After the ambush, the party gathered themselves and search the immediate area for clues regarding their assailants. From their investigation, they gathered a few facts. At least one of the deceased bandits (their head imploded under Kazamir's sonic device) had the mark of the bloodhawks, a well known and powerful criminal organization, though their presence this far south of the capital is concerning. Also interesting was one of the bolts recovered from the sniper (and Mithrellis's armor). The bolt was closer to a large needle, made entirely of metal, it lacked fletching or irregularity. Lastly, was the absence of trails or markings from the xianlian caravan the party had been trying to catch up to. While a log in the middle of the path suggests a barriar, no sunken wheel ruts or footprints suggest the caravan was stopped. This caused for concern as the party wonders of the caravan was part of the ambush, or had advanced notice.
Pressing forward, the party continued along the road until they reached a branch for the night, in the small village of Terath. A small community built around a lumber industry, it boasted little more than a large boarding house and tavern. The party split up for the night, making arrangements and seeking information as they saw fit. Sorin, with his musical talents, sought to woo the local populace, and entertain the locals, gaining them local hospitality, and some gossip on bandits and affairs. Visiting with the party, they arrived at the Hostel of sorts that served as the main hub of activity for the region. Inside, they were met with dozens of wounded and injured travelers recovering from attacks, some having been there for weeks. Dominga, a priestess of Anael, tended to their hurts, and after the offer of aid by Mithrellis, warmed to their attentions and questions. They learned more about the type of attacks and personality of the bandits. Over the course of the night, Mithrellis would be able to piece the disperate locations and times of attacks from the wounded to gain an idea of where the bandits where located.
Meanwhile, Kazamir, Jace, and Boyd attended to the local tavern for other information. Not much was had, and the area was full of locals, who are more skeptical of these strange adventurers. Boyd, distraught by events, sought to relieve himself in drink, but his temper got the better of him, and nearly killed a local, who was of no real threat. Nonetheless, he did not make any friends that night. Jace, by contrast, managed to spot a struggling muscovan dwarf in the corner of the tavern. Suspecting more, she inquired and learned that he was Mikhail, the Federations envoy sent south to the outpost. Distraught, Jace learned about his plight; robbed and injured, he just managed to limp back to Terath. However, without his contract, he could not fulfill his mission, and he was ashammed and afraid to return home, fearing that he would be sent home and his families stipend recinded.
Jace attempted to coax him to return, that she might prove her worth to the others, but Mikhail was not willing. When Jace threatened to drag him back by force, Kazamir managed to step in quell the fight. Several drinks later, Kazamir offered to help Mikhail recover his contract if possible, and they would return to the village when their mission ended.
Boyd, after unceremoniously leaving the tavern, briefly tranced before scouting the perimeter of the village for clues, and to clear his head. In the middle of the night, he spotted what looked to be a caravan, lit by torches, heading south along the road. Quickly, he gathered the party, and they moved to pursue them, hoping against hope that they may have caught a break. In the early predawn, the party caught up to a slow moving caravan, as it had stopped and voices could be heard. As a few of the party crept closer to hear, they stumbled, giving away there presence. The party just barely managed to remain hidden as guards swept the area.
Weary and exhausted, the party retreated back into the woods a bit farther and high up from the road to camp out, deciding on their plans for the next morning. Sleeping in to the late morning, the party awoke to find Boyd gone without a trace. In his place, tangled and heaving in his bedroll, was a strange half-elven man, dressed in an odd mix of loose armor and pale robes, and brandishing a great silvered sword. Pinned and question, the man revealed himself to be Riardon, a svanesse citizen, recently returned. Claiming to have been trapped in the Feywild, he claimed that, to his knowledge, the year was 105 last he spoke to his mother and left the mortal plane.
Before he could be questioned further, though, bolts shot out through the air and the party was set upon in earnest by a set of bandits. It appeared the forces that had escaped the previous day had returned with reinforcements, and meant to finish the job. The battle was scattered and tense for a brief moment, but soon the combatants fell. Their strange captive went to the party's aide without hesitation, and displayed an unusual and supernatural power. His fighting style was wild and ephemeral as he charged without hesitation toward foes, and lept prodigiously into the air moments before severing limbs from bodies with his blade.
In the end, their were no survivors. Initially, two captives, the swordsman and the mage were captured alive, magically sent to sleep by Riardon and Jace. However, when interrogated, they gave little info. Uncooperative, Riardon quickly executed them before the decision could be agreed to. One piece of information was gained however; the bandits did confirm they had a base in the area, and according to the swordmaster, a passphrase (Anotha) needed to be given to the scouts to alert their party of their presence.
At that point, the party resumed to discussion and disagreement as they worked to make sense of this new stranger. Without another path, Riardon agreed to help the others find their ally Boyd, and stay with them on their current endevor. Seeing him fight, the party found that it was best to have an experienced fighter near to them rather than alone on the road. With trepidation, the party sought to head north into the deep forest to find the bandits camp and, if possible, cut the rot from the trees.