When we last left our heroes, they had just returned to Ratikhill after having aided their friend Hemgor in claiming the baronial seat of Tumbledown. What was assumed to be a relatively simple task had turned into a hellish nightmare in which several of the party had almost lost their lives. Hemgor had not accompanied his companions as he had much to accomplish in his new home. Similarly, with the weather still unsuitable for long journeys the party had returned to their home base to rest and recuperate.
The party rested for several months and during that time their conversation turned to the matter of the pirates of Dekspoint and the shadowy figure who may have been behind last year’s orcish incursion that climaxed in the Battle of the Loftwood in which several of the party were instrumental in turning back the orcish horde.
Dekspoint was going to be a hard place to reach. Almost surrounded by dense woodland, but a sliver of relatively clear coastal plain seemed the easiest route to the town. Almost 300 miles separated Ratikhill from Dekspoint. Roughly half of that distance lay within Ratik’s civilised borders but the rest either led through dense forest or a no man’s land of independent fiefs and villages. The only other course open to them was a daring ride through the Bone March along the Loftwood’s southern bounds, but everyone agreed that was suicide).
Of course, the party could always choose to travel by sea but Dekspoint was a nest of piracy and it seemed unlikely the party could approach safely that way. (Coupled with this were the troubling rumours of a green dragon either leading or aiding the pirates on their raids).
Thus after much discussion, the party decided to travel to Ratik’s easternmost settlement–the coastal town of White Moon Cove–and the nearby Fangwood Keep before striking out for Dekspoint. With their general travel plans agreed, the party’s minds turned to provisioning themselves for such a long journey.
Eventually, at the start of Planting, the group set out to travel to Dekspoint (almost 300 miles to the north east). Many of the more famed adventurers–Hemgor, Oreal and Adoven–were busy on their own projects so the group that finally set out was much changed from the Heroes of the Loftwood. The group comprised:
- Krotz: male half-orc rogue 4/fighter 1
- Delvier: female half-elf barbarian 4
- Tzaran: male human druid 4
- Ulmo: male halfling sorcerer 5
- Dregak: male dwarf monk 4
In no real rush, the party travelled leisurely northwards through Ratik. Their first goal was to reach the borderland village of White Moon Cove. There they would gather final supplies before heading into the no man’s land to the north of the Loftwood.
Sadly, their journey was interrupted on the last day by a bandit attack. The bandits accosted the party as they neared White Moon Cove. Instead of gold or silver, the dirty, thin bandits demanded food. Disastrously, Ulmo provoked their archer to fire at him when he started casting a spell. Although the spell was defensive the bandits did not know that. Tempers quickly frayed and inevitably the party attacked. Krotz charged the leader–who turned out to be a skilled warrior–while Ulmo rained rocks down upon the lurking bandit crossbowmen in the woods. Dregak quickly charged forth also and Tzaran unleashed his gigantic snake companion.
The fight was quick, brutal and rather one-sided. Although Ulmo was severely injured by several crossbow bolts and the leader almost slew Krotz the bandits were doomed. Several of them fell rapidly. As they did so, screaming erupted from another patch of woods and a dozen or so unarmed and raggedly dressed starving women and children rushed forward. Several threw themselves down on their slain menfolk while others–in desperation–rushed to help the bandits still fighting. Without hesitation Krotz and Dregak cut down many of the unarmed women and slew most of the remaining bandits. The few survivors fled into the woods.
Victorious over the starving peasants, the party looted the dead–finding items of value on the leader and the archer–before building a funeral pyre. Camping nearby, their night was uneventful and the next day the party arrived at White Moon Cove.
Here they were received well–it seemed Krotz’s exploits at the Battle of the Loftwood were well known. In idle conversation with the villagers the party discovered the bandits were likely survivors of Ashford – a village ravaged by plague just before winter. The few survivors had apparently taken to the woods and had been reduced by hunger and thirst to banditry because no other village would take them in. The party also discovered White Moon Cove was in desperate need of heroes. An offhand remark about dragons by one of the party was met with polite, nervous smiles but it seemed no one would tell them exactly what was wrong– his was apparently a job for the village bailiff–Baroo Godwyn…