Our heroes arrived at Oleg’s Trading Post at noon on the 28’th of Calistril, warmly greeted by Svetlana who assured them her husband Oleg would be finished working on a roof soon and would join them. She served them some stew for lunch, and soon Oleg appeared. He was happy to see them until he discovered that they were not the help he’d applied for. Disdainfully tossing their charter to the floor, he expressed his displeasure that the Swordlords had once again let him down.
When asked for details, he explained that bandits had been coming for months and robbing them of their stock. He’d applied to the Swordlords for armed help, and had been told it was finally on its way. Sadly, it seems the “help” wasn’t told of the problem since the party knew nothing of his issue. The brigands were due back the very next morning.
It seems, though, that the Swordlords may have chosen well when they selected this band to quell their southern border, because the group immediately began to make plans to deal with the problem and save Oleg and Svetlana from being robbed again.
It was decided that they would try to buy time by having Kosgrim warn the incoming bandits that plague had stricken the place and all were dead. For them to enter could mean their deaths as well. (The latter part would later prove true – entering the outpost was certainly a deadly decision.) If the bandits rode away, they might return to investigate, but at least more time for preparations would be had.
In case the bluff was called, the party also prepared the inside of the fort for ambush. They blocked half the gate, and used Oleg’s wagon and large tables to block anybody from running out of the ambush area. Marra and Edric Barevont-Medvyed would lie prone on the elevated wall and attack from there while Kosgrim would address the intruders from the southeast corner and then come join the battle if his warnings were ignored.
They kept watch that night in case of an early arrival, but they were unmolested and got a good night’s rest.
The next morning, right on schedule, the bandits rode out of the south. There were four of them on horses, and they were leading two extra horses behind them. Kosgrim called out his plague warning and described the heinous deaths that might await any who rode closer. The outpost is closed.
The leader of the bandits, Happs Bydon, would hear nothing of it and began to ride in through the half-open gate. Two of those following him were made nervous, though. They followed but were badly spooked by talk of plague.
As Happs rode through the gate, he cast a glance over his shoulder towards Kosgrim, and caught site of a prone Edric who immediately threw a tanglefoot bag at his horse’s feet, slowing Happs down if he wanted to remain mounted. Realizing his mistake, Happs called the alarm to his compatriots – one of whom, already plague-spooked, panicked and immediately began his retreat.
With Happs and his horse blocking the entrance, and with the party of heroes all shielded by the fort’s wooden palisade, those still outside could do nothing but ready their weapons in case somebody showed their face. Happs rode further in to make room for help, and one of his team joined him in the ambush area. This tactical error – advancing when he should have retreated – was caused by his arrogance and his anger at being defied. It proved to be a serious mistake.
Happs quickly took a nearly fatal blow from Kosgrim’s crossbow. His compatriot was then unhorsed and wounded to helplessness by an excellent shot from Marra. Kosgrim returned fire, nearly bringing down Kosgrim in a single shot.
Seeing what was going on inside, the fourth brigand lost his nerve and turned to ride away. A shot from Marra put an end to those plans as an arrow pierces his heart and ended his life. Edric cast a sleep spell upon Happs and his remaining follower who both succumbed while their horses looked on and wondered why these two silly humans decided that now was a good time for a nap.
A coup de grace from Marra swiftly dealt proper justice to Happs’ last follower, but Happs himself was thrown into the middens pit just as he began to awaken.
The battle was over. Two bandits had been killed, a third escaped, and their leader was nearly bleeding to death while lying in a filthy middens. Happs was not happy. The questioning began.
At first he remained defiant, prompting Edric to relieve his bowels on the shit-covered prisoner while waxing poetic saying that he dreamed of building “a kingdom based on the premise that nobody shall ever be pissed upon again. Unless they really deserve it.”
A combination of intimidation and diplomacy through a bad cop/good cop/bad cop routine eventually led Happs to give up some of his secrets. A camp lay about 25 miles to the south where he and a woman named Kressle led a band of a dozen bandits, two of whom were now dead by the party’s hands. Kressel answers to a mysterious figure named the Stag Lord who rules from a keep much further south. He’s unsure of her allegiance to the Stag Lord, and unsure how she would respond to recruitment efforts by the bastard who pissed on him a few minutes earlier. He briefly described the defenses of his camp, and warned that his escaped compatriot would soon bring death and destruction down upon this fort when he returned with the rest of the group, possibly as early as the next evening.
The group cleaned him up, used Prestidigitation to clean one of the other midden pits, and threw him into the clean pit as a makeshift prison cell. Leaving Oleg and Svetlana to guard the prisoner, they then headed to meet Bokken – an old hermit Oleg told them about who sells potions half a day’s ride away. The ride was uneventful.
Bokken greeted the strangers suspiciously but became slightly more welcoming when they explained that they had just had a busy morning dispatching bandits and helping Oleg & Svetlana. They asked to barter for healing potions for the ridiculously low price of “helping him with some things he can’t do himself”, looking around at the flea-infested hut that was in dire need of cleaning. He let them know what he thought of that offer by suggesting that one thing he couldn’t do himself was reach his genitals with his mouth and perhaps Marra could take care of those for him. The cantankerous, dirty little old senile man. He then offered to trade a Cure Light Wounds potion for one of the horses they’d taken from the bandits. The horse was worth half again the value of the potion, so the party quickly denied that offer. Instead, it was agreed that Edric would magically clean the hut and the party would give over one of the horses, and in return Bokken would give them both of his Cure Light Wounds potions.
While Edric cleaned the other party members didn’t feel like engaging this crazy old man in conversation, so they simply watched as he puttered around his hut and mumbled to himself. Soon the cleaning was complete and the party headed back, arriving at the trading post around sunset. Oleg and Svetlana had both resisted the temptation of killing their prisoner, and the group began to hatch plans for defending against the impending attack.