After their night of stories and drinking with the satyrs, The Lethal Ladies decided to continue on rather than going back to town to silver their weapons. While they knew they would face a wererat, they thought they could handle it well as everything else encountered so far.
Aryn laughed and wondered if the hangovers contributed to no one arguing with Artemis in the morning about proceeding more cautiously that day. It slowed them, but they were able to avoid angering more of the local wildlife. As evening drew forward, the party came across a small hut in a clearing speckled with drying racks. A trail of smoke rose from the chimney.
“These could be the thieves.” Artemis cautioned.
“But if they are not, we should warn whomever lives here about the thieves.” Kuori argued.
Aryn nodded agreement. “You two stay back here ready to act, while I go knock on the door with Kuori.”
Valgrim shrugged. Artemis rolled her eyes at their brash behavior for the hundredth time this trip, but made ready with her bow.
A bushy and burly man answered the door. Bags under his eyes shouting to the world a clear lack of sleep in recent days. He introduced himself as DeBoushie, the local trapper, and invited them into his home after taking their measure in turn. DeBoushie told them he already knew about the thieves, and woke every night at even the slightest sound trying to protect the furs and skins he intended to sell in town next season.
He gladly accepted their offer to help keep watch through the night in exchange for a meal, and everyone slept better behind a closed door with a warm fire keeping the room comfortable. In the morning, DeBoushie asked them if they were certain about going after the thieves. When the party, even Artemis, were adamant about continuing and carrying out their mission, DeBoushie went into his back room and shortly returned holding two daggers toward them.
“These are silver daggers. You will need them against what you will face. I suspect they are camped at the old temple ruin about a half day away. If you can end the threat they pose, you have my thanks.”
The party accepted the weapons with gratitude, and said their farewells to make for the temple.
Approaching a Bandit Camp
The Lethal Ladies approached the temple ruins cautiously, and found a group of men laughing and arguing. It seemed word of the town hiring the guild had not reached the thieves yet, and maybe all the peril along the way was worth the speed.
Valgrim proposed waiting until they drank enough or at least fell asleep before attacking. While the other three agreed with him, they also wondered if there was a safe way to scout more details about the camp while they waited. The open area around the camp made that risky in daylight, so they were scratching their heads until Aryn remembered she could turn into a snake and scout around in that form much more easily.
The leader was easy to identify. They might not be able to tell why he talked to his shoulder all the time, but they knew who the wererat likely was and could plan accordingly. As night fell, and only one man remained on watch, they made their way to the cliff face, against which the camp was set, and crept forward. Artemis stopped first and took aim at the watchman, ready to fire the moment anyone was noticed. Aryn stopped next, a little closer, ready to entangle those sleeping in the lean-to should an alarm be raised.
Valgrim and Kuori clanked forward, staring intently at the man on watch and ready to charge the moment he noticed anything. Another clank of their armor and his head cocked to the side. One more and his eyes widened at the sight of a giant woman and short, hairy man creeping toward him. They charged, and an arrow thunked into the man’s side, making him cry out, before he took cover behind one of the barricades. Vines and other plants shot out of the ground around the lean-to, and the waking men thrashed about as they struggled to escape.
They were quickly dispatching the lackeys, but the boss rat kept disappearing into the underbrush only to pop up in another spot and throw more daggers at them. Kuori threw her silver dagger at him, missing, only to have the thief pick it up and pocket it with a wave of thanks in her direction before disappearing again and popping up next to Aryn.
She dodged time and again, but strikes would still land and she slowed even as her friends eliminated the last of the lackeys. Finally, they came to her aid and struck at the wererat, but little seemed to affect him. He shrugged off hit after hit and kept attacking. Aryn was too slow one to many times and went down. The thief slipped away and stabbed at Artemis. Kuori and Valgrim caught up to him, but not in time to keep Artemis from falling to his blows as well.
Another hack, another slash. They dodged and took stabs and bites until finally…finally…the rat was eliminated. The two of them rushed to their friends, who were barely clinging to life, and did not even notice the invisible creature take wing away from the scene. Its departure released the seal on the hidden cave door, and the silver dragon trapped within. He would resume his care of this land, he told them, but the party needed to leave his lair immediately.
As quick as they could, they grabbed the items stolen from the town and left the dragon in peace. DeBoushie sheltered them once more when they returned his knives, thanking him profusely and taking the time for Artemis and Aryn to heal. Finally, they could return to the town victorious, return their stolen valuables, and let them know their protector was free once more to care for these lands.
Thank you to my friends for allowing me to share our misadventure. I hope you enjoyed reading about it, and I will bring you more adventures of The Lethal Ladies as we play again.
I have some cover art to share, so next week I will be back with another post on writing / publication.