We begin this session amidst planes, with bandits on the hunt for our caravan. Jimbo, our ranger, may be able to obtain clues by examining the tracks.
A group of four rides out to parley waving a white flag: it includes Tobi, Tharg, Mercy, and Holber. A small group of stealthy types including: Thayd, Palis, and Jimbo shadow the main group covered by grass. Taiven and Arixidor using Silent Image to creep up. The main party is flanked on both sides by allies at 60 feet on either side.
We run into a main encampment with 20 humans, lead by a full-plated man on a horse. He is armed with a huge broadsword. They are riding out on horse to meet us.
“We’re under orders to watch [the caravan] from my commander.” The armored man has his men flatten out a circle of 30 by 30. He has the markings of Uz: Crimson throne with a skull. Uz is the Cambian son of a demon lord and a human mage female. Officially a demigod in the pantheon of gods, evil and a principal protagonist in Greyhawk wars. Uz rules Doraka, capital city. “Instability in a kingdom next to our own may give our kingdom instability. We came to make sure no dangerous things go on.” He pings as evil relatively strong with detect evil.
Chain mail and half plates are on 18 of them and 2 are wearing robes. “We’ve been following you for days and infiltrated your camps, with several operatives. You aren’t gonna be able to fight off my force when I bring it to bear. I have no intention of killing all of you. We’re here simply about money. I want 200 able bodied individuals and 3,000 gp which I’ve been told you have at least double of. We can both walk away happy. Or we can attack and you’ll probably repel us and lose at least 200. I’ve almost 100 men at our attack. We’ve already got the ambush set up. We’ve been planning this for days. We’ve been planning this since we knew refugees are going to come.” He claims to be Sir Baahl. 1 on 1 would be a hard time taking him, he is probably more powerful than Sir Tobi. In talks with Baahl, Thayd changes his offer to 2,000 gp and 300 slaves. Then 4K and 500 slaves. Baahl says he will send a rider to see if we agree to his terms. As we discuss our options, Sir Joss approaches us and tells us that two axles have been sabotaged.
A messenger arrives dressed in robes of Uz, unashamedly evil, with half-plate underneath. He looks half-orc with an eye-patch and heavy flail. i.e. a priest of Uz. He waves a white banner. Introduces himself as Gorbadok. “I am not to speak to lizard man. My lord is willing to sign the contract. I was sent to ascertain whether or not you still were willing to enter into the contract. There seems to be confusion in your leadership.” Tharg formally declined the offer to give up our slaves, and Gorbadok seemed pleased that combat will be joined.
Tharg gives a rousing speech to the caravan who all seem to begin to panic at the sight of Gorbadok.
During the night, Paladins defend the wagons against attacks from common citizenry. 100 people slipped away in the dark, including Bolthus.
On day 6 of travel, we come across a river that needs to be crossed / forded. At its smallest width 27 feet wide, will take half a day to cross with all of our people, about 8 feet deep at the deepest.
Tharg and Tobi each borrow a STR+4 bow with arrows from the group loot stash. We decide to camp 120 feet away from the river and camp out at night. At night, 12 men set the wagons on fire and that is the signal for the bandits to shoot a volley at us. The 12 men run away into the night. Our men fire back and injure the enemy slightly, enough to let us know they are due East where none of our men are. Several areas of grass have been set aflame. Luckily, Taiven stamped out the grassland around the camp so it is not on fire. The infiltrators cut the horses loose, they ran away and probably burned up in the fire. There is still a bit of grass towards the river. 72 lost to arrows in the camp. 400 unaccounted for. Now our population is around 2,000 people. There are whispers that the dragon-man should have just paid the brigands, and instead was greedy. Our plan is to begin to ford the river, while setting the opposite shore on fire. Now everyone is across the river. The elves are now a day away.
Day 7, on the opposite side of the river, as morning breaks we find the burned bodies of about 30 people that are troops of Uz that died as they were caught by the fire: 40 gp worth of coins were found, mainly copper. About 30 short swords and 30 daggers. 5 heralds of Tharg disperse information to the refugees: that we are a day away from the elves and 30 of the enemy were burned. Our plan is to go to the elves and buy food with weapons. The fire has burned all the way to the forest. About 2 hours out from the edge of the forest, the elves come appear: a dozen elves come out to meet the caravan. The main party rides out to meet the elves: Arixidor approaches and introduces himself. Elves introduce themselves: “My name is Siridar, I am nephew to the prince of Ardee forest. This is my wife Astenis (an obvious druid). Who do you serve? Were you serving your race when you set fire to the plains? You burned our source of protection and our source of food. The followers of Uz can be killed with arrows without touching our beloved forest. You set fire to the lands and you come to seek aid for humans who have historically done nothing but trample and ruin these lands.” Arixidor: “I saw their pathetic festival to show off the superiority of our skills, and to get some human pussy. I have information that is useful to the elves.” Siridar: “We captured near a score of these Uz-ites. They were caught in the conflagration.” Arixidor: “I have much sympathy for this group of humans. You know of the great beast that plagued the countryside. It’s slumbering in the human city. It may awaken and attack. I fear that humans may take over this world.” Siridar: “You know as well as I do that every time we help these humans they slap us in the face. We taught them magic, all of the arts, and they turned it all against us. These are refugees, you have to know we won’t know these humans inside our borders. How many mouths? A little over 2,000? We cannot feed that many for long.” Meanwhile, to assist in the story, Thayd makes a show of demonstrating some crying children. Turns out, Edgefield was destroyed by the Great Beast, along with many half-elf ‘abominations’. Siridar: “We will provide no elven protection outside our own borders. We will allow the caravan to straddle the border of the forest for the 3 day journey to Edgefield, we will provide what food we can and water. We will not provide weapons. There will be an escort. It will be Astenis and about 20 elven rangers. We trusted paladins 400+ years ago, under leadership of Caragoth and his 13 death knights, then they rode out and raped and pillaged. As you go to Eastfare, there is a great council being gathered to discuss the creature. Right is right. We have the ability to feed, clothe them, and tend to some of their injured. No fires. No axes to the woods or the trees. No animals killed. If these things happen, whether its even by accident, we will withdraw our offers of protection. We have a half-orc cleric who almost got eaten by the fire. He is alive for now. You may not interrogate him now. He was a follower of Uz, too near to our lands, we took him captive along with his people: about 20 of his men. Those who attacked our people were summarily executed. The rest we are deciding what to do with. I need to report to my Lord, Astenis will go with you all the way to Eastfare along with her 20 rangers. She is my wife, the mother of my child, if something were to happen I will hold you responsible.”
Tharg wants the elves to know that anyone who goes near the forest is to be shot. Elves give the caravan the equivalent of a half-ration for today: berries, boiled grass, some fish.