Episode three begins with a fade in to a quiet forest. Three people stand around an unconscious man bound by ropes. As the camera fixates on the three, we see that it is our heroes: Corinth, Hayley and Layanos.
Hayley kicks the unconscious bandit until he comes to; then kicks him a few extra times for good measure. When he’s able to focus, the three question him about the whereabouts of Natalia and the rest of the bandit clan that took her captive. Learning that they have proceeded to the West in search of Natalia’s made-up gypsy caravan, we dispose of the bandit and head off to track them (after convincing Hayley that there’s more benefit from this than just rescuing Natalia).
Meanwhile, the bandit leader grows tired of traipsing through the forest with an impertinent gypsy and continues to question her about the made-up caravan. Natalia’s bluffing abilities fail to convince just as she manages to free herself from her bonds. Some of the bandit mooks jump her and pin her to the ground while the other goons go to investigate a conveniently distracting nearby clicking noise. To their dismay, the bandit clan discovers that a rather large beetle is baring down on them and fighting ensues as Natalia struggles against her captors.
During this exchange, Corinth, Hayley and Layanos manage to creep up on the scene and opt for different strategies of attack. Hayley sneaks around to confront the bandits attempting to restrain Natalia, Corinth simply approaches them and Layanos boldly walks out into the middle of the whole group. With Hayley’s sneak attack aid, Natalia is freed of her bandit captors as Layanos draws some of the other bandits’ ire. Fortunately, a portion of them are preoccupied with the giant beetle who proves most effective at skewering them. A mixture of the beetle and our team takes down all of the bandits and we then square off against the insect. Fortune favors us and we all manage to land successive hits on the beetle, reducing it to crusty goo before it has a chance to skewer any of us.
After looting the bodies and resting up, we proceed back to the bandit camp and finish searching the area. To our dismay, we do not locate Svetlana’s missing ring; however, Natalia finds some potent flasks of alcohol and gets quite drunk. Still resolved to eventually find the ring for dear Oleg, we continue on our quest of exploring the area. Layanos remembers a cave we encountered previously and suggests we actually go investigate it.
Once we arrive, we work up the courage to descend into the depths and to our drool-inducing delight (at least in Hayley’s case) we discover that there is a vein of gold running through this small cave. Noting it on our map, we vow to come back and mine the gold some day.
Exploration and mapping becomes the norm for awhile until we come upon a lone tree sitting in the middle of a vast plain. It catches Natalia and Layanos’ eye and we contemplate burning it down for a bit. However, noticing nothing of particular interest about it, we abandon the fire-talk and continue on a little ways before camping out for the night.
That evening, little creatures visit our camp as we slumber and Layanos is vexed by the appearance of tiny footprints even though Hayley checked to make sure nothing was taken when she first noticed. Conferring with Douglas, Layanos is led to believe that the footprints lead back to the tree. Rousing everyone else, he convinces us to investigate.
After we make it back to the tree, Layanos spends some time observing its’ base and discovers an opening between some of the roots. With little thought, we all climb down into a cramped tunnel underneath the tree. Eventually, we hear voices conversing in an unknown language some way ahead of us and, losing his patience as we sit debating what to do in the cramped space, Layanos shouts an insult at whatever is speaking before high-tailing it back outside. The rest of us quickly follow Layanos and prepare ourselves for whatever pops out of the hole. Three large centipedes soon appear and we deftly hack them to pieces. Having had enough of this tree, Natalia then throws six of her recently acquired alcohol flasks into the hole and starts burning the tree from below. This move brings much more than we bargained for however.
The fire burns below for a short while before some enraged subterranean inhabitants emerge to do battle with their home’s attackers. A giant centipede, a handful of mites and a large tick with mite rider spew forth to deal major damage. Although we attempt to fight to the best of our ability, the tick and the centipede prove to be skilled at inflicting punishment and we soon find ourselves in dire straights. Corinth, the brave swordlord, stays in the middle of the fray only to be beaten into unconsciousness. Although Hayley manages to stabilize him with a potion, he had sustained too many injuries while surrounded by our foes and is killed in a horrifying act of violence. The rest of us barely manage to escape with our lives and we make the trek back to Olegs with our heads held low.
When we arrive back at our home-away-from-home, we tell our friends what has befallen dear Corinth. We know there is little hope that we will be able to procure the magic necessary to revive him. However, after the sad story has been told, Oleg mentions that a crate arrived for us. Exploring its’ contents, we find packages from Lady Aldori. These packages contain useful items, armor and weapons for each member of the group. However, not wanting to disgrace the generosity of their gift to Corinth or our fallen friend’s memory, we send the Aldori sword back to Lady Aldori with word of Corinth’s passing and with a note about the completion of the bandit quest they had tasked us with. Then, knowing that a replacement would be sent for our fallen comrade, we take some time and camp out at the Trading Post.
During our stay, Natalia continues to make music with Frederick, get drunk and dance. Hayley explores, chats and casually keeps up a relationship with Jarek, and Layanos cares for Douglas, broods and sulks. The week flies by with the exception of two particularly eventful days.
The first of these days leaves Hayley doubled over with laughter and tears streaming down her face as a routine of slapstick comedy transpires between Layanos and Natalia. As Natalia is attempting to perform tricks on horseback, Layanos, who had previously been trying, and failing, to put her to sleep, finally manages to at least put the horse she’s on to sleep. The horse slumps over, Natalia tumbles, Hayley laughs and the gypsy retaliates by repeatedly trying to kick the wizard in the balls but only succeeds in injuring her toes. With each successive toe injury, Hayley laughs and cries harder at Natalia’s misfortune.
The second of these days involves Jarek seeking Layanos’ advice in writing a love poem. Messing with the poor, foolish solider, Layanos tells him to spell “party” as d-u-m-b-a-s-s. When Jarek reads the poem to Hayley, he soon finds himself up against the wall with her blades pressed against his throat. After soiling himself, he tells her that Layanos is the one that helped him with the spelling and Hayley stalks off to find the wizard meditating on top of one of the towers. She draws close and warns him that he will pay in his sleep in a harsh whisper. Seemingly unfazed, Layanos continues meditating.
Later that day, however, Layanos sends a mouse courier dragging a small pouch to Hayley. Inside she finds an apology note and 20gp in an attempt to make amends. Appreciating a good bribe, Hayley only resorts to sneaking to Layanos’ bedside during the night and slashing his backpack. Layanos, perturbed, is at least able to quickly mend his backpack with his magical abilities.
The rest of the days pass by in relative obscurity and eventually our new addition arrives at the Trading Post. A halfling druid by the name of Samba Tiburon enters the grounds accompanied by his animal companion, Stripes the tiger. After rather blunt introductions, the new group heads out the next morning to continue mapping the area after Layanos is assured that Stripes will not devour Douglas.
The exploration and mapping takes a bit longer than we have been accustomed to because of our newest additions stubby legs and slower pace. Although most nights prove uneventful, one night Natalia is alerted by rustling bushes while on watch. She wakes up the rest of the group and we gather near the bush, which appears much larger than any of us remember. We try to determine what might be the cause of this sudden size increase. Our new druid friend suggests that some sort of plant monster hides in the bushes and, tired of the guesswork, Hayley fires a crossbow bolt into the thicket. We then quickly discover that the hunch was correct as a large plant monster steps out from the bush and begins to attack.
Stripes, the feral beast he is, rushes up to battle the plant only to be smacked down with brutal force. Divining that this monster is beyond our capabilities, Layanos advises us all to run. When we notice that the monster loses interest in Stripes after he is rendered unconscious, Layanos takes the opportunity to revive Samba’s companion and the three of them begin to run from the area. Hayley cautiously tries to keep her distance and fire crossbow bolts at it, while Natalia sticks around to attempt daring stupidity. Lighting a torch on fire, she throws it at the monster to no avail. It rushes up to Natalia but thankfully doesn’t destroy her as Hayley continues to chip away at its’ health slowly. As the plant beast turns from Natalia, she escapes through the trees. Suddenly rather alone, Hayley finds the monster bearing down on her but manages to avoid its’ attack and runs for dear life. Thanks to sheer dumb luck (and some bad dice rolls), we escape the monster and sneak back in the morning to reclaim the supplies we had left behind. Back to exploration!
When our trail rations begin to wither, we head back to Oleg’s to replenish and Samba picks up a donkey to increase our speed. With our pace back up to normal, we continue exploring the northwestern part of our charter area and make good headway through the open plain. In the most northwestern hex, we come across a band of mites and launch into battle against the oddly-shaped opponents. Fighting like a true team for the first time, this new group of adventurers works together to take down the pitiful mites with little damage taken. Stripes lashes out with his natural weaponry, Hayley slices and dices with a flurry of short swords, Layanos hexes and vexes, Natalia whips and melts flesh and Samba learns that a slingshot isn’t always that effective. A much easier fight than the plant monster encounter, we squash the mite army and prevail with relative ease. To add to our sense of victory, we successfully finish mapping the entire Northern border of our charter area (huzzah!).
This concludes the evening’s session and the camera pans over the battlefield. Blue mite corpses litter the plain but four heroes and one tiger stand tall and defiant amidst the blood-soaked landscape.
Next time on Kingmaker…will Douglas continue to fend off rat diabetes? Will Samba be scared away when he sees the true crazy within the group? Will Stripes finally grow tired of trail rations and strike out for other prey? Can the rest of us actually survive without having to roll up another character? Will secrets ever be revealed? Tune in next time to find out these answers and so much more!