14th of Mirtul of the year 1492
Everything started off with a discussion about the health of the prisoners and that because of their condition, the party might consider taking them all away now instead of trying to keep them hidden and alive somewhere in the Moathouse. Most of the party agreed and talked about how to prepare about coming back, or just skip completing this mission. This was the general assessment until they realized that because of the falling temperatures and the poor condition of the former prisoners, it would be difficult if not impossible to bring them back without some sort of transportation. None of the people saved would be able to survive attempting to walk through the swamp, even when it was warmer.
It was at this point the discussion moved to where they could put the people to keep them safe while the party could finish their exploration and elimination of threats and looking for something to transport them by. There should be wagons somewhere. A lot of wagons had been seized by the bandits, and they had to be somewhere. Deciding to use the Ogre’s room again, they moved this set of prisoners there and while planning on moving the dead Ogre’s body to the old larder.
While in this process of moving dead bodies and starting to get the former prisoners settled, Fwoosh noticed that there was another secret door in the room where they had originally come down. A doorway on the east wall and when opened led to a staircase going down. Deciding that exploring further was the best of all their limited options. Fogo once again warned about the Bugbears and their fiendish ways.
Heading down the stairs, it led to several other hallways, one leading south, and one leading east. Light was non-existent and trying to keep their lantern set on low as to not alert anyone ahead of them meant moving was very slow for the entire group. Looking for tracks, it seemed that there had been more traffic to the south than the east. Taking the route less traveled, they moved to the east. Strange noises kept being heard, rattling noises, perhaps rocks falling, it was unknown. But it also reminded the party that they were no alone down here.
Moving further east they came to an open room with an opening to the north and three doors to the east. Sending in Benny as the designated target and the party waiting to see what happens, the ambush Fogo had been warning about finally happened. Several javelins pierced through Benny alerting them to the presence of the Bugbears in the room to the north. A heavy and difficult fight ensued with the party once again prevail, but at the expense of almost everyone becoming heavily wounded.
With the battle behind them, they explored the Bugbear area looking for any new treasure. More Ammakyl boxes of food was found, much it not eaten. Again, looking to take a short rest they made the unfortunate decision to investigate the doors first. Even with looking them over carefully, they missed the wire that was attached to the door they opened which set of a loud clanging alarm which could be heard throughout the entire underground.
Realizing that staying was a bad idea, they began running back to the Ogre’s area. In their way was a portcullis that had fallen in the corridor before the stairs. They were trapped, but not for long since Dolores the wildfire spirit of Fogo, was able to teleport a few of them at a time to the other side of the portcullis, only stopping them for about a minute and allowing them to continue their retreat and away from any approaching danger.
After getting to the Ogre’s room, they found the former prisoners attempting to hide in the room and huddling in corners frightened by the alarm and the sudden appearance of the characters. The party rushed everyone forward to the stairs in open area to the west. Shooting it with an Eldritch Blast, all ISAC managed to do is to splatter it around instead of killing it. Avery was quick to come by and using his burning hands burned it all away quickly. The path was clear for them to go up the stairs.
Carrying the more heavily wounded of the prisoners, everyone started going up the stairs. Again, everyone was moving slow because of the need to help many of the others. The stairs did go up all the way to the ground floor, a full 70 feet upward. The alarm could still be faintly heard from the underground. Meeting up with the first three they had rescued it was once again decided that moving to the larger bandit room was the safest option.
Digging up some ice from the frozen swamp outside, provisions were made available for everyone. Blocking the door and setting up camp in the room with a warm fire in the large fireplace everyone attempted to settle in. However, the weather outside continued to worsen. It was becoming even colder than before causing everyone to huddle as close as possible to the fire. Using the same watches as before, the night passed without an event except for the noises of large creatures moving around outside. It was deathly silent outside, not even the insects were moving or making noise. Traveling right now in the cold would be almost impossible to survive except with a lot more appropriate clothing than they had. The night passed safely.
15th of Mirtul of the year 1492
It was in the morning in a conversation with the remaining leader of the Ammakyl merchants that they found out that the merchants were not aware that they were in a swamp, and that they had been ambushed on the Long Road. Postulating that they must have been drugged or poisoned for that trip because none of them knew about it, and it was only here in the prison was when they awoke. While this story was being told, the gnome came over.
“We’ve had our eye on this spot for a while. I was sent here to investigate bandit problems.”
“Who do you work for?”
“There have been different issues with the flow of goods and money, this is one of the spots that we had identified. The Bugbears were out and about and managed to ambush and capture me. I have been here about a week longer than the others. The bandits would bring in people, usually merchants. The Ogre seemed to have an allowance but would occasionally come in for an additional snack, and then there are the grey things that would grab people occasionally. They also seemed to be on some sort of schedule. When the number of people would run low, more would show up. The Ogre would eat a person a day, more if he could sneak one.
We think there is some kind of boss in here, but given what we have heard you talk about, there must be another 20 to 30 bandits somewhere. We suspected that they had multiple outposts and only came together for a big attack and then split up again. I was watching this place for about a week until they captured me. I was not aware there was an underground until I was captured.”
The gnome continued about the dangers of the swamp, and that he was not aware of where the wagons may have moved to. He also expressed his concern about more bandits showing up. He described the bandit operations in some more detail.
“When they operate, they seem to be overly organized, almost like a military force, but sometimes they are just bandits. There seem to be some of them, the leadership that are a little stronger, harsher, more regimented, more disciplined.”
When asked about the Bleeding Eye, it was not an organization that he was aware of. He also stressed that whatever was here needed to be taken care of, otherwise they would never be found again. When shown the map from the Wererat, he did not display any change of expression, but Avery noticed something, something in his expression showed an interest with the map. When talking about the swamp stated.
“There is no information about a swamp. I did a little research of this area, and the swamp was not mentioned It’s like there was not a swamp here ten years ago. There was a river, and some small wetlands, but nothing like this. This is unnatural.”
“There is that word again.”
There is an accumulation of water here that is just beyond what should be possible in the area. It is an arid grassland everywhere around here. Why would there be a swamp in the middle of arid grasslands. Wouldn’t you think that is a little unnatural?”
The gnome also suggested that the party search for the arms and armor wherever they might be and destroy them. Otherwise, it would end up in other bandit hands if left here. This was a known location to the bandits. He was expecting more bandits to eventually show up since they brought their goods to this location. When explaining about the bandits, he again mentioned that the officers of the bandits were a nasty bunch, and that they all seemed much more disciplined and fanatical than the regular bandits.
“They seem to be willing to die for whatever the cause they have, which is unusual for any bandit. Bandits tend to run when you inflict enough damage to them. These seem to have a mission.”
It was then that he mentioned an armored men in black that gave orders to the bandits and the bugbears. He did not know much about them, and when a Deathguard was described, he told them that there was no resemblance between the two sets of men.
With a firm plan to move through the rest of the basement, they quickly moved forward moving through the secret door, down the ladder, and finally down the stairs. As they started travelling down, they noticed that the alarm was no longer sounding. Having Benny and ISAC lead the way the group made their way via the south passage. Attempting to move as quietly as possible ISAC eventually made his way to a large open room with three doors to the south. Almost stepping inside, he was able to notice that the room was filled with Orcs in an ambush position, but they had somehow not seen him. These were Iceshield Orcs.
When trying to move back quietly, ISAC was only able to stumble and alerted the Orcs behind him. With a lot of yelling, it was clear that they were aware of him. The two groups converged on each other with the party having an initial advantage. That changed when the Orc Shaman got involved and began commanding and interfering with different members of the party. It was severely aggravating to Avery since the Shaman used the exit into the room as a hiding place and only briefly popped out to cast his spells.
With a hard enough push, the party was able to finally kill the orcs including the Shaman.
And this is where the session ended.
Another rough session. Bugbears and Orcs are never a fun fight. The Shaman played a few games with the characters using his Command spell causing a bit of chaos, especially when combined with his Bless and Spiritual Weapon. This is their first real encounter with a smarter caster, and it caused a fair amount of difficulty. It did not help that most of the combat occurred in a hallway bottlenecking both the Orcs and the characters.