22 July 2011
After an extended rest (and we didn’t lose any of our minions, either!) we part company with the Halflings and continue upriver. The goblins’ trained vultures — their aerial scouts — are being left behind, but we are making only about 15 miles a day along the river … less than that, obviously, as the vulture flies. We figure we have about 50 more miles of upstream travel before we will be obliged to change our mode of travel.
Two days later, with a spectacular perception roll our lookouts spot a lone figure on a bluff overlooking with river: he is in hiding, and probably a lookout himself. He is on the east bank (that’s the Empire side), a cloaked humanoid sitting in a tree. We decide to land, send the stealth team up, with the boat going back to midriver and making upriver progress. With normal rates and the winding of the river, the boat will not quite keep up with them. As before, the stealth team is Cruhorn, Mik, Lann, and Kleft (the last tagging behind at a distance).
Our sneaks get within 200 feet of the figure, when the latter obviously spots the boat on the river and scopes it out. The figure is a Half-Orc, who vocalizes and two other guys — a human and a Tiefling — come out of the brush and they converse. The discussion is in Common but is hard to hear, but it is clear that this trio is the whole of their group. It is apparent that the point the three occupy is the best lookout vantage point for keeping watch on the river to the north. During their conversation the boat does see the extra two figures, and after a minute, the Tiefling trots off over the far side of the bluff.
At that point the boat maintains position in the river, and Cruhorn and Mik set out after the Tielfing. Cruhorn is spotted and challenged by the Half-Orc, who eventually sends the Human down after him as the “negotiation” dissolves rapidly and weapons come out. The boat witnesses some of that exchange, and everyone hears Cruhorn’s gunshots. The Human is subdued, but the Half-Orc bunnies, bellowing, “The Imperial Legion is here!” Mik traps and hogties the Half-Orc, but hears a couple dozen people further south, where smoke from a campfire is visible.
The whole stealth team converges on Mik and the Half-Orc, and learns from him that “We’re Turathoi,” (more fully, Pitoturathoi, a loose alliance of people dedicated to the restoration of Bael Turath … the people are, of course, outlaws in our Empire). There is a patrol coming, so our folks try to stealth their way back to the boat (which has moved toward the east bank), leaving the prisoner behind with his gob stopped with a wad of leaves. They hear bickering once the patrol gets to the Half-Orc after they head off.
There is a pursuit, but it breaks off when it’s clear they cannot stop our guys from reaching the boat. After collecting the landing party, the boat rows for the west bank and heads upriver. Taking a short rest, we decide to just try running past them in midstream. This plan dissolves almost immediately, because we see they have a boat that is larger than ours, with an upper deck (sort of) and substantial screens around the sides so they can shoot from cover. They also have an animated arbalester, some heavy firepower.
We stand in and have a firefight, with our boat manuvering past them and then pulling alongside and grappling. Listar and Cruhorn are targeted in particular (since they lay down zones that do a lot of damage to the enemy) and get put down as the two boats lock together. The melee is short but sharp, and Listar is all but knocked out again by the mage’s dying shot (Mik croaked the mage), and Sasha gets into the below-decks space, makes some mayhem, but pays for it. Some of their oar slaves come over the side onto our boat to escape, but with our melee types breaking in and cutting up their leadership, the remnant surrenders with just six left. Among those six is the Half-Orc lookout.
The arbalester was destroyed in the firefight but could be rebuilt. We will be receiving a packet of information and our actions will be determined after we get that. We lose one of our minions, and there is some loot collected, but as it is 0015 PDT we break with a promise of information to come.