Unconquered Kingdoms

Ch 2. Which Rats? Part 6

18 Septimus, 508 PE (Year of Storms)
0300 am, Earthday

The fellowship followed the path Sylvia and Julliette had come down back up to Rejo’s main safehouse. Entering through a hole in a backroom floor, they saw Noel sitting casually on an unlocked chest, reading some of the “guild” papers she had pulled out of a nearby desk.

She somberly handed the stack of papers to Blend, who glanced over them.

Fleet walked in and helped the group lift stuff out of the sewer entrance through the floor. Fleet remarked that they had either found everything of interest, or it had been vacated prior to the party’s assault into the sewers.

Daelin recruited Sylvia and Julliette to assist moving the witch to the Pantheon Temple, while Gravnar and Nitram headed to the militia HQ. Jharron volunteered to help Aeron with carrying the equipment taken from the laboratory benches to the Ereshkigal Temple.

Blend had already disappeared.

Nitram put Rejo’s body in a wheelbarrow and covered it with a blanket before wheeling it to the militia headquarters.

One male human and two gorgeous ladies leading a bound female through the streets of Capone was a little odd, and eventually they picked up a militia escort to the Pantheon temple. There was no trouble handing off the witch to the Pantheon officials, nearly everyone was in bed asleep but there was always an inquisitor on duty, “just in case”.

Daelin and crew must have distracted the militia, because a large muscle bound half-elf and a stout dwarf clad in armor pushing a wheelbarrow through the streets in the wee hours of the morning drew no attention from the guards. A few people complained about the noise, but that was all. Gracier and Johan were out attending to disturbances, but the guards recognized Nitram and Gravnar and helped them find a place to store their prisoner.

Aeron and Jharron reached the Ereshkigal church, and were welcomed inside. No one was available to see them immediately, but the acolytes were happy to provide a sitting room for them to rest until someone could see them, say around 6am. That would still leave them an hour before meeting at the Jovial Peryton for the 7am breakfast.

18 Septimus, 508 PE (Year of Storms)
0700 am, Earthday

The part met back up after they took care of their immediate business and a short rest.

Breakfast at the Jovial Peryton was standard fare, and fairly quiet. There were still a few mobs and riots running around southeast side, but the bright edge of violence and danger seemed toned down somehow.

The group was glad they had made it out of the sewers, as earlier in the morning it had started to rain again, and according to Jharron and Nitram, it probably would all day.

As breakfast was eaten, and about the time serious conversation was about to begin, Sylvia casually strolled in and sat down at your group’s table. She had picked up a couple of apples on the way and sat them on the table in front of her.

Blend started to hand out bags to each of the group members, and also one to Sylvia. “Here is everyone’s cut from the selling of goods. 1,075 gold pieces to be exact. Sylvia, your bag has a bit more in it. I split the proceeds eight ways, to include the Veil’s cut. I added to the Veil’s take the remainder of the eight way split. I hope that this is satisfactory. Otherwise we can discuss. I did not sell the non-poisonous dagger, nor did I sell the bracers. The dagger is handy for a reserve weapon. The bracers seem to useful to sell. I am considering using both if that is acceptable to the party?” Blend paused to assess the group’s reaction. “Now on to new business. Certainly events have been set into motion after last night’s activities. I would suggest we tie up loose strings before moving against the blood witch coven in the Goshen Hills, and by loose ends, I mean Cromag’s guild.”

Purposefully avoiding the question of items, Nitram says I agree. We must finish off Cromag. Is he weak enough for an assault or should we try to enlist the help of the militia? Nitram obviously has no problem with party members keeping some of the loot for personal use.

Jharron says “Thanks for selling the stuff. What does finishing off the other rogue element here do for us in the fight against the blood magic? Do you think Cromag is wrapped up in its use as well?

“No, Jharron. Cromag is most likely not wrapped up in blood magic. But he is a blight to the free trade throughout the area. We have weakened him but not beyond the ability to recover. Once he does, he would be a very formidable enemy and may prevent our crusade against the blood magic threat indirectly.”

Sylvia looked at the bag, then counted the members of the party. “One eighth for support work hmmmmm.” She smiled and nodded, “Good enough, pleasure doing business with you. We will however be heading out of town after lunch, things to see and people to do.”

She stood, nodded at each of the group in turn and made her way out of the common room of the Jovial Peryton and into the street.

“Actually, I may have a solution to the Cromag problem. This one would suit you Gravnar.” Blend pulled some documents from his pack and handed them to the dwarf. “These documents, found among the raid at the Harbor Freight headquarters as well as Rejo’s sewer lair, should provide enough evidence for Gracier to arrest and imprison Cromag. They also implicate some council members and militia in illegal activities as well and should lead to their arrests, removing a large source of corruption.”

Gravnar says, “I will gladly deliver these documents to Gracier…but do we know how Rejo obtained them? Is it possible that they are forgeries, since Rejo would have had motivation to forge evidence against Cromag, no?”

“They aren’t forgeries. I made sure and can attest to that. Be assured, Gracier will do her due diligence and verify. But for your peace of mind, there is information in those documents that implicate Rejo as well as others that he would have no reason to include were they forgeries.”

Coincidently, a militia member walked into the Jovial Peryton and looked around. When he didn’t see anyone he recognized, he asked the waitress and the cook if they had seen anyone named “Nitram”.

Nitram muttered sarcastically, That must be the Watch Captain. Does Nitram recognize the militia member? If so, he’ll call him by name.

Nitram looked at the group and said, It seems as though my presence is requested by the militia, looking at Blend, If anyone wishes to keep their affiliation quiet, you might want to move away from Shylent, Gravnar, and me. After pausing for a moment to allow anyone to separate from the group, he stood up and hailed the militia member, I’m right here. What can I help you with?

It was the daywatch captain, Pygmalion, Bors Pygmalion to be exact. A fairly efficient officer if a bit dull. And formal.

Once Nitram had identified himself, Pygmalion walked over and addressed Nitram. “Madame Steelholdt and Master Johan request a moment of your time to discuss, and I quote…‘the contents of their cold cellar’…end quote. I have a carriage waiting if you would desire a ride, sir.”

Shylent stood up and moved next to Nitram. Then she set down her mug. Apparently she was going also.

Assuming he’s still at the table, Nitram looks at the dwarf and says, Gravnar, would you like to accompany us? I think you have something to contribute to this conversation.

Nitram will wait for the dwarf. If he doesn’t want to go, Nitram will ask for the documents to present to Gracier and Johan.

Gravnar joins Shylent and Nitram after she gets his attention. Together the trio proceed to meet up with Gracier and Johan. The carriage was fairly nice and enclosed, with room for six. There was time to think during the travel.

“I’m still concerned about Johan, but Blend said there was nothing in the documents to implicate him” Nitram thought.

Once they reached the militia HQ, Pygmalion thanked the driver and escorted the three members of the group to Gracier’s office, where he then took his leave.

Gracier (as usual) was in a righteous fury. Johan (as usual) was quiet and thoughtful. Gracier pounded her fist on the table and spoke loudly to the three as they entered the room, “WHY DIDN’T YOU ARREST REJO!”

To be honest, Gracier, we tried. He didn’t want to go peacefully and since he ambushed us, we – or at least I – barely made it out alive. In fact, I am still recovering from his poisoning. We did however, arrest a witch and transported her to the Pantheon Temple for the Inquisitor. The other witch, unfortunately, didn’t survive. Nitram attempts to calm her down diplomacy check with small talk of the encounter – trying not to reveal any actual details – and a change of topic. They were definitely dealing in some form of blood magic. Gravnar here single-handedly slew a giant rat-beast that would have surely bested most men. He also is in possession of some evidence against Cromag and Rejo as well as other citizens of Capone. I’m sure you will be pleased with the information.

Nitram waited for Gravnar to present the evidence and gave time for Gracier to look over the documents, resting a hand on Kinslayer while watching both Johan and Gracier for their reactions.

When you decide to move against Cromag, I would like to be there. I can provide as much help as you require, but I would like to witness the end to this trade route threat.

Gravnar hands over the documents and adds, “Rejo was a monster, and he would not yield. As Nitram says, we had no choice.”

Aeron added, “Nitram Tam and Gravnar are quite right, but more specifically Pete Rejo was a lycanthrop…a wererat to be exact. Rejo was the source of the lycanthropy in Capone, but there may be others. Perhaps, Rejo and his guild accidentally infected slain rivals or unwitting family members. I would advise checking the graveyards for recent…activity. You may want to hire the assistance of the Ereshkigal Temple before the next full moon to prevent any secondary infections.”

Gracier was pretty spun-up (DC 20). Nitram’s initial efforts to provide calm and reason to the situation were effective (Dip 17) but didn’t quite do the trick.

Once Gravnar provided the documents and lended his support (Aid + 2) she stalked back to her chair and desk, a little quieter, but with a divine gleam in her eye as she eyed the trio of miscreants and pondered their story.

Aeron’s statement about Pete Rejo and a lycanthrope scourge (Aid + 2) brought a gasp from her and even the normally calm Johan. She settled back in her chair and said “Fine, based on your info, let’s put any irregularities behind us. Now if I read these portions of the documents correctly, I seem to have legal recourse to arrest that slime wallowing fur faced bandit weasel Cromag, once and for all. And maybe a few low level councillors it seems. Johan, let’s mount up. And bring the brute squad”

Gracier buckled on her longsword of office, and grabbed a short glaive type weapon off the wall. She proceeded to depart the office, when she suddenly stopped in front of Nitram.

“What?” she exclaimed.

I wish to accompany you in any capacity that you will allow. Nitram bowed his head slightly and stepped out of the way.

“Fine, lead…follow…or get out of the way…and since I’m leading…” Gracier exclaimed as she swooped out of her office and down the stairs to the street. Johan, followed quickly by the brute squad, came out of the barracks entrance and barely managed to catch up with her before she disappeared down the street.

It was a sudden dash, but the Nitram and the other members of the group were able to catch up and follow by acting quickly. Gracier led the group through the streets towards the southeastern side of town where Cromag’s safehouse was. She was headed directly to Cromag.

Johan, fell back to Nitram and explained “I was almost late because I sent three other squads to arrest those low level councillor’s before Captain Steelholdt’s charge tipped them off. We had Cromag’s house surrounded since last night.

Gravnar asks Shylent, “Would you be willing to go find the others and tell them to meet us at Cromag’s safehouse?”

Shylent looked at Gravnar quietly for a moment, as if working out the odds of the others getting there in time in her head. She then shrugged and dashed off down a side street, heading in the general direction of the Jovial Peryton.

Nitram thought about Johan’s words, Did he even have a chance to look at the papers? Did Gracier give the papers to Johan? Just trying to verify how he would know who the low level councilors were…

Do you no longer have his house surrounded? Is that what you were doing all night? Nitram paused to see his reaction. I would assume he also has access to the sewers from his house, so you might want to alert the guards at the gates to keep an eye out for him. These smugglers like to use the sewers.

If Johan didn’t have time to look at the papers, Nitram will run to catch up with Gracier and, in a soft voice say, Johan just let me know he sent three squads to “arrest” the councilors, but I’m not sure how he knew who they were since you were the only one to read the documents. How much can you trust him or the brute squad behind him? I wish Shylent was still here Nitram drew both scimitars….

If he did have time, Nitram will continue to keep an eye on Johan.

Johan informed Nitram that Cromag’s house was still surrounded, and that he and Gracier had done it last night based on “keeping the peace”. He looked a little perturbed at the thought of the sewers, and the fact that he had no one available to alert the gate guards.

Once they arrived at Cromag’s house, Johan grabbed one of the lower ranked guards and told him about the sewers, and then shoved the guard towards the gates.

There was a steel gate in a stone fence about 10 feet tall surrounding the entire housing complex. The gate was open, but the front door of the house was closed. The rain started falling harder as the brute readied their equipment.

Gracier stopped long enough to confer with Johan that they had a cordon, and then she waved the brute squad at the front door. As the brute squad lumbered up to the door, they were confronted by lackeys of Cromag, but the squad easily shoved them aside.

Once the brute squad broke down the door, a fusillade of crossbow bolts emerged from the door, dropping the lead brute, who fell in the doorway with the log ram on top of his leg. The remaining brutes charged the doorway, followed by Gracier and Johan.

Nitram drew both scimitars +1 AC and turned to Gravnar and Aeron, Shall we go in and try to find his passageway into the sewers or stay out here to see if he pops up? I’m leaning more to the dwarf and I going inside to search while Aeron stays here to watch the perimeter and coordinate with the rest of our party when it arrives?

Nitram began walking to the front door.

Aeron surveyed the situation. “As much I would love to cross the open courtyard under crossbow fire, I think we can help the City Guard best be securing the sewers beneath Cromag’s house. Cromag can see that the City Guard is coming for him. With his guild degraded, he will not have the strength to defeat the Guard openly and he will likely retreat through the sewers to fight another day. The brute squad will drive Cromag like a hammer…we must descend to the sewers and form the anvil to block his escape.”

While I agree, I fear that we will not be able to find our way to his house once we enter the sewers. We are lacking a map to guide us as we had in the past. Gravnar, are you able to lead us underground once we find a sewer access? I have some ability in that, but I would assume you are the more naturally gifted below ground, no offense intended.

If all agree, I have no problem trying to find an access and knowledge(dungeoneering) our way toward the house, especially if Gravnar has some dwarven bonuses (I’m only a +2 on dugeoneering). After a quick glance at Gravnar’s char sheet, it looks like I’ll be leading in the sewers.

Nitram says a quick prayer to Rillifane Rallathil not to get lost and tells the nearest guard that they were going into the sewer to cut of Cromag’s escape in case either Gracier or the rest of their party return. I’d give almost anything for Blend to appear out of nowhere with a nice map of the sewers under Cromag’s house. Almost anything. Nitram found the nearest access point and led the small party into the sewers.

Gravnar says, “I will do my best to aid you in finding our way through the sewers.” Gravnar follows close behind Nitram with his waraxe and shield.

Aeron puts his hand on Nitram’s shoulder and nods, “Follow your instinct and we’ll follow you. I have exhausted many of my spells, but I still have a few tricks left for Cromag.” Aeron then nocked an arrow from his magic quiver and followed a few arms lengths behind the elf and dwarf. Aeron thought…If we get lost a 100 feet from Cromag’s house I will never let the ranger and dwarf hear the end of it.

When Nitram prepared to enter the sewers, he noticed after looking down into the sewer from the street, that the sewer tunnel was 4 feet wide/tall and ran east to west. Looking up he determined he was south of Cromag’s house. He was unsure of when or if this tunnel would branch off or turn towards Cromag’s. And there was no way to tell from here.

This is insanity, but what the heck… I’m not confident that this sewer will take us to his house, but we will try. At least for a short time.

Nitram will attempt to head in the direction of the house for about 100’. If the sewer doesn’t turn north, he will backtrack to where they came in and try something else.

Nitram decided to head west once jumping down the sewer. Small grates off the sidewalk and roadway provided some lighting, while the rain from the steady downpour flowed into the sewers and over the groups feet. The water level was at least six inches. And since the sewer wa only 4 feet high, nearly everyone had to crouch over to traverse the tunnel.

The group proceeded westward for about 100 feet, or about 5 minutes. The only sewers leading northward that they saw were about one foot in diameter. They saw one of those about every thirty feet. At the 100 foot mark there was another access grate above them, and the sewer continued westward.

Blend shook his head and lifted up the sewer access grate. “If you are finished with your little field trip, why don’t you come on out of there?” He asked with a slight grin. “The sewers belonged to Rejo. Cromag wouldn’t be using them. We should head to his stables. He will try and break through the brute squad and make for the eastern gate where he can lose any pursuers in the wilderness.” Blend reached out his hand to help them up.

Praise Rillifane. I’m sure glad to see you. Nitram reaches up and takes Blend’s hand with a smile. To the stables then. Took you long enough. I’m so tired of these flaming sewers.

Aeron advised Nitram. “This city is round with a hub and spoke sewer system.” Knowledge Engineering + 12 Aeron motioned west and then north towards Cromag’s compound. Unfortunately, the spokes this far out on the perimeter of the city are too small to be man passable. If there is no way in through the sewers…then there is also no way out." Aeron heft a alchemist fire. “The house is surrounded. Let’s fire the house and shoot any that try to escape.”

Gravnar looks around for Shylent and the others. “Have you seen Shylent? She went looking for you.”

“I think that if Cromag escapes by horse, at least the guards have a good chance of spotting him. If he escapes by sewer, they won’t see him, and he will escape. While your words make perfect sense to me, Blend, I would feel safer covering all angles, including the sewer…”

Blend sighed. “Enjoy the view then dwarf.” Without another word, Blend moved back towards Cromag’s compound.

Nitram throught for a moment, weighing both courses and their dwindling time. How about this, Aeron casts the message spell on me. I will run the perimeter of the house in the sewers to determine if there are any man-passable passageways. Aeron will follow me from the street level as best he can as we communicate on my progress. Gravnar and Blend can move to the stables keeping in contact with Aeron as well. If they see Cromag, let Aeron know and he can tell me so I can come out of the sewers. If I find a passageway, I’ll do the same and you can decide if anyone else will come down into the sewers. Aeron can direct Shylent and the others when they arrive.

Nitram waits anxiously to see what the other three want to do before descending back into the sewers.

The rain continued to come down, sometimes drifting across the streets in waves of wind driven fury, but overall it was just a steady fall rain, slightly chilly in nature.

From the group’s location, (sw corner outside the compound) the first floor of the safehouse could not be seen past the 10 foot wall. About 20 feet back from the fence, the windows of the second floor and the roof of the house (with one section making a small third floor) could be seen.

The sounds of breaking wood, clashing steel and the cries of human pain could be heard from those windows, although nothing could be seen.

To the party’s right, they saw the militia cordon guard pulling the injured member of the brute squad to safety to the eastern side of the steel gate. The militia also pulled out two bandits, and threw them onto the rain soaked ground, where they proceeded to beat them unconscious and tie them up.

The rain continued to fall.

As Blend moved towards Cromag’s compound, a hooded figure in plain clothing approached him. Once the figure was about twenty feet away, it became apparent that she was a female. She stopped cautiously several paces away, and lowered her hood.

She was a plain looking woman with strong features and very short cut hair. She bowed politely to Blend, completely disregarding the rest of the group and said “Master Blend, please allow me to convey Master Sansnomme’s respect and best wishes”

She then leaped into the air, a strong front leg kick heading straight towards Blend’s face. Fortunately for Blend, something about her stance tipped him off (won initiative) and he was able to react.

Aeron commented to the assassin, “You can beat Merchant Blend as hard as you like, but he will never reveal the secrets of the fire swamp.” Aeron smirked, “If you live, please pass on my thanks to Merchant Sansnomme for feeding my horse, Magis.”

I’m beginning to be glad I’m not in the import/export business. It seems quite hazardous, Nitram muttered, looking between the flying female, the sewer, and Cromag’s house. Blend, do you want some help? Nitram began moving toward the two.

Blend had already anticipated the incoming attack and was able to move in such a way as to take advantage of an opening left by his assailant, despite her airborne maneuver. He drew his blade and lashed out at the attacker’s exposed flank. “Take care of Cromag. I’ll handle this,” he said as he disappeared from view.

Nitram, Shall I descend, wizard, and Gravnar can find the stables?

Blend’s quickly drawn blade slashed into his opponent’s thigh as she sprung by him. (Att 27, dam 15). He spoke to his companions and disappeared from view.

His assailant landed in the space recently vacated by Blend, with a large cut in the leg of her pants. There may have been blood under the sliced clothing. She looked momentarily disconcerted at Blend’s disappearance and then closed her eyes and began tilting her head back and forth.

Blend heard a slight ripple of water from his feet as he moved, and suddenly she spun in place to face where she thought he was and attacked with a extended punch (Att 19, miss chance 50%, rolled 96, dam 7) Once her fist made contact she squared off with Blend and began to smile.

In a somewhat surreal turn of events, a door from one of the bars down the street opened, and soothing flute music began to fill the rain misted air.

There was also a crash from the second floor window, and a member of the brute squad came flying out and struck the top of the stone wall, where he lay broken, bleeding, and moaning.

Even though the unarmed fighter guessed his location correctly, she still could see where the next attack was coming from. Blend lashed out again, hoping to strike a critical area and end the fight quickly.

Aeron assumed Blend was guilty of something, but he could not stand-by while their merchant was attacked. He leveled an arrow at the female assassin’s back and fired. + 10 Hit, 2d8+4 Dmg

I guess we will wait. I might as well practice. Nitram followed the elf’s lead and also fired an arrow at the female…assuming she is still standing after Blend’s next attack. + 7/1d8+6

Gravnar is horrified by the battle before him and the scene of the broken lawful brute on the wall. He looks for any identifying symbols on the female. He also continues to look around for Shylent or any of the others. Lastly, he will look for a ladder so he can reach the top of the wall. If need be, he will prepare his grappling hook and rope to get up the wall.

When Blend attacked again, it became apparent that while she could not see him, she was somehow negating his normal advantage from being unseen.

Blend knew from training with Whiskeyjack that watching the torso of an opponent was always the first indicator of movement, and as he struck towards her with his blade, her torso shifted slightly in reaction, left and downwards. Nonetheless, Blend’s blade made contact with her ribs as they danced in the rain, (Att 17, dam 8) and a thin line of blood trickled down her side to join that on her thigh. “Sansnomme said naught about a nightblade, benefit you it will not.” she said as she met Blend’s now visible eyes.

The twang of Aeron’s bowstring (Att 21) resounded through the rain, and those near the woman saw her head twitch slightly as she leaned almost to the ground backwards, deflecting the arrow at the last minute with her right hand. She quickly leaned back upright as Nitram’s arrow went wide. (Att 13)

When Gravnar’s horrified gaze met that of the the stricken heavy, he moved quickly to assist. Seeing no other means of getting up to the wounded militiaman, he tossed his grapple and rope up to the top of the wall and climbed to the top. (DC 10, Climb 15-4) Once he reached the top, he could tell the wall was only two feet wide and a precarious position. Gravnar could see that the wounded man needed immediate attention.

Somehow this woman was able to sense Blend’s movements. Let’s try something else, thought Blend. He sprung back five feet pulling out his dagger before disappearing from sight one more time. Block this, he thought as he launched his knife toward the woman’s throat.

Blend’s sudden movement backwards caused the woman to lose track of him. She was seemingly intent on striking forward as she tilted her head back and forth, but she never got the chance.

Blend’s thrown dagger struck her directly in the throat, (Att 22, dam 16) and she slumped down to the rain covered street. With her remaining strength she pulled the dagger from her throat and said in a soft whisper “I liked daffodils, daffodils would be nice” and then her arm and head fell limp into death.

“No idea what that was about,” muttered Blend as he looked at his companions. He walked over to the fallen woman, stepped on her wrist and retrieved his dagger, cleaning it on her jerkin before hiding it back on his person. “Let’s go attend to Cromag shall we?” he said as he quickly frisked the body, looking for intelligence.

Maybe Sansnomme was more than we took him for…said Nitram

Wishing there was more time, Gravnar quickly assesses whether the man can stand on his own, or if his injuries are serious enough that he shouldn’t stand at all. If the man can stand on his own, Gravnar will help him stand and then lower him down the wall. If he is not able to stand or be moved, Gravnar will make him as comfortable as he can and signal for another guard to come help him. He will secure the hook and rope and leave it in place to facilitate the aid. Taking no more than a minute to perform this triage, he will then return to his fellows.

In addition, with the strong indication that the action is on the second floor, Gravnar loses interest in the sewers and is ready to follow Blend.

Nitram climbs up the wall and assesses the injured guards healing requirements (if any). He asks asks Gravnar if he needs any help with the injured brute squad member. If healing will help stabilize the guard’s injuries, Nitram will perform that before trying to move him. If Gravnar’s triage results in the opinion that the brute can be moved off the wall, Nitram will help facilitate that as well.

Maybe we should focus on the house…at least that keeps me out of the sewers for now. Nitram thought as he moved to the wall.

With Gravnar’s aid, the injured man is lowered to the street outside the wall. His wounds are serious, but with the attention of the other guards, he will survive. He gestured weakly at Gravnar…“Thanks…cough…friend…”

The rain was continually coming down, and momentarily causing red swirls on the pavement around their feet, which were soon gone.

As Blend suspected of a “professional” there was nothing of any value, intel or otherwise on the woman.

The group moved towards the steel gate. The guards still on duty there said that the first floor was secured, and there was no danger of crossbow bolts. He laid out the interior as it had been relayed to him.

“Big room directly upon entering, like a sitting room. doors in back wall lead to kitchen and library. As you enter there is a stairway on the right leading up to a balcony on the second floor, that overlooks the sitting room. Gracier, Johan, and the remaining three of the brute squad went up those stairs and all hell broke loose.”

Nitram draws both scimitars and looks for tracks as he moves up to and into the house in an attempt to take advantage of the huntsman bonus…
Anyone want to take point? he asks looking between Blend and Gravnar.

Blend shook the rainwater off his blade with a single violent flick of his wrist and headed for the stairs.

Aeron made arcane motions with the copper wire to cast the now familiar communication spell on the companions as the group advanced up Cromag’s stairs. Aeron fell in line behind Blend and Gravnar and Nitram.

The stairs climbed swiftly around the corner and leveled off at the balcony overlooking the first floor sitting room. At the top of the stairs lay the bodies of two bandits. Father away from the edge of the balcony, the two remaining heavies of the militia were in battle with some type of creature made out of wood and stone. The creature was taller than the heavies, a lot broader, and was carved into the shape of an ogre. Both heavies looked bloodied, and tired.

Behind the creature was a small narrow stairway leading up to the small third floor room. Set back from the balcony o either side of the stairway were two wooden doors, both open and leading into empty? bedroom style rooms. To the far left of the balcony was a broken window and damaged wall slats where the other heavy had gone crashing through.

Blend reached the top of the stairs, with Gravnar right behind him, just as the stone and wooden monstrosity was gripping one of the heavies by the neck. It looked like the militia man’s feet were beginning to come off of the ground.

The sounds of swordplay could be heard up the narrow stairwell behind the creature.

I’m on the ogre. We need to clear these rooms, too. Who’s going upstairs? Nitram moved to flank the ogre and attacked with Kinslayer.

The wooden creature blocked access up the stairs. Nitram moved to the right of the creature (same side as the heavy being strangled) and flanked it in conjunction with the remaining heavy.

He struck at it boldly with Kinslayer (Att 25, dam 11 – 5) and although he hit, there was a horrendus grinding as the scimitar sliced against stone and wood, scarring the surface of the creature’s body, but not damaging it as much as Nitram would have thought.

Aeron was fascinated by the creature that loomed over them. A few such arcane constructs guarded the Ligno Vita in Aelvinwode, but such things were rare bits of magic. Aeron thought back to the eldritch lessons of his childhood and attempted to discern the weaknesses of such creatures Knowledge Arcane + 12.

Nitram was discouraged by the result and wondered Maybe I should use something a little more deadly.

Aeron recognized the creature as a modified wood golem that someone had grafted plates of stone onto and created stone joints. Nonetheless, much like witches, wood golems are made of wood and therefore…they burn.

Blend moved to bypass the construct (tumbling if needed to avoid an AOO) and made his way up the stairs.

Assuming the golem is still standing and choking the brute squad member, Nitram will drop his scimitars and attempt to strike at the arm holding the brute member with the MW greatsword in an attempt to either sever it or at least get the golem to let go. called shot -2; + 7 atk/2d6+7 dmg.

Blend attempted to slip past the construct creature with his usual adroitness. The creature’s massive wood and stone arm moved quickly to block Blend’s advance, rebuffing his attempt.

If Gravnar has an opening, he will bull rush the creature to dislodge it from blocking the way and hopefully cause it to drop the heavy. (If he does not have a path, he will perform a full attack with the waraxe).

Aeron whispered to the group, “We may be outmatched, but it is as dumb as a stump. Withdraw, lure it down the stairs into the open, surround it, and use fire and wood warping to destroy it.” As the party withdrew, Aeron prepared to bath it in a cone of fire.

That sounds like a great idea…if only we could get the militia to disengage.

Aeron whispered to Nitram, “The city guard are already dead…they just don’t know it yet.” Aeron felt Nitram and Gravnar would want to give the remaining guard a fighting chance, so Aeron shouted. “Guard! Fall back to the first floor and we will help you.”

Gravnar could see no way to push the massive creature aside, so he stepped up to attack the thing with his axe. (Att 21, damage 10 – 5) With a not so solid thunk, his weapon hit and drew chips out of a wooden arm.

The still combating heavy heard Aeron’s yell, but decided to stay and distract the creature in order to assist Nitram. He stabbed at the construct with his short sword, but it glanced uselessly off the creatures tough hide. (Att 7)

As Aeron had foreseen, the golem dropped the now lifeless guard to the floor, and swung its mighty arms towards Nitram, one after another. The first fist connected with Nitram’s shoulder and nearly knocked him to the floor. (Att 22, 9) The second fist came close, but failed to damage Nitram, although he felt the wind of its passing. (Att 19

Start withdrawing! Nitram yelled to the others. He tossed his scimitars behind him, drawing the mighty greatsword and attacking with in in one smooth motion. + 11 atk (+ 9 base + 2 for flank)/2d6+7 dmg—no more called shot Nitram stepped back, D3 hoping to begin the disengagement from combat or, at least, draw the golem away from the stairs.

Aeron whispered to the group, “Blend and Gravnar follow Nitram’s lead and shift left five feet. I will come in and call forth elemental fire on the creature.”

Can you contain it to just the creature? We will still need to get up the stairs and I’d prefer not to do that if they are on fire also.

THe greatsword came down in a deceptively slow arc that belied its actual speed. Nitram felt the “thunk” when the weapon hit, and felt the impact all the way up through his arms and into his shoulders. (Att 22, dam 15 – 5) Chunks flew off the construct’s arm and sprinkled onto the floor.

Aeron waited until Blend and Gravnar shifted left and the brute squad guard backed away from the wood golem. Aeron then moved almost to Gravnars position E7 and using his last alchemist fire as an augmenting component conjured a cone of elemental fire to engulf the wooden construct.

On his turn, Gravnar will do as Aeron asks.

Blend once again tried to tumble his way past the construct and up the stairs.

Blend valiantly gave tumbling past the construct another attempt (Acrobatics 23) but the wood golem was firmly entrenched in guarding the stairs. Rebuffed again, Blend rolled to his left, joining Nitram off to the side.

Gravnar and the heavy made a strategic withdrawal, to give Aeron room to work. Aeron moved forward, spell and alchemical fire at the ready. Flames spread out with mighty roar, searing uncomfortably close to Nitram and Blend.

The flames singed and burned the body of the golem (13 damage), and the alchemist’s fire seemed to be sticking to it’s flesh.

Still smoking and smouldering the construct leaned forward as if to approach Aeron and smash him, and then settled back into place in front of the stairway.

The rug at the creatures feet and parts of the fallen guard’s uniform also began to flicker and smoulder.

Aeron whispered to the group, “The creature is under orders not to leave the stairwell. Stand back and throw oil and alchemist fire. We can burn it in place.”

Aeron fell back to Gravnar E8 handing oil flasks to Gravnar and the sole remaining brute squad member. He instructed them to throw the oil at the burning feet of the wooden golem. Aeron then demonstrated by tossing an oil flask at the burning carpet beneath the construct.+ 4 Hit vs DC10 for the square, d6 Dmg…plus d6 fire Dmg from last rounds alchemist fire.

Nitram pulls the body of the guard back out of the fire D2 I hope we can wait long enough for this thing to burn he thought as he began to look for his scimitars.

The body of the guard was moved just in time. The residual burning of the golem and the rug was intensified by the addition of oil thrown by Aeron. (Att 14, dam 3 + 4)

The main bulk of the fire was centered on the golem, but the rug beneath its feet lept into flames and began to spread. The solid wood flooring seemed slightly resistant to mere flame, but the addition of oil was potentially a different matter. It was too early to tell if the flames would spread further.

Blend saw a figure at the top of the stairs crumble to the ground as if cut down by a sword. With the smoke he was unable to tell who it was, but it did appear to be masculine.

The golem appeared to be damaged (bloodied 1/2 hp).

Not being a huge fan of out-of-control fire, Gravnar will hold his flask and wait to see what the fire does. No action this round.

Gravnar, help me bull rush this thing – we’ve got to get up those stairs! Distract him or something. use hero point to bull rush (+ 8) golem towards D6. CMB + 18 (+ 8 base, + 8 hero pt, + 2 aid another). Skid, if you won’t allow Gravnar to aid me, I would change the request to Blend. Once the golem appears to be focused on Gravnar, Nitram will attempt to bull rush it into the fire. D6

Blend glanced at Nitram. “We’ll rush it together!” he yelled and waited for Nitram to charge forward.

Nitram rushed forward attempting to slam into the heavy construct. Blend fell in behind, lending his speed and weight to the effort. (Aid Another 14) The creature swung a fist at Nitram as he got close, striking a solid blow to Nitram’s head. (Att 19, dam 12)

Nitram put his shoulder into the construct’s chest and with a heroic effort (Bull Rush 28) shoved the golem backwards a single pace. Blend immediately took advantage of the opening and moved up the stairs.

Blend saw a single small bedroom, maybe 30 feet square, with small curtained windows on either side of the stairway facing south, and a single large window facing north. At the top of the stairs was the still form of Johan, who seemed to be barely breathing. On the floor in the middle of the room was the unconscious form of Cromag, with a large blue bruise on the back of his head and a dropped saber near his hand. Sitting on the bed to the right of the room, was Gracier, with a slicing gash across her shoulder and arm.

Gracier looked very weak and about to pass out, but she feebly raised her hand and pointed to Johan saying “Johan” before slumping over on the bed.

Following Aeron’s directions, but glancing apologetically at Gravnar, the remaining militia guard flung his flask of oil at the creature. (Att 13, dam 2) The splashing oil did a small amount of damage to the golem, added to that of the fire Nitram had shoved it into. (dam 3)

Downstairs, the golem turned to the creature that had shoved it away from its designated guard location with a single minded intentness. It swung at Nitram with both massive fists. The leading fist again connected with Nitram’s head, (Att 24, dam 14) and as Nitram was knocked unconscious and prone by the blow, the second fist flew over his head, missing (Att 17).

Aeron witnessed the crushing blow the golem leveled into Nitram’s jaw knocking the ranger unconscious. Aeron watched him collapse in the stairwell entrance surrounded by flames. Blend would not likely assist, as Nitram’s demise would result in a higher share of any treasure recovered in Cromag’s safe house. Any charge from Gravnar or the brute squad guard would likely end just as tragically. With Daelin away, Aeron knew the party was without divine healing so any rescue mission would likely result in only a better view to watch Nitram die. Aeron knew what he had to do. Aeron focused his concentration on the precious healing potion Nitram kept on his belt and through force of will levitated the tiny bottle into the air over Nitram’s face, pulled the stopper, and poured the contents into the half elf’s mouth. Prestidigitation to levitate the 1 lb object

The magical healing liquid flowed into Nitram’s mouth and the vital energies cursed through his body. But there was nothing that could be done about the vile poison damage he had succumbed to the previous night. Nitram must have been wounded more severely than Aeron thought, as the healing potion (+ 12) barely brought him to consciousness. ( 0 hp )

Blend saw Nitram, Gracier and Johan all fall in a matter of seconds and had to make a decision. He moved back down the stairs and grabbed Nitram under the arms before heaving him back up the stairs out of harm’s way.

“When there’s bigger trouble, you just need a bigger shield!” Gravnar grabs the table next to him, enters a total defense mode, and uses the table as a shield to avoid the creatures reach. (25 AC vs creature, assuming no penalties)

“Guard, move Nitram out of the way while I hold this thing against the wall!”

The guard looked at Gravnar confusedly, and pointed to Nitram’s feet as he was dragged up the stairs by Blend.

The fire spread haphazardly as Gravnar moved to hold the creature in place (E6?) As Gravnar got into place, the golem took a swipe at him, but Gravnar’s shield deflected it easily.

Aeron was taken aback by the haphazard charges of Nitram and Gravnar. He looked over his right shoulder in case the brute guard also decided to dogpile the golem. If Gravnar successfully pins the golem Aeron will walk up to E7 and pour the remaining 4 oils on the creature.

Thanks, Blend. I didn’t think I was going to make it out of there. I owe you one. Nitram looks around the room and assesses the injuries to Gracier and Johan and will spend his time attempting to stabilize them (worst first) using his healing kits + 9 (+7 skill +2 kit); 2 kits. He looks at Cromag and then Blend, Blend, can you make sure Cromag is secured while I try to stabilize these two? I’m not much use otherwise. You wouldn’t happen to have a healing potion on you?

Gracier was the more severely wounded of the two militia leaders. Nitram pulled his healer’s kit from his pouch and began to check the deep wound across her shoulder and arm. (Heal 19) She seemed stable and in no danger at the moment. (- 5 hp) Nitram turned to check on Johan. (Heal 15) Johan didn’t have any major injuries, but seemed to have lost a lot of blood. (- 1 hp) Nitram’s actions also caused Johan to stabilize.

Gravnar will stay on full defense so the others can burn the creature down. He will do his best to avoid the fire, meaning he will attempt to maintain cover behind the shield. Same end result and no penalty, just not as dramatic. Also, it seems Gravnar went before Blend, so his actions would have aided Blend and Nitram.

The golem ponderously swung a massive arm at Gravnar as it moved single mindedly back to its defense of the stairs. (Att 17) The creature’s blow was blocked easily by Gravnar’s shield, although Gravnar could feel the impact of the blow through the shield and up his arms.

With the addition of oil and the burning rug, it appeared to the group that the fire may actually have settled into burning the floor and the walls of the area. Seeing this, and not being to assist in any significant way, the remaining guard bolted down the stairs.

Blend gave Nitram the healing potion he kept since the encounter with the ogre many weeks ago before making sure Cromag was “secure”.

Aeron moved against the north wall and took advantage of the clear line of fire to throw two oil flasks at the wood construct standing on the burning carpet. {color:orange} 5 ft step to D9, hero point to toss two oil flasks (+ 12 Hit vs DC 10)

The two flasks of oil hit the floor and burst into a fiery conflagration at the golem’s feet. (Att 26, dam 10) The golem flailed silently, and began to slump over. It wasn’t dead, but it would only be a matter of seconds before it was destroyed by the flames.

The splashing oil caused the stairway behind the golem to began to smoulder and flame. Smoke had started to cover the entire room and began to billow out of the western window. (partial concealment if over 10 feet away)

The rising smoke caused Johan to began to cough and choke as he became conscious. He tried to rise and reach past Nitram to see how his boss was doing. “Gracier?” he asked.

Gravnar thinks to himself, this would be a perfect time to be playing the pipes.

Once the creature has stopped struggling, he will step back and begin to fight the fire (if it matters, he will grab the plants down below, remove the vegitation, and use the dirt to cover the flames).

Nitram drinks the healing potion from Blend and ensures all windows are open in this room, moves Cromag’s sabre away from him, then begins to look for heavy carpets or draperies or anything else he can use to smother the fire downstairs.
Johan, don’t move, you are badly wounded. Gracier is also injured, but stable. It looks like she was able to knock out Cromag. We need to deal with the fire and the burning golem downstairs and then we’ll get you all out of here. For now, just rest. Nitram moved Gracier and Johan to the floor beneath the nearest open window. He leaned out to find the nearest militia member and yelled at him Cromag is down, Gracier and Johan are hurt. We need help fighting the fire. Get a water bucket line going to the second floor! Now! By this time, I’m assuming the golem is down. Nitram grabbed what he thought would help and left the room to fight the fire.

As the wood golem collapsed to the carpet, Aeron survey the situation. Flames engulfed the hallway and smoke billowed up the stairs. I’ve seen worse in the alchemical lab of Rashemon’s Tower. Aeron used the arcane powers of his robe to open a small portal to the elemental plane of water. Water washed down from above extinguishing the flames. Aeron opened a series of the portals progressively down the hallway until all the fire was extinguished.

Aeron climbed the smoked stairs and helped blend search the building. Once everyone was satisfied with the search of Cromag’s safehouse, Aeron then hefted the chard body of the golem over his shoulder, and proceeded to carry him out of the soaked and steaming building.

Gravnar began fighting the fire with whatever was handy. Using the dirt from the planters on the first floor, he began putting out the flames on the edge of the fire. Aeron’s assistance and summoning of water quickly expedited the process.

Nitram assessed the windows and the draperies on the third floor cupola room. He realized that the guard had been thrown out of the second floor window to the west side of the room.

Since the fire was on the south side by the stairs, Nitram moved Gracier and Johan to the northern set of windows and opened them wide. Heading to the large southside window he began yelling orders to the guards.

Reaching the bottom of the stairs with some heavy draperies, Nitram joined Gravnar in fighting the edges of the fire, while eyeing the motionless golem suspiciously.

The heavy that had run off down the stairs returned with several other militia guards who carried buckets of rain water. By the time they arrived, however, the fire had been put out. Several militia members assisted in carrying Gracier, Johan, and the dead guard slowly and safely down the stairs and out of the building.

Cromag appeared to have died from his injuries while Gracier and Johan had been tended to. The militia guard looked at Nitram for guidance for what to do. They were willing to relocate the body at his direction.

Searching the building didn’t reveal much. In fact, Blend and Aeron remarked to Nitram that it looked like someone had carted everything off during the past few days. There was really nothing but standard furniture and empty footlockers, desks and closets. It appeared the militia had surrounded Cromag and set up the cordon just in time.

Nitram searched Cromag’s body and then shrugged his shoulders, Put him wherever you put other dead criminals, unless Johan or Gracier want him somewhere else.

Nitram asked the others, Any idea where the guild relocated to?

The militia hauled off Cromag’s body to be tagged, bagged, and eventually sent to the crematorium run by the temple of Ereshkigal.

The militia moped up in and around the area. Another guard member presented herself to Nitram and asked “Should we dispose of the female bandit in the street along with all the rest of the dead bandits sir?”

Once it was determined what to do, the guard cleared the area and relocated Gracier and Johan back to the militia headquarters.

A couple of hours later, a messenger from Gracier arrived and handed Nitram a note which stated:

I need to see you and anyone “working” for you that was on the THIRD floor of Cromag’s house. This is important.

The party had reformed back at the Jovial Peryton. On the way they had intercepted Shylent, who was hustling Daelin and Jharron along. When she saw the group from Cromag’s house across the street in the rain, she stopped and shrugged her shoulders. She then tapped Jharron on the shoulder and pointed at Nitram and the others.

Once out of the rain, the group settled in and began to discuss the recent happenings.

18 Septimus, 508 PE (Year of Storms)
1100 am, Earthday

Nitram checked the dead female thief to make sure he didn’t recognize her and checked the body for anything worthwhile. Assuming it wasn’t the Veil thief Yes, dispose of her the same.

Once back at the Jovial Peryton, Nitram said to Blend, Blend, Gracier needs to see you and I about something important. It has to do with Cromag and I would appreciate it if you would join me in seeing what she wants.

Blend didn’t really want to get involved with the militia in any way, shape or form. Gracier was unconscious at the time and had no idea who was on the third floor of Cromag’s headquarters. Still, it intrigued him to no end as to what the incessant need was to speak to anyone supposedly on said floor. What was the old adage? Curiousity killed pretty much everyone. Oh well, why not me? “Fine. Let’s get this over with. Oh…and Cromag didn’t have time to relocate his headquarters. Whatever was moved will be of little value to anyone trying to restart operations with all the intelligence the militia has.”

Aeron hired a wagon to deliver the chard wood golem to the Ereshkilgal Temple. While there , he spent time studying his newly researched spell to heal constructs. Aeron cast the new spell on the burnt creature until it appeared in new condition. Aeron was not powerful enough to restore the shattered magic, but the complete construct was worth thousands of gold pieces in material costs (perhaps as much as Rejo’s poisoned dagger to the right buyer). Aeron made arrangements with Questeron to store and sell the construct for a share (10%) of the profit.

18 Septimus, 508 PE (Year of Storms)
1 pm, Earthday

A low ranking guard ushered Nitram and Blend into Gracier’s office and then left the trio alone, shutting the door.

While not her usual energetic self, Gracier was still up, and pacing the floor behind her desk back and forth as they arrived. She stared out the window for a few moments at the rain, then turned and pounded her desk with her fist in a manner Nitram was becoming very familiar with.

“I don’t remember everything” she stated, “but I clearly remember telling one of you to arrest Johan just before I passed out.” She glanced at Blend.

“So where is he?” she said in an eerily calm voice as she sat down.

Blend smirked to himself and shook his head. “He’s gone. When I came up the stairs, you pointed to him and said his name before collapsing. Both of us interpreted it as you wanted to prioritize his well-being over yours.” Blend shrugged with a certain finality. There wasn’t really anything else to say. Johan had gotten away. Perhaps he would surface in time, but Blend suspected that it wouldn’t be anytime soon. He was now a wanted man and couldn’t really show his face in Capone anymore. Of course there were ways around that as well. He looked stoically at Gracier and prepared himself for the profanity-laced tirade that was coming.

Rillifane’s Boot! I am sorry, but what my companion says is correct. All we heard was you say his name and I am sorry that I did not act on my suspicions of him. I will put word out about him in Falconaire, but I’m not sure it will come to much. What happened? Do you have any idea where he might go? I don’t think I will be able to track him from the city. I wish there was more I could do. I am truly sorry and if I have an opportunity, I will bring him back. Trying to increase trust level with Gracier.

Blend’s assessment of an imminent profanity laced tirade was correct.

Gracier started with “bloody hades, the swill sipping piss pot head got away with effing stabbing me and just waltzes away. It will be colder than a witches tit in a brass brassiere in Stygia before I forget this” and “Anshar’s dark ass I’m so flaming angry.” and went down hill from there.

After about 10 minutes, Nitram managed to speak his piece about the situation. Gracier sat down behind her desk and then got back up, pacing back and forth. “Double dammed crap!”

Finally the fact that Nitram had actually asked her some questions sunk in. She explained that once they got Cromag cornered he acted all cocky when he saw Johan. but once they wore him down in combat he started getting nervous and started to say something when Johan whacked him on the back of the head. This, she explained clued her in just in time, and she was able to fight Johan off, after being severely wounded.

The recent events in Capone had inspired a certain level of trust in Nitram from Gracier. His efforts and concerns about the incident with Johan struck a chord with the militia leader, further enhancing her faith in his intentions.

Raise trust from Reliable (3) to Trustworthy (4), Diplomacy DC 10. Nitram rolled a 14. Success

If you have any idea where he might have gone, I can start looking. If not, I will keep my eyes and ears open to anything that might help find him.
When Nitram (and Blend if he went also) returned to the Jovial Peryton, he let the others know that Johan had been working with or for Cromag, then asked, What’s the plan now? Trade seems to be open and safer. We can go after the Red Circle Coven in the Fire Swamp or finish up the administration for the new outpost tower between Falconaire and Aelvinwode. I wouldn’t mind following up with the witches before heading to the outpost and then the elven wood. Does anyone have a better suggestion…Blend? Aeron?

Aeron agrees about the witches and says to let him know when you depart for the Fire Swamp, as he will be busy at the temple of Ereshkigal with several projects that could benefit both him and the group.

Nitram needs a few days to rest up from the poison and resupply before departing. When will you be at a good stopping point with your research?



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