Monthly Archives December 2016

Rocky road?

We quickly leave the prison in two groups, so that we can all share the 5 red cloaks we have, and regroup in the corridor with the locked door.  I am all in favour of continuing on while we have the initiative and element of surprise, but the others think that the family will slow us down and they are vocal in their desire to return home as soon as possible.  We therefore decide to leave by the route we came in, rather than through the dusty hall we haven’t yet entered.  We enter the cavern with the chasm in the floor, and this time it is Garrett who hears the strange voice in his head.  He starts to try and talk to it, and it responds, asking for nice fresh meat.  We continue to ignore it, but as we are passing through the cavern, Mirna suddenly points at one of the bodies in the chasm and starts screaming.  Apparently it is the body of her husband.  We quickly silence her and the children and bundle them out of the cavern before they can raise the alarm.  We rush down the corridor and into the storage room, and then up and out of the dungeon.  We decide to return to the village by the direct road, even though it goes right past the Sleeping Giant which the Redbrands drink in – we bundle the rescuees up so that they are not easily recognised, but in the event, no one is paying any attention to us.

We decide to return the rescued family to Sildar, as being the person who is most likely to be able to continue to protect them from the Redbrands.  We then repair to the Stonehill Inn and spend an hour ‘resting’.

Revived, we return to the manor.  Having noted what appears to be a lack of sentries on the way in last time, we decide to take a more direct route this time, and we don’t appear to be noticed.  We enter via the spiral staircase as before, and the store room appears like no one has been there since we left – the torches are burning low now and several have gone out.  We proceed into the large cavern again, and hear the voice again, except this time we see where it is coming from.  Beyond the pillar on the far side is a strange, one-eyed humanoid that seems to be the source of the mysterious voice.  It asks again for fresh meat, in return for letting us cross.  Garrett suggests the bodies of the Redbrands that we killed in the storeroom earlier, so we go back and grab two of them and haggle with the strange creature.  We ask it where Glasstaff is, and it points to the northernmost passageway.  We drop the two corpses into the chasm and proceed up the northern passageway as it watches us.  The corridor doglegs and then descends a flight of stairs before ending.  At the end, there is a door on either side.  We listen – the right hand door has the noise of bubbling and boiling; the left hand door has the sound of carousing.  We open the left hand door and enter – 4 drunken Redbrands are sitting around a table gaming with dice.  Garrett uses a sleeping enchantment which unfortunately only affects one of them, and the rest of us attack the other three.  The fight is vicious, but we are victorious in a couple of rounds.  We wake the sleeping one and question us.  He confirms that Glasstaffs laboratory is beyond the other door, and also that the other door in this room leads to the further rooms where three bugbears are quartered.

We decide to face Glassstaff rather than his bugbears, so burst into the laboratory.  The room beyond is filled with alchemical equipment, but otherwise empty.  There is a further door however, so we burst through that into the room beyond, which is luxuriously equipped as a study.  On the far side is a secret door, which is starting to close.  I rush forward, bow drawn, to try and shoot down whoever is leaving.  Beyond the door is a flight of stairs going up.  A figure at the top flings an ineffectual incantation at me and dashes through another door before I can get a shot off.  I follow again and burst into the workshop through a secret door that we hadn’t spotted before.  I rush to the entrance to the cavern, and see Glasstaff crossing the wooden bridge over the chasm.  I cast a quick enchantment and release my arrow at hit.  The spell multiplies the arrows in the air, and the bundle of arrows hits him square on.  He staggers under the impact, but flickers his hand and hits me with a battery of glowing arrows of his own.  I collapse unconscious, but Elaina and Aramil tell me that they rounded the corner a second or two later.  Seeing reinforcements arriving, bows in hand, he gestured again disappeared in a silvery mist!

Aramil swiftly heals me, and I send the others back to ransack his rooms before he reappears with reinforcements – assuming that he has teleported to wherever the bugbears are, while I keep watch up here.  There is nothing of interest in the laboratory other than some monkshood powder, but the study contains a bundle of correspondence.  Critically amongst these is a letter from the Black Spider, addressed to Iono Albrecht, talking about ambushing us.  It appears that Iono Albrecht, Sildar’s friend from the Lords’ Alliance, is actually Glasstaff – from the brief glimpse I caught, his appearance does appear to match the description given.

We decide to leave to regroup in the village and inform Sildar of this new information.  The others grab one of the dead Redbrands from the mess-room to offer to the strange one-eyed creature in order to get back again.  The strange creature seems very distressed by our attack on Glasstaff though, and refuses our offer, attacking Garrett, Elaina and Aramil instead.  I shoot him as he charges, wounding him with an arrow, but he mounts some sort of horrific mental attack on me that knocks me unconscious again.  Aramil dashes over to heal me again, leaving Garrett and Elaina fighting the creature alone.  Garrett takes some heavy damage, although not before landing a couple of good blows himself, but Elaina is having difficulty getting a good hit in.  Having healed me, Aramil rejoins the fray and I also start shooting the creature when I can get a clear shot in.  Finally, we manage to kill it.

Resting wearily on our swords, we patch up our bruises and decide that it is probably time to retreat and rest our wounds, even though we have wounded Glasstaff and would dearly love to finish him off.  First though, prompted by Garrett, I climb down into the crevasse to retrieve Tiem’s body for his family.  Down there, I notice a chest concealed under one of the bridges.  In there, we find some coins, gems, a potion of healing, a scroll of augury and an ornate longsword, which Elaina identifies as Talon, a magical sword of repute that belonged to Sir Aldith Trisander, who was once lord of this manor.

We hear the sounds of bugbears approaching down the south-west corridor so decide to ‘bug’ out.  I can feel a current of fresh air coming up the southern tunnel, so we decide to see if this leads to the tunnel entrance in the woods.  It does, so we return to Sildar.


Read More

The low road

Having left the Redbrands ruffians safely in the town lock-up, we retire to the Stonehill Inn where we are bought round after round of drinks by grateful locals.  It seems our rooms are on the house as well, so we carry Garrett up to bed and get a good night’s trance, having first taken care to secure our rooms against any possible reprisal from the Redbrands.  Our rest is uninterrupted however, and we descend in the morning for a good breakfast (except in Garrett’s case, who we just dunk in a coffee pot to sober up).

8th day of Tarsakh

Through the haze we remember a couple of things that people have mentioned the previous evening.  One was an off-hand comment that the Miner’s Exchange never seems to be bothered by the Redbrands.  Possibly this is because Halia Thornton is too tough for them, but we get thinking about what she offered us, which was a bounty to kill Glasstaff and take his correspondence.  For someone who was so anti-Redbrand, it is interesting that she doesn’t want us to eliminate the Redbrands entirely.  But, if she was the second in command of the Redbrands herself, and was ambitious for promotion, hiring some dumb muscle to kill her boss might be quite a cunning strategy.  Food for thought certainly, and a reason maybe to not completely trust Halia.

Sildar also asks us to keep an eye out for a friend of his called Iano Albrecht, a short, black bearded wizard who disappeared here a few months ago.  Like Sildar, he is a member of the Lord’s Alliance, and he is concerned that the Redbrands may have kidnapped him.

The second was something that Pip Stonehill said, about a halfling friend of his, Care Alderleaf, who had found a tunnel entrance in the woods, but had been scared off by the Redbrands.  Pip isn’t around (he is running errands) but Toblin directs up to Care’s mother’s farm, which is at the end of the track that leads towards the forest and the ruined Trisander Manor, which we have established is where the Redbrands have their hideout.  We find the farm easily, but Care is also running errands, and his mother, Quelline, doesn’t know exactly where the tunnel he claims to have found is.  We decide to look for ourselves, and I spend a couple of hours carefully scouring the woods, but find nothing apart from some tracks that someone has taken great care to try and cover over, meaning I am unable to determine what had made them.

The others are getting bored by this stage, so we decide to investigate the Manor directly.  Various other rumours come back to us at this point.  Glasstaff is rumoured to lair there, at the western end, and there are supposed to be many captives there, guarded by skeletons.  The Manor itself is pretty ruined, and we see no signs of any lookouts or traps on the approach.  In one corner of the ruins, in the remains of the kitchen, we find a spiral staircase descending.   Many tracks lead too and from this entrance.

I descend alone, relying on my stealth and darksight.  It descends one turn and ends in a door.  I listen, but don’t hear anything.  I go back to beckon the others down the stair, and then open the door.  It is unlocked, and opens easily onto a gallery above a large cellar, containing an open cistern, and a large number of barrels and crates.  I descend down to the floor of the cellar and listen at the two doors, but hear nothing.  We gather at the western-most door, mindful of the rumour that Glasstaff lairs at the western end of the cellars.  We open the door and surprise three Redbrands resting in their beds.  The room is too small for anyone other than Aeldrin and Elaina to enter, but we make short work of the ruffians, although one of them does manage to scratch me with their blade before we take them down.  The room has two double bunks and more barrels and crates, but no other exits.  We take their red cloaks as a disguise, and return them to their bunks, mop the floor quickly and extinguish the lights, hoping that a casual inquirer will think they are asleep.

We return to the other door, which opens in to a short passage that leads to a large vaulted hall which ends in two bronze doors, green with age, embossed with a mourning angel.  Dust lies thick on the floor, and it is apparent that no one has entered this hall in a very long time.  Since we are interested in finding Glasstaff, rather than a bunch of undead, we decide not to proceed further.

The chamber appears to be a dead-end, but the tracks above tell us that this is unlikely, so we start searching behind all barrels and crates.  Finally, we find a secret door in the south-western corner.  It opens into a long, unlit corridor that doglegs to the right before opening into a large, rough, lit cavern.  The floor is divided by a long rift, crossed by two plank bridges.  Two rough stone columns hold up the ceiling.  I advance cautiously to check the nearest bridge, and the crevasse.  There is a charnel smell in the air.  The rift is only 5-10 feet deep, and has rough, easily climbed sides.  There are bones littered on the bottom, possibly the source of the smell.  I instantly think of the stories I have heard of ghouls; terrible undead scavengers that eat the dead.  The plank bridge looks little used, and rather fragile – I suspect it would collapse if crossed.  I make my way north on this side of the crevice, and hear a quite voice in my head telling me to come back and cross the bridge.  I ignore it, and it pleads with me to come across the cavern.  I continue to ignore it.  At the northern end, the cavern opens into a worked area, and I beckon the others forward.  Aramil also hears the strange voice.  The worked area is a workshop with tools and yet more barrels and crates.  In an alcove in the north-eastern corner we find another secret door that opens into a north-south corridor.  There is a door opposite, which is silent and locked.  There is also a door at the south end of the corridor, which we open, having first heard nothing.  Beyond is some sort of crypt.  There are two large bronze doors at the south-eastern corner, which look familiar, plus three coffins, each with a skeleton standing before it.  They turn and look at us with empty eye sockets, but do not attack.  We close the door and are preparing to retreat, but then have a sudden surge of inspiration.  There was also another, normal door on the eastern wall, and the rumour mentioned that captives were guarded by skeletons.  Maybe the red cloaks that we are wearing are what is stopping them attacking us?  Elaina picks up Garrett and carries him under her cloak, and we re-enter the room and cross to the other door.  The skeletons make no effort to interfere with us.

At the other door, we listen and hear noises of laughter and screaming.  Assuming that someone is being tortured, we burst in.  The room is not large, and the northern and southern end are barred off as cells.  In the northern one is a young lad, in the southern, two women, who are being poked and prodded by two red cloaked men in the main part of the chamber.  We rush forward and engage them.  Garrett deploys his enchanted invective to good effect, and we swiftly kill the two men.  We search their bodies for keys to the cells, but find none.  Elaina, frustrated, seizes the gate to the southern cell and wrenches it open, allowing the two women to emerge.  They explain that they are Mirna and Nilsa Dendra, wife and daughter of Thel Dendra who we had heard was brutally murdered by the Red Blades a few days ago.  The lad in the northern cell is their son/brother, Nars.  Elaina attempts to wrench that door open as well, but fails.  It is made of tougher stuff.  Aramil lends a hand, but even together they cannot budge it.  Then I remember the tools back in the workshop.  I sneak back, encountering no-one, and grab a couple of crowbars.  Elaina and Aramil once again get to work on the gate, encouraged by the last of Garrett’s inspiration and a prayer from Aramil.  At last they succeed in opening the gate, freeing Nars.  There is a large pile of clothes in the room, and they quickly find their own and dress themselves more decently.  Mirna offers us a family hierloom if we will free them from this dungeon, but I instantly reply that we would free them anyway, and having just lost her husband she is almost certainly in more need of the money than we are.  Garrett aims a swift kick at me, but I avoid it.  We check the clothes to see if there is anything that might have been worn by a short, black-bearded wizard, but find nothing.  Possibly this means he is still alive.  Mirna mentions that the guards change relatively frequently in this cell, so it is not a safe place to take a rest.  We prepare to leave, although there are now seven of us, and only five cloaks.  How will we get the chickens across without the fox eating them?

Read More