After following the only trail they could find, the party eventually came to a fork. T’Charr, Ashar, and Scan carefully examined the options. They weighed the possibilities, and just as they were reaching their final decision about which way to go, there was a rustle of tiny feet scurrying off into the distance down the opposite forest path. Before anyone could react, Pock had disappeared into the woods in the other direction. T’Charr made an attempt to contact him telepathically, but Pock was too far out of range. Clearly, something had caught his attention…
Sure that they had found the correct path, T’Charr, Ashar, and Scan continued on without their small friend, hoping that he would eventually double back and find them. The small group continued down the bandits’ path. As they traveled, Scan and Ashar’s keen eyes were able to pick up on a small scout trail, skirting the edge of the path that most of the other bandit tracks followed. They eventually found another clearing in the woods, and settled in for another intense session of strategic brainstorming. Just then, a hand gripping a dagger shot out of the shadows, and struck Ashar. It was an ambush! A short battle ensued, but these bandits were no match for the relentless attacks our trio rained down upon them. Still confident and battle ready, the three party members continued to track their foes.
Once again there was a highly traveled path leading out of the clearing and a lesser traveled path alongside it. After careful deliberation and calculation, the group decided that the smaller, scouting path was the least likely to draw unwanted attention, and very carefully made their way into the woods. In time, they came upon a small hill of dirt where the scout’s path ended abruptly.
These villains were fond of portals, and had been known to leave trails that ended where they normally should not. Cautiously encircling the mysterious mound of soil, the group set to work investigating. Reaching out with his consciousness into the veins of magical energy woven into the world around him, T’Charr searched for any link to the arcane that the dirt pile might have. Pressing his mind to the limits of its abilities, he was unable to find any magical properties in the dirt. Meanwhile, Ashar was using his understanding of nature to try to sleuth out what might have caused such a pile. He closely examined the soil, the nearby plants, the patterns in the tracks, and many subtle changes to the surrounding woods most people would not notice in the hopes of finding some clue. T’Charr and Ashar looked at each other knowingly… This was, in fact, a pile of dirt. But what did it mean? With furrowed brows, and an almost palpable frustration in the air, T’Charr and Ashar were surprised by a sudden streak of steel through the air. Solving this riddle like a Gordian knot, Scan had pierced the small hill of earth with her mighty sword. Victory beaming in her eyes, she lifted the massive sword from the ground to find that the pile of dirt was actually a clever hiding place for…
The party quickly backtracked to the main trail, none of them looking at each other directly or saying another word about the mystery in the woods.
Soon, the party discovered an encampment. The bandits had set up camp in crumbling ruins. In an attempt to draw out their foes, T’Charr animated a clockwork warrior who began marching into the midst of the enemies. Alas, the foes were stronger than he had guessed, and his marionette was utterly destroyed within seconds. No sooner did the automaton’s body drop to the ground than a trap door was slammed shut. One of the minions had escaped the fight before it had even begun and fled deeper into the encampment.
Startled by the fierce attacks of these new foes, the party dashed in different directions. On one side of the ruins, Ashar roared a battle cry, as he rushed his enemies. On the other side, Scan screamed an oath of vengeance that was cut short by a bandit’s arrows, followed by an unnerving silence. Fearing the worst, T’Charr rushed to Scan’s aid, firing a beam of healing energy into her falling body. She was quickly back on her feet, and carving a bloody swath through the army of thieves.
The party saw a familiar enemy in the fray. A dark knight clad in skull-covered armor. His terrifying assault staggered their attacks, and struck fear into their minds. But his parlor tricks would not prove to be enough. Thinking he had dealt a killing blow to Ashar, he turned to focus on Scan and T’Charr. It would be his final mistake. Rising to his feet by sheer force of will, Ashar let out a torrent of arcane fire that burned through the skull-clad knight, leaving his armor in an empty, smoldering heap.
T’Charr leveled another bandit with a static bold from his staff, as Scan knocked the final scoundrel unconscious with the hilt of her sword. The party found Meinod’s stolen goods among the rubble, and tied up their new prisoner. Ashar lifted the trap door that one of the enemies had fled down in the early stages of their battle only to find that it was now a door that led to solid stone. The portals had fooled them again…