October 10, 2019
The band of hale companions quickly leave the area in case the Hulder faerie returns. They make camp, set watches, eat, etc. The next day they set out again, keeping the forest on their right hand, and heading generally north. In the afternoon, they see more dense forest appearing in the distance to the west (on their left). After a while they see the forests on either side converging up ahead — they realize they have wandered into an “inlet” into the forest, and they now have a choice of backtracking several hours or pushing through the forest. Considering the pack ponies, they decide to backtrack. This takes the remaining day. They eventually get back to where they can continue north along the edge of the forest. Done for the day, they stop and camp again.
In the morning, Grend Ravenfrond prays to the Mother to ask her to guide them to the location of the lost tiwstakn. Once the prayer completes, he has a vision.
In the vision, his vantage point appears to be that of an eagle soaring high above. Grend can make out the small figures of the adventurers below before the vantage point then begins to speed north. The landscape blurs as the unseen observer flies north along the edge of the forest. Soon, Grend can make out the silver band of sun glinting off the waters of a river cutting across his line of sight, roughly west-to-east. The vantage point wheels to the west, following the river towards its source. A short while later, he sees another river flow into the river from the north. The vantage point continues along the original river through rough hill country until it reaches the mountains of the Frostharrow. It enters a mountain vale, and crosses a deep gorge with a river at the bottom. There, the vision ends.
Grend tells the party that they need to continue north until they reach the river, then follow it back into the Frostharrow. They pack up and continue.
By noon, they reach the river that Grend saw in his vision. They turn to follow it to the west. Mid-afternoon, they discover a dirt track that leads from a small wood, across their trail and to the riverbank. They can make out the rotted piles of a long-since vanished dock in the water. Looking back up the trail, they can make out a small hunter or fisherman’s hut in the woods. As they discuss whether to explore it, a figure comes out from around it. It’s Björn!
When asked, Björn explains that after the druids healed him, they asked him to patrol in the wild lands to the north of Isfjall due to the increase in dangerous encounters (bandits, fae, demons, etc…). Björn has been patrolling the area when he was approached by a family living in the wilderness near the river. Bandits had raided them the previous night, took what meager items of value they had, and kidnapped their teenage daughter, Thorhildr. Björn had been tracking them and the tracks led back to where he met up with the rest of the party.
The group decides that rescuing Thorhildr takes priority; they agree to help Björn. Together they backtrack the bandits into the hills. They eventually come over an unassuming hill to find a secluded valley below; in the center of which they can just make out a large clearing with several plumes of campfire smoke rising. They decide to send the stealthiest member of the party — Shae, since Drex left — ahead to scout.
Shae sneaks down the hillside towards the clearing. She climbs a tree and looks down into the camp. She sees what might be a dozen small tents suitable for 1-2 men surrounding a larger more elaborate tent. Near this fancy tent is a small lookout platform, maybe 6-8 feet high. The camp is busy with a number of figures tending fires, maintaining equipment, napping in the sun, having conversations, etc. As she watches from the tree, Shae hears people moving below. A few seconds later she sees two bandits, one with spear and one with a bow, patrolling the area. She waits until they leave and then goes back to report. The party discusses what to do — they decide to wait until nightfall. The plan seems to be that they will try to manufacture some kind of distraction that occupies as many of the bandits as possible, and then they will sneak into the camp to try to rescue Thorhildr. They are assuming that the girl is being held in the large tent in the center of camp.
Grend prays to the Mother to help them by sending a suitable distraction when they attack the camp. He feels that his petition was heard and feels certain that a distraction will occur when needed.
After darkness falls, the entire group slowly and cautiously make their way down the hill towards the camp, on guard for the patrols. They get within a few yards of the clearing. Before they can launch their plan, they see a large, armored man step out of the center tent. He says something to the guard on the tower and the guard pulls out a hunting horn and gives it a long, low blast. The other men in the camp begin to gather around what the party assumes is their leader. They wait for a few minutes, and eventually two groups of 4 men, armed and armored, come out of the woods to join them in the center of the camp.
The leader speaks: “We will continue the raids tonight. Gíslunn and Sigurgeir, take four men and sweep the area. Start at the river, work your way north and then cut back across to return to camp. You’e free to check out anything interesting, but don’t attack unless you clearly have numbers on your side. If you see a likely target but need more men, come back at once. Otherwise I will expect you to be back by midnight.”
The six men arm themselves and head out of camp, towards our heroes.
Grend says, “We’ got to retweet — they can’t find us heah…”
Arne agrees. “Perhaps we can set an ambush for them on the other side of the ridge.” The party sneaks back over the hill. Once there, they search for a suitable ambush site. They find a wide gulley with banks that rise to 6 feet on either side. Arne says, “We need to make sure they come down here. Perhaps we need some bait?” They discuss and quickly decide that Shae will pose as a traveller with an injured leg. She strategically hides her axe behind her. The rest of the party hides themselves up on the banks on either side of the gulley.
A couple of minutes later, the bandit raiding party appears. Shae begins to moan and limp down the gully, making sure that she is seen.
“What have we here?” says the one they’ve identified as Gíslunn. “A traveller ripe for the plucking?” Shae moans and limps a bit faster. “Just you stop where you are!” Gíslunn continues. “Don’t make this hard on us and we may allow you to escape with your lives.” He turns to the others. “Sigurgeir, you and Dagnyr cover us with your bows. The rest of you come with me.” The two bandits armed with bows nock arrows and train them on Shae. The others advance on the catfolk barbarian. “Drop your weapons!” Gíslunn says.
Shae draws her long knife and drops it on the ground. “Don’t hurt me!” she says.
The bandits, lead by Gíslunn, advance on her. Just as they get within striking distance, Shae whirls around, bringing the axe up and around to bite deeply into the leader’s armor. As the bandit goes down, the other adventurers wheel into action.
Björn sends an arrow into the vitals of one of the archers. It momentarily looks like a superficial wound, but no — he goes down!
Findlay steps out of cover, strums his lute, and composes a short insulting limerick about one of the men. His magic bard song has the intended affect — the man sputters, turns red, and stares back up the bank at the halfling hobbit. “Oh yeah?!” he says. “Well, you are so… uh.. dumb…” he struggles to find an insult to top Findlay’s, any thought of attack or defense forgotten for the moment.
Grend charges out of cover and down the bank to attack another of the bandits from behind. His spear penetrates the thick leather armor and sinks into the man’s abdomen. The bandit falls.
Arne also charges out of cover but doesn’t quite reach the remaining archer. The bowman turns and fires an arrow at Arne but misses the holy warrior.
Enok fires a lightning bolt into the two bandits still standing near Shae. They both are hit and are stunned.
Björn can’t get a bead on the archer that is engaged with Arne, so he turns and fires at one of the two standing near Shae. The arrow hits but the bandit remains standing. Shae moves towards the other one and chops him down.
Grend moves towards the one one Björn injured and takes him out with a thrust of the spear.
Arne reaches the remaining archer and hits! The man goes down.
They quickly check the fallen bandits. Two are merely unconscious, the others dead. They tie up the survivors.
Grend says, “We can question dese guys to make sure tha girl’s theah in the camp. Anybody got skills to, uh, persuade dese guys to tell the twuth?” He glances at Findlay.
Findlay looks offended. “Are you asking me if I have any ability to interrogate them?” he says, indignant. “‘Cause if you are, I totally can,” he finishes with wry smile.
They awaken one of the bandits (Sigurgeir) and Findlay sings Song of Command. This makes the bandit obey Findlay as long as he plays. Findlay works their questions for Sigurgeir into the song he’s playing. “Is the girl — Thorhildr — still alive?”
“Where is she?”
“In Andri’s tent. That’s the big one in the center of camp.”
“Andri is the leader?”
“Yes. He’s also the best fighter of any of us.”
“Is the girl unharmed?”
“Uninjured? Relatively so. Unspoiled? No.” At this Arne becomes visibly angry.
They don’t have any more questions for the bandits, and Grend dispatches them both to Hel. Arne has no problem with this.