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No one else was able to join the group. I have 1 person who has said they would love to play, but they are waiting for a schedule change at work in a couple of weeks. She is one of my older more experienced players from 3 of my former campaigns. She always plays a cleric, so that is a relief to my players and me. The only thing that will be missing then will be a thief. Ragnar's player has considered multi-classing his Barbarian as a Thief as well to fill that need if nobody joins and has a thief character. At the moment though, Cyndaria and Ragnar are on their own.

Chapter 3: "Eye of Traldar, part 3"

by tjedge1

They start out by Cyndaria using the ring of invisibility and then stripping naked so nobody sees her clothes or weapons floating around by themselves. She sneaks around the keep and avoids physical contact. The guards in the room above the dungeon are too busy playing cards to notice the door open and close by itself and she moves silently out into the courtyard. She scans the small tower in the middle of the keep and peaks into the two windows on the 2nd floor. In the one closest to the Guard Post she sees a man who is scribbling notes on parchments while sitting at a desk. She notices he is wearing leather armour and has a short sword leaning next to the desk, just below visibility from the door across the room. She sees nothing else of help so she flies around to the other side. The room she sees is a dusty old guard room that has a couple of cots and a small table by the window. She looks around the courtyard and only sees a few soldiers patrolling the outer walls. She returns to the dungeon and tells Ragnar and Leonine (whose player still hasn't arrived).

Ragnar puts on his makeshift uniform and attaches the Watch Sergeant's patch. He walks up the stairs and Cyndaria remains invisible but prepares her Shockbolt spell just in case. When the four guards see Ragnar enter form the dungeons they jump up and salute him. He nods and tells them to go about their business, so they return to their card game. One of them comments, "The Watch Sergeant seemed a bit taller and younger." Another guard tells him "So what, if you pry into their business you'll lose your head."

Ragnar enters the courtyard and knocks on the Tower door. (The 2 players who showed up to play are going to try and play it safe tonight). The bored soldier opens the shutter and grumbles, "Not another one. What do you want?"
Ragnar says "Let me in, I'm the Watch Sergeant."
The soldier rolls his eyes and replies, "Ok, you got the pass?"
Ragnar answers, "Uh, no?"
The soldier raises his voice slightly and says, "Come on, you know Galleret gots to give you a pass!" And he slams the shutter closed.

Ragnar stands in front of the door for a moment and talks to the invisible Cyndaria. They decide to ask the guards at the dungeon post about Galleret. Ragnar enters the room and asks, "Soldiers! Have you guys seen Galleret anywhere? I need to speak with him, now!" One of the soldiers replies quickly, "He's probably still in his office over that way." And he points in the direction of one of the buildings on the outer wall. Ragnar thanks him and leaves the Post again.
Cyndaria (who is still invisible and feeling a little naked) goes to the office and cracks open the door enough to slip in the office. Lt. Galleret is at his desk and his personal aide is sitting on the bed in the small room next to the office. Galleret barks at the aide who jumps up and closes the door and locks it. Cyndaria watches them for a while. Galleret walks over the lounging aide and hands him a note. He tells him to "Go to the stables and make sure this stuff is prepared within two hours." Meanwhile Cyndaria flips through some papers on his desk and sees a note from a Captain Tiberian that if anything else goes wrong in the keep he'll lose his head. She notices his keys on his belt and comes up with an idea. As the aide leaves, Galleret walks to the door with him and Cyndaria (who happens to have no ability in picking pockets, but has enough natural talent (RM rules allow players to attempt to use skill they have no training in with heavy penalties). She actually succeeds and hides the keys under a cushion in a couch before Galleret turns back around and finds his keys floating around by themselves.

He walks over to his desk and crumples up the letter from the Cap. Then he walks over to the small room with the bed and closes the door behind him. Cyndaria gets out the keys and unlocks his desk. She finds a leather plaque and guesses it might be the pass, she finds two silver flasks also with some liquid inside. She carries these to the door and opens it and whistles for Ragnar who is hiding around a corner. He runs over and gets the plaques and flasks and hides them under the uniform. Suddenly Galleret walks out of the bedroom and sees Ragnar. He looks tired and shouts at him, "What the bloody hell are you doing here!?"
Ragnar replies, "Uh, I don't know, I think I'm drunk."
Galleret walks over to him and says, "Well get your drunk ***** back down into the dungeon and make sure nothing happens like last time with that damn purple worm, or I'll make a blanket out of your hide!"
Ragnar stumbles away and says, "Yes Sir!"
Cyndaria slips through the door before Galleret closes it and then Ragnar and Cyndaria decide to try the plaque at the Tower door.

Ragnar knocks again and the same bored soldier asks, "Well? Did you get it?"
Ragnar shows him the plaque and the soldier unlocks the door and lets him in. Cyndaria slips in by staying really close to Ragnar. Once in, Ragnar tells the soldier he should not be so rude. The soldier rolls his eyes and replies, "I don't work for you, now go see whoever you're here to see and leave me alone."
Meanwhile Cyndaria succeeds in an observation roll and notices strange footprints in the dust near 2 doors next to the entrance. They appear like skeleton feet. This frightens Cyndaria and then she moves into the corridor past the guardroom and sees a stair and three doors. One is ajar and she peeks in and sees a man dressed in black armour with a heavy mace leaning against his daybed, which he is sprawled across and reading a book with a bone spine and cover. She thinks he might be a necromancer. Ragnar passes the room and only glances so as not to attract too much attention and open the door opposite the stair well. Inside is a storeroom with food and supplies. He goes in and Cyndaria follows him and shuts the door.

This part is happening behind the player's story and they have no idea. Leonine decided to help Guchi get the prisoners out (Leonine's player called and said she wasn't coming). So she, along with a couple of imprisoned Luln soldiers and some other helpful prisoners, they were able to get all the willing prisoners out. The dungeon torturer caught some of the prisoners, but he was overwhelmed by the several in the hall and strapped to his own machines to be left. An ogre was found starving in one cell, but they decided to leave him there. He demanded food in orcish and nobody had any. Guchi took Tzak's animated corpse out of the caverns and into the sewers. Leonine oversaw the rescue and when Guchi returned he had several hooded men with him. The went up into the dungeon and Guchi said he would bring some more down, after a few groups came down with the soldiers of Luln and the other helpful prisoners, Leonine asked one of them what Guchi was doing. He said that he came up into the dungeon and asked how things were but then he went off to another area and nobody has seen him. They even looked in that area he went and he and the men he brought had vanished.

Cyndaria begins exploring the tower while she's invisible. The black clad man who was in his room walks into the hall while she is there and goes to the room with the guard and asks, "Who were those people who came in, and who were they meeting?"
Soldier replies "People? There was only the one."
Black-clad rubs his chin and replies "You dumb fool, I distinctly heard two sets of footprints."
The soldier raises an eyebrow out him and replies, "Well I only saw the one. A big fellow with the Watch Sergeant patch on his uniform."
Black-clad commands, "Don't let anyone leave, I'll be right back."
He goes upstairs, and Cyndaria waits in the hall to what else happens. A big guy, wearing plate mail and carrying a drawn sword, storms down the stairs with the black clad man close behind. He looks around the entrance room and at the soldier and asks, "Did he have a pass?" The soldier nods, and the armoured guys growls and turns the other man, "Get your skeletons out and have them guard this door. Nobody leaves who doesn't live in the tower. Understood Paurillian?" The black clad man nods and opens the doors next to the entrance. Cyndaria sees the skeletons come out and stand in front of the door. The armoured guy marches back upstairs and Paurillian goes back to his room and closes the door. Cyndaria returns to find Ragnar gorging himself on rations. She tells him what she saw and then she leaves again and goes upstairs.

On the second floor she looks into the room without windows. The man wearing leather has his door cracked and is working hard on whatever he is writing and reading. The door she goes through takes her into a laboratory. A small old man is brewing up some smelly concoctions at a table facing the door. He looks up and sees the door close itself. He doesn't say anything, but begins casting a spell of see invisible. (I made this character a bit stronger than the module had him, so he could help the players out a bit). Cyndaria tries to pretend to be a voice in his head and he plays along for a while before telling her he has never seen a winged elf before.
Cyndaria is stunned at first and is afraid he is evil. He tells her he is a slave in the tower and his job is to make potions for those in the keep, as well as some potent cleaning chemicals for Paurillian so he can bleach his skeletons. He makes a deal and says he will help them if they help him escape and take him with them. He figures since he's been cooped up for a while and these adventurers are about to be on the run for a while he could get some travelling in maybe some freedom. He tells Cyndaria about the residents in the tower, Lt Aenolas and the wizard Aurelian living on the 3rd floor. Paurillian the Necromancer/Cleric who lives on the bottom. He tells them about the Iron Ring slaver Menelaus which his personal guard. The man says his name is Nikolai Monescu, Alchemist and magician.

He goes to Menelaus' office and starts rambling to him and shuts the door while Cyndaria goes and drags Ragnar away from his feast of dried fruits, salted meats and sour wine. They go up into Nikolai's lab and hide. Menelaus pushes Nikolai back into his lab and says, "Stay put old man! There is an intruder in the tower."

Nikolai spends some time talking to Ragnar and Cyndaria (who is still invisible). They ask about the Iron Ring and he mentions some of their affiliations with the Baron. He also mentions that when they execute someone who refuses to give them what they want, they put an iron ring on their thumb. Ragnar gets furious at this. He remembers a strange iron ring on his parent's hands after they were killed that he had never noticed before. He tells the others he wants to kill Menelaus but do it by himself. They come up with a plan.

Nikolai goes back into Menelaus' office and tells him he heard a noise in the empty room. Menelaus is losing his temper and pick up his sword this time and follows Nikolai. Ragnar meanwhile had slipped into the empty room and drew his scimitar. There are two doors to this room, so Cyndaria holds one door closed and Nikolai shuts the other behind Menelaus and pushes against in hopes he isn't overpowered. Menelaus orders him to open the door when he realises he isn't alone. Ragnar drinks a potion of speed that Nikolai gave him and says to Menelaus, "I have some questions for about my parents."
Menelaus looks at his scimitar and then him and shakes his head. "No questions, you are about to make me a hero." Menelaus charges, but Ragnar causes him to hesitate when he does a little swashbuckling and scores really high. He gets in the first to swings, but Menelaus is very agile and is barely hurt. They swing back and forth at each other and Ragnar realises that without the potion, this guy would have cut him up. They trade cuts and Menelaus gets a good hit, but with minor damage, and Ragnar returns the favour. Ragnar finally gets a solid hit on Menelaus's backside and he lets out a yell and collapses. He dies soon after. Ragnar takes his armour, which Nikolai says is magical and his short sword, which has runes, for himself. He takes the Iron Ring that signifies Menelaus' affiliation and puts it in his pouch.

Cyndaria meanwhile investigates upstairs while Ragnar rummages through the slavers office. He finds a box with lots of coins and takes it along with a vellum bound book of all kinds of information on the Iron Ring, including contact names, locations and records of dealings, money, etc. He finds his parents names in one of the older records and next to their names a note is scrawled. "Killed, screamer is still missing" Ragnar wonders what that means and suspects his scimitar may be more than what he thought. He asks Nikolai to detect magic, but Nikolai says it seems to have some magic blocking all detections. He says he'll have to find an expert in that realm of magic to break through. Cyndaria returns and tells them about Lt. Aenolas packing some bags. Nikolai leads the way and waits for Cyndaria to prepare her spell first and then she walks into the room, still invisible. Nikolai walks in and begins his spell of Sleep. Aenolas looks at him and says, "Quit fooling around, you can't cast spells without your book." (What he doesn't know is that Nikolai had written some of them down on parchments so he could continue to memorise them daily, just in case). He realises he's wrong and pulls out his sword and charges at Nikolai as Ragnar steps into the room. Cyndaria suddenly appears and fires her shockbolt (Aenolas is also surprised as a naked winged elf appears next to Nikolai). She gets a really good hit and scorches Aenolas' sword arm and burns all the clothing off of it and causes him to drop his sword as Nikolai casts the spell and Aenolas drops to the floor asleep. Ragnar ties him up and the search the room. They don't find the Eye, so they slap Aenolas awake and Ragnar threatens, "I'll cut off one finger at a time unless you tell me where the artifact is."
Aenolas responds, "You can cut me into pieces and I'm not telling you nothing!"
Ragnar gets ready to hit him, but Nikolai tells him to wait and casts a charm person spell on Aenolas. Ragnar then begins his interrogation again after Nikolai tells him to be polite and he'll answer him. "So where is the artifact?"
Aenolas responds with a huge grin on his face, "Well at the moment Aurelian has it. He went to the Gatehouse to meet with the captain. I better get his bags ready and take them to him."
Ragnar says, "No you need to just answer my questions."
Aenolas says, "Ok, muscle boy. Wow those arms are huge."
Ragnar (whose player is inexperienced with D&D looks at me confused) he asks, "What is wrong with you?"
Aenalos responds while batting his eyes, "I don't know, but I think I'm in love with you."
Ragnar stands up immediately and raises one eyebrow like the Rock (a wrestler in WWE). He replies, "Uh, ok."

While Ragnar interrogates him, Cyndaria stands by the stairs and listens to see if anyone tries to come up. She is now visible and geared up and armed with her bow again. She hears the sound of shouting below. She makes out some words "Ambushed... Gatehouse... Hurry!" Then she hears footsteps running up the stairs and she runs back and tells the others. She closes the door and locks it.

Ragnar and Cyndaria draw their weapons and Nikolai begins preparing a spell. Someone begins banging on the door and shouting, "Aenolas! Open my door, what are you doing in there? I have to go now! Someone tried to get it from me. They attacked the Gatehouse. Tiberian is trying to fight them off, but they are thieves!" Ragnar tells Aenolas to tell him he's opening the door. Aenolas does so and Ragnar opens the door. Aurelian barges in and is shocked to see Nikolai casting a spell at him, Cyndaria fires an arrow but misses him, Ragnar charges, but trips over his feet and stumbles across the room like a drunk. Aurelian sneers and begins casting a fireball. Nikolai casts dispel magic on him and messes up his concentration. Ragnar is still trying to stop stumbling around and Cyndaria fires another arrow which hit Aurelian right in the forehead and kills him instantly as the flames of his fireball flicker out around his fingers.

Cyndaria grabs his bag and pulls out a box. Ragnar regains his balance and curses. Nikolai chuckles at him and says, "Well at least you were having a good time." Cyndaria opens the box and finds all kinds of important documents regarding planned invasions of neighbouring regions around Karameikos. She also finds the Eye of Traldar. She puts it in her bag and they all run out to the courtyard. Sounds of fighting are heard in the Gatehouse and they see fires burning along the walls.

They run down into the dungeon and head out through the caverns. They find Leonine with the Luln soldiers and some other prisoners. They all head out through the sewers and then steal a wagon and some horses that a merchant left unattended when he went to look at the burning keep. They ride out of Fort Doom and begin their trip back to Luln.

I still have one more surprise left for them when they get to Luln. The soldiers will probably take most of the paperwork they took and hand it over to their captain in Luln. The cleric who hired them...well there was an incident recently and the players will have to be in for a surprise when the return to the church to get paid. Stay tuned for the next instalment...