Thane paused a moment from his work at the forge. Arden was approaching and Thane could see the young warrior was wearing his chain and greatsword strapped to his back. Thane knew every link of that armor, almost as much as his own. He had repaired the slashed rings of steel, and loose rivets. A dwarf could tell many things about the character of a man by the condition of his armor. Arden had borne the brunt of many a goblin shortsword and one particularly nasty ogre. His chain was neither ostentatious nor ceremonial. Simple but good armor, oiled and well cared…something even a dwarf would be proud to wear.
“Thane, Martin and I are heading beyond the river, did you decide to stay at the forge?”
The dwarf grinned, his beard tucked under the leather apron, “Not hardly, young’un. Just putting the finish to this hook.” He held the grappling hook up in the air for Arden to inspect. Wrought iron, still glowing duly as it cooled. Arden couldn’t help to admire the blacksmith’s work.
With a hiss, Thane quenched the hook into a water barrel. He quickly hung up his apron and grabbed his handaxe and gear and marched off towards the gate. “Well, you comin’ or not?”
Arden laughed, “lead on, master dwarf…”
Beyond the river….
Arden, Thane, Martin, along with Catamont, Handsome, and Meklin, ride south of the Keep. They move past Coop’s Mill. Catamont keeps his eyes on the road ahead and Arden can sense that he is not wanting to see that miserable wretch of a mother.
The horses move easily along the trail to the mill. Martin moves along in front of the party. His hunter skills are put to good use as he gets off his horse to examine the ground along the banks.
Does Martin spy any horse tracks moving across the river? Result=9, yes! [I rolled a 7 and gave him +2 to the roll for his wisdom and hunter secondary skill]. Martin spies several horse tracks moving through a marshy area near the river.
Martin spurs his horse into the river. The current is not too swift here, but as Thane has told him, the river runs fast in the north where it comes down the Five Kings.
The river is shallow enough to ford safely here. Martin reaches the other side and signals the rest of the group to come ahead. On the other side a forested hill greets them. Large trees canopy the hill and obscure what lies beyond.
Do the tracks continue? [Rolled a FU die here…result=6! Yes, and Martin can clearly make out fresh hoofprints…at least four horses.]
The tracks lead up into the hills.
Does Martin lead the group into the hills following this path? [Result=2, No. They consider the possibility that if bandits are in the area a watchman has been set.]
The party decides to skirt the hills and approach the hills from another direction. Martin in the lead, they follow the contour of the hills. The river is to their left and the hills to their right. The group discovers several sand bars in the river but they are bare. Eventually they come to a smaller feeder branch. The hills switchback to the southwest and the branch hugs it.
Martin looks for more tracks along the back side of the hills…Result 9=yes, one set of prints move up into the forested hills.
The party dismounts and tie off the horses in the woods. Arden strings his bow and the others get missile weapons ready. Martin leads the group up the hill, keeping to cover and watching for sign of any sentry.
Do the bandits have a lookout on this side of the hill? Result=yes.
It is up to Martin to spot the lookout. Martin is a hunter and is wise, but the lookout is stationary and in the woods. Result=3! Martin leads the group onward into the hills as a bandit lookout watches them. The bandit sneaks back to his camp to alert the others.
Are the bandits all present at the camp? Result=3, No, but most are…I rule that the leader and 6 others are encamped, resting during the day.
The bandits are camped on a ridge in the forest. Their horses are hobbled a short way down the ridge.
Arden and Company make their way up the hill, moving back and forth, climbing steadily.
Martin smells the faint odor of wood smoke wafting down from the ridge. As the company approaches the campsite, the bandits launch an attack.
The bandits have surprise and fire arrows at the party…
Arden takes an arrow by the bandit leader! It hits him in an exposed part of his armor [critical…takes 4 damage!] Meklin, Martin, and Handsome all take arrows but their armor protects them.
The enemy is firing at 60′ distance.
The company retreats to cover of the trees and return fire…
[The bandits are all using the cover of trees, so all attacks against them will be at -2]
The company fires at the bandits, but they are too protected in the trees.
The bandits return fire [-2 for PCs under cover, but +1 for attacking from a higher vantage]
One of the bandits loses grip on his weapon (critical fail, will be at -1 damage next attack). Another bandit gets a lucky shot on Thane. The dwarf curses him and charges up the hill! The others draw their weapons and bravely follow!
Bandits will get two rounds of fire as the PCs move up the hill to engage them.
Meklin takes a hit! Handsome also catches an arrow!
The company falls on the bandits, blades flashing and vengeance in their hearts.
Arden cuts their leader with his greatsword, wounding him. Catamont supports Arden’s attack and slashes the leader with his handaxe.
Martin swings his flail and Meklin slashes with his halberd…a bandit falls dead at their feet! [Teaming up is a great idea!]
One bandit dead…the leader is injured.
The bandits strike with clubs, daggers, and sword.
Handsome takes a vicious dagger strike! He has fallen! Martin takes a nasty stab to the body…[Critical, +1 damage…total of 2 damage]
[Note–I’m using the alternative armor rules. This means since Handsome is wearing chain, he is unconscious for 3 rounds with death following. I hope one of the party can bind his wounds before then!]
Arden and Catamont attack the leader…Arden cuts him for 2 points. The bandit leader is gravely wounded.
Thane spends 2 luck points adjusting his attack roll to 9, injuring a bandit.
Martin misses but Meklin hits another bandit.
The bandit leader stabs Arden with his sword. Thane takes another dagger blow! The other bandits miss.
Arden and Catamont both get fierce cuts on the the bandit leader! He falls down in a spray of blood…
Thane spends another Luck point and hits a bandit. Thane has injured one bandit but is outnumbered at the moment.
Meklin slashes another bandit injuring him.
Their leader has fallen…I roll 2d6 to gauge their morale…9! They will fight at least another round.
Two bandits attack Thane…both miss!
Three bandits attack Martin and Meklin….one lands an extremely vicious blow on Meklin! Meklin falls unconscious…wearing chain so he has three rounds.
Arden and Catamont rush to aid Thane and the dying Handsome.
Arden and Thane miss the bandits, but Catamont works to staunch Handsomes wounds. [I rolled a 7 for Catamont and figure this will suffice]
Martin is fighting three bandits alone…and misses!
Martin’s chainmail stands up against the bandits…they all miss!
The other bandits also miss.
Arden spends one Luck point to hit the injured bandit…the man staggers back bleeding profusely.
Martin spends one Luck to get a result of 12! One of the bandits he is fighting takes a heavy flail to the head, crushing his skull!
Four bandits remain some with injuries…morale 9…they fight!
Arden and Martin both take hits.
Arden spends two more Luck to hit the injured bandit…the bandit dies.
Martin spends one Luck to hit a bandit for 2 points…injured but not dead.
One bandit stabs Thane…the dwarf howls with a curse.
Arden rushes to Martin’s defense and Catamont moves in to bind Meklin’s wounds.
Catamont binds Meklin’s wounds, Arden and Martin both hit their opponents.
The three bandits (two are wounded) turn to flee.
Thane strikes one with his handaxe but does not kill him. Arden also cuts at a bandit but not killing him.
The wounded bandits race down the ridge to mount their horses. The company pursue the bandits through the woods but the bandits are lightly armored and outpace them. Thane makes a desperate throw with his axe…miss! The axe is enchanted and returns to the dwarf’s hand. [This was one of the hard won items from the goblin lair.]
Seven horses are hobbled down below.
Question…are the bandits able to take more than one each? Yes…I rule that the three men take five horses. Somewhere out in the woods might be other bandits on watch…but the company claim the other two horses.
Martin prays over the wounded Meklin and Handsome, healing them both. The men-at-arms nod gratefully at the healing powers of the cleric.
Searching the bandits, the company finds a total of 3 gold pieces and 11 silver pieces. On a stump in the camp lies a cask of good wine. The company gather all the bandit weapons and sling the bodies of the four dead bandits over the horses. They move north to the Keep, taking their time and keeping watch.
When Arden returns to the Keep, he will show the Bailiff the dead bandits. Perhaps this will make travel a bit safer in the area….at least for a little while.
Encounters on the way back to the Keep….result=no, thankfully.
Notes…Well Arden didn’t wait for Corwin to finish his studies. The battle was hard fought and almost cost two of his men their lives. It’s just the risk that they all take. When the magician rejoins the company they will be formidable.