Saturday, 23 January 2016

Friends and Thieves

June 26–27, 3430, Age of Kings

Once in Leedshire, the party found beds and food at The Fanciful Anchor Inn to rest for the night and stay there until their task was completed.

*   *   *

After breakfast the next day, they headed out to get a look at Gower's residence and make a plan. They easily found the the collector's home mid-morning: an inn converted into a single family home. A short wall surrounded the grounds of the large manor and had a separate cottage for guards and hired hands. They spotted two groups of two guards—one with a guard mastiff—patrolling the grounds. On one of the exterior walls of the manor was an alarm bell.

Boots stepped away to summon his imp in a nearby alley. From there, his imp, Yattering, transformed into a raven to take a closer look at Gower's manor. Looking in through windows inconspicuously, the Yattering was able to get a basic layout of the home, and saw that much of the large estate was filled with antiques, art and various bric-a-brac. 

After circling the grounds they returned to the inn to formulate a plan. Knowing that Hiller's men would remove the threat of interference from the local watch they decided that Ander and Grabby would break into the home via the roof of a neighbouring building, while the rest of the party provided support from outside if things went south. (The bell was a point of great concern which took up most of the conversation)

Once their plan was worked out they decided to spend the rest of the day tending to menial tasks—including Grabby and Audrey gambling down in The Fanciful Anchor which netted them both a nice profit for their efforts.

During this time Boots decided to investigate the manor himself. Sending Yattering to the manor again he spotted Gower and another man sitting at a table eating and drinking. Through Yattering Boots cast charm person at the two men, charming them both. Once this was done Boots approached the guards at the gate and requested entrance to see "his old friend Gower." After some back and forth with the guards, and introducing himself as Aladnaril, he managed to convice one of the guards to get Gower to come to a window to see that his old friend was at the gate.

Eventually Gower came to a window and waved to Boots, an elf he had never seen, but somehow knew he was a friend. Boots entered the manor, introducing himself with his new alias and joined Gower and his friend at the table.

After niceties were exchanged, Boots led the conversation to an old, large iron key that was in Gower's collection of rarities. Shortly Gower and Boots were in a cramped room filled with ancient weapons, armour, statues, books and shelves overflowing with all sorts of items so Gower could dig through the mess to try to find the key. Within minutes (and Gower rolling a natural 20 to search) Gower found the key and brought it back to the table so they could discuss it—which quickly became about Boots purchasing the key.

Despite "Aladnaril" being an old friend, Gower wasn't about to part with this key for pennies without knowing its true value. Gower could have another expert take a look at the key to get a better idea of its value the next day, but knowing his spell would only last for about another half-hour, Boots tried to pressure the sale.

Gower decided to meet him in the middle and go upstairs to his study in an attempt to find some information on the key. Taking the key with him, he went upstairs. 

Getting nervous as time passed, Boots went upstairs to continue to pressure Gower as he pulled stacks of books off a shelf. Opening a window to "get some fresh air" Boots let in a now invisible Yattering to keep an eye on the key. Knowing his spell would end within minutes, Boots gave Gower a quick excuse to get going and made a hasty exit from the manor, leaving his imp familiar in the room with Gower.

Finding a secluded alley nearby, Boots waited, maintaining his psychic link with Yattering to view the scene through the imp's eyes. Sure enough Gower came to, now aware that a starnge elf had charmed him, he ran out into the yard yelling at his confused guards to "find that elf!" Enraged, Gower ran around the yard to assemble more guards to join in the search and called fro the town's watch. 

During the chaos, the Yattering materialized in the study and grabbed the heavy key, lugged it to a window, and with great effort manged to fly out the window to the roof of the manor next door to wedge the key behind the manor's chimney. His task completed, Yattering returned to Boots and they two headed back to the inn.

Back at The Fanciful Anchor Boots managed to (easily) convince Grabby that he had returned to the manor to further scout out the area and sensed a "strange, magical aura" on the roof of the house next door, and that he should sneak up to the roof to investigate it. 

"After all, it could be worth money!"

And Grabby was in...

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Shadowy Dealings and a "Friendly" Ogre

June 25–26, 3430, Age of Kings

As a group, the party decided to return to West Leedshire and confront Cpatain Hiller. Once they arrived at the garrison they were informed that only Audrey and Ander could enter to see Hiller. Reluctantly the two entered while their allies waited outside.

Once inside Audrey and Ander surrendered their weapons and entered Hiller's chambers. Inside they were met by Hiller and two of his lackey watchmen. Offering them a drink they sat down to discuss the situation.

Hiller used Ander's current status as a wanted criminal as leverage his position, informing Ander that, at the moment, he was intercepting his bounty postings, and that only he and his closest men were aware of the situation. If Ander and Audrey were willing to act on his behalf to perform certain duties that would be frowned upon coming from a watchman, he'd make sure that no bounty board in the area would see Ander's bounty sheet. Apparently Captain Hiller also has operatives in Leedshire that would intercept the sheets as long as Ander and Audrey cooperated.

With that, Hiller told the two what he needed done—or rather what his employer needed done, never revealing who that was. A wealthy collector of rare and ancient items living in Leedshire was in possession of a large, ancient iron key. He showed them an artist's rendering, as well as an actual charcoal relief of the key itself so that Audrey and Ander knew what exactly they were looking for. Hiller didn't give them much more information other than where the collector—a man by the name of Gower Taubert—resided in Leedshire, and that on the 27th he'd make sure that his men in the local watch would be on patrol in the area. He reassured them if they saw any watchmen in te the area they'd turn a blind eye to anything that they might have to do to gain entry into Gower's guarded property.

Agreeing to the conditions Audrey and Ander left Hiller's garrison and returned to their waiting allies and filled them in on what was going on then headed back home for the rest of the day.

*   *   *

The next day the party woke to a raging rain storm. Despite the terrible weather conditions they decided to set out to make the day long journey into Leedshire so they could spend a day scouting the area out. Loading into their cart, pulled by their faithful old horse Gerald, they set out onto the muddy road to Leedshire.

*   *   *

At about noon, as Gerald slogged through the mud and rain, a large figure flanked by two man-sized could be seen standing on the road ahead of them in the hard rain. Realizing this was most likely trouble, those on the cart leapt off to find cover—but walked right into an ambush.

As Ander moved to the side of the road to find cover, he was greeted by a goblin's arrow. Suddenly, several goblins armed with short bows leapt from bushes and tree branches firing down on the party. Once the attack started the ogre and his two orc allies rushed down the road towards the party to engage them.

Due to the heavy rain and strong winds, most ranged attacks were futile, but one arrow managed to find its mark: Gerald the horse. Gerald's legs buckled as he fell into the mud, slowly dying from the wound.

Grabby managed to engage some of the goblins by sneaking up on them and cutting their throats while Ander, Audrey and Broak engaged the other in melee. 
Broak took the ogre head-on. As the ogre swung its massive mace at Broak, an orc moved into flank the dwarf. As the ogre was staggered and off balance from his attack, Broak saw an opening and manged to strike the ogre in the side of the head with a critical hit, stunning him. But due to the nature of Broak's warhammer, he once again experienced the killing blow to his lover, falling to his knees screaming in emotional anguish. Now, in the middle of the battle, both Broak and the ogre stood stunned before one another.
Once close enough, Boots cast a charm person spell on the ogre, taking over the brute's simple mind as it recovered from Broak's stunning blow—and then quickly ran behind the ogre to get cover and commanding the ogre, "Old friend! attack those orcs and the goblins! Protect us!" Which it did.
As an orc engaged Ander in combat, the ogre rushed up behind the orc and slammed his mace into the unsuspecting creature, killing it instantly. 
At this point only a single goblin remained, who quickly leapt from his tree and dashed off into the wilderness defeated.
Ander quickly moved into heal Gerald so the horse could continue the journey into Leedshire. Boots thanked the ogre for his service, wished him well and sent him on his way as they departed for Leedshire.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Dwarf Sleuths, Ghostly Girls and Crooked Captains

June 23–25, 3430, Age of Kings

Audrey and Ander managed to make their way back to their manor on the outskirts of West Leedshire, making sure to avoid heavily traveled areas, and  met up with Grabby and Broak who had already made the trip back.

While Grabby and Ander spent a few hours washing their mud and filth soaked belongings, Boots made his way out of his cellar study to greet his companions and hear of their heroic tale of sucker punching a woman in the face and getting into a scrap with the local militia.

The rest of the day was spent resting up and recovering from the morning's events.

*   *   *

The next day, as everyone was meeting for breakfast on the main floor, Grabby slept in late upstairs. He was suddenly roused from his slumber when he heard the voice of what sounded like a little girl whisper into his ear:

"Wake up!"

Sitting up, Grabby glanced around the empty room expecting to find someone right next to him only to see nothing. Then, a glint of steel caught his eye in the folds of his blankets. There, lying at his hairy feet, was Mr. Shiney, his prized magic dagger. He grabbed it and ran downstairs (wearing nothing but the hair on the tops of his feet) proclaiming he had found Mr. Shiney. No one believed his "mystery voice" that woke him, and the rest of the party assumed Grabby had simply left the dagger at home...

After eating, the group discussed their situation and decided that Boots and Broak would head back into West Leedshire to see if they could gain any information on the previous day's events. Making their way to the village's militia garrison, they were greeted by two guard who would not permit them entry, but said they could come back the next morning for a meeting with a Captain Hiller.

So the two left the garrison and split up. Boots went to see if he could get any information, using his imp to peek into windows and homes, but returned with nothing. Broak headed to the Pale Lamb Barroom to see what he could learn. 

After eating another breakfast, Broak learned that a local man named Mertin Hoch was the most recent person go missing (as you may recall, there was a posting for missing people in Mercenary Square from very early in the campaign). Finding Mr. Hoch's residence, Broak was greeted by Mertin's wife, Mariora.

Through some Columbo-esque detective work, Broak was able to find out that Mertin had been meeting recently with a certain Captain Hiller about a possible job with the village's watch. She gave Broak a small wooden chest that had arrived a few days before Mertin's disappearance from the Captain. The chest was empty, with no other clues, Broak left with the empty chest to meet back up with Boots to return home.

*   *   *

 The next day Broak and Boots returned to the garrison for their meeting with Captain Hiller, a middle-aged man with some fresh scrapes and cuts on his face from a recent altercation. They entered his chambers where he was accompanied by two of his watchmen, both had a very casual manner to them—which Broak felt was odd considering they were in the presence of their superior.

After the initial greeting Broak and Boots asked questions about Mertin's disappearance, and seemed to hint at the Captain knowing something about it, which did not go over well. They only information they were told was that the chest contained a tabard for the village's watch as Mertin was to soon begin training with them. Before tensions could rise much higher they were asked to leave, which they did.

Once at home they told their allies about their encounter with Captain Hiller. Later that evening Ander spotted a horse and cart accompanied by a group of figures moving towards their manor through the thick fog that had fallen on the area earlier in the day. As they got a little bit closer he could make out the livery of the watchmen from West Leedshire.

As they approached Boots came outside to greet them, and once again met Captain Hiller and six of his men. The two exchanged pleasantries and Captain Hiller asked for the whereabouts of an elf named Ander and a "north woman" wanted for questioning in an assault on a citizen and an assault on himself and other watchmen from two days ago. Boots responded saying that they used to live in the manor but left abruptly the other day, where, he didn't know.

At that, sensing deception, Captain Hiller feigned regret for having missed them and handed over Ander's bounty sheet, informing Boots that if he did happen to see Ander that he should report to his garrison within the next 24 hours to "clear up this mess." The captain then went on to make some veiled threat against the rest of the party (particularly to their manor house) and threatened them that he may have to get Albrecht involved. Clearly, Captain Hiller was not the most upstanding citizen his position conveyed.

With that, he gave Boots a smug grin and returned to the cart where he and his men returned to West Leedshire.