...continued from Pt I...
Yes, yes, splitting the party. But it was the only thing we could think of.
The chaplain sent us with a letter to the magistrate and one of his acolytes as surety of the veracity of our claims. It was decided that the thieves (Serge and Candy) would stay in the Keep and keep an eye on the smithy to see if the missing die was discovered. It's only three says (round trip) to Arz, so we figured we had everything well in hand. Wrong.
Corporal Nargus (remember him?) and a gaggle of confederates ambushed us on the road to Arz. He called our paladin out and or paladin critted him on the first hit! Not enough to severely hinder him and must assuredly did not have the upper hand.
In short, it was hard fought battle. I dropped to -2 HP at one point, the dwarven berserker fell to about -22 or some such (very, very dead) and the paladin had to take on 3-4 survivors of teh ambush party single-handedly (the Pixie Fairy was out of spells). However, the quick application of a healing potion brought me back, and we captured one alive to drag to the magistrate in Arz. Said magistrate agreed to relieve the prefect and began the journey back to Frandor's Keep with us. Cut back to the day previous....
Meanwhile at the Keep, the thief has noticed nothing wrong. However, while keeping observation of the smithy, a hand grabs him from behind! It's the former keep commander, Hollman. Apparently the prefect had learned of the adventurers and their "investigation" and had arrested the chaplain, Greytar, and Ledra. The had to get out of here and the commander knew a secret way!
The thief decided they were probably going after Candy as well and got the commander to follow him to the Inn. They were too late and a squad of four men had Candy in custody! The thief made the ballsy decision to rescue her, and the pair shadowed them and took them as they turned a corner. A brief fight and the the trio made it to the commander's secret escape route and met up with the party returning on the road from Arz.
At this point, it was very clear that they were on to us. We decided to ensconce the magistrate and his soldiers at our "claim" (in Hackmaster, members of the Adventurers' Guild can stake claims to dungeons--we had already cleared the kobold caves). Meanwhile, we would infiltrate the keep from the caverns beneath using a route known to Hollman and capture the prefect and return to the magistrate with him.
Well, we worked our way up and, as we were nearing the actual dungeon level of the keep, we heard a strange chanting coming from a room just pst the stairs leading up. A 01 on my religion roll identified it as a chant to Yigor, the god of subversion and treachery! During the aforementioned Twilight War, the one god who caused the most ruin to Father Jupiter was Yigor. So, with an attitude of "screw the commando raid" I led a charge against the foul worshippers!
When we threw open the door to the room there was a bunch of skeletons ("who doesn't love smashing skellies?"), 2 acolytes and our friend Harkus, the supposed priest of Shona!
Initiatives were rolled, actions stated and in the ensuing melee, I managed (with a yell of "Traitor!") to throw a hold person on Harkus. Which is GOOD because as Ramsey later told us, he was a lvl 7 cleric. Serge managed to douse him with a Greek Fire Fire and waiting a couple of rounds to set him on fire...anticipation, good! :) The rest of the room was fairly anti-climatic.
Making our way up to the keep, we manage to catch the prefect with 4 guards and carts full of gold ore, obviously preparing to make a break for it. A brief battle ensues in which our hidden thief, with an expert use of caltrops and shots to the back of the head with his crossbow, is able to keep runners for going for help. The prefect is captured, and Erig arrives on the scene to find out what the hell's going on? ("I hate to tell you this, Erig, but your lover is a traitor and a thief.")
All-in-all everything turned out well. The magistrate came in, settled arrives. The prefect comes from a senatorial family in Fangerie, so he escaped with a demotion and a reposting. Fines were paid, some merchants had to leave and Hollman was reinstated as the commander. We still have a lot of work to do against the humanoids, so now we get to go into "hack 'n' slash" dungeon-crawl mode! Yay!
Several more thoughts....
My poor misguided and gullible cleric also had the enabler flaw. I wonder how far I can get away with pushing the whole "gay" with Erig? Maybe keep introducing to handsome men with certain proclivities? lol, yes, I'm terrible, I know.
Louie, our paladin (Sir Jordan), also does a lot more than comes across here. HE's the most charismatic member of the party and keeps everything and organized and pretty on track.
Cliff was buried in the mountains near our claim with all the rites of the Church of Jupiter. It was his wish not to be resurrected. He merely wanted peace and rest.