Surprised At The Moat!
You ride slowly towards the drawbridge, keeping a wary eye on the gates and the arrow slits. You see no movement, but observe that the drawbridge is fairly dilapidated.
Eldoran (riding in front) remarks, “The water in the moat sure is murky!” To the right of your party is a bubbling pool.
Suddenly several large figures burst from the pool, croaking loudly…giant toads! Your horses rear and paw in the air, trying to get away from the slimy monstrosities! Eldoran manages to get her mount under control, as does Kendra, but Geffen tumbles from the back of the paladin’s mount. Likewise, you tumble from behind Byrant, while the ranger clings to his bridle and fumbles for his bow (you sustain 0 damage). Spugnoir is thrown from his pony which turns and bolts back down the path towards the main road!
As you quickly sit up, you see two of the smaller toads (still as big as large dogs), hop toward you and attack with their long tongues…one tongue snags around each of your ankles! You are pulled between the two, both trying to draw you toward them! Over to your left, you watch in horror as the largest toad (easily man-sized) launches its tongue ten feet to wrap around Geffen; it drags him to its gaping maw and snaps down on the druid! He shrieks! Meanwhile, the other two (small) toads hop towards the wizard who is too dazed to draw his knife.
Kendra spurs her mountain forward and hacks downward at the largest toad, managing to free Geffen, while Bryant takes aim and puts several arrows into the toads holding you. You manage to cut yourself free from one tongue and viciously stab out the eyes of the second toad with your dagger. Eldoran wheels about and throws her hammer, striking one of the creatures threatening Spugnoir, who cowers and cringes even as he fumbles for a knife.
In a matter of seconds it is all over, and only Geffen is the worse for the ordeal (5 hps remaining). He takes time to comfort and speak with the horses, telling them to remain in the marsh while the party investigates the moat house. Meanwhile you take a look at the drawbridge.
The drawbridge is certainly in terrible repair, and you doubt it could bear the weight of your mounts. However, it shouldn’t pose a danger to your party on foot, and you are satisfied that you can walk across without falling through the floor.
Kendra is binding Geffen’s wounds (again) as you outline the marching order for the party. She objects to being placed in the rear! “I don’t have any missile weapons, and being the best armored of the party, I should be walking point…or close to it!” Bryant offers to switch positions with her unless you have any objections.
You cock your crossbow and sling it over your shoulder.
The six of you stride single-file over the creaky drawbridge, and carefully insert yourself through the fallen gates. Beyond them you find yourself in a paved courtyard, though the paving stones are in disrepair. Atop the western battlements, you hear the cawing of a nest of crows, startled by your arrival. Somewhere a stone falls and clatters against rock. Otherwise, all is silent.
You can investigate the buildings that outline the courtyard (north or west) or the southeastern tower which still stands (though in disrepair). The gate is in the southern wall.
You lead the way up the broad staircase in the northwestern corner of the courtyard to a pair of doors that has been rent from their hinges (one lies flat on the floor). Following you is Kendra, then Eldoran, Spugnoir, Geffen, and Bryant. Past the threshold is the remains of a once grand audience chamber, now in ruins and dimly lit by holes in the ceiling; the rafters look strong enough to hold up the ceiling’s weight, but barely.
As Bryant passes into the chamber he says, “It’s pretty obvious that someone’s been coming and going here recently…there are tracks both human and animal on the stair!” You take this in as you look around at the ruined tapestries that drape this fifty foot square chamber. In the center of both the south and east walls, a corridor leads into relative darkness. In the northwest corner is a pair of stout double doors that seem to be in good condition. They are closed and presumably locked. There appears to be nothing of value or interest here.
Geffen and Kendra are preparing torches. Bryant is making sure his long bow is strung and ready. Eldoran un-slings her hammer and rests it on her shoulder.
The Dark Chamber
“I couldn’t say what type of animal; animals aren’t really my specialty,” answers Bryant to your query about the tracks. The others are poking around the tapestries trying to find secret doors or trigger booby-traps, but they find nothing.
Squatting in front of the door, you work the lock carefully until you hear it click! Excited by your prowess, the other adventurers have gathered around you to watch as you slowly push open the door. Beyond is obscured in pitch darkness.
There’s a sizzle as Kendra lights a torch and passes it to you.
In the dim light your elvish vision makes out a large chamber cluttered with piles and stacks of rubble and ruined furniture. You move into the room, closely followed by the others.
Suddenly, you spot movement from the corner of your eye: a human male has reared up from behind the clutter to your left and has a javelin in his upraised hand! “At ‘em boys!” he yells and suddenly the room is alight with movement all around!
“”Ware the ambush!” you yell as you raise your crossbow with your free hand.
You drop the brigand with the javelin, putting a bolt in his chest, and an arrow from Bryant’s long bow pierces the eye of a second brigand with a halberd. Kendra charges a grizzled brigand dressed in chain mail and hoisting a shield and long sword. Eldoran leaps over a pile of rubble to the right and engages a large brigand with a hand axe. You brace your weapon against the ground and draw back on the pull while trying to see all sides of you at once.
A crossbow bolt just misses you, whizzing past your ear! You hear a grunt of pain as a second bolt strikes someone behind you (you think Geffen)! Suddenly you feel a sharp pain as a 3rd bolt lodges itself deep in your thigh! There is a clash of arms as Kendra and the brigand captain engage in fierce melee. You hear Eldoran cry out in pain!
You target a second brigand who is rapidly reloading a crossbow of his own. Despite his cover, your bolt pierces his throat and he goes down! You see Eldoran’s hammer rising and falling behind a pile of rubble as she makes short work of one attacker and moves on to another. Yet another brigand with a crossbow goes down under the sure aim of Bryant! Bryant moves farther into the room, and is whirling, looking for targets.
A brigand dressed in scale and swinging a flail looms on your flank! You turn in time to see him club Geffen senseless! Spugnoir flees! A brigand with a halberd charges you, but you duck underneath the point of his weapon! You hear a groan of pain from Kendra!
You drop your crossbow and draw your dagger, stabbing at the brigand with the halberd. Your knife plunges into his stomach and his blood washes over your arm as he collapses. Bryant drops a third crossbow man and is trying to angle a shot at the brigand captain. Eldoran emerges from behind a pile and clubs the brigand leader from behind! Kendra runs her blade into his bowels as he goes down swinging!
You feel a bones crack as the flail-swinging brigand rings a bone-crushing blow on your shoulder…you stagger backwards hacking with your knife.
Your knife glances off the final brigand’s scale armor. Eldoran and Bryant rush to help, the ranger drawing his long sword. Suddenly, Spugnoir reappears and attacks the brigand from behind! His blow misses! The brigand turns and delivers a hammering blow that crushes the wizard’s skull!
Eldoran and Bryant arrive and the three of you hit him with everything you’ve got. It is enough.
Kendra, wounded and winded, kneels beside Geffen and lays her hands on him. There is a soft glow in the dim torch light and she says, “He will live.” She moves to the fallen wizard and repeats the action; “He will also live.”
Return to Town
You make a quick search of the bodies. Each brigand carries a small purse of silver, though the one with the flail also had a few gold coins and the leader has a dozen pieces of platinum and a small citrine gem. He also has a gold chain round his neck that should fetch a good price! Otherwise, the weapons and armor of the brigands seems in reasonable condition, though you only take enough crossbow bolts to fill your quiver. Eldoran also picks up a crossbow and a quiver, and Bryant takes the chain mail from the leader. The rest you leave as you carry out your fallen companions.
It’s slow going back to Hommlet, and it is well past dark when you finally come within sight of the Inn of the Welcome Wench. The stable boy gets your mounts while you carry your unconscious companions into the common room. All conversation stops at the sight of your weary, blood and mud drenched figures. Byrant throws a couple pieces of platinum to the innkeeper and that gets Ostler moving; he quickly arranges for servants to help you get Spugnoir and Geffen to comfortable rooms, and your party winds up for a good long rest.
The next morning, you, Bryant, and Eldoran sit down to a late (and great!) morning feast, and talk excitedly about the previous day’s excursion. Kendra joins you later after tending to Geffen and Spugnoir.
“Even with my healing abilities, it will take at least a day for Geffen to regain the strength to heal himself. However, after that he should be able to cure all our injuries,” she looks at your arm, still sprained and in a sling. Eldoran has a bandage around her head, and you walk with a limp from your arrow wound. “I’m going to stay at the inn today and tend our two patients, but you three might as well explore the town…just don’t spend it all in one place!”