Chapter 11bis where Iago brings the loot back

It takes three donkeys to pack all the lab gear and papers. Telsa takes her instructions from Thadeus. «Who's in charge?» she asks. «Will it be only Gorm and Hogvar, and myself?»

Thadeus thinks for a moment, then shakes his head, "No, you scout for them. And..." he frowns, then waves to Iago, "you go with them and lead the group Iago. Take Gorm as well. We'll keep Hogvar with us, as they are more likely to know the auxiliaries we are retrieving. Iago is in charge of getting the group back to Ungulus safely. Between the three of you, I hope your group will look strong enough to discourage any bandits from attacking." He stops, then add, "No, three fighting grogs isn't enough. Sasso, you go with them too. All of you, keep your eyes open." One of the donkey handler will go with them

(So the returning group would be Iago, Gorm, Telsa and Sasso, as well as a donkey handler and three donkeys. That leave Hogvar, Hamish, Finn, Nauvi and Thadeus, along with second donkey handler and two donkeys, going to Fergus.)

Edit: Added Finn
Edit 2: Removed Jack who isn't there and moved Gorm to the group going back.

You may roll Perception+Awareness on your way down to St John. Difficulty 6/9 from the air, 9/12 for the Telsa and Sasso (one roll), and 12/18 for Iago (on behalf of Gorm and himself).

Roll of 6 for the scouts

BTW. Are the scouts wolves or human?

Mostly humans. They will only use wolf shape occasionally. I made the roll as humans.

15 for Cath'rinne, +1 spotting corpse, +3 smell.

11 for Thom, same modifiers.

The group heads South, into the valley leading down to St John. When the pastures are well out of sight, again, you hear the wolfs' howls, and again Telsa and Sasso believe they are human imitations, and not the wolves that cornered them the other day.

From the air, Cath'rinne and Thom can see the first howler, a young woman hidden out of sight from the path, but watching it keenly. A bow lies on the ground next to her, and she has a quiver on her back.

Further down the valley, Cath'rinn can see a couple more people moving into hiding between the rock, where the path passes through a narrow passage.

How much time does the group have before it falls into the ambush if it continues at its current pacing and trajectory? Is there anything about the group's appearance that might lead Cath'rinne to believe these are not merely bandits?

half a mile, which takes at least about 15 minutes in this terrain, when Cath'rinne spots the supposed ambush

Cath'rinne flies next to Thom. "You should be aware of the ambush up ahead. And I know you can't talk so I'm going to try and give you choices, and if you don't like them, do something to act or use imaginem to talk."

"Option 1 - you get down there and you support our group from the ground to protect them and do whatever it is you can do in a fight. If you do that and I don't see the group change course or draw their weapons until you're close to the ambush site, I'll assume you're okay with walking into that ambush because you can protect the group, and I'll keep my spells for whenever I think is best when you're close to neutralize those I can neutralize. I will focus on the lone archer before the pass bandits unless you hover over the pass before going down to the group, in which case I'll focus on the group preparing the pass first."

"Option 2 - Go down there but have the group do something that reveals to the bandits we know their presence such as changing course or drawing weapons and shields. I guess I'll deal with the situation depending on how the bandits react and what you do."

"Option 3 - stay here because you think you can be helpful to fling formulaic spells here despite the limitations of this form on your spellcasting. If you stay here - are you able to put that lone archer to sleep or otherwise deal with her? If so, hover over her if you can do that but prefer to wait and I'll keep my energy for the main group in the pass. If you can take her out now and the join the group, that's an option too."

Thom gives a bob of his head toward Cath'rinne before winging away.

If Thom believes that Iago knows about the vulture-magi, then he will enact this action: The Merinita-vulture first wings down to Iago and his group, circling them a couple of times to get their attention before he hops down onto the ground in front of them. He scratches at the ground with his vulture talons. First, an arrow pointing in the direction they are going and then scratches three Xes across the arrow, trying to indicate for them to stop.

He then launches back into the air, gains altitude and heads toward where the archer girl is providing overwatch.

(If Thom doesn't think Iago and crew will recognize him as a vulture-magus, then he heads directly to the archer girl.) He will get close enough to her to cast his Call to Slumber [Roll: 21 - 15 = 6 Success!) Once she is asleep he will land near her and grab her bow in his talons and take it away.)

Should this all prove successful, he will return to the air to continue to see what Iago and crew are doing.

Cath'rinne spoke to the party from vulture form on their way up, so the grogs must have had that explained. Whether they can make sense of a drawing vulture is less obvious, but I am sure @John_Graham_52 will make a splendid bewildered grog performance.

Iago orders a stop and has the warriors prepare their weapons and shields, forming up facing the arrow direction. He awaits further instruction from the magus/maga in vulture form.

It is only Iago and Gorm. Sasso and Telsa were scouting ahead, without seeing anything yet. The donkey handler is nervous, not as used to the magi's ways as the regular grogs, but he does his best to keep the donkeys together, but they are nervous too.

Ahead of the party is a narrow and rocky passage, with cliffs and rocks, and plenty of hiding places either side of the path. This was the way you came up, and where Thom's arrow pointed. You can just make out Sasso almost a hundred paces ahead. He is leaving the path to the right.

Thom returns to where they came from. The woman archer is moving towards the party, but is easy enough to find from the air, and Thom puts her to sleep and leaves with her bow.

Telsa notices the vulture departing with the arrow. Alerted by the unusual, she looks a second time, and she can see a spear tip sticking out from the rocks between where the party has stopped on the path, and where Sasso is leaving it on the far side.

Unlimbering her bow and taking out an arrow, she moves quietly up the slope in order to get a better line of sight on the owner of the spear. (Stealth roll of 10)

Telsa sneaks up on the man who is watching the path below him. The spear is leaned to the rock. In his hand he has a sling. Telsa is 6-10 paces away from him, with a big rock for cover, when he turns and whispers, «Dough? Problem?»

Telsa shoots him with her bow. (Attack roll of 11)

«What? Who?» exclaims the man, as Telsa pops out with her bow. Then he dives for his spear, and Telsa hits him with an arrow in the lower back. It does not look pretty, but the would is not worse than allowing him to get to his feet with the spear to fend off the next attack, and shout, «they ambush us!»

Telsa still has the initiative.

Cath'rinne is hovering the pass, trying to see how many they are and where they are hiding in there before acting.