Chapter 05: Misdirection

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Session Number: 58
Date: Sunday 11 July 2010
Venue: Fergus'
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr7 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Emily Ftr3/Rog5 (Tammi) (kills: none)
Feren Rog8 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal8 (Craig) (kills: Lucrecia)
Troll Wiz8 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBC

Special Guest Star: Alain Dumont, playing Shalélu, Jakardros and Vale!

Shalélu sights her bow on the north door. Arrian follows Lucrecia. Once through the door he sees three paired cells, no exits, and no Lucrecia. The air smells of stale sweat, blood and decay. Piles of what could be refuse lie on the cell floors. Arrian gingerly moves in, worried that Lucrecia has become invisible. He hears a vague whispering but can't deduce its origin. He grips his sword, waiting. Jakardros and Vale move in support.

Emily briefly hangs back, bow bent, then follows the others. She pauses next to Arrian, noting his rapt confusion. Arrian appraises one of the cell doors, figuring that Lucrecia's monstrous form could squeeze through at a pinch. Feren steps, stashes his rapier and changes to his bow. Troll examines the north door. It opens inwards, hinged on its left edge. He moves to the right of the door, ready to loose Acid at it. Rowaine moves into the cellroom just past Arrian, swinging her axe searching for a target. It clangs twice into the barred walls but meets nothing else. As the loud noise dissipates there is the sound of a slamming door coming from the north of the bedchamber, followed by muffled female laughter. Emily thinks she hears a faint afterecho in the prison. Shalélu is confused; she was looking at the door and is pretty sure it stayed shut the entire time. Troll is certain it didn't move. "She's cast a spell and is still in the room!" he yells. Shalélu moves to the door to the prison, spots a gap between her comrades and fires an arrow at the far wall. Arrian sees the arrow fly past his shoulder. Rather than bouncing off the wall, it disappears and makes a noise altogether unlike metal hitting stone. Arrian figures that's enough evidence and drops a Holy Smite, centred immediately before himself. There is a female cry of pain and to Arrian's elven eyes, the far wall becomes translucent. Beyond the illusory wall he sees another pair of cells bracketing Lucrecia. Her eyes meet his and narrow in comprehension and malice. Jakardros sees the first arrow fly past his shoulder and follows it with two of his own. They both inexplicably slip through the wall. "Dammit, I know there's not a wall there, I've been here!" Vale bashes the butt end of his battleaxe at the impenetrable wall. It disappears into the wall meeting no resistance, but Vale still cannot see through it.

Emily has seen enough; the illusory wall becomes indistinct and she spots Lucrecia. She repositions and shoots three arrows. They all ricochet with no appreciable effect. Lucrecia hisses at Emily. Feren too sees through the illusion. He moves ahead of everyone and looses an arrow, but the missile glances off.

Arrows: none from seven. This chick is tough!

The badger moves into the prison quarters, sitting down just inside the door. Troll sees Lucrecia and casts Fireball, centred on the far left corner of the prison. The fiery spread catches Lucrecia and an unlucky Vale. Lucrecia writhes and Vale ducks behind her tail. Both manage to avoid some of the blast, but grimace nonetheless. The exploding Fireball is enough to wreck the illusion for Rowaine. She moves up beside Vale. "Are you sure you want to be here?" he says, still smoking. Rowaine chops a gash into Lucrecia's neck. The shapechanger screams and flops to the ground in coils and gouts of blood.

Arrian cures most of Vale's burns while Troll Spider Climbs above Lucrecia's fallen form. "Be careful," he warns from the wall. "Her necklace is magical, and I think there are another two items there." Arrian casts Detect Magic and begins to search. Troll returns to the bedchamber and guards the north door with Shalélu.

lucrecia_02.jpg

Lucrecia's face is quite beautiful even in death. "I know her," says Emily, her eyes widening. "I remember her face. She's the owner of the casino in Turtleback Ferry - 'Paradise.'"

Arrian notes that Lucrecia's dropped rapier radiates rather intense magic. It's a fine weapon: its tip is minute and very sharp, yet very strong. He also finds a wand tucked into Lucrecia's bodice that radiates evocation. Her necklace radiates necromancy. "Here," he says to Feren, handing him the rapier. "You might make good use of this." He passes the other items to Rowaine to stow in her magical haversack.

Arrian triages the rest of the party and cures some of Rowaine's wounds. He then searches the cells. None of the eight doors are locked. All he finds inside are straw mats, rat-bitten blankets and the tang of blood.

Arrian moves to the bedchamber, leaving Emily searching the prison walls. She taps them with the end of her sunrod but at length is convinced the rest of the room is solid. She returns to the bedchamber. Neither Shalélu nor Arrian can hear anything beyond the north door. It does not have a locking mechanism. Arrian steps in some hot wax from a fallen candle. Feren enters and moves to the north door. After a quick examination he quietly opens the door. Behind it is a staircase ascending to the left. Feren heads up. The staircase doubles back upon itself, ending with a closed door in the right-hand wall leading south. Feren swaps to his new rapier. Emily follows Feren upstairs, surprising him and leaving the others with only the light issuing from a single candle.

"What's up the stairs?" Troll asks Jakardros. "The ground level of the main keep," Jakardros replies. Troll and Arrian realise this is the only subterranean area of Fort Rannick. Arrian suddenly remembers something. "What was Lucrecia doing when Feren first peeked in? Wasn't she writing?" They look down and in the dim candlelight see a slip of parchment on the stone floor. Arrian picks it up and moves closer to the candle:

lucrecia_letter.jpg
fort_rannick_ground_01.jpg

Who are the hags? Is Turtleback Ferry in danger of flooding? Vale confirms that there is a large dam to the southwest holding back the vast waters of the Storval Deep. No one remembers anyone by the name "Barl". Troll ponders the "new toy"… Someone needs rescuing - perhaps Enok! Arrian wonders if the toy is Fort Rannick. "It feels like the language says the hags are here," he says. "It implies the writer has recent experience of the hags. Maybe it's worthwhile scouting out the keep?"

Emily searches the door for traps. "Open the door," she whispers to Feren. "I'll cover you!"

"Jakardros," says Arrian, "can you go upstairs and check on the others?" Jakardros motions for Vale to follow him.

The two rangers quietly join Feren and Emily. Feren opens the upper door and sees a ten foot wide torch-lit long corridor with a twelve foor tall ceiling. Blood is spattered over floor and walls. Gore and corpse remnants lie scattered along the corridor's length. Flies drone in lazy circles about the carnage. Ripped tapestries cover wall and floor, and the occasional sundered shield and arrowtip can be seen amongst the mess. It smells foul and disgusting. Feren asks Emily to fetch the others. Jakardros follows her, leaving Vale and Feren to guard the open upper door. The expression on Vale's face is indescribable.

Arrian sees Jakardros return. "Is there anywhere else where you might hold prisoners?" he asks. "Not securely, not by design. I suppose you could block off any room to trap prisoners."

"Is there a bolthole, some last-resort means of escape if the fort was ever taken? Did you have a plan?"

"No, none that was communicated to me."

"What's above?" asks Arrian.

"Immediately above is the fort's main level. There is a level above that, and then the fort's ramparts and towers."

"What's on the next level?"

"Guest quarters, the infirmary, storage facilities, the main dorm, the mess and kitchen. Above that is the temple, the ready room, and Captain Lamatar's private room."

"Jakardros, have you heard of anyone called Barl?"

"No, doesn't mean anything to me. By the way, you're wanted upstairs. Take a deep breath."

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