Apr 18, 2008

A Different Keep on the Borderlands - Part 3

image of an attacking hobgoblinAfter defeating the hobgoblins and draconian and securing their location (see part 2 for more details), the party took time to rest and heal from their wounds. With guards stationed on the roof, the night passed without incident.

The early morning, however, was not as quiet. From the roof, the lookout could see several hobgoblins coming over to their tower, while a few others left the keep by way of the breach in the back wall.

With the hobgoblins making their way over, inside the party made their preparations:

* Hunter (the half-elven ranger) and Arterion (the elven mage) took secure positions on the roof with bow and arrow.
* Meanwhile, Theodonis (the kender), Greybear (the druid), and Bergin (the minotaur cleric) took positions on the first floor, ready to strike should the tower door fall.

From the roof, Hunter was able to kill one of the hobgoblins before they entered the tower. Once inside Theo, Bergin, and Greybear engaged the hobgoblins in melee combat. After a few minutes of close combat, the hobgoblins were defeated.

Afterward, the party went to investigate one of the other towers in the hope if finding Catronia, Bergin's missing friend. In the last tower, the party found the second floor well guarded by a pair of hobgoblin spearmen. As the hobgoblins persued the party down to the first floor, one was killed by the party and the remaining one retreated to the second floor. Rather than chase this creature, the party set fire to the tower and retreated outside. Rather than leave the tower by way of the first floor, the creature went onto the keep walls trying to call for reinforcements.

image of a trollAll this commotion attracted the attention of one of the troll jailers that watched over the prisoner-miners in two separate buildings near the rear of the keep. The troll let loose it's winter wolf pet in the event this beast could take care of the intruders.

Meanwhile, Theo was able to sneak around the edge of the keep walls and make his way to the jail cells. Once inside he quickly picked the locks of the two cells, not to mention the three kender who were individually changed to the walls (and mostly enjoying the experience, even though it was a getting a little dull after all this time). Most of prisoners ran for the door while a few tried to assist Theo.

Among those still in the building was a young man clad in only tattered robes, a stout dwarf, and a few other folk looking to improvise a weapon out of the debris in this room. Outside the troll tried corralling the prisoners, but his powerful arms killed more than he recaptured. See more prisoners in the building, he went back inside.

image of a winter wolf
Elsewhere in the courtyard, the winter wolf charged at Greybear. As this massive creature barreled down toward him, Greybear called upon the powers of nature and was enveloped by an unseen shroud of peacefullness and calm that immediately halted the wolf in it's tracks. Once the bonds of friendship were established, Greybear was able to send this creature away from the keep.
Once again, I can't emphasis how totally "jedi mind trick" this scene played out. Thanks in part to Greg (playing Greybear) rolling a natural 20 on his check, this lumbering beast was quickly reduced to an obedient puppy with a wave of the druid's hand.
After Hunter was able to silence the hobgoblin on the wall with a well placed arrow to the chest, he and Arti ran up to help Theo confront the troll. Greybear quickly followed.

Inside, Theo and the other prisoners tried attacking the creature with whatever they had. The unarmed young man even unleashed a flurry of attacks with this bare fists that was quite impressive, if not actually damaging to the tough skinned troll.

Outside, Hunter tried firing a few arrows at the troll through the doorway while Greybear tried distracting him with a magical flash in his face. As the troll continued attacking the people inside the room, Arti cast a powerful transposition spell that caused him and the troll to swap places (the same spell Arti used on the tower guard when originally assaulting the keep). With the Troll outside the room, Hunter fired an arrow at point blank range that buried deep in the troll's skull. The troll was dead before it crumpled to the ground.

The party stripped the troll of anything of value, including keys as well as a very nice chainmail shirt, while everyone else found kindling and built a bonfire to burn the trolls remains. Afterward everyone retreated to the now empty building to rest for the night. As the night passed, the party saw the troll from the other building sneak out under cover of the darkness and disappear into the night.

Also during the night, Bergin, Arti, and Greybear had the chance to talk with the young man who so bravely tried to fight the troll with his bare hands. He introduced himself as Jesriel. After hearing Bergan's description of Catriona, Jes recalled seeing her and the strange events surrounding the time she was at the keep.

According to Jes, a woman matching her description was brought in to the jail cells a few weeks ago, but instead of putting her in one of the cells and having her work the mines, she was kept in a cell all by herself, never worked the mine, and was handed over to several cloaked figures a few days later. After that she was gone and those mysterious people were never seen in again by any of the prisoners.

Jes also talked about some of the conditions at the keep, most notably that mine work has been shut down for the last week or so. Other long time prisoners commented that this shut down has happened in the past and strange sounds and lights could be seen coming from the mine during certain nights. Just what was happening inside none of the prisoners ever found out.

The next day the party was able to free the prisoners from the other cell and help arm them with weapons and armor from the many fallen hobgoblins and goblins inside the keep walls. Collectively the 40+ prisoners set forth back to Flotsam while the party along with Jesriel decided to venture into the caves, looking for more clues about the disappearance of Catriona.