The session began where they left off—in the “vault” behind the armory, having just opened the chest located therein with the key that they found on the skeleton sitting on the throne in the basement. After they secured the loot, they decided to look in the basement again, to make sure they hadn’t missed anything in their haste to get back upstairs. Once back down in the basement, they traversed past the cistern, through a narrow catacomb corridor (with about 1 foot or so of water running through it) and towards the central area where they fought the zombies and skeletons. With a bit more time, they noticed that there were five other catacomb corridors that led into the room (and, indeed, they recalled that at least some skeletons came from those various corridors). Gregor pulled the makeshift throne off the wall, and found nothing behind it. They examined the altar, and Detect Magic, cast as a ritual, identified it as non-magical. Angus put the brass orb they had found on the goblins in the mine shaft on the altar (definitely magical, warm to the touch, but they have no idea what it does), hoping to see a reaction. It merely rolled off the altar; nothing exciting.
There was some discussion (presumably in jest) of splitting the party significantly (“Well, there’s six corridors, and six of us, so we can each explore one corridor to save time…”), but in the end, Atticus (the dwarven cleric) and Gregor (the human barbarian) decided to explore the catacombs themselves, at least initially, with Gregor’s axe lighting the way thanks to Atticus’ Light spell. The rest of the group waited in the central room, with Cullen holding their only torch. Initial exploration suggested that the corridors were all interconnected, running in essentially a “U” shape around the central room towards the center of the building, and the group eventually all walked around together to confirm that. The catacombs were empty, with the various crypts having nothing of value in them. Atticus, being a dwarf and having stonecunning, looking carefully at the walls, observed that the catacomb walls were generally carved out of the natural rock of the hillside. However, he also noticed that the wall behind the “throne” appeared to be more carefully carved and smoother. The group instantly decided to search the area, and after feeling around with their hands, found that there was a door there, feeling a small gap between the door and the wall that was cleverly concealed from mere visual observation with stonework. They immediately began looking for a way to open the door, but found none on the wall. Eventually, they searched both the wall and the floor both on the same side as the door and across the door, and found, in between the opposite wall and the floor (searching through the water running through the partially-flooded hallway), a small opening that seemed to be a pressure plate. Atticus put the pick end of his pickaxe into it and applied pressure, which clicked, and the door “released”; it was still closed, and they could not see in, but it had moved about 1/2 an inch or so from the fully-closed position, so they could grab on to it and pry it open.
Once they did, they found a chest (immediately followed by questions such as “is it a large chest?” and "I feel up the “large chest”; when told that it was not a large chest, but a medium one, that led to additional comments). It was not locked, and they were able to open it. In it was a sack, four potion vials that had a red liquid in it that glimmered with light when swirled, and what appeared to be a black robe or cloak. They opened the sack to find 100 platinum (!) pieces. They searched for false bottoms and found none. Examining the robe, which Detect Magic revealed as magical, they discovered that it had numerous (perhaps 20-30) patches on it, which included, among other things, lanterns, ladders, horses, mastiffs, potions, and other things. Angus put it on, and touched the patches, pushing on them, and nothing happened. However, when he attempted to pull off a patch (the bullseye lantern), he was able to do so, and it immediately formed into a real lantern, indicating that this was a Robe of Useful Things. The potions were also magical, but not yet identified. Angus sipped them, and was able to determine that they were Potions of Healing. The Robe of Useful Things also had a patch that had four potions on it that appeared to be the same type.
Satisfied that they had fully cleared out the monastery, the group left through a blocked up exit from the catacombs where the water ran out to the ravine in front (they had to clear it of all the furniture), and headed back to Deghulan. Since it was late afternoon, they traveled for about 1/3 of the way or so, and camped out. During the night, while Storen was on watch, he heard what sounded like hyenas off in the distance, and then heard some screams and cries—potentially one of the hyenas in pain—and then nothing. Other than the uncomfortable sounds, they were otherwise unmolested that evening.
The next day, as they were about 1/2 of the way back to town, they spotted what appeared to be animal remains in an area that was sparsely populated with a few trees and dead-looking, twiggy shrubs. They went closer and examined the remains, and found that it was mostly skeletal remains of what was either a wolf or a dog. The barbarian tried to identify whether or not it was consumed by an animal with teeth or a beak, and if it had claw marks (the Owlbear rumor and the dead Hobgoblin clearly on his mind). While doing so, they heard some sounds behind them, and were surprised to find that the “bushes” were not bushes at all, but small, man-shaped masses of twigs that attacked them. There were 12 Twig Blights that attacked, and they swarmed the party. Some connected on claw attacks, which hurt but did not do significant damage (2-5 hp was the general spread). Once the group regained its composure, it retaliated, and immediately thinned the ranks of the Twig Blights: Atticus called a Sacred Flame down on one, killing it, and his Spiritual Weapon killed another. Gregor flew into a rage, and chopped one to pieces with his greataxe. Storen slashed at one with his sword, killing it, and used Sweeping Attack to cleave into a second, also killing it. Cullen likewise killed another with his sword, and using Action Surge, attempted to hit another, but missed. Yesunge dropped his bow, and drew his two shortswords, while Angus cast Burning Hands to light up, and kill, the three Twig Blights in front of him. In one brief exchange, the party had killed 9 of the 12 Twig Blights. The two that had attacked Gregor grappled him, and even though he is a giant of a man, the Blights managed to restrain him. Atticus attempted another Sacred Flame attack on one of the two Blights, on Gregor, which only ended up damaging Gregor (not significantly), and he was unable to break free from the Blights’ grapple. Storen slashed at the remaining Blight fighting him, and killed it, while Cullen attempted to slash at one of the two on Gregor (he missed both the Blight and, thankfully, Gregor). Yesunge also moved forward, attacking the Blights on Gregor twice, and got two hits: one on the Blight, and one on Gregor (who was taking half damage due to his rage from slashing/piercing/crushing attacks). Angus attempts Burning Hands again, and manages somehow to miss the Blights, but burns Gregor. The blights are unable to take Gregor down to the ground, but he is, once again, hit by Atticus’ Sacred Flame. Enraged, he does ultimately manage to escape the Blights, and now that they are free, Storen, using Sweeping Attack again, slices them both up. After they patch themselves up, they head back to Deghulan.
They arrive in the late afternoon; Tim and Jim are on guard duty. They are able to arrange for an audience with Baron Grellus, who thanks them and notices that Gregor is holding a greataxe that unmistakably belonged to his cousin (as well as a fur-lined gold bracer). They explained that they found his body in the basement, and it gave the Baron a sense of closure—his cousin had been missing for about six months, and he had feared the worst. He told Gregor that he could keep the axe and the bracer—they were no use to his cousin anymore.
Following their audience with the Baron, they immediately sell off the various weaponry that they looted from the goblins and hobgoblins, and after doing so, head to Falco’s Tavern for a drink, where the group starts drinking fairly heavily. There was a halfling who was drinking at the bar, and Angus asked if he wanted to play darts. He ultimately played against both Angus and won a few silvers, played Atticus and won, then agreed to a “double or nothing” challenge and WON again, before finally losing to Storen. After collecting his winnings, the halfling approached a human woman, spoke with her a bit in whispered tones, and after she giggled, left with the halfling (who was smiling ear to ear).
Cullen disappears after a while (and the older, plump serving wench from last time is curiously nowhere to be found…), and Atticus talks to his fellow dwarf Falco about what took place. Falco knows nothing about the monastery, but is impressed. They learn a little bit about current events—there have been a few robberies on the road to and from Deghulan lately, the latest involving a group of halfling merchants. Three of them were killed, with only one surviving, currently at the Temple of Pelor. Talking with the individuals at the Tavern, they learn that various farmers report livestock missing, mostly goats that are getting stolen. They don’t believe that it is animals, because they are fenced in, and they just have less numbers than they had before. The group also converses with a farmer named Monte, whose young (14 years old) son, Justin, went hunting three days ago—just before the party went to High Top—and hasn’t come back. He believes that he wen hunting in the nearby woods to the southwest, and he’s always come back before, but this is definitely longer than he’s ever been gone.
They decide to finish the night at the less expensive, but more rowdy, Grinning Imp Pub, where they find Otto and the other members of the caravan’s advance force. Otto advises that while they were gone, one of Halmaro’s men arrived in Deghulan to tell them that the wedding is off—Kira has run off, apparently, with a lover and will not be marrying the merchant from Womtham. The man was unable to catch the caravan before they got to Deghulan, so Otto and the other men are heading back to Cordrend. Otto tells them to come to his room in the morning (he is staying at the posh Inn of the Dying Minotaur) and he’ll pay them their agreed-upon wages.
They ultimately spend the night at The Golden Stag Inn (less expensive than the Inn of the Dying Minotaur, but still a decent place), although Gregor seems to have found another place to stay that evening. In the morning, they visit the halfling, Freddy, at the Temple of Pelor, and get some details about the bandits. He indicates that they were approached by two humans that appeared to be guards, and when stopped, demanded “road taxes.” They were shortly attacked afterwards from behind, and he doesn’t remember much other than that. Their cart had tobacco and linen that they were looking to sell in Deghulan. The group visited Otto to get their pay (roughly 25gp each), and then spoke to the Baron with an idea to capture the bandits—the dwarf would pose as a trader and hope to get set upon, at which point the rest of the group, hiding in a cart, would spring out and launch the counter-ambush. The Baron agreed with the idea, and would provide them with the horses, cart, barrels, burlap, etc. to spring the trap.
Later that afternoon, they head out from Deghulan, heading towards Cordrend. Atticus drives the cart, while the remaining party members are concealed in the cart underneath a large burlap blanket, and nestled in between a few barrels and crates. In their second hour of travel, Atticus, wearing robes over his armor, meets up with two lightly armored “guards” who have spears and shields. One guard questions him, and when he explains that he is a trader, the guard creepily grins to reveal a mouth that is only half-filled with teeth (“summer teeth”), and then lets Atticus know that the King taxes people for using the road, and that the tax would be 50% of the value of his goods, which they needed to inspect. Atticus protested, and indicated that as a guild member, he was exempt from the tax, and presented them with his guild membership papers. The guard inspects the documents (Atticus was not sure if he could read based upon the inspection), at which point he says that the papers are old, and no longer in effect. When Atticus protests again, the guard whistles and six similarly-armed Bandits come out of hiding from either side of the road. He tells Atticus that if he doesn’t give him a problem, he’ll let him live. Atticus gets down off the cart, and the “guard” takes the reins of the horse, thinking that Atticus is complying as the remaining bandits approach. He lets out a shout and then looses a Guiding Bolt at one of the approaching bandits, killing him. At the sound of the shout, Gregor whips off the burlap blanket and the group launches the counterattack.
Angus immediately conjures up some freezing magic, hitting three of the bandits on the other side of the cart with Smiloc’s Snowball Swarm, killing one and injuring two. Cullen shoots an arrow at the bandits, but misses, while Gregor enters a raging fury and jumps out of the cart, swings at one of the bandits, who narrowly avoids death but is wounded. Storen kills a bandit with his crossbow, Yesunge shoots at them, but misses, and Angus kills one of the bandits he hit with the ice with a Fire Bolt (ice and then fire, harsh). The bandits recover and attack, two coming after Atticus (who is without his shield) and stabbing him with their spears (injuring him, but not fatally) and one attacking Gregor (barely wounding him). Cullen jumps out of the cart and pulls out his sword, while Gregor chops off the head of the bandit he was fighting with a savage blow. Yesunge shoots a bandit, but does not kill him. Storen shoots another bandit, and then, using Action Surge readies his sword and shield. Atticus casts Spiritual Weapon and misses, and then tries to hit another with Guiding Bolt and also misses. Angus kills another with a Fire Bolt, and there are only two left, one fighting Atticus, the other fighting Gregor. The first was the “guard” who was never hit; he strikes at Atticus but misses, but then turns and flees. The one fighting Gregor, who can’t see what’s happening on the other side of the wagon, attacks Gregor and slightly hurts him again. Gregor responds by chopping off his leg. Cullen chases after the fleeing bandit, while Yesunge shoots at the bandit with two arrow shots, which graze him but do not stop him. Storen drops his weapon, grabs the reins of the cart, and (with a successful Animal Handling roll), spurs the horses into action, chasing the bandit. When he gets close, he hands the reins to Yesunge and jumps on to the fleeing bandit, tackling him to the ground, who surrenders.
They question the bandit, who gives them some information, hoping/begging that they will spare his life. The bandit leader is Kendrick, who will kill him if he goes back empty handed. They are part of the “Breezy Hill Gang” (he didn’t choose the name and is kind of embarrassed to even mention it). He says that he give them directions to the hideout if they let him free and don’t turn him in to the authorities. Although Gregor seems initially to be fine with that, the rest of the group convinces him otherwise. They load up the cart with the bodies, and have the tied-up bandit “guard” sit surrounded by them on the way back to Deghulan. They relieve the bandits of all of their silver, and upon returning to town, speak with the Baron, who will imprison the bandit and “question” him to get the exact location of the hideout. They visit Freddy the halfling at the Temple of Pelor, state that they have avenged his fellow halflings and will go after the bandit leader, and give him the silver that they looted from the bandits as compensation for his loss. Session End
Notes: XP to be calculated and awarded for the Twig Blight encounter & bandit encounter. The party will still be at 3rd level (except for the squire Cullen, who will remain at 2nd level).