After a long discussion the party decided not to continue engaging the undead, there were too many unknown factors and even if there wasn’t anything beyond their speculations the risks were too high. As it was the party had collected enough to fill their cart and given travel times and preparation times they needed to head home to get ready for the arrival of the next group of volunteers and the inevitable attack from the bandits.
The party secured the tunnel with a wall of rocks and prepared to depart in the morning, but early that morning a blizzard had moved in delaying their departure until the next day. The five day trip was mostly uneventful, no ambushes or other attacks, though the familiars did spot four winter wolfs watching them easily a day out of their way. They did follow and so were deemed not a threat, the only threat came when Soul began rampaging about demanding the drug she had become addicted to. Quara had nothing left to give her and so they had little choice but to subdue her, paralysing magic and a quick beating, Soul spent the rest of the trip home tied up in the back of a cart.
Once home at Bear Hill Lodge, Quara was able to create the drug Soul was after along with several other poisons. Rupert claimed the poisons taking the risks on self-poisoning for the added effectiveness in combat. Preparations where made for the journey north to collect the new arrivals, and they set out only two days after they had returned. As they set out the weather was clearing, still cold enough to kill but it was unlikely to be storms or get colder.
On the journey north Quara sent her familiar to watch the bandits and Erky sent his familiar north and out of the valley to find the approaching volunteers. The familiar over the bandits spotted Mira who was also watching the pass but saw no movement from the bandits. The familiar that headed north died on its third day of travel, Erky knew this as he felt the connection between them break.
Erky estimated that it was a barrier placed just north of where they had been dropped off. It was a magical defence probably setup to slow the dragons approach. Erky had heard of these barriers before in his studies with the gnomes but had never known where or how many had been deployed. Getting north by magical means was unlikely even if the Geas could be lifted.
After this failure Erky resummoned a familiar and sent it to wait at the drop off point and watch for the arrivals instead. The familiars did spot something interesting two days latter, by chance one looked south and saw a group of winter wolfs. After a quick recognisance twenty-two winter wolfs in total were spotted far to the south. They were avoiding the areas nearer to Bear Hill Lodge, probably a silent sign of a truce. Though they had only lost a few to the party with such small numbers it was still significant.
Once the party arrived in the north there had been no movement from the bandits and no sight of the new arrivals. It would take three days waiting to spot the new arrivals that were three days away. The party had used these six days to build a raft to make crossing the now defrosting rivers easier. They then waited as the new arrivals received their instructions and Geas before approaching.
One person had taken charge and was leading they new group, but she was very relieved to relinquish command once the party made themselves known. Lia was a little surprised to find that one of her old crewmates was in the group, and even another ex-pirate she had met before. These three almost immediately made a gang or crew, hard to say as they all still missed the sea.
The journey south was far quicker now that spring had arrived the snow and ice was mostly gone, and the raft the party had build was most useful to successfully cross the rivers. All was going well until the third day when a report that the bandit pass was clear and the bandits where getting ready to leave. With only one river left to cross in the morning the party hustled the group forward to get out of the open and into the light forest before the bandits left their base.
This in conjunction with Mira being spotted and chased meant that the bandits didn’t follow them. Giving them the time to safely return home, Mira also managed to escape into the Elves forest leaving the bandit to search the area for the lodge with no leads.
Safely home and with more workers the party got to work immediately setting up crops, hunting groups and other resources gathering. The defences were already built and ready, but Erky had remembered about the goblins and their long-range ballistae and thought he’d make some himself. He slaved day and night to create the first one knowing in might prove useful when the bandits riding around found them.
Erky’s plan was well timed as soon as he had finished the ballista the bandits had spotted them and turned to approach. This was the event the party had been expecting and fearing for nearly three months, though the outnumbered the bandits the bandits had better equipment and training. The lodge had been built solid with many arrow slits and cover points just for this moment, pits and trip wires had also been laid around the lodge.
It began early morning as the bandit lined up and began riding fast towards the lodge, Varric was the first to fire using the ballista he totally outranged everyone else getting several shots off before the bandits even got into range. He focused his fire into one of the bandit leaders, Barakas Art, a Tiefling Barbarian and probably the strongest and toughest of the lieutenants when he was in his rage.
Blath Windriver, a Human Fallen Paladin, wasn’t fazed when Barakas fell and continued the charge. Once his men where in range they unleashed their arrows, several of the lookouts began dropping almost like clockwork four would drop per volley from the bandits as they approached. The lodge was had many to put the wounded away and treat them, but also when they returned fire they began dropping the bandits.
The storm of arrows flying both way saw many fall on both sides, the party had expected the bandits to charge straight in over the field of pits and traps. But they slowed and came to a stop just inside the field, eight bandits being caught in the pits and traps fell. Blath saw he wasn’t going to win this way ordered a retreat; he turned them towards the river to cross and hide in the trees on the other side.
The party didn’t want the leader to escape and focus all remain fire on to Blath, he indeed slumped in his seat but his horse was still leading the bandits away and taking the unconscious Blath with it. Erky took a dangerous risk to prevent the Fallen Paladins escape and left the lodge and sent magic after Blath. Magical flares signalled the death of the bandits, but not all that had fallen had shown this flare, so as the remaining bandits escaped with Blath body and the Villagers cheered the party set out to find and finish the fallen bandits.
None were found however, even Varric couldn’t find any trail or hiding place, he concluded that they had probably escaped with invisibility and flight. His conclusion was further supported when they searched that dead and found potions of invisibility and feather tokens to summon flying mounts. The day was a victory and without any loses on their side, the injured would recover within a day or two without help and they had gained better equipment and more horses. A celebration was in order, to the new arrivals and the victory against the bandits.