The Nature of Things
Durneg's Bandit Camp
The bandits inhabiting this camp were led by an individual whose name is Durneg. They have apparently been operating for years, though recently their operations have changed. It seems that Durneg was visited by a group of mysterious, cloaked figures who by unknown means either persuaded or threatened him into changing the way he and his bandits worked. Prior to this, the bandits had simply been waylaying travellers along the forest roads, taking their things, and beating them up if they put up too much of a fight – only rarely was anyone killed. Since the change of a few weeks ago, however, the bandits have started taking prisoners, keeping them in specially-constructed cages within the camp until they could be taken away in wagons to be made into slaves.
Though Durneg was a strong leader (in every sense of the word) and had the ability to use excessive brute force if he should see the need, he very rarely did. His second-in-command, however, a man called Rezeel, was a different story – Rezeel has been described as being much more greedy and cruel than Durneg, and it was apparently only Durneg’s strength that kept him in check. After Durneg’s sudden departure in the company of the hooded mage, the bandits soon started to raid the ale stores and neglect their guard duties – Rezeel apparently did little or nothing to stop this, and as a result all the prisoners currently held in the camp have managed to escape, knocking out Rezeel and a number of other bandits in the process. Those not knocked unconscious were apparently entirely unware of these events, or else too drunk to do anything about what was happening. Either way, the camp is now only occupied by bandits.
The camp itself is almost entirely surrounded by a stockade wall – the western side isn’t as this is instead blocked by the sheer wall of a cliff. The eastern side has a river flowing past it, spanned (until very recently) by a wooden bridge which was deliberately built to be weaker at its western end (the end nearest the camp) so that it could be knocked down in the event of an attack on the camp, thus preventing any attackers from reaching the bandits. This bridge was destroyed by Shiraka when she and the other prisoners made their escape.
The camp itself contains two watchtowers beside the main entrance. Just beyond these is a ring of crude wooden shacks surrounding a large campfire – one of these huts is larger than the others and more strongly-built, and was inhabited by Durneg before his departure. The bandits’ armoury is located just off to the north of these huts, though contains little of value as the bandits take for themselves anything they think worth using. To the south lie the storehouses, two of them – one for the bandits’ supplies (food and so on), the other for goods taken from those they attack on the roads and which they have no immediate use for.
There are also two smaller stockades, both containing cages. One stocakde is situated toward the northern edge of the camp and contains numerous, fairly small, wooden cages. Most human prisoners are kept here (as well as anyone else the bandits perceive to be of no threat) and there is a watchtower near the entrance to keep an eye on them. The other stockade, located against the cliff wall at the western edge of the camp, also has a watchtower just outside of it. The cages of this compound, however, and made of sturdy metal and seem a little too…advanced…for anything you might expect a group of simple forest bandits to construct. These cages are for stronger prisoners or those of more “interesting” races, or just those who might potentially pose some kind of threat.
The last feature of the camp is a small yet strongly-built wooden hut known to the bandits as the “Death Hut”. According to Bannek, sometimes a prisoner is just too unruly, and is chained up in the hut to be tortured and eventually killed by the bandits (often led in this endeavour by Rezeel). It is not yet known whether the Death Hut was always a feature of the camp, or whether it was constructed after the mysterious hooded figures arrived. Its most recent occupant is Rezeel, who was chained up there after being knocked unconscious by Mortaar – the other bandits defeated in the fight (also knocked out) were imprisoned within cages in the western stockade.
When the party (consisting of Mort, Gregg, and Shiraka) returned to the camp to mete our their own justice to its inhabitants, they found it destroyed – though the stockade walls still stood, every building had been obliterated and all of the cages and bandits had completely vanished. There was evidence that fire, water (possibly melted ice), and excessive physical force had been used to destroy everything and the party was at a loss to work out what had caused such localised devastation. Also, oddly, the bridge had been repaired, and there were also no noticeable tracks leading to or from the camp (besides those which had aleady been there previously).