Making an Exit
Each of our heroes scoops electrum coins from the chest using both of their hands. Shump has the least luck, dropping most of his haul trying to get the coins into his belt pouch. Eating goodberries as they run, the party exits the secret room, hearing voices coming from the great hall. A voice shouts down below, “You two, Captain’s been hurt, the hotheads are upstairs!” The group rushes across the hall into the guardroom, finding the door has now been barred, but thankfully from the inside. Orlav throws the bar off the door, exiting back onto the castle’s west wall. Straight ahead, two guards look over the wall at their dead comrade down on the ground below. One looks over just as the party runs down the stairs into the castle yard and towards the bathhouse, but he is too slow to react. Inside the bathhouse, the adventurers startle a reaver sitting on the privvy. The reaver fumbles for his pants, as Orlav throws open the drainage grate, and the gang slips down into the underground stream.
Sprinting back to the boat, the group gets onto the river as quickly as possible. They travel thirty minutes or so south before Naïru spots on the opposite side of the river a small, overgrown cove to stash the boat. As Rowan anchors the boat, Naïru is quick to partially disguise the boat with well-placed branches and other foliage, buying some time. They all head east, two miles up into the hills, before making camp in the darkness and resting undisturbed.
A Plea at Summit Hall
The next day, with the temperature suddenly below freezing, the party heads back to Summit Hall to seek help from the Knights of Samular. There, Markus Tallstag has returned from his unfruitful search for the missing delegation, and the party meets with him and Lady Ushien Stormbanner. After disclosing what new information they had on the delegation’s river travels and the party’s experiences at Rivergard Keep, Rowan pleas to Lady Ushien for support in returning to the pirate stronghold. At first, Ushien is unmoved, as based on the group’s findings, it would seem that neither the delegation members nor the body of their dead knight were taken there. In addition, the description of Jolliver Grimjaw matches that of a wereboar, and fighting lycanthropes is surely perilous.
Markus mentions that in his travels, he connected with sailors sympathetic to the Order of the Gauntlet who mentioned that the occupants of Rivergard Keep have been harassing riverboats for protection money when in fact they are the very outlaws from whom they claim to be defending trade. Lady Ushien agrees that such injustices would surely upset Tyr, and that if the cause is important to Markus, he could take three men with him and assist the party. In addition, she offers her smith’s silvering services and spares a potion of healing. Ka is able to fashion some jewelry from found gemstones to offset the cost of silvering. The group agrees that both of Shump’s scimitars should be silvered, taking two days.
A Lich’s Tale
While staying at Summit Hall, the group comes across two paintings of brothers Renwick and Samular Caradoon. Hundreds of years ago, Renwick was a hero of some renown and the brother of Samular Caradoon, the founder of the Knights of Samular. The two of them fought bravely in the second Troll War. Rumor has it that Renwick’s hunger for arcane knowledge eventually led him to prepare for lichdom, and supposedly he became a lich only because his brother fed him a lichdom potion on the battlefield rather than let him die. Only Samular Caradoon is buried in the crypts below Summit Hall, and due to Renwick’s body never being found on the battlefields, many believe the rumors to be true.
Storming Rivergard, or Fogging Anyway…
The second day at Summit Hall is unseasonably hot, but the second scimitar is silvered and the party prepares to leave that evening for Rivergard to use the cover of night to their advantage. Joined by Markus and three of his knights-in-training, they all set off for the Dessarin River to meet with friendly sailors Markus arranged to provide crossing. Once in place near Rivergard Keep, Naïru scouts out Rivergard looking for underwater entrances. As an air genasi, she is able to hold her breath indefinitely and swim from a far enough distance into the keep’s boat basin without coming up for air and being detected. Naïru discovers the Rivermaid, the boat the party took from the water genasi and then stashed in a cove two nights prior, has been reclaimed by the pirates and is docked at Rivergard Keep. In addition she finds that the boat basin is fed by an underground stream that runs below the keep, but it is blocked by a locked gate. Unable to pick the lock, Naïru returns to the party and shares her discoveries.
Realizing a full party water intrusion to be too risky, the group approaches by land. Orlav conjures a large fog cloud centered on the keep’s northern wall to mask their movements. Naïru casts Levitate on Ka, who sneaks up to the roof and lowers a makeshift rope ladder for the rest of the party to climb. From the roof, the gang observes two guards posted on each of the castle’s four outer walls, as well as a giant rat sniffing around the castle yard. The group deliberates quietly under fog cover for a few minutes, unsure of how to proceed.
Focusing first on the west wall, the group waits for the two guards to get near each other before striking. Ka attempts to snipe a guard with her shortbow, but grazes his armor. Naïru puts an arrow from her longbow into him, and a second arrow into the other guard. Markus misses with his crossbow, but Rowan finishes off both guards with twin fire bolts. Ka levitates down to the wall and tosses the bodies over without being noticed. When she returns, the group focuses on the north wall. Sniping again with her shortbow, Ka assassinates the first guard this time with an arrow straight into his jugular, preventing any screams. Naïru puts an arrow in the other guard, who stumbles, before Markus takes him down with a cross bolt. With the levitation effects worn off, Ka jumps down to the wall, throws the bodies over, and has no trouble climbing back to the roof.
ManBearPig Part Deux
Orlav and Shump lower Ka upside down on a rope to the arrow slit looking into the second floor guardroom. Seeing nothing, the group enters the second floor of the keep the same as they did two nights ago. This time it is empty. Ka decides to sneak out into the great hall to scout the area, but steps on a creaky floorboard, losing the element of surprise. Ka sees two reavers and a man with water serpents tattoos stand up from the great table below. The tattooed man picks up a glass of water and pours it on himself, creating an icy exterior barrier just as Urshnora had done two nights prior. Ka attempts to shoot one of the reavers with an arrow, but drops it in her haste. The two reavers both attempt to throw javelins at Ka, but also miss. Rowan, hearing the commotion, jumps out of the guard room into the hallway and hurls a fire bolt upon seeing a reaver down below. The reaver dodges.
Following Rowan, Shump casts Shield of Faith, then charges down the stairs. Orlav also runs out of the guard room and hits one of the reavers with sacred flames. Markus runs to the banister but misses a shot with his crossbow. His three men run down the stairs. Meanwhile, the tattooed man casts a spell and reaches out to touch Shump, but Shump parries. Naïru jumps over the banister onto a desk below, and finds herself face-to-face with Jolliver in hybrid form. She disengages and jumps off the other side of the desk. Ka runs down the stairs and hits the tattooed man with reszur, shattering much of his icy armor, but finds that an icy wave of cold spreads through the magic dagger and up her arm, causing her pain. Her second dagger is barely stopped by some magical force from connecting. Jolliver sidesteps his desk, puts his head down, then charges Naïru, who barely jumps out of the way. Jolliver then swings his maul at her, but she dodges that as well.
One reaver swings his shark-toothed longsword at Naïru, but is unable to penetrate her leather armor. The other reaver has the same problem with Shump’s chainmail. Rowan uses her wand of magic missiles to focus three missiles at Jolliver. Shump attempts to move away from the Reavers, clearing one, but the other lands an attack of opportunity. His movement interrupted, he attempts to hit the tattooed man with both his scimitars, but is unsuccessful. Orlav conjures a spiritual warhammer, swinging it at Jolliver, but unable to hit. He has similar trouble hitting a reaver with his own warhammer. Meanwhile, Markus yells out some encouraging words to Naïru, while one of Markus’s men hits the tattooed man with his shortsword, breaking the remainder of his icy exterior, but also receiving a chilling wave of ice shooting up his arm. The tattooed man reaches out and touches the knight in response, draining some of his life energy. Naïru attempts to move away from Jolliver, who swings with his maul but misses. However, the reaver nearby is able to connect, stopping her in place. She puts two shortswords into him in retaliation.
Ka swings at the tattooed man again with reszur, barely unable to get passed his magical armor. Her other dagger slips past and into his side. Jolliver is unable to hit Orlav with his tusks, but connects with his maul. Orlav responds in kind with the wrath of his storm. One of the reavers hits one of Markus’s men with his shark-toothed longsword. The other swings wide against Naïru. Rowan magic missiles Jolliver again, hitting him with three more darts. Shump declares a vow of enmity against Jolliver, then hits him with his scimitar with divine smite. Orlav’s spiritual warhammer misses Jolliver, but Orlav’s own warhammer finishes off a reaver.
Markus shouts a few more words of encouragement at Orlav, while one of his men is able to strike the tattooed man with his sword. The tattooed man retaliates against Ka, grabbing her arm with his hand, draining some life from her while healing some of his wounds. Naïru swings with each shortsword, putting one into the tattooed man, but missing the reaver next to him. Ka stabs the tattoed man again with Reszur. Meanwhile, Jolliver hits Shump with his tusks, but misses Orlav with his maul. Rowan twins two fire bolts and both hit Jolliver. Shump also hits Jolly with two scimitars, smiting on the first blow. Orlav’s spiritual weapon hits Jolliver, as Orlav reaches out and cures some of Shump’s wounds.
Satisfied with his leadership abilities, Markus finally joins the fight, dealing a massively fatal blow to a reaver with his longsword, and putting another large slash into the tattooed man. Two of Markus’s men also hit the man, who fails to reach out with his life draining hand. Naïru puts two more shortswords into the man, but he is barely standing. Ka tries to finish him off, but he dodges. Instead, one of Markus’s men deals the final blow. Meanwhile, Jolliver fails to land his tusks, but hits Shump with his maul. Rowan directs a magic missile at the tattooed man and two at Jolliver, but both still stand. Shump and Orlav nearly finish off Jolly, as Shump puts two more scimitars into him, and Orlav lands both his spiritual warhammer strike and a thunderwave. Naïru casts hail of thorns, then releases an arrow on Jolliver. The arrow hits, but as it is un-silvered, there is no effect. However, the magical rain of thorns does drop him to his knees, but he gets up back up. Ka hits him with Reszur, and again he staggers down, but picks himself back up.
Defeated again, Jolliver disengages, hopping over his desk and pulling a candlestick on the wall, revealing a secret stairway spiraling down. He runs down the stairs just out of sight, as Rowan jumps over the bannister to see the wall closing back up. She runs to the wall but is unable to find a way to open it, having not seen the candle lever pulled from her prior position. Shump runs over and pulls the candlestick, but hesitates and decides not to pursue. The group takes a quick moment to regroup and heal a few wounds, before heading down to see where the stairs lead. At the bottom of the stairs, they find a torch-lit chamber where a single boat bobs in an underground stream. The stream flows towards daylight to the east and leads upstream into darkness towards the west.
Ghouls in the Dark Water
Given only a single boat too small to fit everyone, Markus and his men are ordered back up to the great hall to loot the bodies and burn the tattooed man’s remains, while the party investigates the stream. Rowing west into the darkness, the group makes it only a short distance before six ghouls swim out of the shadows towards the boat. Ka, from starboard side, puts an arrow in one. Rowan, also starboard, hits another with a fire bolt. From the front of the boat, once the ghouls get close, Shump uses both his scimitars to finish off the ghoul Ka struck. The other five ghouls all grab onto the boat, and shaking with all their strength, they capsize the boat, sending all the party members into the water. Treading water, Naïru puts two scimitars into a ghoul on the portside, and Ka takes advantage of the moment to sneak in Reszur for the final kill. Orlav tries to move away from a ghoul on the starboard side, but the ghoul gets a bite of his leg, keeping him from escaping.
Orlav hits his assailant with the wrath of his storm and a warhammer, and Rowan finishes the ghoul off with double daggers. Shump hits a ghoul with two savage scimitars. Ka swings at a ghoul with her dagger, and the ghoul bites onto her arm. Meanwhile another ghoul bites Orlav’s arm. Naïru doggy paddles into a better position to engage two ghouls at once, missing one with her primary sword, but striking with the offhand sword and taking the opportunity to also hit the first ghoul with the same swing. Orlav tries again with his warhammer, but has trouble wielding the weapon in water. Ka uses both her daggers to take down another ghoul. Rowan hits another with one of her two dagger stabs. Shump finishes off a ghoul using an underwater javelin strike, while the last ghoul fails to grab onto him for a bite. Naïru puts two short swords into the last ghoul, and Orlav sacred flames it, but it’s barely up. Ka tries to finish it but can’t land the underwater stab, so Rowan finishes the deed.
On Second Thought
With Jolliver well ahead at this point, and unsure of just how far the underground stream will take them, the group returns by boat to the secret landing and heads back up to the great hall. Markus and his men have just finished looting the bodies and burning the tattooed man’s remains. The party searches Jolliver’s desk, which is littered with papers and discarded plates. Clearly, Grimjaw has little patience for administration. Various reports are buried in the piles of paper on the table, along with routine notes about Rivergard’s supplies, boat sailings on the river, and logbooks and manifests taken from plundered ships. The bandits report exactly what loot they take, but location descriptions are imprecise: for example, “wagonload of flour, near B.,” or “40 silver pieces, traveler near W.”
One of these reports details caravan traffic in Red Larch. It makes note of the arrival of “a band of troublemakers” with the racial mix of the party. The letter is unsigned, but the unusual handwriting mixes block letters and script. Everyone then decides to look inside a downstairs room, and venture into the first door on the left. They find a plain dormitory featuring six bunk beds and a small wooden table and chairs, as well as two large laundry tubs and several baskets full of dirty clothes and linens. Three humans, two female and one male, cower in the corner.