Shorn 22nd, 1048 TR : Following a good night’s rest in the opening gate to the fairy maze, everyone looked to Kruck. He seemed to have overcome the illness brought by the rats (Filth Fever) with his boundless orcish constitution. Ash Cogward ensured his new prize, Brightflame was secure, and the group packed and headed back out through the maze to the mountain plains.
Making their way quickly to the village of Yew, across the river, and thence east to the gnomish camp, they got the gnome’s attention and engaged in the prisoner exchange, presenting the large bronze sarcophagus lid to them. The lead (older) gnome conducted a ritual, determining the cog they sought was present, and he summoned both the prisoners and the two younger gnomes to him for a conference. The cluster of families and children were brought from the larger of the tents, and the younger gnome noble laid into the bronze lid with various tools (primarily his prybar!) before prying The Gnomish Cog loose. They abandoned the rest of the sarcophagus lid where it lay and began packing camp, intent on moving off to wherever their gateway to the Feywild may lie. Ash tried to pry the remaining two cogs loose, but failed. Fangrik started berating them , but the adventurers each took a couple prisoners and moved back towards the village. Squirrel shrunk the lid down once more, and the group returned to Yew.
Upon return to the village, they found the knight had left back to his manor, and the group scattered the prisoners back to their homes and businesses. Chief among them were a pair of carpenters, who thanked the adventurers profusely, despite their odd races. Returning to Edensor the Merchant, they reported their successes, and he soon gathered food and drink for the heroes. Within an hour, the town council approached them along with Edensor, and they presented a Toal to the group (accepted by Lady Vathra banRainha on behalf of the party). Edensor explained that the stick was marked by a lord’s personal crest, and each groove on the wooden dowel represented a day’s food and lodging acceptable by any inn in the realm by the holder. They were often given to groups who helped the local lords, and were often exchanged for extra food or supplies, allowing adventurers or others to leave a realm for more work. The group then bedded down in their usual places and rested.
Shorn 23rd, 1048 TR : The caravan headed out once more, the adventurers taking the lead, and reached the top of the southern pass to camp.
Shorn 24th, 1048 TR : Travelling back down into the valley leading east to Frandor’s Keep, the group reached Kar Darkan, the first of the way stations located along the Borderland Trail. Operated by Ealon and his infirm wife Orena and their two sons, the place proved to be a large traditional mountain hall with a small smithy attached and a field for holding mounts and wagon stock. The caravan happily broke-up, the wagons and stock secured, and the adventurers were granted a bench along one side of the open hall for themselves near a central fire hearth. The food ws good, simple roasts and stews washed-down with simple ale, but there was relatively plenty and the night passed warm and secure.
Shorn 25th, 1048 TR : Making good time along the Borderland Trail, the caravan reached the swift-flowing Paradise River and the central way station of Kar Mandri. Smaller than the first way station, this one had barely passable ale and stew, but was hosted by Dotan, his wife Liari and three local dancing girls dressed in Hepekerian garb of flowing silks and bronze trinkets. The station was well-populated by a handful of local trappers, and a table full of guards from The Keep. The officers in transit from Brightwater – City of Coins spoke with them about matters in the area, including word of bandits, before treating them to a round of ales and leaving them to themselves.
With the dancing girls hard at work (Fangrik – "They move well… What? Me not speciest!…“), Edensor reported rumors of bandits along the road having struck several local steadings recently. It was believed they were ”/campaigns/bloodright-rise-of-the-border-princes/characters/the-ravens" class=“wiki-content-link”>The Ravens! Amid the wonders of cheap Wax Berry Wine, they talked with Edensor, and offered to investigate the matter. Rumor placed the latest steading raided being about two miles north, and the group agreed to search the place for clues. He said with threat of snows coming in from the eastern The Trackless Heights, he could afford to give them a day, since it would rest the stock for the final two day journey ahead of them, and the climb to The Keep itself. Everyone bedded-down in tehir assigned area near a fire, and rested well.
Shorn 26th, 1048 TR : Travelling early the two miles north to the farm, they found the stock barn a smoking ruin, and the main hall looted. From the tracks, the raid had occurred two-to-three days ago, and four people had been taken away, with the bandits making no attempt to cover their tracks. Following the tracks for several hours, the group encountered the “Nest”.
The “Nest” proved to be cleared section of woodland, fenced off by a low wooden palisade. Within the ence stood a group of treehouses built around 10’ above the ground. There was a camp, surrounded by hay bales, various domestic tools and goods barrels. Another fenced area to one side held a grazing collection of stock; an oxen, a horse, two ponies and a small herd of goats. A wagon sat within this area as well. Movement of numerous (about a half-dozen) individuals stirred in the camp and another dozen or so within the collection of treehouses.
The group spent a good hour discussing possible tactics, eventually noticing a group of children under watch appear and play “bandits”, wielding wooden swords and wearing helmets and bucklers. Vathra encouraged the group (namely Fangrik_) to sneak into the back area and steal someone (_Vathra – “Get me one, just one… Okay, even a child or one of the women…”). Heading into the back portion near the camp and a collection of tents, Fangrik waited about an hour before a woman entered the tent he was hiding in, and was quickly subdued, tied and gagged, and then dragged back over the rear wall (not very stealthily), and brought back to the adventurers.
Vathra then took the woman, and examining her, assumed her identity, changed into her clothing and awoke her. Interrogating the young woman, she discovered her to be Birgitte, one of the warrior-consorts of the leader, Hanari. Although frightened, the adventurers learned that Hanari and the Ravens were salvers, having sold the farmers captrued recently to dark figures who led the commoners off east towards The Keep. Everyone suspected it might be The Iron Ring, not especially surprising, but the entire group resolved they couldn’t let these bandits survive.
The group discussed ways to infiltrate the complex, but finally decided to use a “captured” Vathra as their pigeon, having Kruck lead the way to the front entrance. They put a bag over Vathra’s head, and subdued Birgitte, while Fangrik snuck back to his hiding spot as a sneaky reserve once combat was resolved. Their target was Hanari himself; everyone else was superfluous.
Kruck led Ash, Taumus and a “bagged” Vathra straight through the outer gate towards the opening to the treehouse complex. A group of half-a-dozen bandits in the camp were attracted t the group, but Kruck brushed them off, reaching the opening to the treehouses before finally being stopped. He explained he had a prisoner for sale, and needed to speak to Hanari. When that didn’t seem very successful, he commented Hanari’s brother, Francoise had sent him (BLuff Check = 20!). One of the bandits headed out to go talk to Hanari. A tough-looking bandit asked whether or not the woman was secure, to which Kruck commented (Me thinks she wizard, I found this cool orb!") To which the bandit started to vigorously “search” Vathra to ensure she was bound tightly. Vathra sent a telepathic message out (“You IDIOT! I have knivs!”), and Content Not Found: Taumus lost his cool, dropping a powerful Spirit Rend around the group, which slew almost a dozen bandits outright. The jig was up!
A horrible brawl ensued around the gateway, with the adventurers taking charge of the situation. Vathra tried to run into the chamber, dropping the bag from her head and screaming she was Birgitte… but failed to alert the bandit in her way, who struck out in fear. She slid into the armoury beyond, and “cowered” in the corner. Fangrik, upon hearing the brawl erupt, tried to scramble inot the treehouse nearst him, but failed due to the slippery moss covering all the walls. Halfway up the wall of one hut, he heard a giggle, and turned to see a cluster of children staring at him. They asked what he was up to, and when it appeared he was “…climin’…”, they suggested he slip up the walkway nearby that hung down fairly low… which allowed him to scramble into the house beyond. With a wave to the children, he headed inside.
The adventurers managed to press and fight deeper into the armoury, while Vathra/Birgitte managed to “escape” safely into a bedchamber beyond. Fangrik slipped to the right, into a shrine chamber of some sort, and then left that room to run smack into the bandit sent to “Fetch Hanari”, cutting him down brutally. He crossed the chamber strewn with carpets and toys on the floor, and five beds (the kid’s room!), and entered the bed chamber beyond in time to help hold the door and meet Kruck. Behind him a mage of some sort, another couple bandits and Hanari himself appeared, flinging arrows and thunderbolts at the intruders. Back at the entrance, a hunter/ranger appeared and fired several arrows at Ash and Taumus, before they sought cover.
The fight was swift and brutal, bloodying various members, but eventually sore down the group, forcing the ranger by the entrance to retreat, while the other managed to open a hidden trap door in the child’s rom (under the rugs), and allowed Hanari to drop to the ground. He was followed by one archer (while the mage screamed for Hanari to flee), while the first slipped away to the south and into the forest. The remaining bandits struggles, with two surrendering (one another nameless warrior-consort of Hanari), and Hanari and one of the archers trying to flee off to the east. While Hanari managed to escape, his follower fought on for a bit, (Kruck – “…I’m gonna KRUCK YOU!”)covering his retreat before being subdued and tied-up. The adventurers had managed to destroy the local “Nest”, though Hanari and one other bandit had escaped.
Gathering the captured warrior-consorts, the five children and the surviving archer bandit together, the group began a systematic looting of the complex. In the “officer” quarters, they found two locked trunks, which proved trapped (Vathra learned that the hard way…), and a hoard of copper, silver, electrum, gold and gems. The armoury proved a wealth of simple weapons and armor, and the campsite and pantry (off the child’s room) were stocked with a large amount of food and cloth. The group gathered the ponies, horse and oxen (attaching the wagon to it through a harness found in its bed), and loaded them with treasure and various foodstuffs, though they seemed ready to sell them to Edensor when they returned.
The most interesting and puzzling thing found, was in the “shrine” that Fangrik had initially encountered. A spartan room with banners of crimson, forest green and bright orange on the walls, there was a large wooden box with a wooden carved statue of a faceless man bearing the crooked staff of a shepherd… the very image of The Forgotten God. To either side of the statue were another pair; one a black-stained ceramic statue of a raven, and the other of a cat. On the floor before the alter lay a large sack. The sack proved to be a 30lbs bag of salt… worth its weight in gold, but often used in religious ceremonies as a symbol of purity. The meaning behind these practices were an enigma…
The site seemingly secured and knowing time was running short, the group decided to begin interrogating their prisoners and finding-out who and what they were…