This day has been the longest I can remember. It seems an age since we were last at the Inn, but it was only mere hours ago. I’d chosen to stay in the bar, sipping my wine and merely dozing now and again (I’m certain I didn’t sleep for more than 5 minutes at a time), but this morning I awoke to find all the windows unlatched. I’m positive no one came or when last night… at least… I think I am…
When the others awoke we set off to find the Baron’s manor.. The day was thick with fog and we could barely see 10 feet in front of us. It wasn’t long before the undead came looming through the mists. This was my chance to try Burning Hands again. I’d spent the evening reviewing, so I was excited to give it a whirl. Success! I was able to scorch two of the zombies (I hesitate to mention that I also scorched Vosk, but I suppose I should add that for posterity. Note to self: work on aim). I must admit, I’m kind of liking this battling evil thing. I’m surprised at how good it feels!
After more trudging through the gloom we came upon a crushed wagon surrounded by strewn bodies. On top of this wagon was a man quite loose of mind, raving about “Old Snappy”. I’ve heard the tales of the giant crab monster in the river, but I’ve never seen someone so dedicated to the thing. It’s like he was familiar with Snappy on a personal basis. The guy offered to take us up the river, but even I (who never buys into such superstitions) didn’t like the vibe of this guy. Vosk and the Elf lady were more trusting, but the dwarves were able to muscle us onwards, leaving John to his ramblings.
We walked in silence for many miles, the fog stifling all sound. It was eerie. Then (gods know how long after) we heard voices ahead. They were in a language I couldn’t understand, but Lem whispered to me: “Goblins.” Shit. He and I told the group to wait while we snuck ahead to see how many of them were there. Turned out there was a whole warren, but only a few skulking about. We went further on to see what lay ahead, and where the road ended we could see a fortress through the trees. We crept through the bushes to get a closer look. There was an orc standing guard on the tower, and another atop the gatehouse. In the center of the fort was a courtyard that housed what looked to be the manor in question. There was another orc in the courtyard, poking at something in a cage.
We went back to tell the others and decided to make a sneak attack on the fort. With Ash and Andur’s guidance, my arrow shot straight and true, right into the heart of the orc on the tower, laying him out flat. Lem scampered up to see if he was dead. After he left, I had second thoughts about sending him up after my kill. I didn’t need him robbing my well-earned loot, so I climbed up after him to claim my prize.
When we got back to the gang, we decided to try the same thing with the other orc. My arrow was no more than a flesh wound and an indication of our presence. Next thing I know, there’s an arrow sticking out of my own shoulder! Lem went up the side of the building, thinking to ambush him from behind, while Andur blocked me with his shield. Kaz and Vosk went into the courtyard to deal with the situation in there. I was busy firing at that damn orc, and I finally got him. HA! His body fell over the side and we went up to it. While Andur was considering bringing him to life to ask him a question, another shot flew out the window, hitting Ash. I kept shooting and kept missing. Ash had mentioned a spell called Magic Missile earlier today… I think I’ll be looking into that.
Without warning, blood splattered out the window and the arrows stopped. Someone must’ve come to our rescue. We went up to investigate. Kaz was covered in blood, but it wasn’t his. I was speechless. Another orc was incapacitated in the corner; Vosk was trying to get information from him. While I was searching the room, Kaz went running out to deal with another orc that had come out of the woodwork. I quickly drew my crossbow and sniped him from above. My adrenaline was running high! Vosk was able to get our captured orc to tell us about the tunnels under the fortress and their leader, an orc who’s been reeking havoc on the village with undead (a necromancer?). Meanwhile, Kaz and Ash tried to no avail to free the man in the cage (Bunsen was his name), but returned with his request to find his alchemical supplies in the manor, which could both free him and aid in our escape.
Suddenly two Red Guards entered the room and told us they were in charge of this takeover. The human, Tosca, did all the talking while the half-elf said nothing. They wanted to burn the place down, but we insisted on going in to retrieve Bunsen’s gear and see if we could find out who’s responsible for this whole thing. Finding a way in was another thing, though. We weren’t able to find an easy entrance, so we hopped the wall at the rear of the building, and tried to get through the back door. Lem attempted to pick the lock (an endeavour that made me shake my head in shame for thieves everywhere). When he finally accomplished this task I told everyone to get back while I opened the door with a simple cantrip. They didn’t get back far enough. A revolting gel-like substance shot out of the door, covering Lem as well as the entire entryway with sticky goo and putrid stench. Vosk didn’t notice the extent of its coverage until he’d entered the door, getting himself stuck to the ground and blocking our way with his huge frame.
Lem couldn’t breathe with the gunk on his face, but Ash saved him by popping the ooze bubbles coming from his mouth. Everything that touched Lem would get stuck to him, so I grabbed the hem of my robe and tried to pull him back to safety. It took both me and Ash pulling, but we were able to get him out of harms way. Kaz yanked Vosk out of the doorway, who came out looking like a pincushion! Despite the arrows, he powered through and started to climb the side of the building to a window where a goblin was shooting as us. I attempted to follow suit, but I just couldn’t get a grip on the wall. It looked like the others were starting to go into the manor (it seemed the goop had finally solidified), so I followed them.
Immediately I was charged by some disgusting rat-dog-thing, but Kaz chopped the thing in half on it’s way toward me. There were still two goblins fighting Kaz and Andur, and I was able to get one right in the head with a crossbow bolt. No time to rejoice, we headed upstairs to meet Vosk, but two of those rat-dogs came at us from behind. I spun on my heels and cast Burning Hands, igniting them and adding the smell of burning flesh and hair to the already retch-inducing odor of the kitchen. While I was busy trying not to throw up, the dwarves dispatched the rat-dogs and we continued upwards.
The fighting had brought our presence to the attention of an orc in ornate armor, who came out of the great hall to demand our surrender. Of course we flatly refused and I used the corner as cover while I aimed my crossbow at the space between his gorget and his chin. While the others were arguing with him, Lem and I decided to try something that, in retrospect, was a little foolhardy. I cast Vanish on him and he made his way to the unsuspecting orc, dagger in hand. However, he missed the vital spot and instead I heard the clang of metal on metal before the orc was upon him. Next thing I know, Lem is pinned by the orc and the rest of us are running to his rescue.
Out of nowhere this tattooed human comes running into the fray, and we’re all fighting goblins who are now coming out of the woodwork. I didn’t see what happened, but Andur must’ve done something because that heavily armored orc suddenly took to running. There was a moment of awkwardness as we stood with this strange human in our midst. Turns out he’s a Shoanti who was on the barge that sank. He managed to make his way to the manor, looking for help, but instead was locked in a room for the last few days. He said his name was Enko and offered to fight alongside us and we accepted, but we needed to find Vosk before moving onward.
In a room heaped with stolen goods, I found Bunsen’s kit, while Lem scouted ahead. He returned with dire news. Our friend was dead and his body was being looted by a couple goblins in an adjacent room. Enraged, we stormed in for justice, but those filthy goblins didn’t let us get more than a hit or two on them before they barred the door on us. Kaz started wailing on the door, but Andur suggested we find a weaker wall. The others went to the room next door while Enko and I guarded the door. The situation veered even more acutely out of our control when a giant fist punched through the door at the other end of the hall and a monstrous ogre began shouldering his way towards us! I tried to daze him, but to no effect, so we fled.
We took turns climbing out the window, but Andur chose to stay behind for one last assault. We were all safely on the ground when Andur’s body came flying out the window and fell in a crumpled heap at our feet. From across the courtyard, I heard Bunsen yelling at us to bring him his kit. It seemed Ash had stabilized Andur, so I took off at a run and handed Bunsen his gear. A simple acid freed him from his cage and he began lobbing bottles at the manor and we rejoined the group.
Suddenly a rain of arrows began falling upon the ogre and we turned to see Tosca and the half-elf Red Guard running to our aid. They took us to the river’s edge where crazy old John and his barge were waiting. At this point, braving the lunatic’s raft and a potential mauling by a giant crab seemed preferable to certain death by mountain troll, so we hopped on. The Red Guards weren’t going to let us away that easily. They hopped aboard, too, and told us it was no use going back to the village, since it had been abandoned. They were offering us refuge at their fort. I would rather have curled up next to Ol’ Snappy on the riverbank than be in the same building as those Red Guards, but the others seemed to trust them enough with our safety, and since I trusted my comrades, I stuck with them.
Among John’s usual nonsensical ramblings, we were able to discern that the old Baron’s daughter, Annessa, seemed to be a central figure in all this havoc. She had been seen on the riverbank the night of the sinking and was now being sought by Darksok, possibly as an offering to the witch. We decided that we’d go in search of her in the morning. As of this writing we are locked in a room in the Hell Knight’s tower. Bunsen has offered us a reward to retrieve his stolen goods from the Mindspin Mountains and after some haggling, we settled on 4000 gold and his word that he’ll teach me what he knows of alchemy. Between him and I, we’re going to try and reverse Enko’s alleged amnesia. I am exhausted and in need of a deep sleep, but I don’t trust those guards entirely. I doubt I shall sleep soundly tonight.