We awake in a small, twenty foot by twenty foot cell, made of stone but with one wall of bars and with a barred door. We are stripped of all our possessions and most of our clothes, and are chained to a large ring in the floor. We wait for several days as we gradually recover from the effects of the gas, and the only person we see is a gnoll jailer who brings us food and water three times a day. On the third day, we realise that Sergeant Boris is not going to rescue us and that we need to rescue ourselves. When the jailer next appears, Tanara tries to engage him in conversation in gnollish, a language she has picked up in her homewood. He turns out to be a pretty hard-boiled character, and doesn’t seem interested in our offers of riches beyond his wildest dreams (although we are assuming that his dreams are not very wild). We abandon the conversation and use the arranged next step, which is Bryan faking a leg injury and trying to trip up the jailer. Bryan pulls a blinder and the jailer goes down like a sack of tatties. The rest of us bundle him rapidly, and he quickly surrenders.
We relieve him of his mace, dagger and keys, and quickly release ourselves from our fetters, and chain him up. Bryan starts to question him, via Tanara, while Pavel and Titus open the cell door and start exploring. There turn out to be three cells in the corridor, as well as an alcove which seems to be the living quarters for the jailer, and two doors, one locked. The next cell contains a chained female human, who turns out to be a young cleric called Zoe. The final cell contains a badly wounded elf, who only has time to whisper ‘Rahasia, save her….’ before he dies dramatically in Titus’ arms. Titus and Pavel rapidly dismantle a chair and table in order to provide us with some clubs and grab a curtain pole to use as a quarterstaff, then return to the others. Bryan has discovered various details: we are not in Specularum, but rather in the woods somewhere, in a manor house; we are prisoners of the Iron Ring, not the Veiled Society (or maybe the Veiled Society are part of the Iron Ring); there are 8 Hounds, 2 Reavers and a Head Reaver (we thing these are ranks in the Iron Ring) in the house, as well as the gnoll’s wife who is the cook; our equipment is behind the locked door, and the jailer has not got the key – the Head Reaver has instead. We tie up the jailer and shackle him in his locked cell. We check out the locked door, and decide there is no way we can open it without alerting the rest of the house, so we open the other door. We find a store-room, and a meat store beyond. We equip ourselves with some small pouches of flour, to fling in opponents’ faces to blind them, and some flasks of oil to smear on stairs to see if we can get enemies to fall and break their necks.
We then creep up the stairs to the door at the top. We open this, to find ourselves in a pantry. From behind the door, there is the sound of a guttural female voice singing, and the noises and smells of cooking. Bryan cracks open the door and we see the gnoll cook making some food with her back to us. Bryan creeps into the room and hides under the table. There is another door out of the kitchen, and an archway leading to another room, where we hear the sounds of many voices talking. On the table were eight plates, and Bryan also sees a rack of knives. He creeps back, and we have a rapid planning meeting. We wait as the cook ladles up the plates, two at a time, and takes them into the next room. Finally, as she takes the last pair, we creep into the room and grab the knives, then wait behind the partition wall. As she comes back in, Pavel grabs her from behind, covering her mouth, and Tanara whispers in her ear in gnollish ‘Don’t make a sound or your husband will be killed’. She nods her acquiescence and we quickly bundle her into the pantry and tie and gag her. Tanara takes up position behind the partition and casts her last remaining Sleep spell into the room beyond. There are some thumps, and silence. We burst in, and see that there eight men there, all asleep. A triumphant success, although it leaves Tanara with only her Levitation spell. These are obviously the Hounds of the Iron Ring. We have a brief discussion of what to go with them, but we have heard much of the depravity of the Iron Ring and decide that the only justice we can deliver is to slit their throats as they sleep, so we do. We then steal their leather armour and their daggers. We take the cook down to the cells and lock her in the same cell as her husband. For Pavel and Titus it feels strange to be saving the humanoids but slaughtering the humans. For Tanara though, the humans are obviously evil, whereas the gnolls are just servants going about their normal business, and we have no right to kill them for that.
We then creep out of the kitchen and find a hallway, with stairs going up, and doors on the far side. We check the doors on the far side, and find a pair of barracks rooms. In the lockers by each bed we find proper swords, so equip ourselves with these. The only way is up now, so we ascend the stairs. At the top we find a landing around the stairs – two doors on the near side and one on the far side. Based on the layout of the house below, we assume the two nearer doors are for the Reavers, and the one door on the far side is for the Head Reaver. We decide that we would rather face the Head Reaver straight away on his own, rather than fighting our way through two minions, and giving him time to buff himself, while we lose hit points. We creep around the landing, pausing nervously when Oin and Pavel step on a squeaky floorboard. But there is no reaction so we continue on our way.
We listen at the far door but hear nothing, so open it. Beyond is a well-furnished room, with a large desk with a map on the wall above it. Sat at his desk, with his back to the door is a man, writing and chuckling to himself (obviously no student of Gurney Halleck). He obviously hears us, as he waves to his right and says – ‘Ah, dinner. Put it down over there will you.’ Bryan, Oin and Pavel advance into the room, as if going in that direction, and suddenly change direction and lunge for him. The surprise is total, and before he can react we attack. Bryan nicks him slightly, but both Pavel and Oin strike powerful blows, and he is killed instantly, and before he can make any noise.
We all enter the room and close the door. On the desk is a newsheet that seems to detail the activities of the Iron Ring, more evidence of how confident they are that they are beyond the reach of the Duke’s justice. It mentions the death of Golthar, and has descriptions of Stephen, Jubal, Morkel, Vyarnen and Maglor as his killers. It also tells of how they are expanding into the Republic of Darokin, and how the first slave caravan is even now departing for Selenica. Also on the desk is a long letter that appears to have been taken off the elf, and detailing the terrible fate afflicting Rahasia. The map above the desk shows that we are nowhere near Specularum, instead we are far in the north, in the mountains. Also on the desk is a staff, which feels potent in the hands of Titus and Zoe. On the dead man’s belt we find a key. We decide to return to the cellar and see if the key fits the door that wards us from our equipment. We return around the landing, although Oin and Pavel once again step on the squeaky floorboard. We are more confident now though that we will be though to just be the cook, so continue on our way. The key opens the cellar door, so we take our equipment again, with much joy.Read More