Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Village of Homlette”
The bunkhouse provided bread for breakfast, so we got a good start.
Kobort has all kinds of weapons, including a battle ax, splint mail, and a war horse! On the one hand, it makes him seem like the real deal…on the other hand, horses need a lot to eat.
Once we came to the fork off the main road, our pace really slowed down. It’s all overgrown, with creepers, boggy patches, and straight-up mud puddles…not to mention the trees and undergrowth.
It took us probably four hours to go three miles.
At long last, though, the foliage thinned as we approached the actual structure. I couldn’t really tell if the fortress was surrounded by actual moat, or if it was built up over a swamp.
A high-banked path had been built up to reach the gate, but it looked pretty decrepit, and the edges didn’t look too firm.
As I was looking around, I spotted some footmarks and droppings that looked familiar…like the giant frogs we’d encountered in the lair of Explictika Defilas.
I alerted my party to them, and within moments two giant frogs hopped out of the surrounding swamp and attacked.
Ezekiel told Raven to try talking them out of it (I forgot he could do that!) but it didn’t do any good – one of the frogs tried to nail Raven with its tongue (and he dodged, because he’s good at that).
Anyway, we quickly killed them (or to be specific, Nori killed them…apparently frogs aren’t immune to poison).
Kobort started ripping them open…and once I realized he wasn’t preparing to skin them, I helped search them for any valuables they might have swallowed (apparently this is what Professional Adventurers think about!).
He found an amethyst – although he didn’t want to share it at first. I’m getting a definite “Neutral” vibe.
We made it up the causeway, but the draw-bride to the gate is full of holes, with broken planks.
Kobort tied his horse on the stable ground so we could proceed. I was a little worried about what might come up and try to eat/steal it while we were gone, but I guess that’s one of the things you have to deal with if you have a horse.
The Moat-House definitely feels like the aftermath of a vicious combat. Of the two front doors, one hangs open from a rusty hinge, while the other is blocked with barricades and debris so that it couldn’t open. It’s probably so decayed it couldn’t open even if you cleared the entrance.
The entryway has several doors, and is lit mostly by arrow-slits. Raven peeked through a doorway into a tower off the entryway, and said the upper levels looked very crumpled.
Examining the muddy flagstones of the floor, I quickly found some footprints…boot prints, human-sized, that must have been made the same day.
I pointed them out and helped Ezekiel follow them while he led the way with Kobort. I had my bow out, while Lydia and Mikael (the “squishy spell-casters”) kept in the middle of the group.
There were two sets of prints, and it was pretty plain they’d been through there within the past two minutes!
I wasn’t sure how that could be, or where they’d come from, since we’d had to hack our way through the undergrowth to follow the road…but it retrospect it makes sense that they’d have their own routes.
We followed the tracks up some steps and through another broken doorway into a large, high room that must have been the great hall – complete with broken furniture and ragged banners on the walls. The banners are all black, whether by design or from smoke it’s hard to tell. The roof had chinks of light shining through, and I think we’re lucky it was still holding above our heads.
The footprints led to a door, which Kobort and Ezekiel opened without difficulty. The room beyond was pretty dark, but I could see glimpses of bedrolls and sacks lying in the corners.
That’s when men jumped out of the shadows and attacked!
Mikael took a blow in the arm, and Kobort gave a shout of pain.
Ezekiel yelled, “Fighting retreat!” while Nori sprang forward to protect her “friend.”
I’ve obviously been away from my bow for too long. Even when Mikael lit them up with faery fire, I wasn’t hitting anything.
Raven charged in with his spear and took one out. A cross-bow bolt cracked against the wall. Mikael waved a glowing hand at Nori and told her to go sit on the wall…and she limped out of the combat, one of her eight legs dragging a little.
Ezekiel and Kobort had made it back to within a few feet of the door, and Ezekiel yelled, “Do it!”
Raven threw his spear (but I don’t think that’s what he meant).
Lydia said some creepy-sounding words, and made a throwing motion with her hands.
Green smoke – or something – filled the room beyond.
Raven pulled his robe over his nose and said, “Stinky!”
Kobort and Ezekiel both staggered out of the room, gagging, to lean against the wall…but Mikael, just beyond Raven, stood there, bent over his stomach.
Well…so…Shooting at people who are standing still and gagging is pretty easy, all things considered. I started dropping the bandits while Raven took a couple out with his throwing daggers (and Lydia pulled Mikael out of the noxious cloud).
As soon as the cloud dissipated, Kobort and Ezekiel charged in – because Ezekiel wanted to capture the two leader-types alive.
One of them was still fighting fit…but didn’t seem interested in taking on the people who had just killed all of his men.
Especially not after Mikael said something I didn’t catch, and then a cloud of insects swarmed through the windows and covered him. I know, right?!
At that point, the bandit dropped his weapons and fled – swatting at the insects all the while.
The other leader-type was still looking green from the gas, so Raven and Kobort dog-piled him. Ezekiel tossed them some rope to tie him up with, and joined the chase for the one on the run.
(I think I should reexamine my luggage strategy. I’m not much for sprinting, if you know what I mean.)
The bandit had almost reached the corner of the room when Raven came out of nowhere from behind and flying-tackled him.
After that, it was pretty much over, and I pulled out the coil of rope I’ve been carrying in the bag of holding to tie him up.
We searched them, and found some decent money and little jewelry. Then Ezekiel settled down to question them, while I searched the bodies of the fallen (because I’m not much for asking questions, after all).
Raven explored the corner, and found a tumble-down hole in the wall that led to stepping stones across the moat. Clearly that’s how the one bandit mook that got away escaped – and how the bandit lieutenant intended to make a run for it.
I gather we didn’t learn much from the bandit leaders. They’ve been living here and preying off merchant caravans, but that’s the extent of their ambition (and the leader said he’d never even been to Homlette).
So as far as I’m concerned, it’s a wash in relation to our “cult quest.”
Mikael cast Cure Light Wounds on Kobort, since he seemed to get the brunt of the blows.
Ezekiel sent Mikael, Kobort, and me to explore a bit more of the building while they guarded the prisoners (and while Nori rested up, since she got hit pretty badly, too). As we left, Kobort told Ezekiel to search the corner near the escape hole…he said it looked like something buried there.
On this second trip to the great hall, I could see that the flagstones were black, like the banners, and I don’t think it’s from smoke. Although there’s a barricade of tables down the middle of the room, I couldn’t find any footprints except the ones from our bandit buddies…and they only went between the main door and their bunk-room. So I doubt any other humans have been using this place – certainly not this part of the fortifications.
There were signs of other things, though. I’m sure there’s some kind of snake in one part of the building, and there seemed to be giant lizard prints in another area.
We picked a corridor to the west, and as we approached I could hear a chittering and rustling…like…
Rats. Giant rats, to be specific. A whole pack of them.
They attacked us as soon as we came around the corner, but let me just say I am so happy to not be level 1 anymore. I took them out, one after another – wham, wham, wham.
Poor Kobort was having trouble – it’s not easy to hit something a small and wiggly as a rat with a big battle ax.
Mikael cast a spell that made his staff glow…but I’m not sure if it helped him or not. He seemed to kill more rats after it stopped glowing. Maybe it’s a protection thing to keep his staff from breaking?
Anyway, we vanquished the varmits and examined the area. It must have been a storage area, with lots of shelves and broken jars. I found a jar of what smelled like oil, and took it…because why not?
There were also stairs leading down to a lower level, but we decided that we shouldn’t risk it with just the three of us.
When we returned to the bunk-room, Ezekiel had dug up a chest…the bandits’ “stash.” He and Lydia went through it, and found four arrows that he thinks are special (they’re certainly well-crafted, and were hidden away with the rest of the booty, but they’re not glowing or anything like that).
Ezekiel has decided to turn the prisoners over to the constable, and since it’s afternoon by now, I figured we should head back to town, let the spell-casters recharge their spells, and come back to search the rest of this place tomorrow. (Spell-casters sure are handy to have around…Ezekiel!)
Anyway, we’re grabbing a bit to eat, and deciding whether we can get the prisoners and the loot chest back to town. It might come in handy that Kobort has a horse along.
Ezekiel is still pretty pumped, despite our informational set-backs. I hope he stays that way.
(If he never threatens to set prisoners on fire again, though, that’ll be good.)
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