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Thread LXXXVI:
The problem with working retail around Black Friday is that for some stores the madness doesn't end at closing time but instead persists for about two weeks after. Couple that with winter finally making itself known and we find ourselves in this current situation. Not gonna complain about the paycheck, but my apologies on the time between threads.

Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Lamia%20Legacy%20Quest
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LamiaLegacy
Opening Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCQmQwKEEOM
Story Thus Far: https://pastebin.com/QrqewFZb
Season: Early Spring

Money: 1425

Sasha: Skill list
Ranching +4
Scholar +3
Marksmanship +6
Natural Ability (Lamia) +3
Intrigue +4
Casting (Draconic+4 Roc+3 Leviathan+3 Troll+1 Elemental+1)
Falconry +2

"Think you can help me convince him to do his sightseeing later, Mari?" You ask, starting to slither over to where merchant is wandering.

"Uh..." she says, hesitating, "There's only, like, three of us who can translate here at the moment and one of them is Artyom." You watch as she points to where the centaur is slowly brokering a transaction between the booze merchants and one of the braver Casimirans before your gaze returns to the hapless youth she's standing in front of. "This poor kid is way over his head, prolly doesn't know basic sales gestures at that." She whispers, "If I head out with you he's likely to be overwhelmed and we'll have a real riot on our hands."

"Point." You concede, "I'll see what I can do about convincing the guy myself."

You head down the thoroughfare after the merchant, a task made easy by the wide berth the centaurs are giving you. You eventually catch up with him at a jeweler's stall, where the merchant is inspect the wares. The Casimiran shop hand looks between the two of you with an expression eerily similar to the youth that your food merchant left behind.

"Hey." you call out, causing the little man to turn. "Jumping the gun a little early, aren't we?"

He blinks, owlishly, "How so?" Looking to where you're pointing, he takes in the crowd of people around his stall, and Marie's hasty negotiations with the crowd and his beleaguered assistant. Only seeing bafflement on his face, you have to wonder if someone can be this oblivious.

>Gently impress upon him the situation.
>Shout him back to his stall.
>Gently impress upon him the situation.
Poor guy doesn't know what he does.
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>Gently impress upon him the situation.

You sigh as you let the frustration and urge to slap some sense into the man drain out of your system. Very quietly, and without menace, you simple outline the situation to him, taking care to point out that with the enemy targeting the fields any goods that will keep will command a high price right now. While he tries to say he's not concerned about profits, just the adventure, you cut him off. You state in no uncertain terms that while he's in here it is your promise of good conduct that he is acting upon. Eventually the repercussions of a riot finally sink into his skull and he apologies profusely, scuttling back to the stall to the great relief of his assistant. You're a little disappointed you didn't get to the implications of what would happen if your travel papers got revoked because of him, but you're relieved that the situation is resolving itself.

With that bit of fun taken care of, you head back to the stalls to see how things are being handled. The booze merchants are having a devil of a time selling their wares, as the centaurs seem more keen on sampling the product, most offering equivalent amounts of their vodka in exchange. Artyom's doing his damnedest to wrangle some of the more unruly drunks, but even with their stock being hot swapped for more alcohol they are getting a few nice things in barter not to mention flipping their new stock of vodka for a decent price as well.

Back at the food merchant, you note that while seemingly clueless about the political realities the merchant is a natural when it comes to sales, even through the language barrier. With a growing mound of rarer goods, you note that he's partitioned out his wares into little samplers that the Casimiran are scooping up by the package before scuttling off, probably to store the non-perishables within their own domiciles.

The only folks not doing a slew of business are Serrak's boys, who are by and large just standing there with a couple boxes on a folding table. Occasionally a better off szlachta centaur will approach, there will be a muted conversation, usually with Artyom translating, and the hussar will scamper off. You do note however that one of the men is writing something on a list each time this occurs.

>Check in on a merchant? (Specify.)
>Try to get an audience with Lord Bralin?
>Try to get an audience with Lord Bralin
We're not going to get to look around the city with Mari, are we?
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You briefly consider taking a stroll through the town to see the sights but decide against it. You figure that it'd be hypocritical of you to do so after having just reprimanded one of the party for doing the same. Not to mention, had you taken Mari like you had planned that'd leave the caravan with just Artyom translating. Figuring that there will be time for such things later, you see about your next order of business. Arranging the meeting with Lord Bralin springs to mind.

You espy Boris taking full advantage of the equivalent trades over at the liquor merchants, and amble up on him. The easy and lighthearted mood around the table is far cry from the normally skittish centaurs. You notice that more than a few of the centaurs taking advantage of the situation look to be of Kozak stock, though you can't be sure. You suspect they are off duty hussars that are looking for new and exciting ways to get sloshed, but so far things seem just fine.


[We try.] You say modestly, before focusing in on your goal, [Do you still have inroads to talk to Lord Bralin? There are some things I need to discuss with him. Possibly a solution to our bandyta problems.]

You watch as the veneer of inebriation vanishes off his face. [I can do that, yes. Did you have something in mind?]

[Lets just say I'm aiming to take out one of their hideouts, maybe turn it around for my own purposes.]

He nods, [This would be welcome, I will see what I can do.] He says before starting off down the thoroughfare, judging by his gait you suspect that he wasn't entirely faking his drunkenness.

With little to do, you try and field a few questions some of the braver Casimiran have about the caravan and your wares. You do your best to answer their questions, but there are certain concepts that are hard to explain namely due to the differing levels of technological prowess. You're in the middle of explaining production level distilleries when Boris returns, significantly more sober.

[Lord Bralin and the Lord Regent will be glad to have you over for a small private dinner to discuss what you mentioned.] He says, [They also extend their thanks to you for braving the hostilities to bring what supplies you could on the first of hopefully many trade runs.]

[Oh, well, I mean, I didn't really pack anything that fancy.] You say, taken aback. [I'm guessing I'm to come alone?]

[You can bring one guest with you. If only to round out the meeting to a proper four.]

Take Mari.
Artyom would be a smarter choice, and he'll probably be a bit cross that we didn't take him, but I don't really care. I like Mari more.
It doesn't take you long to make up your mind, and you let Marie know that the two of you have got a meeting to attend. You mentally curse to yourself for not bringing anything particularly formal along on this trip, but settle on pulling out a clean set of clothes. Setting them aside, you go back to the curious job of acting as translator for the prospective merchants.

Spending the better part of the day watching the food merchant make more profit than any one man rightly should, you gather up Marie and leave command of the caravan to Artyom and Liama. Heading down the main thoroughfare Marie cocks her head to the side, "Why'd you pick me for this, Artyom'd be a more fitting choice, wouldn't he?"

"Like I said earlier," You say, "There's every chance that the Bralin advisor will make himself known, and you're the most familiar with land spirit phenomena. Not to mention Artyom can stop any faux pas from happening with the caravaneers having lived in a folwark before."

"Still, this is about his home, isn't it?"

You shrug, "Still might be better to wait in his case, he isn't the most rational actor out there. Probably wouldn't like the terms we'll be discussing his own home in, might seem like we'll be looting it if he takes it the wrong way..."

Leaving it at that, you approach the main holdfast and the hussar honor guard. Surprisingly rather than tensing up, they simply direct you in. You are shown through the hallways by an attendant in a silken robe, moving past the doors to the main conference hall you met lord Bralin the first time. You weave through a few roundabout corners until reaching a large door, opening it, you find yourself on a large stone patio enclosed in a greenhouse of crystal or glass. You don't have too much time to marvel when you are beckoned over by one of the two other occupants of the room. Elim waves you over and you approach the low set table where he and Lord Bralin are sitting. [Welcome back Sasha of House Masterson.] He says, quietly, [If you will forgive the lack of decorum, we will talk while we eat, for time is something we have precious little of around here these days. I am to understand you had something of a solution to our Bandyta problem?]

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That I do. I have a number of riflemen ready to fight. I believe you remember how effective one rifle can be. However, I would like to ask for aid from House Bralin in taking back Purobka. I believe that working together will lead to a faster, less costly victory.
I would also like to request that I be allowed to take possession of the land, or that we use it together, once the Bandyta are Removed.
My intentions being to use it as a trading post and as a bulwark against possible attacks on my own lands on the other side of the mountains.
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[That I do. I have a number of riflemen ready to fight. I believe you remember how effective one rifle can be. However, I would like to ask for aid from House Bralin in taking back Purobka. I believe that working together will lead to a faster, less costly victory.] Noting the few blank stares you elaborate, [Upon our return from our last visit here we were followed by a group of Bandyta we dispatched them, but acting on a feeling checked out the ruins of Purobka, Artyom's old home. Inside we found that the Bandyta had taken up residence and are running raids out of it. We also spotted them engaging in some sort of deal with Krasick hussars, a box of unknown contents, probably raid spoils, was exchanged.]

You hear a muffled 'Bastards.' come from the direction of Lord Bralin who promptly focuses on the piece of bread he is eating. Elim, however, has more to say, [Bandyta trying to organize would be a nightmare we don't want to deal with. We have bought some time from Krasick retaliations through keeping Lord Dijkstra as a hostage, but bandyta raids have only stepped up. While we know it is just Krasick trying to worm their way around proper decorum and honor, not having enemy hussars raiding us has freed up at least part of the garrison. How useful they will be remains to be seen, but I feel we could spare a few lances. Not a full banner, but enough to bust up the rabble.] He looks to lord Bralin, who nods in assent.

[How many is that? I've personally saw about a score and a half bandyta when we scouted out the place, maybe more.]

[Roughly thirty two to forty four hussars.] He says, [Depends on which poczty we select. That said, we are not prepared to lay siege to a folwark, even the burned out husk of one. How many soldiers did you have?]

[Little over a dozen rifles.]

[So roughly half a banner. Good. More than enough.] He pauses before turning to you once more, [I trust there is more to it than simply taking out the lawless?]

[I would also like to request that I be allowed to take possession of the land, or that we use it together, once the Bandyta are removed. My intentions being to use it as a trading post and as a bulwark against possible attacks on my own lands on the other side of the mountains.]

Elim lets out a hiss of inhaled breath, and you worry that you've messed up before Lord Bralin himself speaks. [Kutkh holding land? I do not see the other Szlachta liking it, but you have brought food to trade and your intentions until now have seemed honorable. Moreso than they, at the least. I will not stop you should you wish to claim the ruins.]

>I take it the meetings did not go well?
>Change the subject
>Just listen
Would my holding land cause you problems, politically speaking? As to the others, how have makes changed.
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[Would my holding land cause you problems, politically speaking?]

[Any other time, I would have said yes, but given the southern holds don't seem to concerned about their northern allies being boxed off by outlaws and usurpers.] Lord Bralin sighs, dipping his bread in the gravy in front of him.

Elim picks up the thread, [There is a clear lack of leadership among the holdouts. None of us want to see a Krasick on the throne, but its either fatalists or opportunists. Without a rallying figure...]

[There's no crown loyalists if there is no crown. The only upside is that there is some evidence that at least some of House Sigismund escaped.] Lord Bralin sighs. You give a sharp glance over to Elim who remains expressionless. [It is likely that any escaping royalty linked up with my brethren, and the Ataman took them into the wastes to plan their next move. Unfortunately the Krasick have allies all along the western border, any attempt by the Kozaks to link with the southern and eastern loyalists would have to come through Bralin, which explains their zeal in striking here. And Purobka for that matter.]

[So me taking Purobka...]

[Would open up a new front, take the pressure off me, and mayhaps allow me to commit some resources to finding the damn king, or some of his brood.] Lord Bralin says. You're interrupted by a scuffling noise out behind the door you came in from. You and Marie look warily, while Elim pretends not to notice and Lord Bralin just sighs deeper into his food.

>Ignore it for now.
>See what the noise is about.
[...Is that your advisor?]
Let's just ask. They know something is going on.
You give Marie a glance before turning back to the other two, [...Is that your advisor?]

[Yes.] Lord Bralin says with a dull eyed expression.

[Since the meeting with the other houses, Bralin's advisor has been rather... belligerent and nonsensical in his complaints. We have been able to deal with it before, usually by ignoring him.] Elim says, as the noise of scuffle outside builds to a crescendo. Finally the door flies open and the diminutive form of the advisor stomps in.

[Why did you not TELL me that the spawn of the Arrogant, Mad, and Foolish were within the walls? They could be the solution to our problems!] He all but shrieks.

[We have naught to go on, but your gut instinct.] Lord Bralin mutters, mouthing apologies to you.

[And since when has my gut instinct been wrong?] The small figure says. [The should have responded, even if to tell me to bugger off. That they did not try to get the last word in is a cause for concern.]

[The holdfasts could have an embargo on messages.] Bralin posits, only to be rebuffed.

[And since when has that applied to me or mine?] The fae huffs, stomping over to Lord Bralin and scooping some of the food onto a smaller plate.

[I'm sorry, but what are we talking about?] Marie says, curiosity finally getting the better of her nervousness of being around a land spirit?

Looking up, the Bralin advisor speaks through a mouthfull of food, [I sent messages to my bretheren within the Krasick camp, each of the holdfasts of had an advisor I knew of. None of them responded. We don't not respond. Something is the matter, and these two simplespawns will not do anything about it.] He looks at you expectantly equal parts fury and... concern?

>What do you suspect happened?
>What did you want us to do about it?
>I thought you advisors didn't get along, you said so yourself.
[Perhaps the letters were intercepted? Or were you using magic to send it? Moreover, what do you expect us to do about it? We have a lot of other things that we need to do, and while contacting the other friendly holds is on the to-do list, it's still a ways down.]
>12-hour shift
It's fine, Chem.
This, though add, "We might be able to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement once I escort my current charges back."
*"We might be able to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement once I escort my current charges back and we re-take Purobka."
[Perhaps the letters were intercepted? Or were you using magic to send it?] You ask.

Emboldened, the little creature hops up from his spot. [There are... channels, through which we can leave messages for one another. It isn't used often for we don't have much to say to each other that doesn't devolve into cussing matches but to leave a message unanswered is more than a mark of impropriety. It leaves an agitation, a pinprick of agitation within us. Right behind the eyes.] He says, pointing to a spot between ear and temple. [To not answer it suggests that either they are no longer inhabiting to holdfast, which is unthinkable, or that there is another actor blocking any means of communication, which while thinkable is not at all understandable.]

[Moreover, what do you expect us to do about it? We have a lot of other things that we need to do, and while contacting the other friendly holds is on the to-do list, it's still a ways down.]

You're worried this little fairy thing might fly off the handle, but he only gets slightly more agitated. [You've got way more freedom than we do here. None of the simple here can risk leaving lest they get hounded by the Krasick dogs, much less visit their enemies in a time of war. I understand that, however, if you, in your travels, find out why I am unable to contact those in the krasick camp I would like to know immediately.]

[We might be able to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement once I escort my current charges back and we re-take Purobka.] You say speculatively, [We've still got to see where the kozaks went. Though I dunno if the Krasick or their allies will just let us into their hold, especially if I position myself as another power in the region.]

Seemingly satisfied, the advisor stares at you for a second before hefting up Lord Bralin's plate and walking out with it. The Szlachta lord simply sighs, grabbing another and putting some of the remaining food on it.

Well, we need to get every one of our allies on the same page eventually anyway... What do you think, Mari? We need to take Purobka and get the merchants back first, but how high should this go on the to-do list?
Yeah, the local concern we can get done on the way home, so we should knock that out first.
We should probably deal with it on the next go-around.
You turn to Marie, "Well, we need to get every one of our allies on the same page eventually anyway... What do you think? We need to take Purobka and get the merchants back first, but how high should this go on the to-do list?"

She pauses mid-bite, before hastily swallowing. "We've not got the resources to do it this trip, but we have to find the Kozaks anyway, which would supposedly take us into that area when we do go. Anything we can find out can be useful so we ought to head that way sooner rather than later. Not to mention, if Artyom is right and the Purobka advisor is still around, then we could probably question them. Worth a look once we clear the place."

[The local concern we can get done on the way home, so we should knock that out first. We can probably deal with your advisors concern on the next go-around.]

Lord Bralin is visibly relieved, whether that is because he too was concerned about the advisors problem or the prospect of having the little being less agitated for the time being is hard to tell. Conversation turns to your caravan, and the profuse thanks that the two centaur leaders give you for bringing at least some food. Like you suspect, the food situation isn't as dire as the public of Bralin believe, but concern and rumor spread through Szlachta like wildfire, or Vodka in a Kozak camp if Elim's analogy is to be believed. Eventually, Lord Bralin excuses himself leaving the planning stages of your anti-bandit campaign to you and Elim. The Kozak outlines his plan, its not much of one, but going on the limited intel you have, its not a bad, if simple, idea. Since charging lancers into a ruin where all manner of hostiles are is a recipe for disaster the plan hinges on your and your soldiers. Effectivelly you'll be picking off the bandits to either provoke a route or a charge, either way, once they have vacated the building Elim and the bulk of his forces will flank and countercharge. Elim himself will be overseeing Bralin's part in this, something that strikes you as odd, given he's a Kozak not a Szlachta, but you figure there's a reason for it.

[What if the bandyta don't come out?] Marie asks, [It'd kind of put a damper on this whole plan.]

[Bandyta aren't known for digging in, and I believe you are more than capable of harrying them from a safe range at that point.] Elim says, [Consider it a showcase of your claybreakers to the Szlachta, in a more... apt setting.]

Yeah, sniping them from a distance will be no problem. Worst comes to worst, we can lure them out, siege them, or even just try to smoke them out.

What's the place made of, anyway? Is it wood? Stone?
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Wood and stone, when you first hauled Artyom out of the camp the place had been put to the torch. Last time you looked a lot of the charred husks remained, but the walls are solid and the higher class districts were more stone than wood. The bandyta may have done some renovations since taking up residence, you don't know.
okay, so if the place catches on fire, at least we have stonework to rebuild from.

Always good to plan on the place you are attacking to catch on fire. It happens.
Our beastmen's rifles are probably not going to be that great past 100 yards. Well past where most hunting bows and crossbows are effective, but if they have anything 100lbs+ (for normal bows) or 500lbs+ (for crossbows), we may have some problems.

Are wooden tower shields on sale for cheap/can we borrow some larger end shields from Bralin's armoury? We'd just need to prop them up in front of us for arrow and bolt cover, and if they charge us, they'll slow down enemy lancers at least a bit. Pluss, we have bayonets, so that helps.
Forgot name.

In addition, I say that we personally start shooting first to lure them out for our beastmen. Sending more fire over the walls also wouldn't really hurt anything. Everything's already been on fire once.
[That's all well and good, and seems mostly sound.] you say, slowly turning the strategy over in your head, [There's only one problem. Outside of myself and Liama, the rifles my men have are rather more... rudimentary. They are effective, don't get me wrong, but don't have quite the range of the weapon I am using.]

[I am not sure I understand.] Elim says, frowning slightly

You pause for a while, trying to figure out the best terms to explain it. [The people that follow Zhou have only come into my service recently. As such I did not have the equipment to outfit them.] Seeing you're losing him you change your angle slightly, [Have the Casimiran ever needed to enlist the peasantry in times of strife?]

[All Kozaks are warriors, and are bedecked as such.] He says fiercely, but adds, [I have heard tales of the Szlachta needing to do such things to deal with hordes of the fallen. Sadly a billhook is a poor substitute for a runed lance or blade.]

[It is something similar in this case, think of it as a group of hussars that were robbed by Bandyta.] You say, causing him to chuckle slightly at the mental image, [Zhou's people are soldiers through and through, but were not outfitted as such. The weapons they have now are what you would get if you came across such a fighting force, but had to pool together resources to re-outfit them. I am in the process of getting them better equipment and this was the quickest stopgap to stop them from using a pitchfork or the like.]

He nods in understanding, [Is the plan still viable in this case?]

[Liama and I can draw their attention, and I believe there's one other rifle with sufficient range floating around in Zhou's troupe. If we draw them out the rest can ambush them, which will stall their charge long enough for your flanking maneuver to work as well.]

[That seems reasonable, though should it not stop them?]

[Does the Bralin armory have pavises?] You ask, seeing his blank look you elaborate, [Big tall shields, able to be stood up freely?]

[We have mantlets. Wicker things, usually archery targets. Not very durable.]

[They won't have to be, just cover from a few arrows. Though worst cast scenario I can just put the town to the torch. Again.] You say, hoping it won't come to that.

[I can make our lancers bring out a dozen of them if you wish. How soon did you wish to deploy?] He says, laughing quietly.

All things depending, tomorrow would probably be best. If our merchants haven't finished selling everything they have by noon tomorrow, then waiting for the next day would probably be for the best.

The pass through the mountains is on the way to Purobka, yes?
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To use a tremendously out of date map, Purobka would be ~13 hexes west and two hexes south of the hex Bralin is sitting on. Right on the border of the Kozak badlands and the greener flatlands that make up the Casimiran domain. To use simpler terms, Purobka would be slight detour on the way to the pass, not the other way around.
Then we should either leave the merchants here, and expect them to behave themselves, or take them to the pass first, then move to Purobka.

I don't like the idea of taking them with us into a combat zone, I don't like the idea of leaving them here, and I don't like the idea of making the trip longer, but in that order, it is least to greatest on the scale of "I'm okay with this".

Ask Elim if it would be fine to make the trip longer to get the merchents back to the pass
I'm surprised this is both still running and only up to thread 86.
It's due to the fact that:
1 I'm always here to play with Chem, and 2: Chem has a shit internet connection.
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[Is there any chance we can get our merchants back to the pass before we make for this thing? I'm not too pleased with the prospect of leaving them here.]

Elim shakes his head, [Krasick could re-negotiate our supposed armistice in that time. Especially if the scouts and spies they undoubtedly have on the outskirts report our expeditionary force.]

[Taking them into a combat zone is out of the question.] You say simply, picking at the little bit of food left on your plate [So the only option I see left is leaving them here while we take care of this. Is that fine with you?]

[I have no qualms with it.] Elim says quickly, [As Lord Bralin said over dinner, our food situation is not as dire as the populace believes it to be, and the opening of a second front would allow for patrols to relay back and forth, letting us get a good crop planted.]

With that sorted out, you and Marie finish your meal and Elim shows you out personally, along the way you catch sight of Lord Bralin in a deep discussion with his advisor. Judging by the snippets of conversation, you suspect it to be about how to work with their recalcitrant allies. With the expectation of setting out tomorrow, you and Marie head back towards the caravan.

"Miss Masterson?" Marie says, after you travel some distance from the lords mansion.


"I was just wondering, who's gonna stay with the merchants?"


"Well, there's only a couple of us that speak the lingo right?" She says as you both duck aside for a small group of hussars that are turning in for the night. "Artyom'd be furious if he was left behind and you're needed to lead the beastfolk so that just leaves me to stay behind."

"Oh right, didn't think of that."

"I mean, I'd be fine with it." She says hurriedly, "And it'd give me a chance to take a look through the town, see if there's anything you might have missed. Not that I expect you did, but... well I did want to have a looksee. Just wanted to see how you felt about that."

>"Well, if you're volunteering that's fine with me, just don't do anything I wouldn't.
"Dammit. I wanted to do that with you... Nothing can be done about that now, though. The plan's already been formed, and I'll feel better having you making sure that no-one gets into trouble, at any rate. Also, Marie, you know that you can just call me Sasha, right?"
Let's not get to familiar with our staff while working. Can't be having the chain of command getting fuzzy
Yes, we can. We're not a military, and I want to court her. She's also not going to be fighting. In fact, while we're gone, she's in charge of those that are staying behind here.
"Dammit. I wanted to do that with you... Nothing can be done about that now, though. The plan's already been formed, and I'll feel better having you making sure that no-one gets into trouble, at any rate. Also, Marie, you know that you can just call me Sasha, right?"

She grimaces, "I understand, Miss Masterson, but you are my employer and as such I should try to maintain proper decorum."

"Like decapitating phoenix assassins while swearing like a sailor?"

She blushes, "There are some lapses, but I would prefer to do things the right way as much as possible."

"Well, whatever you feel comfortable with. Just don't feel obligated to honorifics."

"I'll keep it in mind."

You smile slightly, "So, while we're gone, you're in charge of those that are staying behind here. Don't do anything I wouldn't."

With that you return to the merchants on the main thoroughfare, unsurprisingly the food merchant has all but sold out, and his wagon is brimming with oddities and merchandise the szlachta have all but thrown at him to stock up on non perishable goods. He has a few things left that don't keep as good, but will likely sell those out tomorrow. The merchant himself is nowhere to be found, and asking the beleaguered assistant, he tells you that his boss ran off to explore the town now that sales have died down. Sighing, you move on to check the rest of your caravan.

The alcohol merchants did pretty well themselves, though most of their goods were consumed outright rather than stockpiled. They still have about half their supply left. You're somewhat concerned until you see the normally cantankerous female merchant looking exceptionally pleased. Investigating, you discover that they are already turning a profit and are shifting into an impromptu bar tending role for tomorrow.

Serrak's men haven't moved from when you left them, worrying you somewhat. When you approach they straighten up and the cart driver beckons you over. "Take a look at this." The orcish looking human says, hurrying to the back of the cart. In the back, you see the same chest they brought their paper in. "Your horse-man buddy talked to that fatter one." He says, "Long story short, Serrak was right and the Boris fella did an equivalent exchange of paper to silk." Opening the chest you're greeted by a rainbow of hues as the shiny fabrics sit folded neatly in one of the chests. "All of them sold in bulk in one transaction."

"How much we looking at here?" You ask, ignoring the temptation to pick through the material.

"Going on Riverport prices, off the dock?" He says, musing, "With the embargo on the phoenix empire? I wanna say ten thousand isens. And that's after expenses. Pure. Profit."

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>tenthousand isens after expenses

Inform the merchants that we're going to deal with Purobka in the morning and that they're staying here under Mari's authority until we get back.
The beastmen, Artyom, and Liama are coming with us.

Pic is how I want us to set up specifically when we get there
Red dots are beastmen, blue dot is us, and green dot is Liama
>mari blushing
You thank the cart driver for the information weakly. With the prospect of a fourfold increase in your current liquid assets on the horizon your more committed to the idea of keeping the caravan as far away from anything that might hurt it as possible. Gathering up your party, you announce that they will be, for the time being, under the command of Marie, and that you will be handling a bandit stronghold with the help of the locals. The merchants are largely indifferent, Serrak's men are too disciplined to show much reaction and the alcohol merchants still have product to sell so they probably figured we were going to stay anyway. The only standout is the little happy whoop coming from the food merchant, who promptly shrinks back when all eyes focus on him.

The issue of lodging is a bit of a sticky situation, but is readily resolved by Liama suggesting you just rough it near the wagons themselves. It's not much different than roughing it out in the field, just instead of degenerate trolls to keep an eye out for its petty thieves. Thankfully, the Casimiran are either too skittish or your minor watch shift is intimidating enough that nobody tries anything. The next morning Liama, Artyom, and you get kitted out and link up with Zhou's beastmen. Bidding the rest of the party farewell you head to the gates of Bralin. You're a bit concerned, as you're sitting on fifteen people on your end and the stickler about the multiples of four in Casimiran operations. Thankfully that worry was for naught as you find Elim at the head of twoscore hussars, all standing in formation. With the kozak filling out the hole left by Marie, that leaves you on a multiple.

You note that six of the hussars have large wicker boards strapped to either flank, presumably the pavise shields that you'll be shielding Zhou's boys with. No offer is made to have them carry it, but in the interest of expedience, you all just set out towards the ruins without complaint.

>1d20 travel roll, lower is better and any actions or questions you may have.
Rolled 12 (1d20)

(I'm not at home. Ignore the trip change)
Rolled 7 (1d20)

And again, because no-one else is here.
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You've not had a cartographer on this side of the mountains, but you always had a rough idea in your mind on the location the few landmarks you've uncovered in the Casimiran lands. As such, you always figured that Purobka and Bralin had a lot more distance between them than it seems right now. Flanked by twenty hussars on either side, your group marches through the flatlands at an impressive speed. Part of it, you figure, is that you're moving with a lot more purpose, and with fourty-odd horsemen in the group terrain difficulties are a non issue. Elim's handled the command of the hussars smartly, and if there is any resentment among the Szlachta about being led by Kozaks, you can't pick any of it up.

Zhou's folks have been keeping up nicely as well, you were a bit worried as they were the only bipeds in the group. The dozen beastfolk have formed a rearguard, keeping behind the organized stampede without flagging in the slightest. As for yourself and Liama, well, you'd be hard pressed to find someone you couldn't keep pace with.

The few scouting vanguards Elim orders ahead turn up nothing. From what you can pick up out of the clipped, terse reports they give before falling back in line is that there is minimal presence of The Fallen and that there is no sign of the Krasick, who apparently are honoring the cease-fire. With little in the way of obstacles your team ends up making camp at the, by the hussars reckoning, three quarters of the way to Purobka proper.

>1d20 travel roll, and any actions you'd like to take.

Apologies on the delay, had to relocate for some house sitting. Should be posting from this location for the threads remainder.
Rolled 7 (1d20)

It's fine, Chem.
Rolled 4 (1d20)

I can't think of any real good actions. Maybe trying to listen for gossip from the vanguards, but other than that, ???
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You can't help but be curious about what you vanguard thinks of this little operation, but are a bit off put by them lapsing into a professional silence the instant you get into earshot. Somewhat expecting this, you task Artyom to do a bit of professional loitering around the camps overnight. Without any disturbances overnight you wake to a hasty breakfast and set right out. On the march you ask the burned hussar what he found out.

[Nothing much.] He says, quietly, [Most are eager to fight something, some are resentful to be led by a Kozak. Others upset that a Kutkh is deciding war policy. As far as they know we just told Bralin about the camp and that this is to secure trade with our folwark.]

"Nothing about our intention on holding it?"

He shakes his head, [I do not feel that they considered that information worth spreading around to everyone.]

You sigh, hoping that it won't cause discontent should your endeavor be successful. You then hear Elim's call to march and fall into line moving onwards Purobka. The rest of the trip is uneventful, and by midday you start to see some landmarks that you have begun to associate with the ruined folwark. On the far side of a ridge, Elim calls a halt. Heading over to where he is, you see above the crest of the ridge the shape of the folwark. Behind you, the Hussars carrying the shields are dropping them now, leaving them for your own soldiers to deal with.

[How were you thinking about having this play out?] The Kozak says, quietly. From your vantage point you have a clear view of the holdfast and the surrounding area. The far side is largely flatland, and fields long since left untended, and there is little chance of setting up a proper ambush there. To the left is the rest of the ridgeline you are currently on, which provides a commanding vantage point, but is a fair distance away from the holdfast proper. There is a a small defile near there though that would allow the hussars to get a nice running gallop, provided the bandits could be lured out. On the right, the hills slope a little less sharply, and from here you can see the small vantage point where you initially spied upon the bandits in the town proper well within ball and powder range. Only disadvantage there would be the complete lack of any real physical obstructions if the bandyta decide to charge out in force.

Well, let's spend a day observing them. See if they leave, when they leave, how many leave, and the general disposition of how many are in the fort.

Then, we can either attack them as they are returning so that they are away from their keep, or attack the keep while they are out so we can take the remainder out when they return.

If they're straight up not going out, we will have to figure out some way to draw them out. gotta get some fire lines on them, you know?
Have Zhou's men set up the shields along the right flank and observe the bandits as >>2178758 suggests.
Keep the Hussars out of sight of Purobka until we're more sure of what's going on.

Also, how tall are the fields?
Rolled 11, 17, 8 = 36 (3d20)

Barking a few orders in Phoenix, you set Zhou's men to the task of setting up along the right ridge. Almost immediately they set to work stripping down some of the higher spring grasses and weaving them in and out of the straps holding them together, Elim and Artyom cock an eyebrow at you, but you just shrug, trusting in the beastfolk to know what they are on about when it comes to fieldcraft. After all, none of them had been spotted the whole time you had scouts out in this country.

It takes five minutes before you figure out they've rigged a rudimentary camouflage out of the local grasses, and arranged the strands in such away that they can deploy the pavise shields without giving too much indication of what they are actually hiding behind. Suitably enveloped in the deceptively durable weeds, the beastfolk go prone, looking to you for orders.

You send the better part of the day looking through your illusory scope at the town, well up on the ridgeline. Best you can figure, there are at least a dozen bandits manning the camp at any one time. Those that have came out have been doing so in groups of four, a facet which surprises the Casimiran in your party, from what they've seen of Bandyta, most don't follow that particular etiquette, preferring to use everyone they had on hand, usually by necessity. There's no order to the shifts though, and it seems the warbands come and go as they please. You've singled out the leader though, at least you think so, a lean and wicked looking centaur with a banner and a plethora of looted hussar gear. Were it not for the mismatched silks, you'd probably figure him for a particularly brutish noble.

As your staring down through the scope, you hear a polite cough behind you. You see Elim standing below the ridge crest. [The hussars are getting restless. If you have a plan, it might be best to put it into action soon.]

Rolled 4 (1d20)

I have something, yes. I'm going to start picking them off. If they don't charge out to try to get at whatever's killing them, then they're going to have to keep their heads down. In that case, I'll need advice on what the best insults to hurl at them would be. If rage at losing their comrades won't spur them to action, perhaps some good insults could get them to come out.
Though, if we had bait, that would be even better. They may be dishonorable filth, worth less than the shit used to fertilize a field, but they'd still care about someone that they depend on to survive. Capturing one of the groups that they have outside of the walls and sitting them in the field would be amazing bait. They wouldn't even need to be alive all the way for it to work... At any rate. I'll start trying to get them to come out shortly. Have your men ready.
(Wasn't supposed to roll. Ignore that.)

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