Feeling reasonably safe behind the barricade at the entrance to the cave structure, we were able to get some small degree of rest. It was not enough to clear our minds of the dim circumstances before us, but it was at least enough to prepare our bodies for the task. Donning my armor while discussing our intentions with my new allies, we resulted in a temporary parting of the party. It seems Dog had seen a glimmer off in the distance that he believed may have heralded ill-willed soldiers, and opted to stay behind with our “big gun”, Kazim Kazim. We would hopefully return to our friends soon, but we needed to find any survivors of either side and provide appropriate justice!
We found a pretty empty stronghold for the most part. No one was prepared to greet us until we entered more confined areas, which we approached through a hallway’s three doors with varying engraved emblems serving as direction. The “treasure” door (based on the depiction of a chest) led to a longer hallway, gradually dimmed by lack of torchlight. Seeing the glow of a fire on the walls beside us, we peeked into a room with a very large kobold guardsman leaning on his weapon. Assessing the threat, Ragnar, Lyra, and Io attempted to use surprise to their advantage and fired a barrage toward the unsuspecting kobold. With not a single shot hitting, the guardsman contains his laughter and threatens us in a noncommittal way- only were it that we tried to pass beyond him, of course. At least he’s not inherently brutal, what a chap! Not really feeling up to the challenge, we passed on the room, for now. We had more important things to take care of, after all.
Deciding to check out the room in the center (with a table), I eagerly knocked in the hopes of gaining the attention of whoever’s in charge such that we may negotiate. This seemed to have not been the best plan, as we heard several loud thuds on the ground and no other response. Entering the room we find the thuds were dining tables thrown down to gain cover from our attacks for a few hostile kobolds. Implementing clever strategies we managed to overtake them, but not without Lyra taking a bit of a drop into a pit trap they had employed. Thankfully we avoided a few others.. This room was headed with a golden door that we decided to return to a bit later, having discovered a secret passage just off the dining room.
This dark hallway was a little sketch, but that didn’t slow down some of the more eager members. We stealthily approached a large kitchen filled with kobold chef and sous chefs. Sneakily enough that we were able to catch them by surprise. A bit of intimidation and diplomacy thrown their way, and they were all running out the side door away from us. I certainly enjoy this method of success: it’s much less painful. With a few of our members grabbing shanks of lamb off the tables, we headed into the next room cautiously- with good reason too, as we were surprised to see three or four additional guardsmen waiting for us in a room that also contained a prison cell. The cell held three townsmen and our dear lost friend, Narlack the Dragon. Allowing the ensuing battle with my comrades act as a diversion, I took the moment to bust into the cell and attempt to bust Narlack out! It was more difficult than I expected, so my allies did not receive much help from me as a combatant. However, Narlack and the townsmen were now free and we surely had but few men left to chop through before we could discover the machinations of this dastardly plot. Letting Narlack leave with the townsmen, we left to re-investigate the treasure room, telling him we’d meet soon at the golden door.
Approaching the treasure room again, the large kobold was, of course, still at his post. However, after a bit more friendly chatting, he told us he would let us pass if we could solve a riddle of his. Perplexed at first, we jumped at the chance to avoid a scuffle. I cannot recall the specifics of the riddle, but one of our more clever members answered it swiftly and correctly, much to the kobold’s delight. He let us pass and investigate the large chest in the center, as he went up the adjacent stairs to join his ranged-fighting friend. My allies were stumped slightly with the chest, attempting to solve a numeric puzzle in which the vertical and horizontal axes had to total up to the same amount in order to open it. I wandered off, chatting a little more with these now-friendly kobolds, and foolishly pulled a lever in the hopes that it would open the secret door they had mentioned. This ended up dropping a large stone onto the unwary head of Ragnar, who was still fiddling with the chest. Thank Erathis that he has such quick reflexes and dodged out of the way just in time. He must have a much larger peripheral perception than myself, for were I him, my head would be as dented as Narlack’s punching bag. Finally realizing that the clue we had discovered from the kobold in the garrison was relevant, we quickly solved the puzzle and opened the chest. I opted for no gold, but did however attempt to claim the magical mace that was pulled out. Unfortunately, Lyra managed to grab it first, and though she was unable to even hold it properly, insisted she keep it. A bit of frustrated haggling, and I traded her a healing potion for the mace. It feels good in my hands and seems to glow with an uplifting light. Now was the time we headed to the golden door to meet what we presumed would be the master manipulator of these kobolds, the human mage.
With Narlack again at out side, we burst through the door, expecting to be met with arms and ill will. Much to our surprise.. we were met with arms and ill will! Several kobold fighters amassed near the entrance, while we saw the mage in question sitting leisurely on his throne at the other end of the great hall. That vile creature! He has the gall to ransack a peaceful village (as far as I know..) with bloodlust and still has the time to enjoy it! It was an all-out battle, with Narlack surprising us many times with his perseverance and extraordinary abilities. Were it not for him, we may not have made it out alive. Close on this matter we were as well, since Ragnar and myself ended the battle unconscious, at the mercy of the nameless mage. Coming to just as he was vanquished, I happened to feel an eerie, malicious intent in the air. I didn’t see any sentient creatures per se, but I noticed a magical portal open up near the exit that must have been the source of the evil emanations. Discussing with the group after this, it turns out they all saw similar but distinctive visions as well. Very odd that they were not all the same. Very odd indeed.. We headed back to the town feeling accomplished, and yet very weary all the same. It had been a very long day, and it was nice to finally let it end..
+ We found the boatmaster!