Codex III-Chapter 5

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Amara secretly hoped the ambush came sooner rather than later. She had concealed herself in with the guards, and didn’t much like the idea of staying hidden all day for several days, and it was only the afternoon of the first! Hardal had three of the guards dress like Orensland, Jenika, and Amara (so there was a double of her, since she had opted to be hidden with the other guards). The sorceress had her doubts about this part of the plan, but the two guards managed to look surprisingly like Orensland and Jenika. Her double, however, looked hideous. They had used a female wizard, but still, the white dye in her dark brown hair didn’t take as well as Amara would have liked.

Then there was sitting down, crouched under the tarps of her wagon. The sun’s heat magnified under the cover, and only occasionally did a breeze of air gust in to cool them off. Occasionally one of the guards would switch, so everybody got a chance to walk, but Amara didn’t want to switch with her double and risk being attacked at the beginning of an ambush, so she stoically remained under the cover. She had the dumb luck of having selected the cart with the tarp over it. The covered wagon was much roomier, but she wouldn’t have been able to lie down. Not that with this heat napping was an option. She wiped her brown again, noticing that her hair was plastered to her forehead. Ugh.


Khaska walked with Rynn towards the front of the caravan. Both of them kept a wary eye out, but Hammerdine still loomed in the distance, and they were not expecting the attack on this first day. As the sun climbed, their wariness waned and gave way slightly to the natural tiredness of having walked all day with their equipment. Khaska was used to his plate armor by now, but it was heavy. Still, he said a silent prayer to the Gods that Jenika and Orensland had been successful. They had left early in the morning, just as the first light of sunrise was about to peek over the horizon, and had not heard if their compatriots had been successful.

Rynn loped along easily, Ranna at his side, her tongue lolling out to keep her cool as the day grew warmer. It was May now, and summer was beginning to assert itself. The ranger was a bit concerned. Hardal had all but placed him in charge of the caravan. The leader of the Kleithera guards, the shaved-head, crossbow-wielding gnome Akle, had all but deferred to him. It was a heavy responsibility. But when he had expressed his misgivings to Khaska, the cleric had merely smiled. “You sprang the trap on Nathan well. You give yourself less credit than you deserve.”

But nothing happened that first day. They made camp about a mile off of the main road, in a secluded spot that nonetheless allowed them to see some distance around. Hammerdine was still close enough that the timber had long since vanished in construction projects, so there was little cover. That would probably not be the case by mid-day tomorrow.

Eryx (DM)
You have traveled for one day. It’s easy enough to have caravan guards switch out during lunch or whatever, so that your visible numbers stay the same while allowing for bathroom breaks, etc.

I’ve paused here to ask you what precautions you will be taking. You are sure an ambush is coming. What will you do for scouting? How did you want to split up the guards (if you have any preference, and I can give you more details on what the Kleithera guards consist of if you would like)? Considerations like these are the things I would like to know about.

Sayyadina
How many guards (other than us) are with the caravan? And what's the standard formation that Kletheira House uses?

BlackWolf
Rynn would have liked to do some scouting himself, but given the circumstances it's probably better if he stays with the caravan. If there are any guards trained well enough to scout, we could send a couple out. But it might be better to just send Kirza.

More information about the guards and number of wagons, animals, etc. would be helpful. It might be good to keep people relatively close to the "vehicles" since they could offer some cover. Plus if the Sendylus guild members think we are carrying good supplies, they might not put any area-of-effect spells over the caravan.

In general, I think our main precaution will be to keep a weather eye. Everyone should be ready for an attack at any time and be keeping a lookout. Here's a check for Rynn for good measure:

  • Spot check: 23 (rolled 17 + 6 bonuses)

Eryx (DM)
The makeup of the caravan is as follows:
*6 carts. These each have some crates and are covered with a covering of skins to keep rain and inclement weather off of them. The crates are actually empty, and each cart has room for two guards in it. 11 guards, and Amara.
*1 covered wagon. This has the supplies for the group in it, but you don't have full supplies to get all the way to Tidewater City (the caravans intended route). You're good for two weeks (about the time you would get down to the Niktean Wastes. You expect the ambush to come well before then. 4 guards.
*14 oxen, two for each of the above vehicles.
*10 guards out in the open. This includes the doubles for Orensland, Jenika, and Amara.
*Khaska and Rynn.

So, there are 28 people in the caravan, 12 visible, 16 hidden. Class breakdown is as follows (all are level 1 or 2, you guys are the "big guns," so to speak).
Visible
1 wizard. (Amara's double) Snake familiar (hidden).
2 rogues. (One is Orensland's double, another Jenikas).
1 monk.
1 ranger. No animal companion. Archery fighting style.
1 druid. Dog animal companion.
1 fighter. Akle, the gnome.
3 warriors.
Rynn.
Khaska.

Hidden:
1 sorcerer. Cat familiar.
3 rogues.
4 warriors.
2 fighters.
1 barbarian.
1 ranger. No animal companion. Close-range fighting style.
2 clerics.
1 bard.
Amara.

BlackWolf
Thanks for the breakdown. Honestly, I can't think of anything else specific that Rynn would try to do to prepare. He feels like they just have to "grin and bear it" — they know they are stepping into a trap and they have to play the part. Sending scouts could be beneficial, or it could blow our cover (why bother sending scouts on a known "safe" road?). We still may want to send out some familiars though.

Rynn will ask the spellcasters if they have any spells that could be useful in this situation. But he expects they'll need to save up their spells for the fight.

Thevarou
Khaska would agree with Rynn on this one - there's not too much reason to send out scouts unless we have a reasonable chance of uncovering specifics of the ambush. Because we really have no idea about when the ambush would come, it seems foolish to send out soldiers to patrol; we may as well send out the familiars, which would be quicker and less noticeable. Besides, if the attack comes at night - which it very well might! - we'd want to have our manpower in one defensible force. We should probably set up night watches with a specific way to wake everyone up in case of an emergency.

Khaska will also select his spells to prepare for potential combat, whenever it might come.

In talking that night (Amara’s double went to bed early) there really were no specific plans. Rynn was of the opinion that the entire train should stick close together, but other than that had no specific suggestions. Amara assured them that she would send Kirza out to scout, the familiars of the Kleithera Merchant’s guards not nearly as versatile as a bird for such matters. Khaska agreed that seemed the best—sending out scouts along this well-traveled trail would seem suspicious. But the raven was unobtrusive enough, he noted, looking up at it perched atop his horns.

The next day also passed without incident. Kirza saw no sign of an ambush, and none came. They slept restlessly that night. Khaska, in saying his prayers the next morning, continued to pray for Orensland and Jenika, whatever had happened to them. He was joined in his prayers by the two clerics that were accompanying them.

It was that afternoon as they entered a small ravine that the trap they had been expecting was finally sprung. The ambushers had hidden themselves well, and even Kirza, flying around and around, was unable to see them. The first sign that they were present was the whizzing of arrows and the flash of magic missile spells.

The wizard doubling as Amara went down fast, a crossbow bolt slamming into her side as a magic missile blasted her down. She dropped to the ground, bleeding and unconscious. The rogue doubling as Jenika also went down as two arrows sprang into her, also dropping her to the ground.

Rynn was hit in the chest himself, and a magic missile wove its way through the air to strike Khaska, though it did little damage. Several projectiles flew at Akle, who had been walking alongside one of the carts, but the little gnome just laughed as they all flew by him. Nobody else was hit.

The ambush had begun. It was time to spring the trap.

Eryx (DM)
I took the liberty of rolling spot checks. Between Rynn and Khaska you see about 18 people surrounding your caravan. They took advantage of the trees and boulders to hide themselves, and Kirza was not able to see them. Among them is the man that was extorting information from Amy and was responsible for kidnapping Zeke. You see fighters, rogues, monks, two robed people (there were two castings of magic missile), really a smattering of classes.

Please roll initiative and give me three rounds of actions. Will you be targeting anybody specifically as you are able? Casters first? Healers (as they become known)?

The hitpoint situation is as follows:
Rynn-12/22.
Khaska-15/17 (did you level to 3? That seems awfully low for a 3rd level cleric).
Amara-full hitpoints.

BlackWolf
After calling out a signal to alert our hidden people, Rynn will try to take cover (as partial as that might be) and then start loosing arrows into the enemy. A flash of anger will cross over him when he notices Zeke's kidnapper, but it's not quite enough to force the ranger's attention.

Instead, Rynn wants to drop attackers as fast as possible. As far as targeting, each round he'll aim for the most injured enemy which is not in melee combat (no need to worry about -4 penalties right now). If no injured targets are available, he'll pick the next best shot — anybody close or threatening his allies. He'll try to avoid targeting heavily-armored enemies for now. If forced into melee combat by advancing enemies, he'll quick draw his longsword.

Initiative: 5 (rolled 3 + 2 bonus)

Actions:

  • [Round 1] Move into partial cover.
  • [Round 1] Longbow attack: 12 (rolled 6 + 3 Base + 2 DEX + 1 mwk) Damage: 3 (rolled 1 + 2 STR)
  • [Round 2] Full-round attack (rapid shot):
    • Longbow attack: 18 (rolled 14 + 6 as above - 2 rapid shot) Damage: 3 (rolled 1 + 2 STR)
    • Longbow attack: 12 (rolled 8 + 6 as above - 2 rapid shot) Damage: 7 (rolled 5 + 2 STR)
  • [Round 3] Full-round attack (rapid-shot):
    • Longbow attack: 20 (rolled 16 + 6 as above - 2 rapid shot) Damage: 4 (rolled 2 + 2 STR)
    • Longbow attack: 11 (rolled 7 + 6 as above - 2 rapid shot) Damage: 6 (rolled 4 + 2 STR)

(Note: Eryx, you'll need to add +1 to any of my attack and damage rolls for anyone within 30 ft. due to Rynn's point blank range feat.)

Not quite as good a showing as I'd hoped for, but Rynn should get in a couple of hits at least.

Edit: As for Ranna, Rynn will be letting her act on her own for the moment. He's focused on his task at hand, and can't spare the time (a full round action) in trying to "push" her to attack. If she attacks on her own accord, so be it.

Thevarou

Initiative: 19 + 0 = 19

Khaska will immediately run for cover and use his first round to cast “Bless.” After that, he will move his attention to the attackers, with his shortbow if the assailants aren’t in melee range but with his scimitar if they are. He’ll aim for anyone who appears to be a leader, as well as those wielding crossbows.

Round 1: Cast “Bless”.

Round 2:

If shortbow: 18 = 16 + 1
Damage: 1 = 1 + 0

If scimitar: 7 = 6 + 1 + 1
Damage: 3 = 1 + 1 + 1

Round 3:

If shortbow: 21 = 20 + 1
Damage: 12 = 3 x (3 + 1)

If scimitar: 6 = 4 + 1 + 1
Damage: 6 = 4 + 1 + 1

Sayyadina

Initiative: 13 + 2 = 15 (will delay until after everyone else in the caravan during the first round)

Until a clump of 3 or more enemies within a 15 ft cone is within reach of a move action, Amara will cast magic missile, using the same targeting priorities as Rynn (and attacking enemies that he's attacked to get them to go down faster, prioritizing healers as they reveal themselves; no reason to draw unnecessary fire, anyhow). Once a potential "clump" appears, Amara will attack them with Burning Hands if they're already wounded and Color Spray if not. She will attempt to use the wagon for cover as much as possible.

Round 1:
Magic missile 1: 4 + 1 = 5
Magic missile 2: 2 + 1 = 3

Rounds 2 and 3: by the above heuristics.

“Attack!” Rynn cried out as he ran back to the nearest cart. All around him the animal skin coverings were thrown off as their Kleithera reinforcements revealed themselves. Their bard stood high and sang an extremely high note as Khaska cried out to the gods. Imbued with both bardic and divine magic, the party began to return fire as they ducked for cover. Arrows began to fly back and forth between the caravan and its attackers.

Amara rose from her position, half crouched to hide herself, and launched her own magic missiles at a robed caster near her position. The missiles slammed into the other woman, who dropped to her knees.

“Stick to the plan! This changes nothing!” Zeke’s kidnapper yelled. A big man next to him, his face painted in dark red tones, screamed and ran towards them. “Charge!”

After another volley the attackers all advanced on the caravan, but the defenders were too numerous. Several of the attackers stayed back to cast spells. Amara heard screams of pain from the next cart over, and she could see an animal had appeared in the cart. A dire rat. It immediately sank its teeth into the bard, who cried out and stopped singing. He and his fellow guard began to attack the animal, but it evaded their strikes. The sorceress launched another series of magic missiles at one of the casters, and the magic unerringly sought out and hit the druid.

But, as he and those near him began to move in, the ground around them began to weave and shift. Roots sprang from the ground and the nearby trees and shrubs came to life, trapping three of the attackers. An entangle spell from one of the Kleithera druids. Amara glanced towards the nearest one. As he smiled, he leaned down and touched the wizard that had been her double. Color returned to the girl’s face, and she was able to sit up.

Khaska loosed his bow at the magic-user who was targeting him. More magic missiles flew to hit him, and they struck even as he ducked down in the wagon he was taking cover in, but still felt the sting as the magic damaged him. He came up again and fired, and the magic user dropped when the arrow struck home.

The big guy with the red face tattoos was fast approaching the wagons. He fired another shot that flew completely over their heads, then pulled out his large sword. He looked to be trouble. Rynn fired and hit him once, but then one of the fighters from a nearby cart jumped down and engaged the man. Zeke’s kidnapper was right behind him, and a Dwarf was coming as well. Arrows flew into Zeke’s kidnapper, and the man staggered, but continued forward as some of the other guards came down and began fighting hand-to-hand.

Amara glanced towards the back of the caravan, but the guards back there seemed to have things well in hand. The attackers back there were all on the ground or were quickly being overwhelmed by the formerly hidden guards. She glanced back at the magic user she had targeted and watched as a nearby elf touched her. A healer of some kind. Amara reflexively cast Magic Missile again and watched with satisfaction as they pierced the healer’s defenses. Yet from behind her an arrow lodged in her shoulder. She cried out in pain and dropped down.

Rynn and Khaska both saw Amara get hit, and both turned to fire on the attackers trapped by the vines and roots from the druidic Entangle spell. One of them dropped to the ground from the arrows, further enveloped by the writhing flora. A man in half-plate on that side of the caravan saw that everybody by him was trapped, and he turned to flee. Akle laughed maniacally and called “get after him!” One of their hidden guards, a barbarian, gave chase as Khaska also jumped down to engage in hand-to-hand combat. A stray arrow brushed Rynn's arm, slicing neatly through his armor, but only doing superficial damage to the ranger.

All in all, the battle looked to be going well. Then the dwarf reached out to touch Zeke’s kidnapper, and the man’s wounds mended very suddenly. He went from looking like a stiff breeze could knock him over to looking quite healthy again, and he moved to engage the guards fighting the tattooed man.

Eryx (DM)
The fight is going quite well. Many of your enemies are down, one is fleeing, and two more are trapped by the spell. Your bard has, sadly, been dropped below zero by the dire rat in his cart, but the other guard (a warrior) was finally after 3 rounds able to slay the beast. There are basically three groups you might want to worry yourself about.
1. A healer/magic-user combination on the east side. Amara dropped the magic-user very low, but the healer is keeping her up now.
2. Also on the east side, Zeke’s kidnapper, the big tattooed man, and the healing dwarf in plate are all now in hand-to-hand with the guards. The big guy was making a beeline for Rynn when he was intercepted.
3. Khaska and one of the guards are fighting a man in plate armor.

The other attackers are either still trapped by the Entangle spell, are in a heap of trouble outnumbered three to one, or are being chased down by Akle and one of your barbarian guards. A cleric of yours is on his way to heal the bard and a ranger who has fallen, and in doing so left Rynn alone in his wagon, but the rest of your group is up and active.

Hitpoints right now are as follows:
Rynn 10/22
Khaska 12/22
Amara 7/17

Please give me three more rounds of actions.

BlackWolf
The emotional part of Rynn wants to engage Zeke's kidnapper and his tattooed friend. But tactical sense will prevail and lead Rynn to attack group #1 (as specified in the DM's post above), starting with the non-healer. Dropping them will thin out the attackers, plus they don't seem to be in hand-to-hand combat (no -4 penalty for shooting into melee).

But before doing that, Rynn will drink a potion. (Unfortunately this will use up a round, but I don't want to risk the attack of opportunity when red-face gets too close.) Here are my actions:

  • [Round 1] - Retrieve a potion of cure light wounds from his belt pouch and drink it to restore 6 HP (rolled 5 + 1).
  • [Round 2] - Full-round attack (rapid shot):
    • Longbow attack: 10 (rolled 6 + 3 Base + 2 DEX + 1 mwk - 2 rapid shot) Damage: 7 (rolled 5 + 2 STR)
    • Longbow attack: 11 (rolled 7 + 4 as above) Damage: 10 (rolled 8 + 2 STR)
  • [Round 3] - Full-round attack (rapid shot):
    • Longbow attack: 22 (rolled 18 + 4 as above) Damage: 9 (rolled 7 + 2 STR)
    • Longbow attack: 8 (rolled 4 + 4 as above) Damage: 7 (rolled 5 + 2 STR)

As before, I'll trust the DM to add in any other appropriate bonuses (e.g. from the bard or Khaska's bless) including Rynn's +1 to anyone within 30ft. Hopefully those bonuses (combined with low caster AC?) will let some of my poor rolls prevail.

If he's engaged in melee combat, he'll whip out his longsword via his quick draw feat. (The attacks are pretty easy to convert between longbow and longsword, so you can use the same attack rolls -1 and same damage rolls.)

Edit: Updated slightly to clarify my target.

Thevarou
Khaska will continue to fight with his scimitar, focusing first on the man he’s battling at present and shifting his focus to either the Sendylus healers or Zeke’s attacker, whichever is more practical to target.

  • 1 – To attack: 1 + 5 = 6 Damage: 2 + 1 + 1 = 4
  • 2 – To attack: 8 + 5 = 13 Damage: 6 + 1 + 1 = 8
  • 3 – To attack: 12 + 5 = 17 Damage: 2 + 1 + 1 = 4

Sayyadina
Amara will continue to use magic missiles against the same targets as Rynn. Once they're down, she'd like to work around the back of the group of 3 and hit them with Burning Hands if they're within 30 ft and getting to them does not require exposing herself to more fire. Barring that unlikely combination of fortuitous events, she'll use her last magic missiles against the healer in plate. She'll stay by the wagon for partial cover unless she gets hit again, in which case she'll go all the way under the wagon for total cover and forego casting more spells.

Round 1:

  • Missile 1: 4 + 1 = 5
  • Missile 2: 4 + 1 = 5

Round 2:

  • Missile 1: 1 + 1 = 2
  • Missile 2: 2 + 1 = 3

Round 3:

  • Missile 1: 3 + 1 = 4
  • Missile 2: 2 + 1 = 3

Part of Rynn wanted to go after Zeke’s kidnapper and his tattooed friend with their healing plate buddy, but they were in hand-to-hand combat with three of the guards and shooting into that mess would be difficult. But first, he drank a potion. The magic flowed from his mouth and lips to his body, and he felt his wounds heal slightly. He nocked an arrow, but saw that six sets of magic missiles arced out from the back of the caravan, dropping the caster on the east side down. The healer bolted, leaving his companion, but arrows flew at him from multiple guards, and another series of magic missiles dropped the man before he had taken many steps to flee.

Khaska and the guard were not faring well against their attacker. In the space of a few seconds, the man they were attacking managed to get in two very lucky hits. The first dropped the guard, the man grasping feebly at the sword that had found its way into his stomach. The attacker yanked the sword free and arced it to bring it down on Khaska. It glanced off of the Maha’i’s helmet but bit deep into the cleric’s neck. Khaska went down, blood pooling on the ground by his head.

Rynn ranger fired at that attacker, who was now charging towards him, but both arrows flew wide. Rynn was about to draw his sword when a crossbow bolt appeared in the man’s face. He screamed once, and then went down. Rynn glanced to his right to see Akle closing in, reloading his crossbow. Apparently the gnome, or someone else, had been able to take down the fleeing man to the west. The ranger looked to see how the rest of the fight was going. Those trapped by the Entangle spell were all unconscious from their wounds, and many of the Kleithera guards from the back of the caravan were charging forward to help, apparently having taken care of their attackers. The healing dwarf went down, stabbed twice by one of the Kleithera rangers. Zeke’s kidnapper also dropped from a well-placed blow by another guard. However, the tattooed man smashed his way through a guard, ducked a few feeble blows from a monk, and charged Rynn. The ranger didn’t even have time to draw his sword before the raging man hopped up into the cart with him and clubbed the ranger over the head. The blow sent Rynn flying, and he dropped his weapons as he fell off the cart, going numb before he hit the ground and falling unconscious from his wounds.

Amara jumped down from her cart to see what was happening. As far as she could tell, all of their attackers were down, but looking forward in the caravan she saw the tattooed man knock Rynn out of the cart. She raised her fingers and again invoked her sorcerous powers, sending another pair of magic missiles at the man, the last remaining attacker. He was whirling towards the guards charging towards him, but before anybody else could reach him, her magic struck home, and he collapsed into the cart.

The battle was over.


Khaska awoke to see one of the Kleithera clerics standing over him. The man nodded quickly, but then moved a few feet away to mutter another healing prayer. The fighter he touched did not awaken, but his breathing leveled out. He would be fine.

A few yards away another cleric squatted next to the fallen form of Rynn, Ranna whimpering by his side, licking the ranger's face. The healer also muttered a prayer and healed him. Rynn did also not awaken, but would no longer succumb to his wounds. Amara was running up.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

Khaska stood very weakly. He had been healed, and was conscious, but his wounds were still grave.

“I am alive, if barely.”

"Ha! We shows them!" Akle said, swinging his crossbow onto his shoulder. The gnome grinned as he walked up to them, removing his helmet and wiping his bald head with his hand, flicking sweat onto the ground.

Eryx (DM)
The fighter engaged with the guard and Khaska managed to kill the guard, crit Khaska, then get crit by Akle. That was an interesting round. Crits for everybody!

I took the liberty of having the clerics and druids from your caravan stabilize all of your people, but just stabilize. You didn’t loose a single one (which surprised me greatly). However, there are multiple people from the Sendylus guild that are still bleeding out, but not yet dead.

As far as hitpoints for your party:

Amara 7/17
Khaska 0/22
Rynn -1/22 (but stable)

You have successfully sprung the trap and beaten the Sendylus attackers. What will you do next?

BlackWolf
Since Rynn is unconscious, I'm not sure if he'll have much opportunity to have a say in what goes on next. A lot of people need healing, so it might be the next morning before Rynn recovers.

Should someone heal him, when he gets up he'll want to ensure the safety of our caravan. Once satisfied that all our people are OK, then he'll want to stabilize as many of the attackers as possible. He'd like to take all that live back to Hammerdine as prisoners. They need to be stripped of their possessions (armor, weapons, items, etc.) and bound (and gag the spellcasters; no need for anything verbal or somatic going on). We can use the carts to take them back.

On the way back to Hammerdine, Rynn will take special care to keep an eye on Zeke's kidnapper and tattoo-face. He won't initiate any conversation with them, but if they try to talk he'll angrily speak his mind.

"I don't want to hear you say a word. You are a despicable person and a coward. You victimized a helpless boy to use his mother. When we get back to Hammerdine, you'll be turned over to the authorities to be punished for your crimes. But if I hear so much as a peep from you, I'll kill you on the spot — as far as I'm concerned, you deserve an immediate death."

Sayyadina
Amara would definitely begin stripping and securing the prisoners; she'd also cast detect magic on their collected gear and search through it for anything interesting. She doesn't have anything in particular to say to any of them, but would respond to any complaints or pleas with a cold remark about the natural consequences of meddling in others' affairs. Assuming that the party has any sort of input on the treatment of prisoners once back in Hammerdine, Amara would argue for the strongest sentence for the robbers' actions.

“We should see to the survivors,” Khaska said. “They should be punished for their crime, but that does not mean they should die unnecessarily.”

“Whatever,” said Amara.

Akle broke the caravan guards up into groups to accompany the healers, who only used their most basic healing spells. None of those they reached in time awoke from the healing. Overall, only seven of the Sendylus attackers survived. Among them were Zeke’s kidnapper, the tattooed man, and the dwarf that had been healing them. With spells to spare, Khaska healed Rynn to consciousness. The ranger was grateful, and helped tie up their attackers and loot the bodies.

“What are we going to do with these,” one of their guards said. The woman wrinkled her nose as she lightly touched one of the dead bodies with her foot.

“Bring them,” said Khaska.

“What?” asked Amara. “You can’t be serious!”

“If we are going to have these men,” the cleric pointed to the unconscious survivors, “taken, arrested, and tried, we should bring the other bodies as proof. Plus, it will not do to leave them out under the sky. It would not be proper.”

Amara rolled her eyes. Rynn shrugged, but helped Khaska and the other guards load up all the weapons, equipment, and bodies, both dead and unconscious. Within an hour, they were on their way back to Hammerdine. Not a single Kleithera guard had perished, but the bard


The attackers began waking from their wounds the next day. The big tattooed man woke up first, but said nothing. Akle sat in the cart with him, crossbow ever pointed in his direction. Most struggled with their bonds, but realized it wasn’t likely to help, what with multiple guards standing around them all the time. Several tried to beg and plead, but nobody paid it much attention. The day passed without incident.

Zeke’s kidnapper awoke the next morning while they were eating breakfast. Amara was sitting nearby, eating some dried meat rations. The man fixed her with a stare. “How did you know we were coming?”

She looked at him, gave a small amused smile, but didn’t reply.

The man looked around, clearly checking to see who of his men were still alive. The tattoed man gave a small nod, but remained silent. Zeke’s kidnapper returned the nod, but also did not say anything.

Rynn walked into the camp, Ranna following him behind. The man twisted on the ground to look at him. “So, what, you going to take us back. Have us arrested?” The man was amused at the thought, somehow. He smiled at the ranger.

Rynn glared at him. “I don't want to hear you say a word. You are a despicable person and a coward. You victimized a helpless boy to use his mother. When we get back to Hammerdine, you'll be turned over to the authorities to be punished for your crimes. But if I hear so much as a peep from you, I'll kill you on the spot — as far as I'm concerned, you deserve an immediate death.”

Zeke’s kidnapper and the tattoed man both glanced at each other. Both smiled. The kidnapper looked back at Rynn.

“You don’t have the stones to kill me.” His smile just grew wider.

Eryx (DM)
Thev was on IM, so I just asked him what he would do. I had his blessing to go ahead.

So, Rynn. Will you attempt a coup de grace on this guy?

BlackWolf
Yes.

Without a pause, and with a cold, stern look on his face, Rynn will draw his orcish dagger from his belt. He'll flip the blade over in his hand and then drive it down hard into the kidnapper's heart.

In Rynn's mind this guy isn't just evil, he's broken. He's like a rabid animal and must be put down. In the back of Rynn's mind, he knows that this guy probably has useful information. But he's also well connected and quite possibly a lot of trouble. His smile at being arrested bothered Rynn too — the ranger would rather take care of "justice" now than risk this guy getting off the hook.

I'm assuming this guy is bound and that Rynn will have no trouble following through with his intention. Just let me know if I'm mistaken and I'll make some rolls.

After killing this guy, Rynn will want to spend some time by himself. He doesn't enjoy killing, but felt this man deserved it. He'll tell Amara to keep an eye on tattoo-face, just in case they try anything. Then he'll go off with Ranna to scout ahead or hunt or something, though he won't stray too far from the group.

Edit:
Eryx reminded me that I should actually look at the rules. For some reason I remembered them wrong — I think someone once (incorrectly) told me that you get an automatic kill (although I guess if they are helpless, you need only repeat the procedure until you do succeed). In any case, against a helpless opponent I get an automatic crit and must roll damage:

  • Damage: 10 (4 max dagger damage + 4 roll + 2 STR)

Good roll for the dagger. I expect this guy only has a few HP at the moment anyway, so although he might not die outright, he'll be pretty injured at least. Rynn won't stab this guy repeatedly or anything — the ranger isn't a maniac — but I'm guessing kidnappy will bleed out unless someone intervenes (and Rynn won't try to prevent anyone from doing so).

Sayyadina
Amara is more than happy to keep an eye on the others. Once Rynn leaves, she'd smile at the tattooed man. "By all means, continue to press your luck with me if you wish. My poor crossbow hasn't had any fun lately."

Thevarou
Khaska has been watching the conversation with increasing wariness, and is somewhat shocked when Rynn lashes out; so shocked, in fact, that he does not react for a time. However, once Rynn has stepped away from his lunge, Khaska will walk up to the man he stabbed. He feels a stroke of sympathy, for who knows why this man has become evil? And who knows that he will not change his ways? After his discovery in the Knights' library, Khaska is more sympathetic to the plight of those who beforehand he might have judged, while never condoning their acts or alignments.

He will stoop to heal the man, but only the barest minimum to stabilize him, for Khaska thinks the pain might be a lesson. But before he does, he will say, "My friend was correct. Your actions have been utterly despicable. Though I am certain you do not care, it is your kind that get humans cursed among my people. I do not heal you so you can continue living as you have, under the curse of the Gods. I would advise you to be careful, for I cannot hold back the sword of justice but once."

Khaska will remain in the camp to keep an eye on the prisoners - he saw that they were communicating something between them - and will let Rynn leave. If any of the prisoners make snide comments again, Khaska will say once, "May the Gods judge your souls," and then cease to acknowledge further remarks. Once Rynn comes back, Khaska will ask him sincerely, "Why did you feel that man deserved to die?"

BlackWolf
It would be good for the DM to let us know whether the man will survive the DC 20 Fortitude check; that will determine whether Khaska is able to stabilize him.

When Khaska inquires of Rynn, the ranger will get a slightly dumbfounded look on his face and then answer that this guy was Zeke's kidnapper. He led an attack to murder innocent people. That's enough justification for Rynn. Plus he'll mention that he was worried that the man might have connections in Hammerdine which would get him off the hook and out to hurt more innocents.

During their journey Rynn will mostly leave it at that. But later, once we get back to Hammerdine, he will seek out Khaska after some introspection and ask whether he did the right thing. (Which would be a great scene to role-play the dialog for over IM/email/something; if you're agreeable for it, Thevarou.)

Thevarou
I chatted with Eryx and gave him what Khaska would do if it turned out the man died (which would be very similar to what Khaska would do if he lived). I even think that it might not influence future conversations between Rynn and Khaska, if those focus more on moral issues than pragmatic elements of strategy (i.e. discussions of the man's potential connections in Hammerdine and what should be done about them). And sure, I'd be willing to RP out a conversation; I have a week and a half left in the semester, after which I will be free to do that!

Without pause or hesitation Rynn reached down to his belt and drew his orcish dagger. He took a step forward.

“Hey, wait! Stop …” The man’s cry was cut off as Rynn jammed the dagger into his chest. He stiffened and gurgled, but then collapsed. Rynn looked down, noticing that the blood coming from the wound was not pulsing as if the heart was beating. Just a straight trickle came as the blood drained from the body.

One of the other Sendylus attackers, a woman Rynn suspected was a rogue, burst into tears. Amara turned to look at her with a bemused smile. “I didn’t suppose you thought much about the consequences about meddling in the affairs of other people?”

The woman continued to sob, but through her sniffles she managed to squeak out, almost one word at a time. “I didn’t want to be killed as I lay here helpless!”

“You don't need to be put down,” said Rynn, who had just finished cleaning his dagger on the man’s shirt. He sheathed it.

“Damn, Rynn.” The voice was Akle’s. The gnome was watching from about ten yards away. He looked up at Rynn, and their eyes met. “You scary.” But the little gnome inclined his head, a small bow.

“I’m going to scout ahead a little,” the ranger replied. He turned and walked off, whistling to Ranna, who followed obediently.

Khaska walked up to the man. The cleric had been too stunned at Rynn’s actions to move, but now he checked on Zeke’s kidnapper. A cursory examination made clear that it would require the power of a cleric more skilled than he to help this man now. Khaska closed his eyes. “My friend was correct about this man. His actions were utterly despicable. Though I am certain he did not care, it is his kind that get humans cursed among my people. May you not put the taste of gallweed upon our tongues, as he has.” He paused, and looked over the survivors. The tattoed man was glaring at him. “And I must warn you. I will not heal you so you can continue living as you have, under the curse of the Gods. I would advise you to be careful, for I cannot hold back the sword of justice but once.”

The tattoed man growled, but Amara simply reached down to the side and held up her crossbow. “By all means, continue to press your luck with me, if you wish. My poor crossbow hasn’t had any fun lately.” He continued to glower, but said nothing.


Rynn stayed ahead of the group, but no too far ahead. He stayed there most of the day, wanting to be alone. Nobody came to talk to him, but the ranger didn’t mind. Loneliness was part of his way. Had been for years. He didn’t feel remorse over killing Zeke’s kidnapper, but it wasn’t something he had particularly enjoyed either. As the sun set, he moved back to be with the group. As he entered the camp, he found Akle working to start a fire, and Khaska speaking softly with one of the other clerics. Khaska ended the conversation and walked up to the ranger.

“Your actions this morning have worried the other prisoners.”

Rynn shrugged. “I’m not going to go stabbing them all, Khaska.”

“I know this.” The cleric continued to walk with him. “But why did you feel that man deserved to die?”

Rynn frowned and looked askance at Khaska. “Zeke’s kidnapper?”

“His name was Adam.”

“Adam, then. A man vicious enough to wreck a family. Use blackmail to further his ends. Lead an attack to murder innocent people.” Rynn reached down to scratch Ranna’s head. “Sometimes, for the good of all, a rabid animal must be put down.” The he sat down near the fire that Akle had just succeeded in starting. “And to be honest, if he was well connected, he might not have suffered for his crimes in Hammerdine. He was too confident.”

“Well,” said Amara, sitting next to Rynn. Khaska moved to Rynn’s other side, and sat down as well. “We should be back at the city tomorrow. I guess we’ll find out then.” She smiled. “I’ve been examining their gear, though. There are a few nice things there.”

“How can you think of money and equipment at such a time?” asked Khaska. “Perhaps Orensland has rubbed off on you some.”

“I think the more important question is, what are we going to do when we get to the city tomorrow. The guards at the gates are probably going to want an explanation why we’re carrying six trussed up people and all those dead bodies.”

Khaska straightened, and his ears flattened against his head. “I had not considered that we might encounter a problem with then, but you are right to bring up such possibilities.”
He looked at Rynn, then at Amara. “What should we do?”

Eryx (DM)
The guy had 0 hitpoints. He had barely regained consciousness, so he didn’t even get a chance to roll for his fortitude save. You just killed him. Way to go?

Amara has brought up a good point, however. Tomorrow you will arrive back at Hammerdine. What will you tell the guards?

Narratively, I’ll have your characters talk about it a bit, and then we’ll move this into Chapter 7.

We’ll see if I can get DeltaWolf to at least post once for Chapter 6. Instead of him finding more information out and some of the things I had planned for him, we’ll just work the narrative into the entire group when you arrive back.

I would love love love to see a discussion between Rynn and Khaska about the nature of putting down “rabid dog” humans. I’ll work it into Chapter 7 when we have time. Might even have to retcon it in if the narration moves past the point the conversation would have taken place, but that’s okay too.

Also, I'll divvy out XP and loot a bit later. I'm headed to bed now because I have to drive someone to the airport tomorrow morning. I haven't rolled Amara's detect magic checks and whatnot.

So, how do you want to handle getting back into the city?

BlackWolf
So the Kletheira Merchant House didn't have a plan for when we returned, eh? Well, I suppose we could bring the prisoners in the way we got people out — hidden in the wagons. Problem there is that they'd have to be unconscious since we can't trust them to keep quiet.

Another logical course of action would be to immediately get the authorities involved. The downside with that plan is that the Kletheira Merchant House might not have a chance to negotiate with the prisoners — Haalak said he wanted to get one or more of them to turn on their employers.

Maybe the best option would be to send someone on ahead to inform Haalak that we're just outside Hammerdine, and then he can make the decision of what to do next.

As for Rynn, he doesn't have any strong opinions and will go with whatever the group decides. This kind of planning isn't his forte, and besides, he's still brooding a little over killing kidnappy. (He doesn't regret the action, nor feel that he was in the wrong… but he does have some doubts as to whether he did the right thing.)

Thevarou
Khaska agrees with Rynn that sending a representative to Haalak while the rest wait outside the city gates would probably be the best option. We could see if we could gather several other witnesses (for example, the monks that met Amy) and then go to see the authorities if Haalak thinks that would be wise; if we are questioned, Khaska will tell the truth. He doesn't feel that they would have anything to hide unless there are intimations that the judiciary in Hammerdine is partial and favors one or the other of the guilds … or, on the other hand, if we get a whiff that the Kletheira guild might have some sort of underhanded dealings (though at the moment Khaska trusts them, as he's been their employee for a while).

While they're travelling, though, Khaska will seek to talk with the other prisoners and see what he can find out. He won't do it as an interrogation, instead trying to gain their trust; he believes that many of them might have been either ignorant of the broader plans of the Sendylus Guild or misled thereby to do what they had done.

I might be up for a Rynn-Khaska chat tomorrow, though :)

Sayyadina
Amara's not particularly happy about bringing back the bodies as well as the prisoners, if only because they've probably started to smell; she'd probably make a tart remark or two at Khaska for insisting on that. When we get to Hammerdine, she would be willing to send a representative to Haalak, but she's more inclined to persuade the guards to let them go through. Given the probable importance of the Kletheira Merchant House, the name alone and any evidence we might have from Haalak might be enough; if not, there's always the "do you really want to be the one who got in the way when your superiors find out about this obstruction?" tactic. On the other hand, she also doesn't really want to get involved or stick her neck out any more than she feels is necessary in this feud between guilds.

“Well, the dead bodies were your idea,” Amara said to the Maha’i. “I would like to get rid of them as soon as possible.”

“We could just tell the guards what is going on,” said Rynn. “Get the authorities involved immediately.”

“There is some merit to that idea,” replied Khaska. “But I fear that our kidnapping foe may be well-connected in the city. Besides, I have been speaking to some of the prisoners as we travel. I would suspect that a few of them will cooperate.” He gave a rueful smile. “Especially the ones that saw you kill Adam.”

Rynn frowned at that. “I hadn’t really thought that he might have connections. Perhaps one of us should go ahead and contact Haalak first. See what his suggestions are.”

Amara nodded. “I like that idea. I will go ahead in the morning.”

“If you like,” said Rynn. He shrugged. “I’m happy to stay here. Or go. Either.”

“I’ll go,” she said. Her tone was firm. “But I had best get some rest now so I can be on my way early.”

She excused herself and went to grab her gear to sleep.

Khaska looked over at Rynn. “I wonder why she wanted to go.”

“Probably didn’t want to stay around the dead bodies. You saw how fast she cleaned herself up after the combat.”

“You are likely correct.”


Amara left as soon as there was enough light to see. One of the closer moons hung just above the horizon, whizzing its way through the heavens as Jenoa circled its mother planet. A quick glance to the west saw the sliver of Arkenos hovering just over the horizon. She grimaced at it, and pressed on.

She was able to make good time, and by mid-afternoon was ushered into Haalak’s office. The elf had immediately dismissed the others he was in a meeting with, and quickly had her give her report.

When she was done, he stood. “This is wonderful news. None of our employees were lost, and you were able to even bring back survivors of the attacking band!”

“Yes. I’m afraid the most valuable person, Zeke’s kidnapper, was killed,” she said. She did not elaborate beyond that.

“Well, there are others. And that’s good enough.” He rang the bell on his desk, and his assistant appeared. “Do be so kind as to find Hardal and bring him.” He turned back to Amara. “We will be going to the city watch and having them come out to your caravan. I assume that you can find it again?”

“They were going to come a bit closer, but not enter the city yet. Park a few miles away. They shouldn’t be hard to find, especially with Kirza.”

“Excellent!”

Haalak himself came with her and Hardal to the local authorities. The leader of the local precinct of the Hammerdinian city watch was a graying human by the name of Lyndon Jespers, and he, with a few of his guardsmen, came with them after Amara explained the basics of what had happened. Haalak was most persuasive himself, about how uncovering the illegal operations of the Sendylus guild would likely bring promotions to the city watchmen who brought the criminals in. This seemed to please Jespers, and within an hour they were riding out of the city to where the caravan was parked. Lyndon interviewed each of the party, along with Akle, alone and away from each other. He seemed satisfied with each person’s answers.

He approached them all as a group, with Hardal and Haalak. His men were taking over care of the prisoners, shackling them with official irons and the like.

“Now, you indicated, Mr. Khaska, that one of them might be willing to turn state’s evidence against the rest of them.”

“Yes sir,” the cleric replied. “The rogue, Esme. She seemed particularly shaken up after …”

“She thought we were just going to kill her,” Amara interrupted. “That’s not true, of course.”

“In my conversations with her,” Khaska continued smoothly, though with an edge to his voice this time and a glare at the sorceress, “she seemed to be merely one who was hired merely for the money. She has no personal stake in the fighting between the two guilds.”

“Well, unfortunately, she did attack your caravan,” he said. “But I’ll see what I can do. If she cooperates, perhaps she will get a lighter sentence.”

“That would be a good idea,” said Rynn. “Not everybody that attacked us was kidnapping kids, blackmailing others, and resorting to murder.”

“So it seems,” Jespers replied. “I will need all of you to come to my office and swear an oath in a zone of truth, that what you have told me is true. I will interview the prisoners separately to confirm your story.”

“We will be happy to do that,” said Rynn.

Jespers looked at the carts carrying the dead bodies. “Though, I am not sure we have any use for the bodies in the investigation.” He looked at Hardal. “Have your men bring them to the city cemetery on the west side. Give the bodies to the undertakers there. I will send one of my officers with you to explain the situation.”

“Thank you,” said Khaska. “It would not have been proper to just leave them there. At least they will be more properly disposed of now.”

Jespers looked him over. “You seem awfully concerned about them. They’re your enemies.”

“They are merely people who have strayed from the true path. It grieves me to know that they will no longer have a chance to return to it.”

Haalak looked particularly gleeful at the entirety of the events of the afternoon. As they began heading back to the city, Rynn finally asked about Jenika and Orensland. Amara sheepishly realized that, in all her time with Haalak, she had failed to ask about them.

“Oh, they were able to rescue the boy. Though,” he frowned, “apparently Orensland set fire to the Sendylus buildings as a distraction. And now he’s left town.”

“What?” Rynn asked, startled.

“You’ll have to ask Jenika for the details,” Hardal said, “but apparently his father was in town and followed them the night they rescued the boy. Saw everything that happened. He threatened to tell the officials,” he glanced over his shoulder back to where Jespers and his officers were riding, “but Orensland was able to get out of town before anything could happen, with Amy and her family. We guess his father took off after him, though I doubt they will be easy to find.”

The fact that Orensland had left the city, without even a proper goodbye, cast a pall over the group. They rode in silence the last mile or so into the city. Haalak put them up at a nearby inn, free of charge. They each had their own room and were treated very nicely by the staff. Jespers had each of them come to his office and write up a short document to give to his superiors, and then had a city cleric cast the zone of truth spell so that each could swear that the document was accurate. Jespers himself left with the sheathes of paper to report to the higher authorities in the City Watch.

By this time the sun was setting, and the party all went back to their inn. Rynn stayed up for a few hours in the downstairs tavern, while the others went to bed. Jenika had not, by this time, come back to the Kleithera Merchant House’s headquarters, so they did not know where she was.

Eryx (DM)
DeltaWolf and I need to finish Chapter 6 before we move on. I’ll be hounding DeltaWolf for his next post, and then we’ll start in Chapter 7 with the group back together.

For your loot, here’s what you have (other loot was given to the guards, so don’t worry about them). Between Amara and the casters in your group, you can just “take 20” on detect magic rolls, so here you go:

1. Gold coins worth 500 gold.
2. Various gems worth 1700 gold total. You suspect that these gems were to be their payment, because they were in:
3. A Bag of Holding. You are not sure of what type, however, I, II, III, or IV.
4. One potion of sanctuary.
5. A masterwork dwarven waraxe.
6. A masterwork sickle.
7. A magic shortsword. (Detect magic: faint abjuration.)
8. A composite longbow. None of you can use it well, so you suspect it needs a higher strength than any of you have. (Detect magic: faint abjuration.)
9. In addition, since there were so many enemies, I will let you pick ONE item listed as a standard item on any level 1 or 2 character listed in the DMG on p. 110-126. For example, a standard level 2 wizard has a mundane melee weapon, and a masterwork ranged weapon (see Table 4-22 on p. 126). So if you wanted a new masterwork crossbow, you could have one of those. Subject to my final approval, of course, and you cannot take their listed cash.

For the combat, and the successful capture of some of your attackers, you earn 1500 XP each.

And just to let you all know, I have basically the next month off of school. I have plenty of studying to do, but I will be able to respond to posts much faster. So if you folks out of school can post rapidly as well during the break, I think we could get a lot of campaigning in. (Sorry, BlackWolf. But … you have an income, so I don’t actually feel that sorry for you.)

BlackWolf
Meh. I've got vacation time coming up for the holidays. Besides, I'm more likely to post regularly if I am at work.

Anyway, as for the loot, I think we should split it 4 ways to include Jenika (and if she finds any money, she can return the favor). I think we should keep the bag of holding and the potion, then sell the rest (unless anyone wants to use any of those items?). I don't care who keeps the bag of holding at this point — it's just so generally useful that all can benefit.

I'm hoping that we'll earn enough that Rynn can buy himself something nice before we head out with the real caravan and/or help Jenika with her discoveries.

(Note: while updating my character sheet I noticed I had done some rolls slightly wrong above. I corrected them to make them more clear. It wouldn't have affected combat (I forgot a -2 penalty, but also forgot to include a +2 bonus), but I wanted to have them right in case I refer back to them later.)

Update: I think we should go ahead and have somebody in the city cast Identify on the magic weapons so we know how much they are worth. If either of them is a +2 weapon (or better) it would more than compensate for the small expense.

Thevarou
Khaska agrees with Rynn about the loot; after all, splitting it up four ways and selling what we can't use would only be sensible.

However, Khaska would also question whether they should turn some of the survivors' belonging over to the law enforcement authorities of Hammerdine, just in case they are proven innocent. We don't want to be stealing, and it would be better to leave goodwill than ill will amongst erstwhile enemies.

Sayyadina
Amara would agree for the most part. She'd be happy to hang on to the Bag of Holding (and find a scale to determine its weight, and thus type), but would recommend that Khaska keep the potion as the only non-offensive spellcaster we have. If Khaska makes the suggestion about turning the goods over to authorities, Amara would laugh at the thought—particularly at the notion of their potential innocence.

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