Welcome back y'all. Gather around for another rousting tale of success and failure, of life and death, and of love won and lost...Well ok, there's not a thing in the following excerpt that even remotely resembles love. Nonetheless, read on.
Paul, Chris and I met last night for a beer and pretzels game of Castles and Crusades. Paul rolled up another first level character to replace Stryke, his deceased 1/2 orc assassin that perished beneath the fangs of a giant hunting spider.
So both Chris and Paul rolled up characters at the table last night. Chris came up with a bard with fairly average scores. While Paul rolled up a wizard with quite high scores. A human male, the bard, one Sebastian Goosebury was just passing through, looking for extra coin. While the mage, one Drizzle Spatchcock, was also hungry for any type of arcane knowledge.
Each had briefly stopped in Hommlet while on a journey in search of "something", adventure, easy money, knowledge, it didn't matter. Our heroes meet at the Inn of the Welcome Wench, the only game it town.
It is morning and Drizzle sat at a table sipping his wine while reading a book, and Sebastian sat close to the door, tuning his instrument in preparation for the night's entertainment, for he's been hired for an evening by the proprietor.
Just then the door bangs open and three filthy dirty, disheveled and exhausted men stumble in dragging a body. The proprietor hustles forth waving his arms, stating that there's a strict policy against keeping corpses inside the Inn. All three nod and the fat one drags the corpse back out through the door while the "leader" launches into a story about the dangers overcome at the "keep" up the road.
Seeing his opening, Sebastian introduces himself while swiping the wine from in front of Drizzle and offering it to the parched story teller. Delvin by name, the self-styled leader of the small band begins telling the tale of danger and woe. His quiet companion, Wonkin, sits nearby, mumbling and rubbing his eyes. After hearing the intro, Drizzle gets involved by also introducing himself.
Eventually the story is told and the two are more than interested in exploring this "keep", or moat house as it is called locally. Arrangements are made with Wonkin and Portly Tom as henchmen. They will meet up w/ Drizzle and Sebatstian in the morning. They have one concern though, Rufus and Burne. It seems as if the previous party had been some how "sponsored" by the pair. So, a jaunt to the tower on the hill seems necessary at this point.
On their way to the tower, the two are confronted on the road by a armed guard who extorts the two for a toll, in order to pass. They unwillingly pay and pass on. As they top the path to the tower they find a small practice session with the town militia under way. Led by a grizzled veteran (think Iggy Pop w/ long white hair in a pony tail), the small group of boys and men swing wooden swords at one another.
A lone guard stands atop the small staircase leading to the tower. The young man stands to attention as the pair mount the stairs and asks what their business is. They declare that they're here to see Rufus and Burne...and Sebastian strums a chord announcing that he's a bard. Soon they gain admittance and after a short wait are sitting in the main chamber, speaking with the mage Rufus. (Yes, yes, I know. I mixed the two names up in the initial session. Sigh. Too late now.)
A brief meeting reveals that the Rufus and Burne are concerned with recent rumors that there have been strange goings on at the moat house. Figures have been seen passing to and fro during the evening hours, while the place is supposed to be abandoned. Any kind of reconnaissance that nets solid information will be paid for. And a 10 gp / person stipend is paid. 1/2 now, and 1/2 upon the return of any useful intel.
Rufus warns them though that the place is dangerous. It has been years since anyone has gone out there and many of the swamp's more nasty denizens might have taken up residence. The former employee, Stryke, met his demise there and should prove amply that the place is not to be taken lightly. With that they leave.
On their way out Rufus asks if they met a surly guardsman upon the road who charged them a toll. They acknowledged that yes, indeed they did. Rufus sighed and refunded the copper...That man is trouble, he mumbled under his breath as he did so. Drizzle asked if perhaps Rufus might want to allow the man an extended leave perhaps. Rufus agreed, and the party grows by one surly henchman.
Back at the Inn of the Welcome Wench, with Belsay, the surly guard in tow, they meet yet another interesting character, one Elmo. This dumb, yet large individual seems intent on making money for more ale. He pesters Sebastian and Drizzle telling them that he'd need a big axe and possibly some armor if he were to be convinced to go. They agree...and he wanders off, a smile on his face and a tankard in his meaty fist. (They have absolutely no intention of purchasing the stuff, but are going to try and bilk him out of the deal yet still have him come along.)
The next morning dawns bright and clear as the new group's members meet at the Inn. Elmo shows up with an axe over his shoulder, girded in mail. Drizzle tries to convince the simpleton that he's got what he needs but Elmo's insistent, his price is a big axe and mail....still. But, if he gets gold for ale then he'll take the axe and mail upon their return. All is agreed and the group heads out upon the road to the moat house.
Nothing untoward happens upon the road to the moat house, while the trail proves a difficult journey. Swamps, brambles and generally horrid conditions accompany the group as they trudge their way through the fetid landscape, mosquitoes plaguing their every step. Eventually though they make it to their destination. It's early afternoon by the time the moat house ruins come into view.
Close observation through the heavy, bug laden air, shows that nothing moves in the ruins. Wonkin and Portly Tom stay with the mule back on the trail while Drizzle, Sebastian, Belsay and Elmo make their way cautiously towards the crumbling walls. A rotted draw bridge lies open and a pair of wooden doors stand ajar, but still, nothing moves within.
Elmo is the one to spot something moving though and the group moves off the path into cover, and off to the side for a better angle. They spot a man, crossbow at the ready, leaned up against the door. He peeks out from time to time...
A nod from Drizzle and Sebastian sends Belsay's crossbow bolt whizzing through the air. It strikes right next to the man's head, vibrating madly in the wood. Sebastian sends a shaft from his bow on the tail of the bolt though, nearly simultaneously. This strikes true, piercing the throat of the leather clad guardsman. He tumbles back in near silence. Only his shoes, toes pointing to the heavens, prove he ever existed.
Slowly the group moves closer but are again stopped in their tracks as the boots begin to slowly disappear around the door. Someone is dragging the corpse. Drizzle stops, quickly readies his components and casts a sleep spell. A dull thump, and the movement of the boots stops. Apparently the spell has taken affect. The group moves on.
They make their way across the rotted drawbridge and enter the overgrown courtyard, light from the westering sun filters through the bug laden air and a light breeze sways the long grasses festooning the old cobbled area. Nothing but grass moves though. A pair of double doors opens off the courtyard but the darkness within reveals little from their current vantage point.
With this, Sebastian mounts the wall, intending to make his way around to the building's entrance, hopefully this higher vantage will throw any observation and prove an easier route. He makes it to the double doors w/out mishap just as the others clear the courtyard. They're all now gathered outside the double doors, one of which lies upon the ground.
Drizzle casts light upon the tip of his staff and slowly levers it around the edge of the upright door, in order to draw any fire from within. Nothing happens. So, the group slowly moves into the large room, one by one. Stillness and the smell of dampness, and old smoke greets them, nothing moves. Two hallways and a standing door prove the only exits from this old battered room.
Hacked furniture, old torn tapestries and garbage are all that remain in this great hall...rubble from the burnt upper floor protrudes into the chamber as well, throwing odd shadows. Sebastian moves as quietly as possible across the floor toward the left-hand hallway. Three doors lead off the hall, which itself opens upon a larger room. wherein light spills weakly through holes in the ceiling and walls. The bard moves to the right-hand hallway, group holding tight, and peers down that one.
It is the mirror opposite of the other hallway, but this one is chosen. So down it they proceed. Drizzle takes one of the three doors while Sebastian takes another. Just as they are about to take a look, a noise from the chamber at the end of the hall alerts them. Abandoning the doors, the group proceeds to the end of the hallway to look into the dim, yet large rubble strewn room. Sunlight streams in weakly from a few holes and dust fills the air...but also a strange scent, as if something has nested here.
And suddenly, from a shadow, a large four-legged beast slithers sinuously from the shadows with surprising quickness, catches Drizzle up in its mouth and delivers a bone-breaking bite. An enormous lizard of some type has made this corner of the moat house its lair and is now determined to take Drizzle with it, as a tasty snack. It attempts to retreat but the others jump on it, yelling and wielding their weapons.
A terrific blow from Elmo causes the lizard to drop the unmoving body of Drizzle and Belsay moves forward with his spear, attempting to push the monster back even further. Hissing and bleeding profusely, the monitor backs away from the dangerous foes. Sebastian takes this opening to patch Drizzle and pull him from harms way. With that though, the group finishes off the beast with arrows and bolts.
A chest is discovered amidst the rubble. Rotted, it proves little deterrence and disgorges a tunic of scale mail, a light crossbow with 20 bolts and 31 copper pieces of unknown mintage. Elmo picks up the bandaged, yet still living Drizzle, while the others tote the spoils from the chest out. It's time to retreat, heal some wounds and try the moat house again in the future.
While retreating across the courtyard, a leather clad bandit emerges from the darkness (random monster roll), shades his eyes and yells as he spots the PCs. He unslings his crossbow and takes a shot. The hurried bolt sails high though. A return shot by Sebastian though proves fatal, and the red-headed bandit falls to the ground with a groan.
But the noise has apparently stirred up a hornets nest, as the sound of more voices is heard from within. Quickly the group takes cover behind the gate doors as two more bandits appear from the darkness. One, armed with a halberd, sees Belsay and charges, bellowing the entire way. The other pulls his crossbow to his shoulder and places a bolt firmly in the surly guardsman's chest. Belsay topples backwards to the ground.
Sebastian, wild eyed, tells Elmo to get Drizzle across the bridge to safety, and to run and get Wonkin and Portly Tom while he holds off the bandits. The bridge breaks in the attempt, but Elmo lunges forward dumping Drizzle in the dirt, and grabs the opposite bank, pulling himself to safety. Off he trundles into the brush, heading for Tom and Wonkin.
Meanwhile Sebastian pulls his sword, ducks a wild swing from the halberd and thrusts forward, piercing the man through the femoral artery. The bandit screams, drops his halberd and falls to the ground, bleeding out quickly....to lie silently in the dust. Seeing that the odds are now tipped, the other bandit draws his sword and spins, running off into the darkness, yelling the entire way.
Sebastian again nocks an arrow and waits... Eventually Elmo returns, trailing Portly Tom, Wonkin and the mule w/ Drizzle's body slung across its back. No bandits have since emerged from the moat house and the PCs take the brief opportunity to loot the dead and make good their retreat.
They return to Hommlet, tails between their legs, to rent a room at the Inn and heal up. But, they fully intend to return to the moat house again, for it's obvious, there are riches and secrets yet to be gained.
To be continued...