While moving along the river, the party had a nearly event less trip. Once they neared the lake and the fortress however they were ambushed by a group of five bandits. Determining that the bandits had been stationed there watching for at least several days, the party quickly moved to the forest’s edge and camped until early morning. The decision had been made: sneak up on the fortress and do what is necessary to secure Azalea and defeat the Stag Lord.
Moving towards the fortress under the cover of darkness it was noted that security was relatively lax. Only one bandit patrolled the wall on a long interval, and the few standing watchtowers were lit with torches – nearly eliminating their ability to see out into the plains.
Approaching the wall, the party scaled the low embankment and warped the wood of the palisade to sneak in on the southern most side. It was an easy thing to sneak below the walkways and dispatch the patrolling bandits.
Or so they thought. After learning that Azalea had been taken over completely by a bandit named Akiros the party moved quickly to the main building. Upon moving towards the broken front part of the fortress the party was ambushed. A quick rapier to the back of Azok was followed by the release of an owlbear towards the front of the party. Additionally, a musclebound bandit stood back from opening the owlbear cage watching to see what would happen.
The sneak-attacking bandit was quite quickly dispatched while the owlbear raged against Myrd, despite taking several wounds itself. A side door slammed open and a partially dressed bandit equipped with a bastard sword stuck his head out. Shouting to Azalea to stay in the room he charged the owlbear, felling it in one blow. Azrael, hearing the name of his sister and knowing where she was tried to shove past the newcomer. The bandit grabbed Azrael, telling him that he would better serve his sister by protecting her from the Stag Lord.
Just a moment later, the door at the far south of the building boomed open. The Stag Lord himself was there. He looked down the open room, raised his bow and loosed a powerful shot at Myrd, nearly felling him.
A brutal and difficult battle followed. The bandit stepped up with the party and helped to defeat the Stag Lord, and upon landing one of the killing blows stripped off his stag amulet and threw it at the corpse.
Introducing himself as Akiros, he claimed that he had finally had enough of the bandits after they had begun abusing Azalea. Leveraging his status as the second-in-command behind the Stag Lord he commandeered her as his own and sent the most violent and skilled of the bandits out on patrol – hoping that the party would dispatch them. Azalea, reunited with her brother, corroborated this story and claimed that Akiros was her protector and prevented worse from happening to her.
Akiros also mentioned that there was one more bandit to worry about – someone he called ‘The Old Man’. He didn’t know the details, but the Stag Lord kept him alive in the cellar of the fortress, and had been abusing the man and leaving him near death for as long as Akiros could remember.
Leaving Mira as a peace keeper between Azrael, Azalea, and Akiros, the remainder of the party went into the cellar to investigate. While they were unable to locate this prisoner, they did find the full stash that the bandits had managed to accumulate. While they were investigating they were ambushed by the old man – clearly a druid – who dropped from the ceiling to summon a swarm of insects and quickly changed form into a furious badger.
However, because of his malnourished condition he was brought down quickly and knocked fully unconscious. In the few moments of peace following the defeat of the old man, Kaarina recognized that he was her Grandfather who had come over to the new world years ago. How he came to this fortress as a prisoner or willful protector of the Stag Lord is unknown.
Returning to the fortress above, Akiros pledged his service to the party and claimed that he was a fallen Paladin of Mayaheine who had traveled to Auma to escape a crime. Joining with the Stag Lord he had spent the last 5 years in a haze only broken when he saw the elven woman being used by the bandits. He was the one responsible for the majority of the bandits being out of the fortress, as he had taken nearly full command of the bandits as the Stag Lord spent most of his time too drunk to lead.
Knowing that each group would be returning a few days apart he swore to uphold the ruse that he was in command and imprison or execute the bandits as they returned. Over the next few days as the party recovered, he was true to his word. In the end there were 14 bandits who were captured and led back to Oleg’s to be turned over to Kesten and the other guards for transport into Longshore. There is also the Old Man – who is so addled that he can barely form cohesive sentences.
The party is now at Oleg’s with the supplies captured from the fortress, as well as the body of the Stag Lord himself as proof of his defeat. It has been reported that he is dead, and the party is free to do what they will with his body. Also, at this point, the party still has their charter to fulfill – the full mapping of the remaining areas of the Greenbelt. But now the bandit threat is nearly eradicated as there is no strong force bringing them together.
News of the defeat of the Stag Lord has spread quickly, and Oleg himself has begun telling nearly every trapper, tradesmen, or adventurer about the party and the gallant way they defeated the bandits and rescued the fair elven maiden.
The party is now resting, and the day is the 9th of Ready’reat.