7 Satna – 10 Satna of the year 72
The morning after the attack on the camp, the party relocated a second time, this time several miles to the east. Calissa, a priestess of Aligern from the temple at Aramore, charmed Akora and questioned him about a book that was missing from the temple; it had last been accounted for several weeks before the party arrived, and its absence was noted the day after the party left. The only known visitors to the temple were the party members, so they were regarded as suspects. However, only Akora was able to read, so the party would have little use for it. Emmerick, upon hearing it was a tome regarding smite magic, realized the likely culprit was Morden; this was the first lead the party had had regarding his whereabouts in months, and their initial reaction was to renew their vendetta and abandon their mission in Recco. Eventually cooler heads prevailed, however, and after a couple days of rest the party set out for Recco.
At the human camps outside Recco, Emmerick paid someone to deliver a letter to Theuderic requesting he send a boat a couple miles downstream to ferry the party into the city that night. A few hours after nightfall the boat arrived, and the party, accompanied by Sentia, Calissa, Baroness Herlinda Raabe, and her guards entered the city. Knowing the party could use her assistance, the baroness requested Calissa continue on with the party while she, her guards, and Sentia went to stay with Theuderic. The newly expanded party returned to The Crossed Blades, with Emmerick and Deuspugno telling every man they could find that Akora would be happy for their company. After his initial cautiousness, Akora began playing his latest song, ‘The Ballad of the Beeslayer’, while Emmerick caught up on the happenings in the city. When they finally retired to their rooms the party took precautions in case anyone attempted to enter, but the night was quiet.
The next day the party sought out a banker; the man, Cassius, was a Derosi and a contact with the Burning Fists. The party left the gold they had acquired with him for a charge of 5 silver, and Pug began speaking with him in Derosi. Cassius relayed the thanks of the Burning Fists, and Pug asked him about gaining the assistance of several of the guild’s members. Cassius said he could provide six men, two of them stealthy and armed with crossbows, and the other four being swordsmen, for 3 gold. He deducted the amount for the men from the 4 gold the Burning Fists paid Pug, and told him the men would meet him outside Mannik’s keep. He also promised to spread rumors about Mannik and his involvement with Dagaric and Hayro. Pug chose not to inform Akora of the mercenaries, as he had been adamant on many occasions about the party handling conflicts without help.
Once Pug finished his business with Cassius, the party traveled to one of the poorest areas of Recco, where Akora disguised himself as a blind monk. That evening he began preaching about the troubles that had plagued Recco; once he had the growing crowd in a frenzy, he placed the blame squarely on Mannik. He directed the mob’s anger towards the guards; at the same time, the party could hear other outraged mobs in Recco, having been agitated by Cassius’s contacts. Akora threw a bottle at the gathered guards, and the party slipped away from the riot that began soon after and headed towards Mannik’s keep.
As the party approached the keep they saw a different mob approaching the keep from the south, and Emmerick torched a warehouse to add to the distractions. Disguising themselves as guards using the tabards they had commissioned and the ones taken off the group that attacked their campsite, the party believed their best course of action would be to bluff their way into Mannik’s keep.
The Burning Fists mercenaries were on the other side of the square from the building the party hid behind, and before the party attempted to get into the keep Pug finally told Akora about the mercenaries. Angry about not being told earlier, he improvised and decided to pass them off as new recruits who lacked the proper uniforms. The party decided to act as if Pug was a prisoner they had taken, and Emmerick punched him in the face to enhance the look.
Mannik’s keep consisted of three interior levels, with hallways through the walls, three smaller towers on the corners of the keep, and a fourth large tower in the northwest corner. The party and mercenaries were able to get inside through the gate on the south wall, then had one of Mannik’s soldiers lead them to the dungeon to turn over Pug. The dungeon was located under the southwestern tower; even this far from the river, it was still damp and reeked of waste and mold. Akora told the gaoler, Marellus, that Mannik had taken a personal interest in Pug, and he proceeded to interrogate him while Emmerick, Calissa, and several of the mercenaries exited on the pretense of informing Mannik of Pug’s capture. Several minutes later they came back in, with Emmerick claiming that Mannik wanted to see Pug immediately.
Akora had one of Mannik’s guards lead the party to Mannik’s chambers; they were located on the second floor of the largest tower, and while the party attempted to bluff their way to the door the captain standing watch recognized that they were not members of the guard. Akora lead the attack, and with Calissa providing a boost to their abilities they made short work of the guards. Using a smite spell Pug exploded the captain, and the party captured the last guard. The door to Mannik’s quarters was barred from the inside but the guard revealed that a second door was located on the other side of the tower; unfortunately this meant circling through the entire keep to get to it.
When the party got to the south wall they could see a huge crowd outside; the citizenry was assaulting the keep, but archers on the wall were keeping them at bay. Dozens were already dead and more were falling, so Akora sent the Burning Fists mercenaries to eliminate them. Several minutes later the party heard screams going by the wall, then a joyous roar from the mob, as the mercenaries threw the archers off and turned the tide for the rioting crowd.
At the end of the hallway was another door; the guard they had captured informed the party it was the servants’ quarters and that the barracks were under the largest tower. Emmerick swung his sword as he opened the door, nearly hitting a man sitting on a chamber pot; the servants inside screamed, particularly the man taking a shit. The party warned them to bar the door and not let anyone in, and someone began pounding on the other door demanding to know what was going on. Akora opened it; the older man pounding on the door was Reginar, Mannik’s house steward. Akora punched him in the mouth with his armored fist, knocking out several teeth, and demanded to be taken to Mannik’s quarters. Reginar lead them down the hall and unlocked the door at the end for them.
As soon as the door was opened two arrows hissed through, and the party charged in. The fight was lengthy and brutal; at one point Calissa swung her war hammer up into the crotch of the largest adversary, lifting him off the ground a couple inches and nearly causing a genital inversion. As Akora swung down at an archer the man raised his bow to block the attack, which he cut through and buried his sword in the man’s head, then decapitated the other archer. Emmerick kicked the last guard, who was barely standing, and landed it precisely enough to knock the guard out of a window.
During the melee Reginar escaped, taking the keys with him, so the party continued on. Emmerick was able to pick the lock to Mannik’s quarters. Huge and opulent, they were also empty. The party ransacked the room but Mannik was nowhere to be found, and there were no hidden escapes. The party surmised he was higher up in the keep; Calissa was able to sense some form of magical energy above them, and Pug determined it was most likely necromancy. The party searched the room further and found a hidden panel under one of the windows; inside was 12 gold coins, quite a bit of jewelry, and a note from Hayro:
The ‘bard’ managed to avoid taking the fall for Dagaric. Fought his way out of it, and his companions are more of a threat than we were lead to believe. Suggest all be dealt with. The Uthad will be easily provoked, and the Derosi can be easily poisoned. He loves to impair himself with herbs and rumor has it may be addicted to the dwarven scum’s Fairy Tale, he’s at least sampled it. The Acalani is more difficult to predict, but his savagery and heretical beliefs should make him an easy scapegoat. The slut Sentia is getting too close to discovering the truth about Dagaric, suggest she be given to him as well.
The party returned to the northeast tower and took the stairs up to the third level; it was deserted but through the arrow slits the party could see the mob had fought their way into the courtyard. A couple dozen people lay dead or dying and the few guards were being overwhelmed; Emmerick fired an arrow through the neck of one of the last remaining guards and the crowd cheered. However, he was unable to pick the lock to the large tower. The party tried going up the stairs in the hallway that lead to the ramparts, but the tops to each of the sections of the keep were separated. The party returned to the door and Emmerick was able to break the lock by slamming into the door; his shoulder was bruised and he stumbled as he came through, and at the same time three guards were coming down the stairs.
Akora and Calissa quickly blocked the stairs so the guards could only attack them one at a time. They fought well together and killed the first guard; Calissa shattered the knee of the second guard, and while he was disabled he was still alive and a threat. Akora bounded up the stairs after the third guard, who was armed with a greatsword, while the others handled the disabled guard. Pug, attempting to prove his prowess, brought his axe down on the helm of the disabled guard. Instead of cleaving into his skull, however, Pug slipped on a pool of blood and the strike was deflected; the guard laughed at him and even though he was on the ground managed to strike him with his warhammer. Pug then killed him by repeatedly chopping into his chest and spit on him when he was dead.
Akora disabled the third guard by shattering his ankle using the edge of his shield; the guard fell out the door onto the top of the tower, and the party finished him off. The night was cold and windy; smoke rose from the courtyard, the flickering flames illuminating the top of the tower, the lights in Roskilde visible across the Grey River. On top of the tower were two more guards armed with greatswords, two hooded, cloaked, and masked figures, and Idran Mannik himself. Akora, Emmerick, and Pug recognized the masked figures as Kandari Thalmun priests.
The party targeted the Thalmun priests first, and as they attacked the priests began casting spells. The party got their hits in first, but then things began to go poorly for them. The priest that Akora attacked enthralled him, forcing him to turn and attack Calissa, who was also attacking the mage. Akora managed to break the enslaving spell and rushed Mannik, knocking him off the tower; he barely managed to stop from falling off himself as Mannik landed 20 meters below with a wet splat.
Meanwhile, Pug and Emmerick were attacking the other priest; they both managed to get attacks in, but the Thalmun mage raised the dead guard as a ghoul. The ghoul sunk its claws into Emmerick’s side and a burning pain raced through him as its poison coursed through his blood. The remaining guards struck heavy blows on the party members, and the party had difficulty holding their own. The air grew even colder as Thalmun Pug was engaged with drew in his power and released a frost spell; the area between Pug and the priest became covered in a slick layer of ice, and Pug was knocked unconscious and was near death.
Akora was also attacked by the ghoul, who clawed his neck, while the party’s situation grew more dire. They managed to kill one of the mages, then the other cast a spell that burned all of Akora’s blood, knocking him unconscious as well. Calissa’s warhammer crushed the ghoul’s skull like a watermelon, and she faced off with the last guard as Emmerick knocked the other off the tower. She brained him with her hammer hard enough that when he swung at her he lost his grip on his greatsword; it went flying off the tower and into the courtyard, and the party heard a gurgling scream as it impaled someone. Emmerick killed the last Thalmun priest with a slash across his chest that knocked him off the tower; when the mage hit the ground the final guard collapsed to the ground, unconscious.
Although it was difficult, Calissa managed to stabilize Akora and Pug enough that they would survive. They were still unconscious, but Emmerick and Calissa managed to get them downstairs to Mannik’s former quarters, where the party collapsed for the night.
Body Count: 13 guards, 2 Thalmun priests, 1 resurrected guard ghoul, and Mannik
Baller Moment of the Week: Calissa swinging her hammer like a golf club into a guard’s testicles.
Fuckup of the Week: Pug attempting to split a disabled guard’s head but instead slipping on blood and only dealing a glancing blow, then getting struck hard by the guard’s warhammer.
Running Body Count: 80 humans, 22 creatures, 37 undead