The Moathouse (30th October 2013)
Hallan – Fighter
Johan - Cleric
Paulix – Thief
Vox – Magic User
Samson – Ranger (NPC)
Spugnoir – Magic User (NPC)
Plans for the Moat House - Tirsday 9th Quattrober 963 (Day 14) – late afternoon
Somewhat bewildered by Lord Burne’s response to their request that he looked after the demonic amulet, Vox suggested that they buried the key within the foundations of the new castle wall being constructed. Paulix voiced his concern that if they buried the amulet beneath the castle walls they may have a devil of a time explaining that the castle wall needed to come down if the demon supposedly locked up within the Temple needed to be kept behind locked doors and that the only means of doing so was now buried under five feet of hard core. It was also possible, he added, that the amulets may be needed to actually gain entry to the Temple. Johan placed the amulet within his pouch for safe keeping.
The party returned to The Plough and Stars to consider their next moves. A few of the more worldly-wise denizens of the tavern suggested that it might actually be too late to head towards the moat house and that they might best head there the following day. The afternoon of carousing with the locals melded into the early evening and before they knew it, the companions realised that they would need to take stock of their advice and plan for the three or four hour journey that would face them the following day.
The rest of the evening was taken up with a hearty meal, making preparations for the following day, and keeping an eye out for new contacts that might come in useful. Other than the usual table full of soldiers from the keep, a dozen or so of the local farmhands, and a few of the more well-known denizens of the village and the tavern, things were quite quiet.
Amphibious Assault - Wodensdsay 10th Quattrober (Day 15) - early morning
The party rose early, ate a hearty breakfast and asked Gundigoot the inn-keeper to pack them some rations for the day. He was happy to do so for a small fee and he wished them the best of luck on their mission. The party headed out on foot into the warm early summer morning. They passed the brooding circular stone tower that cast its shadow over the road leading east from the village and headed towards the fork in the road just outside of the village. They took the left-hand branch as suggested and found that the trail soon declined in quality but even though they could still walk two abreast many of the bushes and weeds had begun to over grow the path making the going a little tougher than they at first anticipated.
After a couple of hours of thrashing their way down the trail, the crested a rise and saw that the fens now began in earnest. The trail thinned further until it was no more than a narrow game trail; the only solid ground that could be walked upon between the dank pools of dark green water. The narrow pathway supported the party through the boggy, midge infested fenlands for another couple of hours before they finally spotted the small rivulet that fed the moat. They followed the path and rivulet for a short distance before the marshes opened out to reveal the ruins of a fortification. The upper storeys had collapsed and many of the towers had crumbled or been pounded to rubble by siege-craft. The murky rivulet flowed around both sides of the moat house and formed a variety of pools and streams that were dotted throughout the surrounding marshlands.
The party formed up into a battle order with the ranger, Samson, scouting ahead and began to cautiously approach the fallen drawbridge and rotten doors of the gatehouse. Suddenly, with a great croaking sound, four huge frogs leapt from their hiding place amongst the reeds and landed amongst the adventuring party. All gasped in surprise and prepared to fend off their attackers, but not before several party members had been bitten by the slimy, loathsome creatures.
The giant frogs kept up their insatiable attacks upon the party, not retreating from the fray as their hunger drove them forward more than their sense of self-preservation. The party were sorely pressed, and the two fighters, Samson and Hallan, picked up a multitude of injuries that would need sore attention before the amphibians were finally quelled with the help of Johan, Paulix and Vox.
The party breathed a huge sigh of relief to have survived the combat and sat down to discuss what they should do next. They were sorely wounded and would need time to recover before pressing on. If the denizens of this moat house were all as deadly then there might very well be reason to suspect that one or two of them may perish before they had advanced much further. Whilst the discussions were going on, Paulix began to slit open the bellies of the frogs to see if anything interesting existed within them, as he was of the impression that hungry normal-sized frogs were renowned for eating almost anything smaller than themselves. He was rewarded for his bloody mindedness with the shimmering of a large precious stone and suggested it might be wise to seek out the monsters’ nest just in case there were any more of them or indeed if they had any kind of treasure other than the gem. The party declined his ideas by arguing that it was unlikely that the gem was from some hapless merchant wandering around on his own amongst the fens. They were in favour of heading back to Staneford to lick their wounds and to show off what they had accomplished so far. They chopped off the head and hind legs of the largest frog and shoved the pieces into a sack to carry with them.
The three hour return journey proved uneventful, and they made their way directly back to the Plough and Stars. They went directly to their rooms, got cleaned up and Johan prayed to Balder to heal their wounds. After a few hours of rest, they made their way to the common room of the inn and began to boast of their wild adventures so far.
A New Companion – late evening
After eating a hearty late lunch and impressing the locals with their tales of adventure the party handed the grisly remains of the largest frog to the ostler to dispose of as he wished. The beast had earned its keep and the party were kept in ale and wine for the rest of the evening by those wishing to hear their tales again. News of their adventures spread and in the evening the tavern was full of those wishing to hear more. Other than those few people they already knew of, the local men-at-arms, Elmo the local drunk and the card shark, they spotted a few faces that they had not seen on their previous nights in the inn.
The first of these newcomers were conspicuous in their appearance; a huge well-armed and armoured man sat at a table with his smaller, very unusual looking accomplice. The party engaged them in conversation and worked out that they were also adventurers looking for treasure and excitement based on the rumours they had heard about the felling of a troll in the area about a year ago, and the bandit incursions which if stopped might bring rewards from grateful merchants. Vox, ever wary of clerics of any kind, found that he took an instant dislike to the smaller of the two companions; he seemed to be a priest of some weird cult that he had never heard of. The fighter looked a little untrustworthy but would undoubtedly be handy in a fight. The party made their excuses and left them to their own devices; the pair left their table shortly after the discussion and presumably returned to their room upstairs.
The party returned to their own table to finish their drinks when they were approached by a small, unobtrusive looking young man in loose fitting robes. He introduced himself as Spugnoir, and asked if they would need any extra help on their visit to the moat house. He had some spell casting abilities but would like to increase his repertoire so, as a reward for help, he would just like the opportunity to increase his knowledge from any tomes or scrolls that were found and maybe a small cut of any treasure found.
Vox sounded him out and Spugnoir suggested that they could swap a spell or two in good faith. Vox was up for this and learned a spell from Spugnoir’s book, but Spugnoir was unable to grasp the intricacies of a couple of the spells that Vox offered him in return. He suggested that maybe he could try again from any inscriptions found during their sojourn to the moat house the following day. Whilst Spugnoir was in deep conversation with Vox, Johan cast a discovery-type spell to see if Spugnoir had any evil intentions towards the party. The spell gave off no such vibes, and this convinced the rest of them that he was indeed just a plucky local lad (they found out he originated from Castleford to the north) who was interested in adventure. They gave him a time and place to meet them the following day and headed off to their beds for a rest before the next day’s sojourn.
Return to the Moat House - Thunorsdsay 11th Quattrober (Day 16) - morning
The party headed out just before first bells at six o’clock, with the effervescent Spugnoir in their train. The warm sunshine made sure that he kept up a lively and spirited conversation with Vox all the way back towards the moat house before Samson called for quiet as they would soon be reaching their destination and did not want to let any denizens of the fortification know of their arrival if it could at all be helped. The party took up their fighting order and proceeded once more across the causeway towards the fallen drawbridge. The dismembered bodies of the giant frogs that had been slain the day before had disappeared; doubtless scavenged by other denizens of the sombre fenlands.
Just as the party passed the same point that they were attacked the previous day, three more of the giant amphibian assailants emerged from the reeds. This time, though, the adventurers were ready for them and the large amphibians were quickly cut down with only minor scratches being picked up by the combatants. Paulix again slashed open their bellies only to be disappointed that nothing more than half-digested giant frog parts spilled from them.
Ambushed by Bandits – late morning
The companions returned to the task at hand and advanced upon the gateway. They noticed that one of the doors had fallen but the other remained upright and in place. They went into single file to cross the rotten drawbridge that was wet and slippery form the past few weeks’ worth of rain. Johan slipped and fell into the slimy green waters beneath but was quickly pulled from them no worse for wear. Vox chuckled at his companion’s misfortune, but when it came to his turn to cross the moat he too fell between the planks and got a soaking in the smelly algae infested water.
Whilst Vox was drawn from the water, the party failed to notice the two shadows that pulled back from beside the fallen doorway and melted back into the fortress beyond. Paulix clambered up the outside walls and took a quick look around the ruined fortification. He could see several ruined towers that had collapsed but most of the internal ceilings were relatively intact as he could not see into any of the rooms he assumed were below.
The companions warily made their way through the gateway and took in their new surroundings. They noticed that there had been some recent traffic that led from the gateway towards a wide set of stairs that led into what looked like the main body of the castle. The roofs of all the buildings looked like they had collapsed and the arrow slits in the eastern wall were dark and foreboding.
All seemed quiet, so the party took to systematically searching the place for treasure. They turned their attention to the nearest collapsed tower and looked within. It was darker than pitch and smelled a little, but they saw from the daylight grasping its way inside that there appeared to be many glints of silver amongst the bones that littered the floor. Samson called for a torch to be lit and Hallan grasped it and pushed the door open the rest of the way. Paulix joined his companion as he stepped inside only to see a large multi-limbed shape drop from the ceiling in front of them. The giant wolf spider lunged at Hallan, but the fighter’s reflexes were quicker and he cleaved the beast in twain with a single blow. Paulix moved cautiously into the room and began to pick up the treasure that littered the floor; there was a tidy sum in his pouch after he completed his search. The duo returned to their companions outside.
Without warning, three shafts flew from the dark arrow slits in the eastern wall, one found its mark. The party scrambled for cover to be out of the way of the crossbow bolts, but saw that the only safe place would be the doors at the top of the stairway. The fighters and cleric quickly made their way towards the entranceway whilst the magic users and thief tried to take cover behind their companions. A few more shafts flew from the arrow slits, one hitting Johan who thought he might have been in cover at the top of the stairs only to find there as a slit there too.
Hallan barged his way into the hallway beyond the doors and headed to the right; hopefully to where the crossbowmen were housed. Paulix and Spugnoir followed him in whilst Vox, Johan and Samson covered their rear in case of a flank attack. Hallan quickly ran into two bandits in a hallway to the right and began to attack them just as four more bandits emerged from the doorway opposite the entrance to the hallway. Spugnoir quickly cast a spell that dropped the four new arrivals into an immediate deep slumber whilst Hallan and Paulix made short work of the two bandits at the hallway entrance. A third crossbow wielding bandit joined his companions only to be cut down rapidly too.
The party quickly stripped the dead of their armour, weapons and money pouches and began to try on any armour that was superior to what they already owned (it was all leather or padded except for a suit of studded leather which Hallan liked the look of). Johan cried a warning to look out for any grey ooze, but all fears were allayed when none was to be found on the armour.
Paulix and Vox made a quick reconnaissance of their surroundings to make sure all was safe and the party regrouped to work out what to do next.