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Towards the end of the afternoon Sergei, Oleg, and Raun take the bodies of the bandits out of the fort on one of Oleg's old carts. They find a nice spot a ways south of the fort, and much to Oleg's delight, they mount the head of the bandit leader on a sharpened stake. The rest of the bodies are tossed in a shallow mass grave after a half hour's digging. Oleg spits on the grave as a final farewell before you make your way back to the trading post to rest and plan your next move.
In the morning, it's decided that finding the bandit camp can wait; they'll either flee the area, try to attack a fortified position, or stay put, and in any case you'll either find them, or they won't be a problem for some time.
Oleg and Svetlana each have favors to ask of you, but they are not very time-sensitive. You also take note of a number of wanted posters at the trading post, detailing several notorious creatures and characters that need to be dealt with. There seems to be plenty to do in the Greenbelt other than simple exploration.
In the morning, you leave the majority of your gear at Oleg's and mount up on your newly-acquired horses. Traveling light, you decide to ride southwest a few miles, where Oleg and Svetlana told you the isolated hut of Bokken the potion-maker can be found. The morning ride is pleasant but uneventful, until storm clouds begin to gather. A terrific thunderstorm tears through the area, leaving you windswept and soaked. Towards the twilight of evening you finally find the simple mud-and-wattle hut of the hermit.
As you dismount, the potion-maker emerges from underneath a hide flap that serves as his door. The man is disheveled and unpleasant-looking, with an unsettling look in his eyes. His voice is high-pitched, and he speaks very quickly.
"Visitors! Hello! Come in, come in! What weather we've been having, you must be exhausted!"
The hermit beckons you inside his hovel. Inside it's warm and relatively dry, although the collection of hides, furs, and simple wooden furniture have a particular stink to them. It's clear Bokken rarely bathes. In the center of his hut, over a bed of hot coals, is a large iron pot, inside of which bubbles some manner of brew.
"I rarely get visitors out here," Bokken goes on, "I get some traffic from Oleg's, no doubt where you set out from, yes? They buy my potions from time to time, and I have Oleg order me ingredients to make more. I have some for sale, if you're interested. You seem the adventuring type, and there's always use for a good potion, of course, of course! Lots of danger, if you get much south of here. Monsters, bandits, kobolds, mites... and my no-good brother! Curse him!" He holds up his right hand, indicating his missing pinky finger. "Bastard cut this offa me the last time he hit my mother, Desna rest her soul. But he took off right after to live in a hollow tree down south rather than face the guards, so I guess it all worked out well enough."
As he rambles, he gives Raun a strange look, and sniffs his face. "Say... you smell like you've had one of me potions recently! Tasted good, didn't it? The secret is fangberry juice. Always got to use fangberry juice to make them potions tasty! ...I'm runnin' low, myself. Seems like them berries are harder and harder to find, 'cept down south a ways, a good 55 miles or so, there's a great big thicket'o fangberries. I'm getting too old to go galavanting through the Greenbelt these days, but if you stumble across any fangberries, bring'em to me, you hear? I'll give you a discount on me potions!"
The old coot seems ready to babble for hours if you let him...
Bokken nods eagerly at the praise of his potions.
"They call'em Fangberries fer two reasons: your pretty lady friend has the right of it, they've got quite a bite to them, a flavor that really snaps you awake! But the second reason is 'cause the bushes they grow on have thorns as sharp as fangs! Best be careful if you try to pick any."
The hermit's words coincide with what Sergei knows of the fruit. Fangberries, while rare, grow in large thickets that can flay the skin from a careless man's flesh, so dense are the thorns. Fortunately, this usually deters large animals from eating them, and thus large predators from haunting such groves.
At the mention of the stag medallion, Bokken narrows his eyes conspiratorially.
"Aye, I heard that them medallions some of the bandits are wearing are part of a deranged cult! They worship a terrible animal demon, and make sacrifices to it to gain dark favors. Best be careful with those bandits. If you come across one'o the medallions, best to bury it in a river bed, throw some salt over your shoulder, spin 'round three times, and spit on your toes to ward away evil spirits!"