Encounter 4.1 - The Road to Karnstown Report

General Summary

It has bee several days since the party successfully dealt with the main perpetrators of the Fey Poaching ring in Spirit Lake... days spent relaxing in the Crying Spirit Resort enjoying the hospitality of the village. The townsfolk no longer feels threatened by the possibility that the Elven Rangers would begin to serious action against them, and life is returning to normal for most.

Several of the party members have spent some time examining the more mysterious bits of treasure they acquired from the members of the poaching ring, Ahronelle is pondering over how her new Rope of Climbing may help her in the future. She is also holding onto the Onyx Panther figurine which, she was told, could help her to move stealthily without having to slow her pace.

Dayve has added a Smokestick to his collection of alchemical "toys".

Raelin now has the magical crafting formula that will permit him to create the magical disappearing boxes that the poaching merchant used to successfully transport Fey captives past the Elven patrols. He realizes that his crafting skills will need a bit of practice before he attempts this, though. In the meantime, he carefully preserves the one remaining unused Feather Token in case the group needs to similarly protect a small amount of goods.

Endrin has, after quite a few days spent with the item, discovered some of the secrets of the brooch/cloak clasp worn by the poacher in the forest - the one who seemed to be protected from his usually unerrant magical missiles. He has added the Brooch of Shielding to his own outfit.

It is now the morning of the fourth day after the trial that saw the one surviving member of the poaching ring's inner circle found guilty. Young Wayne Colifer, the owner of the Livery operation in the village, was carted off by a patrol of Elven Rangers after it was agreed that the Elves and Fey would handle the punishment of the guilty. The party is enjoying yet another hearty breakfast when a young woman appears at the door of the resort's common room. The look on her face shows a bit of fear, but even more embarrassment as she cautiously approaches the party.

The young woman introduced herself as Maretta Colifer, the wife of the livery owner that is now being transformed into a tree somewhere deep in the Feywood - a tree that will provide shelter and sustenance for nature and the Fey as recompense for the hurt he caused both in the past. She explains that she finds it impossible for her and her two small children to remain in the village, and asks if they would ride escort with her to get to Karnstown. She has family there and can start her life anew, but the two-week-plus journey there on the road is too dangerous for a young mother and two children alone.

After hearing the young woman's request, most of the party decide that Maretta and her children are yet more victims of the horrible poaching operation that are now deserving of some help. It is only Endrin that doesn't see things this way, and it takes a bit of convincing (and even the threat of simply leaving him on his own) before he agrees to join the rest to escort the remnants of the Colifer family to Karnstown. The party agrees to be ready to leave with her in a day's time.

It is an interesting group that leaves the village the next day: A human (Osric) on horseback leads the group. A small cart, driven by Maretta with her two children seated among their few possessions in the back follows along, with Hestia the Halfling, sitting alongside Maretta as she drives. Next comes a larger wagon driven by Raelin the Dwarf, with Dayve the Goblin seated beside him. Ahronelle the Elf sits astride another horse riding alongside the wagons. The wagons are trailed by Endrin the Dwarf sitting awkwardly atop a horse of his own, stubby legs just barely reaching the stirrups that have been hitched up as high as possible.

The first part of the journey is uneventful. The group travels the road by day, and camps in the evenings. It takes about eight days to reach the junction where the road meets the north-to-south road that links Karnstown with Four Rivers far to the north. The group was grateful for the opportunity to spend a night at the roadside inn at the junction - a comfortable break after several days of making and breaking campsites, though the food wasn't quite as good as the party has sampled at other roadside inns in the Feywood.

In the late afternoon of the first day on the southbound road to Karnstown, the party reached a spot where the road goes up a short rise, and bends shortly after cresting the hill. As the part reaches the bend, they see a bit of an obstacle on the road a few hundred feet ahead. It appears a wagon has had some equipment failure: one wheel lies flat in the road about ten feet behind the wagon, which is now precariously tilted downward in the back with one end of the rear axle resting on the ground. A man and a woman are standing and looking at the wagon, assessing the situation.

Osric approaches slowly, also looking over the situation, with Maretta's wagon close behind. Raelin stops his wagon a bit further back, though; something tells him to be extra cautious here. Ahronelle also stops her horse short of the others, but Endrin rides past the party's wagon to a point just behind Maretta's cart.

Meanwhile, the woman on the road calls out, explaining that she and her mate do not have the strength to right the wagon to remount the wheel; she asks if the party will help. Osric dismounts to offer assistance, and Hestia leaps down from her seat on Maretta's cart to lend a hand as well. She figures she's the perfect size (and of sufficient strength) to get under the cart and lift it straight up while Osric remounts the wheel. As Osric begins to roll the wheel back to its place, Hestia gets beneath the corner of the wagon and, with a grunt, does indeed lift it until it its axle is high enough off the ground for Osric to be able to replace the wheel. The woman on the road begins to express her gratitude for the help as she and her husband climb onto the front of the wagon, "to retrieve the tools to complete the repair".

But when the two lift their heads up from the compartment beneath the wagon's driving seat, they are holding crossbows instead of tools. Leveling the crossbows - one at Osric and one at Endrin - they announce that this would be a good time for the group to hand over all of their valuables, lest the two crossbows be joined by the "several bowmen hidden in the forest".

Osric, still holding the wheel, calmy looks at the woman and suggests that this may not be a good idea - she and her group of bandits should reconsider pushing the point with the adventurers. This request, of course, is dismissed with a chuckle by the woman. Osric then simply let the wagon wheel drop and began reaching over his shoulder for his war axe.

This, of course, prompted the man and woman to release their crossbow bolts, but a sudden shift by Hestia, who was trying to see what was going on while still holding up the wagon's corner, caused the bandits to miss their marks. Ahronelle immediately leapt off her horse and dashed into the forest, hoping to either flush out the alleged bowmen in the woods, or at least get better position on the bandits in the road. The bandit woman jumped down from the wagon and drew her short sword to deal with the approaching Osric. Dayve gleefully leapt off the wagon and ran forward, pulling out one of his concoctions as he did so. At the end of his run, he hurled the concoction at the remaining bandit on the wagon, and it exploded into flames as it struck. The bandit was engulfed in fire. Endrin shouted to Hestia, announcing his intention to cast a helping spell on her. As the Halfling braced, the sorcerer's magic leapt forth, and suddenly Hestia began to grow - almost tripling in height. And since she was beneath the wagon and holding it aloft over her head at the time, she ended up toppling the wagon over, spilling the on-fire bandit to the ground.

The fire and the toppled wagon was too much for the bandit's draft horses; with a panicked whinny, they began to do what they could to escape, dragging the now-inverted wagon behind them. Volleys of arrows did indeed erupt from the forest - three shots from each side of the road, but only one arrow struck its mark: Hestia roared as the arrow struck her in the now enormous leg. Osric and the bandit woman closed and began to trade blows, with Osric clearly getting the better shots in.

Dayve, realizing that the burning bandit was successfully putting out the fire by rolling in the dirt, followed with yet another firebomb at the hapless person. This one missed its mark, though - only a bit of splash reached the target. Ahronelle, trying to stay concealed herself, searched frantically for the source of the arrows from the forest, but could not pin down an attacker. Further arrows from the forest all missed their targets.

The bandit woman quickly realized that Osric may have been correct in his original suggestion. Before she could land any serious blows, she decided that the party would be too difficult to take on, even with her available backup. And so she fled, calling out to her partner on the ground that it would be wise for him to do so as well.

A few moments later, the party was alone and the scene was quiet. Apart from the single arrow that Hestia took, they were also unscathed. Maretta expressed her gratitude once more, pointing out that this was exactly why she requested escort on the road in the first place.

Ahronelle returned from the woods, joining Endrin at the point where the wagon first toppled over. A leather pouch and a small wooden box lie in the road alongside a few other tools and some crossbow bolts - apparently dumped from the wagon when Hestia toppled it. Endrin examined the pouch quickly, and upon realizing it was full of well over 200 coins, he attempted to quietly conceal it. Ahronelle, simply said, without even looking up, "We can split that up later." In the meantime, she retrieved a vial of bright ruby-red liquid from the box, saying "We'll probably want to keep this too."

Still-giant-sized Hestia, in the meantime, set off after the horses that had dragged the inverted wagon down the road. She easily caught up to them and, after righting the wagon herself, returned to the rest of the group. They decided that the wagon was now beyond salvaging, so they dragged it off the road for somebody else to either salvage or use as firewood. The draft horses, however, they would take with them to Karnstown.

The Session ended here.

Rewards Obtained

A pouch of coins and a vial of a bright ruby red liquid were recovered from the mangled wagon the bandits had used to block the road. The contents of the vial have been identified as a Potion of Healing. The tools and other odds and ends in the wagon are essentially worthless, and were no doubt intended only as props to advance the ruse that the two in the road were travelers.
Meta Note: Most of the party is unaware of the coin pouch. Only Ahronelle and Endrin are aware of it; Endrin currently has possession of it.

Missions/Quests Completed

The group successfully drove off the highway bandits, and successfully escorted Maretta Colifer and her children from Spirit Lake to Karnstown.

Still Unresolved

The highway bandits ran off, and are still free to harass travelers on the road from Four Rivers to Karnstown. (But perhaps that's a problem for another group of Adventurers.

Characters Interacted With

Maretta Colifer and her two Children
Maretta is the wife of the convicted (and now well-rooted) Wayne Colifer, who ran the livery stable. He also was part of the poaching ring inner circle, providing means to hide the loading and unloading activities of the merchant from Endmere who was financing the operation.

The highway bandits
The party never had the opportunity to learn the name of the bandit leader, or even learn the true size of the group. (They know of at least four bandits, but there may have been more in the forest.) Perhaps asking around in the taverns of Karnstown will provide a clue. It's uncertain whether the bandits learned a lesson, or whether they'll hold a grudge. (Who knows? They may encounter the party again in the future!)

Cover image: The Inn from the Bridge over Daphinia's Stream by RPGDinosaurBob (with Flowscape)


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