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Seeing the bandit as an opportunity rather than a threat, Tireas climbs back down the watchtower, sneaking up to the urinating bandit, careful not to actually step in the flowing water (the other flowing water that splits the camp in half, that is).
More sneaking. (1d20+5) (-1 for the armor)
Tireas will walk up to the edge of the water with a shuriken at the ready.
Climbing back down the ladder in the bandit's armour is no easy feat, but fortunately the real bandit is absorbed enough in his business that he doesn't hear the few sounds of jostling armour and creaking ropes. And the night is dark enough that he doesn't see anything in his peripheral vision. He lets out a sigh, and you can hear his belt being buckled up.
Estanos steps up to Viktor, mending what would otherwise be a dangerous injury for the paladin. Viktor then finishes off the thylacine alpha, putting his sword through the creature's skull with a crunch. The other beast dies as one of Ilya's arrows finally makes contact with it.
The horses quiet themselves, still skittish, but under control. Merrin too looks relieved, still holding the torch that is the only source of illumination. His firelit face has a sheen of sweat on it from his nervousness. "Right... um, good work. Nothing for it now but to wait for yer friend to finish up."
You can feel free to RP with each other until Tireas finishes up. If you rest (still possible with RP, just not with running around), casters can get spells back for dawn. Otherwise you'll need to rest at some point tomorrow.
Tireas hopes for the best, and tosses a shuriken at the defensless man, aiming for the neck once again. While perhaps not using his weapons in the most effective manner, this seemed like too much of an opportunity for him to miss.
The knife flies towards the bandit. Partially clothed and unawares, it strikes him. But it does not kill him. Instead, he gives a startled, pained shout. "Argh!" He spins around, searching for his attacked. He spots you, or rather, the dark shape that he can only barely make out. "Bastard," he roars. "Kressle, Dask's a traitor! He ain't on watch, an' he knifed me!"
He rushes towards you, doing up the last buckles of his armour as he moves. You can hear the sounds of movement from the camp.
Estanos, Ilya, Viktor, Zinovia
The forest is quiet, except for the sounds of night creatures less dangerous than the pack of thylacines that now lies dead. But then you hear a shout. "Argh!" "Bastard,""Kressle, Dask's a traitor! He ain't on watch, an' he knifed me!"
If you want to go to the bandit camp, the fastest way is to mount your horses and gallop as fast as possible over that way. This will require a DC 10 ride check to get there in 5 rounds. For every 5 points by which you beat the DC, you arrive 1 round earlier. Failure means you arrive in 7 rounds. For every 5 points by which you fail, you arrive 1 round later.
If Tireas can hide again, we'll go back out of combat rounds, in which case you will arrive very quickly.
" Well, that was close...," breathes Estanos at the conclusion of the fracas with the thylacines. He pats one of the horses on its back, glad that the panic has ended and he can release its reins. He's just about ready to start looking for a place to bed down when the scream echoes through the forest.
" Wait-," the priest says almost immediately after the shout. He can feel the undercurrent of adrenaline from the recent battle increasing the chance some of his comrades might charge right in and try to save their stealthy friend. He holds out his hands, in the universal gesture of 'hold on'. " Tireas knows his way back to us. If they capture him, the difference of a few minutes won't matter much, we can still get there in time to effect a rescue. If he -doesn't- need us, our presence just ruins everything. We need to wait, prepare, and be his fallback position if he needs one."
Zinovia lowers her frail body to the ground, propping herself up against a tree. He grimaces at her partially-healed wound. Death had come very close; she had felt pain and darkness before, but this time was visceral and deadly. Wordlessly, she collects her spellbook, opening the ancient black grimoire, beginning to long process of rectifying her lack of firepower.
When Estanos speaks, she looks up at him with her dark eyes. "What you say is sound. And should the tiefling not be found, I shall not squander this opportunity to rest."
She looks down at the ground. "And priest... I hold no illusions that I owe my life to you... I... Thank you." Her lips purse in another pained look.
"Agreed," Viktor says with a sharp nod at Estanos. "It would be imprudent to rush in. The demonspawned - Tireas - may be able to escape unaided. If he does not return soon however, we must be prepared to move quickly."
Your shuriken flies past the bandit, whistling through the night air. And then you take off in the opposite direction. The darkness cloaks and conceals you, and from the sounds of stumbling, it seems as though he has lost sight of you.
"Still out there, Kressle," the wounded bandit calls to his boss. "Ran off."
"Shut up, you gutless wonder," responds a woman's voice, crude and ill-tempered. "Stick close everyone. Stay together and we'll root out the bastard."
From the darkness, you can see the bandits clustered around their fire. They are lighting torches and marching in a line towards you.
Kr is Kressle.
From your position, you are able to retreat easily through the bushes. We aren't going be strict rounds, so if you want to rejoin the rest of the party, saying so will be enough.
Scowling at the missed opportunity, Tireas quickly makes off back to the point where he split up.
When he meets back up with the rest of the group, he announces in a panicked tone, "They found me out... I wasn't able to kill as many as hoped. You probably heard them, let's get out! ...Oh, right, and I'll be needed that sword back."
The priest smiles at Zinovia and says," Your thanks is appreciated, but please, do not dwell upon it. I am sure you would have done the same for me." In the hands of another, this last sentence could have been a subtle barb, sarcastic and cutting. But Estanos delivers it straight, honest, and earnest. He honestly seems to believe it. With that, he settles down to rest and wait.
Later, when Tireas reappears...
" Oh... damn. Do you really think we must flee? Surely, they'll have trouble finding us." Estanos stands back up, looks around sharply at the surrounding inky blackness; not this this tells him much, the night shrouded forest being just as impenetrable now as it was moments before. " Tell me you attacked the camp from the -opposite- direction of where we came from. So they're searching in the wrong direction. Right?"
"You return," Viktor says, greeting Tireas. "I am glad to hear that you met with some success. I would suggest we relocate our camp further afield." He continues his thought, looking back towards the bandit camp. "I am sure that they will not give up their search for you easily. Our spellcasters need rest. On the morn, I suggest we confront them head-on."
"I attacked from the west, and fled back to that direction, but that doesn't necesarily mean we're safe. They think one of their own defected, so that may give us some time, or surprise. It doesn't look like you're all in fighting condition though... did something happen?"
Noticing the beast corpses on the earth, Tireas shakes his head and responds, "Never mind. Father Estanos, your safety and the safety of the group is my top concern. I suggest we either move or hide." Though his blood was telling him he needed to be in the fight right now, Tireas kept control of the situation. As much as he enjoyed their first skirmish with bandits, they were currently on much worse terms.
Ilya pulls himself together as the battle ends. Retrieving as many arrows as he can, be returns his bow to it's place over his back before peering out into the blackness of the forest. When Tireas appears suddenly, as if out of nowhere, Ilya gasps and takes a step backwards.
"Oh, it's just you, Tireas. Well that is a relief," he breathes. Listening to the rogue with a worried look, he continues. "I can't imagine that it's a good idea to stay here, what with bandits prowling the forest. We should move, and quickly, before they find us. Viktor is quite right; we'll return in the morning." When it won't be so damnably dark, the young man thinks to himself with a shiver.
"Yes," Zinovia says, her voice rasping. "If Tireas has weakened and confused them, it should be a trifle to destroy them on the morrow." The wizardess nods. "After our past difficulties this evening, I will be glad of the opportunity to put my powers to use once more."
Hastily packing up, you retreat away from the bandit encampment. The forest provides excellent shelter, its trees concealing your location behind their thick trunks and curtains of needles. You come to rest in a small clearing a few miles away from the Thorn River. The exertions of the day cry out for rest, and soon a welcome slumber is had...
4 Gozran, 4708
For those not up earlier, the rising sun awakens you, climbing over the treetops, casting long morning shadows of conifers over the clearing. Frost lies heavy on the ground, gently coating the greenery there in a fine lattice of ice. The air is chilly, not yet warmed by the sun. A few birds warble in one of the taller trees. Tied up, your horses graze on a patch of grass that has grown up in the clearing.
Evidently the bandits have not found you, if they even search. The day has only just begun, but there is much to do...
Estanos, as always, rises with the dawn. Following a brief wash (creating the water from the air itself), he addresses the group.
" Now that it's light out, we don't have much time." Estanos looks up at the sky, checking the sun's progress across the cerulean dome as best he can through the patchy canopy of leaves. " There is a time sensitive element here. The hostiles most likely will be frightened by what happened last night; they'll have found the body of their 'friend', and know that they're under some sort of attack. That's -good-, because it means that they'll go on the defensive, stay in one place. The last thing we want to do is engage in a running battle through forests that we don't know."
Out comes a stick, with which Estanos sketches out a crude map, and then further etches lines in to it as he speaks. " According to what we know, this path of approach is the one that will shield us from view the longest. We advance as a group until we reach the encampment proper; here Tireas splits off to the right, goes to ground, and keeps up with us, but unseen. He'll stay on our right flank; once we meet with the hostiles, he'll come in off that flank and take them by surprise. Viktor'll be drawing as much attention as he can; I'll be keeping him on his feet. Zinovia and Ilya, you two'll be focusing on keeping them from coming at us in mass numbers. Thin them out, slow then down."
He finishes scratching in the dirt. " Marrin, you'll stay here and keep an eye on the horses. If more thylacines show, get up one of these trees and wait for us after you cut the leads on the horses. Your life is worth more than some mounts. We'll be back for you." The (pacifistic?) priest looks around at his fellows, each in turn. " Thoughts? "
Viktor rises with the sun. The morning air is chill, and he dons his armor swiftly and as silently as he can, in preparation for the day's battle, before wrapping himself in his fur cloak. It's many miles to the encampment, he thinks bleakly. Fully prepared, he returns to the cluster of bedrolls and kneels next to Ilya. He places a gauntleted hand on the young man's shoulder and gently wakes him. "Ilya, it's dawn - past dawn - and we need to be away from here," the says softly.
"This is a good plan," Viktor says to Estanos, voice hardly concealing his surprise. Perhaps I misjudged the preacher, he thinks to himself. He seems competent in this matter. "I am ready. If we are all resolved, let us end this threat once and for all." The man's voice is firm and measured as he says this, not showing fear.
Zinovia too is up early, as it her way. The cold morning air is uncomfortable, and she remains wrapped in a heavy fur blanket. She uncorks her waterskin, pouring a portion of its contents into a small pewter cup, into which she casts a pinch of strange powder and a few chopped leaves from one of her pouches. She heats it over the fire, warming her bony white hands as she does so. With a feeble cough, she takes a sip of the warmed tea, drinking with a stillness punctuated only by the occasional shiver.
Zinovia listens attentively to Estanos' plan, nodding occasionally from her seated position, but is otherwise silent as the priest explains what he has in mind. Finally, she responds. "It will work. Let is tarry no longer than we need."
Marrin nods. "Right, er, do me a favour an' don't lose. That won't end well with me. Kressle ain't one of them mercy-full types."
Not the most inspiring words of support, but, nonetheless, you begin the trek back towards the Thorn River.
It is still very early morning when you approach the bandits' camp. The pale yellow sun has just begun to melt the frost and burn away the morning mist that hangs over the river. In the light of day, you can make out the camp to be little more than a rough campsite in an accommodating glade. The ground has been worn down by bandit boots to hard brown earth strewn with twigs, roots, and pebbles. A campfire sits extinguished in the middle of a circle of logs. The only man-made structures more complex than the log-turned-benches are a pair of platforms overlooking the camp: one to the south, across the stream from the main camp; and the other raised high in the trees, concealed near the firepit.
The bandits themselves are ready, visibly nervous and on guard. A few reinforcements have joined them, bringing their number to six in all, all unwashed men, except for their leader, who is a surprisingly small woman of fierce features.
Three of them, including Kressle, have taken cover behind a pair of logs. The other three have taken up positions near the tree platforms. All of them have longbows in hand.
You do not have long to take in the sight of the bandits, however, before you too are spotted. One of them points in your direction down the path. "Here come more!"
Kressle roars a battle cry. "Fer the Stag Lord and fer loot, boys! An' fer the pleasure of gettin' to kill idiots who think they can tame us!"
The sound of bowstrings snapping fills the camp as the bandits fire off a ragged volley towards you. Four arrows fly across the clearing. One sticks into Viktor's shield, while two more break into pieces after colliding with the ground. The last of them grazes Ilya's cheek before splashing into the Thorn River.
3 damage to Ilya
I wasn't totally sure what the plan was calling for, so hopefully I got it at least mostly right. If I didn't, both whoops and sorry!
@Blisstake: it might be tricky to see Tireas' T on the map. It's right above the compass, on the bandits' flank.
Zinovia watches dispassionately as the bandits' arrows sail through the air towards her. "This battle is over," she murmurs. "These louts simply do not know it yet. But they will soon."
She musters her strength, and does something that no one yet has seen her do: run. Each pace makes her gasp in discomfort. I... will... not... fail. But she manages to make it to the logs before finally collapsing. "Nhh..."
Double move action to move eight squares downwards (south) from her current spot. Free action to drop prone for +4 AC vs ranged.
The anticipation of the battle causes the tiefling to twitch nervously as he waits for his allies to get into position. Slowly moving into cover, he tries not to think about the blood he can nearly taste in his mouth.
Ilya groans as he is awaken. Blinking against the pale rays of morning sun, he pulls himself up. "Ugh," he sighs. "Really Viktor, must we go now? But it's so early..." He gives the paladin a plaintive look, but seeing the other man's stern expression, he relents. "Fine, fine, I'm going," the prince says, rising with a final yawn.
It really is far to early in the morning to be doing this, Ilya thinks as the party trudges through the woods towards the camp. The forest looks entirely different now, bathed as it is in frost and light. Beautiful, he thinks, his petulance easing somewhat. Then, not paying attention, he stubs his toe on a log, and instantly the young man's grumpiness returns in a renewed flurry of curses and complaints.
These cease immediately as the bandit camp comes into view. Ilya strings his bow and prepares to charge. "I'm quite sure we'll all do wonderfully in there," he enthuses, plucking the string for practice one final time. As the party charges forwards, Ilya follows just behind, darting nimbly though the undergrowth. Sure the bandits have seen the party, he begins to sing another hymn, intertwining the music and his magic to bolster the party.
Ilya will move 25 feet forward and use Inspire Courage. +1 to attack and damage.
Viktor charges forwards at the bandits, shield raised to deflect arrows and sword brandished. His pace only increases as Ilya is struck with an arrow from one of the criminals. "You won't do that again," he growls as the runs forwards. "Not while I draw breath. I will bring you to justice." Reaching the log, the man swings his blade at the nearest bandit.
I'm pretty sure that Viktor can charge B5 with his 20 ft move speed doubled. If he can't, he'll just take a full move action to get as close as possible.
Power attack roll: (1d20+9)
Damage roll: (1d20+7)
As they're nearing the camp, the priest lays a friendly hand upon Viktor's shoulder as he points out the location of the (theoretical) female bandit leader. No words are said in prayer this time, but Viktor will be able to feel the physical presence of Sarenrae's protection one more; an odd feeling for a paladin of another god, certainly.
It takes a moment for the fact that their frail, generally retiring sorceress has charged ahead to sink in, and only a split second more for Estanos to discern what she has in mind. With that thought he quickly says,"Viktor, with me," in as confident a voice as he can manage. His holy symbol clutched in his head, he shouts,"For Sarenrae and Sainted Sar ibn Al-din! " And with that cry, Estanos thunders forward weaponless, worriless, and with his head held high.
Before the encounter proper, Estanos is casting 'Protection from Evil' upon Viktor.
Estanos is moving south with a double-move, placing himself one step behind wherever Viktor hopefully winds up; if Viktor -doesn't- move forward, Estanos is going to wind up standing next to where Zinovia went prone, and feeingl -very- stupid.
Zinovia takes the lead, running towards the logs from behind which the bandits have fired. She makes it there before falling. A few of the bandits laugh.
The laughter stop as Ilya begins to sing; even the crude thugs can recognize something strange in the sounds that wash over it battle. Viktor charges, inspired by the song and by the hurt done to Ilya by the bandit's bows. He swings his bastard sword; the bandit bowman cries out in pain and falls as the weapon cuts across his chest.
Estanos follows the paladin, shouting his Goddess' name on the wind.
Tireas creeps closer, ducking down behind one of the log benches by the firepit.
As Zinovia, Estanos, and Viktor reach the logs and the bandits behind them, Kressle shouts again. "Archers, kill th' priest! Everyone else, on the warrior, 'fore he gets another swing!"
A pair of arrows fly towards Estanos. One is not even close, a poorly aimed shot that flies off out of the camp entirely. The other slices through skin and cloth on its way past.
2 damage to Estanos
The bandit behind their log barricade drops his bow, drawing and slashing at Viktor with his sword. The paladin easily deflects it away harmlessly. Kressle uses her minion's attack to launch her own. She draws a pair of sharp hand axes, whirling them around her head with a psychotic mixture of hate and joy in her eyes. Her axe comes across Viktor's flank, dropping down to cut into the back of the leg. If he hadn't moved at the last minute, such a strike would likely have taken the limb off. As such, it still bites deep.
8 damage to Viktor
From his position, Tireas can see the bandit in the camp platform take aim from his position and fire. Once more, an arrow grazes Estanos.
1 damage to Estanos.
The other bandit remaining in the camp, this one at ground level, waves an arm to get his friend up on the platform's attention, then he points a finger northward and begins to move.
Zinovia blacks out for a second, her body lying limp on the ground. I will not fail! It takes all the effort she can muster to raise one hand, forcing it out in the direction the bandits, palm raised, fingers poised. "Burn," she whispers under her rasping breath. The logs and the bandits behind them are engulfed in flame.
Still prone. Burning hands, hitting Kressle and the bandit, Ref DC19 for half damage.