Campaign of the Month: September 2018

Shadows of the Rift

Rage and Raven: Poachers (Part One)

Part One


14 Growth 508

The The Green Lady , captained by Landon Masrath, pulls into the harbor at Crownport. Rhain, Lenoria, Alun, and Kerra have spent their time on the ship negotiating their shares of the treasures left from their adventures in Tarsas. Once they get into the city, they plan on selling some goods, and getting some magic items appraised.

The port authorities ask if they have anything to declare. They do not. There is a gate tax of four copper pieces per person. The party takes their leave of the crew and they step off onto the docks at Crownport.

It is a pleasant morning in the city. The party splits up, as Alun and Kerra actually live in Crownport with their family. Lenoria asks if there is the possibility of staying the night with them instead of paying for a room. Kerra furrows her brow, but Alun speaks up and says that “We would, but our parent’s house is quite small. You wouldn’t be comfortable.”

Lenoria and Rhain head to Silvercask’s Nimble Cartwright to stay the night. It is the modest inn in the market district at which they had stayed the last time they were in town. They put away their things and then head out into the market place to do business with Kerra and Alun. Once there, they find that they are in a seller’s market—Crownport is going through an inflationary period economically. Unfortunately, it also makes local goods and services more expensive to purchase.

After the general marketplace, they head to the University district to see a scriptorium about their magical scrolls. “The Dragon’s Scriptorium” is nestled between two crowded buildings there. It is furnished well with dwarven-wrought furniture and cases. It is run by a chubby half-elf. Lenoria presents three scrolls, one for Fog Cloud, which she wishes to sell, and two for Bull’s Strength, which she wishes to get a price for. She offers 16 gold for the Fog Cloud and prices the Bull’s Strength at 125 gold. Lenoria decides to go ahead and sell the Bull’s Strength scrolls to the shopkeeper. They also get directions to a potion shop called “Saerondor & Gyle’s Apothecary”.

Before heading to the apothecary, there is a discussion about whether or not to determine what their vials of potions do before selling them off. Rhain is for finding out if they are useful first. Kerra is in agreement, as are the others. The party then attempts to identify the nature of the potions they are carrying. They fail to identify one of the potions, though Kerra is pretty sure it’s water. They then draw straws and pick the potions amongst each other. Lenoria’s worship of a goddess of chance serves her well and she draws first pick. In the end, they decide not to go to the apothecary.

After their business is completed at the marketplace, they convene to split out their proceeds of coin. The remainder funds are used to purchase “rats on a stick”, street food, for everyone for the day. They see some of the sites of the city, but not King’s Lake, as it is a bit out of the way and probably costs money. Finally, Kerra and Alun say their goodbyes and the party splits up, the Lanyons going one way, and Rhain and Lenoria going another.

Rhain and Lenoria return to Silvercask’s to discuss their future plans. Do they stay in Crownport or move south to Kalimsport and look for work? In the end, they decide to look for work here in Crownport. Lenoria goes out to find information on any kind of adventuring jobs they can find.

Lenoria learns of a job in need of “discrete” workers. Inquiries can be made of a man named Stavros at a tavern called The Sly Toad. Intrigued, she and Rhain decide to check it out.

The Sly Toad is a bit of a dive bar on the Lake Road. It is marked by a sign depicting a fat toad with a lecherous wink on its face. The bar is busy, with a lot of hustle and bustle going on. Lenoria can spot several tables where “business” is clearly being conducted. Lenoria goes to the barkeep and asks, “Where is Stavros?”

The barkeep, a jowly fellow with thick mutton-chops, looks at her and asks, “Who wants to know?”

“Rumor is that he is looking for work. We may be able to help with that,” Lenoria says agreeably.

“Well, lots of people are looking for Stavros,” the barkeep says.

Lenoria makes a silver appear on the counter. It disappears and the barkeep says, “He’s at the back of the room. Big mustache.”

Rhain and Lenoria head to the back of the common room. At one of the tables they see a heavy-set Kuskar with a thick black mustache. Stavros looks up to see Lenoria smiling at him. Rhain does not. “Are you Stavros?” Lenoria asks.

“I might be.”

“I heard you might be looking for some work. People who can be discrete,” Lenoria says.

“In a manner of speaking, I’m vetting applicants,” Stavros says.

“My friend and I here are interested. What exactly does this vetting process entail?” Lenoria asks.

“Have a seat,” Stavros says, indicating the chairs, and Lenoria and Rhain take chairs at the table.

“Have either of you done any bounty work?” Stavros asks.

“Of course,” Rhain says, very convincingly.

“Not specifically,” Lenoria says. “I’m good at retrieving what I go after, though.”

“Have you performed work in which you’ve had to avoid…entanglements…with the City Watch?” Stavros asks.

“Yeah,” Rhain says. “My day to day. They charge you money to go anywhere and do anything.”

Lenoria just laughs at the question. Stavros smiles appreciatively at Rhain’s response.

“You,” Stavros points at Rhain, “I can guess at your skill-set. Tell if I’m wrong. You seem to be a bit of scrapper. A bruiser. Am I right?”

“Oh yeah,” Rhain says.

“You,” Stavros points at Lenoria," what do you bring to the table?"

“I’m a priestess of Imtiau if that helps,” Lenoria says. “So I bring the luck of my goddess.”

“I don’t know that goddess,” Stavros says.

“I’m originally from Sianae,” Lenoria says, by way of explanation.

“So you have spells?” Stavros asks.

“She’s a goddess of luck and trickery, so I have a particular set of spells and skills,” Lenoria says.

“Hmmm,” Stavros says, rubbing his chin.

“My employer has a job that requires some discretion, some working around the authorities, and involves a bounty. Are you interested so far?” Stavros asks.

“Sure,” Rhain says.

“Discretion as far as just keeping our mouths shut or as far as being unmemorable, my friend and I?” Lenoria asks.

“Keeping your mouths shut and keeping yourselves out of entanglements,” Stavros says.

“Ah, alright,” Lenoria says, satisfied.

“Alright. If you wish to hear more details and are still interested, I’ll set up a meet with my employer as you’ve been the best applicants I’ve had. I tell you what, why don’t you go to this address,” and he pulls out a small card with an address written on it, “at nine bells. My employer will meet you there.”

“Who are we looking for?” Rhain asks.

“My employer would prefer to remain nameless,” Stavros says. “Part of the discretion.”

“Anything we can know that we’re meeting the right person? That this isn’t some kind of set up?” Lenoria asks. “We’re not from here; I can’t tell if this address is the docks, somebody’s house, or what.”

“It’s an abandoned shop in the market district,” Stavros says. “I’ll be with him.”

“That works then. Nine bells it is,” Lenoria says.

Lenoria and Rhain leave. At this point it is close to seven bells. They head back to Silvercasks’s and wash the sea brine and road dust off their face with a hot bath. They then get ready to make their appointment.

Down in the common room, they notice that Eva, a former traveling companion from their days as caravan guards, is in the common room. Rhain comes up to her and says “Hey.”

“Hey!” she says and leans back in her chair.

“Can I sit?” Rhain asks.

“Have a seat,” Eva says.

“What are you up to?” Rhain asks.

“A little time between gigs,” Eva says.

“Just got back from Tarsas, myself.” Rhain says. “Imth.”

“Oh. Never been to Tarsas. Heard it was a bad deal,” Eva says.

“No, it wasn’t all that awesome,” Rhain says. “We went and raided an abandoned temple. Got out some loot.”

“Nice,” Eva says.

“Yeah, it was nice. But the locals got kinda crappy about it,” Rhain says. “They didn’t want to buy it back. It was abandoned. Nobody had gone for it. Nobody was using it. But they didn’t want to buy it. Buncha trouble. But that whole town was crappy to foreigners.”

“That’s what they say about Tarsas is that they’re not too friendly to foreigners,” Eva says.

“Nah,” Rhain says in agreement.

“So how long are you in Crownport?” Eva asks.

“I don’t know. About to go check on a gig tonight. I got a feeling it’s local,” Rhain says.

“Yeah, we’re just holding over. Got another caravan gig,” Eva says.

“Caravan’s huh?” Rhain says.

“Yeah, we’re heading up into Leilior,” Eva says.

“That’s cool,” Rhain says. “Yeah, that’s where I got this sweet armor.”

“That’s pretty sweet,” Eva says.

“Yeah, took this off a half-orc jerk in the middle of the woods. Him and his party didn’t think we should be able to walk by as we pleased. I guess he thought he owned that path,” Rhain says.

“I still got the same shit, different day,” Eva says, ruefully.

“Well, if you ever want to expand your horizons, just let me know. There’s room in what we’re doing for an experienced hand. If you’re up for a little adventure. What you’re doing is steady work, but its hum-drum boring work, too.” Rhain tells her all about the elf sorcerer with claws that they encountered with the half-orc, and the archer as well.

When it’s time to go, Lenoria comes by and collects Rhain and says hello to Eva. “It’s nice to meet you again,” Lenoria says.

“You as well,” Eva says.

The two head for the abandoned shop. Lenoria looks for anyone following them. Rhain thinks Eva might follow them to take them up on the job—he thinks she’s getting tired of guard work “because it’s boring and stupid.” Lenoria isn’t sure they should include anyone else on this job, as it requires discretion and she doesn’t have a good enough sense of Eva to know if she could handle it. Rhain says he was thinking of asking Alun. Lenoria doesn’t think his sister would approve. Rhain responds that he wasn’t going to ask her. “She doesn’t bring anything that I don’t bring,” Rhain says.

They finally arrive at the address written on the card. It looks like an abandoned shop. The windows are boarded up and the door is shut. Lenoria and Rhain move quietly along a side alley—or as quietly as they can with Rhain being in armor. They make their way to the rear of the building and find a back door.

The door is not barred or locked. Lenoria opens the door and goes inside. She sees candlelight from a room at the front of the shop. Once Rhain gets inside, she shuts the door behind him and they make their way to the front of the shop.

It looks like the candlelight is coming in from the main shop area. Stavros is there holding a candleholder with a candle in it. Just outside the candlelight is another figure. Lenoria and Rhain pause.

“Stavros,” Lenoria says.

“Lady,” Stavros says. “Gentleman. This is my employer. And possibly yours.” He steps to the side and lets the shadowed figure speak.

“What I wish you to do is find a person by the of Diata the Poacher,” the employer’s voice is deep and measured. “Bring her here to me. When you have her, you can send word to Stavros. This will be your delivery point.”

“This shop?” Rhain asks.

“Yes,” the employer says.

“Is she in Crownport?” Rhain asks.

“I believe so. That is part of your job is to make sure,” the employer says.

“Do we get any sort of idea or description about this poacher person so if we get someone we actually know that’s who it is?” Lenoria asks.

“She is a half-elf. Young, dirty-blonde hair. Not as pretty as a lot of her race. She frequents, when she’s in Crownport, the Scarlet Griffon,” the employer says.

Lenoria has heard of the Scarlet Griffon. It’s a modest inn for adventurers.

“Any particular skill-sets that she has that we need to be aware of?” Lenoria asks.

“She’s a bounty hunter,” the employer says. “She’s a sniper.”

“Huh. You’re a putting a bounty on a bounty hunter?” Rhain says.

“The irony is not lost,” the employer says. “She is not…unskilled…at her job.” He says this grudgingly, with some bitterness.

“We’re being asked to be discrete and kind of out of the eyes of the watch, is she normally as well? Trying to stay out of the eye of the law? Or is she buddy-buddy with the watch?” Lenoria asks.

“Sometimes yes, sometimes no. She turns in many of her bounties to the watch,” the employer says, “to get her pay.”

“What’s the pay?” Rhain asks.

“How’s 200 apiece—100 for the job, 100 for your silence?” the employer says.

“So 400?” Rhain says.

“Yes,” the employer says.

“What sort of timeframe are we working with?” Lenoria asks.

“As soon as possible,” the employer says.

“So there’s not an end-date to this bounty,” Rhain says.

“I don’t wish it to drag on,” the employer says, warily.

“I understand that,” Rhain says, “but what I’m saying is ‘if we don’t have her by the third, it’s over.’ I want to know if I show up on the fifteenth, I’m going to get paid.”

“Or not bother coming,” Lenoria says.

“No—just as soon as possible,” the employer says.

“Okay. Because for all we know, she’s not in Crownport and we have to track her down across the country,” Rhain says. “Anything else?”

“No,” the employer says.

“And Stavros, you’re stationed at the Sly Toad?,” Rhain asks.

“That’s where you can find me,” Stavros says.

“That seems like the minimum we need to operate in our jobs,” Lenoria says.

Lenoria and Rhain exit out the front door.

“Well, that seems pretty straight-forward,” Rhain says.

At this point, it’s pretty close to ten bells, so people are still going out to taverns and inns for drinks. Lenoria asks about to find out where the Scarlet Griffon is. She finds out that it is on the north end of town. Lenoria then hails a passing carriage and they head to the north side of the city and the Scarlet Griffon. It costs her a silver piece.

The Scarlet Griffon is a lively place with a lot of adventuring types. There a couple of bards performing in a corner of common room. Lenoria tells Rhain to go buy them a drink. The bartender, a comely woman with red hair, asks Rhain, “What are you having, handsome?”

“I don’t know. What do you recommend?” Rhain asks, leaning on the bar.

“For you, I’d recommend some Ornish brandy,” the barkeep says.

“Ornish brandy. That sounds interesting. I’ll take two,” Rhain says.

“Two Ornish brandies,” the barkeep says and pours the drinks into glasses. She presents the drinks and says “Alright, that’ll be 2 silver, 5 copper.”

The brandy comes in a glass. It’s a thickish liquid with a slightly floral scent. “You sure this is fit for drinking?” Rhain asks.

“Absolutely,” the barkeep says.

“Looks like it’s for oiling engines,” Rhain mutters. He sips on it. It burns going down. It has a bit of a floral/fruity flavor, but mostly burns. For those into liquor, it tastes good. Unfortunately, Rhain is not into liquor. Nevertheless, Rhain takes some time small talk with the barkeep.

Lenoria takes some time to look around the common room and try to see if anyone matching Diata’s description is in the room. She doesn’t spot Diata, but she does spy the barkeep throwing a glass of brandy into Rhain’s face with an angry expression. Lenoria moves in to intervene.

“Were you trying to charm the ladies again?” Lenoria tells the barkeep. “I’m so sorry if he said something rude.”

“You better take your friend out here!” the barkeep says.

Lenoria tries to calm the barkeep down, but she’s having none of it. “You better take your friend out of here, now!”

Lenoria escorts Rhain out of the common room. Rhain takes his glass with him and then smashes it against the wall on his way out.

“What did you say?” Lenoria asks once they get outside.

“I don’t know. She totally overreacted,” Rhain complains. “This stuff is sticky.”

“I know. You smell fruity,” Lenoria says.

“It burns my skin like it does my throat,” Rhain says.

As they walk down the street away from the inn, Lenoria says. “Well, I did not see her.”

“I didn’t see her, either,” Rhain says.

“I think the question of whether or not we can rooms here has just gotten more interesting,” Lenoria says. “I don’t know if I can smooth that one over.”

“I don’t know what her big problem is. She flirted with me. She sent all the signals,” Rhain says.

“Do we go back to our inn to figure out a game plan or what?” Lenoria asks.

“What game plan is there to figure out? We just stalk this place, right?” Rhain says.

“Yeah,” Lenoria says. “I can continue to be here during the closing hours shift. But tonight you’re not getting back in that bar.”

“That bar wasn’t all that anyway,” Rhain says.

They look around for another tavern or inn within watching distance of the Scarlet Griffon that has outdoor seating. They spot the Ten Wolves Tavern that fits the bill.

“Is there anything else we can do besides just sit and watch this place?” Rhain asks.

“Well, I can go back in and see if I can find her. But, again, I didn’t see her, so I’d still just be keeping an eye out for her. I didn’t really want to start asking around because I don’t want her to get wind of the fact that someone’s looking for where she is. We don’t want that kind of trouble. If she’s a bounty hunter and wily…” Lenoria says.

“Well this job’s already annoyed me,” Rhain says. “Crappy bar. Rude service. And she wasn’t even there.”

“Not as of yet,” Lenoria says.

“The only thing I can think of to do right now is watch,” Lenoria says.

“Fine,” Rhain says, annoyed.

“We can either both watch across the street, or I can go back in and just try to keep an eye out until the bar closes and come back if we want to do this as a split-up sort of thing,” Lenoria says.

“Fine, I’ll stay here,” Rhain says, despondent.

“Okay. And when the bar closes, I’ll come back out,” Lenroria says.

The midnight bells start ringing. Lenoria goes back into the Scarlet Griffon while Rhain waits outside the Ten Wolves Tavern.

Inside the Scarlet Griffon, Lenoria checks upstairs to see how many rooms the inn has. It looks like it has about a dozen rooms. Otherwise, she takes a seat and watches and listens.

Outside, Rhain spots a small group of adventurers head inside the Scarlet Griffon. The group is made up of a half-elf woman, a half-orc male, and an elven female. The half-elf fits the description of Diata the Poacher. Rhain elects to maintain his post, waiting to see if they come out.

Lenoria notices the group come into the inn’s common room. They take a table and start speaking together in low voices. Lenoria makes her way closer to them so that she can eavesdrop. She also summons a Bit of Luck from her goddess to help her attempt.

She hears Diata saying, “We’ve got to get him to come out. He’s holed up in there.”

The half-orc says, “I don’t know how we’re going to do that.”

Diata says, “He’s worth a thousand gold pieces. For a thousand, we’ve got to get him out.”

The elf says, “But he’s got those seven others.”

“They’re worth fifty a piece,” Diata says. “Three-fifty more. For three-fifty more, we can take them out as well. It’s worth it.”

Then the half-orc says, “So how do we smoke him out?”

Diata says, “I don’t know. I’m working on it. Let’s get some drinks.”

Lenoria continues to listen in and observe them. Diata has a rapier at her side and a masterwork composite longbow at her shoulder. She wears masterwork studded leather. The half-orc is carrying a masterwork greataxe and is wearing a masterwork breastplate. The elf is wearing a rapier at her side and is carrying a masterwork longbow. Listening to their conversation, Lenoria confirms that the half-elf is Diata, the half-orc is named Uther, and the elf is named Serenia. They are staying here at the Scarlet Griffon. They also talk about going back to “the site” tomorrow night.

Lenoria heads out to check in with Rhain. She sits next to Rhain at the table.

“I saw them go in,” Rhain says.

“I saw them in there,” Lenoria says. “I overhead a bit of their conversation. They’re staying there. They’re still in there hanging out. It sounds like they’re on a job right now. A very lucrative job.”

“Oh yeah?” Rhain asks. “How lucrative?”

“Whoever their going after, they’re going to get a thousand for,” Lenoria says.

“No way,” Rhain says, impressed. “Who are they going after?”

“They didn’t say. Apparently they’re going to have a hard time getting him to come out. He’s holed up somewhere. Diata is the half-elf. Uther is the half-orc. The elf is Serenia,” Lenoria says. She then relates the particulars of the conversation she overheard. “She’s working on a plan. And they’re fairly well-armored,” she says, finally.

“Let’s grab them after that job,” Rhain says.

Lenoria laughs. “We could ask who she’s going after. A thousand’s nice. Apparently they’re going back to the site tomorrow.”

“We’ve got to find out. We’ve got to follow them,” Rhain says. Lenoria agrees. Then Rhain says, “We’ve got to team up with them.”

Lenoria looks a bit dubious at that proposition.

“What?” Rhain asks.

“Why would they want to team up with us?” Lenoria asks.

“Well, if they’re going after some guy and seven others, they need more people. It’s just the three of them, right?” Rhain says.

“As far as I know,” Lenoria says. “How’s that going to fit into our plans?”

“Well, once all that is taken care of, we knock her in the head and take her in,” Rhain says. “See? Double pay day.”

“There’s a lot of variables there,” Lenoria says.

“Just two. An elf and a half-orc,” Rhain says.

“There’s also the ‘why should they trust us?’ and sometimes our relationships with people sometimes go ‘drink in the face’,” Lenoria says.

“Only with crazy psychos,” Rhain says. “Didn’t she strike you as a psycho? I have trouble reading psychos. Psychos send mixed signals.” Rhain continues. “I’m not much at following people.”

"I"m okay at stealth," Lenoria says. “I can go invisible for a time, which will help.”

“Maybe we should go by the bounty office and see which one is worth a thousand,” Rhain says.

“Maybe get an idea of who they’re going for,” Lenoria says. “Yeah, because if they’re going off a posted on the City Watch board kind of thing, that might give us an idea where they may be going.”

“He did say she sometimes worked for the City Watch,” Rhain says.

The two head back to Silvercask’s Nimble Cartwright to spend the rest of the night.

15 Growth 508

Lenoria and Rhain head to the headquarters of the Commander of the Watch. There are quite a few posters up around the entry chamber. Lenoria and Rhain pore through them looking to find one that fits the bill. Lenoria manages to find one that seems to fit—a bounty of one thousand gold for Kraven the Crow and bounties of fifty gold each for his seven cohorts. Kraven is wanted on a whole slough of crimes against the crown of Ornis. He was last seen in the vicinity of Crownport.

Lenoria goes out and tries to gather some information from the seedy underbelly of the city about where Kraven the Crow may be hiding out.

Recently, there was a civil war in Ornis. As a result, there are some abandoned manors on the outskirts of the city. According to the information Lenoria received, Kraven is most likely holing up in one of these abandoned manors. Now, which one, she doesn’t know. The east gate is their best bet, and the manor houses sit on abandoned farmland surrounding the city.

Lenoria and Rhain move from Silvercask’s Nimble Cartwright to The Ebon Hound at the north end of town. They then look into paying to borrow horses for the day. They discover that if they go to a livery stable, they can pay 10 gold for a day, but they also have to pay a 25 gold deposit to borrow a horse for a day. So the two of them borrow a horse and go riding into the estates surrounding the city.

As Diata and her compatriots were not on horseback, Lenoria and Rhain figure that the “site” must be one of the closer manors. They ride out and look for abandoned manors that may be used as hideouts for a wanted brigand. They find a couple of sites that have potential, so they approach the outskirts of those properties cautiously and Rhain attempts to track those areas to see if there are any signs of movement. He finds none.

Rhain then checks to see if any of the abandoned sites have smoke coming out of the chimney. Sure enough, one of them does have smoke coming from the chimney. He tries tracking again at that site and finds some booted footprints—enough for eight people.

“There’s a crowd at this one,” he tells Lenoria. “So, what we can do is go introduce ourselves to these people, let them know who’s hunting them, and get their help at nabbing her. Or number two, we can hide and watch and hope our stealth keeps us from getting caught when Diata and her goons show up. Or three, we can ‘stake out’ Kraven, and when Diata shows up we can tell her that we are competing bounty hunters and that it is in her best interests to team up rather than work against each other. Then we team up, let them take the brunt of the fight, betray them, and collect it all. Or team up, take our share, party in town together, then nab her in the night and disappear. Turn her over and get our reward for her and when the half-orc comes and says ‘Hey, have you seen Diata?’, we’re like ‘No, man, I haven’t seen her since she was wasted on the table.’”

“I’m trying to figure out which of those plans has the best chance of survival,” Lenoria says.

“Well I can tell you what I think,” Rhain says.

“Okay,” Lenoria says.

“I think that trying to stealth our way through this is our least chance of survival. Because I am not much in the way of stealthing around so we are pretty sure to get caught spying on them,” Rhain says. “But if they catch us spying on them” he points toward the manor, “then they’re less likely to get suspicious. The bounty was up on the wall for everyone.”

“That’s true,” Lenoria says. The plan does appeal to her trickster nature. “To be perfectly honest, they’re a tight-knit group. We’re probably going to have to look out for them as well, even if we pretend to work together. They would much rather split 1300 gold three ways rather than five.”

“You think they’re that kind of bastards? They’d turn on us?” Rhain says, appalled.

“Well, that’s pretty much what we’re saying we’re going to do,” Lenoria says.

“I know what kind of bastards we are. I am asking if they’re that kind of bastard,” Rhain says.

“I don’t know,” Lenoria says. “But a lot of gold makes people do funny things. I can see less reason for whoever’s holed up in there to work with us. Your whole thing about seeing if we can get whoever is in there to work with us, I don’t know.”

“Well, if he doesn’t know that she’s out here, then we’d be bringing him information,” Rhain says. “Maybe he thinks he’s well-hidden and doesn’t think he has anything to worry about. I don’t know. I’m just throwing out scenarios. Something other than us hiding in the woods and getting spotted and everybody’s trying to kill us.”

“They are looking for a way to get these guys. They hadn’t figured out a way as of last night. So they may be more willing,” Lenoria says.

“If we were super-stealthy, I’d say hide in the woods, and when they take their positions, nab her and leave the other two to figure it out later,” Rhain says.

“Chances are if she’s a sniper, than she’s not going to be running up front,” Lenoria says.

“That’s right. She’s going to take position and use her bow,” Rhain says.

“We just need to have a plan if we need to run,” Lenoria says. “But I think what has the best chance of working is trying to see if we can get close by saying that we’re bounty hunters and trying to work together.”

“The other piece is getting her back into the city,” Lenoria continues. “It will be very difficult with us and these two horses here.”

“To get in at night, yeah,” Rhain says.

“Yeah, at night,” Lenoria says. “Also even during the day. It’s not like we can tie her to the back of the horse and take her in. I think the description for part of this discretion was required. And to avoid City Watch.”

“We can stake out the gate and wait for her to come in. Grab her in the city,” Rhain says. “We can help them do their job here. Collect all these bodies. Betray them. Stuff her body under all them bodies. Say we’re hauling them in for the bounty. Are the guards going to go through a cartful of bodies?”

“I don’t know,” Lenoria says.

“If they get down to the bottom and see her, we say ‘Oh that’s our friend, she didn’t make it,’” Rhain says. “But if we’re going to nab her in the city, let’s wait until they get paid. And before they spend it. Or store it.”

Finally they decide to find a place to ‘stake out’ the manor and meet up with the bounty hunters and see if they can join up with them. Rhain tracks around the area and finds the location where the half-elf and the others most likely were watching the manor the day before. There are three sets of footprints—two small, probably female and one large, probably a half-orc. They decide to plant themselves there to meet up with the bounty hunters. They hobble the horses about twenty yards back and take up position.

As the sun is going down, Lenoria hears approaching footsteps. She touches Rhain’s leg to get his attention. “There’s someone out there,” she whispers.

“Well, try to act surprised,” Rhain says. Then he strikes up a conversation with Lenoria. “So how long do you think before they go to sleep?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think they go to sleep just at sundown,” Lenoria says.

“Maybe we ought to get up there and scout it out, get the layout,” Rhain says.

“I guess that’ll be me,” Lenoria says.

Then they hear a female voice behind them say, “Well what in the hells do we have here? And they call me the poacher.”

Lenoria and Rhain jump around to face the voice and see Diata, Uther, and Serenia.

Lenoria says, “Who do you think you are, the game warden? We’re not poaching anything.”

“This one’s mine,” Diata says, pointing to the house.

“I don’t think there’s a such thing as dibs in this business, do you?” Lenoria says.

“Look here, sweetie, you’re about to make me mad,” Diata says.

“I’m not trying to make you mad,” Lenoria says, “No need to get all hostile. There’s just someone over there we’re interested in. And I take it you and your friends are interested in the same person?”

Serenia says, “You look familiar…”

“I don’t know, I have that kind of face? Do I have that kind of face?” Lenoria asks Rhain.

“No,” Rhain says.

“Like I’m going to buy that it’s a coincidence you’re at the exact spot we were in yesterday. You’ve been following us,” Diata says with heat.

“You seem to think very highly of yourself,” Lenoria says. “I’m interested, we’re interested, in who’s in there. That’s a lot of cash sitting in there. My friend and I are interested in having some of it. Seems a waste that all that cash is just sitting in there, doing nothing, when it could be in our pockets.”

“Well, we were here first, so beat it,” Diata says.

“There wasn’t anybody here when we got here,” Rhain says.

“I didn’t see anybody here, did you? No,” Lenoria says.

The half-orc pops his neck muscles and says in a deep voice. “This is going to get ugly, isn’t it?”

“I don’t think it needs to get ugly,” Lenoria says. “But obviously you’re claiming some sort of ’we’ve been here for ages watching this house’ sort of thing so if you’ve been here all this time, how come you haven’t made a move on it.”

Serenia says, “The same reason you haven’t, I’m sure.”

“I hear there’s a few of them,” Lenoria says. “Sounds like eight in total. Me and my friend were planning on going for it anyway. Unless you thought you needed some help in this matter.”

The half-orc says, “Yeah right, you’re were going to take it on your own.”

“You got more people with you?” Rhain asks. “So you were going to do it with three? But it’s so unbelievable we’re going to do it with two.”

“Obviously I’d much rather have all the money for my friend and I. But for better odds, I might take half,” Lenoria says.

“If you all are able to calm down and be reasonable,” Rhain says.

“Half for two my ass,” Diata says.

“Could be even, that’d do. There’s still a lot to go around divided by five,” Lenoria says.

Diata says, “Alright. Five equal shares. So what was your two’s bright ideas on the approach?”

“Well, we haven’t scouted it out yet. But you’ve been staking it out longer. What’s your bright idea?” Rhain says.

“He’s got four men patrolling the grounds, so we try to take them out first. There’s a balcony on the manor house. I was going to try and get into the house through the second story,” Diata says.

“These are four men out of the seven he has with him?” Lenoria asks.

“Right,” Diata says. “That’s as far as I got.”

“Have we been able to scout around the entire building? Do we know how many entries and exits there are? What is on the ground floor?” Lenoria asks.

“There are windows. The main entry way. There’s a door in the back. And an entry on the balcony,” Diata says.

“Do you have any idea where in the house he is?” Lenoria asks.

“I haven’t been able to get close enough to the house to figure that out,” Diata says.

“The guys patrolling just guards? Are they huge? Are they massive brusier kind of people?” Lenoria asks.

“Are they the same four guys or are they changing from time to time?” Lenoria asks.

“They change from time to time. They’re not on a set schedule,” Diata says.

“Torches? Or do they have light? I imagine they have to be rather subtle about squatting here at night,” Lenoria says.

“Yes, but they’re human so they have to see at night,” Diata says. “That’s why we were going to strike at night.”

Rhain points out that even the half-elf and elf need light to see, but Diata says that they don’t need as much light.

Lenoria points at the half-orc, “You’re more of a get up-close and hit them something sharp sort-of thing. And the two of you just want to sit back and try to take pot-shots at them?”

“Or sneak up a bit closer and take pot-shots at them,” Diata says.

“Sounds like the base of a plan, doesn’t it,” Lenoria says.

“So the idea is for all of us to get close and attack at the same time?” Lenoria says.

“I think so,” Diata says.

“So was everyone going to come in through the balcony?” Lenoria asks.

“No, I was going to go in through there. Uther was going to go in through the front door, with Serenia behind him. After we took out the patrolling guards,” Diata says.

“Well, two of us could go in through the front door, two of us could go in through the back, and one of us could go in through the balcony,” Lenoria says. “Does that work for you?” she asks Rhain. Rhain nods. “Alright. When were you wanting to move?” she asks Diata.

“I planned on moving when we got here and into position,” Diata says.

“Are you ready then?” Lenoria asks Rhain. Rhain nods.

“First we’ve got to take out the four patrollers,” Diata says.

“That we do,” Lenoria says.

“As soon as we take out one, they’re going to start yelling, so we may need to this quickly,” Diata says.

“Quicker is going to be better,” Lenoria says.

“Alright, I guess we’ll go to try and take out the first one. If they start yelling, everybody else come forward and help with the others,” Diata says.

“So who are the stealthy ones in your group?” Lenoria asks.

“That would be me and Serenia,” Diata says.

So Diata, Serenia, and Lenoria attempt to sneak up closer to the outmost patroller. Uther and Rhain hang back and listen.

Diata, Serenia, and Lenoria cautiously make their way through the untended farm growth toward the patroller. The three fan out a little bit. Lenoria can see the two other women nock arrows to their bows. The guard is carrying a torch and a longsword. The moon is a high in the sky and almost full. All is quiet—until Serenia steps on a twig. SNAP!

Diata fires her bow. The man screams.

Uther and Rhain hear the scream. Rhain looks to the half-orc, who starts jogging out into the field. Rhain follows him out there.

Lenoria casts Stunning Barrier around herself and then charges into the field.

Lenoria hits the guard with her morning star. The guard swings at Lenoria and misses. Diata takes the man out with an arrow. He drops his torch as he drops to the ground.

Two more guards with torches and longswords come running toward that position…



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