25th of Pharasma (March) 4710AR
Yuvitza’s explorations beneath the tree have netted not only the pittance of mite treasure, but also discovers Svetlana’s wedding ring (assumedly stolen from the bandits by the mites). Nestled in her druid’s hands, though, is a magical staff hewn from the tree itself, a fae-touched stave that has enabled her to speak ritualistically to vermin every so often, in the fashion of the mites.
Heading northeast, the assembled group decides it would be best to head northeast, both exploring the last hex in the hills region of the Greenbelt, and to get to Bokken’s so their fangberries net them a healthy discount on potions. The last section of hills contains a claw-like tree, under which Tobias and Yuvitza discover and with help dig out an old cache, presumably of some wizard. The spellbook and wand in particular seem to suggest this. Adopting finders keepers, the party divvies up the loot and heads on towards Bokken’s.
26th of Pharasma (March) 4710AR
Bokken’s provides some conversation as he boils up their fangberries into tasty, delicious potions of Cure Light Wounds and Endure Elements (which Bokken assures them works, as he stood outside in a thunderstorm naked to no ill effect. Everyone assembled agrees the potions work and bids Bokken stop talking about his state of dress and the freedom the feeling of breeze gives him. As they drove a hard bargain of a 50% off discount, it was for that day only.
When they arrive at Oleg’s after a quick ride west, they discover that all is not well. There is some sign of smouldering flame at the fort, and as they get closer, they discover bodies of bandits and guardsmen alike- most notably Kesten Garess. As they turn over the Captain, they discover his face horribly maimed and carved upon, with a note pinned to his chest that states simply, “message received.” Cue thoughts about how corpse desecration may lead to escalation. Yuvitza furrows her brows a little more- everyone’s been rather vague about what they were up to with the bandits while she was purifying the tree.
Inside, they discover Reeves, the last guardsman, with Svetlana who is binding Oleg’s leg wound. According to Reeves, the bandits posed as traders with a carriage, and when the carriage came in to trade, bandits poured out instead. The attack was swift, and vicious, but the guardsmen managed to force them out, with Captain Garess closing the doors behind him as a last act of bravery before he met his fate. The remaining bandits fled after the main thrust of their ambush was finished, not prepared to assault a closed fort, and in poor spirits with their numbers whittled down.
Yuvitza manages one ray of hope for Svetlana, who takes her wedding ring whilst sobbing, and gives what is possibly Yuvitza’s first hug, emploring them to make their lands safe of the Stag Lord and his agents.
Filled with resolve, the party rides south- prepared or not, they intend to follow the trail of hooves back to the Stag Lord’s fort, and take him on once and for all.
28th of Pharasma (March) 4710 AR
Two days hard ride, following Tobias’ tracking abilities lands the group outside the woods near Stag Fort. It’s evening, and they can see bandits peering over the edge of the spiked walls, doing sentry duty. Guessing that the Stag Lord may have eight or more men aside from himself (based on intel from the bandit they tortured at Thorn River camp), they figure they’re going to have to come up with a plan to get inside before that’s even a problem. Discussion is had, and Vitrius provides Muggles the mite an opportunity to prove himself worthy by letting him off the leash he’s been attached to for the past week or so, if he can only sneak up and suss out the perimeter of the Fort. Muggles agrees with enthusiasm and hustles…. being quite sneaky, but not sneaky enough for the dead, as zombies rise from the hillside and give chase. Muggles runs screaming into the woods, well past the party, who rises to engage the enemy.
This obviously is enough of a ruckus to rouse the bandits, who call out to who might be there, and the party moves fast- making a quick litter and having Yuvitza drag them behind her horse as an offering to the bandits. The bluff- that she found them dead, with their Stag Lord pendents identifying them, and thought their fellows might want to give them a proper burial. The bandits are dubious, but seeing the pendents, allow her passage, dragging them inside, with all bandits present pointing either short sword or arrow in their direction. Finch hides particularly well not on the litter, but as a ‘hunchback’ beneath Yuvitza’s cloak.
The ruse only lasted long enough to get inside, and the group rises to battle immediately despite the risks to themselves, engaging the bandits on the ground effectively while Yuvitza peppers them back with arrows to limited success. Apparently in the darkening light, nobody is a terribly effective shot.
Though the bandits aren’t the best soldiers, they give time for others to draw close, as a lumbering ox of a simpleton engages Vitrius, wailing on him with his giant club, while a mystery rogue lobs daggers at them from somewhere in the shadows. Of most particular concern, is that an owlbear has been released. Mason is severely wounded, but manages to rise with some healing aid, and the party is feeling very beaten up as they defeat Auchs, and engage the owlbear, while a second mystery figure slays a bandit atop the raised platforms, prompting questions as to who on the inside of the fort would be willing to fight for their cause, and draws curses from a now revealed devilish bastard who had been tossing the daggers.
REWARDS AND LOOTS
500xp each (for exploration, returning the wedding ring, and the assault of the Fort)
The Sycamore Staff of Vermin + 1 (Yuvitza’s new stave)
The mite’s petty cash / kobold spears.
1 wand of burning hands ( ?? Charges)
1 silver ring
1 masterwork dagger
1 spellbook with five level 1 spells.
1 leather cloak
The mite’s petty cash
Potions of cure light wounds/endure elements from Bokken (various numbers)