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Radei Lopukh's band of smugglers

This band was based in a hideout located about 6 versts west of the village of Yelizarovo. It consisted of ten men who lived in Yelizarovo most of the time, although a few of them had gone to live in the hideout full-time. The band was led by a ruffian named Radei Lopukh. It also included Vasya Toptygin, who had apparently been rescued by the smugglers from a hole where he had been imprisoned by Baba Yaga. Vasya became the band's mascot, though his special powers allowed him to play a leadership role from time to time.   The hideout was located near the Vydra River, in a cottage surrounded by a high hedge. Nearby, there was a mysterious cairn with an evil reputation, and a nechist'-infested woods, which the smugglers relied on to keep undesirables away from their business.   The band also had a close working relationship with Yurii Yelizarov. The boyar tolerated their activities because he took a cut, thereby avoiding having to pay duties to the Prince of Radomysl. At one point, Yelizarov hired Dmitri Vladimirovich to spy on the smugglers, but as one captured member of the band later revealed to the party, the two had been working together, and the operation appeared to be the boyar's attempt to renegotiate their deal. Several of the smugglers were also Yelizarov's dependents, which is why killing them was ill-advised.   The smugglers also had a relationship with Lionia the Red, though it is not clear whether he was a full-fledged member of the gang. He enjoyed authority over them, which may have exceeded that of Radei himself. Lionia later betrayed the gang, and stole their cache of treasure just as he also stole a good chunk of the treasure recovered from Crows' Meadow Warren by the party. When the band learned they had been defrauded, they thought the party was in cahoots with Lionia, and they burned down Chonkorchuk's hermitage in retaliation.   The party later attacked the hideout in order to capture Vasya. Several of the smugglers perished in that fight, though Radei himself, and another smuggler, managed to flee. Their hideout caught fire, though that was extinguished by Plamen before the cottage burned down. Vasya was taken away in chains.   It is not known if Radei or any of the other smugglers ever returned to the hideout, or fixed it up, or if the survivors ever reformed the band.


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