Victory was sweet with zero losses and the end of one of the bandit leaders, but survivors meant that the location of the village was now known. Without a reason to hide the forge furnace was lit and finally began work. The stability of village meant that resources had become secondary to future planning and preparation. Estimates of the remaining strength of the bandits still meant that if the bandits got into the village it would mean massive loses if not a total defeat.
Training and production began for future uses, the village looking and developing like a war front fort. Necessities of the time and place, the villagers trained hard all of them fit and ready for a fight hopefully it was enough. During the day the surviving bandit were followed by the familiars, the Paladins fiend horse seemed to have been the one to take command leading the bandit back to their fort.
The bandit had camped for the night some distance from the village, there had been discussions on chasing them down but on horseback the party would only be able to keep up and not catch them. This became less likely when morning came and the familiars reported that the bandits had been attack in the night and only a few had escaped and where heading to their fort since late in the night.
The party quickly got their own horses and headed out to see what might have happened. Once they arrived they deduced that the bandits had been attacked by the undead and the bodies had been dragged away. The signs of the fight suggested that the bandit were surrounded and outnumbered, there was even signs of an organized attack making the party think that there was likely to have been a vampire leading the attack. The party collected what they could find and hustled home.
The next morning the familiars spotted a few bandit scouts that had been sent north were returning to their fort. These scout always had more information and better equipment then the regular bandits so the party used one of their feather tokens to summon a roc to transport them to intercept the scouts. The three scout were completely outmatched and even when one tried to escape using magical invisibility he failed.
From the two survivors they learned that the geas placed on them had been altered, during this interrogation they even triggered one of the geas on one of the scouts. But from the remaining scout they did find out that Skull Crunch had control over or allied with a powerful demon, also that their fort held many magical defences left by the dwarfs. With this information they saw no reason to keep the scout alive and ended his life.
The next day Lia who headed into the deep forest to gather some apples to create an orchard. Walking clearly and deliberately in the open as not to give a threatening appearance to the elves that fiercely defended the forest. Elves are usually known for their trust in diplomacy and compromise to resolve differences, but Mira had warned the party against entering the deep forest as years of dealing with the bandits had left a bad mark cause a shoot first policy in the elves.
Lia herself being an elf, her appearance and manner of entering so openly must have left a impression as when she returned to the village a sign of trust had been left. An arrow had been placed in her hair without her knowledge, it’s placement could only mean an elf had been close enough to place it. Whether this was a sign that the village itself was trusted or just Lia’s act of apple collection was unknown but it was a step forward.
A bigger step forward occurred the next day when the party set out hunting for bison to expand their herd. After a successful effort they captured five more bison but a remaining five escaped, Varric, Gepav and Rupert left the captured bison to the other to return and when in gather the remaining ones. But instead of Bison Varric found a track similar to that of a ape, an usually creature to find in this area.
After tracking it down they found that it was not a natural creature but a demon, and it held trophies of its kills, namely elves. Quickly Varric and Rupert snuck up and prepared to ambush the demon, but after their first volley it showed its magical nature and when invisible. Fighting back to back the three fought the reckless and brutal demon, they outnumbered and overwhelmed the monster glad that there was only one. They knew little about the demon so they dragged it back to let Erky had a look at it.
On their way back to the village they heard several arrows thud into the demons corpse, but no archers were seen. The arrows were clearly more of the elves like the one placed in Lia hair, even though the party was some distance from the deep forest were the elves usually stay. Probably a hunting party that had been hunting or hunted by the demon. Either case the elves now had another reason to be friendly with the village.
The next few days were uneventful until a patrolling lookout rushed in to report seeing or not seeing a invisible army approaching from the north. This wasn’t a direction that was expected to be attacked but the slow nature of the army made it a sitting duck to the arrows and ballista’s of the village. The armies invisibility dropped revealing it to be made up of demons, the weak ones were slow and easily hit they never even came close to the river let alone the walls of the lodge. But the leaders were fearless, fast and tough. They got up to the river before summoning more of themselves which rushed over the walls and engaged the villagers in close combat.
Despite the reckless and fierceness of the demons they were outnumbered and overwhelmed, the leader of the demon army retreated and escaped into the trees. And the village had a second victory without a single loss, even the number of injured was lower than the last fight. Victory celebrations were a little lacked this time though as the realisation that more fights like this were in the near future.