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  #1  
Unread 31st of May, 2010, 03:07
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Chapter 1: Stolen Lands

Be it so known that the bearer of this charter has been charged
by the Swordlords of Restov, acting upon the greater good and
authority vested within them by the office of the Regent of the
Dragonscale Throne, has granted the right of exploration and travel
within the wilderness region known as the Greenbelt. Exploration should
be limited to an area no further than 12 miles east, further than 48 miles west,
and no further than 60 miles south of Oleg's Trading Post. The carrier of this charter
should also strive against banditry and other unlawful behavior to be encountered.
The punishment for unrepentant banditry remains, as always, execution by sword or rope.

So witnessed on this 24th day of Calistril, under watchful eye of the Lordship of Restov
and authority granted by Lord Noleski Surtova, current Regent of the Dragonscale Throne.
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  #2  
Unread 13th of July, 2010, 08:55
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It was late in the afternoon on the 30th of Calistril, the last day of winter, when the band arrived. They had been brought together in Restov, those who had answered the call for adventurers to explore the so-called Stolen Lands.

The charter read that they were to explore and travel the area known as the Greenbelt, named for the lush vegetation that covered the area.

The journey had been uneventful, first leaving Restov and then travelling west and south to Oleg's Trading Post. As the group approached, they could catch sight of the rough hewn logs of the post, the sound of a hammer striking wood, and the welcome smell of fresh cooked meat and bread.

The trading post was little more than a run-down frontier fort, obviously converted to its current purpose. The portcullis had been removed, and its place a few rough hewn logs attached to ropes that enabled them to be lowered and lifted served as a barricade to wild animals.

A young woman of about twenty or so years, and pretty enough in a plain sort of way, stood waiting in the entrance of the trading post. She waved a hand, half in hope and half in trepidation.

"So you'd be the adventurers we've heard tell about," she said. "Oleg, my husband, is up on the roof to the guest house, making some repairs. You'll be here about the bandits then? Come in, come in, I've got some stew and bread, and I even managed to convince Oleg to let me open a bottle of wine for our guests."
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  #3  
Unread 13th of July, 2010, 10:57
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Vanick stepped forward and addressed the woman. "Hot food and newly opened wine? Excellent. Beats trail rations and sore feet. Lead the way, and I'll be right behind."
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  #4  
Unread 13th of July, 2010, 11:04
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Makoa kept to the back, and kept his words to himself, but he nodded at Vanick's words. The trek wasn't too rough on him, but creature comforts would be nice.
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Unread 13th of July, 2010, 13:03
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Mattin tucked a notebook in one of his many coat pockets, taking a look at the road behind him.

Well, as beginnings go, this one is humble enough.

It was easy just now to remember why he had decided to take on this particular venture. He was at home well enough in a city; he'd grown up in a few of them, after all. There was something refreshingly honest about the wilderness, though. A bear might try to eat you, or a bandit might try to take your purse or even slit your throat open, but you never worried that either was involved in intrigues.

He raised a hand in friendly salute to the woman.

"We are the ones, madam, and we thank you for the hospitality."

Using his spear as a walking staff, Mattin followed Vanick and the others in.
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  #6  
Unread 13th of July, 2010, 13:57
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Kayel, just dismounting from her riding mule, hurried to the head of the group when beckoned, and cut directly in front of Mattin. It was clearly intentional, but didn't touch her smile.
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  #7  
Unread 13th of July, 2010, 14:26
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Lynn smiled her usual thin smile, and glanced at the tall elf to her right. He grinned back, effortlessly communicating with a nod that he had a handle on things, and so she just turned to follow alongside Makoa, leaving the elf.

Seh just shook his head, grabbing the reins of Kayel's mule before it could start being stroppy, and took up the rear, easily herding the groups various animals to their proper places and arranging to keep them cared for while the rest of the group focused on whatever silly thing they were going to.
As the group headed for their lodgings, Seh's eyes slid to focus on the stables. Probably atrocious in there, nobody ever worries about the horses.

Lynn was walking in the middle of the group, her eyes constantly scanning the complex, her mind on guard for whatever might pop up, assessing threats, escape routes, and possible weapons.
A part of her was also keeping an eye out for any unattended shinies, but the risk here was fairly high. and these people's goodwill quite important.
Also she was a guest. Too rude.
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  #8  
Unread 15th of July, 2010, 11:49
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Two tables were set up outside, set with plates and cups enough for all. The woman, who introduced herself as Svetlana, made sure to open a second bottle of wine for the group as they settled to eat. The man remained on the roof and seemed to be attacking the roof with a renewed vigor.

"So," the woman said, a nervous edge in her voice, "you'll be ready come tomorrow then? To deal with the bandits that is?"
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  #9  
Unread 15th of July, 2010, 12:57
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"Indeed."

Mattin swirled the contents of his cup idly, wrinkling his nose slightly at the aroma. It wasn't as sweet as most Issian vintages, but there was something refreshing about that. He very nearly pulled his notebook out to catalog the differences, yet repressed the urge at the last moment.

"We have some questions about their activities, of course. Have they made appearances near this post, or are they plaguing the back roads? Do they have a particular method operandi? In other words, do they favor certain sorts of ambushes and certain sorts of victims? And do they seem to have any sort of central authority or hub of activity?"

The questions rolled one over the other with barely a pause. Meanwhile, Mattin was considering the wine in his cup after a careful second taste. There was definitely a tang to it.
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Unread 15th of July, 2010, 13:31
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Lynn drained her cup quickly, setting it down and leaning back.
She focused on the woman, trying to get a better read on her.

As Mattin paused, she held up the golden key, waving it briefly. Actual Arbiters of Abadar were somewhat rare.
"Also, if you have any particular arguments floating around, I can help."
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  #11  
Unread 15th of July, 2010, 15:54
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Makoa ate from his food slowly, and took a few sips of wine. Being around these people from the city made him feel a bit uneasy. They were always rushing, rushing, rushing. What was the hurry?

Shrugging, he turned his attention to the stew, looking for the patterns in the bubbles and the swirls.

After a few moments of this, he pointed his finger at the stew and mumbled a few words. A portion of the stew lifted up into the air, uncoiling like a piece of string. It then contorted a bit this way and that, as Makoa followed various patterns, before falling quickly back into the bowl.

Makoa looked around guiltily. His mother had taught him not to play with his food...

[OOC: Cast mage hand on the stew.]

Last edited by Explosive Cheese; 15th of July, 2010 at 16:10.
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  #12  
Unread 16th of July, 2010, 01:12
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Vanick slurped the stew and belched. "Urm. 'Scuse me." Followed by another rude belch. "Oh, now that feels better. My pardon to you all. It's just, you know, wine and stew sit heavier than tack and dried fruits. Urrrp! Lord's bless, I think that one did the trick."

The heavily armored man turned his attention to the woman. Oh, there goes that hulk with the stupidly long spear. Heavens forbid he let the girl answer a question before he plows right on into the next. Instead of trying to slow the speed-demon down, Vanick relaxed back and watched the goings-on. He downed a glass of wine and then another, and slowly sank even further into his chair. He didn't drink to excess, and hadn't in some time, but it certainly took the edge off and quieted his inner thoughts. He sat there and waited for Mattin to take a breath, hoping the woman was able to answer at least a question or two before the big spear-wielder managed to talk himself into a coma.
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  #13  
Unread 21st of July, 2010, 09:45
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"I'll say we've some activity." It was the man that had been recently on the roof, his hands covered in a tarry pitch, and he had obviously been sweating despite the coolness of the air.

"First of the month they come, demanding their protection money." He spat on the hard packed dirt of the ground. "Came, threatened to take away Svetlana, threatened to burn my place down if I didn't give them a share of the skins and trade goods."

"I'm Oleg, and if you were here to deal with the bandits, I'd have thought they'd have told you all this already. As it is, they are due here tomorrow for their tribute. Now I have to ask, what are you going to do about it?"
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  #14  
Unread 21st of July, 2010, 12:38
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"Kill them."
Lynn smiled, her eyes flicking up to the left and right as if consulting something from memory.
"Yes... I'm fairly sure, in this area, persons observed actively pursuing banditry can be put to death. They may request mercy from Restov and or Surtova, but they must specifically request mercy, we are not required to offer it, nor are we required to declare ourselves and grant them an opportunity to repent beforehand."

She paused, still thinking. Her smile had faded.
"Also, I believe we have been granted leave to act as we see fit in terms of minor crimes, things like small-scale murder or banditry, though the charter is, frankly, too short and rather ambiguous. All around, I'm sure nobody would complain if we simply killed them."
She grinned. "Of course, easier said than done, I'm sure. If they're coming to us, it would make things simpler, and although I might be wrong I suspect there would be only a portion of their total group coming here at one time. How many are there, and how confident would you feel about extending your knowledge of trapping animals to laying traps for the bandits?"

Last edited by zachol; 21st of July, 2010 at 12:41.
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  #15  
Unread 23rd of July, 2010, 01:37
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"Fine by me," Oleg replied. "There's even a reward for killing bandits, and I'd like nothing more than to string them up outside my post as a warning to the rest of those maggots." He pointed to a series of faded wanted posters nailed up on the wall of the building he had been repairing the roof of. "You need to kill or capture six of them, but the sword lords are offering four hundred gold if you do."

He scratched at the few day's growth of beard he had. "As for how many, well the first time they came, that was three months ago, it was about a dozen of them. They had this scary woman with them, she had a pair of hatchets and damn near took my hand off at the wrist. As it was they took my wife's wedding band as 'payment' for not cutting it off. She had this other man with her, wore a hood. He didn't seem the sharpest tool in the shed. Next time they came, a month later, it was just the man and six other bandits, and last month he just came with four. Hopefully that bitch with the hatchets won't be with them.

He looked askance at Lynn. "You seem to have mistaken me for a trapper, girl. I'm a trader, hence why this is Oleg's Trading Post. I'm no trapper and have never pretended to be one. I'm willing to be bait for the trap though, if it gets them to lower their guard."
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  #16  
Unread 23rd of July, 2010, 07:24
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Lynn smiled. "Ah, my mistake. I haven't spent much time outside the city. I was perhaps assuming people out here can do everything."
"So... perhaps five or six bandits. What if we simply leave the door open, have our group hide, you act as if nothing is wrong, besides the obvious, then as they come in, we all pop out from around the corners, kill them."

She nodded at Seh, who was observing from the stables. "My friend has some experience with trapping. I have a pair of bear traps, and I assume you have more as well. We could... hm, I don't know, cover them with something? I've done that sort of thing before, with loose floorboards, but that usually takes some time to prepare."
After a moment of thought, "Two other things. First, they do come in here, right? Or do they demand you come out to meet them? And second, is there a way to quickly close the gate there?"
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  #17  
Unread 28th of July, 2010, 19:37
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Seh quickly signed back to Lynn that he was being paid to watch the horses, not to help trap bandits.

Oleg nodded. "I have three bear traps in stock at the moment." He looked around at the hardpacked earth of the fort's courtyard. "It would take quite a while to set up though and make it look natural, and they are due here tomorrow, shortly after dawn. To answer your other questions, they do come in here, and the ropes that lift and lower the barricade could be cut, but it would be a mighty effort to move it again."
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  #18  
Unread 29th of July, 2010, 22:29
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Mattin wasn't exactly transcribing the conversation word-for-word, but he had brought quill to paper as soon as Oleg started speaking. After a minute or two, he was pretty sure he had the gist of it.

He cleared his throat, setting down the quill carefully. He gestured with his free hand toward the open space between all the Post's buildings.

"That is the killing field. The traps can be hidden easily in the dirt so that the leading bandits don't see them until it is too late. We can all hide behind or inside the buildings until our intentions are clear to them. If you don't want to damage the barricade, I would suggest two of us circle around behind the bandits to cut off their escape."
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Unread 30th of July, 2010, 05:52
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"I'd like to look at the door mechanism myself. Keep it as an option, depending on how the bandits react."
Lynn stands, circling the inner open space.
"This would be a good spot for traps... if we can hide them well enough. If we don't have the time, they should be a bit further out, so that the bandits don't notice them too early."
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Unread 30th of July, 2010, 06:04
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As the discussion continued, Makoa finished his meal in silence. He had little to contribute as far as planning went. He tried to listen at first, but the details didn't interest him too much, so his mind started to wander.

He watched Lynn's pacing, drawing it's shape in his mind, computing the area inside it, transforming it, analyzing it...

His mind eventually returned to his immediate surroundings, and he hefted his staff. He might not be able to help formulate a plan, but he would be ready to aid the others in defeating the outlaws and bringing them to justice.
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Unread 17th of August, 2010, 11:55
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The morning dawned clear if cold, and the band of adventurer's knew that the morning would bring battle.

Lynn had spent the previous night setting up her traps, nearly obsessing over them until they had reached her level of approval. She still felt that they could be better, but contented herself that the bandits would be taken in.

Oleg was willing to go along with the plan, to a point. He steadfastly refused to put his wife in anything resembling danger, insisting that she stay within their living quarters with the door barred.

"Hail the outpost!" came the cry nearly an hour after dawn. Lynn, from her vantage point atop the palisade could see four figures on horseback, and leading two additional packhorses. They dismounted just outside the outpost and entered past the outpost.

"Oi! Oleg! This how you treat an old friend?" The bandits were scruffy, dirty, and the adenturers had to be glad that they weren't standing down wind.

"You are no friend of mine, Happs Bydon," Oleg replied. "Com take your tribute, and I hope you choke on it."

The bandits face twisted into a sneer of contempt and he strode forward... and strait in the jaws of a waiting beartrap. "Ahhh my leg! It's got my leg!" he cried, the jaws of the trap snapping shut and crushing his knee in its steel grip.

The ambush was sprung.

[ooc:
Bandits fail their perception checks. Happs Bydon, the leader, stumbles into the jaws of a bear trap. Takes 10 damage and movement is halved. If you don't like where you ended up, well you shouldn't have left it to me. And go by the dark black lines. I utterly failed at getting the grid lines to line up properly with the ones already on the image.

Initiative:

Makoa 16
Bandits 12
Lynn 11
Kayel 9
Mattin 7
Vanick 5
Happs 3]
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  #22  
Unread 17th of August, 2010, 12:53
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Lynn grinned deeply, extremely pleased her trap had been so effective. Unfortunately, she had needed to hide behind the one bunkhouse, and couldn't actually see the bandit's face, but his scream was sufficient.
Only four bandits, hmm? We could probably afford...
"Spare the leader! Kill the rest!"

Lynn moved across the walkway, south, her crossbow training on one of the other three bandits. She was really hoping they would try to fan out, think that was the only trap.
Really, she was hoping they would try something clever, something new and unexpected. The past few weeks had been so painfully boring. She had restrained herself from starting anything in Grayhaven with those damn dwarves laughing at Seh, or at Stetven, or especially at Restov, with that sneering bastard Surtova leering at her, asking if the fair maiden from Port Ice could really handle herself in the woods.
But now there were finally some cowards that she could kill, freely. She wouldn't mind a few missed or glancing shots, or taking a few arrows herself. She wanted this to last.

[Move to U24, use judgment (healing: fast healing 1, 2 next round, 3 following rounds)]
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Last edited by zachol; 19th of August, 2010 at 14:25.
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  #23  
Unread 19th of August, 2010, 09:38
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Mattin bolted out of the stables, spear slung over one shoulder. He skidded across the open ground in the middle of the trading post, coming to a halt directly in front of the wounded bandit leader.

Swinging the polearm around into a readied position, he called out, "surrender now and things will go easier on you! Not much easier, mind."

[single move to N16]
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  #24  
Unread 19th of August, 2010, 21:28
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Vanick ran out to meet the bandits, leaping to the table top on his way. When he landed, he turned to face the leader of the crew. Vanick smiled, then banged on his shield and yelled, "Bring it on, chumps!"

[Move to O18 via P22, P21, O19, O18--should be 20ft. It's not really a jump, as he can step onto the bench and then the table.
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  #25  
Unread 22nd of August, 2010, 15:35
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Makoa stepped out from behind the bunkhouse, his staff in hand and spells in mind. Ambushing did not sit right with him, but these bandits deserved no respect.

[Move to U6.
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