After having killed the forces guarding The Cage and exploring the prison, the PC’s decided to rest up a bit in the fortress. They have also chosen to take the small child that they found in the cell and bring her along on their adventures. Convinced that she is worth some money they are going to try and find out more about her.
While taking shifts on guard duty, Romulus spotted some movement in the valley leading to the prison. After a moment Romulus recognized the figure as Al’londia, who was trying to silently communicate with him. Unable to figure out her message, eventually Mgabwe flew down to her and brought her into the fort. Al’londia informed the rest of the party that there was a group of mounted knights traveling in the valley to the prison, one of which had a banner bearing the symbol of the DuChamp family affixed to their saddle. They also appeared to have a captive with them. Knowing that they were going to arrive at the fort in the next couple of hours the PC’s got
to work setting a trap and laying in wait for them. At this point things got a bit disorganized as all the PC’s went about their own activities. Glee decided that she would drag the corpses in the prison to the roof and hide them up there, when the horsemen arrived Glee planned on throwing the heads down on them in an perverse attempt to unnerve the men. Romulus and Mgabwe planned on hiding by the drawbridge and attacking when the men got close. Al’londia and Lela went up to the tower and readied their bows. Henri stayed in the main room with the intention of buffing up the melee fighters in the battle. After a bit of waiting a half dozen men on horseback arrived at the prison and one of them yelled out to be let in. Lela responded that he could not be let in due to a security breach, the lead knight then demanded to speak to the Inquisitor. The party lowered the drawbridge and the group began to enter, though halfway down the drawbridge the knights saw the mutilated corpses that Glee had left there, tipping them off that something was amiss. At this point it was too late for the men on horseback, as an invisible Romulus and Mgabwe began to tear them to shreds. The rest of the party joined in with ranged attacks and the knights barely lasted two rounds. Al’londia fought exceptionally well, scoring some big hits with her Shocking Burst bow. The leader of the men, however, turned his horse around and bolted for the alley. Henri threw a Wall of Fire in front of him that he charged right through, and several arrows found their mark in his back but he was able to get away. I’m sure we’ll be seeing him again.
Left behind was the prisoner that the knights had brought to the prison. Without freeing him from his manacles he was questioned by the PC’s after being brought into the fort. His name was Jacques and he said that he was a soldier for the DuChamps who was being brought to The Cage for torture and most likely death because he was a deserter. When asked about this he said that the war was stupid and he wanted no part of it. Lela fascinated him with her bardic music and then suggested that he tell them everything that he knows about the current military situation. As a foot soldier he did not know much about the war in the big picture sense, but he did say that it was not going great for the DuChamps as evidenced by a famous general coming out of retirement. Olden Delacroix had retired some years ago as a highly decorated leader of the DuChamp military, but had recently rejoined the war. To Jacques this moved reeked of desperation and further ruined what little confidence he had in the current state of the military. He was also questioned about any missing children but he knew nothing about this.
With his usefulness at an end the party decided to kill the renegade soldier. Taking him up the tower of the prison Mgabwe attempted to kick him out the window and onto the spikes below, but a natural one on his attack resulted in him almost falling out the window. As Al’londia was arguing on behalf of Jacques, saying that he deserved a chance to decide his own fate, Romulus snuck up on him and stuck a longsword into his gut. Once again Mgabwe kicked at him, successfully this time as he plunged out the window and was skewered on the spears below. It’s a shame that they killed him before learning about his youth as a sailor.
At this point the party felt that exiting through the valley would probably be a bad idea now that the one knight fled, presumably to a much larger support force. Not having done much exploration of the underwater lake beneath the fort the party traveled down there to see what they could find. They brought the baby with them.
As a DM I have never been a real big fan of puzzles, riddles, and other obstacles of that variety. I much prefer to place the PC’s in an ambiguous moral situation and see how they handle that. Give them some tough choices to make, blur the lines of right and wrong, make them question their alliances and motives. I find these to be much more interesting and create much better roleplaying situations than the simple riddle (I have other reasons for not liking puzzles and riddles, but maybe in another post). So it is along these lines that I thought that burdening this crew of money hungry murderers and criminals with a small child would make for a bunch of good times. They have no idea who this child is (she knows one word, Fiona, which is what they have taken to calling her) but considering that she was locked up in a high security cell in a remote prison and had magical diapers, they have sort of assumed that she is someone important, and in turn, worth some money. The end result being that it is in their best interest to keep her safe until they can turn her into some gold pieces.
After descending a large set of stone steps they found themselves in a large underground cavern with a lake. Set in the middle of the lake was a medium sized sailing vessel, seemingly anchored about a hundred feet from the rocky shore that the PC’s stood upon. There was no visible way in and out for the boat. After spotting and searching the area to no avail some of the group used the Cape of the Montebank to teleport over to the deck of the ship. Romulus, Henri, Glee, and Mgabwe went to the boat, Lela and Al’londia stayed on the shore. After checking out the boat for a couple of moments the crew was surprised by a group of lizardmen that had climbed out of the water and onto the deck. Armed with spears they struck out at the party. Henri took to the air and fired scorching rays, Romulus and Glee went after a pairing in order to flank together, and Mgabwe waded into the fray. From the shore the other two provided support. The lizardmen were not particularly dangerous, though the party was still pretty banged up from the previous fights, so they played things a little cautious. Especially Henri, who was at 4 hit points. After a couple of rounds another lizardman emerged out of the water, charging onto the shore at Al’londia. Once again her arrows were on point and another critical hit prematurely ended the life of the late comer.
With the threat removed the PC’s raised anchor and brought the ship onto the shore. With everyone on board they searched the area and went into the water. They found little of value on the boat, it appeared to be mostly empty, though there was a secure cell on the ship. After diving below the surface Romulus spotted a narrow cave entrance leading to a tunnel. Mgabwe and Romulus decided to explore the tunnel (after several failed diving attempts) and eventually followed it into the lair of the lizardmen. After killing the one remaining reptilian marauder they looted the filthy nest and found a surprisingly large amount of gold and gems, as well as a curious looking conch shell that was thrown into the Bag of Holding. Romulus toyed with the idea of skimming some gold off the top, but as soon as they got back onto the boat Mgabwe told the rest of the party exactly what they had found. So much for inter-party treachery.
Now that everyone was on the boat the party rowed it around the cave, feeling at the walls and spotting in every nook and cranny of the cave. At one point the oar they were using to feel around went right through the back wall, exposing it as an illusion. Despite the lack of anyone with any sort of sailing skill they decided to take the boat out of the cave. Once through the illusory wall the boat was adrift in a river valley. Part of the same mountain chain that the PC’s originally explored on foot, the river that they were in headed through the mountains and out into the sea. All around them the cliffs rose up about a hundred feet, with numerous crags and outcroppings jutting out. As a party with no one focused on divine magic, not a single party member has a Wisdom score with a modifier higher than +1. I described the river as being extremely rocky and treacherous, I think that the language I was using made it clear that even a skilled sailor would have a problem navigating their way through, so it would be very hard for someone with no skill. Clearly this was not a deterrent to our headstrong group of intrepid adventurers. In the end Henri was chosen to captain the craft. Lela used her Inspire Competence to give Henri a +2, in addition to his +1 Wisdom modifier. He rolled and came up with a final result of 5, which means he rolled a 2. Not so good. After about ten minutes of sailing down the river the boat smashed into a rock and was split into two, tossing some of the party into the drink, the others clinging to the deck of the destroyed craft. With much quickness Henri cast fly on himself, clearly forgetting that the Captain goes down with the ship. Mgabwe also cast fly, and fortunately his 20 strength allowed him to carry an elf, half elf, gnome, and small child to safety. Quite a sight they must have been flying to the top of the cliffs. Things looked bleak for Romulus until Henri returned and also cast fly on him (he had no chance of being able to carry the 6’8” half orc).
Their boat now resting on the bottom on the river, the party found themselves on top of the cliffs, overlooking the river and with a decent view to the south (from which they originally came). Perched on a mountain top several miles from where they were they also noticed the stone temple that they had seen several days before (and which had greatly peaked their interest). From behind them they also saw a very large flying creature who seemed to be circling their general vicinity. We ended there.