The delivery girl thinks the best strategy is to split and distract the bandits, so she dashes back in the thick of the forest. Together with the brave child Elisa, the princess sets up a trap with the bandits’ net. Jura notices that the only other passenger strong enough to be effective in a fight is the horse thief, so he breaks him out of his cage and gives him a shortsword. Lilian promises the thief amnisty if he defends the caravan against the bandits.
The elf bandit has spotted Claret running through the bushes, and he aims his crossbow to shoot her down. The runner tries a quick turn manuever to disorient the sniper, but she trips on a rock and a bolt pierces her right calf. The shooter aims again to striker her down, but an arrow shot by Jura disarms him.
Three bandits reached the wagon, and two of those are caught in the net. The horse thief triest to charge the third bandit, but he appears so be such a clumsy fighter that he loses his weapon and gets caught by the bandit, who puts a knife at his throat and uses him as a hostage. The princess gently asks the bandit to release the hostage and take her instead, but she is actually distracting the bandit, who shows his back to Jura, open for a backstab. Jura fumbles though, and he falls upon the bandit, who falls upon the thief, who falls upon the dagger and starts bleeding visibly.
In the meanwhile Claret is crawling away from the two brigands chasing her, and she recognizes one of her previously placed traps around, what a luck! She carefully positions herself, and the elf bandit is struck down by the spikes of her sling trap. The second bandit is angrily approaching her, she would be done for, if it wasn’t for a black panther leaping out of the trees and knocking down the brigand. Claret and the feline make short work of him.
Somewhere else, Jura is chocking the bandit he fell upon, driving him unconscious. The two other bandits, trying to escape the net, decide to retreat, but only one manages to escape. The battle is won.
The group manages somehow to stop the horse thief bleeding and patch up Claret’s leg (the goose girl and the horse thief will fall in love eventually, but this is another story). The panther reveals herself to be a druid, Sheeba is her name. Claret delivers the package to the princess, sadly discovering that she is stuck babysitting Llian for a while. In the package Lilian finds:
- An old, large brass key, with runes all over it.
- A map, of an unknown land, with no letters but the same runes as the key.
- A magic quill, made out of an iridescent feather, with slowly moving colored pattern.
She looks puzzled while she reads the letter. Then she decides to split from the caravan, as she understands that by staying there she only puts the other passengers in danger. Jura, Claret, and Sheeba decide to follow her, and they are on the move.
The group stops in a meadow, to take a short rest and decide where to go next. A few ideas come out:
- pushing to Fort Gossamer could reveal more about the King’s plans, but more bandits are probably camped in the area.
- trailing to the Yellow Monastery in the south is a good option to stay hidden while dabbling in ancient knowledge, but the undead-infested Mere of the Dead Men is in between.
- moving to the Bloomsdale Market could provide lots of useful information, although they should cross the Ashencliff Creek, home of a frightening beast monster (apparently a giant alligator).
They are still thinking where to go, when they hear a scream from the trees: it is the princess, stuck in mid-air. A second glance reveals that the got herself trapped in a spider web, and it is bound to attract giant spiders in a few moments. Be careful, Lilian!