|2,451 to 2,500 of 3,088||
Final Loot Post
At this point we have most of what needs to be handled from a loot perspective. Here's the "final" loot post I'm making, if anything here doesn't sound right, work it out with the respective "owner" of the item in the discussion form and let me know the final outcome, otherwise this is how I'm tagging loot.
Half Plate + 1 - Armand
Large Steel Shield + 1 - Armand
Half Plate + 1 - Dirk
Greatsword +1, +2 vs Lancathropes (SP, sorry) - Dirk
Staff + 2 - Thantos
Ring of Protection +1 - Lash
Dagger +2 - Selena
Long Sword +2 - Dirk
Short Sword +2 - Lash
Bracers of Armor +1 - Selena
Chainmail +2 - Mird
Bag of Holding (Type 1) - Lash
Scroll with: Magic Missile, Levitate, Web, Fireball - Thantos
I'm updating character sheets with these items now. Please update your own.
From a "Coin" perspective, the following is where we're at.
Gold Signet Ring (Blackmaer's) - Not Magical - 20 Gold
Gold Bracelet (Blackmaer's) - Not Magical - 80 Gold
2 Candlestick Holders (Bernal's) - 20 Gold Each
200 GP (Gems)
1270 PP (Coin)
7000 GP (Coin)
2000 SP (Coin)
2000 CP (Coin)
Furs and Silken Sheets (Ilyana) - 480 Gold
Silk and Cloth Robes (Ilyana) - 240 Gold
Perfumes, Ornaments and Brushes (Ilyana) - 320 Gold
GP Total: 14,950
Sarala is taking a 1/7 share of the coin: 2,135 Gold
She'll take 1/3 of the Perfume/Brush Stuff - 106 GP (leaving 214 GP)
She'll take 1/4 of the Furs/Sheets - 120 GP (Leaving 360 GP)
She'll take 1/4 of the Robes - 60 GP (Leaving 180 GP)
She'll take 1/4 of the Gems - 50 GP (Leaving 150 GP)
That leaves 1,800 Gold worth of Coin she will take in PP (360 PP leaving 910 PP).
That leaves final Treasure at the following:
Gold Signet Ring (Blackmaer's) - Not Magical - 20 Gold
Gold Bracelet (Blackmaer's) - Not Magical - 80 Gold
2 Candlestick Holders (Bernal's) - 20 Gold Each
150 GP (Gems)
910 PP (Coin)
7000 GP (Coin)
2000 SP (Coin)
2000 CP (Coin)
Furs and Silken Sheets (Ilyana) - 360 Gold
Silk and Cloth Robes (Ilyana) - 180 Gold
Perfumes, Ornaments and Brushes (Ilyana) - 214 Gold
Of this, the coin is "liquid", you can spend this immediately. The items, however, will need to be sold at a merchant before we can tag them as coin to your characters.
Lots of storyline reading here folks, the last part of this campaign is coming to a close so it's going to be mostly story, but there's still a few sequences left. We could be done as early as the end of next week.
The seven of you, plus your tied up prisoner, clean up camp and start making your way back down through the damp, musty, dark halls of the keep's dungeons.
Avoiding the majority of the halls, you stick to the main path back to the entrance room, stopping briefly by Blackmaer's room for Sarala to collect some cloths taken from her by Blackmaer when she was captured. Looking much more the shepherdess she claims to be, her almost nudity covered completely for the first time, she seems to transform into a different person...from the starving half naked waif to a strong, self assured woman. Seeing her like this, you have no question that Sarala, "disease" or not, will make it on her own in the wilds of this land.
Continuing further down the hall past the cell block you were locked into during your captivity, you hear nothing but the sounds of the rodents and spiders that so plagued you during your incarceration.
Listening at the door to the main entry room and hearing nothing, Lash motions you forward and the 8 of you enter the last room of the complex.
Sounds of chaos and confusion filter through the trapdoor in the ceiling leading back to the surface, though faint, shouts, yells, screams and the sounds of combat can clearly be heard through the wooden floor slats.
Looking at each other with a "I guess it's now or never" look, you each draw your weapons and check your abilities one last time before Dirk leads you up the stairs, through the hatch in the floor, and back into the queen's keep.
Right into the midst of a burning building!
As Dirk throws open the wooden trapdoor a haze of smoke and ash assaults each of you and a wave of heat washes over all of you as flames lick the wooden beams and supports along the walls and above your heads, and the straw and thatch roof above that.
"Move quickly before the whole building collapses." Armand Shouts from somewhere behind you as you each come out of the trapdoor and into the not-quite inferno.
Taking the lead, Dirk charges the door to the outside, hoping that he's not going to run into anything outside and shoulder blocks into it, shattering the already weakened wood and busting the door into splinters.
The first thing you all notice is the rain, a slow, steady rain that promises to drench everything within its range. Which explains the haze of smoke in the air as fires from practically every building in the keep burn on through the slowly falling rain, sputtering and hissing and sending up great gouts of smoke. The smell of lamp oil hangs strong in the air and here and there pieces of shattered wooden barrels can be seen laying here and there near some of the burning buildings.
As you watch, the distant sound of a war machine ca-chunks and over your heads toward one of the towers off to your right flies a barrel, which crashes and splinters against the stone of the northwestern most tower, about two and a half floors up. The smell of lamp oil gets stronger as a light rain of it splatters the north western quarter of the keep. A few dozen flaming arrows then arch over the ramparts of the keep from somewhere to the south, many of them striking the sticky oily substance clinging to the walls of the tower and almost instantly the entire top third of the northwestern most tower lights up like a torch. You see two or three burning creatures (though you aren't sure whether they're goblins or orcs or what) fall, burning, through the window slits to their deaths on the ground.
Somewhere in another part of the keep a rumble and huge crash sounds as one of the smaller buildings gives in to the ever hungry flames feasting on it's flammable interior and collapses in on itself, a great plume of black smoke rising to the heavens like a giant tombstone on a grave.
Your attention coming back to earth after the show, the sounds of combat come to you clearly now, no longer muffled by the walls of the building or trapdoor in the floor, and all of it seems to be stemming from the front of the keep. Looking around, you see glimpses of pitched combats happening in and around some of the more stable looking buildings.
The 8 of you arrive outside in the main common grounds of the keep amidst the haze of smoke and burning buildings, with ash floating through the air. Around you are strewn bodies of all sorts, orc, goblin, hobgoblin and human and blood (some long dried, some fresh) pools on the ground around each. You recognize the armor of one dead human as that of one of the mercenary companies back in Kiren's Keep that you saw on your way through several weeks ago.
Looking around you, It's obvious that this combat is mostly fresh, no more than a few hours old. By your estimations, whoever assaulted the keep has done a reasonable job of it and is likely mopping up the last of the defenders.
As you look around to see who might be in charge of the operation, or to go help some of the smaller combats happening in the area, a group of 7 orcs, lead by a familiar looking half-orc come marching down the western hall between the main central building and the side buildings into the central common area, weapons drawn and obviously bloody.
Motioning toward you, the half-orc leads his men in your direction and you recognize him as the leader of the band you met in the woods that day, the one you struck a deal with, the one who helped you break into the keep.
"I'd heard you'd been captured. Figured you all for dead. More's the pity you're not I suppose."
"See, the Brotherhood said all I had to do was deliver you to Ilyana and she'd take care of the rest, obviously they underestimated you. I don't know how you learned about my siege machines and my assault on your silly little keep nor how you managed to survive, but your luck is at an end."
Reeling from the realizations, you now recognize this half orc from somewhere prior to your meeting in the woods...the strange orcish looking fellow talking to the brotherhood representative in a clearing when Lash and Mird were gathering information on the orc assault force all those weeks ago.
Roll Initiative folks, you have 7 orcs and the half orc. None of them look to be carrying ranged weapons. You can use the following map to give yourselves some idea of the area: Battle Map though this is an older map (ignore the placements of yourselves and the enemies). Figure yourselves spread out along the 8 squares surrounding the wooden door at the top (in a 4x2 rectangle right in front of the door) and figure your 8 opponents in an "L" shape surrounding you, with two to your east side as well (i.e. You're completely surrounded by all 8 orcs).
|Female Human Sorcerer (favored) 4 / Witch 1||
1d20 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 2 = 8
Selena wields the staff defensively, though she realizes its probably not a good idea as such staves might not be constructed for defense.
Then she reaches for Queen Ilyana's sword, still wrapped in its cloak. She does not yet draw it, though, waiting to see the orcs' reaction.
"I assume you know what this is. Let us pass or you will live only long enough to regret your actions."
Intimidate (untrained) 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24
Bluff 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (9) + 8 = 17 (+1 if attracted, Ew)
|F Human Rogue 5||
Init1d20 + 5 ⇒ (15) + 5 = 20
Lash's movement is mind numbingly swift as she darts forward, her blade finding the weak point of one of the orcs' armor, the creature caught off guard by the visciousness of her strike.
1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24
1d6 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 3 = 8
Sneak attack2d6 ⇒ (6, 4) = 10
"I'd listen to her if I were you, you can all still walk away....well except for him."
Initiative 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
Picking up on Selena's lead, Thantos aids her bluff as he covertly conjures a magical light that emanates from the blade of the sword in Selena's grasp. It seems undeniably imbued with magic as the flames of light lick hungrily along the sword's sharp edge.
Thantos casts dancing lights
That situation is not surprise for Mird. He learned from yearly age Orcs cannot be trusted
Initiative:1d20 + 6 ⇒ (5) + 6 = 11
(Favored Enemy + 2 on attack and damage and Rapid Fire - 2 on Attack)
Attack Orc Leader: 1d20 + 7 - 2 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 7 - 2 + 2 = 16
Attack Orc Leader: 1d20 + 7 - 2 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 7 - 2 + 2 = 8
Damage Orc Leader: 1d8 + 2 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 + 2 = 11
Damage Orc Leader: 1d8 + 2 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 + 2 = 8
FYI Mird: I have your new AC as 21.
Armand Initiative: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17
Dirk Initiative: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (13) + 6 = 19
O1 Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6
O1 Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3
O1 Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
O1 Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 2 = 11
O1 Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 2 = 7
O1 Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 2 = 10
O1 Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3
Orc Leader Initiative: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (8) + 4 = 12
|Male Human Fighter 5||
Dirk feels rage inside at the betrayal, and at the thought of this beast leading a charge against the good people of the Keep. It's too much, Dirk uncharacteristically loses his composure, "CURSED BEAST!"
Over-hand Attack: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (1) + 8 = 9
Damage: 2d6 + 9 ⇒ (5, 2) + 9 = 16
FYI: I have Dirk at 17 health.
That should have been O1 - O7 + Orc Leader, not O1 - O1 + Orc Leader, my bad.
"...except you." Lash finishes as she strides ahead and skewers the Orc Leader with her new shortsword, burying it to the hilt in his chest as he slowly sinks to the ground, a look of pure surprise on his face.
As the majority of you stride forward to begin combat a shout from somewhere back catches your attention. The clicking of several crosssbows later and the orcs arranged against you fall face first to the ground, crossbow quarrels sticking out of their backs like pincushions.
Lowering your weapons you smile to yourselves as you see the contingent of armed men enter behind a man you met only a few weeks ago.
Captain Garelson and the Mercenary Leader Christoph from Kiren's Keep come marching up to you, a contingent of about 15 men behind them, many reloading crossbows and taking up positions around the courtyard, looking for adversaries.
The captain is dressed differently than you last saw him in Kiren's keep...instead of the crisp uniform of the Kirin's Keep military, he is now wearing more non-descript clothing, still uniformish however, covered by a black and silver plate armor. As usual, he's very well put together even for a man who's obviously just lead his men in an assault on this fortress. His silver scabbard and ever present black hilted longsword strapped to his belt.
The taller and girthier man next to him, Christoph, looks the exact opposite and every inch the man you met in your last visit to Kiren's keep. Dirty, unkempt, with a uniform and armor showing lots of wear and tear, the mismatched armor pieces with some kind of mercenary unit insignia practically worn off, the whole lot of it covered in blood...mostly dried, some of it fresh.
The look on both men's faces, however, is fairly grim as they come up to you. Turning to address Armand, Garelson says "Lead us on quite a chase you did there Commander. For a while I was sure we were going to be too late to see you and your crew here alive."
A smile on Armand's face fades a bit as he asks "What are you doing here? How did you know where we were?"
"That contingent of soldiers you caught out in the woods a few weeks back that you sent back to the keep. Once they arrived we questioned them on what happened and they told us you and your friends here were planning on assaulting this fortress alone. I tried to muster up as many men as I could to come rescue you, and here we are."
Frowning slightly and indicating the still burning tower to your right Armand asks "Where did Kiren's keep get that kind of weaponry? We've never had any siege engines before."
At that Garelson smiles "You're a little out of date Kilenthar, with the addition of Christoph and his men here we acquired a few new toys with which to protect the keep. The armorers and blacksmiths have been busy as well. We won't be caught out of sorts by another orc invasion again, that's for sure."
Another smile lights up Garelson's face and a wry grin replaces it as he says "As to your suspicions, Kilenthar, leave them to rest. We found the traitors. Those two mages were indeed feeding information to some outside force that we've not been able to get much information on, and" with this, Garelson gestures toward Lash, "with the help of your little infiltrator over there, we realized that magically enhanced scarab I handed her and Mird back a few weeks ago was indeed being used by those two to track your movements and listen in on your conversations. The traitors have been...delt with. Be at ease friend, Kiren's Keep is safe and if I don't miss my guess, so are the rest of the lands around it, thanks to you six."
Glancing around, you realize that there are, indeed, only six of you. Sarala is no where to be found.
Garelson continues "If you all are done standing here like targets, lets get you clear of this place. We've mostly cleaned it out, but a large majority of the goblinkin fled into the woods when our small army started to approach out of the hills...that was, yesterday? maybe? Since then we've been trying to, um, talk the orcs out of their new home. When that didn't work, we knocked harder. Managed to break in about 2 hours ago and met some heavy resistance. We've pretty much cleared out the keep at this point however at this point. Still, no use you standing in the open making archery targets of yourselves." He looks your group over and says "Besides, you all look like you could use some rest. Lets get you clear to the woods. We can talk there while we get things rolling back to the keep."
You'll need no further resistance from the keep out to the woods outside of the keep. If you have questions for Captain Garelson now would be the time to ask.
I'll likely be "storytelling" from here to a point a couple game days from now after this break...so if you want something answered at this point in the story, now's the time to ask.
|Female Human Sorcerer (favored) 4 / Witch 1||
Selena sighs with relief. "I am glad that most of the goblins escaped. They were being controlled magically. I hope that they will live out the rest of their lives peacefully."
She follows the contingent of soldiers to the woods. "Are there any wounded, Captain? I'll help if there are."
Garelson leads the way out through the keep and about half a mile down the road out of the keep into the wooded valley you were "hunting" several days ago before storming the keep.
At Selena's words he and the big Mercenary leader both turn to look incredulously at her, then at each other, and then turn back and continue walking.
Over his shoulder, Garelson comments: "Yes, er, well, be that as it may, if any goblinkin crosses our paths again, I'm afraid they won't have much of a life left to live peacefully, though I've rarely heard of a peaceful goblin."
Making your way back into the hills you come to a very familiar clearing, the same one you met the orcs and goblins in with the lake in the center. The guard stands in the trees are filled with human soldiers now and tents are setup in the cleared areas around the lake.
The six of you are directed toward a tent where you can stash your belongings and get freshened up or rest as needed. Selena and Armand are directed toward the Infirmary / Triage area to apply their healing skills as needed, though Armand is more in need of healing aid than many in the infirmary at this point.
Captain Garelson comments "You just missed your other companion, Fyird I believe? We found him a few days ago still nursing a wound holed up in a cave just north and west of here. Tough man, that one, and by the time we found him he only needed a small patching job and a little healing from us and he was on his way. Told me that if I saw you all again to pass along the following note." From an inside pocket he produces a sealed parchment note and hands it to Dirk.
Make yourselves at home, now that we have you all and have mostly cleared that dung hole of a keep, I'm closing down operations here, we'll be moving back for Kiren's Keep by Nightfall. Word has already been passed to runners of your deeds, I assume the locals in Penhaligon and the surrounding communities will be ecstatic to hear old Penhaligon's bastard is dead."
Armand has a few questions which I'll get to in a bit. Anyone have questions for the Esteemed Captain? Story Clarifications? Ponderances/etc?
I will be handling experience grants pretty much static across the board at the end of the Act, there's only a few more things to do.
Commander Kilenthar, Kith, and all.
I'm sorry I couldn't follow you into the keep, my wound would only have slowed me and you down, I pray to the divines that you make it out of there alive.
Should this message reach you, know that I am ok. The wound from that damnable goblin spear finally healed though it cost me much of the healing stores you left me, and the Captain and his men have been most helpful in making me better of the last day or two.
I write this with sad heart, however, for I believe our paths in life have split. As much as I would like to accompany you to your destination and goal in that far away land, another path lay before me.
The axe we found has lead toward some questions in my mind that need answered, for myself and my tribesmen, and while I do not claim this to be a more important goal than yours, it is more personal.
My tribe has always lived in the shadow of your land, and we do have a stake in it's successful return...but I have been away from my studies and lands for too long, and the portent of the finding of this axe leads me away from your quest.
May your ancestors and all of the goodly gods and goddesses watch over you and deliver you safely unto your goal. Know that when I am done, I will try to rejoin you, if I can. If in your wanderings you find yourselves in the barbarian lands, take care! But should you find yourselves at need, know that myself and my tribe will aid you however we can.
May we meet again in this life.
--Your friend and companion, Fryid
Morning fades into afternoon as the fires in the keep in the distance start dwindling and the sounds of combat die down.
The six of you have been migrating around the small camp, helping out where you can, talking with each other and periodically the commander.
Most of the mercenaries do little more than grunt at you as you pass, rarely even answering questions let alone striking up any kind of conversation and you quickly get the hint that you are considered outsiders in this camp. Eventually the six of you find yourselves holed up in your tent simply trying to stay out of everyone else's way.
Around midday the captain comes striding into your tent with Christoph and a half dozen mercenaries with plates of food for each of you, the rest of the mercenaries retiring from the tent after the 8 of you are situated.
You all eat in somewhat silence for a few minutes when Garelson opens the conversation between mouthfuls of food.
"We'll be moving out of here within the hour. The keep has been cleared of what refuse we found left. My men headed into the dungeons below the keep, we assume that's where you came from as we found several dead down there and confirmed Ilyana's corpse. The man you describe as Blackmaer is being held for questioning and will be sentenced in Kiren's keep for his actions in assisting Ilyana's uprising. You were pretty thorough down there it seems."
Armand looks up from his food and thoughts. Nodding at Garelson as he says:
"I'm concerned Garelson, while I assume Commander Alalar is back at Krien's Keep running things from there but I'm surprised not to see any Kiren's military on this operation. With all due respect to you Christoph, mercenary operations like this have been very few and far between in Kiren's History. We typically have used the Kiren's Military for operations like this, and I would think many of them would have jumped at the chance to avenge their fallen comrades in a raid on this place..."
Almost immediately a look passes between Christoph and Garelson that is quite obvious, a dark look. Armand's words trail off into silence for a few seconds before he speaks up again.
"I am the previous commander of Kirin's Keep captain, we've worked together for years now. It's obvious something's happened, spill it."
Heaving a deep sigh Garelson addresses the six of you. "I'm sorry Kilenthar, I was hoping to spare you this till we got back to the keep and were able to properly thank you and your group here for the bloody work you've done for the region. Ex-Commander Alalar has gone missing. He never returned from the raid on the orc forces that attacked Kiren's Keep a couple weeks ago. He, and most of the standing Military Army of Kiren's Keep, have simply disappeared. We assume they fell into an ambush somewhere in the mountains while chasing down the remaining contingents of Orcs, perhaps some reserve force or whatever power that was behind the attack in the first place had another force waiting."
"Whatever it was, there is no more standing army for Kiren's Keep. The mercenaries we've hired out are all that's left for the moment to keep the peace in the region, and protect order. We've dispatched runners to Speclarium, capital of the region and seat of power for Duke Stephan, to ask that reinforcements and/or another contingent of the emperor's guard be sent for duty, but we both know it will take weeks to even get the issue on the Duke's calendar, and more than that for the Bureaucrats to figure out what they're going to do with it. Even at best I don't think we would see Speclarium soldiers for a month or two and we're at least 6 months from any troops of the imperial army being assigned stations here. Christoph and his mercenary companies are the best we have. I've taken over temporary commandership of the Keep till we find another who can rule better than I can."
"I'm sorry Kilenthar, I hoped to be able to break this to you easier. I know the keep has been your home for years and Alalar was like a brother to you. We'll dispatch a runner for you if he makes his way back to the keep at some point, but we don't believe that will happen."
The tent lapses into another dead silence as the Captain finishes giving you the bad news and goes back to his lunch.
After another long pause of eating in silence Garelson puts a smile on his face and says:
"It's not all bad news. Word has been sent ahead of us almost an hour ago that the Queen is dead and her reign of terror is at an end. I'm sure by the time we make it back to the keep there will be quite the celebration to be had. The locals from the estates of Penhaligon are always interested in a party, I suspect this one will be grander than most."
Still pausing here for a last chance at questions before I carry everyone back to the keep and, for all intents and purposes, end this after one more little scenario.
The treck back through the mountains, hills and forests of the land with Kiren's Keep's mercenary army is uneventful and boring. The six of you seem to end up talking amongst yourselves on the two day journey alot. The mercenaries, for their parts, seem rough, gruff and not prone to conversation with "outsiders" as you hear yourselves referred to several times. Attempts at personable conversation with any of them tend to lend themselves to short answers, may of them one word or simply a grunt.
The pace is quick, breaking camp just before daybreak and traveling a short while past darkfall, you make good time over the miles between the now mostly destroyed Queen's fortress and Kiren's Keep.
As daylight starts to wain on the second day the walls of Kiren's Keep finally come into view across the farmland plains in front of the castle, there is obviously a festive mood in the keep as banners are unfurled on the castle walls and brightly colored specs move about, as painted ants at a picnic.
Soon after, the specs resolve themsevles into people as you get closer and closer to the castle. A hustle and bustle seems to be about the keep as people of all sorts move through the gates into the main area, many dressed in finer clothing than you've seen on any of the Keep's or surrounding area's residents.
Leaving his postion at the front of the march, Garelson drops back to your small group and points out a group entering the keep. "Locals from the Estates of Penhaligon, perhaps even from as far south as Kelvin come to celebrate your accomplishment in ending the threat to the region. It'll be quite the party."
As your small army moves up toward the keep a cheer from the walls goes up, matched by an answering cheer from the mercenary army. Music from somewhere back in the keep grounds starts up and along the road many of the citizens stop and bow to you and the army. Picked flowers and petals are tossed on the road ahead of your group in appreciation for the work and the cheers and thanks continue as you make your way to and through the gates.
The festivities, it seems, have been going for a while now. The tent encampments are back on the grounds of Kiren's Keep, but where they were muted and businesslike when the keep was preparing for assault, now the people within the encampments are joking and laughing and drinking, obviously enjoying life.
The festive atmosphere is muted somewhat in your minds by the fact that all of the soldiers standing around, keeping the peace, are in mercenary dress, the uniform and colors of the Kiren's Keep guard entirely missing from the picture. And while there is no way for you to know, you recognize no one anywhere...even the normal citizens of the keep seem to be conspicuously missing from the gala.
The mercenary army peels off from your smaller group as Garelson, Christoph and the six of you continue your trek up toward the keep itself. Armand turns toward the captain to ask a question but is immediately shushed by Garelson as he smiles and says "Always was business with you Kilenthar, but none of that, any questions you have can wait till the morning. Tonight, we bask in the glory and revel in the defeat of our foes. In the last few weeks we've repelled an orc invasion, defeated one of the greatest threats this region has known in a long while, And..."
As you reach the gates of Kiren's Keep, a grisly sight awaits you. The heads of two men set atop pikes stuck into holes in the stonework of the Keep's walls stare unseeing into space. Garelson sweeps his hand in a gesture toward the heads.
"Captured, tried and executed two traitors to the keep! The traitorous mages you were looking for earlier returned and were captured attempting to gather their things and leave. They both confessed to passing information out of the keep to some assassin group working in the area, assumeably looking for you Kilenthar. It has been a good month. As I said, you deserve the rest, business can wait."
"Still, there are a couple people here who wish to speak with you. I'll lead you to them."
The six of you are lead into the keep and to a room you all remember from weeks past, the same room you were all lead to where you met for the first time.
As you are ushered into the central planning room of the keep, you see a man and two women sitting and talking with each other. The man you recognize as Kaerin, adopted son of Kavorquian the recently deceased wizard and cousin to the ruling house of Penhaligon. You immediately notice that his arm has been restored and that, buckled to his belt, is the bejewled sword you retrieved for him from the laboratory beneath his residence.
As the six of you file into the room Kaerin turns and both women stand with him.
"Commander Kilenthar! We of the Estates owe you a great debt for your service to all of us!"
Realizing his mistake he clears his throat and continues.
"My apologies, let me introduce my companions. First my beautiful bride-to-be Alerena."
The woman is short, about 5'4" and slim as as wire. Long golden blond hair trails about halfway down her back and she looks rather shy. She's wearing a gorgeous light blue evening gown and a tiara upon her head...the same tiara you retrieved from the dungeons with the sword if you don't miss your guess. The woman smiles genuinely at all of you and politely curtsies to each of you and returns to her seat.
"And now it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Lady Arteris Penhaligon, rightful ruler of the Estates of Penhaligon...and my cousin."
Lady Penhaligon is an imposing woman about 5'11" tall and strongly built, but still beautiful with brown hair and wearing robes of a deep blue with silver highlights. The woman nods at each of you in turn with a slight smile on her face.
"Well done, all of you. As my cousin states the Estates of Penhaligon are in your debt, a debt none of us will ever forget. You've rid us of my insane bastard sister and her plots to overthrow my ruler-ship of the Estates, you've stemmed the tide of the goblinkin and orckin and the rest of the evil monsters that plague our lands, and you've single handedly brought peace, however temporary, to the region. I have declared a public holiday for the surrounding lands, and a feast, tonight, in your honor. The Baron Sherlane of Threshold sends his greetings and his congratulations on your accomplishments."
Turning toward Armand, Arteris continues "Commander, I have heard of the loss of the Keep's fine fighting men. I grieve with you and your friends over the loss of so many fine soldiers and will send a detachment from my administrative staff to the Duke personally to request his assistance in re-equipping and re-staffing the keep. In no time, I am sure the Emperor himself will send another contingent to bring Kiren's Keep back to full power. It is the least I can do to repay a debt that can never be repaid. I assume, Commander, that you will be taking back leadership of the keep at this point?"
Looking at the six of you Armand clears his throat and addresses Penhaligon's ruler. "Lady Arteris, we appreciate the kindness you've shown us and Kiren's Keep will always be a home to me, but my companions and I have a duty to perform, and I am afraid that duty precludes my acceptance of the Leadership of this keep. You have my apologies, Lady, but the keep is in good hands with Commander Garelson...at least till you find someone to replace him permanently."
Looking somewhat stunned Arteris stairs hard at Armand before saying "I...see. I suppose I cannot blame you for wishing to follow your own pursuits after so long ruling the keep. Know that should you return, you will always be welcome. Now, I and my staff must be off back to the Estates." Smiling slyly, Lady Arteris quips, "You will, at least, do me the honor of attending the celebration in your name tonight before leaving us?"
"It would be our honor Lady Arteris."
After a bit more conversation the Six of you along with Kaerin, his bride to be, and the Lady Arteris all leave the room together for the celebration dinner.
Taking a short amount of time, each of you are shown to a room where you are able to freshen up from your trek before the evening of gala.
Taking off your hot, dirty armor and traveling clothing, each of you is able to bathe and prepare yourselves for the evening. As each of you are bathing a servant enters your room carrying clothing and what look to be ceremonial weaponry consisting of a longsword, shortsword and dagger. The servant explains to you that while you are expected to be dressed for the occasion, the local statesmen and women would prefer their "heroes" to be properly armed...for show of course.
Finishing your baths, you each find tailored clothing of fine quality in the latest styles that fit each of you perfectly, the women in long flowing gowns and the men in crisp tunic and breaches. Dressing in this finery, you each choose one or more of the weapons and strap them to yourselves. Being who you are, you find that the weaponry is of excellent quality of materials but not exceptionally well made. The hilts are wrapped in new gleaming leather, the blades, hilts, tines and scabbard polished to a gleaming shine and the scabbards themselves encrusted with minor jewels. Drawing the blades you find that their balance is only marginal and their edges far from sharp...while functional as weapons, these are obviously more for show than for combat.
At the appointed time, another servant knocks on each of your doors and leads you down to the main gathering area of the Keep. As when you defeated the orc invasion, the ball room of the keep has been setup with tables and chairs and an area for dancing. Musicians and dancers from all over have gathered to play and the atmosphere is festive and bright. As the six of you are led into the chambers the talk dies down and clapping and cheering from the attendees builds till the entire chamber is ringing with applause and cheers for you and your party.
Being led among the guests up to the center stage you recognize Lady Arteris on the platform as well as Kaerin and his bride-to-be. Christoph and Garelson are also there, chatting with each other. As you reach and are lead up onto the stage, the cheering and clapping die down as Lady Penhaligon steps up to the podium to speak. Shortly, the room is almost silent.
"Gathered Lords and Ladies we come together tonight to recognize the bold and heroic acts of these fine men and women who have defeated the orcs and goblins and made this keep and our lands safe, again, from war and death."
More cheering and clapping, eventually dieing down.
"The threat of that mad warrioress who titled herself queen of this region has been removed, no more need we worry about her machinations or her threat of conquering the estates by force!"
The cheering and clapping and whistling starts up again, this time louder than before and taking much longer to eventually die down.
As silence descends once more, Arteris finishes "Tonight we celebrate our heroes and their glorious deeds!"
As she finishes she claps her hands and the music starts back up and the party gets into full swing.
Throughout the late afternoon a multitude of people dressed in some of the most outlandish and stylish clothing you have ever seen come up to the stage and greet each of you, all of them obviously looking to curry favor and gain your respect. The tens turn into hundreds as name after name, almost every one of them followed by the "Lord" or "Lady" title, are dropped and your hands and arms get tired of shaking hands with these pompous folk.
"Greetings Sir, My name is Lord Hoison of the Alernon family, I'm sure you've heard of us. We are one of the oldest families in Penhaligon and close, personal friends of the Lady Arteris. I'm sure you are as pleased to meet me as I am to finally get the opportunity to thank you for all you've done here for my family. If you are ever in Penhaligon, you must come by my estate so I can show you the hospitality of the finest house Penhaligon has...short of the Lady Arteris's of course."
"Oh it's SUCH a pleasure to meet you, my name is Lady Relinena and I am pleased to finally be able to tell you how much we appreciate your jaunt into the mountains and taking care of that bothersome "queen" for us, I'm sure she was no problem for such capable and competent people such as yourselves. Please come by the Estates at the earliest opportunity, I'm sure my family would love to have you spend some time, and even, perhaps do us a little favor..."
On and on it goes for what seems to be hours. Armand, for his part, takes it all graciously having been the commander of the keep for years, these sorts of festivities are not beyond him, the rest of you, however are obviously slightly uncomfortable with the attention.
As the afternoon wains into evening everyone is ushered to long tables while you and your group as well as Garelson and Christoph and a few other mercenary captains are lead to the head table for the upcoming feast. Lady Penhaligon, Kaerin and their contingent say goodbye to you as each heads out of the keep for their own destinations and the party gets into full swing.
Wine, Mead, and Ale are served along with almost any food you can imagine...from roast duck to wild boar and everything in between is laid out on your table as well as on the tables of everyone else attending. All around the room, toasts go up in your names as each attending family tries to out do the other attending Lords and Ladies in their gushing, and very public, thanks to you for your deeds. Feeling obliged you each sip or gulp your drinks to each toast, feeling very good about yourselves.
The food is delicious, more delicious than you remembered from your time in the keep. Perhaps it was the days and weeks you spent on the road, in caves and captured in a dungeon that did it, but the food is possibly some of the best you have EVER eaten. The conversation at the table picks up and gets louder and more boisterous and bawdier as the evening grows into nighttime and everyone has more to drink. The entertainment gets wilder, the music louder and the revelers more free with themselves. Even the serving staff starts flirting with some of the Lords and Ladies in the room, and with each of you most especially.
This is perhaps the finest night any of you have ever experienced and it's becoming obvious to each of you that you are becoming more than a little drunk...except something seems a little wrong to you about that. Still, you each deserve this, you've been through the 9th layer of hell and back, and, in your minds, each of you are entitled to a night of relaxation.
The night continues to wear on, and you notice Armand down at the end of the table near Garelson starting to nod off. Obviously too much to drink, and why shouldn't he after what he's been through you figure, laughing it off and continuing to tell the story of how each of you, personally, stopped every orc in the attacking army with a single roar a few weeks ago! Tens of thousands of orcs and you, ONLY you, standing in their paths.
Soon after Armand slumps to the table, obviously passed out and Garelson, Christoph and his Mercenaries laugh heartily and good-naturedly about it as the Keep's new commander says "Ok old man, too much to drink, you're done. Up to your room with you."
You each laugh heartily at the remark as Garelson stands and hauls Armand to his Feet and starts to walk him up the nearby stars up to his room.
As Garelson reaches the stairwell and starts assisting Armand up it, you catch a glint from the dagger at his belt...the pommel of the dagger clearly showing a black skull.
You recognize this, but are unsure from where. You also realize as you try to focus your thoughts that you're having an impossible time doing so. Using all of your concentration, you realize you have NEVER seen Armand drunk, as a matter of fact you've never seen Armand drink more than a few sips at any function you've seen him at. Looking down the table at Armand's place, your swimming practically double vision shows you a glass, three quarters full of wine and you realize...the servants have never replaced or refilled it all night.
Finally giving your mind something to focus on, you manage to realize what's been bugging you for a while now...none of you have drunk enough to come close to this level of impairment. Something is definitely wrong.
Everyone please make a Saving Throw vs. Fortitude for me please, Saving will NOT allow immediate action, you won't be jumping up from the table immediately, though you can give me a general idea of what you want to do at this point.
|Female Human Sorcerer (favored) 4 / Witch 1||
Fort 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (17) + 1 = 18
Her words slurred by the effects of the wine, Selena slurges forward. "We've been drugged. Seize... seize.... sei-"
I'll address Selena's spoiler question in the open as several of you may be asking if there's something your character should/could/would have known about/could have done to counteract this effect.
The answer is actually no. The effects of the poison, for what it's worth, are practically identical to the effects of high intakes of alcohol combined with a minor psychotropic...the psychotropic kicks in almost immediately numbing your mental/cognitive faculties so you don't notice or realize the "drunkenness" coming on, nor the fact that you really shouldn't be getting drunk. The rest of it basically magically duplicates the alcohol in the bloodstream turning several sips into several drinks.
The insidiousness of this poison is that the poison itself has no actual effect on the body. The effects you are feeling are severe drunkenness, a magical antidote would only stop the toxin from re-producing the alcoholic effect, the real "inhibitor" in this poison is the alcohol itself.
There's no "cure" for drinking too much and getting drunk. All the poison does is limits your ability to realize that you shouldn't be getting drink with the amount you've had and multiplying the amount of alcohol itself in the bloodstream several times over. The toxin is useless without the presence of alcohol in the body to begin with...thus the introduction of the poison during an event where you were all but required to drink. :)
Adrenaline has ALWAYS been one of the best counters to drunkenness effects, and the realization that something is VERY wrong here will certainly produce that very quickly. The saving throw you've just made (DC15) allows your mind to get past the psychotropic effect and realize you've been drugged. Selena's reaction to successfully saving (identifying to the table at large that you've been drugged) will immediately produce the same reaction in the rest of you, effectively allowing all of you to pass your save. Any one of you passing your save and voicing your concerns creates a condition where everyone else now has reason to delve past the "good feeling" and realize something is wrong.
From a more out of character discussion, obviously this is a plot point. I realize players often have objections to the "wait a sec, I can't do anything about this?...but what if i..." mentality of storytelling, and I know this isn't the first time I've presented your characters with a situation like this.
While I won't go into my "dm toolbox" dissertation here, I will mention that none of you have identified any suspicion at any point in the storyline about any member of the keep...other than perhaps the mages who were brutally delt with. As far as any of you have stated (or effectively stated with silence) none of your characters are/were prepared in any way for any kind of betrayal during this party. Thus, I have to assume none of you would have been on any kind of guard for this event in any way...and that brings us to where we're at.
I simply leave you with a statement I've made before, for the closing parts of this story: Trust your DM.
Hearing Selena's call each of you closes your eyes for a second attempting to push past the haze of drunkeness and euphoria each of you are feeling and come to grips with the situation.
You notice several of the mercenaries at the table have succumbed to either the poison or just their own alcoholic indulgences and look passed out on the table. The few who are left look at Selena with watery half-glazed over eyes in silence for a few seconds before roaring with drunken laughter and going back to their revelry.
As your mind starts to clear and realization dawns another fact seems to strike you like a physical blow. Captain Garelson seemed entirely unaffected by any form of drunkenness when he left the table, taking Armand, alone, up stairs out of the public eye. With the party in full swing in the keep, as well as on the castle grounds, it's unlikely anyone is patrolling the hallways.
A few seconds more and the realization that Armand is in serious danger causes the Adrenaline to start coursing through each of you, helping to counteract the effects of the alcohol and helping clear your minds even more.
Several of you stumble to your feet and those that do brace themselves against the table as your heads begin to spin...waiting for the wave of nausea and the double vision to pass. More seconds tick by as each of you gains at least majority control of your bodies and gather to push your way away from the table and stumble/walk toward the stairs, gaining control and sobriety with each step.
By the time you reach mid way up to the first landing, you begin to move faster and your heads begin to clear more. By the time you reach the utterly deserted second story of the keep, you are practically sober, the danger of the situation and the adrenaline coursing through your veins all but eliminating the effects of the toxin.
You move as a group down the main hall, looking for signs of Armand and Garelson's passage, knowing that he can't be more than a couple handfuls of seconds ahead of you.
Midway down the hall, a door to Armand's old chambers stands partially open and with a kick, Dirk sends the door crashing back against the wall, practically knocking it from it's hinges.
Laying on the lone bed in the room is Armand, unconscious and unmoving. The former captain is standing over him, dagger in hand, pressed against Armand's almost bare chest, right over his heart.
"DO NOT MOVE AND DO NOT SPEAK or your KING dies!"
Continuing conversation from here, actions ignored. Several things I have to look up at this point to complete the story and bring closure to things as we complete Act 1, either today or Tuesday. There's going to be a lot of typing and story outlay in the next few posts. If there are questions you, as a player, have about the story that you'd like to know the answer to, please post them in OOC text and I'll make sure they're addressed somewhere in the conclusion.
As I mentioned, I will be IGNORING action posts till I call for actions at the end of the dialog.
Seeing your surprised reactions "Captain Garelson" smiles evilly.
"Oh yes, Dirk, I know your little secrets. 20 years I've waited for this moment, 20 years in this backwoods gods-be-damned berg searching for 'King Armand' and the infamous 'Dirk Deathtallon'. Thirty years this contract on your heads has been open, thirty LONG years."
"When you left Kethlenica that night thirty years ago, the brotherhood lost track of you. We knew you would get as far away from Kethlenica and as far away from civilization as you could, hide yourselves from our reach as best you could. So we started here, at the southern end of Norwold, placing agents on the lookout for the two of you."
"When I first came to this disease infested pustule of a town looking for your friend here, I had no idea who I was looking for. I took a position in the keep guard and began digging into the past of everyone at the keep, looking for ways to determine if either of our targets were at the keep or in the area. I made my way up through the ranks of the keep guards, with promotions and 'accidents' paving my way to success...each promotion gaining me access to more information, more ability to track my quarry."
"And then 'Kilenthar' here shows up with no history, with a recently healed leg, and within a few short years becomes the most popular person in the keep. Between an obvious leadership quality, military training, and an ability to motivate people to do great things my suspicions were peaked...but I couldn't prove it...I needed more information."
"Over the next 10 years, I tried everything I could to dig into his past, befriending him, becoming his right hand man, never seeking leadership, always providing council. Ten long years of NOTHING. I became desperate and I decided to simply do away with this man while I continued my search. Several failed attempts on his life by associates of mine and I realized that my problems were larger than simply this 'king'. He'd built an inner core of people, that damned fool Alalar among them. The longer he was here, the harder it was going to become to finish my job...and he was starting to suspect things."
"Over time I became aware of the wizard Kavorquian in the area, and realized that his skills could get me the information I needed. I contacted the brotherhood and let them know of my suspicions, but the idiots sent to handle Kavorquian fouled up the negotiations and provided him more information than he should have had, so I had to arrange for his death also. Servants are easy to manipulate with enough coin, and enough threats."
"And right when I had lost hope of ever completing my mission, you came along, and your wonderfully stupid companions took my information gathering trinket and carried it with them, allowing me to listen in on all of your conversations. A pity I needed those mage's help scrying you, they, unfortunately but not unexpectedly, heard too much and needed to be delt with...executing traitors is such nasty business."
"FINALLY I had the information I desired, finally after 30 years of drudgery and deep cover work I had found both of you and the perfect opportunity to kill you both without ever being suspected of being involved. The brotherhood negotiated with the orcs to attack the castle, allowing us to finally get Alalar out of the way, and I was able to send you into Ilyana's dungeons...a task you couldn't hope to accomplish without getting yourselves killed."
"Damn you, damn all of you to the 9th layer of hell and the last layer of the abyss, but, somehow, you managed not to. Somehow you managed to walk, intact and whole, from that compound. I should have let the orcs kill you, or the goblins. But my orders were clear, I was to make sure no trace of knowledge about you existed...that no one knew of who you were or that you did not die that night in Kethlenica. We attacked and destroyed the Queen's keep in an effort to kill Ilyana and her pitiful army, and end this contract once and for all."
"Imagine my surprise and dismay, then, when I arrived to find you emerging from the Queen's Dungeons, alive. I about shot you where you stood, but that would have left too many witnesses, too many lose ends to tie up."
"So here I am, in my last Ditch effort to complete my mission. And here you are."
Taking a deep breath "Captain Garelson" yells "Christoph! Bring soldiers! Arrest these traitors!"
Then in a quieter voice to you he says "The trap is sprung, you are finished!"
< continuing... >
Several of you immediately turn toward the door, expecting to be attacked from behind, but no one shows.
Long moments pass as Garelson bellows "CHRISTOPH! NOW!"
Again, nothing. Not a sound...not a word. Whatever was supposed to happen does not.
His face going beet red, captain Garelson bellows "BETRAYAL! I will see you in the Abyss Christoph!"
Red faced, breathing heavy Garelson screams at you "Though I die today the hope for your homeland dies with me!" and with that he plunges the dagger down into Armand's chest.
Coup De Grace: (Dagger):
Damage:1d4 + 2 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 + 2 = 5
Crit Damage: 1d4 + 2 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 + 2 = 6
Sneak: 3d6 ⇒ (6, 2, 4) = 12
Total Damage: 22
Armand Save vs. Coup: (DC 32): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (19) + 7 = 26
Throwing caution to the wind practically all of you draw the ceremonial weapons you have on your person and charge Garelson. Rage, betrayal, frustration and grief take hold as each of you does whatever you can to stab, hack and cut into Garelson. Within seconds, nothing but a bloody corpse remains laying on the floor.
Selena rushes Armand's body, throwing a silvery ray into it in an attempt to heal the old man before his life ebs away but it becomes obvious very quickly...it's too late.
"And so the deed is done..."
From the doorway a deep resonating voice sounds. As one you turn from the corpses in the room toward the doorway to see the hulking frame of Christoph, the mercenary leader standing there.
"He's not drunk either." is the first, surprising thought that passes through each of your minds as you recognize the big man.
Smiling evilly, Christoph throws a mocking military salute in your general direction as he cries "Traitors, traitors in the keep! They've killed the commanders!"
Almost immediately, from somewhere down the hall the cry is taken up; "Traitors in the keep, they've killed the commanders!"
Abandoning sense, you each attempt to rush Christoph who slips around the corner of the door ahead of you and through a section of the Keep's wall that was solid before but now stands open like a doorway...slamming solidly closed behind him.
"Traitors, Traitors" resounds now from several hallways in the keep and the clanging of a warning bell, somewhere in the distance sounds.
"Damn it, we're too late." Spinning on your heels you see a wall farther down the hallway stand open and an older man wearing the military uniform dress of Kiren's Keep standing in it's arch staring at you.
Surveying the scene, the older man who you now recognize as the older gate captain from your first visit to Kiren's keep those weeks ago, says "If you wish to leave this keep alive come with me NOW. Gather Kilenthar, or Armand or whoever the hell your friend in there is and come with me! You won't live to see whatever falsity of a trial they give you."
With that he and several men dressed in the uniform of the keep you have become familiar with over the weeks disappear down the darkened corridor waiting for you to follow.
Rushing back into Armand's old residence to gather the corpse of your friend, a strange sight greets you. The emerald on Armand's ring, the signet ring of the King of Kethlenica, glows with a brilliant green inner light.
As you watch, the dagger still embedded within his chest disintegrates and crumbles to dust, and the gaping wound in his chest closes and knits together as if never there. All of the still visible bruises on his chest and arms from his torture disappear as the light floods across his body. As you watch many of the wrinkles in his face and scars along his body disappear and even some of the grey in his hair recedes to black.
A bright flash of green light and a loud crack and the emerald shatters into several shards and disintegrates. The green light fades, leaving spots behind your eyes as you watch Armand's eyes flutter open as he glances around the room.
As he glances at the shredded corpse against the wall just to his right, at your blood spattered clothing and your bloodied and drawn weapons, and at his still wet, blood soaked shirt, he quickly closes his eyes and springs off the bed, a lightness in his step you have not seen from him.
"No questions, we're obviously in danger. No time for questions, I will reveal all to you soon. Dirk, what's our plan of action?"
Ok, NOW actions in. Obviously this is the final sequence. Alarms are still going off throughout the keep, cries of 'traitors, traitors' can now be heard from even the courtyard through the windows, and shouts and sounds of metal on metal are coming from up the stairwell in the hallway.
|Male Human Fighter 5||
Shaking the questions and emotions out of his head Dirk's battle focus returns to him with a sensation like that of being soaked with a bucket of icy water.
"We need to move out, NOW!"
"Lash! Up front! Mird! Watch our rear! MOVE!"
Grabbing Armand by the arm, Dirk literally pushes him out the door, behind Lash and toward the awaiting old man.
|Female Human Sorcerer (favored) 4 / Witch 1||
"The Brotherhood has infiltrated the keep. It is perhaps the only thing that makes sense at this juncture." Selena breathlessly philosophizes as she hurries with the rest of her companions.
Do we have a chance to gather our original equipment, or are we stuck with the ceremonial garb, and if we are stuck with the ceremonial garb, can I still have my heirloom longsword?
At the moment you have only what you're wearing, which is pretty much nothing more than the equivalent of a cocktail dress and a dull but very pretty longsword. You could TRY to make your way to your rooms to gather your stuff, but I don't recommend it.
Trust your DM. Would I really give you guys your first large upgrades and then take them all away from you no more than a couple days later? :)
Besides ****HINT**** you might get to your rooms only to find your equipment and gear missing...and still be surrounded by an entire keep worth of hostiles. :)
I will get the next post up within the next 24 hours, I realize we're coming down the home stretch here, so I'll try to break tradition and get a post out before Tuesday.
Stunned at the turn of events, the six of you dash from the room Armand was in down the hallway a short distance to the secret door.
From around the corner at the end of the hall leading up from the stairs mercenaries in armor and with crossbows enter the hallway and start firing. The loud click/twang sounds of the bows being fired are coupled with shouts of "They're here! The traitors are here!" as well as the sounds of crossbow bolts scraping against stone walls or shattering against them.
Dirk and Armand are forcedly reminded of a night, 30 years before, when events very close to this started them on their journey.
The last of your group enters the dank and musty smelling secret passage as Dirk pulls the section of wall making itself into a door closed, throwing a metal latching bar down in place, locking the door closed. Between the stone blocks that make up this door and the metal locking bar, you realize it'll take nothing short of a small catapult to get through to you now.
"Come, we must be quick." says the older uniformed me as he leads three other uniform clad soldiers and the six of you down a short length of stone passage running parallel to the hallway on the other side of the wall till you reach a spiral staircase, leading down into the depths.
"The old invasion escape tunnels." Armand exclaims, only half questioningly.
"Aye sir." the older man says.
As the six of you continue down the VERY steep spiral staircase into the darkness below, Armand makes his way forward, up toward the older man: "Wusteruf...Sergent Wusteruf if I'm not mistaken?"
"Third company sir. Assigned to the castle gate sir."
"I'm no longer your commander Sergent, you may speak freely with me. You obviously have questions."
"Sir...I...I saw you..."
"Dead. Yes, I was. A powerful protective magic I have carried with me for years is the only reason I am able to speak to you now. More than that, I cannot tell you."
With that the conversation ends as the 10 of you in the small group make your way down through the castle to somewhere you each guess is significantly below ground.
Dropping back from the man leading the group Armand explains: "This stairwell will lead us down into the dungeons under the castle, to a section that we don't tend to use, which connects to the network of escape tunnels in the hills that we have taken a couple times now. Only Garelson, Alalar and Myself knew that these tunnels existed...with Garelson Dead and Alalar likely the same, this is probably the safest route out of the castle for us.
Shortly thereafter the staircase ends in a hard stone floor in a tight hallway. Turning left, Wusteruf makes his way down the hall a short distance and then stops, at a seemingly blank section of wall, grabs a stone and twists...and a section of the wall detaches itself from the rest and swings open. Two more uniformed men with longswords drawn appear in the doorway, but quickly sheath their swords and allow your group to pass.
You progress into an obviously unused dungeon area with cell after cell lining the left and right walls. Passing down several hallways and cutting many turns you are quickly lost in regard to where in the keep you are, and end up, finally, at a solid stone wall. Another pull and twist and the wall opens up, depositing your group into a much more natural cave tunnel system that you are familiar with.
A short walk of five to ten minutes and you emerge in a familiar cavern you remember being introduced to several weeks ago called "The Last Defense". The cave is busy, with men and women, both civilian and military, moving about on their own business. Several strategic positions within the cave are manned by soldiers wearing the uniform of Kiren's Keep.
Sweeping his hand in a gesture meant to take in everyone in the cave Wusteruf says "[b]All that's left of the Keep's army."
Of the almost six hundred man militia the keep maintained when you first got here, less than 100 men and women seem to remain.
Leading you through the defensive emplacement into some of the living quarters caves behind he gestures the six of you over to a planning table laden with maps and markers and has a seat, gesturing at chairs around the room for each of you.
"Krista!" the Sergent calls as a young waif of a girl, no more than 13 winters old appears at the door. "Tell the porters to bring round the commander's equipment, they're going to look ridiculous trying to make their way out of the castle in that gitup. Hurry it up girl!"
Curtsying at all of you she disappears down a natural hall. "Commander Kilenthar...or whoever you are now...welcome to the Resistance! There's a tale to tell and I would have you hear it before whatever happens next. Before we start, however, know that earlier tonight while the celebration was going on I had several of my men appropriate your weapons, armor and equipment from your rooms after we learned what was about to happen. I'll be frank with you, if you'd gotten killed we wouldn't have wanted equipment such as yours to have become unavailable to our little resistance movement. If that sounds a bit "cold" of me, please listen to my story before passing judgment."
"The story starts shortly after you resigned your commission to pursue those who were threatening the keep. Alalar assumed the commandership of the keep and we guards started settling in to standard routines. Alalar was a good man and knew what he was doing.
The night after you left word came down that he and Garelson had an argument and that Garelson wanted to send the entirety of the Keep's force out after the retreating orcs that attacked. Orders shortly followed that every company other than 3 were to suit up and march out for an extended stay in the field hunting orcs. Most of the men were estatic, my company less so as we were one of the three that weren't on list to move out. Castle Gate Guard and Keep Guard forces were to remain behind and the reserve force was to move out with the army but wouldn't be seeing any fighting.
It was supposed to be a mopping up effort but I knew something was amiss when Alalar appeared that morning leading the force himself. Suttlebut had it that he wasn't pleased but realized that the keep's residents wanted the orc threat squashed for good, so he decided to lead the charge himself...as, I think, he knew you would have.
That's the last we heard of Alalar and the majority of the Keep's army. None of us know what happened out there. The only thing we knew was when the Reserve Army returned and mentioned that you'd sent them back to the keep to report. They told us that the army had split up, going after several targets all at one time, and that none of them had returned.
And that's when things started going to hell around here. Almost immediately, mercenaries start showing up at the keep gates saying they've been hired by Kiren's Keep to provide protection against the dangers and keep peace in the area. And let me tell you, sir, I've been working the Keep's gates for years and these men were some of the worst rabble this outpost has ever seen. Any other time I'd have turned these folks away from our little keep flat out, but we had orders to let them through.
Next thing you know, Garelson calls a meeting of the Guard Staff officers that are left and introduces that gorilla Christoph and puts him in charge of the military arm of the keep, announcing himself as commander. Not more than an hour or two later, a contingent of ill dressed and ill looking mercenaries shows up at the gate house with orders for me and my unit to stand down and report to the barracks while they take over duty. Seems protection of the keep had been turned over to the mercenary units under Christoph.
We gathered our gear, packed our sacks and started off toward the Barracks when one of them "this ain't right" feelings came over me. 30 years in the military and I tend to listen to those feelings. I told my men this wasn't right, and most of them agreed there was something fishy going on. A couple of the 20 of us decided they needed to follow orders and report to the barracks anyway...at last count two of them have been executed for being traitors to the keep and the other 3 we haven't heard from since. The rest of us high tailed it for the caves, hoping we could lose ourselves and sent word to the others we knew were still around to abandon and get to the caves.
Since then it's been a cat and mouse game. Anyone who gets caught that is a former member of the Keep's guard is "tried" in a fake military trial and killed for treason. They've not tried to take the caves in force, I don't think we're a big enough threat for that kind of concerted effort and I also think Garelson knew it'd cost them dearly if they tried it.
So up till about a week ago, it's been a stalemate...we sitting in here biding our time, and them doing what the want with the keep."
Looking around at the rest of you Armand speaks up "So what happened a week ago?"
Wusteruf continues, "Some people I know still working inside the keep got their hands on a communication from one "Queen Ilyana" that indicated all of you had been captured, and asking Garelson to contact some organization or something
Instead, he mounted a force of mercenaries and headed out. Next thing we knew we heard you were rescued and being brought back to the keep. Then word came to us this afternoon that some of the mercenaries had been "handling" the preparation of the food for the feast tonight. We tried to get word to you but my contact was captured, and I suspect he's dead or will be soon. I took the liberty of sending some of our guys up to your rooms while you were at the party to retrieve your gear and equipment. We figured if nothing happened, it'd give us the opportunity to introduce ourselves to you, and if you didn't make it...well...at least we'd have our hands on the stuff and not Christoph and his goons."
Sitting back in his chair the man stares Armand directly in the eye as he says "Believe me, sir, we have no intent of stealing from you and we'd have assisted if we could have...but taking any action that makes us visible as a resistance organization right now would put hundreds of soldiers and their families at risk to be hunted down and exterminated...we couldn't take that risk."
Looking sheepish the Sergent says, "I'm sorry, sir, but for the safety of those of us in the caves I can't allow you to stay here either. You're obviously involved in something much larger than Kiren's Keep and this region, and I can't afford to harbor you any longer than is necessary. By morning your names will be all over the region as the people who murdered the beloved commanders Garelson and Kilenthar and, I'm afraid, not a soul in this region of the land will raise a finger to assist you.
Kiren's Keep is in trouble, sir, and you may be the only one that can fix this. Duke Stephan, he's the only one with the resources, the military might, and political clout to solve this situation. We'll hold out here as long as we can, but we need the Duke to hear our side of the story. If you can, find him, get him to listen to reason, and get him to send his soldiers to man the keep and run these mercenary scum out of here."
With that, Wusteruf picks up a piece of hard bread and starts tearing pieces off of it, looking at you.
Final chance to get any questions you might have about act I resolved before I close the book on this and start up act II.
Act two will start from the wilderness a couple days after these events. Obviously, I have ALOT of stuff to do from levels to characters to planning, etc. to handle between acts I and II so lets get questions in tonight/tomorrow and we'll wrap up Act I by Friday.
No additional questions, I'll finish it out.
You talk late into the night about the situation and reminisce about the better times in the keep. At the end of the conversation you all realize that the only way you're going to end this is to find Alalar (if he's even still alive) or convince the Duke himself of your innocence.
The haunting words of Ilyana come back to you as you make your way to your sleeping quarters for your last night in the keep, possibly ever: "Even if you do [make it out alive], my associates own this region. None of you will ever live to see your homelands again! You will be hunted like animals!"
The night passes swiftly and sometime in the early morning you are awakened from your sleep by one of the keep soldiers turned resistance fighters.
"My apologies, serrah(ma'am), I'm under orders from Wusteruf to get you up and on your way."
Getting up and getting dressed, the six of you make your way to the central hall where Wusteruf and another keep solider are standing, awaiting you. After exchanging pleasantries, and with an apology from Wusteruf again for running you out, you are lead down a winding set of tunnels to a larger area, a place you've not been in the tunnels before. You find your horses have been brought into the caves and have been saddled up for you. They seem no worse for wear for the last couple weeks of idleness, and you find your saddle bags packed with rations and simple equipment. The rest of your gear and equipment from your rooms and your mounts you find all packed and ready for your departure.
As you each grab the reigns of your mounts, preparing to head off into the tunnels Wusteruf hands you a piece of parchment. You each gather around to look at a magically drawn picture of yourselves with the words:
WANTED Dead or Alive:
Dirk (aka Kith Tol Andred)
Could be traveling with another companion looking like the Ex Commander of Kiren's Keep, Kilenthar. These mercenaries are highly dangerous, having slain both ex-commander Kilenthar and appointed commander Garelson in Kirin's Keep on the 31st of May in the year 628 PH as well as several of the keeps fine soldiers. They are also wanted for the murder and disappearance of Kiren's Keep Commander Alalar, last seen in their company.
A 5000 GP reward is being given for information on the whereabouts of any member of this party that leads to their capture or death. An additional 2000 GP Bounty is being offered either for the head of any of these mercenaries or for their live capture. Payable by current keep commander, Christoph.
"They've obviously had these ready to go for some time now. While the drawings of you are recent, this cannot have been hastily put together between last night and this morning."
"As of this morning, some of my sources within the keep informed me that runners had been sent with hundreds of copies of this to the far reaches of the kingdom. You can expect that your faces will be well known within these lands, and aid will likely not be forthcoming. We have packed several days worth of food in your bags, the most we could spare ourselves, but I'm afraid that won't be enough to last you through your journey."
"There is nothing more I can say and nothing more I can do for you. Gods speed you on your way, may you find your way out of this darkness and, should you be able to, find a way to bring help to us."
With that Wusteruf and his aid wave their goodbye and turn back down the tunnel toward their base of operations, leaving you to make your way out of the caves.
Back on the road again, this time as criminals, you continue on your road trying to figure out what you'll do next.
So ends Act I of Rise of a Regent.
Act two will take up a couple days game time hence and I'll do a full recap of what you've learned in Act I to bring everyone up to speed on the campaign.
I'd like to direct everyone at this point over to the discussion thread (Linked in the tabs at the top of this thread post) for more information on Act II. I'll need everyone to please read and respond to the Discussion Thread.
All "housekeeping" activities will be carried out in the Discussion Thread.
Alas, your GM has been struck with the creeping crud of doom disease and is touching a computer for the first time in 5 days right now.
Sorry for falling off the face of the earth here folks, as of last Friday (a week ago tomorrow) I came down with a really NASTY flu, and have been bed-ridden since. I apologize for the lack of communication and slow start to act II, I'll get there, I just have to get back on my feet first.
Hopefully everyone is enjoying the downtime in the posts. I'm still in recovery mode, but back on my feet and back to work this week so hopefully I'm at least mostly over this junk.
As of Monday I'm going to take stock with who's posted back with character advancement stuff and see who we're missing and try to start getting things back in order. Between now and then please update character sheets to level 5 as noted in the discussion thread and send me changes as best you can.
If you have questions or need help / advice, please don't hesitate to let me know in the discussion thread...I am checking it daily.
Dirk: If you need to get together with me to re-work your character let me know...I promise to try not to cough on you. :)
ACT II - Rise of a Regent START
Welcome back everyone, I hope you've all had a nice break, and I apologize for it being so long.
As a quick campaign status I am still working on Thantos and Mird's characters. Both of them are swamped in with work at this point but I'm hoping they'll be back in to play, both have indicated their interest.
Selena, Lash, Dirk and Armand are finished from a character perspective, thanks much to each and all of you for the help with the character stuff.
There's alot to get through, here's a list of upcoming posts/changes that need to be gotten out to start the second act.
* Update the over-world map for your location at the start of the campaign.
* Add a few more details to the over-world for the area you're at.
* Post a recap of Act I's story line to bring everyone up to date on where you stand.
* Post the opener post for Act II identifying where you are what the timeline is, etc.
These are all coming. Just bare with me, I'll get them up ASAP.
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