Friday, January 11, 2013

Do you need a reason to go back to the Moathouse?

A few days after their expedition beneath Burne’s tower, Thimbur and Fezziwig were summoned to the local Church of St. Bocrates where Brother Calmer explained that Panyus had informed him of what had happened and that he had a theory regarding its cause.  Predictably, he believed it had something to do with the lingering evil that resided in the moathouse.  Brother Calmer introduced Fezziwig and Thimbur to Godith, the survivor of another party of adventurers who had recently ventured into moathouse.  Some of her companions (“the brave paladin”) had been killed and others had slunk out of Hommelet under reekish clouds of churlish suspicion, but Godith, somewhat inexplicably, had remained.  Thimbur and Fezziwig agreed that they would be glad for the assistance of someone with current knowledge about the moathouse, especially one who boasted some talent with magic, and welcomed her to the party.  The party shared their plans with other long-time residents of the Inn, and so their numbers swelled to nine, including their long-time associate Fernac the card-shark, Brother Doobius, an acolyte cleric, Clever Riff, and three from among Burne’s Badgers.  Panyus issued to each of the Badgers one of the peculiar items that the party had taken from the blue people under the tower.

Well-outfitted, the party made their way to the Moathouse along the usual path, and tried to enter by the main entrance.  A few of the giant frogs which infest the area attacked Fezziwig as he crossed the swampy moat by way of a pile of rubble and debris.  Although he was pulled from pile of rocks into the mud, he slew his attacker and the rest of the party killed or drove away the other frogs with arrows.
I think I found something! by Brayo
I think I found something!, a photo by Brayo on Flickr.
The party passed through the courtyard into the moathouse itself.  They explored the upper rooms, killed two giant beetles, and harvested their glowing glands for use as a light source.  Godith showed them the way to the lower level, warning them of the many dangers below.  Thimbur threw a beetle gland into the pit, illuminating it enough to satisfy that no undead creatures were lurking immediately nearby and that the floor was cleansed of slime and mold and mushrooms.  They tied a rope to a spke in the floor and descended into the pit.
Doge's Dungeon by ferrisnoxIn the lower level, they did not at first encounter any living thing while exploring dungeon cells, a torture chamber, a store room, and several small, smashed up rooms whose original purpose they could not determine.

Doge's Dungeon, a photo by ferrisnox on Flickr.
  At last they came upon a pile of “fresh” refuse, and heard voices nearby.  They prepared an ambush, and largely because of Godith’s sleep magic, very quickly dispatched of a group of men wearing black cloaks emblazoned with the symbol of a yellow eye.  They allowed one of the sleeping men to rest peacefully, while they killed the others, stripped them of their black cloaks, and hid their bodies.
When this was done, Thimbur and Fezziwig donned the black cloaks themselves and woke the sleeping man.  “It’s okay,” they told him, “we arrived just in time.”
Although suspicious at first because he didn’t recognize them, Thimbur and Fezziwig convinced their captive that they were his friends, and that while some of his companions had been killed, most were resting in their bunks, and the intruders had been driven away.  Yes, they said, they had come from the main temple, and they had come to check up on how things were being managed.  The captive was careful to avoid saying anything bad about “Master” while also emphasizing that he was new and didn’t know much about what was going on.  He did admit that some of the men were frustrated that they weren’t having as much fun as they expected.  “But I tell them, it doesn’t come all at once, you have to work for it.”  He was surprised to learn that they had entered by way of the pit and hadn’t yet checked in with Master.  He suggested that he should take them to check-in with Master, pointing generally to where they would find him.  And then he reached for his dropped sword and, not wanting to take any chances, Fezziwig and Thimbur killed him.
The party retreated to the dungeon cells and hid the informant’s body with the others.  They agreed that Godith’s sleep magic had very useful and that because it seemed quiet in the area of the pit, and because that wasn’t a commonly-used entrance, they should spend a few hours resting, tending to their wounds, praying for continued protection, and give Godith an opportunity to study her magic books and prepare the necessary ingredients for more spell-casting.
Soon, however, they were distracted by a strange grating noise.  After investigating several potential sources, they returned to the place near the refuse pile where they had met the black-cloaked guards.  Here, they met more black-cloaked guards.  Several of the party members were still similarly disguised and so rather than attack, they initiated a conversation.  This group was suspicious and wanted to know about a missing patrol.  When Fezziwig suggested that they had returned to their bunks, the guards attacked, one of them stabbing Fezziwig deeply with his spear.  Their leader sent one of their number to go and sound the alarm.
In the ensuing battle, two of Burne’s Badgers were killed.  Fezziwig’s wound was very severe and the party fully expected reinforcements to pursue them.  Thus, they abandoned their dead, made a swift retreat to the pit room, and climbed up the rope to the upper level.  They cut the rope behind them and, half-carrying Fezziwig, made their way back to Hommelet.

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