Chapter 18:

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Session Number: 18
Date: Sunday 14th June 2015
Venue: Densial's
PCs & Players:

Besheeba Wlk2 (Alain) (kills: 2 bandits)
Connor Brd2 (Yeran) (kills: 1 bandit)
Johnny Rog2 (Craig) (kills: none)
Nicolai Clr2 (Fergus absent) (kills: none)
Oskar Mnk2 (Ash absent) (kills: none)

XP Awarded:

"The monk has been here longer than us," Besheeba says. "Maybe he has answers to some of our questions, like where they will attack next. Do you have any questions?"

"Has 'e seen any dragons around 'ere?" Johnny says.

"I'll come with you," Connor says.

Besheeba and Connor head out. "It's me again," Besheeba says in the captive man's mind. "I'm sorry if I'm disturbing your meditation, but there are a few other questions we were wondering if you knew the answers to. First, do you know where the cult is heading next?"

The man indicates "no" by turning his head to the left.

"Do you know how many are in this band?"

"Yes, no."

"More than two hundred?"

"No."

"More than one hundred?"

"Yes."

"Are there any other bands around?"

No response.

"Did you see any dragons?"

"Yes."

"Here, in the camp?"

"Yes."

"Is the dragon away at the moment?"

"No."

"Does it change itself into something else?"

"No."

"Is it in the cavern?"

"Yes."

"That's strange," Besheeba whispers to Connor. "Last time he said there was no dragon in the cavern. Now he just said that there is. I'll ask again." Besheeba imparts the words into the man's mind: "Just to confirm, the dragon is in the cavern?"

"Yes, no."

"Let's change tack," suggests Connor. "Ask if the cult has attacked villages other than Greenest." Besheeba relays the question.

"Yes."

"More than five villages?"

"No."

"Do you think they will move from here in the next week?"

"Yes."

"To attack another village?"

No answer.

"Do you think you can learn where they will attack next?"

No answer.

"If you learn where they plan to attack next, will you leave a sign behind to warn us?"

Yes."

"Other than the commanders in the big tent, is there anyone else who would know where the cult will attack next?"

"No."

"I can put part of my consciousness in you so I can see through your eyes and hear through your ears. Would you allow me to do that?"

"No."

"Is this camp the cult's home base?"

"No."

"Do you know where the home base is?"

"No."

"Do they check the prisoners regularly - every hour?"

"No."

"Every two hours?"

"No."

"More than five hours?"

"Yes, no."

"Do they check on them in the morning?"

"Yes."

The pair have no further questions, bid the man farewell and head back, telling Johnny what they have learned. "They will be checking the prisoners in the morning," Besheeba says, looking towards the moon. "If we rescue them, we won't have much time before they discover them gone."

"What was that bit about the dragon?" Johnny asks. "It's a bit odd isn't it that 'e said 'e wasn't there, and then that 'e is, in the space of two questions. Was it a sort of a yes/no answer, like he gave to some of the other questions?"

"He said no, and then yes."

"So 'ow can there be a dragon, and not a dragon? Is 'e a shapeshifter? Are we talking about more than one?"

"Maybe. Maybe it is just my words."

"What's our plan about the ones that don't wanna go?" Johnny asks?

"We don't have to tell them that we are saving them," Besheeba says. "Take a prisoner, in case there is a guard, so that you have a reason to be there."

"Good plan," Connor says.

"I'll take care of the prisoner," Johnny says. "You do the talking."

Johnny takes charge of the bandit guard and follows Connor towards the tent cluster to the west, leaving Besheeba cloistered in the shadows. Connor approaches a tent and opens the flap. Inside are some figures lying on the ground under blankets. He casts Minor Illusion to create a dim light source within the tent, looking for ropes or manacles. The spell works, he cannot see any.

"Wrong tent," Johnny whispers.

"I think so." Connor moves to the adjacent tent to the west and opens its flap. Inside is a similar scene. Something falls and clangs as he parts the tent door; a couple of the figures within start and begin to rise. Connor causes another illusory light to appear within the tent. Others start to wake up, with bleary moans.

"What the f%c& are you doing?" one says.

"Sorry, I was looking for the prisoner tent," Connor replies.

"What the f%c& are you doing over here? Who are you?"

"My apologies. We're with the patrol, outside the camp. We'll leave you to it."

"What patrol?"

"The southern patrol."

"Is this the prisoner tent?" Johnny adds from behind. "If this isn't it, where is it?"

"What the f%c&? Who are you guys? There is no prisoner tent!"

"Oh god, someone's given us the wrong information again," Johnny blags. "Let's go."

"We'll find the officer," Connor adds and starts to turn around.

"Hold on a sec." The man gets to his feet.

"Nicolai is back in the northern tents, isn't he?" Connor says. "We can go talk to him and find out where to take this guy."

"Yeah, let's just do that," Johnny agrees. "I'm sorry we bothered you. We got it."

"I said hold on a sec," says the man inside the tent, stumbling around and putting on shoes and cloak.

"Do you know who we can ask to find out where we take this guy?" asks Connor.

"Yeah. Me! Now get outta the f@(&in' way!"

The man exits the tent and straightens his back, the tent flap closing behind him. "What the f@(& is going on here?" his eyes settle on the prisoner. "John, what are you doing?"

Seeing no one else in sight, Johnny reverses his dagger and smacks it against the back of the guy's skull.

Attack with advantage: 2 and 6. Inspiration: 3. First Luck die: 2. Second Luck die: 1. Third Luck die: 14!

Crunch! The man crumples, Connor catches him before he falls. Johnny immediately turns to the prisoner (John?) and presents the business end of the dagger. The man vigorously nods his acquiescence.

Connor drags the unconscious bandit back towards where Besheeba hides while Johnny follows with the prisoner. They make it back. "Right," Johnny says. "Only another hundred and twenty times and we're fine!"

Besheeba raises her eyebrows. "This one didn't want to go?"

"He isn't a prisoner," Connor says sheepishly. "Someone might have dropped the ball when we opened the tent. I'm not gonna name names or anything."

"Look," says Johnny. "Stop making that bloody eerie light behind 'em! It spooks 'em!"

"OK."

"Besheeba!"

"Yes?"

"You reckon you can go back out to the man on the stakes and ask 'im where these bloody prisoners are? 'Cause that's not them!"

"Why don't we ask this guy?"

"Hang on," Connor says. "This guy said 'John' and pointed… Maybe he recognised you, Johnny, and not the prisoner!"

Johnny is sure the guy pointed at their prisoner and not himself. Connor isn't so sure. He points to the prisoner and says, "John?" The prisoner vigorously nods his head.

"Do you know where the prisoners are?" Connor asks.

"Mmmm Hmmm!"

"Not there, right?" Johnny says, nodding towards the tents they have just come from.

"Nhhh Nhhh!" the prisoner says, shaking his head.

"So where is it? Just point."

The prisoner points to the west.

"Is it far?" The prisoner shakes his head. "Can you take us there?" A nod in reply.

He turns to Connor. "Right. Before we go any further, what are you planning to do? How do you plan to get us all killed this time?"

"I was just gonna open the tent and see if we can see any prisoners in there."

"That was your plan?" Johnny asks.

"Well, yeah."

"Gods help us. And what was your plan to weed out those that might have changed sides?"

"I was going to lead with 'Praise Tiamat'."

"Huh. That part wasn't so bad." Johnny turns to the prisoner. "Well, take us there. Quietly. Gods."

The prisoner leads them along the southern cliff face, heading west around two clusters of tents. He then turns north. Ahead are some low cages filled with rags and bodies. Light emanates from the nearest cluster of tents they have just passed, now to the northeast. The cages lie in darkness.

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Johnny skulks closer to the cages. There are three in total, only about three by five feet in footprint and less than three feet tall. He approaches the nearest cage. "Is it locked?" he thinks to himself. "Of course it is. Otherwise they'd get out!"

Johnny figures out that the doors on the cages all face east, towards the nearby tents. They are chained and locked, but both the security measures and the cages themselves are very rusty and poorly maintained; a good hit with something solid would probably break it open. He tries the more subtle approach, gathers the tools of his trade and quietly pits his skills against the lock. It quickly succumbs. He opens the door an inch, gauging the amount of noise it creates. It is quite significant. He chooses to slowly open the door, pausing regularly to space the inevitable noise over a longer period of time. After two minutes the door is wide open. The person or persons inside take notice of him.

"Come with me if you want to live," Johnny says quietly. "If you want to make a lot of noise about it, it will be the last thing you do."

There is some stirring from within, suggesting multiple people. An adult voice starts to moan. "Nooooo… Nooooo…"

"Quiet!"

"Noooo…"

"What's your name?"

"Nooooo…"

"Right! You've got one chance," Johnny whispers. "You're gonna be quiet, or else it's gonna end right now. If you wanna see Greenest again, SHUT UP!"

"Nooo… Noooooo…"

"Right! Everybody in there who doesn't wanna die, shut the one up who's making the noise! Keep 'im quiet, or else none of us are getting out of here."

A face appears from beneath the rags. "Can you help us?"

"Keep it down!"

"You gonna help us? Can you get me out of here?"

"If you keep quiet, yes."

"Noooo…" moans the other voice.

"Keep him quiet! Keep him alive, but keep him quiet."

The figure attached to the second voice begins scrabbling out through the exit.

Connor approaches. "You're safe now," he says. "If you're quiet we can get you out."

"I gotta get outta here! I gotta get outta here, man…" The man weakly attempts to squeeze his way out of the cage past Johnny and Connor while the other man continues to moan. Murmurings begin from the other two cages, and from somewhere beyond to the west.

"There's something else out there," Besheeba says. "I'll go and check. Make these people silent!"

Johnny crawls into the cage, rummages around until he finds something resembling a limb, and pulls it out. Connor takes the other man by the shoulders, trying to make him focus on his face. Besheeba moves to the west and finds five females chained together to the rocks.

Johnny pulls the man out of the cage. It is obvious the man is blind. He puts his face very near the man's and says, "You've been through a lot, but we're here to get you out. But right now what I need from you is for you to be quiet. I need to know that you hear and understand me. Nod if you can hear and understand me." The man continues to groan.

"My name's Johnny. What's your name and where're you from?"

"Don't hurt me! Don't hurt me!"

"I'm not gonna hurt you," Johnny says. "I am trying to save you. Are you 'ungry?"

"Don't hurt me!"

Johnny grabs his water flask, opens it and brings it to the man's lips. "'Ere. 'Ere's some water."

"Don't hurt me!"

Johnny dribbles some water down the man's face. He stops talking, grabs the flask and starts gulping at the water. "Take as much as you want."

The man with Connor shows signs of calming down. "We can get out of here," Connor says. "I just need you to take a moment." He then turns to the prisoner and mouths, "Don't you f@(%ing go anywhere!"

Besheeba walks smoothly and unmenacingly towards the women who are cowering against the rockface. "We're coming to get you out, but you need to be silent."

"Johnny," Connor says, "We'll deal with this cage. Can you open the next cage? Time is of the essence."

"Not until I know I got this guy under control."

"I got him."

Besheeba whispers, "There are five more over here - all women. Chained to the rockface."

"Shit," Johnny hisses. "They've gotta come with us. But how are we gonna get 'em all out?"

"The way we came," Connor replies.

Johnny considers this. "Alright." He pats the ground inside the cage, looking for anyone else. He finds another body - as cold as the earth it lies on. "We go together. If we get challenged, then we're taking the women to … somebody who wants women, right?"

"What do you mean, taking the women to someone who wants women?" Connor asks, looking confused.

"Oh, come on, put two and two together, boy!"

"Oh, I see, this is our alibi… I see what you mean."

"We will have to unchain the women," Besheeba reminds the others.

"Yeah yeah, I got it," Johnny says. "Maybe give this blind one some food, to calm 'im down."

"Shall we take the two hardest now and come back?" Besheeba asks.

"We take the women and we take these two now," Johnny says firmly. "And then we come back for the others."

"OK," Besheeba says. "I'll stay with the others."

"Ah, no," Johnny says flatly.

"Why not?"

"We might need you. And I'm not leaving you there, another woman." He sees Besheeba's expression. "I know you can take care of yourself 'n' all, but what if you can't?" Besheeba's return stare suggests daggers, but then her eyes turn towards the women. "OK, let's do it."

Johnny unlocks the chain securing the five women while Connor shares the water between the two male prisoners. Johnny eyes up the line of women. "We're gonna get you out. Are you up for this? Which one of you can speak for you all?"

"I can," one of the women says, taking a step forwards.

"Where you from?"

"We're from Greenest," the woman says in a quiet, whimpering voice.

Johnny smiles. "Well that's just where we were from. We'll take you back there. Are you all alright - can you move?"

"We can move." She shivers. "We need to leave. It's terrible here."

"I don't doubt it."

The party lead the seven captives and their own prisoners around the cliff face to the west, then due north through the centre of camp, keeping to the shadows. Johnny pays attention to how much noise the troup are making, covering for them as best he can. The northern cliff face has a stand of trees at its base, which the party use for cover. They head eastwards and make it all the way back to the guard tower where their allies are waiting. They quickly describe their escapades, drop the prisoners in their allies' care and head back. They make it back to the cages undiscovered.

"I don't think there's gonna be much praising of Tiamat in these cages," Johnny whispers. "I don't know what that monk was talking about."

Johnny moves to the northern cage and unlocks the padlock. Before opening the door, he puts his head down near the entrance. There are four people inside - adult males. Two lie on the ground, two sit propped up against the cage's rusty bars. "'Ere. Name's Johnny. Who's in there? Can you talk? Can you move?" No answer; the people are shivering and their eyes flutter open and closed. They are not as well-clothed as the previous group. They groan quietly. The prone pair glisten in the dim light as if they were sweating heavily.

"Right, you lot," Johnny whispers, "This ain't no good for you. Where we're goin', there's warm cloaks and cold beer. Quietly come out. Help the ones that can't come out by themselves."

The two sitting prisoners start slowly crawling out. One is dragging his leg; it looks twisted, perhaps broken. The prone pair make no move to leave, shivering. Their eyes have rolled back into their heads. Connor helps the injured man up as he leaves the cage and hoists his arm around his shoulder. The main cries out loudly in pain.

"Sorry about that," Johnny says. "Look, if you can be quiet, we've got someone who can see to that - just over there. Just keep your leg off the ground, or something. Whatever it takes. You other two - can you move?" No answer.

"They are too sick," Besheeba says. "Can we carry them?"

"I imagine," Johnny says. "But not together with 'im," indicating the man with the injured leg. "We might have to come back for them."

The party escort the lucid pair back to the lookout tower, the injured man leaning on Connor. They head back, making it to the cages. "Shall we take these two now, or first see what the last cage holds?"

"Look at the last cage," Besheeba says.

Johnny unlocks the centre cage. "Right, you lot. Because you've been quiet, I guess you're smart and you know what's happening. Come on out and we'll get you outta here. But be quiet."

There is one wide set of eyes at the back of the cage; a man obviously very scared. He holds onto the cage bars. There are a further two figures on the ground, semiconscious.

"You at the back there," Johnny says. "What's your name?" The man throws something at Johnny that hits him harmlessly in the forehead, screams and scrambles towards the unlocked cage door. Johnny tries to smother his cries. Connor casts Sleep. The man falls asleep, as do the two others still in the cage. Thankfully, Johnny does not!

The party quickly gag all three with rags and then wake them up. One wakes up, the excitable one. He is around 12 years old.

"Where you from?" Connor asks.

"I' fwo' Gweenes!" the boy replies through his gag.

"My name is Connor."

"I, onna, e ee ow a ere!" The boy descends into crying.

Johnny comes nearer. "You're young, you wanna go home. We will get you home. But you need to be quiet. Do you understand me?"

The boy calms down somewhat. "Good lad."

"Are you hurt?" asks Connor. The boy nods his head, but doesn't seem to be favouring any part of his body.

"We'll deal with that, but first things first:" Johnny says. "We're getting out of this camp. Now, yer mates here, have they been awake? Do you think they can walk?"

"'er i."

"Can they walk?"

"'er i."

Connor shakes one of the two unconscious prisoners. He does not wake.

"Have they been awake today?" asks Johnny.

"er i!"

"Sick?"

"Eh!"

Johnny feels their heads; they are hot.

"Take these two," Besheeba says. "I'll take this one." The boy looks at Besheeba and his eyes brighten a little.

Johnny and Connor carry the two sick prisoners while Besheeba leads the boy. They make it to the lookout tower.

12 rescued so far.

The three head back. As they approach the cages from the north, they see three men walking from the adjacent tents towards the cages. They are mumbling about girls and women, before morning. Besheeba casts Thaumateurgy to make a clinking sound behind them. One looks back, the other two continue on, elbowing each other.

"I'm gonna Sleep them," Connor says to Johnny. "Go up and kill whoever is left." He casts Sleep. The two bandits in the front fall down. The one at the rear does not see as he is looking behind. He turns back and continues walking on. Johnny looses an arrow at the target which hits armour and ricochets off. He stops and looks down at his chest. "What the f@(&?" he yells. Besheeba throws a dagger that misses the mark entirely.

Initiative:

Connor 16
Besheeba 14
Johnny 6

TOR1
Connor draws his bow and looses an arrow: AC24 hits for 7 damage. He takes a significant hit in the side but it doesn't take him out. Besheeba runs toward the bandit, pulling out a dagger, jumps up and stabs him in the neck: ACNat20 crits for 8 damage, killing him. Besheeba continues stabbing as he falls.

Connor stabs one of the sleeping bandits as he slumbers, deeply wounding but not killing him. Besheeba turns and stabs, killing him. Connor finishes off the last with a stab of his rapier.

"Drag 'em in the cages, c'mon!" Johnny says. "It might buy us a bit of time."

The party drag the dead bandits into the cages. Besheeba cleans the blood from her dagger. "I know I said I knew you could take care of yerself," Johnny says, "but that was just plain scary, little miss stabby!" Besheeba smiles sweetly, then her expression hardens. She takes the dagger and writes something on one of the empty cages. Connor searches the bodies quietly and comes up with a gold piece that he pockets. The party then carry the last two remaining prisoners back to the lookout tower.

Fourteen prisoners rescued!

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