My time at Farmers’ Keep was spent first fencing the signet set, 2 rubies and the chalice I snatched from the green tower using the barkeep at the Merry Farmer Tavern meeting back up with Keenor of the Black Hands. Later I took my new funds to purchase spell components from the various shops and spent the next five days sequestered in my quarters formulating the Crown of Eyes and Lightning Bolt spells adding them into my spellbook. On the 7th day in town I refined a single dose of the yellow lotus for my own special use. The following day I accompanied the group on hunt for a wild boar that Drogo the ranger had arranged. The creature was apparently harassing the locals and killing valuable livestock. Drogo after we reached the outskirts of town was joined by his ‘animal companion’ a big freakin’ bear. Later I was able to glean that the boar was itself an unnatural creature and that it had moved on using the Commune With Nature spell. We decided to travel back to Rockhollow after that revelation. The trip was uneventful until we got to Farmer’s Bridge, the bridge under which the troll Blackgut’s lair was.
There at the center of the bridge were several ratlings dressed in red capes with the symbol of the red dagger on the chests of their leather armor. Drogo’s bear seemed perturbed just before we took action as if sniffed something in the air but naturally we charged the little mooks and found that there were hidden archers at both ends of the bridge which as soon as we were all at the center of the bridge engaged with the ratlings sprung from their cover to shoot arrows tipped with sleep potion at us. A group of thugs charged from both ends and four more ratlings leapt over the edges of the bridge form positions underneath to reinforce their fellow vermin. Among these ratlings was an apparent captain, a ratling wearing a red eye-patch and who proved impossible to hit and who got his dagger in my back once during the fight. I recognized him as an apparent companion of Blackgut when we invaded his lair. The bear was the first to drop from a sleep laden arrow behind which I took cover from 1 of the archers. I took an arrow but did not succumb initially to its toxin. I inadvertently damaged the bridge a few times as the ratlings proved very hard to hit with my acid bolts but I was able to hold back a few thugs using my Shadow Ribbons spell. Tweena was the next to drop from one of the Red-Daggers’ insidious arrows followed by Nami. Drogo was fighting valiantly but the number of enemies was proving a problem as we only managed to drop a handful with me and Drogo racking up the lion’s share of the body count. The last thing I saw before the second arrow I took knocked me out was Dolus leaping from the bridge in a desperate last dodge attempt to escape.
After a while I awoke groggy, hogtied and gaged but with my mask and robe still on. The rest of my hard won gear had been stripped. Just as I gathered my wits the door to my cell burst open and I heard the words, “Get the shackles on him!”
Luckily my abilities had expanded while I was out and I managed to teleport myself by the sole use of concentration. I wound up on the filthy sawdust strewn floor of the Merry Farmer Tavern yelling with a gagged mouth to be cut free. After the shock and amazement of the patrons and his own had subsided Flek the barkeep cut me loose. I hopped to my feet and roared swearing my vengeance against the Red-Daggers! Keeneor was present and told the bartender to, “get him a drink”. We talked and I pledged myself to guide a force of Black Hands into the lair of the Red-Daggers as he already knew where it was located, not far from Blackgut’s lair, but the insides were still a mystery. I may have bluffed a bit on how much I actually knew about the inside. Keenor handed me his dagger. It had his mark on the pommel, not that of the guild, and said that I could have it for now. The next night I found myself at the edge of town on the back of horse surrounded by rogues of the Black Hand along with Keenor and Ranknor the latter of whom had grabbed my forearm in recognition. I had only my robe on my back and the mask on my face aching to wreak my vengeance. We rode into the darkness along the road towards the river cleft.
We had arrived nearly at the midpoint of our venture and ran into other travelers on the road traveling in the opposite direction. A large hostile man riding a dragonsaurus and mounted behind him was Dolus. He introduced the rider as Shieldmaster telling me that he was an ally. That was when I found out that Drogo had fallen in battle bristling with the enemies’ arrows. The others had been captured. My blood boiling for action I talked Ranknor into letting tag along as we needed the brawn and he agreed. We rode on until we had to foot it down into the cleft traveling through shallow water to an undisclosed location (hey I’m a mage not ranger) and as we neared a clump of bushes we were ambushed.
We easily slaughtered the handful of ratlings which shot at us from the cover of the bushes and I cast Crown of Eyes on myself. We moved into what appeared to be a hidden stable built into a limestone cave then to the main door into the thief-lair, a bronze troll-faced double-door. Ranknor picked the lock without effort and Dolus and Shieldmaster charged into a hail of crossbow bolts flying through the slits in another door. The ratling thief made his way to the door and was able to pick the lock but triggered a gas trap. Fortunately he and Shieldmaster were not overwhelmed by the toxin. Four well-equipped Red-Daggers were on the other side. I paralyzed them all with a wave of my hand and the Black Hands following us cut their throats. Red-Daggers began to course through the place and a cacophony of shouting and the sounds of battle rang out. In this mass confusion and among the slaughter I grabbed two Black-Hands that were charged with guarding my flanks by Ranknor and teleported them and myself past a dense battle into the room behind. We came face to face with several more Red-Dagger thugs so I cast Mass Paralyze again but lost control of the magic. It went wild and paralyzed nearly every rogue within a 100 ft. radius of me. It took me 6 rounds to slit all of their throats turning the chamber into something like the killing floor of a slaughterhouse. Among those I slaughtered was the ratling with the red-eye patch. During my blood-rage Nami and Tweena had emerged from a side door having taken the distraction of our raid to their advantage escaping from the prison wing of the hideout. We reclaimed our gear and helped to clear out the rest of the place of Red-Daggers. We also took the opportunity especially in the personal quarters to loot. We eventually found our way to a vault filled with treasure but also standing by the entrance was a suit of armor with a troll-faced longshield wielding a troll-made axe. I immobilized it with some Shadow Ribbons and Shieldmaster bashed it to pieces taking the shield as his own against my advice.
Before we left the lair with our immense hall of treasure Nami animated a pair of corpses that she named “stupid 1 & 2”. The Blackhands took possession of the hideout a large force of them riding into the place as we walked out. I teleported to Rockhollow ahead of the rest and secured a private room at the Lucky Traveller. That was when I realized we had forgotten to lop off the heads from all of the Red-Dagger bodies missing out on the bounty on each!
To Be Continued…