Lands of Katagma

Amafey's Notes [14] - A little death around the pie

After catching our breath following the frantic battle, calm returned to the clearing. I thanked the hirelings for their help, particularly against the tree, their assault had probably saved my life. The others had started looking for anything of interest in the house and I warned the hirelings to wait outside while we cleared anything dangerous from inside. As it turns out, there was very little of interest inside the house. All of us searched thoroughly, under and in every nook and cranny and didn’t turn up anything of much use. Even using my song which resonates with any sources of magic picked very little up, except the house itself and a pie on the windowsill. I did a small loop outside the house and didn’t find anything unusual there either, except some recently upturned earth, perhaps a couple of days old.

Checking the walls inside and out did not lead to any clues as to how the roaming cottage functioned and it seemed rooted in place where it was at the moment. Baldwin suggested maybe it was just a perception thing, making you think you were somewhere you weren’t. Now that Old Mother Basket was dead, we weren’t likely to find out and it wasn’t going to go walking off on its own. As for the pie, something was very suspicious about it and my curiosity kept bringing me back to it. I considered using the identify scroll but remembered what Melech had said before about the fact it might struggle with the hag magic. As it started to rain outside, I told the hirelings it was safe inside now, but to avoid the pie. Melech offered everyone a cup of tea and didn’t seem too shifty about it (not that the hirelings would know to suspect anything), so we all warmed ourselves inside as Baldwin started digging through the earth (we shared the same suspicions and he had been kind enough to volunteer to investigate).

After a little time inside, Baldwin reappeared from his digging, looking quite wet and muddy. “As I thought, it’s the innkeeper and his wife. They were missing their clothes, so I suspect old mother basket just kills them, then makes the scarecrows as warnings”. As he was explaining, I looked over and caught Neddie about to stick his finger in the pie. “Hey! What did I say about that? Stop it!” I called over. The hireling looked back at me a bit crestfallen, “Oh, it looks good though, could we at least have some rations, it must be well past lunchtime by now…” he said. Beiro stood up. “I will find some food” and marched out of the house. Baldwin watched him then turned around and said “I should probably go with him..” and followed Beiro out.

They reappeared about an hour later with, in addition to more than enough berries and plants to supplement our rations, the corpse of a chunky boar. Beiro looked very pleased with himself. I could see the hirelings with their mouths agape, both impressed and drooling slightly at the thought what it’s going to be like to eat. Unfortunately, it would still need a fair amount of preparation, so it wasn’t going to be a boaring lunch. We agreed to head back to the Fey Friend’s house for the evening and take a much-needed rest after having got Old Mother Basket off of our backs. I took one last look at the pie, but before I could decide what to do with it, Baldwin came over and hurled it out of the window. The contents scattered on the grass outside and it looked…pretty much like a normal meat pie. Still a mystery. Oh well, I definitely wasn’t going to eat it now.

As we started travelling back, the slightly smouldering tree waymarked our previous battleground. There was no sign of the tin soldiers. It dawned on me that I never saw the body of the first one that Baldwin and Beiro had slain and had been much more concerned about chasing after Old Mother Basket to see what happened when I slew the second. It was possible the enchantment was gone and they’d returned to normal and I started searching in the tall grass. Maybe they were not lost to me after all! After explaining my thinking, the others started searching too, but we were searching for some time with no luck. I started to get a bit frantic, they must be here somewhere! They’re the only thing I’ve got left of my mother’s. Absent-mindedly I strummed at my ukulele, slowly forming words about our epic battle with the tin soldiers. I’d just gotten halfway through the second verse when Melech called out from 5 feet to my right. “I’ve found them!”. He handed them over, but as he did so, I grabbed his arm and pulled him down to give him a peck on the cheek. He looked perturbed, although he might have been going bright red for all I know. “Thank you Melech” I said, relieved. I looked down at the soldiers and noticed that, in addition to being torn apart, one was warped and slightly melted and the other also had significant gashes in it (including a big hole in its chest). These will indeed make for a good story. Our search concluded, we continued onwards to the mansion and arrived without further incident.

Back at the mansion, I poured another round from the dwarven ale keg and passed it around to everyone. Baldwin started carving up the boar and made particularly short work of it. It wasn’t long before we had a roast boar and mushroom (they seemed to grow in abundance around the house) stew ready for dinner, with the rest of the boar stripped and cooked for cold meats the next day. For the rest of the evening, we drank, were merry and exchanged stories. That is, except Melech, who sequestered himself to read in some quiet corner of the mansion.

As the next dawn broke and the morning mist slowly lifted, we met up in the front room to discuss our next moves. “As much as it pains me to say it, we need to sort that dryad out” I pointed out. “We also need to check to see whether those scarecrows are still there” Melech suggested, as we worked through our ‘to-do’ list. Baldwin then spoke up “That’s on the way back to Westpine, we should tell them they don’t have anything to fear from Old Mother Basket anymore”. It was a sensible suggestion and it gave us a good starting point to venture deeper into the forest from, in our search of the dryad. All in agreement, we packed our things together, locked the door and headed back along the stream.

It wasn’t long before we reached the scarecrow’s spot on the river and there they were, still alive, still moving, still creepy. I laid out the plan, “Let’s set ourselves up to attack from range, they won’t be able to attack and even if they do start moving, then we should have an advantage”. Everyone nodded and we clustered in a line on the far edge of the river. “On my signal!” I called out and loosened an arrow right between the beady eyes of one of the scarecrows. Almost immediately, it unrooted itself and started hopping in our direction. Another volley of arrows followed, as the scarecrow’s partner also sucked itself out of the ground. They went for the middle of the group, I couldn’t quite see who for exactly, but their advance was short lived as I heard an incantation from Melech and a burst of fire. Even in the damp air, the straw burnt quickly and it only took a couple more knocks to finish the scarecrows off. A job well done, we marched on to the next pair.

We started our fight with the second pair in much the same way, with a similar effect. I remembered what Old Mother Basket had done, hurling insults to inflict damage, and I thought it was worth a try. As one of the scarecrows was bouncing towards us, I started singing:
“You could while away the hours
Conferrin’ with the flowers,
Consulting with the rain;
And your head you’d be a scratchin’
While your thoughts are busy hatchin’
If you only had a brain.”
As I finished, the scarecrow flinched and looked stunned for a moment. Success! I tried again, as others fired their arrows “Can’t you hear me? What’s wrong? Straw in your ears?” This time there was no reaction. It needs some work.

As this was going on, the scarecrows dived into the middle of our line again. I didn’t have a good view again, but as one of the scarecrows fell, I saw another body hit the floor. “Warwick!” I heard Neddie yell out and a vengeful flurry of arrows took out the remaining scarecrow. As it hit the floor, the other hirelings gathered around Warwick’s body on the floor. “Warwick, wake up!” Dennis was yelling, trying to shake him. I looked over his shoulder to see a massive gash in his chest, eyes wide open, but clearly not breathing anymore. “He’s dead!” Neddie spat. “I…I’m so sorry” I stammered, “I thought after…Old Mother Basket and….everything else, that this wouldn’t be that dangerous. We got careless, I’m so sorry. If you feel you want to part ways when we get to Westpine, I understand, we might be getting you too much over your head.” Neddie sighed “It’s probably best that we do, this adventuring lark is not for us.” “We’ll rest here for a while, I’ll leave you be while you mourn poor Warwick” I said quietly and let them be.

We rested for a time as the hirelings buried Warwick’s body and built a small cairn to mark it. Melech made some more tea, but this time a glint in his eye told me he was up to something. I felt like I owed him after finding the soldiers and we were unlikely to see the hirelings much more again, so I walked over and whispered in his ear “just this once”. All of the hirelings were really starting to like tea and they slowly drunk, all holding their mugs staring into space. As we slowly got ready to move off again, I approached Neddie with an idea, “I know if you’re not travelling with us you’ll need some way to make a living and you don’t want to be going back into banditry, especially not with us around.” I winked “The tavern in Westpine will be in need of a new owner, we can talk to the people there and see if we can set you guys up running it?” Neddie pondered it for a moment “Well, maybe, but it’s not exactly something we’ve done before”. I patted him on the shoulder “I’ll see what we can do”. How hard could it be to run a tavern?

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Baldwin Rumwald's Notes [14] - Boar Feast and Scarecrows

I searched the hag’s house but found nothing of real interest or value, other than a suspicious looking pie. Outside we found what looked like a set of recently dug graves. I decided to dig out one of the graves to determine who was buried there. I was sad but not surprised to the body of the tavernkeeper. The other graves were likely his wife and other missing villagers.

I returned to the cottage to find Amafey and Melech still busy investigating its contents. Beiro and I decided to set out for a hunt. It would pass the time and help restock our rations. After a while we came across a boar and easily took it down. We returned triumphantly with it to the cottage.

By this time Amafey and Melech had finished what ever they were doing and after some discussion we decided to return the fey friend’s house. Amafey however kept bringing up the damn pie, like it was something important. I certainly wasn’t going to eat that. Not wanting to waste more time at the cottage, I picked up the pie and throw it out the window. That was that and we set off back to the house.

A short while into the journey Amafey insisted that we return to where we had killed the tin soldiers and attempt to find them. When we got to the location they could not immediately be seen. They must have shrunk back to their original size. We eventually found them after quite a bit of searching, a bit more damaged than before.

We arrived back the house and I set about butchering the boar and then roasting it. The evening was then spent eating, drinking and relaxing. The next morning we got up and came to an agreement that we should head back to Westpine.

On the way it was decided that we should kill the scarecrows to make sure they wound’t be a threat to anyone else. The first pair went down easily enough, though we discovered they could move. The second pair were equally easy to kill yet somehow one of the hirelings, Cheating Warwick, managed to get themselves killed…

We let the other hirelings bury him and discussed with them about the end of their service with us. About time really, I had never wanted to hire them in first place. One of Amafey’s crazy plans. She had a new one now! To give the bandits a new life as tavernkeepers, after all the old one was no more. I tried to object, stating that the Tavern wasn’t our to give, but no one was listening.

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Baldwin Rumwald's Notes [13] - Final Flail

I let loose with a few arrows hitting the hag, before drawing my sword and moving in for the attack. The hag threw to the ground two toy tin soldiers, which turned into two full sized ones. She then moved as to retreat away from us. Amafey began to play one of her tunes and one of the tin soldiers began to glow. Beiro and I, with help from the hirelings arrows, made short work of the tin soldiers.

I looked up to see Melech pursuing the hag. The hag reached out touching a tree before vanishing. Amafey cast a spell in an attempt to reveal her, but to no avail. Melech pulled out a scroll of see invisibly and using its power directed us after the hag.

As I ran in the direction of the hag I heard a commotion behind. The tree that had been touched by the hag had become animated and was attacking the others, knocking out Melech with a heavy blow. I turned around and ran back to engage the tree.

The hirelings had manged to hit with a few arrows and Amafey was playing music again causing the arrow heads to glow. This set fire to the tree and it began to lashing out wildly. I moved cutting at it with my sword. The tree was badly fire damaged and crashed to ground under my blows.

Amafey had revived Melech and we began to seek the hag again. Melech couldn’t see her anymore but we set of in the direction we had seen her going. We enter a clearing and we saw the hag’s house up ahead. She was standing in the doorway, so naturally I drew my bow and shot an arrow at her. It sail through her, just a bloody illusion. Never mind her tricks won’t work forever.

A number of scarecrows were directly in front of the house so we split up to go around them. Amafey and I, along with a few hirelings headed to the right, while Beiro, Melech and others went left. As we got closer to the house the shutters slammed shut. Beiro approached the front door and attempted to gain entry but the door proved too much for him. Melech kindly assisted with a spell and we gained access, seeing the hag in the now open doorway. Feeling a sudden surge of surety I fired off an arrow before charging into the house. The hag was blocking the way preventing the others getting an angle of attack. I gave her a shove back into the cottage before moving in for the kill. The others followed and we soon had her cornered, inflicting heavy damage upon her.

Suddenly the hag somehow managed to move through the wall! I wasn’t going to let her get away and sprinted back out the house and around the side. It seems Amafey had been standing directly where the hag had try to exit through the wall and had blocked her getaway.

I swung my flail landing a heavy blow, shattering the hag’s skull all over the wall. NICE.

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Amafey's Notes [13] - Ding, dong, the witch is dead

With the battle now commenced, I decided we needed some music. Inspiration came to me and I started playing to spur Beiro along, coming up with a new song called “I need a Beiro”. If only I could think of a way to make it more generic, maybe it’s something I could play in taverns. As I started playing, as well as seeing Beiro start focusing, one of the tin soldiers started glowing red hot. It lashed out at Beiro and made contact, leaving a clear burn on his flesh. “Sorry!” I yelled, worried that I had put us at a disadvantage. Baldwin, Beiro and the hirelings made short work of it though, as the heat seemed to be weakening the metal as well.

As the others were attacking the tin soldiers, Melech was trying to get after Old Mother Basket, but as I looked over, she put her hand on a tree and disappeared. “She’s gone invisible” yelled Melech, clearly recognising the spell and fired off a couple of spells into the remaining tin soldier. “Dammit!” I cursed, stepped up to behind Beiro and cast faerie fire where we had last seen her, but she was gone.

Melech threw open his bag and pulled out a scroll. His eyes glowed white as he read it and then pointed through the woods “She’s making a run for it!” And started giving chase. The remaining soldier had shifted in my direction, so I went to hit it, landing my blade right in the middle of its chest and thrusting up to the hilt. It went limp, the last of the magical energy dissipating. With the foe dealt with, I started following Melech and could hear Baldwin, Beiro and the hirelings giving chase. Beiro’s fully enraged form stormed past the both of us, but as he passed the tree Old Mother Basket had touched, it swung around with one of its boughs, narrowly missing Beiro’s. Melech and I saw this and dodged out the way of more incoming branches. “Avoid the tree!” I shouted to the others but breathed a sigh of relief as we’d gotten clear. I didn’t even finish my breath before the tree pulled itself out of the ground and started pursuing us, swinging wildly. Caught off guard, one of the branches slammed Melech in the side of the chest, knocked him clean off of his feet and onto the ground, unconscious. “Shit!” I started muttering, as the tables seemed to be turning against us. Yelling out to Beiro and Baldwin, “we’ve got a situation here!”, although they had now gotten quite far ahead of us.

The hirelings were still off to the sides and following my direction, fired a volley of arrows into the tree, a handful of them embedding themselves into the bank. I remembered the song from before and started to play, focusing on the metal arrow tips. Sure enough, they also started to glow red hot, like the tin soldier, and started to set the bark alight. The tree was clearly in pain and lashed out towards me, but I rolled out of the way. I now focusied on retrieving one of the potions we’d found at the Fey Friend’s house from the top of my backpack while maintaining the song. Willing it to work, I dumped the contents into Melech’s mouth. I smacked him in the side of the face as he opened his eyes. “Wha-?” “Oh thank goodn- GET UP!” I yelled, now redoubling my efforts on the song. The arrow heads flared again, sending jets of fire through the tree, now thoroughly engulfed in flame. At this point Baldwin returned to our position and swung his sword like a woodcutters axe clear into the side of the tree. The now desiccated trunk gave way to the sword and one swoop was all it took to tip the tree from its roots. All of us breathing a sigh of relief, Melech got back to his feet and looked around. “I can’t see her,” he proclaimed “although she was heading in that direction” “That’s the direction she came from before meeting me in the clearing, her house is probably that way” I reasoned. We dusted ourselves off, then hurried in that direction, keeping an eye out for any more killer trees.

Before long, we came across another clearing and, as expected, Old Mother basket’s cottage. Out in front was a garden with a handful of unclothed scarecrows. As we approached, we could see her standing in the doorway. “I’m not in the mood for visitors!” She cautioned. “Why did you feel the need to scry on us?” I shouted back, the jig clearly up at this point, but, even if she was going to respond, any response was cut short by Baldwin firing an arrow at her. It would’ve been a direct hit, but it passed straight through her form, the illusion fizzled and vanished. The door then slammed shut.

We spread out to stay clear of the scarecrows, with me, Baldwin, Neddie and Kia going right and the others going to the left. As we manoeuvered, we heard her screeching from inside the house “Is that horn growing inwards into your brain too, Melech, making you stupider by the second?”. I saw Melech wince, as though the words had actually hurt him. Beiro approached the door and tried to force it open, to no avail, but Melech’s knock spell quickly dealt with it, the sound echoing through the woods. From our viewpoint to the right, we could see Old Mother Basket by the front window, but also by the side window. As we saw her, however, she grinned and both sets of window shutters slammed shut.

I turned to Neddie and Kia, “Come with me around the back, let’s see if we can get in that way”. Before heading off, I put my hand on Baldwin’s shoulder, who was about to make a dash for the front door, said “You’ve got this” and cast Heroism on him. Around the back of the house, I deftly leapt over a crate with no trouble at all and started trying to get through the back door. I could hear the sounds of fighting on the other side, as the others had clearly now all piled in. I left the door to the hirelings and instead started trying to break through the window on the side. Unfortunately, rapiers don’t make particularly good siege weapons, so I made little progress there either.

Suddenly, Old Mother Basket bumped into me. She’d just come through the wall, using yet more trickery to try and escape from her predicament. Upon finding me there though, she looked as surprised as I did and didn’t notice when Baldwin came rushing back out of the front door and clattered his flail right into the top of her head, impacting her skull and knocking her to the floor, lifeless. The hag was dead.

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Amafey's Notes [12] - The Scry of the Gyger

After finding the innkeepers’ scarecrows and Old Mother Basket knowing to find us in the house the morning after we returned, I was starting to suspect something was alerting her to what we were doing. I asked the Satyrs if they had heard of Old Mother Basket, but said her name in a very deliberate, slow fashion, allowing them to stop me if the name was cursed in some fashion. They didn’t stop me but as it turns out knew little of her specifically. I played them a song about what we had learned about Old Mother basket and they brushed it off as a common tale and just not to trust little old ladies in the woods. Perhaps her influence had not spread this far south and these parts of the woods were untouched.

Melech asked whether they knew where we could find the unicorn. “We would be happy to tell a friend,” they said. We all glanced over at Baldwin, who was wearing the crown. He took a moment to realise what was going on, then cottoned on and asked if they’d tell him. One of the Satyrs happily bounced over and started whispering in his ear. I couldn’t make out most of the words, but did hear Baldwin say “I do trust them”. Following the exchange, Baldwin passed on the message that the unicorn was to be found in a sunshine dappled glade to the south, deeper into the woods. We would find it there if it didn’t find us first, but would only appear if we were pure of heart.

It was mid-afternoon by this point and we had a unicorn to find, so we bid farewell to the Satyrs (much to the chagrin of our hirelings) and continued further into the woods. Most of us had been pacing ourselves with the drink, but the hirelings were a little…wobbly. Nevertheless, we carried on through the woods until we noticed a sparkle on the ground. Upon closer inspection it was as though a large sheet of glass had been laid in the woods about ten feet wide and extending out in both directions perpendicular to our current path, carving a path through the woods. Looking along this glassy path, we could see a very large snail in one direction with the most beautiful ornate looking shell, likely the cause of the trail. “That’s a Flail Snail” muttered Melech “their shells are worth a fortune”. “It’s big, I imagine more trouble than it’s worth, at least right now” I pointed out. “Agreed,” said Melech in turn. “Is it’s trail sensitive? can we touch it?”, I queried, but at that point, I heard a light tapping sound behind me. Turning around, Neddie was poking the trail with a stick. No reaction from the snail. “Better safe than sorry,” I said, backed up and took a running jump over it. I think I misjudged the distance because I came down on about the last foot or two of glass with a mighty crunch, shattering the portion beneath my feet. I whipped around. Still no sign of movement from the snail. I breathed a sigh of relief, just as Beiro came careening over the trail as well, just about clearing it. At this point, it seemed pretty obvious we were in the clear, so Baldwin and Melech just wandered over, leading the hirelings, making a slight crunch with every footstep. Baldwin leant down and picked up a shard of glass, examined it briefly, then stashed it in his pouch.

We soon came across a sunshine dappled glade and there, as if waiting for us, was a unicorn. Melech approached first and greeted it. A moment passed and he turned to us “It’s…telepathic, although it doesn’t understand common”. With a prod, Baldwin stepped forward, again wearing the crown, and started talking in Slyvan. “We have been sent by a hag to claim your horn, yet we mean you no harm. These ones have made a deal and we were looking for alternatives to release them from it”. When he finished, he dropped into a thoughtful look, as though acknowledging information. After a couple of moments he turned back to the rest of us “it says the deals are not as rigid as we seem to think, we’re not tied down by anything, only what we believe she can offer us.”

Melech started speaking in elven “Can you give us any guidance on how we might defeat her?”. His expression told me the unicorn had understood this time and was giving its response. Melech related what the unicorn had said “The unicorn is aware of the trouble she’s caused in the Northern woods. She draws her power from trickery like I would draw mine from the weave. She will take any advantage she can get and make elaborate plans to protect herself if she thinks she is in danger.”

“Is she drawing power from the dryad?” I asked as my first question, in Sylvan. “Not…exactly”. A smooth airy voice said in my head “The corruption of the dryad is a symptom, not the cause.” “Can the dryad still be saved?” I asked hopefully. “Unfortunately not, I believe she is too far gone, at this point the best thing for the forest is for her to be destroyed.” The voice said woefully “We were hoping to trick her through the wording of the deal, Do you happen to have like a drinking horn or a French horn you own?” I asked. The unicorn whinied, as though laughing at my question, the voice entered my head again “I’m a unicorn, I have no need for such things, besides where would I keep it?” Fair point.

“Is there some way she could be tracking us?” Melech started asking, seemingly with the same concerns I had had earlier, but then suddenly went pale, as if he’d suddenly realised the answer to his own question. He looked back at the unicorn and then a couple of moments later made a sudden movement towards it. The unicorn disappeared. There was another voice in my head, but it wasn’t the unicorn, it was Melech. “I think we’re being spied on, Old Mother Basket could’ve used your trinket to scry on us.” A lump formed in my throat. I’d been so blind to trying to get information on my mother that I hadn’t even thought the trinket might be used against us. “I…what do we do?” I responded mentally. “Stay as before, don’t let her know that we know and if you want to discuss anything privately, let me know, she shouldn’t be able to scry on these messages.” The message back said. “Is there any way we can know for sure?” Melech paused “I think see invisibility can be used to see scrying orbs, I gave you a scroll for that, didn’t I?”

I perhaps could’ve been more convincing, this was all quite sudden. I cast the spell and started to look around as if trying to see the unicorn through the trees. Nothing, no unicorn and no sign of a scry. I bent down to go through some things in my bag, then I saw it. An ethereal orb, just out the side of my vision, clearly following me. I signalled Melech. “Did you find something?” Came the voice “Yep, there’s some sort of orb following me” I responded in kind. “As suspected, in which case we need to be careful”. We made a vague show of frustration that the unicorn had vanished then made camp in the glade for the evening.

After an uneventful night, we traipsed back to our woodland home to work out what to do next. After pondering things for about 10 minutes, I heard the sound of shattering glass and Baldwin swearing. He’d found a glass ornament from the Fey Friend’s collection that could’ve been modified to look like a unicorn horn, to at least give us a reason to find Old Mother Basket again. On trying to remove the horn looking bit, however, he’d shattered the whole thing. We needed a different excuse. “Look, I think I should go and talk to her, I’ll see whether there’s anything else she’d take instead. If she gets mad it’s only one of us in trouble”. Melech looked a little confused about this sudden suggestion, then slowly started to realise what I might be doing “Yes,” he responded, “it’s worth a try”, then mentally “what’s the plan then?” “I go, as I say, to Old Mother Basket and tell her what happened and ask whether she has any other suggestions or options. Then, instead of staying here, you guys follow about 10 minutes behind. Don’t tell the hirelings what’s really going on until I leave”.

I made my way out of the house, along the river and past both sets of scarecrows, turning off and finding my way to where I was sure Old Mother basket’s cottage was, but…nothing, just an opening in the forest. I stopped, looking around. Either I was mistaken or we’d solved the mystery of the roaming cottage, so now what? I elected to wait and see if she showed up, she’d obviously know I was here. If I turned back I would run into the others and any chance of further chicanery would be out of the window. About ten minutes past and I heard a tussle in the undergrowth. Turning, expecting to see the rest of my party, I breathed a little sigh of relief on seeing Old Mother Basket hobbling out of the woods towards me.

“What are you doing out here on your own dear?” She called out “Oh, I’d come to find you, I thought your house was here though?” I responded sheepishly “Oh no, it’s just a little further along. Now, what was it you wanted to talk to me about?” “I…well, the unicorn got away and I think it knows our intentions, we won’t be able to catch it now.” “Too bad, I guess you’ll need to find another”. She was already seeming less kindly, impatient at whatever I was trying to pull or at the very least our lack of progress in the unicorn matter. “To be honest, I…I’m not sure I could even if we did find another. It’s not in my nature. Is there not some other favour you require?” “I asked for a unicorn horn, are you saying you don’t want to hear about your mother? Are you saying you want to break the deal?” “I…no..I do, I just, isn’t there anything else I could do? Can we not go back to your house to discuss this?” “We shall only meet in the cottage if you have something to offer and that doesn’t seem to be the case” “but…you said we were welcome to come for tea at any time”. At that moment, a twig snapped behind me. Old Mother Basket looked over my shoulder and smiled “Your friends are here”.

I turned. They were spreading out behind me and Baldwin already had an arrow notched. There clearly wasn’t any more chance of parlay. In a flash I drew my rapier and stabbed towards Old Mother Basket, but misjudged the strike from the suddenness of the situation. I backed up and started playing for Baldwin, who then struck true with not one, but two arrows. Old Mother Basket shimmered and her kind old lady exterior vanished, revealing the most reviling of hags, with sagging skin, long bedraggled hair and wiry fingers. Despite taking the arrows, she made a wide toothy grin, reached into a pouch and drew out my two soldiers. I grit my teeth, fully expecting a horrible curse to fell me, with the power of one of my treasured possessions. With a snap, she split it in two and threw the pieces on the ground, took a step back and from the ground grew two full size soldiers, nightmarishly similar to the toy, right down to one missing its head. I actually breathed a sigh of relief at this, as a child I’d had a lot of make-believe fights with these guys (it’s how the head incident happened), time to make those real too. “If I ever do find her, my mum’ll enjoy this story” I thought to myself with a slight grin. Beiro stepped forward to attack them and the hirelings fired a barrage of arrows, landing a handful of hits on the soldiers. Then, with a mutter, a gasp and what I’m sure was a flash of blood, Melech cast a spell I hadn’t seen before. A great explosion engulfed both the soldiers and Old Mother Basket, but Old Mother Basket emerged unscathed, with yet another toothy grin. Her own spells weren’t to be used against her…

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Baldwin Rumwald's Notes [12] - The Unweaving Begins

Sadly the drinking and dancing had to draw to a close as we needed to continue on and find the unicorn. The satyrs seemed genuinely sad that we had to leave. Before doing so we had another attempt at asking them some questions. This time we had more luck. They had never heard of Old Mother Basket but did give us possible location of a unicorn. They only told us because I was wearing the crown and thus could be considered a friend.

We headed south in search of the glade in which the satyrs had said the unicorn dwelled. A short time later we came across a large glass like trail across our path. Looking up the trail I saw an enormous snail. Melech informed us it was a Flail snail.

I jumped across the trail and pocketed a shard of glass from it. Could be useful at some point… We headed further south and came across the glade the satyrs had described. A unicorn was grazing seemingly unaware of our presence. I approached and spoke to it in Sylvan using the crowns ability. We had a lengthy discussion about the hag and her mission. The unicorn lead us to concluded the hag was probably not actually as powerful as we had assumed and was instead largely relying on trickery and cajolement.

Melech suddenly has an epiphany about Old Mother Basket and via magic message informs us she is probably scrying upon Amafey and by extension the rest of us. It explains how she always seemed one step ahead! We hatch a plan between us using Melechs message ability. We really have no choice but to kill her.

We staged an attempt to kill the unicorn which was actually a cover for Amafey to cast a spell revealing and thus confirming the scry. We would continue to pretend to be doing Mother Basket’s bidding while actually maneuvering in to kill her.

We headed back to the fey friend’s house pretending that we were returning for the night in order to set out again on the morrow to hunt for another unicorn. We openly discussed our predicament with the unicorn to keep Mother Basket misinformed of our true intentions. In morning Amafey, as planned using message headed out alone to find Mother Basket. The idea was for Amafey to distract her with a true but diversionary tale about not wanting to kill a unicorn and seeking a different agreement.

We followed about fifteen minutes behind and approached the spot where Mother Basket’s cottage was meant to be. The cottage was gone but Amafey was there speaking to mother basket. We hadn’t been stealthy enough and Mother Basket spotted us ruining our chances of a surprise attack!

Well nothing left to do but fight.

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Baldwin Rumwald's Notes [11] - Not so Motherly Basket

We arrived in Westpine in the late afternoon. We returned the cart we had hired to the carpenter and paid him his dues. We inquired after the tavern keeper and his wife and learned they had locked up and left in the past few days. He said he knew nothing about the reason, but his body language gave away that he was lying.

We headed over to the tavern and found it was indeed locked. Amafey, Melech and I headed around the back and found another door. It was also locked but Melech used one of his spells to open it. We search the tavern thoroughly but find nothing unexpected, though it was obvious they had packed up and left in a hurry.

We decided the best option was to head to the Fey Friend’s “house” even though it would probably be dark before we got there. This turned out to be a bad idea. As we neared the Fey Friend’s house we were beset upon by a swarm of bats. I swung my sword around trying to hit them but to no avail. The hired bandits took the brunt of the biting. The bats with their hunger sated flew off. Beiro, in some kind of crazy, ran off after them. He did return a short while later, proclaiming victory. I wasn’t so sure.

Some of the bandits were quite injured so it took a while longer to get to the house. On the way we saw a new pair of scarecrows. We gave them a wide birth, wanting to avoid further trouble.

I unlocked the front door and we entered. After quick scan around the house I was satisfied nothing was untoward. We ate dinner and then tapped one of the casks of ale. It wasn’t too bad a drink.

It was getting late so I went upstairs to sleep, as did the others. The bandits took the master bedroom between them, but I did managed to nab the bed in the second room.

In the morning I cleared out the larder of all the rotting food. Not a nice job but the smell was beginning to permeate to the rest of the house. As we ate breakfast and discussed our next move we heard a knock at the front door. I run up to the second floor to get a look through the murder holes. It was Mother Basket!

As I arrived back down stairs I found that Melech had let her in and was talking to her in the dinning room. I entered and stood in the corner as Amafey went in the kitchen to make tea. A rather tense conversation was taking place between Mother Basket and Melech. She was blatantly lying. I was tempted to call her out but Melech convinced me otherwise using his magic mind talking.

Amafey returned with tea and conversation turned to the favor owed to her by Amafey and Melech. She wants a horn of a unicorn! What kind of “Mother” is she? I had a very strong urge to slay her where she stood. But what if the others turned on me?

Beiro entered the room and mother basket took this as a cue to abruptly depart. Amafey tried to question her about the scarecrows but she swatted it aside with an obvious lie. Damn her insolence. Melech reworded the question to remove any possible ambiguity but she reaffirmed her statement with a curt response before swiftly departing.

We returned to the new scarecrows we noticed the night before. On closer inspection I noticed they wore the clothes of the missing tavern keeper and his wife. A sorrowful end.

Without any other plan and the vile power of Mother Basket obvious we had no choice but to seek out the unicorn horn. We headed south along the river bank. A short while later we heard the sound of pan pipes. Amafey whipped out her flute and began to play along. We found the source of the music in a clearing. A number of satyrs were joyfully playing and dancing. They greeted us and began handing around wine and ale. Never missing an opportunity for a drink I gladly accepted. An unexpected turn of events! We tried to ask questions of them but quickly gave up. They refused to talk of “dark” things.

Oh well, best get drunk and contemplate slaying a unicorn another time.

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Amafey's Notes [11] - The Little Old Lady Comes for Tea

Our night on the road passed without incident, as did the next day. The cows near Westpine seemed content, certainly not under imminent attack from griffins when we passed them. We wound our way back to Westpine and as we approached, all seemed how we had left it. I was worried that by the time we came back it would be overgrown with brambles or under siege by orcs, but this was not the case. As we entered Westpine, however, we noticed that the inn, The Moody Cow, was closed and had been shuttered up.

Our first call of business was to return the cart to the carpenter. We could hear the sound of wood being chopped coming from the back of the house, so we brought the cart straight to him and handed over the agreed payment (10 gold pieces! I’m not sure I’m going to trust Baldwin and Melech’s negotiation skills in the future). He didn’t know the whereabouts of the inn’s owners, just that they upped sticks and left a couple of days ago. He said he knew nothing of Old Mother Basket, but there was something strange about his response.

Melech and Baldwin wanted to break into the inn to check for clues and I’ll admit I was also curious. We checked around the back and found another door, also locked. Trying to break in there would draw less attention. I was just about to ask if any of our new hirelings had any lockpicking tools when Melech muttered something and a large knocking sound rang out across the whole village. “It’s unlocked,” he said proudly, as a couple of villagers poked their heads around the corner curiously. We acted nonchalant until any hubbub about the noise died down, then turned the handle and entered.

We found ourselves in the kitchen and it was already clear that anything of importance had been taken and the owners had left in a hurry. A thorough search of the rest of the inn yielded no other clues as to why they left or their next destination.

Regrouping in the square, we discussed where to head next. It was mid-afternoon, so setting up camp in the village and setting off the next day was an option. I suggested we should go south, away from the corruption, in the hope of finding more fairy folk willing to give us information or otherwise aid us in doing something about Old Mother Basket. Baldwin wanted to deal with things directly, get to the house tonight, then find Old Mother Basket in the morning. We agreed to try and make it to the house that night, even if we might have a bit of travel in the dark.

We followed the trail to the hall, then followed the stream to the north again. Night set in when we were still a little way from the house, but we pressed onwards. Suddenly, the sound of wings and chittering filled the air, as a swarm of bats set upon Warwick, who had been right behind me in our marching order. A glance to my left showed a couple more swarms headed in our direction under the cover of darkness. The air was soon filled with the sound of wings, furious swinging of swords and various explosions from Melech’s spells. I used my rapier as a bat skewer but soon noticed that our new hires were struggling in the darkness, unable to see in the dark and unprepared without torches. I took out my flute quickly, started playing and as I did, fired little beads of light out the end, in an attempt to shed some light on the situation. With this, I yelled encouragement to our new friends, it was just a bunch of bats, after all.

We were just starting to thin the ranks of the swarms when they set off into the woods again, either retreating or just bored, I wasn’t really sure. Beiro chased after one swarm, still swinging wildly and disappeared into the woods. Looking around, Melech and Baldwin appeared to be unscathed, although our new friends had not fared so well. Neddie, in particular, looked in fairly bad shape, but he was still standing. Beiro shortly crashed back out of the woods and we decided to push on towards the house. In our haste, however, we almost ran into two scarecrows. Two scarecrows, right by the path, with the same creepy stare as before. A different place though. It might have been dark but this definitely wasn’t where we saw them before. Had they moved, been moved or were they new? We got our answer a few minutes later as we found the original ones a short way further. We skirted around both sets, although Warwick locked eyes with one and froze. He got moving again shortly, but seemed completely fearful, as though the scarecrow had jinxed him somehow. Eventually, we made it to the house, unlocked the door and proceeded inside.

After a rather torrid night, I felt like our hirelings would appreciate a drink and I was interested to try the Fey friend’s beer myself. The kitchen had an ample supply of mugs, so I tapped a cask and spread the beer around. The ex-bandits were sat in awe over the thought that we owned this place and gladly accepted the beer. As expected, the beer was excellent and as we all drunk the previous horrors of the evening faded from mind. We had our dinner and turned in for the night.

Over breakfast, we discussed what to do next. Melech and I were of the opinion to delay, gather information and inspect the dryad before revisiting Old Mother Basket. Baldwin disagreed again, wanting to tackle things head-on. The decision was taken out of our hands though as, at that moment, there was a knock on the door. Baldwin went upstairs to try and spy on who it was, but Melech and I shared a knowing look. “Who is it?” Melech called out, entertaining other possibilities. “It’s me!” Cried our a raspy, slightly withered sounding voice “Old Mother Basket!”. As though it would be anyone else. I went and opened the door. “It’s good to see you!” I said, acting my best to keep up the pretence of friendliness as long as it benefits us, “how did you know we were here?” “Oh, I pay attention to things that happen around here,” she said dismissively, “How come you haven’t come to visit your old mother?” “Oh, we only got back very late last night, we were hoping to come see you today” I replied, genuine this time as even Baldwin hadn’t suggested visiting her last night. I suspect she knew the last bit was a lie though. “Can I get you some tea?” I asked, keen to give myself space to think and interested in gauging how she reacted to being offered tea herself. “That would be lovely” she responded and I proceeded into the kitchen to boil a pot of water, leaving her with Melech and Baldwin, who had just returned from upstairs.

After brewing up some tea with some leaves Melech had provided and finding some cups scattered about the kitchen, I returned to find the situation had soured somewhat. Melech had been trying to grill Old Mother Basket and he was getting impatient about the lack of answers while she was getting impatient about his digging. I set a cup of tea down for her and she gave me a toothy grin, “Right, I’ve decided what the favour you owe me is”. I gritted my teeth, at least we’d know the deal now, but it was unlikely to be good. “I’d like you to get me the horn of a unicorn.” Crap. That was bad on several counts. First, I had no idea where we’d find a unicorn and even if we did, I would have no interest in bringing harm to such a creature. “Do you know where we might find such a creature?” Melech asked, realising she might be sympathetic at least towards the first issue. “Well, I have heard that a unicorn roams deep in the woods to the south, perhaps you should search there”. She might have sensed the trepidation in the air and she reminded us what got us into this mess. “If you get that for me, I might have some information that might interest you about your mother. Alive, might I say. I might even have some information about your origins”, she said towards Beiro as he entered the room and just looked a little lost. She got to her feet slowly, “Well I’ll be off, enjoy your new home” grinning and motioning around the house. “Err, one last thing” I piped up, sensing the opportunity to dig into a new suspicion “Have you seen any more scarecrows popping up?”. She paused, “no, I can’t say I’ve bumped into any” she replied, somewhat carefully and I could see the corners of her mouth curling into a grin. I think Melech saw it too “Yes, but have you SEEN any?” Old Mother Basket rounded on him “I meant what I said” she said abruptly, “now I must bid you good day!” And she shuffled quickly out the door, slamming it behind her with a surprising amount of force for a frail-looking old lady. I sighed with relief at her leaving. At least we knew what we had to do now…
We followed the river back south, along our now well-trodden path, but then continued south upon reaching the hall. If we reached the main river, we should be able to follow that right into the heart of the woods. As we pressed on the woods became thicker, but more luscious. No brambles, no sign of corruption this far south. Perhaps I had worried too much about the rate of its spread, we still had plenty of time to do something about it.

As we headed deeper, the unmistakable sound of pan pipes started filtering through the trees. On instinct, I reached for my own flute and started to play a response in harmony to the original tune. As I started up, the original music paused, likely surprised by the response, but then renewed itself. I struggled to keep up with the fast pace of the exquisite flow of the tune, being far more used to playing on my own. It was getting louder as we approached and I led the rest of the group towards the source of the sound. We came across a small clearing with a handful of satyrs, playing music and dancing. Upon entering the clearing, both I and the playing satyrs bought out music to a crescendo and finished the song.

“That’s some pretty good flute playing there,” one of them said. “Why thank you,” I said, curtsying
slightly, “it’s so nice to hear other music out here in the woods.” “Adventurers!” The others cried, seeing the rest of the party emerge from the trees and as if from nowhere produced full mugs of ale and wine and started handing them around. “Are you not afraid of the corruption in the north?” I asked. “Or seen any Orcs?” Baldwin added “Those are bad things! Drink and be merry instead” one of the satyrs said, handing me a mug of ale. I decided to take their advice, not worry for a bit and enjoy myself and took my turn to tell stories to the group. The atmosphere was infectious and despite being hesitant at first the others all soon joined in on the dancing and revelry. “See? This adventuring lark isn’t all bad!” I yelled at Neddie and his crew, still looking out of their depth out here in the wilds. It certainly made a change of pace and it felt like the best idea just to sing and dance and drink forever and not worry about Old Mother Basket or the forest dryad or Orcs ever again…

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Baldwin Rumwald's Notes [10] - Notched Blade

After acquiring a new shield, longbow and some supplies I headed to the barracks to speak to Harvey Springman. He was however not much help. He couldn’t provide me with any information about the fall of Norcragden nor was he interested in helping out with the bandit issue. Not much of a “Captain of the guard”. I wouldn’t want to be in Coombesgate if it ever got attacked.

I head back to the Fallow Sow and settle down to an afternoon of playing cards and drinking. I managed to win a few games but the winnings were hardly worth writing home about. Beiro was also around, keeping to himself as usual.

In the evening Amafey arrived back at the Tavern for her performance. I noticed Smordin was now in the Tavern and headed over to talk to him about getting a sword made in exchange for the master work token. Beiro followed me over and between us we agreed to get a longsword made and that it would take around 10 days. I mentioned that I was also an aspiring blacksmith. Smordin seemed somewhat amused by this, I guess he didn’t think I would be any kind of competition. Anyway it’s not if I had the tools and more coin can be made by fighting these days. Smordin mentioned that Melech had wished him to translate some of Dwarven writing he had. As he didn’t seem to be about I offered to go get him.

After collecting Melech from upstairs we headed back towards Smordin’s table. Some of the stewards men were trying to curry favor with him. Presumably they wanted new weapons. Melech’s presence seemed to upset them somewhat. harsh words were exchanged and I half thought I would have to bash some heads in. Smordin however managed to deescalate the situation by stating he wound’t make weapons for any of the men if they caused Melech harm. The marched off and left us alone.

Not that interested in Dwarven fairy stuff I went back to drinking. It certainly was getting crowded it seemed Amafey was on top form tonight. Just after midnight I headed up to bed.

The next day we woke early and deliberated about what to do with the day ahead. I acquiesced to Amafey plan, I didn’t really have my own after all. Amafey and I first disguised ourselves before heading to the Notched Blade tavern. I wasn’t convinced of the need but it couldn’t hurt.

We got to the tavern and found the bandits. After a short exchange we convinced them to follow us back to the square where Beiro and Melech were waiting. We revealed who we were, they seemed genuinely surprised. Obviously not the most observant bunch. Introductions were made and a discussion ensued. After eliminating other options it was decided we would hire them as extra swords. I objected but was out voted by the rest of the group. I would have to keep a close eye on them.

We bought the required extra tents and supplies, loaded up the cart and set off back to Westpine. I was at the back of the group expecting them to turn on us once out the city. However the journey was uneventful and we made camp at the nightfall. The following morning we continued on to Westpine.

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Amafey's Notes [10] - New Hires

I left Melech in the library as there were a few things I needed to do around town before the evening’s performance. I restocked on my dwindling ration supply and picked up a healing kit to try and avoid any more close calls. Baldwin had passed his old short bow onto me, as he was getting an upgrade, so I also picked up a quiver and a bundle of arrows. After being rudely turned away from using the barracks for some archery training, I returned back to Melech in the library.

“Did you dig up anything else?” I whispered, finding him towards the back hidden by a couple of towers of books. “Yes, actually” he responded happily, obviously at home here. “I decided to look up some past orc invasions and see whether the matching war paint has come up before. Well, it has, typically whenever there’s a particularly strong war chief, other orcs will rally under them, copy their war paint and follow under their rule. I think the same thing is happening again, hence why the orcs seem so organised.” I nodded, agreeing with the conclusion, then smiled wryly. “I think you mean orc-anised”. Melech just glared at me. “Anyway, come on!” I started, poking his shoulder, “Smokey’s queue is getting a lot shorter and I thought you wanted those notes translated.” Melech’s eyes lit up, “Oh, yes!”, he put down the book and followed me.

We found Smordin in the square with a handful of the steward’s men still queueing to get their swords sharpened. We queued up behind them, but it wasn’t long before Smordin spotted us and beckoned up forwards. “Good to see you lass! what do you need?” The soldier whose sword was next looked a bit disgruntled about having been queue jumped. “Well, we were hoping to bump into the others while we were waiting, as I imagine one of them will make the best use of your master work, but I’d like a couple of daggers if you’ve got any spare” “Sure, sure, I’ll see what I can find. You’re not getting these for free too mind” he chuckled. “Oh I wouldn’t think of paying anything other than full price for your handiwork” I beamed back. “I also have some notes in dwarven I was hoping you might be able to help with” Melech added, passing over one of the sheets of notes. Smordin took a glance at it while rummaging in his cart “I’m a bit busy at the moment to play translator, but…” he flipped the page upside-down and squinted slightly “come find me in the inn later, buy me a drink and I’ll see what I can do” he said, handing the page back. “Here we are!” Smokey exclaimed, pulling two daggers out and handing them over. “That’ll be 10 gold pieces”. I handed the money over, Melech and I both thanked him and headed back to the inn for the evening.

That evening’s performance was one of my best ever. Building on the strength of my previous performance at The Fallow Sow, I mixed old and new, fast and slow. I debuted “When last we left our heroes”, an improv storytelling exercise, which went down fantastically. I made sure my friends and I were all supplied with food and drink and a very enjoyable night of revelry was had by all.

We reconvened bright and early the next day over breakfast in the inn. It seems none of us had overdone it too much the night before. “I was going to go and collect those bandits from the Notched Blade before we go to Westpine” I proposed. “We should all go”. Melech said authoritatively. I countered, having already thought through this “Actually, I was hoping to go alone, disguise myself, just make sure we’re not being led into a trap. The fewer of us the better, as we’re all quite recognisable”, my gaze resting on Melech’s horns. I was also aware my golden eyes stood out like a sore thumb in more human areas too. “I still think I should come, it’s a bit of a rough area” Baldwin offered. I thought for a moment “As an old guard around here, they’re probably most likely to recognise you, although…if I did something about that scar with my disguise kit it would probably do most of the work of covering you up.” Baldwin agreed to my ‘changes’ and we set off towards The Notched Blade

Baldwin led the way, knowing his way around town. As we continued through the streets, I could see the houses getting smaller, more stacked on top of each other, leading to almost slums, people creating living space in any nook and cranny. The smell was getting worse too. We soon found The Notched Blade crammed between two other buildings and I could see why Drebky had warned us away from coming here. It was pretty much the definition of the word shady. I made sure my hood was pulled over my face as much as possible, nodded at Baldwin and we proceeded inside.

The inn was dark. Even mid-morning when it was bright outside, very little of the natural light filtered through. There was a grubby bar with an innkeeper, a small group that I immediately noticed were the bandits I’d asked to meet us here and otherwise it was empty. I guess even in a place like this, few people would be drinking quite so early. I pointed out the group to Baldwin and shuffled over.

Making my way over to the group, I prepared my best street urchin voice. “‘Ello there lads, I don’t suppose a lively group of adventurers asked you to meet them here”. They looked up “Maybe,” the one who had appeared to be the leader before shrugged, “what’s it to you?” “Well, they sent me to come pick you up, they’re waiting in the central square”. They looked surprised “they said they were going to meet us here”. “Change of plans,” I said, not thinking of anything better on the spot. The leader gave a bit of a shrug “Well, no point waiting around here all day. C’mon you lot”

We made our way back to the main square, with me leading the way, but Baldwin shuffling around at the back. I was aware he wasn’t giving these ex-bandits an inch and wanted to keep an eye on both our backs. “They hiring you too, then?” one of them asked me. “Oh, no, just gave me a couple o’ coin to come get you” I replied, keeping up the illusion for the time being. “They seem to be pretty liberal with their coin, I guess that’s a good sign for us” one of them reasoned. We found Melech and Beiro as agreed in the square, greeted them, then removed my cloak and smeared some of the make-up off my face, revealing my true identity to them. They looked genuinely shocked. “Sorry about that,” I said, returning to my normal voice with a cough “we just wanted to make sure we weren’t walking into a trap. That inn would be your kind of territory after all”

I introduced myself fully and then went around introducing the individual members of the group. After a couple of awkward stares at Melech, the leader went round and introduced the bunch of ex-bandits. His name was Neddie the Knuckles, the one with an eyepatch was called One-Eyed Dennis, another had a great big bushy beard and was known as Silent Gregory, the shadiest of the bunch was Cheating Warwick and the sole female of the group, a fairly burly lass, was known as Kya Black-Eye.

Introductions aside, we discussed our options. They weren’t open to going North to battle the orcs, accurately pointing out they could’ve done that already if they felt like getting promptly squished. They were also unwilling to turn on their own allies and take down the main bandit camp they had come from original, making a point of not wanting to stab their friends in the back. I’m not sure whether this is good or bad for us, not wanting to turn on other bandits, but hopefully not wanting to stab us in the back either?

This left the option of them accompanying us back to Westpine and the Fey Woods. “If we’re travelling we’ll need a tent. And food!” Neddie pointed out. Rations tend to cost us five silver pieces a day, meaning this would pretty much double the cost. I heard a voice in my head, “This deal is getting worse” Melech’s message said. I turned back to the bandits, realising this was an opportunity to renegotiate “How about 3 silver pieces each per day and we masked sure you get fed”. This seemed agreeable. “And what about the tents?" Melech pointed out “Lighten up, the situation is just two tents,” I said with a big grin. Melech sighed. It didn’t take long to buy what we needed and we set off back towards Westpine

Our journey was peaceful and without incident. No new bandits had set up in the copse yet and the skies seemed clear. Talking to the ex-bandits it sounded like they had taken to stealing from falling on bad times, struggling to find any other way to survive and put food on the table. They were all pretty young, I imagine most don’t last long in their old line of work.

As we set up camp for the night, it was quickly obvious they didn’t know what to do with the tent. Baldwin and I helped out, while Beiro scavenged some last bits and pieces for dinner. We’d realised he should be able to cover for himself and our hirelings, which should keep the costs down, although the rest of us would have to keep up our ration stocks for now. We turned in for the night, agreeing to pair up with one member of each party for each watch.

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