The village of Vintiver was left in a better state than it was found. While the humans and the elves worked together to help each other rebuild what they had both lost, the heroes responsible made their way south to Logerswold, their final destination.
Glad that their perilous detour was behind them, the y finally made it to the Ruswold Valley, a valley between hilly plains that touched and crossed the border of the Brecilian Forest. Night had fallen before the heroes could reach the village, so they pitched camp and foraged for food.
While the night was still young, they were approached by three disgruntled soldiers, looking for a fight. The soldiers rudely confronted the heroes, taking nearly every response as an offense. Linnea noticed that the soldiers wore the heraldry of the Krole family, a local family who had been leaders in the Ruswold for generations.
The soldiers were talked down and they left as grumpy as they arrived. They did not bother the heroes for the rest of the night.
The next day, as they heroes continued their journey, they were approached by armed men on horses patrolling the roads who inquired their destination. Upon hearing that they would hear the words of Trumhall, the new bann of the Ruswold, the horsemen were more than happy to escort the heroes to the bann’s camp.
The camp was a vibrant collection of working men and women, farm animals, and soldiers marching and drilling. A keep was under construction and a wooden soldier’s barracks had been erected recently. The soldiers guided the heroes to a large tent where they found Bann Trumhall and Blacktail, his mabari companion. The new, young bann explained that he and his town Logerswold had developed a large problem with local bandits, and while he does have forces who could do a search, they do not know where the bandits are camped. Sending his own forces on a search for a bandit camp in the Brecilian would not only be meaningless, it would leave Logerswold and the surrounding Ruswold Valley unprotected from any attack. Therefore, he saw fit to put out a call for adventurers to help. Adventurers could travel light, be more difficult to notice, and would be more than happy to help themselves to the spoils that the bandits have stolen.
The bann shared with the heroes a harsh story of the working men and women of the town had finally had enough of waiting around for the bann to handle the bandits. They wished to return to work, and as much as Trumhall reminded them that they would receive no protection, they saw their only options before them: starve, or go to work and risk violent death. The freeholders chose to take their chances to feed themselves and their families. Trumhall had not heard from them freeholders in days, and feared the worst.
While the heroes listened to the bann’s plea for help, they were joined by a group of three more adventurers who had answered the call. A lumbering fool named Hocke, a detached sneak named Shadow, and a familiar face, Pryft. Evidently, Pryft had found himself some company since the last time him and Asha had met. He and his allies planned on beating the heroes to the bandit camp to help themselves to the riches the bandits had stolen. Pryft left a rushed goodbye as Hocke and Shadow left ahead of the heroes.
As the heroes concluded the deal with bann Trumhall, they were addressed by a pair of men dressed in the regalia of house Krole. Shunned by the men of Trumhall’s camp, and wanting to do little with them in the first place, they found it easy to approach the heroes with a request from Vauldur Krole to meet with them. Unsure, but not threatened, the heroes agreed to the meeting.
Vauldur Krole’s manor was large, defended, and strong, but empty and quiet at the same time. While soldiers may have been their once, they all seemed to have moved on, and only a handful of servants and militiamen remained behind.
The heroes were taken directly to Krole’s quiet study at the top of his manor. The former bann succinctly and simply asked if they were the ones who his former soldiers had accosted the night before. The heroes recalled the encounter with little worry, but all the same, Krole offered a short apology for their actions. While this was the end of Krole’s business with the heroes, they couldn’t help but ask a few questions.
Krole had been ousted as the bann because of several factors. First, while it may not have been the most outspoken reason, Krole was a gruff man with little like. He was old, tired, angry, and not pleasant to look at. He had lost a leg while defending his home, and this only hurt his image as an inspiring leader. Second, Krole had been making only slow progress with the bandit problem when it first appeared, and the freeholders of the Ruswold were dissatisfied. Third, a landless lord named Trumhall, a charismatic and inspiring young man, appeared and managed to fend off two attacks from the bandits with his own retainers. Thus, the freeholders saw fit to vote and replace the old with the new. Trumhall became bann, and Krole was left with nothing but his family’s estate.
The estate, Asha argued, could still help the families who needed shelter, and the soldiers who needed a place to rest and train. The Krole family had owned the land for three ages, and Vauldur saw no reason to hand it over to the new bann. The bann dismissed their reasoning, but was left in thought as the open-hearted heroes were kindly led from the premises.
Just outside the Krole manor, a plume of smoke rose from the north, and frantic soldiers tried to strap on their armor in response while servants ran for the wells shouting that bandits had attacked the wagon.
The heroes did not reach the wagon in time to save anyone. The driver was butchered and burned as a sick message. As the heroes looked upon his corpse, a hail of arrows assaulted them from two sides. The bandits had not left, and were waiting in ambush for the response from Krole’s men. The heroes rushed to the bow-wielding bandits, but they had horses nearby, and were able to escape into the thick and winding Brecilian.
Wasting no time, the heroes remembered that Trumhall suggested that they investigate the logger’s camp in the forest for clues as to where the bandits went. With the trail in front of them, they enter the Brecilian Forest once again.
The trail was rugged, and bandits waited around every corner and tree, but they were hunted down by the heroes before they could report to their camp, but not before they managed to capture and interrogate one for the directions to the camp itself.
Following the landmarks left by the captured bandit, the heroes drew close to the logger’s camp, and it was as the bann feared. The villagers who had come to work were ambushed from all sides and killed where they stood, tools in hand. Some were hung by their necks as a warning to others, and the rest were left on the ground to rot.
Quickening their pace, the heroes followed the last few landmarks to their quarry: the bandit’s camp lay ahead.