Age of Broken Chains

The Calm Before the Storm
Once More Into the Hidey-Hole

From the Journal of Mal, Gray Wolf

We ventured onward. Though we didn’t know it at the time, we had managed to clean out most of the guards stationed in this wing of the complex. It made the rest of our exploration less dangerous, though we crept forward with some trepidation, never quite sure what we might find beyond the next door.

Fortunately—for us, and for them—what we found was the surviving prisoners from Paratum. There were five in all: Ark’al, a terribly abused gnoll, who once probably invoked fear but now only pity; Lieall, the blind eladrin, whose eyes had been plucked by his captors; Mirtala, a halfing woman, nearly catatonic from her suffering; Jalissa, a terribly frightened young woman, traumatized by the ordeal; and Zerriska, an obnoxious, loud, and crotchety old crone.

We freed them all from their captivity and promised to see them safely from this place. All but Zerriska were grateful for the aid—I suspect that had we left her behind in the cell, her absence would have gone unnoticed (except for the blessed silence).

I personally freed the young woman, Jalissa, from her cell. She clung to me immediately—poor soul. She was clearly beside herself, and her eyes were rimmed red from tears. I wanted to storm from that room and tear the place apart looking for the bastard who did this, but I couldn’t. They needed us. I comforted the girl the best I could, wrapping her in my traveling cloak. No one should have to bear such pain and fear.

We escorted them back to our makeshift camp right off the main chamber, figuring it was as safe as any place. Jalissa was terrified to be left alone again. I did my best comfort her, and used one of the tricks I know to put her mind at ease. In her mind I implanted the image of poring over old tomes of lore in one of the Temples of Ioun. I think it helped. I gave her my word I’d return for her.

With our charges in relative safety, we set out to find the one responsible for all this: Sinruth. I will see to it that he pays for what he has done.

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Focused Fire
Knock, Knock, Knockin' Down Goblin Doors

From the journal of Mal of the Wolves of Maldeen

After ensuring the rescued prisoners had a safe place to stay (making use of a crumbled section of the structure we’ve affectionately dubbed “The Hidey Hole”) we discussed our next move. It was decided that heading toward the “inhabited” area would be most prudent, and of course fraught with danger. Turin, our reluctant yet de facto leader, took stock of our injuries and took a moment to share with us a few battle tactics he had learned in his military service. (In the margin is scrawled the phrase “Focused Fire” underlined twice)

Orsik sharpened his blade and took up a position at the door and the rest of us lined up behind. The dwarf and the dragonborn made their way through the first door revealing a set of stairs ending in another door and a corridor branching off to the north. The eerie fog that had permeated the western chambers wasn’t present here, and torches lit the way. Savana sent Gunju ahead to sniff out trouble, but found nothing immediate.

A quick listen at the eastern door revealed the sound of conversation, though it could not be made out. Faced with a known threat here, but uncertainty about the northern corridor, we quickly decided to face the danger head on. Orsik and Balasar lowered their shoulders into the doors before them and burst into the room beyond.

What we found beyond was most likely a goblinoid barracks, though we had no time to take in the scenery. The goblins were not to happy about having their card game disrupted, and they set their beasts (wolves of some kind) upon us. We took Turin’s instructions to heart, though, and concentrated our efforts on whittling down our foes one at a time whenever possible. Orsik, Balasar, and Savana rushed to the fore to directly engage our enemies, while Turin and I attempted to hang back, preferring to keep as much distance between the goblins and wolves as possible.

The tide of the battle was quickly turning in our favor, but I should have known it wouldn’t be that easy. From the chamber to the north came reinforcements: goblins, orcs, and a great wolf in spiked barding. Then from the south, orc archers joined the fray, wielding massive crossbows that they thrust against their waist to reload. (Another note in the margins: “Belly bow”)

To our credit, though, we each did our part. Balasar’s faith makes him an imposing combatant, as he seems to lock foes into engagements through the fervor of his devotion. And the standard he carries with him—I must confess that though I have never found myself terribly moved by heraldry or iconography, I do feel more confident at the sight of that banner. I wonder if he’d let me investigate it further when we’re done here? I suspect that thread is not the only thing woven into its form.

Turin unleashed a hail of arrows, directing our focus and bolstering our spirits with words of encouragement. Savana and Gunju danced about the chamber as is their fashion, striking any foe in their reach. I sometimes forget that Gunju is a ferocious creature of the wild and not just an oversize lap cat. And Orsik proved that it didn’t take long for him to regain his fighting spirit. He threw himself into the fray, seeming to gain strength with every blow. I sensed his growing frenzy and touched the minds of the weak-willed, convincing a few of them to close on him. It was a gamble, but when he spun in a great circle and cleaved our enemies in twain, I knew it was worth the risk.

As for me, I did my best to support my allies with the few tricks I know. A conveniently-placed bearskin rug provided a nice snare for a pair of goblins attempting to harry Turin and I. I must remember, however, that next time I chose to ward a doorway, I should consider the fact that reinforcements are not likely to come from the entrance we just stormed through.

We would need a moment to catch our breath and look around. With any luck we were one step closer to finding Sinruth…

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Old Friends

After Dulan is defeated, the group spent a few minutes to catch their breath and analyze what they had just experienced. The body of Dulan was no where to be found, as though it had vanished into thin air. All that remains are the body’s of the undead Dulan called forth to act as his protectors. In honor of their services as Wolves of the Maldeen, Orsik and Balasar each say words praising and blessing them. At the same time, the rest of the part begun to search the room. Among the items found were Dulan’s spell book, which Mal now holds in his possession. Also found was a small onyx dog, which Savana gladly accepted. Finally, Turin come into ownership of armor which makes him look pretty.

The adventurers refused to leave their comrades in the chamber where such evil was practiced, and it was decided to move them. They were brought to the chamber which the group had used just the night before as a resting place. Once the bodies have been placed, the party decides to continue exploring. They come upon a dark stairwell, leading into a small room. Mal provided light, and the group moved into the room. It was a dungeon of the most literal sort, with six cells. Two contained prisoners, Sertanian and Adronsius. Through brute strength they were freed from their cells, and insisted that we take them from the dungeon. The adventurers told them of their hiding place where they stored the bodies of the fallen Wolves, and the two men agreed to stay there until the group could return and see to their safe exit.

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Facing down Dulan
Close Encounters of the Necromancer Kind

The night passes uneventfully. During his watch, Mal hears sounds from the adjoining chamber—orcs or goblins, likely. They seem to be going about their business, much to the relief of the party. Nothing about their behavior suggests that they are suspicious that their fellows who were supposed to be on guard duty are missing. The adventurers break camp about two hours before dawn and carefully make their way back into the western half of complex.

Believing that picking up where they left off would be the best course of action, the group makes their way to a room in the south-western section of the crypts. They burst into the necrotic mist filled room and find Dulan, the necromancer mentioned by the talking skull earlier, performing unholy rites. “I’m surprised it took you this long,” he quips at the group as weapons are drawn. He suggests that being discovered by the party is no real impediment to his plans and Sinruth has already accomplished what Dulan had hoped of him.

Their focus split, the adventurers find themselves nearly overwhelmed by Dulan and his… servants. Dulan calls forth undead to protect him. To their horror, among the creatures that rise up to fight them are former Wolves of Maldeen who were captured alongside Orsik as well as the body of Kartenix, the Dragonborn guardsman from Paratum. The group suffers at the hands of Dulan’s magic and his undead servants, but they eventually prevail as Turin sends one of his trademark arrows through Dulan’s eye. As the last zombie falls, the group finds they are no closer to unraveling the truth of what has occurred here, but at least one threat has been neutralized. For now.

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A Surplus Of Coffins
Undead Playthings and Carnivorous Plants

Having silenced the spokeskull of Master DuLan, the party is faced with a choice of doorways to explore. Savana remarks that doors are meant to be opened, so while Turin covers the northern door, Orsik and Mal investigate the one to the south. As stealthy as they can, they open the way to the south, passing through two sets of double doors and into a chamber filled with coffins. The eerie mist that pervades this place continues here, and Orsik ponders what effect it might be having on his beard.

The coffin-filled room is dark, and despite the party’s best efforts, their lights (an eerie torch, and a light spell) can’t completely penetrate the darkness. It is being suppressed somehow, and the fog seems to be almost engulfing the light. A pile of corpses and body parts catches the party’s notice, and as they move further into the room to investigate, coffins suddenly burst open around the room.

Skeletal soldiers slowly emerge from their resting places brandishing bows and swords. What’s more, a tangle of carnivorous plants closes in on the heroes in search of fresh blood. Savana and Gunju bat at the bloodthorns, and Gunju is quickly grabbed. Balasar, Turin, and Orsik find themselves occupied by skeletal soldiers. Then, from the back of the room, a skeleton wreathed in fire leaps from a coffin and blasts Mal with fiery magic! Mal is engulfed, but at the last moment throws his cloak about him and is able to avoid injury.

Savana and Gunju fight hard but find themselves at the mercy of vicious thorns tearing at their flesh. Balasar and Turin come to her aid, and she is inspired to continue the fight. The flaming skeleton focuses on the Paladin and unleashes fiery magic upon him, despite Mal’s attempts to distract him. Orsik makes short work of the skeletons, cleaving them in twain. Mal and Turin both curse their luck, the favors of the gods clearly not with them this day.

Shadowy tendrils snake up from the floor, entangling the vicious plants and the flaming skeleton, courtesy of one of Mal’s few spells to strike true. A hapless skeleton wanders into the shadows and is ripped apart. Savana and Gunju slice up the plants and the party descends upon their last foe. Balasar burns, despite Mal’s help, but eventually puts himself out. At last, with a clash of axes and swords, the fiery undead is torn asunder.

Catching their breath, the party takes a moment to asses their situation. Mal feels a tinge of guilt, and returns the skeletal remains to their coffins, attempting to respect those to whom these remains once belonged. These undead haven’t reanimated on their own—some force purposefully empowered them to serve as guardians. The adventurers investigate an eastern doorway and determine that beyond lies someone or something, and choose not to tempt fate. They are exhausted, and although pressing forward is prudent, they fear that cannot handle what may lie ahead without a rest.

Debate ensues, with Turin expressing his misgivings about making camp in this place. His background leads him to believe that, tactically, it is the best option, but it doesn’t mean he likes it. The party comes to a compromise (of sorts), deciding to hole up in a ruined section of the complex near where they first entered. To buy them a little security they make an effort to clean up the remains of their foes, stuffing them (or returning them to) the coffins abundant in this place. Mal remarks that he hopes the gods won’t look poorly on them stuffing the dead orcs in the former resting place of whomever this was originally built for, and Balasar tries to put his mind at ease by citing that the gods would probably understand. Mal, not completely convinced, makes the sign of Sehanine (as well as that of a few other gods) as they prep their camp for the night. They close the doors leading to the ruined section, and place an empty brazier behind them, a makeshift alarm should someone try to open the doors on them during the night.

As the adventurers settle in, Mal pulls out a leather-bound tome and mystical salts and traces the perimeter of the room, chanting arcane words. Gunju curls up at the feet of Savana, who scratches absent-mindedly behind his ear. Turin sits silently in the corner, sharpening his blade and replaying the last battle over in his head, analyzing it, wondering how he could have done it differently. Balasar says his evening prayers, and Orsik honors his ancestors before breaking into his rations.

Mal finishes his rite, a ward silencing the room against eavesdroppers, and notices Turin’s furrowed brow. He puts his hand upon Turin’s shoulder and tries to look on the bright side, saying, “At least this is the last thing they would expect.”

“I have first watch,” Turin replies.

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Flaming Skulls and Honorable Dragons

Steeling themselves for the next arm of the tomb, the group rests while Mal decides to take a few minutes to perform the ritual Comprehend Language.

They all catch their breath before going down the western hallway in the tomb.

Mal uses Mage Hand to see if the door to the west is locked. The hand pushes the door open with no problems. It is an old door, iron banded, made mostly of hardwood.

Beyond the door is a set of stairs that leads down into darkness. A coin with light cast on it is thrown by Mal down the hallway looks as though it has been dropped in a pool of water. Not in terms that water is actually there, but that it is shrouded in a fog and so doesn’t let much light through.

Mal steps through the door and determines that the dewy fog is not absolutely natural, but also doesn’t appear to be dangerous. Mal leans back and whispers to the group, “We should be careful.”

Down the hallway and the stairs, the group sees a torch in a sconce that is lit with green light. There is a hall to the north that is blocked off with bricks. The blocked hallway is curious, but not as curious as the weird torch.

Mal moves up to investigate the torch. It emits a strange sickly green light, and does give off heat, but not as much as a normal torch. It also kind of flickers in and out, sputtering a bit. The mist seems to be absorbing some of the energy of the torch.

Mal takes the torch and then heads to the door, listening to see if there are any noises, he hears nothing. Mal calls Turin over and Turin also listens at the door.
Neither one of them hear anything on the other side.

Mal stealthily cracks the door open to peek inside. The door opens a little wide and Mal sees that there are 3 torches in the room, also giving off a sickly green light.
Mal opens the door all the way and steps inside.

As he steps inside, a greenish yellow light appears, surrounding a human skull in the middle of the floor. It lights up and slowly floats into the air, staring at Mal.

A voice emanates from the skull. It says, “Master DuLan does not wish to be disturbed. The only thing Master DuLan expects is the prisoner for tonight’s experiment.”

Mal replies, “I have the prisoner here.” And he motions for Orsik to come forward. Orsik moves up to be next to Mal.

Orsik comes forward and the skull says, “This prisoner is still armed, you must find a new prisoner to bring.”

Turin says, “My Lord, we bring this prisoner to you charmed, he is not aggressive.” (and then promptly fails his bluff check)

The Skull says, “If you will not be truthful, then you will be added to the prisoners.”

[And then we roll initiative]

A zombie crawls out of a coffin just to the south of Orsik and the skull backs up and sends a fireball toward us. The flames engulf all of us… except Balasar, Savana, and Gunju. As we all frantically try to put the flames out, a zombie rises out of the northern coffin and strikes Mal.

Another zombie crawls out into the fray, this time a more “healthy” looking zombie, coming from a coffin to the west.

A large fight ensues. Zombies with yellow-green glowing eyes keep coming out of a cabinet/wardrobe on the north wall.

The skull continues to call more zombies all throughout the battle (until it is killed, that is).

A dragonborn spectre comes into sight soon after the beginning of the battle. It reluctantly fights the party, but continuously begs to be set free.
Eventually, he is “killed” and thanks the party. As his spectre fades, he pleads with the party to “take care of my son.”

After the battle, Turin goes over to the body of the dragonborn and finds a holy symbol of bahamut on a chain. He gives the necklace to Balasar and asks him to hold it for safe keeping, until “we can give it to the son.”

Balasar takes the symbol and kneels by the body, saying a prayer to Bahamut, to give the dragonborn a proper “burial.”

We all rest for a few minutes.

[end of session]

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Orcs and Goblins and Lizards, Oh My!
In which the party attempts to answer the nagging question of whether or not lizards have shoulders

The group of adventurers move toward the encampment, as stealthy as they can muster (which may or may not be slightly more subtle than an Umberhulk charging through the underbrush). The old building is in disrepair and it looks as if some of the upper floors have collapsed. Inside, the main hall shows signs of once housing tapestries or murals which are all but faded or destroyed at this point. The group approaches the lone set of doors at the far end of the hall and listens.

The sounds of orcs and goblins beyond doesn’t come as much of a surprise. And the clanking and shuffling of this most unroguelike group of adventurers has apparently alerted them to the Gray Wolves’ presence. Savana opens the door, and the group spies a large chamber filled with columns, braziers, and a healthy mix of orcs, goblins, and apparently giant lizards.

In one corner, a battered and beaten dwarf lays. It is Orsik, a Gray Wolf who coincidentally had come to the area to investigate the same attacks of Paratum independently of the others. A frenzied melee ensues. Blades and arrows sing through the air, with a touch of acidic lizard spit thrown in for good measure. Ultimately, the goblin foes are no match for our heroes. Also, Turin may have had a brazier full of flaming embers dumped on his head by Mal, who was trying to be cool. He said he was sorry, okay?

Taking a moment to rest, the group decides to team up with Orsik and try to get to the bottom of the kidnappings and whatever else might be going on. The chamber they find themselves in appears to be a sort of offering place devoted to the pantheon of common gods (“covering all their bases” as it were). Many of them have been defaced by the goblins and orcs. Turin recalls that this place might have belonged to the Rivenroar family and their vassals.

Feeling that time is of the essence, the adventurers quickly debate the best route to choose—the Eastern door from which Orsik may have been brought in by the goblins, or the Western one that looks less traveled but perhaps leads to where the prisoners are ultimately being taken.) They choose the Western door and set off into the darkness…

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A night in the woods

Savana is having a hard time with the underbrush
Balasar for once heard sounds and smelled smoke prior to arriving at the encampment.
Mal morphs into Mr Magoo, as we are without a clue on what is going on ahead.

Small dragonborn comes out of the woods, sees Bahamut on Balasar’s shield. Goblins and Orcs took him and his dad. They were kidnapped from the city (Paratum), orc’s and goblins doing patrols nearby. Mal offers food and water to the boy and he accepts greedily. Dad still held by goblins near in some buildings, some complete but many ruins. The boy has a hidey hole. Turin gives the boy a signal, Dili will stay with the boy in the safe area. Dili says he feels a feeling of something that was bad and feels like something he recognizes. Thurann is the name of the boy and he will wait with Dili.

Orcs seem to stay away from the building most of the time where the victims are, they have an encampment a little bit further way.

Mal settles in to listen to the wind of magic to enable him to understand what is going on in the area. With the dire warning of Dili, Mal concentrates hard and hears the goblins talking about the attack on the town. The orcs are discussing their losses from the fight, but mostly are talking simple matters, dinner and the like. No depth of information on the future were discussed.

Time passes while Mal listens to the winds, the shadows grow long. We begin to work on getting closer to the orc stagging area, Mal and Gunju begin to work their way in. Mal shifts into an orc and makes purring noises at Gunju. Gunju looks at Mal (orc) like he was either nuts, or dinner. Mal (orc), tromps his way toward the encampment while Gunju engages the Romulan Cloaking device and disappears. Mal (orc) approaches the building, that has torches on the outside of it. The orc encampment is about 200/300 ft from the building. There is a clearing between the two areas, the orcs are more in the tree line. Mal (orc) heads back to the rest of the party and gives the general lay of the land. Darkness has fallen.. thud. Mal (orc) continues to make Meow Mix sounds at Gunju, and then changes back to Mal (non-orc) with a flourish and more jazz hands.

Our heroes start moving toward the orc encampment .. “To be continued” flashes in the air….

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Battle of 1000 Javelins!
Pincushions are us!

The group has a map, with directions from Grithok, that leads to the headquarters of the Orcs. Sinrith, the orc leader, has had his group lay siege on Paratum. We travel through the thick forest and run into numerous small setbacks; twisted ankles, trippings by small vines, various switchbacks due to trees blocking the way… trying to move quickly has made us careless and we have moved less than quietly.

The group enters a clearing that looks like something of an old ruined road, but with lots of rocky and crumbled areas – perhaps the remnants of an old building is among the statutes and stone. The group is fatigued and gets surprised by a group of goblins in the small clearing.

A javelin flies from the ruins and just misses Dili, but an arrow flies, seeming to appear out of nowhere, and strikes him in the leg. Two wolves run from the underbrush and try to bite Savana. Meanwhile, another, larger wolf, wearing a spiky/bladed harness, comes around the corner and just misses Dili with its gnashing teeth. More goblins come out of the ruins and inundate the group with javelins. An orc steps from the trees and fires an arrow at Dili (who seems to be the pincushion this week).

Dili strikes one of the wolves so hard that it immediately leaves this world, and then he steps back to that the paladin Balasar can heal him. After doing so, Balasar strikes the other large wolf and draws blood. A wolf continues to chew on Savana and is held down by its paw. Savana arcs her hands and offers forth a burning spray of acid, coating the large wolf and soaking its fur, burning its skin. Meanwhile Gunju moves swiftly to flank the wolf and ends up taking an arrow in the flank himself (coming from one of the orcs in the trees).

Mal waves his hands and Balasar seems to appear between the large wolf, the small wolf, and the orc, taunting the creatures to some and attack him. Mal concentrates on the small wolf, causing it to bite at the larger one. Turin runs over to the right and plants his feet, starts to shoot a red flecked arrow at the orc attacking Balasar, notices the wind shift and adjusts the tension on the bow appropriately. The arrow strikes true and injures the creature. He shouts that it “doesn’t look as bad as it seems” which, isn’t the greatest inspirational speech ever, but it does give Balasar some hope.

Arrows still fly out of the trees from an unknown foe. No-one seems to be able to detect the location of the archer. Balasar sends some divine prayer toward Dili, who appears to glow slightly and then is visibly brightened in mood. The orc, unimpressed by Balasar, strikes back and takes a chunk out of the Dragonborn.

The battle rages for a few more minutes. Dili takes out the orc, Balasar takes out the large wolf, and Turin finally locates the direction from which the arrows are coming. Savana dispatches another wolf as Dili gets hit with yet another Javelin. Mal assaults a goblin with his mind, making it go crazy, literally. Turin unsuccessfully tries to get into a better position to see the hidden foes. Dili runs up to one of the small goblins and splits him from ass to elbow. Dili spies the hidden enemy, who fires at him and then retreats. Balasar grabs the healing potion offered by Mal and takes it to Dili. Savana takes out the non-retreating goblin. The final orc retreats out of view.

Turin runs at the final goblin, planting an arrow in its back. Dili runs after and slams the goblin down to the ground. The goblin clambers off the ground and tries to run away, with Dili hitting him the whole time, but succeeds in getting away from the assassin.

The group pursues, but loses the goblin in the thick forest. Turin urges the group to go back to the ruins and inspect the bodies, ruins, and statues. There is evidence of a fresh campfire, indicating this is a clearing at which the goblins rest. The statue appears to be an old Nerathian statue, with words that are old and almost eroded away – it appears to have no bearing on the current situation.

After searching the bodies, the group finds 10 gp and 15 sp, which Savana holds for safe keeping. The group takes a few minutes to discuss the situation, realizing that it is a bit unusual for Goblins and Orcs working together intelligently, though it is not rare to see wolves with either of the two. It appears that the chief, Sinruth, has amassed a mixed army of creatures, all working together to a common end.

Turin tells the group that we must be more careful from now on – go slower and send Savana and Gunju up ahead to scout. As we rest, the two try and look ahead on one of the unmapped trails, but run into thickets and thick woods, and then it turned to the south, causing them to turn back. The groups rests and then discusses what to do next: take the trail indicated on the map or one of the other ones?

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The Morning After
Negotiation and Interrogation and Orcs, oh my.

Just after dawn, there was a knock at the door of Ysane’s place. Savana, unsure of what to do, wakes Turin. As she is explaining what is going on, there is another knock. At that time, Ysane is heading down the stairs, groggy and with a blank stare. Ysane opens the door to see a tall human woman, apparently in her early 40’s, with short cropped white-blonde hair. She is neither particularly pretty nor very ugly and has generally unremarkable features. She wears well kept hide armor, dyed a grey color, and a green cloak. The cloak clasp is the house symbol of her employer and on her chest is the symbol of a mercenary company.

“My name is Vaityn, I am here because I understand that there are some people here that were involved in repelling the orc and goblin raid last night. My employer, Councilor Merittas, requests your presence this morning.”

After a small discussion with Turin and Mal, Vaityn enters the shop while the Wolves gather their things before they head out to Merittas’ estate. After Balasar finally finishing putting his platemail armor on, the Wolves and Ysane follow Vaityn to the northwest section of town, which is the better part of town where the upscale residents live. On the way to Merittas’, the damaged buildings seemed to dwindle as they approached that section of town, however there seemed to have multiple entry points of the raid last night.

Vaityn leads the party through several doors toward the dining room. A well dressed Tiefling sits at the end of a dining room table and stands up when the party enters the room. “Thank you Vaityn for bringing them to me. Please show yourself out.” Glancing at the party, he is a little taken aback by the sight of Gunju, and he clamors for words. “I did not expect to see an animal… companion, but I’m sure we can make arrangements. Please sit down, breakfast will be served soon.”

After taking a servant aside, the servant leaves and returns with a bowl of food for Gunju.

Shortly the food is served and Merittas and the Wolves begin to eat except for Turin, who is somewhat confused and does not want to eat as he questions the motives for them being summoned. “I understand your feeling, so if you wish, we can began our discussion if it will put you at ease,” Merittas tells Turin.

After Merittas explains his love for Paratum, he claps his hands and a servant arrives with 5 small leather bags that contain 30 gold coins each. “This is a token of my appreciation for your work last night as well as a down payment for future services.” Merittas tells the Wolves of the events of past and also mentions that several key townsfolk were kidnapped last night. He mentions the Hall of Glory and that it was specifically targeted, and ransacked, and the keepers of the hall have disappeared.

After the specifics of the arrangement have been discussed, Merittas tells the party that they captured several orcs, but only one is still alive. You should go to him and find out all the details you can about where the townsfolk have been taken and why. “If you return with the townsfolk alive, I will triple the 30 gp each and I also have a small collection of magical artifacts that you may choose one item each from.”

Turin negotiates in an effort to find out if Merittas has ulterior motives and whether or not he really cares about the captives or just wants the retrieval of the artifacts. Turin interrupts Mal as he tries to say that they will rescue the captives no matter the reward. Balasar is also concerned about a proffered magic item reward – his reasoning: we are more likely to succeed if we have the magic items up front – Merittas’ rejoinder: “But you are an untested group, and it is a risky investment – I must with-hold the items until you return.”

The group then leaves his chamber and asks for privacy while we discuss our next step. We talk about a plan to have Mal disguised as an orc to pretend to be tortured in an effort to get the orc to talk about the plans of his fellows. We come up with a plan that requires a couple of dead orcs, and Turin asks Merittas for help in acquiring them – he also states his hope that Merittas did not take offense at his negotiation, as he did not mean any disrespect and tells him that the group appreciates his hospitality. Merittas says that he was hoping it wouldn’t come to that, but that it was not unexpected. Turin responds that “In a wicked age, one must search to find those that are trustworthy.”

Merittas draws up a writ of Habeus Corpus Collectus and gives it to us.

After receiving the note, the party heads north following Vaityn towards the guard barracks. Dili and Mal discuss the nature of their plan along the way as well. The barracks seem to be more deserted than they should be at this time, but the group figures the guards are off doing other things at this time, given the recent raids. Vaityn hands a note to the guards, who reluctantly let us in. Vaityn tells us that we will need to talk to Jonathon. Turin hands the note from Merittas to Jonathon. He begins to look it over, but by the look on his face, it appears he is having trouble reading it. After finishing, he leads the group back in the other direction to what looks to be a prisoner infirmary where 2 dead orcs lay on the floor. “You may do as you wish with these, the wagon has not come to get them yet.”

Mal dons the clothes (leather armor) of one of the orcs – it is horribly rank and Mal takes a few minutes to get into the orc’s body and prepare for the interrogation/torture scene. The plan is to have Mal appear as an orc with Dili torturing him to convince the captured orc to give up information. Confused and rather scared, Jonathon begins to cringe as Dili asks him for a set of shackles, shaking badly has he hands them over.

Jonathan leads Dili and Mal, accompanied by Gunju, down to the cell of the captive. They begin to perform a roughly choreographed torture scene in the very dimly lit cell. The captive orc, limping badly, pays attention to what is going on. After a short time, Dili can hear the captured Orc muttering something in Giant down the hall. He leaves the chamber and confronts him. Not saying what he said, Dili grabs the orc and bashes his face into the cell bars. Blood running from his nose as falls back laughing. He than says, “Grithok think you are worse torturer ever.” Frustrated, Dili yells for Jonathon and instructs him to take Mal away, he will deal with him in private. Once in the hall, a commotion breaks out and Mal pretends to try and escape. We have successfully accomplished our goal of our theatrics. After Mal undresses, re-dresses the dead orc and transforms back, Dili and Jonathon drag the dead orc body back into the chamber and drops it in front of Grithok saying “chew on that” and leave.

Balasar, Savana, and Turin enter the chamber a short time later in order to finish the interrogation. Not that intimidated at this point, he does not reveal any information until Savana speaks up and tells Grithok about her melting spree last night. With the orc now very intimidated, Turin chimes in and says that the orcs only hope of survival is us. “Tell us what you know and when we return with the prisoners, we will make sure you will be set free.” Grithok speaks of the tribe leader, Sinrith who is intending to bring back the “The Red Hand” in all its glory. Grithok tells Turin that if he brings him a map, he will show on the map where the encampment is, somewhere to the northeast in an old tomb.

Turin leaves the chamber and instructs Mal to go see Merittas in order to secure the safety of the captured orc while we are gone. Mal and Dili run to Merittas’ residence. Greeted by guards who recognize us. They let us in, but knock on the door. Vaityn answers and Mal explains why we are there. She leads us inside to Merittas.

Meanwhile, back in the chamber, Turin decides he will not leave the orc alone until he has acquired the letter from Merittas.

Mal apologizes for the interruption and asks about getting the writ of safety from execution. Merittas is quite surprised at this gesture and says it might be quite difficult to keep the Marquis from executing the prisoner. He thought the Marquis might make quite the spectacle of it in public to rejuvenate morale amongst the townsfolk. Merittas says he might be able to delay the slaying of the orc but needs some sort of bargaining chip. Mal says he will bring the head of Sinrith on a pike to parade around town upon our return. He accepts and excuses himself to go and see the Marquis.

Mal and Dili return and tell Turin what has transpired. The Wolves leave the chamber and head for Ysane’s shoppe. Upon arrival, the shoppe is open for business but has not seen very much activity. Turin and Ysane discuss the safety of the orc and Merittas’ involvement. She says she will express her thoughts to Merittas and the Marquis and if anyone who can get him to delay, Merittas would be the one.

The party decides to leave immediately but before we depart, Turin writes Merittas a short note.

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