemed pleased with this compliment, much to Oomlowt's own joy. Good, good, you're winning them over Oomlowt! Soon they shall be a loyal pair of stooges for your schemes.
Oomlowt turned from the witch and looked at the elf. He suddenly felt overwhelmed at the impotence of his own frail body compared to this colossal skin beast that towered above him. Good grief you're tall.
Woden looked down at the Kobold, seeing his discontent with his stature.
"Yes I am." Woden stated to his companion. "But don't get the wrong idea. It isn't always good to be so tall. It's hard to remain stealthy when you stick out from where you hide. Your foes spot you easier and you loose the advantage..."
Oomlowt's eyes widened in surprise at the elf's words. He had long pondered why kobolds were so small and weak if they were crafted by the gods to be the greatest species on the planet, yet he would never have entertained the idea that the answer to this riddle would be spat out from the bulbous, fleshy lips of a humanoid!
"That makes perfect sense to me!" the kobold barked with glee and, forgetting his upbringing for a moment, passionately shook the tall elf's hand in gratitude. "Many thanks lanky fellow!"
"A fine idea," says Oleg gruffly as he clambers down from the roof.
Before he can say any more, a fetching woman comes from the home-y building, carrying a large pot. She smiles warmly and exclaims, "Welcome, welcome! I'm Svetlana, I'll be right back," then she places the pot over the fire in the courtyard, and hurries back inside.
Oleg has made his way up to you by this point, and he looks off to the beginnings of a sun set for a moment before addressing you, "Svetlana's prepared a fine meal for ya. We're both relieved yer 'ere, what-with the bandits comin' tommarrow."
Procrastination makes perfect, guys!
The large pot seemed to get a lot more of Garhan's attention right now than Oleg. Placed on the fire, the pot soon gives out delicious aromas, reminding the tiefling that he hasn't eaten anything in hours.
"Oh... Yes, of course, we couldn't not come! This is very important!" the Witch told Oleg, trying to hide the fact he was more interested in the contents of the pot right now. The tiefling's stomach growls, making Garhan hope nobody else noticed that.
Oleg gives the Tiefling a wicked eye, as Svetlana comes out of the house again, holding freshly baked bread in one hand, and clutching a bottle of wine in the other.
"This is a wonderful occasion!" She exclaims, setting the bread down on one of the tables adjacent to the fire pit. "With you here, maybe we can actually drive away those... those filthy bandits!"
As she says this she sets the wine down on the table, a little hard. She then mutters an apology and scuttles back inside to, "Fetch some glasses."
Oleg stares for a moment, before turning to Garhan, "Yes, we're... overjoyed that yer here." He pauses looking from Garhan to Woden. "Somehow, I was expectin' more ya." Then his gaze falls on Oomlowt, and he does a slight double take.
"An', is this yer... slave?"
Anger flared up in Oomlowt's face, yet the Kobold forced his face into an uncomfortable grin. "Good sir, you are mistaken! I am no one's slave. I'm their partner!" He beamed wider without any discernible trace of genuine mirth as his mind schemed up dozens of ways to kill the human, each more preposterous than the last. "So where are these bandits you need us to exterminate?"
Oleg stares hard at Oomlowt before continuing, "They'll be 'ere 'amorrow."
And awkward silence settles for a brief moment before Svetlana comes back out of the house, holding five glasses in her hands.
"Here, have some wine!" She begins filling the glasses with the contents of the now opened bottle, before passing one to everyone present.
"You are welcome to have some of the bread, but I would suggest you wait until the stew is done," she motions to the pot.
She sighs happily before continuing, "Now, what were you talking about?"
"Oh, thank you! And yes please, don't mind if I do!" Garhan seemed to ooze happiness as he was given some wine, and the tiefling moved closer to the table right away to get some bread. He started eating by stuffing some bread into his mouth and softening it with a sip of wine, to get more bread down his throat faster. The Witch's eyes were still vigilantly watching all the others... At least seemingly. Garhan swallowed and continued the conversation.
"Tomorrow... As in... Would you say they appear right at the break of dawn?"
Oomlowt clicked his tongue against his teeth as he looked at the bread. Omnivores certainly made strange food. What did this fluffy looking piece of grain meal taste like on his tongue? Probably disgusting... but curiosity began to overwhelm him anyway. Perhaps, in the interest of cultural sensitivity, he should try it. The kobold slowly reached out for a piece of bread, his fingers wavering in fear as he clutched it between his talons. Bravely he placed the morsel between his jaws and chewed.
"Oh my various gods..." Oomlowt said after swallowing the food. "BREAD IS DELICIOUS!"
Soon he was joining Garhan in messily devouring the appetizers.
The Levetons were taken aback by the voraciousness with which the two tackled the bread, but Oleg regained his composure first and said, "Yes, the bandits will be attackin' at dawn."
He looked at his wife for a second before saying, "Svetlana can fill ya in on tha 'zact details."
Svetlana shoots him a look before breathing and beginning, "Well, the bandits first came 3 months ago. They wanted all of the furs and goods we had gathered from the hunters and trappers in the area or-or they were going to burn the whole fort down, and take m to... to.." she takes a break to regain composure before going on.
"After that they have been coming every month, within an hour of sunrise. I think their camp's about a day's ride from here, because the bandits seem eager to leave. That's why we've started having the goods prepared before hand," she pauses again before asking the group, "I suppose you want hear about the bandits themselves, right?"
She doesn't wait for a response, and just goes on, "The first time they arrived, there were a dozen of them. Ten of them were simple thugs lead by a cloaked man with a bow, who in turn was lead by a woman bearing hatchets. She did most of the talking, and she was awful. Th-the way she smiled and joked about what the bandits would do to me if we didn't comply..." Svetlana takes another break before continuing.
"She was also very observant, and she nearly chopped off Oleg's right hand as a joke. She is very dangerous. The hooded man however, he was a fool. Good thing, since he has been the only one to accompany the bandits on the next few visits. Even better, on the second visit, he had only six men, and on the latest visit he had four. If you're lucky, he'll have even less tomorrow!"
She breathed in heavily, shaking a little bit before smiling weakly, and grasping Oleg's hand with her own.
If you so desire you can make a Perception check right now.
1d20 + 0 ⇒ (18) + 0 = 18
Garhan listened to the couple's story, still eating bread at the same time, though less voraciously. All the humanoids more interested in the conversation at hand, Calanthe the goat saw her opportunity and moved closer to the wine bottle, scheming a way to get it off the table without breaking it.
While he was intently focusing on the human female's story, Oomlowt could not help succumbing to his natural urge to survey the area. This was perfectly in line with his paranoid kobold nature.
Perception check: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9
But apparently the woman's story was so engrossing he couldn't pay all that much attention to anything else.
Garhan observes the two humans as they speak, and joins the conversation again after swallowing his current mouthful of bread.
"So we might not have to deal with more than maybe two or so bandits, huh..? Sounds good." The tiefling nodded with a knowledgeable look on his face, hoping it would restore some of the human's fate on him.
"I suppose you want us to search for the bandit camp after that, rather than waiting for the rest of the bandits to appear here..?"
Meanwhile, when everyone was distracted, Calanthe had managed to stand up placing her forefeet on the table, as delicately and quietly as a hooved animal could. She was able to grab the bottle of wine by the neck, and slowly and steadily moved all of her torso back on the floor. Yes. Success.
Oomlowt narrowed his eyes and put his hands togethers at the fingertips as he mulled the information he had just recieved over. His keen predatory eyes glinted with a savage intellect as his devious little brain went about the process of devising a cunning plan.
"This is really good bread," he said with the tone of the wisest sage. He then scarfed down three more pieces of bread.
"Our course of action is obvious," he continued after swallowing. "We must first create a set of vicious traps around your land. Then we track down the bandits camp, set some more traps, lure them into the open, and slaughter them mercilessly and loot their corpses. Nothing could be easier!"
"I haven't really had much experience in facing so many foes at once, so I don't really know what to suggest, but it would seem logical to me to first ambush the bandits that will come here, and after that's done, somehow get rid of the bandits on the camp. They're going to notice that the ones that were supposed to get your goods won't return sooner or later, so it'd be best to go and attack the camp when they're not waiting for that... If we can, that is." The tiefling took a brief break after continuing. "You have no idea how much bandits there are on the camp, right? But if they notice their comrades won't return with the goods, they're sure to come here again with more forces... And I'm not sure if we can take on multiple waves of attacks."
Meanwhile, when Garhan was actually acting serious for once and discussing strategy, Calanthe was hiding under the table with the bottle4 of wine, pouring the wine on the floor delicately enough not to break the bottle, and licking the wine with a pleased expression on her goat face.
Oomlowt looked at Garhan with wide-eyed amazement. "Well put, friend!" he said with complete sincerity. He had not expected to be impressed by these mammals, much less pleased with that feeling! Perhaps this partnership would require more than the average manipulation and back stabbing. Could these allies be worthy of true loyalty? The mere concept of giving fealty to a humanoid creature was at once terrifying and enticing to the reptile.
"I still think we should set some traps, though," Oomlowt added. "My people have a saying - a plan without a trap is like a bulette without its forelimbs - utterly useless." The kobold shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "It, uh, sounds more clever in draconic. Rhymes and everything."
Woden, reclusive in the whole of the ordeal decides to bring his input into the conversation. After hearing his comrades, he walks over to them and speaks.
"As much as I enjoy a good trap, the only way it could be effective is if it were on a very large scale. Or a very specific target. Maybe if we strike the bandits at very specific point, we can make them disorganised. They come at us full-force we're done, they come at us disoriented, we'll have the advantage."
Oleg looks around at all of the sudden input before gruffly saying, "I'm a trader not a strategist, but I wouldn't be countin' on no honor 'mong thieves 'ere. 'Gardless what ya do afer tomarrow mornin', I suggest you best figur' out where ya be hidin' fer the ambush, if that's yer game."
He motions to the stables, "I suggest ya hide there."
It is at this moment Svetlana comes out of the house again, holding a bundle of cloth. She makes her way to the table and sets it down, unraveling it as she does so, revealing the ingredients for a hearty meat stew. As she begins adding ingredients to the aromatic pot, she looks around with a ever so slightly furrowed brow, "Now, where did that wine go..."
Garhan stroke his yet nonexistant, though very well worked on, beard. So let's clarify and say he stroked his chin with a concentrated face.
"We don't know if we'll be outnumbered or not, but regardless, I think a trap could work. Though we have to be prepared for further battles, you're right." And when he said you, he looked at Oleg. "We have to focus on the first bandits now. So we'll ambush them, right? Maybe set a trap too? The stables sounds good."
Calanthe was still sneakily drinking wine. Even if Svetlana would find the bottle, the contents were already on the floor or inside the goat's stomach.
"That seems like a good enough hiding spot," Oomlowt said. "Lots of things to duck behind... yes, that could work." His keen reptilian nostrils picked up the aroma from the stew, and in an instant his stomach forgot it was half filled with bread. "I say ma'am, what meat did you use in that stew? It smells divine."
Oleg looks at the group before saying, "Well let me know where yer hidin' fer the ambush, and maybe I oughta come up wit a code phrase ta signal an attack..." At this Oleg loses himself in thought and begins to mumble half-audible gibberish.
Svetlana smiles warmly at Oomlowt and says, "Pork, mostly. Do you cook?"
"Yes, that would be great. Otherwise we don't know when it's, uh, appropriate to attack." Garhan nodded to Oleg. He also started to smell the stew, and felt his stomach growling again, but wanted to at least try concentrating on the strategy part. At least once in his life.
Oomlowt smiled sheepishly at Svetlana. "No, I don't... at least not well." He winced involuntarily at having committed the greatest sin in kobold culture: earnest humility. "But I do fancy myself something of a connoisseur. That stew really does smell divine. We are indebted to you both.
"But never fear!" Oomlowt beamed from ear to ear. "We have already figured out how to repay you, for tonight, noble humans, we shall all have killed our share of swine!"
After this everyone enjoyed a hearty dinner, despite the lack of enjoyable drink. There was much rejoicing, with a little bit of plotting mixed in.
During the course of the meal a plan was devised, you will take up positions in the stables, with Oleg removing the two horses for a much needed scrubbing before the bandits arrive. As the bandits begin to collect their taxes Oleg will say, "Must be a good day ta be a scoundrel," and you will burst from hiding and attack them.
Oleg insisted that Svetlana remain in their bedroom, and also admitted that he wouldn't be able to help much in an actual fight.
The Levetons welcome you to stay in the barracks and give you free use of the stables for your goat and dog, but also welcome you to keep them with you if you wish.
You all wake up before dawn and take positions in the stables, or in the case of Woden, on the stables.
You can hear the sound of horse hooves in the distance. Now is the time for last minute preparations.
Oomlowt gave Garhan a thumbs up before ducking behind the biggest pile of hay he could find on his side of the stable. Woofles whined slightly and, in a display of genuine warmth, the kobold hugged his beloved pet's neck for a few seconds before returning to his hiding spot.
Stealth check: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (18) + 12 = 30
Garhan returned Oomlowt's thumbs up and flashed the kobold a smile before the reptile man dissappeared out of his sight. Garhan could already hear the hooves as he was hiding behind the haystacks, and started to get nervous. Allright, Garhan, calm down. This might be your first ever serious battle, but it'll go well! You're not alone! You have your new companions with you, it'll be fine! The tiefling repeated these words in his mind and tried to calm his breath. He had his weapons ready, had his spells ready... Communing with Calanthe hadn't been easy this morning, she was crankier than usual because of the wine, but Garhan had still managed to squeeze some spells out of her in time. Now the goat was hidden inside a stable. And would hopefully stay hidden, too...
Stealth check: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (10) + 0 = 10
Though the tiefling was nervous, he at least hoped to stay silent enough behind his trustworthy haystack. But it was hard for him to calm down and just sit tight.
Woden had taken a different route than his comrades, and had positioned himself upon the roof of the stable. Knowing he would stand out anywhere else, he lays down and prepares himself.
Stealth check: 1d20 ⇒ 14
Woden lies as silently as he can, using his training as a ranger to steady himself as best as he can.
It is at this moment that the sound of hooves enters the courtyard. You hear a deep voice say something that is met with laughter.
You hear the faint sound of dismounting horses, and inquiry about Oleg's horses, as well as crude comments about Svetlana's whereabouts, and how purdy she is.
Oleg seems to ignore these and moves the bandits over to the benches where he set out wares the night before.
Gird narrowed her eyes and looked at the bandits ahead of her. She was slightly amazed that she had been to follow them, but they had turned out to be horrible riders, and thanks to her endurance she had been able to keep up. Now they had entered the Post, and were busy making lewd comments about a woman. Gird could appreciate the comments; they were very inappropriate and crude, and therefor warmed the cockles off her heart. At least her god couldn't command her how to think.
Gird unsheathed her sword and looked up at the Post. It's clobberin' time!
Garhan wasn't exactly sure where the bandits were, but he thought they were fairly close. Yes. Now just to wait for Oleg's signal.
THIS IS SO EXCITING! But the tiefling tried his best and managed to keep quiet and stay still behind his protective pile of hay. He wouldn't forgive himself if everything failed because of him.