6th of Sunwane
When the new day dawns, all pack and ready themselves for the day. They plan to move a bit further into the woods and establish a base camp. From there they will conduct the scouting missions, free to carry a minimum of gear, moving their base forward every day or so as they determine necessary. Naturally, the party proceeds cautiously while doing so.
7th-9th of Sunwane
Proceeding with this arrangement, the group spends several fruitless days combing the woods for signs of bandits. Using all their special abilities, they still turn up nothing. Embarking on yet another day of searching, finally there is a sign worth investigating. Through the oak canopy, a small group of scavenger-birds can bee seen circling perhaps 1/3 of a mile ahead. Naturally there can be any number of reasons for this, but the fact remains that they’re circling for a reason and that reason is worth investigating.
Note: (The youngsters participation was an on-again, off-again affair. For this encounter they were unavailable. We were still learning how to manage our own characters and hadn’t figured out all that spell-stuff yet so we had the wizard hanging out with Vindle. [I think] Bigulf was brought along because we figured there was enough about his abilities that we could properly operate.)
Quickly, as they’d done when checking other potential finds, most of the party closes up while Ardadan and Lassidil scout ahead to left and right. Covering the distance stealthily requires slow movement and it is some time before any further signs appear. However, they note that the birds remain above where they were first seen.
Eventually the scouts find what they’ve been looking for. A thin, pale wisp of smoke is now occasionally visible. Now they’re sure something is up ahead. A band of nine or so heavily armed individuals occupy a camp in a small clearing. As with the previous camp scouted by Ardadan, there are indications that this group has been here for some time and plans to continue residence for a while. Most of the band is seated around a small, clean fire talking and eating, another figure stands a bit further to the right while one more prowls about behind them, perhaps making rounds of the camp perimeter. Ardadan and Lassidil stealthily back off. While Ardadan continues to observe the camp, Lassidil returns to the rest of the party (which has stopped some way back) and informs them of the development.
While the rest of the party slowly moves into position, Ardadan is able to learn a bit more about the camp. This particular band is a mixed bag of goblins, orcs and hobgoblins. They are well armed and armored. One of the orcs is patrolling the perimeter. He has also spotted a lookout hiding a bit away from the main group. So far as he can tell, there are eight individuals in or around the camp.
Once reunited, the party quickly formulates an ambush plan and sets it in motion. They plan to sneak into close-bow range, using the good cover to their left. They will fire a volley and then rush the remaining bandits. Now progress is even slower as the party inches its way into position.
_Note: (This ambush preparation resulted a protracted series of nerve-wracking hide, move silently, spot, listen, etc. checks. Talk about creating ulcers…)
Ardadan sets himself up furthest back with a clear line of fire to the group around the campfire. Bern is nearby. Lassidil has set herself further forward near the center-left poised to attack the sentry from his right. The rest of the party had continued on more to the left and forward, resulting in a formation somewhat like the letter ”C” with Ardadan at the bottom curve, Bern a bit further, Lassidil in the middle and the rest at the top.
Everyone is tense during the wait to get into position. At last all are where they should be and give the agreed on hand-signal indicating that they are ready. Ardadan stretches his bow and looses his arrow. Hissing past the trees and shrubs, the arrow slams into a spear-carrying orc at the base of his neck, and drops him instantly. Nearly at the same time, Bern loosed an arrow of his own which missed only because his target had turned to look at his falling comrade. Bern’s arrow continues through those at the fire and strikes a nearby tree. Theodoric has also released an arrow, which misses and passes, unnoticed by the bandits. Meanwhile, Lassidil has dropped the sentry with a single shot.
In a stroke of good-fortune, the remaining opponents, seeing the arrow in their companion, and the one in the tree, as well as the commotion of the dying sentry (and NOT seeing Theodorics arrow from a different direction), all turn in the direction of Ardadan and Bern, for the moment unaware of the rest of the Party on their right flank. They begin to move towards the two Party members they do know about, with two bandits moving further to Ardadan’s right. Rather than rushing the remaining bandits as originally planned, all the Party members seem to have the same idea and instead, loose another volley. This second volley kills one of the hobgoblins and wounds several of the other bandits as well as sowing confusion among them. About this time a ninth bandit (a small goblin) who had remained undetected emerged from the brush and loosed a few shots without effect and moved forward. The two orcs to Ardadans right continue towards him while the rest seem undecided whether to join them, or attack the Party members to their right flank. Taking advantage of their indecision, Theodoric and Lassidil bring down another hobgoblin with their bows.
Having done as much damage and sown as much confusion as they could with their ranged weapons, the Party presses their advantage and closes with their opponents, keeping the momentum of the fight on their side. However, there is one surprise, the bandits leader has entered the fight. He, like the goblin archer had gone undetected until now. The fight now is close, brutal, and fairly quick. Bern and Ardadan deal with the two opponents who had engaged them, while the rest are taken by the other members of the Party. Someone shouts out not to kill the leader so the Party essentially dog-piles him, disarming and incapacitating him. Just a few short minutes have passed.
Searching the dead, the Party once again finds that they were well armed and armored and also well paid. While they collect the monies, they are intrigued to find that there is no sign of ill-gotten loot at all, raising the question of what they were doing there. A short distance away, the leaders campsite is found. A human, he apparently he preferred not to sleep with his troops. Unfortunately, aside from more coins, there is nothing in the site itself to shed further light on the situation. All hopes for information now rest on what can be learned from the prisoner. It is now late and the Party decides to return to camp and set out for town with the prisoner in the morning. So…they do that.
Before nightfall, the Party prepares their gear for an early departure in the morning. They secure their prisoner, eat a cold meal (not wanting the risk of a fire), arrange watches, and settle in for a short rest, planning to leave at first light.