Hunt for the Bandit’s Camp

After learning the conspirators behind the Nashkel Mines are also behind the bandit raids, Aegon and his troupe travel to the wilderness to seek out their main camp. Having only a vague location as a clue, they hope to come across bandits travelling toward or back from the main roads.

30 Kythorn 1368

The hobgoblins we have just slain were certainly armed like bandits. We must be close to the bandit’s central camp. We wander the woods, but instead of finding another group of bandits we find a drow begging for help.

Rose: Calm down, we’ll help you. Just tell us who you are.

Viconia: My name is Viconia. I – I’m not from around here. Thank you so much for helping.

Not from around here. She is clearly a drow. I have only read about them – evil dark skinned elves from beneath the earth. It’s unusual to see them on the surface. Rose must not be aware of their evil nature, but then I have come across a drow hero written about in the tomes back home.

Before we can make our our own introductions, a member of the Flaming Fist makes himself known to us.

Viconia: They lie. I’ve done nothing wrong.

Drake: What do you intend to do once you have her?

Flaming Fist Mercenary: Kill her, of course.

Drake: We can’t allow that. You’ll have to go through us to get her.

Flaming Fist Mercenary: A stupid decision! For harboring a murderer I sentence all of you to death!

Speaking of stupid decisions, if you include Cat there are 8 of us and only 1 of him…

Viconia knocks him down with a Command. So she’s a priest. I wonder who she serves?

The mercenary gets back up and tries to Silence us. Finch, Xan, and I resist the spell.

I let him know his spell failed with a couple of Magic Missiles.

Drake strikes his temple and gets the killing blow.

Impressed by our battle prowess, Xan asks how I feel about taking responsibility for our party.

Aegon: I never especially thought about it. It just comes naturally.

Xan: Oh, I have noticed. But…

The responsibility is sometimes overwhelming, isn’t it? And there’s the task of trying to please everyone, too.

Aegon: I manage somehow.

Xan: Admirable.

It is a pity our party is going to be short-lived.

Aegon: Because we’re doomed?

Xan: Precisely.

The mercenary was wearing plate mail and carried a sword and a shield. Nothing of any real use to us. We turn our attention to the drow. I don’t know if we can trust her, but I have travelled with rakshasa, a half-orc, and even an ooze at this point. She deserves a chance.

Aegon: We don’t judge someone by their race, we’ll take you in.

Viconia: I won’t disappoint you, I promise.

Finch asks if she can depart from the party for now. I notice her glance at Mur’Neth. Probably the real reason she’s leaving.

Viconia agrees to help us hunt the bandit camp in return for our protection. Having a drow in our party may affect our reputation, but out here in the wilderness that won’t matter.

She is a Nightcloak of Shar, the goddess of the night.

Shar grants her Nightcloaks the ability to embrace her allies in the shadows.

She can also introduce Confusion to her opponent’s minds.

And summon small chakrams that are especially effective against the undead.

We check our Bag of Holding to find better equipment for Viconia. She takes one of the enchanted chain mails, as well as the Stupifier. She also takes the mercenary’s helmet, and Drake gives her his sling so she can fight from a distance if she needs to.

Anticipating more bandits in the area, I prepare my Mage Armour.

Mur’Neth wants to talk religion, once again. This time with our new party member.

Viconia: Those fools who follow your deity of dirt and slime barely deserve the title of drow, abbil. We spit on them.

Mur’Neth: Yet you are also an outcast from your kin…

Viconia: But I am an individual who has chosen her faith, not one born into servitude. Outcast or not, I am better than you.

Mur’Neth: As with so many others, you are doubtless jealous of my privileged origins. I pity your narrow mind.

Viconia: As I pity yours.

That ooze seems to have a knack for upsetting any female priests we have in our party. His constant preaching and attempts at conversion are also starting to annoy.

We continue to explore the forest, and I start to have visions.

Invisible giants cut through our party with magic and swords. Cat is struck by one of their weapons and when he dies, my soul leaves with him.

I tell the others to be cautious. It is then that we hear the telltale sounds of the Weave being manipulated.

Something is preparing to ambush us! We fall back toward the road. Something tells me we need to be prepared.

We prepare defensive spells and our assailant reveals itself. An ogre. Not just an ogre. A mage! If only Helga were here to help us.

The ogre casts a Sound Burst on the summoned gibberlings, killing one of them as they charge toward the giant.

The mage knocks the rest of the gibberlings unconscious. Mur’Neth uses his Ring of Energy to distract the ogre.

The flames have no effect on the ogre. As Mur’Neth retreats, Rose summons more reinforcements.Then we learn that the mage isn’t alone.

Xan uses his Power Word to knock one of the mages unconscious.

Rose learns the hard way that the mages are resistant to her Charms. After this she starts to play her song to grant luck to the rest of us.

Xan attempts to knock out the second mage and fails. Drake and Viconia engage the first ogre in close. I create a Stinking Cloud around the second ogre.

We think we are getting somewhere when a third mage walks into my Stinking Cloud.

Drake engages the third ogre and I summon some more gibberlings to help the distraction.

Drake is blinded and Viconia is heavily wounded. They may not survive this fight.

I start using my Wand of Frost to weaken the mages.

Viconia uses Shar’s blessing to hide us temporarily. It gives us a few seconds to breathe at least.

I freeze one of the mages, and it shatters into several pieces. One down.

The ogre in the Stinking Cloud starts killing the gibberlings.

Viconia downs a Potion of Fire Giant Strength, and I learn that the other mage can’t resist my magic.

Xan manages to get an arrow into its eye. Only one mage left now.

I dig into my scroll case and pull out the scroll of Minor Spell Deflection. I read the words on the scroll and the ogre’s protections disappear.

We all turn on the weakened ogre, and it isn’t long before Viconia tears it apart.

We look over their bodies. Apart from their swords we find a few gems that look valuable. Ogre mages don’t carry much – they rely on their magic. Corellon’s blessings must have made our magic stronger this time.

We pick ourselves up, but Viconia can’t hide her suffering any longer. Drow are not meant for the sun.

Viconia: Among the drow, we have a saying… ssussun pholor dos: brightness upon you. And it’s considered a powerful curse. Aegon, I’ve told you before that I would go where you wish, so long as you keep me from this accursed sun. I.. Truly, I cannot bear its gaze.

Aegon: You know, Viconia, if you’re going to live on the surface, you’re going to have to get used to the sun.

Viconia: Pfeh, the thought is utterly repulsive to me. I simply don’t know if I’ll ever feel at home beneath this burning blaze.

Aegon: It should come with time. Just stick it out.

Viconia: I believe there may be wisdom in your words, Aegon. Though it burns me all the same, perhaps I can grow to tolerate it. I need not be so insufferably weak, in any case.

She will need to get used to it. Though travelling by night may be beneficial if we need to assault the bandit’s camp.

Xan has his own misgivings about his abilities.

Aegon: Slow our progress, you mean? No, you don’t.

Xan: I was afraid I did. I am speaking of my rather meager health, of course – I am overcome with fatigue much more often than your average adventurer.

Aegon: Well, I am no paragon of virility, either.

Xan: Yes, but still… Oh, never mind. I thank you.

I do not know what comes over me sometimes. It’s hard to describe. Imagine a feeling of burning shame, mingled with grief and absolute astonishment why your heart is still beating – and overwhelming guilt that because of you, people have died before and will die after. And I am not talking about some abstract strangers, but of you.

It is futile, of course. Your doom is clear with or without me. Still, I would hate to hasten it.

Aegon: Xan, stop it. If I thought you useless, I’d have kicked you out the party.

Xan: Why, thank you for such unconditional support.

He sighs.

Xan: I needed to hear that, I suppose.

Maybe that was a bit harsh. But if after killing an ogre mage he’s still doubting himself like this, what else can I say to him?

Drake has alcohol on his mind again.

Viconia: Your ignorance is beyond baffling, iblith. The brews of the Underdark are made of far more complex substances than that grown from the dirt of the surface.

Drake: Hmm. Well, that’s disappointing. And here I thought perhaps you’d be happy for a taste of home.

Viconia: Where drow concoctons are concerned, fool, it can be difficult seperating simple beverages from poison. A single dose of the wrong kind could leave you hanging between life and death.

Drake: I’ve tried enough vile brews in my life to take chances. Besides, you’re a capable enough healer to give me a hand should I keel over, right?

Viconia: The thought of having your life potentially in my grasp is tempting… but no. You’ve wasted enough of my time.

Our conversations are interrupted when we are attacked by wild dogs.

We kill two of them and they rest change their minds and flee.

We find a couple of barrels next to a pond. Drake searches them for any sign of the bandits.

He only finds a few coins, and a recipe book for a weird turnip-based dish. I decide to hold onto it – Finch might be interested in adding it to her library in Nashkel.

We find more barrels around the lake, but they are mostly empty. Signs that someone is here, though they may or may not be bandits.

Some life exists here though. We decide it best to steer clear of the bear we encounter.

That doesn’t stop Mur’Neth from being ambushed by gibberlings.

We take care of them with ease.

We find a giant spider stalking us near the next pond.

Rose gets the kill.

There’s another barrel here. This one contains a scroll containing Globe of Invulnerability. Drake passes it to me so I can store it in my scroll case.

Another pack of gibberlings learns how to die by our weapons.

More empty barrels are scattered around this area. We see a group of three travellers. They also spot us, but don’t attack. They have no weapons anyway, it is unlikely they are the bandits we are looking for.

An impromptu poetry reading wasn’t in our plans, but we could do with a break after fighting those ogres. We settle down for the reading.

Lake Poet Willy: Who is the happy Warrior? Who is he
That every man in arms should wish to be?
– It is the generous Spirit, who, when brought
Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought
Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought:
Whose high endeavors are an inward light
That makes the path before him always bright:
Who, with a natural instinct to discern
What knowledge can perform, it is diligent to learn
Abides by this resolve, and stops not there,
But makes his moral being his prime care:
Who, doomed to go in company with Pain,
And Fear, and Bloodshed, miserable train!
Turns his necessity to glorious gain;
In face of these doth exercise a power
Which is our human nature’s highest dower;
Controls them and subdues, transmutes, bereaves
Of their bad influence, and good receives:
By objects, which might force the soul to abate
Her feeling, rendered more compassionate;
Is placable – because occasions rise
So often that demand such sacrifice
More skilful in self-knowledge, even more pure,
As tempted more; more able to endure,
As more exposed to suffering and distress;
Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.
‘Tis he whose law is reason; who depends
Upon that law as on the best of friends;
Whence, in a state where men are tempted still
To evil for a guard against worse ill,
And what in quality or act is best
Doth seldom on a right foundation rest,
He labours good on good to fix, and owes
To virtue every triumph that he knows:
– Who, if he rise to station of command,
Rises by open means; and there will stand
On honorable terms, or else retire,
And in himself possess his own desire;
Who comprehends his trust, and to the same
Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim.
And therefore does not stoop, nor lie in wait
For wealth, or honours, or for worldly state;
Whom they must follow; on whose head must fall,
Like showers of manna, if they come at all:
Whose powers shed round him in the common strife,
Or mild concerns of ordinary life,
A constant influence, a peculiar grace;
But who, if he be called upon to face
Some awful moment to which Heaven has joined
Great issues, good or bad for human kind,
Is happy as a Lover; and attired
With sudden brightness, like a Man inspired;
And, through the heat of conflict, keeps the law
In calmness made, and sees what he foresaw;
Or if an unexpected call succeed,
Come when it will, is equal to the need:
—He who, though thus endued as with a sense
And faculty for storm and turbulence,
Is yet a Soul whose master-bias leans
To homefelt pleasures and to gentle scenes;
Sweet images! which, wheresoe’er he be,
Are at his heart; and such fidelity
It is his darling passion to approve;
More brave for this, that he hath much to love:—
‘Tis, finally, the Man, who, lifted high,
Conspicuous object in a Nation’s eye,
Or left unthought-of in obscurity,—
Who, with a toward or untoward lot,
Prosperous or adverse, to his wish or not—
Plays, in the many games of life, that one
Where what he most doth value must be won:
Whom neither shape or danger can dismay,
Nor thought of tender happiness betray;
Who, not content that former worth stand fast,
Looks forward, persevering to the last,
From well to better, daily self-surpast:
Who, whether praise of him must walk the earth
For ever, and to noble deeds give birth,
Or he must fall, to sleep without his fame,
And leave a dead unprofitable name—
Finds comfort in himself and in his cause;
And, while the mortal mist is gathering, draws
His breath in confidence of Heaven’s applause:
This is the happy Warrior; this is he
That every man in arms should wish to be.

Why, you are quite a lover of poetry, my good man! You should listen to Rob and Sam’s song. They are quite excellent.

We’re settled in now. I ask the others to recite their poetry, and we listen…

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