Chris (Tiberium), Dean (Thic Duc), Matt (Barron), Mariel (Leah), Jeff (Amathar), Brian (Pyrcival), Leah (Ahira), and Coby (Warin) are returning cast members.
As we left the party, they had found the slave pits, killed their antaur guards, and rescued 4 captive slaves at the cost of the fifth slave's life.
Their searches of the slaving complex revealed a nearby room clearly intended to hold slaves in bulk. Four orcs were arguing over how to remove a strange, smelly man's stiff body from the room. They were having a great deal of trouble lifting him despite the man's slight build and lack of resistance. So much trouble, in fact, that Pyrcival was able to kill two of them from behind before they noticed the gnome was in the room at all. The other two dropped the man -- who turned out to be Barron -- and fled. Only one of them made it out of the room alive.
The party took a brief break at this point to allow Barron to recover from his time as a golden idol. Amathar's mysterious floating hands prepared a delicious meal of fried chicken in a remarkably variety of sauces and spices. If anyone noticed that the spices came from his spell component pouch, they mentioned nothing.
Thus fortified and reinforced, the party continued on. Their explorations lead them to a large, circular room, where a dark man brooded atop his throne behind a moat of sewage. Orcs filled the room, half armed with crossbows and half with swords, both groups frantically rearranging boxes. It seems the slavers had become aware of the enemy presence and were planning to leave.
Barron used his ring of invisibility to sneak into the room and Wizard Locked the back door while the rest of the party advanced. But, the leader apparently was aware of the smelly man's presence -- perhaps he needs to develop his move without smell skills? -- and signaled his minions to attack before sipping something from his belt and disappearing.
Tiberium led the group down the stairs with Pyrcival at his side, and together they engaged the front line of orcs. The crossbow-wielders took aim, and despite the strength of his armor, Tiberium staggered and nearly fell as three bolts struck his chest simultaneously. Only a quick prayer for Pelor's intervention kept him in the fight. Behind them, Leah's bow reaped orcs like a scythe through wheat.
Thic Duc and Ahira leapt from the staircase and moved around the side of the room to engage the crossbow-wielding orcs as their leader cried out, "Release the weasels!" From the large dais beneath his throne, five giant weasels rushed at the party. The orcs caught between the two groups hurriedly moved out of the way as the weasels advanced.
Barron was just admiring the spell he had cast on the door, blocking the slaver's escape, when he suddenly remembered the slaver on the throne he had turned his back to. He was reminded by the feel of an icy blade sliding into his back, puncturing his kidney. He collapsed in silent agony, bleeding heavily at the door he had sealed, but still invisible.
Ahira took a barrage of bolts as she moved to engage the orcs, but managed to avoid serious harm and began cutting them down to her size.
Distracted by the sudden appearance of the giant weasels from his nightmares, Thic Duc felt steel strike at his unguarded back as well. He staggered, but did not fall. The evil leader from the throne appeared behind him, blood coating his sword.
At this point Warin's divine magic entered the fray with a prayer to Pelor. His prayer was answered, and the surviving group of melee orcs were held in place, allowing the party to focus on the incoming streaks of sleek and furry doom. By this time Barron had recovered enough to drink a healing potion and began to contribute as well, sending an unseen servant to collect all the crossbow bolts to be found in the room. This disarmed and confused many of the remaining orcs, as they saw their ammunition supplies waltzing away through the air.
The giant weasels swarmed at Tiberium and Pyrcival, who remained on the stairs to minimize the possible attack vectors. Between their tactics and their potent armor, only one weasel was able to get a solid grip with it's fearsome teeth, and that one was quickly dispatched along with the others.
Another prayer, and the thief behind Thic Duc was held in place before he could disappear again.
Acting quickly, the party secured the surrender of the remaining orcs, then removed their leader's weapons and a magical ring before tying his hands and feet together and then tying him to his throne. But when they looked away for a moment to convince the last orc to reluctantly lay down his sword, the leader managed to trip a hidden catch on his throne and -- despite his bonds -- fall back through a hidden door to a passage below.
The party immediately entered hot pursuit, Thic Duc in the lead. His monkly disciplines allowed him to move with great speed, and when a pit trap opened beneath him, he was able to grab the wall to the side and cross without missing a beat. The enemy had only a small lead on him, and he knew that if he could only get within sight of them again, they would have great difficult escaping. The rest of the group followed at a slower pace, with the pit trap temporarily blocking Tiberium's way forward.
As it turned out, the short passage lead to the room behind the throne normally accessed by a visible door. It was filled with supplies, paperwork, and thousands of golden coins. Amathar stayed behind to search through the paperwork, with Pyrcival and Ahira to guard him. The rest of the party continued the pursuit.
With Thic Duc racing forward, Leah took the time to try to decipher their tracks. She noted that the lone thief they had tied to the throne had apparently become three humanoids -- two in boots and one in a very dainty pointed shoe. Strange!
Another short passage from the storeroom and office lead to a staircase leading upwards, exiting through a face grave in a small graveyard near the back of the temple that the party had chosen not to explore before seeking entrance. Thic Duc ran past a chaotic scene -- the party's riding animals were missing, including Tiberium's warhorse, Pyrcival's pony, and the mule they used to pull the cart. Pyro was asleep on top of the cart, enjoying the last of the sun's rays; apparently after so many new party members, he had given up on remembering who was allowed to touch their possessions. Leah called out to him, and he ran to her side with tongue lolling out joyfully.
The pursuit continued from the ruined temple to the main road, Thic Duc steadily gaining on the slavers and leaving his friends behind. As he approached, he began to make out details; there were three of them, in addition to the still-bound thief the party had briefly captured. One wore chain, another robes. The last wore a rather fetching ballroom dress in black and green, one that paired well with her long black hair and dark, glittering green eyes as she turned back to look behind her and caught sight of the monk's proximity. The robed man cursed under his breath, something about damn monks outrunning horses, and three of the four stopped to fight. The last continued on her way, riding the stolen horse with a surprising level of skill and a dainty flip of her hair in farewell.
The warrior-woman quickly begin cutting her compatriot free, something they had not had the chance to do prior to this. The mage set his feet and begin the words of a spell, one that seemed at first to have no effect, but Thic Duc felt his limbs suddenly slow down to the speed of a mere human. The magic was somehow hampering his ability to pursue! Yet he was still close enough to reach the group as the mage began another spell...
From afar, in the dim lighting, the rest of the group saw only that Thic Duc had suddenly stopped moving forwards. They continued running, Barron in the lead due to his lack of armor, Leah and Pyro close behind, all three determined to catch their opponents before they could escape.
Little did they know that the sticky strands of a Web spell blocked their path. Only knowing Thic Duc had stopped for some reason gave Barron the clue he needed to stop short of the web before being caught as well, and he yelled out to inform the rest of the group of the obstacle. Leah and Pyro moved to bypass the web through the heavy forest on either side of the road while Barron begin to cut Thic Duc free.
The wizard had another spell up his sleeve, however. His arcane gestures summoned a fierce war dog, almost a twin to Pyro, and the two animals faced off.
While the two dogs sniffed each other's hindquarters, and Leah raised her bow to take aim, the wizard raised his hand once more, a ring upon his hand glowing fiercely as three balls of lighting shot forward at the party.
Thic Duc, only recently freed from the web that held him, managed to duck out of the way with minimal damage. Leah, despite her conductive plate mail, did the same with all the elven grace of one-half of her parentage. Unfortunately, Pyro was busy making a new friend rather than watching for danger, and the ball of lightning struck him with tremendous force.
Seeing her treasured companion and ally fried to a crisp sent Leah into a vicious fury, and when she regained her footing after evading the attack (which left her only slightly singed) her arrows flew true, striking the wizard who had hurt Pyro solidly in both of his eyes. The robed man fell, with Leah's arrow's making a bloody ruin of both his eyes.
With Leah in the fury and the rest of the party close behind, the warrior-woman fell almost before she finished untying her companion, who lasted only a minute or two longer. But the possible Princess had ridden off into the distance, and Leah was too beset with grief to track her immediately. She rushed to her dog, tears welling in her eyes, but the brave animal had life enough for only one last action: his tongue licked her tears away as rain began to fall, with only Thic Duc's lantern many yards back to give faint illumination to the tragic scene of farewell.
Praise Pelor! I can feel his warmth once more on my skin! I haven't much time, as we're still in pursuit of the final remaining slaver, she whom we believe to be the General's daughter. Having found Barron, finally, in the clutches of four orcs, he's been freed and brought back to health. Shortly thereafter, we came upon a large group of orcs, and a single human man. Shortly after we engaged, the man disappeared, and began slowly picking off my comrades, backstabbing Barron and Thic Ducc, causing significant harm. At the same time, orcs had been blocking our advance, while their rear flank pelted us with crossbows (and on one particular volley, nearly sent me to meet Pelor!). Eventually, though, we wore them down -- just as the lord called for his pet WEASELS (WEASELS! Must we fend off every insect and giant beast known to gods and man in these infernal caverns?).
Our foes did fall, though, as I returned to normal size (prior enchantment courtesy of our friendly neighborhood magic-user). The lord was held with Pelor's might (and Warrin's faith), and we bound his arms and legs, then tied him to his 'throne', as well, prior to questioning. The throne, however, is a lie, and it had opened a short fall into more muck. We realized quickly that our captive had been taken! TD was able to navigate a large pit trap, and come back up, finding himself in the room beyond our own. Barron removed his magic from the door, and we quickly pursued (after a quick tossing of the room). TD was able to catch up to the slavers fairly quickly, however they'd cast webbing at him, hindering his movement. We weren't far behind, and the bastards were unable to flee. So here we sit, TD again chasing the remaining horse (the warhorse I'd bought in Restenford), while we take a breath, before again giving chase.
Another sunless day in this horrific den of orcs and corrupt humans. Well, after the brutal fight with four ant-men, we moved into the hallway, where we hear noises coming from a room down the hall. Tib and I move in and surprise four orcs carrying the motionless form of our companion. We rush them and I slew one before he knew what was there, as the others turned pale as they faced Tib and I in our wrath. Two turned to flee as Tib cut another down, and I cut one more down as they fled, but alas! An orc escaped. I did not pursue, but paused to check on Barron.
I'm very happy to have released him from the clutches of the foul orc slavers -- my memory of my time over thirty years ago burning in my mind. Damn their foul clutches!
Baron bounces back quickly, and we found his personal gear in a storeroom. We take a little while to recover our strength before forging on in this horrific place. Back to one of the corridors, and down the hall brought us to a doorway. Barron turns invisible and scouts ahead, coming back a few minutes later with the news that there are sixteen more orcs in a large circular room -- eight with crossbows and eight with sword and shield -- in the next room, being presided over by a human wearing leather. The orcs seem to be packing up, so we decide to rush down to attack.
Barron disappears again with the intent of locking the door so none can escape our wrath. As soon as we appear in the room, the human disappears. Half the orcs rush us, hoping to stop us before we can enter the room and bring our full numbers to bear. The other half start shooting their crossbows. Tib and I get close, but there is only room for one of us at the end of the ramp leading down (He is still gian sized). He steps off the ramp into the water, and I move up and engage the sword wielding orcs. I see out of the corner of my eyes as the ranger starts shooting the crossbow bearing orcs, who are pincushioning Tib and taking aim at Ahira. The monk apparently jumped down on one side, and starts slaying archer orcs as well, as Ahira does the same on the other side and moves to take the archers targeting her out.
Rage engulfs me as the stench of orc encompasses me, refreshing my memories of being an orc captive. Never again! I think as I decapitate another orc. Several minutes of fierce fighting occur with blows given and taken, and my trusty armor and shield doing their job, before someone cries out "release the weasels!" which is, let's be honest, not something you hear every day. From under the dais come five giant weasels, and they start tearing into the back of an orc not fast enough to get out of their way in their hunger to get to myself and Tib. I switch targets to the more dangerous weasel near me, as I take another attack on my shield. Thrusting my sword deep in the vitals of a weasel already sporting several of the rangers arrows, it shudders it's last as I think to myself "that'd make a nice bathrobe!"
As the last weasel falls, it appears the three orcs on one side were frozen by a spell of the clerics, as indeed is the invisible thief -- who re-appeared to attack the monk, only to get caught in the clerics spell. We strip him of his belonging, and Tib and Thic Duc tie him to the throne as I execute the unneeded orcs we took prisoner, As we are preparing our questions for the human (the remaining orc doesn't know squat), the throne opens up to a passage below, and he disappears.
Tib and Thic Duc immediately persue, and we wait a minute until the kid tells us to go through the door, which we do. Everyone immediately starts out in pursuit -- as it appears the human was rescued by his companions, and they have taken our mounts and fled! Ahira and I quickly fall behind, as I can hear the monk catch up and start slowing them down. We arrive at the tail end of battle -- to see a thick webbing covering the space between trees where the road goes. I grasp my bow which I had prepared as I trudge along and let loose two arrows at the thief before my companions get to close to him for me to shoot safely. Tib and Thic Duc disable or kill the magic user, a fighter and the thief, as the monk yells "the princess is getting away!" and runs off after her, and returns as we're finishing looting the bodies, and head back to the circular room to finish our search for information. We find a desk with a lot of paperwork and some gold.
Amathar, Pyrcival, and Ahira carefully examined the papers in the storeroom and located a map depicting a caravan route the slavers used, leading to another stronghold, along with additional details of their plans and operations within the shield lands.
To be continued...
For reference: 200 cp = 20 sp = 2 ep = 1 gp = 1/5 pp
|Band of Heroic Misfits|
|Player||Character||Race||Class||Level||Experience Total||Next Level||Funds|
|Dean||Thic Duc||Human (mostly)||Monk||6th||44,643xp||40,000xp||$5,193|
|Matt||Barron||Half-Elf||Thief / Magic-User||5th/4th||23,016xp||22,500xp||$7,876|
|Guests and Alts|
|Player||Character||Race||Class||Level||Experience Total||Next Level||Funds|
|Matt||Lenny||Elf||Cleric / Assassin||1st||979xp||1500xp/1500xp||$116|