After a long day and evening in the smelly middens and rat warrens, the party took a long-deserved rest, for they knew that the next few days would once again, not be very restful.
In the morning, as the party awoke, Vladimir was feeling very much under the weather and had a lot of body aches and pains. Fogo using his knowledge of medicine was able to determine that Vladimir had been infected with some sort of virus or other sickness. Probably from the numerous rat bites he had acquired while battled the many giant rats in the warrens the previous day.
One oddity was noticed by ISAC. The small golden statuette was missing from the able where he had set it last night. Checking around, he queried Fwoosh who had slept under the table that night, they were able to find it within one of Fwoosh’s pouches. Neither one seemed concerned, and nothing else was mentioned about it.
Wanting to seek some assistance in helping Vladimir, the party broke up into two groups. One group containing Fogo, Vladimir, and Avery went seeking medical help, while the other group of Angelica, Fwoosh, ISAC, and Sky went directly to Wescott’s Saddlers where their wagon train would be waiting.
The group that headed to the wagon locations arrived and witnessed Nathan and his group getting ready. The six guards were handling getting his wagon reason, and they did not seem to be very happy. As usual, George was preparing all of Otis’s wagons and gear while William was smirking while watching the other group.
It was clear that William was pestering and slowing the work of the guards. Fwoosh was quick to intercept William by giving him a short sword and to help “train” him while waiting for their group to be ready. William was very excited and enthusiastically joined Fwoosh.
Fogo and his group quickly realized that it being very early in the morning, none of the shops would be open for many hours, and far too late for them to acquire anything to help Vladimir. They would have to wait until getting to the next stop, which should be Red Larch.
Heading to the StagN’Flag for some breakfast, they noticed a set of Roaringhouse Knights and what they assumed to be Sorceresses. Always the inquisitive one, Avery approached to see if he could get any additional information. They were immediately suspicious of anyone that approached them, even if it was a small unarmored gnome.
With Avery relaying that they are traveling north through the region. While still somewhat guarded, they gave Avery answers to his questions. He was answered that bandit activity does not happen within 10-15 miles of here. An interesting answer that came out was that they were having difficulty in scrying in the Dessarin Valley, that something seemed to be either interfering with it, or blocking it.
“There’s something strange going on there. Magic’s all messed up, something is in the air, ground, water, everything. Something is interfering with our ability to see into the area. A problem we did not have a couple of years ago.”
Avery and that group then made their way to the Saddler’s and joined the rest of their party. After short bit of time, they were able to all head out. Otis and his wagon were in the lead followed by George and William in the second wagon, and lastly Nathan’s wagon and his guards. Nathan himself drove the wagon as they left with Bartholomeus managing the guards.
The day passed slowly as the party were feeling nervous about the possibility of an Ambush. Otis was as stoic as usual, not seeming to care about the near future, while Nathan had a curious smirk on his face the entire time. Like there was some joke that he knew and no one else did.
While on the way, Fwoosh relinquished his short sword to William again, and while dancing weirdly with the blade, he was stopped by Vladimir and warned that if anything were to happen, they he and George need to stay near the wagon and to not run off.
They eventually reached a break point and decided to camp for the night. Fogo with a detect magic started investigating everyone that was there. Each of the party members had some sort of magical item upon them, most of which were not a surprise, Bartholomeus had a couple of magic items, two of the guards had some sort of magical rocks in their possessions, but the surprise was Nathan’s wagon.
The large metal box that contained whatever Nathan was transporting glowed so brightly of magic, that it was difficult to see. It had almost every sort of magic in it. It had so much magic, it was like daylight while being observed with the detect magic.
Using speak with animals, Fogo tried to get more details about the area and any dangers, but the squirrel he communicated with did not know much except that there were occasionally large birds that would prey upon his kind.
During the first watch Fogo noticed that one of the guards went off into the woods. One of the guards that had the magic item in his bag. After a while he came back without anything else happening. While not completely odd, Nathan’s guards seemed more concerned about watching the party members on watch as well as Bartholomeus than anything else around them.
During the second watch with Fwoosh, he was able to overhear them whispering.
“Was the message sent? Yes, we will send another one in the morning.”
At the third watch, Sky wandered by the road and discovered that there was fresh horse dung on the road. But no one had heard horses so far. It had been dropped sometime after everyone had started camping. Finally, during the third watch, Avery was paying too much attention to Nathan’s wagon, while Angelica was able to see one of the guards wander off, again the other one with a magic item, and then come back into camp.
The next morning seemed slow until Nathan got up and spoke.
“It is almost time to get the show on the road.”
He then went behind his wagon. Some loud chanting and a sudden bright light show coming out from the metal box with large magic circles and sigils showing on the sides of the wagon. He opened some door in the rear and out stepped five black armored men.
They were all armored in chain and carried a long sword. The men were quiet and only seemed to communicate in a few grunts and low syllables. They gave out a very serious demeaner in their attitude and appearance. They quickly surrounded the wagon giving everyone a hostile stare. Their faces completely covered with a mask with only their eyes showing.
ISAC received a communication from his little friend.
“ISAC, try to get closer to those men in black. There is something about them that we should investigate. They seem broken somehow.”
While starting to move and get on the road, a couple of the party members overheard the guards muttering to each other.
“Oh fuck, Deathguards”
The old guards were clearly worried, and even a bit scared of the newcomers. They knew who and what they were. The wagon train slowly moved along the road through the hills and through a forest area when ISAC received another message.
“ITS A TRAP, ITS A TRAP, HIDE YOURSELF. THERE ARE AT LEAST 20 MEN COMING.”
And the party started. A large tree dropped across the road in front of them and to the rear.
Over 20 bandits leaped up from the bushes unleashing a swarm of crossbow bolts onto Nathan and his guards, just not any of the original guards. With everyone being surprised except Vladimir it did not look good with the number opponents that showed up.
There were also two leaders, one man carrying a great sword and the other magic mystical gestures.
All the men were wearing green and brown cloaks and clothing allowing them to hide in the wilderness and surprise their prey more easily. This time being the wagon train that the party was in. The group of men were primarily focused on Nathan and his wagon with a few that seemed to be there to intercept any of the party members that were going to interfere.
The six traitor guards were quick to assist the bandits and it quickly degenerated into a mass melee with the five Deathguard being the most proficient in killing, although the party helped a fair amount with it mostly ending once Fogo took down the bandit leader. Without a lead, the few remaining bandits were quickly killed. Total losses to the party’s group were only two of the Deathguard and a few injuries elsewhere.
In searching the bodies, a fair amount of gold was found as well as three very interesting things. The first being a crest.
And the second a message that seemed to be some sort of encoded or encrypted message. But blood covered a fair portion of it.
And third, was a small gold necklace with an image of a young blond-haired girl in it.
After a short internal dialogue, Fogo offered up both items to Nathan. Nathan told them that the crest was his brother’s. It was the crest of the heir apparent of the Axedredge family, meaning that all these men must have been from his brother Drake. The message, it gave Nathan another grin as he just quickly pocketed the message without much of a review.
The rest of the party helped loot the bodies of the bandits with Avery recovering a spell book from the bandit mage and ISAC discover that Otis was taking a nap under his wagon and George and William were hiding under theirs.
With everything being completed, the group cleared the trees they were able to move on. Deciding to camp early and hiding their trail off the road, the session ended here.
We took a couple of hours to finally get to the big ambush. This was the first time the group suffered through a very large melee combat. Even though they were mostly in their periphery, they still could see and experience the implications of a lot of units on the board and their impact on the tactics, or lack of. It was clear once the leaders had been killed the rest of the bandits were less effective, but also then had no one to give them the order to retreat. They received clues and lost them all in the span of ten minutes. What could they have learned? Well, it will be revealed eventually, but not for a long time.
The question for the party is now will there be more before reaching Red Larch?