The three left Magda (under the guidance of Herod) and headed north, to visit Albert Dunlop and later Dicky Samson. After a while swamp water dominated the surface where ever they looked and the PC used their poles again to steer their swamp boat. More and more dead or gnarled trees came into few in the mist, but not enough to call it wood. Their moldy or moss covered trunks dotted the landscape like silent watchers that gave testimony to the decay and desolation. Herod reminded the adventurers that they were not far from the ruins of the old sawmill of Dunnsmouth, a former source of work and income for the people, that went out of business as most of the surrounding trees that were good wood had been logged and processed. Only a few have been left where they are, for reasons unknown.
The characters agreed that it would be good to check the place, so Herod told them that the area around it was largely flooded, as it had been erected next to the river Dunn (that had become broader and broader till it flooded the area). Soon, they were punting their little skiffs through hip high waters and the pole sunk deep into the soft ground below. The fog was still with them, but it was not a solid wall near the river banks but an assortment of ragged and drifting patches among a fine veil of mist. Crickets gave their concert in the distance while toads and frogs made their presence known with deep croaks and strange gargling sounds. The waters where still and numerous gnats whirred about. As the old sawmill, a large wooden structure that had been erected on a foundation of now lichen covered cobblestone, came into sight the three noted somebody or something on top of the roof. They stopped their approach and tried to check if it could be a chimney or a pulley, but as the old ramp and pulley that used to feed lumber to the mill was clearly visible at the one end of the building, they decided to crouch low in their skiffs slowly reach the next old tree so that they would not have to rely on the mist alone as cover. Herod did not understood what they were doing, but kept quiet and made his way to the nearest tree trunk while he slipped into water. The sight of Jasper readying his bow was all he needed to be alarmed.
Failings of a GM: I should have rolled for Surprise for both sides at this point, with a bonus for the “guards”. While they were drinking a bit of moonshine, they were not drunk and had the better vantage point.
The three argued about their next move: while Cormagh wanted to simply go there and see what happens, Angus was not comfortable with “storming” armed people on higher ground (as they had noted some kind of arms with them, and promptly guessed that if these were guards, they would likely have spears or bows with them). Japser wanted to get into a position and observe the two, but Cormagh scoffed at that “We look at them, they sit there and perhaps look at us… what is that going to change, anyway?” Whoever Cormagh´s father has been, he for sure has not raised his son as one that would tweedle his thumbs! They finally decided that Cormagh und Angus would approach with their skiff in the open, but only after Jasper would have reached a good position for shooting. Herod stayed behind, as if that were the brigands they were after, his job was done and he had no intend to join the fight (which was alright with our troupe of bounty hunters: they had a deal with clear terms and would honor them). As the man-at-arms and the dwarf came into sight, they were quickly hailed by those on the roof who indeed readied bows. Angus tried a ruse, but soon after he had made himself heard over the space between them and the building, somebody shouted from inside of the old building and through an open hatch in the center of the roof “Those are the bounty hunters! They are after you! KILL THEM!” They recognized the voice as that of Dunc Samson and realized that he not only has been in league with the brigands but actually used the time they need to visit Magda to come here and warn the cutthroats!
Soon arrows started to fly and while Jasper was able to return fire, Angus and Cormagh were close to being sitting ducks on the skiff in the water. Cormagh, in a fit of compulsiveness, decided to jump of the skiff and into the water to get towards the old sawmill… and ended standing in swamp water that reached up to the dwarf´s chin! His armor and shield slowed him down, his short legs and the soft, sucking ground where no help either. Angus in turn decided to go down onto a leg and a knee on the skiff, after he used the pole to propel it forward so that he would drift towards the building while using his shield for what it was made for: cover. That way, he drifted past the dwarf while arrows embedded themselves into his shield with an audible !TWANNGG!. In the meanwhile, Jasper was able to shoot one of the brigands of the roof (who ended in the water on the other side with a loud *SPLASSH*. He was pretty sure that it had been the Witch-Daughter Shelly that he had downed, but his second mark decided that he had found his match and fled through the latch down into the sawmill. That change of the situation gave our heroes a pause.
Jasper slowly began to move around in a wide circle while both Angus and Cormagh reached the foundation of the sawmill. They found out that the old entry door had been nailed shut from the outside (perhaps as it had been closed down), they only other ways of entry seemed to be the opening around the old chute on the one end of the building… and of course, the latch on the top of the roof. While they could have reached both by climbing up the rusty chains of the old pulley, they decided against it as they were pretty sure that at least Dunc and Tommy Felkham, the last of the four brigands they were after, would be waiting inside with bows at the ready. Even Cormagh did not wanted to enter a battle on such unfavorable terms (and while the potion of Magda had already healed a good deal of Angus lost Hit Points, they remembered very well that a few unlucky dice rolls could spell their doom at this point). So, they began to throw a torch onto the roof. It did not do much on the slick, water-soaked wood, but they decided to throw another onto it… and another. In fact, they had brought about half a dozen (or more) along and guessed that they could take their sweet time with it: even if it would only result in smoke (as it was the case at the moment), this would at some point drive their enemies out. After all, those torches would burn for up to an hour.
As they were about to light the fourth, they heard Dunc from the inside who was ready to bargain their surrender. They would throw out their bows and other weapons (through the hatch) and would come out if they would promise not to kill them. The three agreed to that and Dunc further requested that Tommy would be allowed to kick the torches off the roof. Japser aimed at the brigand all the time, but he just did as Dunc had announced before both came out. They put them into the iron shackles they had brought along with them, and Jasper secured the corpse of Shelly-Ann (that was about to drift away slowly). Herod, who had watched from a save distance came closer again while Dunc spit forth insults and other niceties towards the characters. Angus had to hold him head first under the swamp water TWICE before the ill-tempered fellow would finally shut up. Tommy, in turn just glared at them with vile frustration. The three in turn began to wonder… and decided to remove the boards and nails at the large sliding gate so that they could see what´s inside the sawmill. Dunc was out of breath and Tommy just glared at them as they went about business. They all expected trouble, so Angus and Cormagh readied themselves while Jasper kept his bow ready but aimed at his captives while he tried to split his attention…
To be continued…