Against the Wilderness

Aug. 3
Back to looking for bandits

They day after the party met Kesten’s squad, he asked if they would help haul logs they had prepared back to the trading post, and to aid in making some improvements to the place. Robin told her half-cousin that they had other business in the wilds, and then went out to look for bandits. While they were exploring the plains to the the immediate south of Oleg’s, they met a hunter, though they did not ask for his name. When asked about bandits, he said he didn’t know any, but that he did know a group of woods folk that camped out on an island it the Thorn River. The party deduced that this was the camp they had already found, and asked him about any other camps. He said he knew of some, but would only take Robin to them, not anyone else. While some in the party were okay with that, Robin herself was not, so they let the hunter continue on to Oleg’s.

After camping for the night on the plains, they explorers went into the forest, and found a tangled expanse of sharp, thorny brambles. The brambles were actually fangberry bushes, so the druid decided to collect some, but then thought better of it when a swarm of spiders descended on him.

While the druid was harvesting berries (which were unseasonably early) Camrad the luggage bearer stepped away to relieve himself. Unfortunately he was not paying attention to what he was doing, and an assassin vine grabbed ahold of him and began killing him. His truncated scream attracted the attention of the rest of the group, who altruistically decided to save him. Many of the group became entangled in the underbrush that the vine enchanted, but Aderyn got close enough to hit it, but before she did, the vine tried to whomp her with Camrad’s body. When that fail, he dropped the dean man to better fight the party.

During the fight, Nox and Robin struggled bitterly against the entangling foliage, until Nox remembered what a scythe was used for and began mowing his way out. The assassin vine grabbed Aderyn, and within a few seconds she was near death. Etterskel rode bravely forward, but he too was grappled and squeezed unconscious. Finally, Robin, Hucklebuddy, and Nox were able to take the plant down.

During camp that night, while Robin and Aderyn were on watch, they believed that T-rex had found their campsite. Nox, seeing that the lizard was not attacking, and being ever optimistic, decided to exhibit some empathy toward the creature. As he was doing so, he noticed that when the rex breathed on him, there was no air, and concluded, correctly, that he faced an illusion. After he tried to see or hear the caster of the illusion, a series of lights began dancing near the camp. Etterskel responded with his own lights, and the first set began leading the party into the woods. They were lead back to the island camp in the Thorn River, only to find one of the bandit sentries blood eagled over the fire pit, a stag’s head jammed on the pommel of his sword.

They day after that, the group explored the area around the island, found and lost some tracks, and decided to cross the river. Hucklebuddy, a true river rat, swam a rope across, which greatly help everyone else cross. They were even able to get the horses across with the help of Nox’s skill with animals.

Once across the river, the group looked for a suitable place to camp, but first found a feeding owlbear. Enraged at having his dinner interrupted, the beast attacked, but got himself wedged between some trees in his rage. The group surrounded him, and he went down relatively quickly. Etterskel, having already appropriated the stag’s head for a helm ornament, decided that a owlbear cloak would go with it quite well, so they flayed the monster and put the skin on the horses. Robin, who was injured in the battle, got into a philosophical, theological, and tactical debate with Hucklebuddy, with the fate of her future healing in doubt.

XP for the night is 550 (from the owlbear, vine, roleplaying, and exploration)

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XP Update

Okay, so this is the amount of XP that was awarded for various fights and whatnot:

Initial bandit attack on Olegs: 184

First fight at Thorn River Camp (Kressle get’s eaten): 444

Second fight at Thorn River Camp: 100 (I know it seems low, but I had already given xp for the same opponents)

Exploration of the hexes north of the woods, roleplaying: 100

Taking out the Hollow Man and some bees: 399

The Singing Tree, a boar, some traps, exploration and RP: 591

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July 27
Checking in with Oleg

After sleeping off the effects of a pig roast in the village of Levoca, the group decide to head back to Oleg’s, exploring as they go. Hours into the trip they find some bear traps the hard way, as Onyx and Robin set two off. They search around and eventually find 16 traps total, one of which had a troll toe within it. Deciding to keep the traps, they continued on.

After they exited the woods and started across the plain, they were met with by armed horsemen wearing the royal livery of Brevoy. They were escorted back to the trading post, where they learned a squad of soldiers, lead by a nobleman named Kesten Garess, had been assigned to take care of a bandit problem.

Robin, recognizing Kesten, quickly convinced him that their two groups should work together, his guarding Oleg’s, her’s looking for the bandit stronghold. Once found, they could strike it in force.

Accompanying the soldiers was Johd Kavken, a man in his early 60’s, and a cleric of Abadar.

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The Singing Tree

Next morning, the adventurers awake, and while they are mingling with the villagers, the animals again begin acting violently. The group begins to suspect a witch, given some unpleasant history in the village, and they go off in search of the mysterious Witch of the Wood mentioned by some of the villagers. Just outside of the village they are attacked by a maddened boar, but they swiftly despatch it, and take it back to the village. Starting out again, they begin to find a trail of crushed and battered animal carcasses. These eventually lead them to a clearing wherein stood a twisted and blighted tree, a tree with humanoid heads fused to the trunk. One of the heads was singing, which caused Onyx some distress, so it was decided to destroy the tree.

In it’s defense, another head of the tree called on some giant centipedes to fight the bear, and it used it’s boughs to whomp the rest of the party, downing the druid. Hucklebuddy tried to use magic on the tree, but it was useless, so Robin used her sword instead. It was highly effective.

Just before the tree died, it tried to bargain with its attackers. It offered to tell them a secret if they left it alone. They agreed, and it told them this:

The Green Lady moves to take back what has been Stolen. Her Love must pierce her Heart, or the Lands will be wrenched fromt he world.

When the party tried to learn the location of the Green Lady, the three said something about a thousand breaths, but then Robin mentioned the Witch of the Wood, and angered the tree into attacking again. They struck the tree down then, and it crumbled away to reveal the naked body of a woman, holding a pristine red apple. Robin took the apple but did not eat of it. They dug around where the tree was, and found some treasure, and took the woman’s body back to the village. No one there recognized her.

Robin, intrigued by the apple, decided to feed it to a goat, to see what would happen. Upon taking one bite of the apple, which immediately withered and crumbled to dust, the goat’s fur became thicker and more lustrous. Everyone who has seen it since has thought that it is indeed a fine looking goat.

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The village of Levoca

The morning after retrieving their weapons from the tree branches, the company heads deeper into the woods, searching for the village of Levoca. A fierce snowstorm blows around them, throwing them temporarily off course, but they eventually find their bearings and the village. There they learn of two recents deaths, those of Olaf the bull keeper, and a little girl named Karda. The gnome uses is racial ability to question the bull and learns of a maddening noise that the animal hears. The party goes in search of Karda and finds her, dead, having been attacked by an uncharacteristically violent swarm of bees. The players destroy the hive, and return Karda’s body to her parents. On their return, they discover a goat has attacked and injured another child, and Patches the dog freaks out and runs away. Hucklebuddy give chase, but when he finds his dog snarling under a log, he decides to leave him his space. The explorers talk to the village elder, a senile old man named Brother Arkadi, who tells of stories he heard as a child, about animals going berserk and the coming of the Hollow Man.

That night, as Robin and Scout are on watch, a hideous man-shaped tree monster enters the village. He ignores all attacks against him, and breaks into a villager’s hut. He decapitates the man of the hut, and tries to leave, but the heroes stop him, with the judicious use of fire (they burned the place down, but forgot to get out before they started). Huckle and Robin took turns standing tall in the way of the creature, but it eventually made it’s way past them, but was brought down by the continuing effects of the fire.

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June 30
Exploration begins

After thoroughly questioning the would-be bandit chief, the party decided to carry out their charter’s mandate to deal with bandits by sword or rope. Choosing sword, Robin Mountain pronounced judgement upon the bandit’s soul, and after a few tries, eventually succeeded in beheading him. During the execution, Etterskel took a walk in the woods. He heard a ghostly fiddle tune, but could not locate the source. They then decided to lay in wait to ambush the bandit sentries, but the sentries never came back to camp.

The group headed back to Oleg’s, with the last bandit in tow, with the intent of turning him over to Oleg, like they did with the former bandit Roneth. Once at Oleg’s, however, it became clear that if the charter carriers weren’t going to execute the bandit, Oleg was. Instead, the bandit, whose name is Camred, has become the attendant of the group, guiding Etterskel’s horse and looking after the supplies.

After a night’s rest, the band decides to commence explorations, with the aim of finding the villages and informing them of the bandit’s defeat (and also in hopes of finding the Stag Lord). The first day out, they meet a hunter, Ethew Noltke, they exchange pleasantries, and set up camp for the night. Towards morning, while Robin is on watch, globes of light surround the camp, floating in the chill pre-dawn air. Robin, ever the fighter, attacks one with her sword, at which point a bright flash of light almost blinds her, and the globes disappear.

The next day, while still exploring the plains, the party manages to get near a small herd of elk, but nothing else of note happened until the end of second watch, when, after Hucklebuddy fell inexplicably sleep, Robin noticed that her sword was missing. She roused the rest of the camp, who then noticed (editorial note: you should have, it was my fault I forgot to point it out to you) that they were all missing weapons. After Nox determined that there had been magic cast recently, a search of the area turned up small, clawed perch-marks in one tree, and the party’s weapons up in the branches of another.

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June 22
Attack on the Bandit Camp (Redux)

After agreeing to combine bandit gangs, there was a brief power struggle between Beta, the sorcerer, and the bandit who thought he should be in charge (Hucklebuddy was recovering from a grievous wound, and was in no position to assert his authority). Beta lost that particular staring contest, and the new boss, whose name was Solandus, started ordering improvements to the camp to make it easier to defend. Then he announced the intention of leaving for Oleg’s in the morning to burn it down.

The party talked amongst themselves and decided that the best course of action was to knock out the bandits in their sleep and tie them up. That didn’t work out so well, as the bandits awoke during the knock out attempt, and a real fight broke out. N’name, realizing that half the party could see well in dim light, doused the campfire. This created the conditions necessary for the party to prevail in the battle, and they were able to take two bandits prisoner for questioning.

During questioning, they learned more about the man called the Stag Lord, who seems to be uniting the bandits of the Stolen Land. Unfortunately, they did not learn of his location, because he runs his organization as a series of unconnected cells, with only a few people at each location aware of the true leadership.

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June 15
Attack on the Bandit Camp

Armed with their new knowledge of the bandit, which included the location of the camp, the party set off following the trail. On the second day, they were spotted by a sentry, but once again, Hucklebuddy made a new friend. Hucklebuddy convinced the sentry that they were sent to warn Kressle (the bandit chief) of an attack by guards at Oleg’s. After some back and forth about leaving a watch behind to intercept the coming lawmen, the party was escorted to the camp, on a small island in a bend in the river. As they were about to cross a log bridge, Scout, the elven stealth expert, was spotted by a sentry in a tree stand. Hucklebuddy, thinking quickly, apprehended her, and brought her as a prisoner into the camp.

Kressle, in a belligerent mood, argued with Hucklebuddy, the perceived leader of the new band of bandits. She was just about to throw a dagger into his back when Nox decided that her time upon the earth was at an end, and stabbed her with a spear. A vicious fight broke out, and our heros were saved only by the judicious use of Obscuring Mist, into which the party hid. With no targets at which to shoot, the bandits stepped back to watch the unfolding fight of Kressle, Bandit Chief, vs. Onyx, Black Bear Cub. Long story short, the bear had a nice dinner, and the party was out one set of really good leather armor.

After the fall of their leader, the bandits decided to follow the new leader.

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June 8
Arrival at Oleg's

After a week on the road, which in reality was little more than a wagon track packed hard by years of use, the parties finally arrive at the trading post, where they meet Oleg Leventon, his wife, and their son. They are greeted warmly by Mrs. Leventon, but her husband’s mood quickly sours when he realizes they are not there to deal with the bandit problem that has been plaguing his business over the winter.

The party, realizing that their charter does indeed cover the disposal of bandits, decided that they would deal with the problem after all, and waited for the arrival of the miscreants the next day.

The bandits appeared at their due time, and were met with unexpected defiance. Young Yuri, stung in his pride for not being able to protect his parents sooner, attempted to strike the first blow against the bandit leader, but was cut down by a vicious wound to the belly.

The plucky halfling was able to charm one of the bandits into providing support, while the druid’s bear made sure escape was impossible, by scattering the horses.

In short order the bandits were dispatched, with the lone survivor proved to be repentant of his ways, and offered to tell what he know of his partners in crime.

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The Granting of the Charter

The party, brought together by their common acquaintance Sir Alessandro Cavarro, met in the foyer of the Hall of Blades, the headquarters of the Swordlords of Restov. They met with Lord Mario Derron, who granted them the charter and explained their duties in Stolen Lands.

Joining a trade caravan, they travelled into the wilderness to Oleg’s Trading Post, just outside the formal boundaries of the Kingdom of Brevoy.

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