Our Heroes: R, a half-elf rogue. S, his twin sister, a celestial-blood sorceress. And D, their old friend, a gnome druid with a badger companion. (Note they're not much good in a straight-up fight and will be relying on subtlety and tricks a lot.)
Our Heroes have been given a charter, by the Swordlords of Restov, to explore a portion of uncharted wilderness south of Brevoy known as the Stolen Lands. It's known that bandits are operating in the part of the Lands known as the Greenbelt, preying on the itinerant merchants, trappers, hunters, and loggers who operate in the area.
The last outpost of civilization south of Restov was Oleg's Trading Post. Reaching the Post, they meet Oleg and his wife Svetlana - who were expecting soldiers for protection, not irregular half-breeds. They'd been extortion victims, these past three months, as the bandits had been visiting and arrogantly collecting all their profit and treasure.
It wasn't so much the money. Oleg wasn't running an isolated trading post to get rich. It was that the bandits' dual-axe-wielding leader had humiliated him in front of his wife, stolen her wedding ring, and threatened to kill him and throw Svetlana to her men...
The characters weren't specifically here to protect Oleg, but obviously this was an opportunity to make a dent in the banditry. The bandits were coming again in two days to steal a fourth month's worth of furs and hides - they'd been sending only four brutes on horseback, as they weren't expecting trouble.
Everyone hid on rooftops and waited for the bandits to arrive. Oleg had arranged for a wagon to sit blocking part of the market yard so the bandits would have to crowd together to pass alongside. S waited for the perfect moment, and cast her color spray.
Three of the four bandits were knocked unconscious from the spell. The fourth went down from druidic produce flame and a rogue's arrow in his throat. Everyone was bound and stripped before waking and the fight was over as soon as it started. Oleg had difficulty containing himself, finally doubling over in relieved laughter at how easy it was.
Questioning revealed the location of the bandit camp, where the leader and another seven bandits waited -- after which the thieves were handed over to Oleg, who decided the executed bodies should be displayed outside the building, to warn off other bandits. S excused herself and threw up as the helpless but unrepentant men were dispatched.
Not liking the prospect of hitting eight people in their defensible lair, the PCs decided on a plan: they'd bring a "bundle of furs" (a fur wrapped around a hay bale) and set up camp at the edge of the forest near the camp, to lure out raiders. On three of the captured horses, they headed off south.
They set up a campfire, and R snuck off into the weeds - leaving the two apparently-unarmed women and a bundle of apparently-valuable furs sitting around a nicely burning fire.
Shortly after night fell, a pair of brigands "snuck" towards the fire. The half-elves and gnome, all with low-light vision, watched with some amusement as the two men approached. S readied her color spray. The two brigands revealed themselves, with bows pulled and ready, declared their intention to have both the furs and the women - and S beat them to the draw with another color spray; both men fell.
R cut their throats and threw them in the river, then led the party upstream to the bandit camp, stopping just before the first tree-flet watchtower could see them.
He unlimbered his bow, got within thirty feet, and shot the brigand in the tree - but only wounded him. The man threw down a thunderstone, temporarily deafening R, then dropped to the floor of the flet to be out of sight of the ground and yelled for help.
S ran up to rescue her brother, and before leaving suggested he toss alchemist's fire up onto the tower. Awakened bandits took a few shots in their direction but they were able to scamper back to their waiting horses and avoid pursuit in the darkness.
At this point they considered their options. "We should move our camp, and wait for morning." "Hang on. The leader fights with two axes. She's probably a ranger; she'll be able to track us."
"Well, D is a druid and can move through wilderness without leaving a trace."
"That doesn't help the rest of us."
They thought for a bit and came up with a plan. They walked the horses into the woods, away from the camp, careful to leave an obvious trail. At the first good ambush point, the half-elves found low branches and swung up into them, letting the druid lead the horses further; she settled them by a brook a mile further on, then snuck back undetectably and joined her friends in the trees.
Sure enough, the ranger leader and her bandits followed the trail - but she was good enough to be suspicious of the ambush site, and saw evidence of movement in the trees. She stopped her men and moved forward cautiously.
The surprise was likely gone. D called on the grass and bushes to entangle the brigands, and S threw a color spray at the leader - but she shook it off and pulled out her axes, cutting her way free.
There followed a tense bit. S, still in the trees and almost out of magic (after defensive spells on herself and D) used her celestial-blood heavenly fire to ping at the trapped brigands; they pulled out bows and shot back, arrows whistling past her ears (I had erroneously had one deadly arrow strike home until we remembered the effects of the entangle on the shooters' dexterirty). The leader charged at R, who dropped from the trees and dodged until the badger could leap out and flank with him; R finally pulled a lucky shot and put his shortsword right in her eye.
Injured underling brigands started pulling themselves free from the entangle and running in panic. The fight was the heroes'; two of the bandits got away but were unlikely to bother anyone again.
Questioning one surviving bandit revealed that they worked for a terrifying but alcoholic figure known as the Stag Lord, further to the south, and that Svetlana's ring was among the trinkets stolen only the previous day by a pack of faerie mites, who nested under a tree a short distance away. Since the Stag Lord's home was several days' travel away, near the lake deeper in the Greenbelt, it was decided that some exploration and mapping closer to the Trading Post should be done first.