Rick's Hold

January 17

The war is over!

There was a ceremony that the party mostly ignored and Gil was knighted. Morgwais was raised from the dead, though the group had to sell off most of their acquired weapons and armour to pay for it. After a brief rest and slight re-stocking of suppplies and gear, the party started on their return journey to Rick’s Hold and Home.

After 2 days of peaceful travel, the group came to the small settlement of Riverton, home of a mini-menagerie and mage shop. There were loose monsters from a small disaster in the shop, whereby several captives beasties got free.

The party was enlisted in returning the creatures to their cages and hopefully rendering the owner back to flesh from stone. (She got bit by a cockatrice). The party easily dealt with the reptile chickens and gave them (unconscious) back to the apprentice of the owner. Sir Krotchlikmeoff panicked at the sight of a rust monster and slaughtered it before it could reduce his prize armour to rust dust. The wizard berated him for his overzealous reaction until he himself accidentally slew a shocker lizard, which sort of shut him up. Besides those two mishaps, the rest of the creatures were returned to the shop alive, except for one shocker lizard that escaped up a chimney.

The party dealt with several animated objects (chairs, doors and a hat rack), 2 cockatrices, 3 shocker lizards, a rust monster and entered the final room to find a flying silver snake-thing with a three clawed arm. This thing was obviously responsible for the mischief, but it didn’t strike the party as evil, merely lost and confused. It hadn’t taken up arms against the group, but a small brigade of animated objects protected it mindlessly.

The wizard hopes to make an ally of the owner, as he has interest in his own menagerie in the future. What better way to acquire a cockatrice of one’s own after all?

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January 10

The party is assigned to accompany the cavalry in routing the retreating orc army. During the battle, the party slaughtered over a dozen goblins and several orcs before running afoul of a sorcerous orc who called in the aid of a fiendish Chimera.

Not shrinking from this new challenge, the group tackled (literally figuratively) this new beast with gusto, pomp, and pizazz. Quickly forcing the enemy caster into submission, the party soon turned their focus onto the Chimera, who was luckily more focused on eating the orcs foolish enough to be standing in front of it. While the orcs got chomped, the party rallied together and relatively quickly sent the evil beastie back to the depths from whence it originally came. During the titanic struggle, the party lost Morgwais (who will hopefully be raised) but nobody important cared.

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December 22

The army continued to be attacked by orcs and giants, a threat of increasing danger the longer the battle was prolonged. Morgwais and Gil led an attack on the giant(s!) with a small contingent of cavalry. Morgwais took a significant beating and beat a hasty retreat, much to Gil’s chagrin. With the point of their attack routed, the cavalry fell apart quickly, resulting in the death of a few soldiers and Abbot as well. Brody quickly, and wisely, disengaged like a coward before the same fate befell him.

While that disaster was underway, the rest of the party dealt with the combined forces of the remaining four giants and their accompanying band of orcs. After (relatively) quickly dealing with a sorcerous threat, the party slowly chopped the giants down to size, though this effort required the full expenditure of most of the party’s resources.

Though the party literally sweat and bled for every giant kill during the fight, it was the elven princess-ranger who stole every single final blow to every giant in her single-minded hatred for giants, her hated foes. What a glory hog.

The final giant (the one who killed Abbot) was the last to fall before the attack was thwarted. The party trudged wearily back to camp, less Tristan and Abbot, AND Giselle! Le boo.

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December 6
Against the Giants

…and the orcs and the undead and stuff, ow….

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November 22
Clusterf**k!

The party eventually returned successfully to the army’s camp. Refusing to leave their prisoners with the picket line, the group hid the halfling they had saved in Knurl among them invisibly while they passed through the various army sections.

Due to the importance of the information they had, the party set out immediately for the command tent, or pavilion if you will, of the Crown Prince to divest their tale. The Prince was attended by two of the paladin guard, a representative of the Wizard’s guild, Melan-Drach and his daughter, a couple lesser functionaries and, of course, the traitor Duke himself: Wince.

The Prince was concerned with the nature and aggression of our accusation, but before anything more could happen, all hell broke loose. The party became aware of screams and shouts from outside just after a dazed-looking Captain Ballsack entered the tent without reason, slowly advancing on the elven princess.

Before anyone could intervene, Ballsack seized the princess, attempting to drag her forcefully from the tent. Morgwais, standing in the entrance to the pavilion, at this point sees a great red dragon swooping over the camp. It set (what turned out to be the Wizard’s Guild’s pavilion) on fire with its first pass, and then was engaged with the Paladin Guard.

Inside the tent of the Crown Prince, while Ballsack attempted to kidnap the princess of Laughing Hollow, the wizard began casting a spell (Evard’s Black Tentacles) against the party and the Duke drew his sword against the group as well. The tentacles greatly hampered the combat in the tent, keeping the cleric wrapped for the majority of the battle and slaying at least two of the Paladin Guard.

At this point, the party became aware of the Dragon fghting just out the back of the tent, as well as a small group of orcs and a troll coming to take the elves princess from Ballsack. Morgwais, with Gil, moved to fight the dragon, leaving the rest of the party to deal with the forces with in the command tent. The wizard attempted (repeatedly) without success to fire spells at the opposing wizard, who turned out to actually be a hag in disguise. Having an off-day, the wizard was unable to do any significant magical damage to the hag throughout the whole debacle.

Eventually the party was able to bring the situation within the pavilion under control. Ballsack was knocked unconscious and left alive, as it appeared he was under a spell and not acting on his own. The hag was defeated but she, just like the assassin who showed up during the combat to kill the (supposedly) traitorous Duke Wince, escaped alive. The dragon too was able to get away, wreaking havoc and then flying off.

Having now survived the horrible ordeal in the Crown Prince’s tent, the party is restless and confused. The party is suspicious of who they can trust, as it is clear there are many things going on outside their knowledge. Regathering themselves, they want to speak more to the Crown Prince and answer some of their growing number of questions.

…Oh, and Nuati was entangled in the tentacles the entire time. Like a wimp.

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November 15

While attempting to exit Knurl after raiding some useless goblins, the party spotted a small figure in the rubble beyond them. Having recently had some known issues with halflings, the Dwarves called out “Who goes there?!’” And the small figure fled, scrambling over and through the rubble.

Their suspicions now raised, the party gave chase. However, it soon became apparent that the figure was in fact fleeing another party, one comprised of orcs. After a lengthy and frustrating chase/battle, the party caught up to the fleeing halfling and defeated the orc marauders. Also, an assassin-type ninja half-orc almost killed the paladin, Krotchlikmieoff, with poison before teleporting away.

After the battle, the halfling was willing to provide the party with some small amount of information. He claimed to be on the side of the army, NOT a traitor, and that he was on a mission for the army inside the city. He returned to the army lines with the party, where we intend to disguise him and then hide him to keep him safe while providing us information.

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November 8

The party was assigned to scour the city in search of enemy raiding parties. After briefly wandering the rubble and broken buildings of the interior of what was once Knurl, the party came across a band of goblins accompanied by a couple of worgs.

The wizard quickly blew apart the larger platoon of regular goblin warriors with a fireball before doing weird things to himself with a levitation spell, and the rest of the party (in a magnificent display of military might) dealt with the rest of the goblin war band.

Then Trump got elected anyway.

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November 1
Shadows!

Whilst the party retreats from Knurl with a few retrieved captives, they encounter a suspicious building. The rogue nominally offers to investigate and the wizard volunteered to join him.

Once inside the building, the rogue was quickly able to discern several immobile forms in the darkness, lying about the room. The forms appeared to be corpses and near their general center sat a small sack of what looked like coins and a golden crown.

Though the rogue had yet to encounter a trap, this scene looked more than suspicious. So the wizard cast a mage hand to determine if the crown was an illusion or trapped. It was of course trapped. Not in a mechanical sense, oh no! What a relief that would have been! No, instead twelve Shadows rose from the still immobile corspes around the room.

This beautiful scenario quickly resulted in a hasty and weakened retreat of both the rogue and the wizard. Luckily the rest of the party was not far behind and as a group they all fell upon the shadows.

The cleric was able to turn only a few of the incorporeal horrors, and the wizard loosed his spells upon them with similarly disappointing effects. After retreating to a ‘safer’ distance, the rogue started throwing things at the shadows to some effect. The bard, along with his elves (who helped in only a nominal sense), also pelted the Shadows to a greater effect. Even the schtrikers of Sir Krotchlikmeoff waded into battle, Giselle vanquishing more than one during the conflict and all taking some form of draining.

It took the efforts (and weakening!) of nearly the entire party and the life of Sir Krotchlikmieoff to put the creatures down. Standing in the front line, behind which the rogue and the wizard retreated, that valiant paladin of Pelor took the brunt of the second wave of attacks. Having nowhere near the agility of his halfling companion, the knight quickly succumbed to the repeated ravages of the shadows.

Near the end of the fight, the cleric consecrated the ground to Dumathoin in a last minute attempt to keep the paladin’s shadow from forming, as is typical for a victim of a shadow. (Should the paladin become a shadow in undeath, he cannot be raised back to life.) The party waited in suspense-filled anticipation to see whether the spell had taken effect in time or not. Eventually it was clear, as no shadow rose, that the gambit had been successful. Picking up the body of their fallen comrade, the party returned to the war camp generally weakened and in a more somber mood.

After negotiations, the clerics of St. Cuthbert raised the fallen paladin in exchange for his mighty blade “Icerazor”. They also healed the wounds of the party and restored strength to their limbs. Following this, the party took a much needed rest.

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October 25

Upon wearily returning to the war camp outside the walls of Knurl, the party is granted a day’s reprieve from the war effforts, though this is mostly to interrogate and determine the extent of the betrayals.

It turns out that the halfling guide who back-stabbed the party during their previous mission was not alone, and that many guides were traitors who led their charges into grave danger on purpose. In fact, most groups sent into Knurl to raid or recover items (or people) did not return at all.

Originally just peeved at what, for them, was a relatively normal occurrence, the party is dismayed at the turn of events and the loss of other raiding parties. (“I’m not!”). After recovering for a day, the party is once again assigned to re-enter Knurl, this time to attempt to recover any prisoners taken on the failed missions of the previous day’s raids.

Led by another guide (notably NOT a halfling) the party returns to the under-city catacombs and eventually engages a building full of nasty beasties where there are a handful of (hopefullly) alive captives watched over by these monsters.

Foolishly attacking all possible enemy fronts without doing any form of reconnaissance (preparation is for the weak!), the party becomes quickly embroiled in a long fight that did, in point of fact, end a few of their lives. From the building came orcs and ghouls, the roof sprouted goblin archers, and two hill giants swung around from opposing sides of the building, nearly overwhelming the party with their mighty great clubs. (#notaeuphemism). Though the party prevailed, they only did so with the loss of Abbot, Dimitri’s cohort, and Bertrand, another of the paladin’s Schtrikers.

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October 18

The tower successfully retaken and defended, the party is assigned a rest back at the camp, where of course they are immediately reassigned to recover a holy book of Pelor from a temple in the orc infested city. They are to take the catacombs beneath the temple which they are to then enter from the cellar below. The army provided a halfling guide to navigate the twisting tunnels beneath Knurl.

The halfling leads the party into an ambush (or trap, if you will) with ogres and Baklunag the Necromancer, who we’ve fought before but who had escaped. Spike, also a familiar face, was there as well. (The lesson here: Never Trust A Halfling!)

The battle was very swift with the wizard and cleric disabling Baklunag and the sneaky halfling bastard betrayer and the paladin literally carving a bloody path through the enemies one after another. Post battle, the party took all three (Demi-)humans prisoner, with only the sneaky halfling bastard betrayer remaining conscious.

Upon entering the temple above, the party searched for and found the holy tome they were to retrieve. Before they could retreat to the army camp victoriously, the paladin grabbed a suspicious amulet off the wall and vanished, also starting an earthquake-like event.

Once the paladin disappeared, a hordes of Dretches began appearing to hassle the remaining party members.

Abbot grabbed one prisoner and carried him away from the demons, but Nuati, left to guard the prisoners, attempted to drag the other two to safety, and was only able to save Spike. The fight was long, drawn out and increasingly desperate as the resistances and immunities of the demons became a telling advantage over the unprepared (as usual) party. After several rounds of killing Dretches, only to have more appear, the party was in desperate straights.

Just as things began to look truly dire, the paladin reappeared in the temple, whole, healthy and hale, and the drenches dissappeared. Confused, the party departed before anything else could hinder them, taking the holy book of Pelor, two prisoners and the loot they had acquired.

The paladin claims to have fought an impossible fight with a powerful demon and only returned to the temple by sacrificing his life on the swords of his opponent. He bears no wounds, scars, marks or even blood from this ‘fight’. (More likely, the guy tripped, hit his head and had a dream before waking up next to a dropped amulet.)

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