Gertie & The Gang

2. Of casks and condolences

"He can leave when his broke ass wakes up."

The group had just dispatched some goblins on the way to a winery outside the town of Soonsea. With an apocalypse looming, more and more common folk had taken to fighting, looting, and pillaging and the winery had been taken over by a group of such thugs who had invited themselves to stay and enjoy the free food and drink and accommodations.

When Gertie and the gang arrived, they spotted two of the ruffians lounging outside a door leading to the kitchen area. They walked up, feigning an interest in a tour of the winery and asked to see the tasting room. The ruffians were having none of it and told them to shove off (in a less polite manner). Before too long, Gertie lost her cool and bottled one of the men and the group quickly knocked out the other. 

Elvis quickly snuck inside and scouted the kitchen and the massive cask room beyond. Four huge vats and stairs leading to a catwalk gave him cover as he tiptoed around and spotted another group of thugs lounging on an open-air patio on the far side of the cask room. He maneuvered back to the group and gave them the lay of the land and they decided to take them by surprise. 

Elvis took a position just inside the sliding barn doors leading to the patio and Helen made her way up onto the catwalk above the room. Unfortunately, Rudolfo the Rogue tripped over a barrel that Gertie had bumped into and Rudolfo shouted out as he tripped. The ruffians rushed in from the patio to see what the commotion was about and a fight erupted in the middle of the winery's cask room. 

Helen hurled blasts of eldritch magic as the thugs rushed through the doors. The ones that avoided her attacks were met by Elvis as his massive scythe. The layout of the room complicated things but Gertie used the odd setting to her advantage and trapped a foe between two vats. The leader, however, ducked past Elvis and managed to grapple poor Rudolfo. Putting a knife to the Dwarf's throat he ordered the other heroes to drop their weapons. 

The carnage came to a halt and a long heavy pause hung in the air. That is until Helen leaped off the catwalk onto the thug Gertie had trapped creating an opening for the Barbarian to pivot around another huge vat and grapple the thug captain that had grappled Rudolfo. Elvis and Helen drove the other back out onto the patio before they fled and Gertie managed to allow Rudolfo to wrestle free. Outnumbered four-to-one the leader was quickly incapacitated and questioned. 

He laughed at the group's attempts to intimidate him and only revealed the name of the bandit's leader, Dell Perdett, saying: "Dell's gonna kill you all." Gertie rendered him unconscious and the group decided to retreat to the wilderness and rest before trying to take on Dell and the rest of the bandits. 

However, when they returned to the winery a few hours later, they saw it and the yard around it engulfed in flames. As the four adventurers rushed forward through the smoke they saw a large group of bandits emerge from the far side of the winery. They had a wagon of stolen goods and their injured comrades in tow and were led by a stern, slender woman with a snake tattoo on her neck. 

Dell Perdett led her gang past the heroes and away from the burning winery and muttered: "It's all yours, enjoy" as she glared at them, passing within an arm's reach. As the gang disappeared through the haze of smoke, Gertie and the gang rushed in to search for the family that ran the winery. They freed the family from an upstairs bedroom and formed a bucket line from the well trying to put out the flames. Gertie demolished the roof of the stable, destroying the structure but preventing the fire from spreading any further. 

Two long, hard hours later the danger was averted and the winery remained more or less intact. The family thanked the group and offered them food and drink and a place to sleep for the night. The four tired heroes happily took them up on the offer. In the morning, the family asked the group if they might hire some guards in Soonsea to help protect the winery and Helen promised to do so as soon as they got back to town. 

Gertie and the gang packed up and took off back toward Soonsea to check in with their patron Abit Ashdannan, hire some guards for the winery, and lick their various wounds. 

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