Tonight we welcomed back our DM for Dragon Warriors who had taken a couple of months out to do other things. The ranger player enjoyed one session with us before he found another game to play that more suited his tastes (thanks for joining for the one session though Kris), so we had room in the party for another fighter type. Luckily another ranger was required, so the charcter just slotted in to where Samson left off. I think the party, including the NPC magic user, is now quite rounded out in terms of fighting and spell casting abilities.
The Moathouse – Part 2 (6th November 2013)
Bow – Ranger
Hallan – Fighter
Johan - Cleric
Paulix – Thief
Vox – Magic User
Spugnoir – Magic User (NPC)
Snakes Alive - Thunorsdsay 11th Quattrober (Day 16) – late morning
The sunlight slanting in through the gaps in the roof glinted off motes of dust as they spiralled their way like dervishes to the floor of the now motionless hallway. Motionless that is except for the heavy chest movements of the party as they sought to regain their breath after the last bandit fell. They quickly organised themselves to watch each of the six entry points to the large vestibule they were now standing in. The bandits were quickly stripped of anything useful and their bodies were heaped into a pile out of the way.
When the area had become secured to their satisfaction, Hallan and Paulix began to systematically search each of the rooms in the south running corridor. They opened each door in turn only to be greeted by rooms full of destroyed furniture, rubbish and on one occasion a swarm of bats. The tracks of the bandits that they had just killed could be discerned in a few of the rooms, but each of the doors was always closed. They finished searching the last of the rooms either side of the hallway before they headed to the final opening at the end of the corridor. Hallan listened carefully before he advanced into the room in darkness. His eyes adjusted to the gloom quickly, aided by the light filtering in from the arrow slits at the western end and the hole in the roof at the eastern end. He could make out that most of the room was filled with rubbish and broken furniture, much like the rest of this wing of the moat house, and then his eyes lit upon the corpse of one of the bandits.
He called for the rest of the party to come and have a look, and they all complied except for the two mages who remained vigilant at the far end of the corridor. The party searched through the rubble for anything of value and noticed that at roof level at the eastern end of the large room there was a gap big enough for a person to wriggle through to the roof. Hallan and Paulix, meanwhile, decided that there was probably more to be gained by looking over the two-week old bandit corpse and decided to try to poke it to see what happened. Suddenly a large fanged head darted from the mounds of detritus and struck Hallan. The bite shocked him more than it injured him, but the burning sensation coursing through his veins immediately afterwards told him that the venom was powerful, if short-lived. The party drew their weapons and joined in the fray. Luckily no-one else was injured by the twelve foot viper, and it was soon dispatched. The ranger cut out the fangs and poison glands thinking that they might come in handy at a later date and secured them safely within one of his belt pouches. A quick search of the body revealed a very ornate dagger.
After the shock encounter with the snake, and subsequent healing session for Hallan, the party returned to their companions at the end of the corridor and investigated the locked door from which the four bandits came from. It was securely closed. Hallan attempted to break through it by brute force but even his superior strength was not enough to budge it without the aid of a battering ram; this was a fortress after all. The party decided to hack it open with their hand axes. Whilst this was going on, Paulix investigated the stairwell opposite but saw that even though the steps led up to the next level it was completely blocked by a pile of fallen masonry.
Once the door was hacked open, the party cautiously advanced inside where they saw the remnants of a makeshift camp upon the black flagstone floor. Straw pallets enough for all of the bandits that they had encountered so far lay scattered about, but a quick count revealed that there were extra for two additional men. The ranger investigated the tracks within the room and concluded that the last two bandits would have climbed out of the hole in the roof and escaped down the other side and across the moat to the safety of the surrounding fens.
The party were beginning to feel rather beaten up by now so they decided it would be time to rest up and recover from their ordeal, as well as allow the spell casters to regain their spells. They decided that the room down the southern corridor that overlooked the steps into the hall would make the best defensible place. They removed some of the sleeping pallets from the bandits’ lair but before they had made much of an in road, Paulix motioned for them to stop. After a few minutes of frantic digging he unearthed a large chest from beneath the rubble which allowed egress from the room to the moat. After checking it over for traps and removing the lock, he popped open the lid. Inside he found a huge amount of copper coins and a variety of precious objects. The party took all of the useful and valuable material to their newly appointed strong room to rest up and count their fortune.
Whilst the spell casters read their tomes of power and the priest of Balder prayed to his god for more power to aid his ailing companions, the ranger, Bow, decided to go out to explore the rest of the complex; there was still the east-west corridor and a dark opening close to the bandit’s lair.
The rooms along the southern side of the corridor proved to be empty except that the second room, which appeared to have belonged to the castellan due to its perceived sumptuousness, held a silver baton concealed within a loose fitting cresset on the wall.
Happy with his finding, he crossed to the opposite side of the corridor and poked his head inside what would once have been the fortress’ kitchen. He slowly advanced into the room, poking his sword into splitting sacks of rotten grain and rotting cupboards upon the walls as he went. He had surveyed most of the room before coming across a large barrel. He tapped it to see if it still contained anything within when suddenly a bloated six-legged vision from the Abyss erupted from its hiding place behind the tun. The blood-sucking giant tick launched itself at the ranger and managed to punch its proboscis into his stomach and proceeded to suck at his juices.
Bow screamed in horror and pain, and tried to cut it from his body before realising that at the rate his blood was being sucked from him he would not last long enough to get more than a few strikes in. He decided to try to make his way back to his companions dragging the bloated insect with him in the hope that they could do something for him. Luckily his companions had heard his screams and were at his side rapidly. One strike from Hallan was all it took to cut the parasite from him, but the spray of the ranger’s own blood across the walls and floor showed that he had had a lucky escape.
As the spell casters still had a long while to go before they fully recovered their repertoires of chicanery, especially as Bow needed to be healed, the party decided that no-one else should go out alone. They hunkered down in their makeshift camp and waited out the hours eating their trail rations and drinking the still serviceable wine from the barrel that the ranger had been investigating just before he was attacked. Vox, with a little guidance from Spugnoir, realised that he could now memorise an extra spell from his book. He was beginning to grow in competence as a mage.
After a couple of hours of nervous waiting, the party heard the scamper of feet above them. An hour or so later, they heard more noises coming from the north of the moat house. The barrel of wine that they had found did a good job in fortifying their shredded nerves. After the companions had rested fully, Paulix and Bow quickly clambered onto the roof through one of the holes that they had found earlier but were unable to spot anything untoward.
Giant Lizard – early afternoon
As the party only had two more places to explore within the moat house, they decided to go together to face down any more adversaries with a united front. The end set of double doors at the east-west corridor remained sealed so they decided to investigate that first. After a quick listen to make sure nothing was on the other side, the left door was opened and the party snuck into the confines of the large room. Again, they were greeted with the signs of devastation seen within all of the other rooms they had entered so far. This room was full of broken bunk beds; obviously this was a barracks in its previous life. Across the other side of the room was a huge pile of rubble that appeared to lead out onto the roof and at the foot of the mound, against the western wall, stood a large chest.
Paulix made his way towards the chest and Hallan began to pace towards the rubble when a very large lizard slithered down the broken masonry and hissed its defiance at the interlopers. The companions hefted their weapons in readiness for combat. A furious battle ensued but the party had learned from their previous encounters with large reptiles. They each supported the melee in their own way which allowed Hallan to finish off the beast with a mighty hack of his sword.
The chest was examined for traps but none were found. The lock proved to be beyond the capabilities of Paulix, so he smashed it off with a hand-axe instead. Inside the thief found some more coins in a small pouch, a suit of scale armour (which happened to fit Hallan) and a crossbow with a box full of bolts.
The party retrieved all of the treasure and made their way to the final part of the building not yet explored. They discovered that beyond the gap in the wall was a larder with shelves lining the walls with a variety of sacks, pots and pouches. They could just make out in the gloom a flight of steps leading down into darkness.
As the adventurers lined up to go down the stairs in single file, Johan lit a torch and passed it forwards to Hallan to lead the way. He made it to the top of the stairs when suddenly he was accosted by a swarm of dog-sized rats. Spugnoir, seeing that there was room to cast a sleeping spell beyond Hallan’s position at the head of the column, released his magical energies at the swarm and a great many of them at the front of the wave collapsed into a heap at the fighter’s feet. Paulix, Bow and Johan squeezed to the front of the column to join Hallan in hacking away at the rats. The thief took care of the comatose ones whilst the other three fighters swiftly dealt with the remainder. A couple of the more hardy specimens managed to get a few bites in but they were still killed relatively quickly.
A search of some of the sacks and pouches revealed mouldering foodstuffs that were no longer fit for human consumption as the rats had fouled it, but one of the sacks had spilled some of its contents down the stairs. Paulix followed the grain trail down a few stairs to be rewarded with finding a fine, but very old gold ring with a worn out signet on it.
They decide that as it was getting late, they had a large amount of treasure, and many were carrying an injury of some form (some a lot worse than others), to head back to Staneford to rest and boast of their exploits.
Return to Staneford – late afternoon
The three hour journey back to the village of Staneford was remarkably uneventful. The party made their way straight to the Plough and Stars Inn, booked rooms for the night and a hot bath each to steam away their aches and pains. Whilst the rooms and baths were being prepared they had time to get their treasure evaluated. Spugnoir was asked to determine which items in their hoard were magical and they put those aside before going to see the usurer Melubb, whom Paulix had visited a few days previously.
Upon approaching the money changer’s stout building the party must have given off an air of confidence and experience; their demeanour, armaments and appearance showed them to have survived some hefty fighting. The guard at the door noticed their approach and as he was an ex-man-at-arm who had seen combat in his past recognised the look of experience in their faces. He nervously twiddled with his crossbow and repeatedly looked to his mastiff for assurance until Bow calmed him and said that he had nothing to worry about – they just had some goods they wished to exchange with Melubb. The guard knocked on the door and whispered to the money-changer beyond the small slat that had opened and a few moments later the party were instructed that two of them may enter the building; but without weapons. Paulix and Johan entered, leaving the rest of the party outside to guard the more mundane goods.
Melubb’s eyes lit up at seeing all the treasure on show and he proceeded to evaluate the treasures presented before him. He changed up their copper coins at the going rate and then offered a sum for each item and the adventurers decided that they seemed reasonable for the most part, so they traded most of their precious goods. The last few items they put back into their sack and bade Melubb farewell, mentioning that there might be more where that came from over the coming days. The gold in their purses was quite heavy but a lot easier to carry and utilise than all the copper coins and items they previously had. Just as they were leaving they asked him who might buy their more mundane items. Melubb suggested that Rannos the trader might be able to help but he did not give very good prices.
Divvying up the Treasure – early evening
The party headed to the trader’s establishment and made their way inside the large building. A sour-faced portly man greeted them upon entering the establishment and a tall, thin fellow ordered a lackey to stay out of the way until called for.
The adventurers managed to sell off a lot of the bandits’ arms and armour here but failed to get more than half of what the items were really worth. They did get a few deals due to the amount of goods that they had to trade - some slightly better armour for a few of them that needed it.
With mixed emotions - unhappy with being ripped off, but pleased to have got rid of the stuff quickly - the adventurers returned to the Plough and Stars. The ranger slapped a gold coin onto the bar and suggested in a loud voice that the innkeeper gave everyone in the place their choice of drink until they returned to the bar after their ablutions when they would be told tales of such derring-do that it would make their toes curl!