15th of Mirtul of the year 1492
After finishing a short rest, Fogo did a quick Detect Magic to see if any of their ill-gotten gains were magical, and it turned out that one of the maces and the breastplate the priest had been wearing were both magical. Stashing them away and cleaning up their impromptu camp the group was ready.
The party decided to finally look at and attempt to open the last heavily fortified door. It was not locked and proved to be the priest’s office and bedroom. The room looked like it had been ransacked. All the furniture had been beaten up, a table and desk bashed with a hard blunt instrument, a bookcase tossed over, and finally, a large pile of burnt documents sitting by the door.
It seems that the priest before running out to engage the characters had paused to burn anything important to ensure no information leaked in case the combat did not go their way. Avery stepped over to the desk to see if he could find anything remaining while Fwoosh dug through the ashes hoping for a remnant piece of paper.
The desk proved to be completely empty, and secret compartments in the desk had been opened and dumped, and the desk itself bashed enough times to break it in half. The ash pile was not even warm anymore. It was evident that the hour-long waits gave the small fire sufficient time to burn down anything that was there and to cool completely. As he continued to dig through them looking closely, he saw a sheet of paper under a chair nearby.
While in a hurry, the priest seemed to have missed something. Fwoosh scooted over and grabbing the paper. It was clear that it had been in the fire, and through some means had escape before burning completely. Most of the message was obscured by the burnt hole in the middle. If they had only gone into the room sooner, more might have been recovered.
There was one passage that seemed to stick out for them:
“I have contacted our spies in Red Larch to keep an eye on them and remove their presence if needed.”
Otherwise, the room was empty of anything else. In fact, it seemed overly empty. The room had been almost completely cleared out of anything. There were not any clothes, knickknacks, or anything, it was bare except for smashed furniture and a burnt pile of documents. When everyone examined the rest of the space, it looked like the soldiers had completely emptied out the areas only leaving their packs. They were ready to depart in just minutes before the characters had arrived and interrupted their exit.
Knowing there was nothing else to find everyone convened in the main room. A lengthy dialogue occurred about what their exact plans should be. It was decided that securing the exit would be the best plan before gathering the prisoners. They also remembered that there were supposed to be ghouls somewhere in the ruins that they had not yet met. There were only a few areas they had not visited, but they felt the urgency of needing to get the prisoners away to be the most important.
Heading down the tunnel, they were finally able to reach the end of it after over 500 feet. The tunnel was straight and in the last 50 feet the ground started becoming frozen as well as the walls until they reached the4 end where the walls, floor, and ceiling were sheathed in a thin coat of ice. Looking out into the open area they could see a damaged wagon just outside of the opening, and two wagons with horses tacked up and ready to go. They also heard voiced. Rough and ruff voices to the right and left of the opening as well from one of the wagons up ahead. Voices speaking in a language that only Avery could understand. Goblin. There were bugbears waiting outside with the wagons needed for the escape.
Huddling around further back in the tunnel, the party started making plans. It was good that the bugbears were further away and were not expecting invaders since the group were not speaking in hushed tones. There were several close calls as the bugbears are well known for their ambushes, assassinations, and capability to hear very well.
Deciding on a path of action, Fogo used Disguise magic on himself making him resemble the priest exactly. Moving out through the exit it did not take long for the bugbears to notice the characters. Avery split off from the rest in anticipation of hostilities, which made the bugbears much more suspicious because none of the party was recognizable except the priest to them.
A larger bugbear began speaking loudly at Fogo, unfortunately Fogo did not speak goblin.
“Lareth, is everything ready to go? Where is Sar?”
At which point Avery answered:
“Sar is dead.”
“Who are you? Lareth, what is going on?”
It was at this point, that Fogo interjected in the common tongue since he did not recognize any of the previous conversation.
“It’s alright, it’s alright. We found these guys, and everyone has a price. We were able to convince them to join our cause and we are bringing them with us. The rest of the people are back and are almost done packing up. They will be here in just a couple of minutes. In fact, it would very helpful if someone could give them a hand.”
“The wagons are already packed.”
“There were just a couple more things that they needed back there.”
“Can we get two or three guys going back there?”
The bugbear boss started yelling at some of the other ones and four of the six splits off and started running down the secret passage. It seemed that Fogo’s persuasion worked and most of the bugbears departed. Fogo continued.
“We got into a bit of a scuffle with these guys before they decided there was a better option them. I wonder if we have any healing potions, we can give them so they can be at full strength for the journey.”
The bugbear boss responded in goblin.
“Only if you packed something, only you would know what is in there.”
Not understanding, Fogo just kept nodding his head in agreement, but the conversation continued in goblin.
“Why did the gnome say Sar is dead? Where is Sar?”
Using that opportunity, Avery decided that the jig was up and let off with a Ray of Frost missing the bugbear, but fully alerting him that something was not right. Yelling for the last remaining bugbear they attacked the party. It did not take too long to finish the two of them off, but their constant yelling did attract the other four who made it back just as the others died. The combat continued until all the bugbears had been killed except one that they captured to question later.
Finally having time to start inspecting the wagons they found enough arms and armor for at least 20 to 30 people and food for a 100. There were two small chests and a single large one. There was also a particular long box full of black cloaks. Avery took a cloak, one of the small chests while ISAC took the other small chest. It was getting very late, and darkness had already descended, and the cold was biting into them a fair amount. Untacking the horses attached to the wagons, they moved those 12 horses into the hallway to prevent them from freezing, abandoning the two lame horses outside as well as the two warhorses that would not allow them to get too close.
Moving the horses about 150 into the tunnel they left ISAC and Fogo to guard the horses while the rest began shuffling the merchants down to the soldiers’ barracks room. The merchant who had been hanging in chains and heavily tortured had died at some point not been healed. As the time neared midnight, the party started their watches relieving those guarding the horses every two hours and keeping the heavily fortified doors locked. It was before the first watch ended that Fogo realized that his bugbear prisoner was imminently about to escape. Not wanting to deal with it, he just bashed in its skull killing it.
During Sky’s watch he allowed the horses to move forward deeper into the warmer tunnel until the lead on was stopped by the closed door in front of the barracks. There was some consternation with the next group having watch as the horses were occupying all the open space.
Sometime during the night as ISAC was resting, he lost focus and began dreaming again.
“Your body feel light and gently floating. As you open your eyes, you see an open void. The inkiness of the void is very stark, but at the same time you do not feel lonely. You feel companionship nearby. Something familiar is close to you. Your body slowly spins around, and you can see the golden statue. It seems much larger that you are, it feels like you could fly around it. It is transparent, as if it is not fully there, or that it is only partially represented in this space.
As you close in on the item, the four blocks of the bottom split out and start making a slow orbit around the top part. As you watch, you realize that the top part is really an eye. A closed eye, but it is attempting to open, but cannot.
You feel it drawing something from you, some sort of internal essence. You feel weaker as it draws from you and while that happens, you are slowly becoming more transparent, while it seems more solid. As it becomes more solid you can feel the eye attempting to open again, but still cannot, something is preventing that.
A shape pain strikes your head, your brain, your being, and you awaken with a severe headache and the dream fading with the morning. The golden statue rests in your hands.
Upon awakening, the statue was truly in his hands and Fwoosh did not have it. While somewhat disturbing, Fwoosh seemed to be happy that it did not seem to be attached to him any longer.
16th of Mirtul of the year 1492
Early the next morning the party, the merchants, and the mysterious gnome all headed out. It took them to nearly noon to get the horses back out of the hall, tacked up to the wagons, and get everything ready to go. While working outside, the four horses that had been left outside were all dead. It was not sure if it was because of the cold or some large creature since the two warhorses had large bites missing from them, one of the lame horses clawed into pieces, and the second lame horse missing, and clearly dragged off into the frozen swamp somewhere.
Before departing the gnome insisted that they burn the last remaining wagon to ensure they were not leaving anything for the bandits. Putting the Ruined Moathouse behind them, the group all traveled forward. The small trail they were able to follow first headed to the east, then made a turn to the north until they exited the swamp. The closer the got to the edge of the swamp the warmer the weather was becoming, and the muddiness of the trail and swamp more prevalent.
Reaching the edge, they could see the trail then headed directly west. Nighttime had already arrived, and they set up camp for the night. Fwoosh put on a little show to entertain the merchants and the opening of one of the barrels of brandy helped the night pass well for everyone.
As the evening moved on, ISAC had Fwoosh investigate the two chests. The small one was opened and contained a large amount of gold coins, probably some of the bandit payroll. The larger chest was heavily trapped with poisonous darts and difficult lock but was nothing in front of Fwoosh. Contained within was a multitude of wealthy goods. It looked like all the expensive goods from the priest.
Theories and ideas were shared, and that perhaps the cold was related to the water group, and maybe the heat was related to a fire group. It generated many different hypothesizes and directions, but without any evidence they could only guess what it all meant. But as more pieces of information came it started creating a larger and complex picture of what was happening.
With some input and arguments for what direction to go, the group decided to head to Amphail the next day since they would be halfway between Red Larch and Amphail.
Deciding to revisit the statue, ISAC was able to demonstrate that it did have additional powers that it did not have previously. In fact, it now had some offensive power to compliment the previous defensive powers. The new attacks where of the four different elements, each one new and different from any magic any of the arcane casters have heard or seen of previously.
17th of Mirtul of the year 1492
Morning came and the camp was packed up with everyone starting to head in the direction they believed was toward the Long Road.
And that is where the session ended.
The Ruined Moathouse comes to an end. They encountered a new group, ones that seemed to worship water as a source. This is now two of the four elemental symbols they have come across. The merchants rescued and they are near the road, safety is near, or at least they all hope so. The Gold Statue has changed, it has more power, what else does it have?