Forto arrived at our hangout before me. Thus, luckily, I evaded again having to satisfy Munin’s longings. Lukin brought a pan of noodles, meat, sauce and cheese. It was good – but left plenty of room for choco-taco’s and magnum trojan sticks. We gorged and gorged. Alazne was otherwise detained but everyone else was in attendance.
Resuming where we left off, Forto and Ziru were down and unconscious. Hilgari, Gau, Lukin, and Degroat were running to the four winds. Left standing were four Marghbulls, two margh-militia, the spider-foe, his giant guardian, and likely one of the creeper-snufflers. In the few rounds our heroes took to regroup, foe managed to use some potions fortifying a few of the bleeding-out militia.
Did I mention darkness? We revisited darkness rules and realized that hardly anyone could see anything, except of course some of the foes, who could see fine.
It was tense. Quickly Degroat, Hilgari, and Gau were circling closer and closer, looking for weakness like wolves. Gau and Hilgari were invisible. Degroat employed his mastery of sneakery. But foe was not to be trifled with – they quickly gathered Forto and Ziru and threatened that if our heroes tried anything – their comrades would be butchered. Two margh-militia held swords to the throats of Fort and Ziru.
Still our heroes circled, looking for an opening, a way to turn the situation to their advantage – Hilgari tried a stealth attack on the forward most wagon in hopes of slapping that spider-beast’s dick off – to no avail. The foe wasn’t in the wagon, instead, Hilgari burst in on one of the sneak creatures. It promptly stepped through a hole in shadow and was gone. Hilgari was gone in a flash as well. Gone before any of the nearby marghbulls could respond or even knew what happened.
Foe grew exasperated with the constant pressure and threatened to, and then did, execute another five from the village of Kassen. At the same time, somehow, Degroat was sensed and something, the spider beast perhaps, tried to impose its will upon him. It won. Degroat stood and was walked, pleasantly, by two marghbulls, to the second carriage. He implored his comrades to give up the fight, leave hostilities behind them and have a simple conversation. Degroat lay down his gore-covered hand axe and climbed into the sumptuous merchant carriage where he was entertained by the two loveliest girls he’d ever seen.
All this time, Lukin was carefully approaching. Down to 2 hit points, he was being very cautious not to be noticed. Finally he got close enough to raise ancient desiccated roots in a giant radius entangle spell. In the next second, friend and foe alike were held and slowed.
That was the last straw for foe, however. Degroat felt the psychic shout, “#%$^! this, kill them, we have to get out of here…” Sadly, that was the end of Forto and Ziru. They were stout and heroic souls. They deserved better than to be executed while unconscious. Still, they had fought bravely and accounted for many of the enemy themselves. They did not die without honor, nor without avenging the suffering of their kin.
This move gave Degroat another opportunity to resist the impostor’s will – and he made his save. He leapt out of the caravan, grabbed his hand axe and began counting his foes by their dead, once again. Hilgari and Gau, also began to tally a few of the margh militia that were slowed by the entangle. But the bulls and the giant thing moved off quickly, down the road and on toward the great city in the distance.
Suddenly Gau was attacked from nowhere! Raked with horrible strong claws nearly to death, he fled toward Lukin and the safety of his comrades. Gau barely escaped with his life. Next time perhaps he won’t be so lucky?
The surviving members of our heroes now controlled the caravan – and the 37 surviving slaves. A great deal of searching and looting followed – potions anyone? A few were found, but not enough. Many are still badly injured.
There were some negotiations with Estelwrath, the merchant. Some weren’t sure if he were friend or foe or neither. Some wanted to pilfer his trinkets and take his life, others were more talkative. In the end, an agreement was reached. Estelwrath gave his word: should our heroes make it to Vande-marghul, (the city of the Marghul Toa and home to the Navel of Sgubjugal Jadub Gura, also known as The Pit), tell the Gatekeeper they have business with Estelwrath. He will provide them shelter.
In the midst of all this looting, talking, healing and regrouping. two comrades from Kassen showed up. Dal and Ren had been hunting Marghmen in the hills, taking them as their numbers allowed, ever since Kassen’s diaspora. All agreed to join together against common foe, and try to get their kith and kin safely out of harms way.
Now the planning got quite intense. The good people of Kassen and surrounding hills were weak, and wounded. They couldn’t make hardly any time walking. There were elaborate looping trail-laying plans, some suggested sacrificing the people or just some of the people (seems like they were the driving purpose of this whole endeavor to start with). Finally the group took off, pushing a few of the slowest on a great cart.
Our heroes watched their tracks, waiting for the attack that has yet to come. A couple of long rests were had – one was broken twice. The first interruption was a single Marghbull runner. He died before he even had a chance. The second was a large group (24) of Margh soldiers coming from Erramun. None escaped alive.
Now what? Erramun lies ahead. Certainly, it is weakened. But the villagers. How to keep them safe and what was all that about digging pits? One of the surviving Marghmen said something about digging for treasure around the Red Hill? What about that blind guy with the solid helmet? He looked pretty dangerous. And a wizard? Very formidable. But without real protection, how can the people of Kassen ever be safe?