Part 1: Trouble at Oleg's



"Yes of course we will help, this is the very thing we have set out to do. If you have room for us could we rest and freshen a bit, we have been on the road many days, then we will hear of your bandit trouble I am certain we can help."

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Zarina Ka'thar

Rushing forward to put a soothing arm around the woman, Zarina's thoughts of gaining a hot bath quickly fade in light of the couple's plight and the talk of bandits. Heart hammering in her chest at the prospect of a confrontation, she still resolutely comforts the older woman. "You are no longer alone in this, good mistress," she says kindly. "In the days that I have known these companions of mine, I have seen them spar with each other." Her eyes seek out Missoi and Vortek, stepping aside enough for the woman to see their weapons and armor. "And fight," she adds, her gaze landing on the scrappy halfling. "You are no longer alone," she repeats firmly, her hand closing around the woman's tightly in a gesture of solidarity.

"Besides, do you see those women over there?" She waves her hand in the direction of Brunhilde and Mallory. "They have guns," she says with a fierce grin. Turning back to Svetlana, she looks the woman squarely in the eyes. "Once we're all settled in, perhaps you can tell us everything you know so we can prepare. For instance, how many bandits are we to expect?"

Missoi turns to the barbarous halfling and smiles grimly. "Not yet, Skapti, but it's coming."

An Extremely Tall Chap named Magnolia

"Not quite yet," says Magnolia, now standing near Skapti. "I think this is the point where we talk for a while, rest a bit, and then wait some more. Try not to kill anything that can say, 'Stop, don't kill me!' in the common tongue for a bit."

Magnolia had briefly considered the woman's offer for aid, but decided against it. The foot bath sounded evil and Magnolia couldn't really conceive of the notion of giving a bath to his feet. Bath water was deadly, and might give a person all manner of illnesses. Soaking one's feet might put the illnesses farthest from the heart, but then the illnesses would just attack his already sore feet. It reeked of witch doctoring to Magnolia. Maybe she was just a really good looking witch doctor?

Skapti's grin from Missoi's answer is replaced by a scowl after Horny Man's comment. He sits quietly on Dog for a moment while he thinks. Dog chews on some grass and then spits it up.

A slow smile spread across Skapti's ugly little face and he urges Dog over towards one of the mules.

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"See Oleg?, doesn't hurt to ask" Turning to you Svetlana adds "Please come sit, eat and we will tell you all that we know, I'm sure my husband will let you use our guest house free of charge for your kindness" she glances back to Oleg as if the decision was clearly made. Oleg just grumbles unhappily as he goes to wash.

The serving table is clean and ready, several plates an utensils are lined up but clearly not enough for a group as big as yours.

Svetlana does her best to serve food as quickly as possible, a good homemade stew and some fresh bred which despite their troubles is in clear abundance. While doing this both Oleg and her explain their problems during the meal.

Oleg starts by saying "The bandits' first visit was 3 months ago - they threatened to burn down the trading post and abduct Svetlana for their own amusements back at their camp if we didn't agree to hand over all of the furs and trade goods we had accumulated over the past month from hunters and trappers." Oleg seems shamed at his inability to do anything about it.

Svetlana continues "Since then, the bandits have returned twice more, each time within an hour of sunrise on the first day of the month. We've learned the hard way to have their 'taxes' ready and hand them over quickly... the bandits usually seem eager to return to their camp somewhere, I think their camp could be about a day's ride away from here"

Oleg exclaims "The first time the bandits visited, there were two dozen of them thugs led by a cloaked man armed with a bow, and a woman who carried two small hatchets. The woman did the majority of the talking on that first trip, damn crazy woman and her black sense of humor nearly chopped off my hand..." Oleg seems angered but looking at Svetlana he does his best effort to control himself

Svetlana adds "She looked really dangerous and scary... she took my wedding ring right off my hand and tossed it to one of her men as payment for 'not shortening Oleg's reach'" shivering as she remembers.

Oleg continues: "On the second and third visit, only the crude hooded man accompanied the bandits. The second visit, he came with only half as much other men, while on the third he only came with even less. I suspect that the bandits have let down their guard now that they had us completely cowed. Hopefully, when they visit tomorrow they'll be even fewer in number, and hopefully the scary woman with the hatchets won't be with them"

An Extremely Tall Chap named Magnolia

Magnolia is paying attention enough to notice Skapti saunter off. He follows the direct line of path (assuming of course that Skapti doesn't really ever 'circle around' a target) and realizes that his path takes him into the mules.

He spares a glance to Missoi, his face clearly saying, "Uh oh."

He listens to Oleg and Svetlana's story, but offers no comment.

Catching Magnolia's glance, Missoi follows it to the sight of Skapti sneaking off. After a moment's consideration of the possible implications of pitting himself against the halfling's desires, Missoi throws his concern aside and barks out, "SKAPTI!"

* * *
Missoi eats his fill as he listens to the couple's tale. Once they've finished, he sits up. "Well, we have a few things on our side. One, the fact that they can't afford to routinely send the twenty or so men they sent the first time means that they're unlikely to have many more altogether. We don't have quite that number, but what we lack in that regard I reckon we more than make up in terms of our capabilities." The half-elf's tone is steady and unthreatening, but his visage is deadly serious. "The fact that they're likely to send only a subset of that group initially means that we'll likely be able to further tip the scales in our favor."

"I say we engage the group they send on the morrow, keeping at least one alive for questioning; the important thing will be to prevent any of them from slipping away so that they can warn the others. Once we've subdued the initial group, it should be a simple matter to track them back to their camp and take care of the rest."
Stopping for a moment to gauge the looks of the others, he adds, "It is not my intention to make decisions for us all, of course; these are just my thoughts. What do the rest of you say?"

Throughout his speaking, the others can't help but notice the subtle but undeniable transformation that takes place as the half-elf talks of battle and tactics: the calm, reserved demeanor that he usually carries has been replaced with steely calculation and an unflappable willingness to serve the bandits their faith.


Itomo enjoys the stew and the fresh bread, the best meal he has had since....well actually he can't quite remember a better meal.
"Your thoughts mimic mine exactly Missoi, put the archers.....and rifle-women up on the tower platforms hidden from view with the up front fighters hidden below perhaps in the storehouse or wherever the goods the bandits take are stored. The bandits arrive Oleg leads them to us and we take them by surprise." Looking to Svetlana and Oleg. "Do you know the name of the hooded man, or the hatchet woman, did they have any distinguishable features?"

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