0300, Sul, 15 Octos, 3E998
Alton Beeblebrox tumbled inside the arrow slit of the eastern stone gatehouse tower as Illyia Baham scrambled up the wall behind him to escape the ankheg’s acidic spittle. Inside he found two hobgoblin soldiers shirking their watch duties to play dice in a corner, and before they could react he dove headlong into them. He was finishing the second one off as Illyia climbed in as well and began checking under the door in the north wall with his mirror. Lt. Diplo Norixius swung his giant eagle low over the eastern tower and jumped off on the tower top, sending the eagle out of the fort to go retrieve Greves. The giant bird flew out under hostile fire from archers below.
Diplo grabbed the ballista the crew had readied before he defenestrated them, aimed it at the troops atop the east side of the curtain wall and fired. The ballista released with a clang, but when he looked again, the large bolt was still sitting in the track; the cable had misfired and simply slid underneath the round. He ran over to the west side of the tower, looked down, and deciding the distance wasn’t too bad he jumped from the tower down onto the top of the wall between the towers. As he opened the door to the west tower, he discovered a squad of soldiers and their sergeant donning their equipment as the alarm gong sounded from somewhere deeper in the keep. Diplo slammed the door and backed a few feet away, but the door to the east tower behind him opened almost simultaneously with the door to the west tower, and two squads of troops poured out to surround the paladin.
Dajjal swooped his raven familiar, Luna, in from the north toward the embattled dragonborn and fired his second Fireball into the crowd, killing everyone around Diplo except seriously wounding the two sergeants. Illyia and Beeblebrox ascended the ladder from below through the trapdoor in the floor, and rushed to Diplo’s aid, assisting him in finishing off the sergeants. Meanwhile, the giant eagle had returned from the concealed observation position outside the fort with Greves mounted up. Illyia and Beeblebrox entered the west tower and secured the third story room as Diplo climbed up to the top of the tower to man the second ballista. As the giant eagle approached, the archers atop the walls surrounding the fort successfully struck the last hit the eagle could withstand, and the summoned mount winked out of existence in an instant. Greves plummeted through midair toward the tower top, and Diplo just managed to slow his impact enough by throwing his body underneath him. Dusting themselves off, Greves and Diplo aimed and fired the ballista at the archers atop the western side of the curtain wall, striking one squarely killing him and knocking a serious divot in one of the stone battlements.
Diplo and Greves quickly rejoined Illyia and Beeblebrox downstairs on the third floor where they assessed their situation, now that the alarm gong was banging away. They barred the doors then took to sniping the archers along the wall from within the arrow slits, taking several down and thinning the fort’s numbers. Diplo and Greves smashed through the trapdoor in the floor, only to discover that the floor below them housed the guardhouse captain and his lieutenant… whom immediately called for the soldiers in the next room. A short stalemate developed at the opening of the trapdoor, and the team decided to barricade the opening with the heavy table in the room and all the crates and barrels stacked on top of it. Outside the fort, Karraway realized that the giant eagle was not coming back for him, and began running toward the ditch and the makeshift rope on the other side.
Dajjal and Illyia kept their ravens circling the gatehouse and curtain wall, whittling away at defenders with Magic Missile, Eldritch Blast and Fire Bolt. Karraway finally made it to the ditch that surrounded the fort, slid down into it and scrambled up the other side and climbed the rope to the open window where Dajjal was keeping vigil. They decided to give the second floor of the curtain wall a quick and quiet explore to see if they could find a way up to the level above, in hopes of clearing out the occupants and finding a way to open the drawbridge and portcullis to provide a means of fast escape should they need it. Room after room they were greeted by more cobwebs and decades of dust, until they came into the opposite wing of the wall from where they entered.
Meanwhile in the third floor of the west tower, Greves, Diplo, Illyia and Beeblebrox assessed their situation as they picked off archers from the stockade’s perimeter walls. They heard bangs as defenders below them tried to break through the barricade they had set up on top of the hole for the floor trapdoor, and they watched a huge squad of soldiers rush from the main keep across the inner bailey and enter a ground level door in the east tower. Shortly after, the door across the center wall opened, and an archery contest began between the opposing towers. Beeblebrox climbed the ladder to the top of the west tower, and then used his Boots of Striding and Springing to boost his Step of Wind and made a leap between tower tops worthy of The Matrix.
Atop the east tower, Beeblebrox landed and discovered four hobgoblin soldiers had ascended the trapdoor and were crouching low in an attempt to stay hidden from the assaulting Heroes 4 Hire. The halfling monk immediately attacked them, but was tackled by one of the soldiers and brought to the ground while his comrades grabbed arms and legs. In moments, Beeblebrox was pinned, and then shackled both hands and feet. Illyia had Nightshade swoop in and deliver a Color Spray, which temporarily blinded two of the captors, and Beeblebrox used his Mask of Dissonant Whispers to mind-jab another one. This angered the hobgoblin, who ripped the mask from his head and pummeled the hapless halfling’s face until he was unconscious. Luna attempted to turn in on the fray, but caught an arrow squarely and was dispelled.
Down below, Greves, Diplo and Illyia decided they couldn’t afford to wait for the soldiers to act, and charged across the center wall to the door of the east tower, trading arrow shots and a flaming crate along the way. Nightshade relayed Beeblebrox’s predicament to Illyia, and he quickly climbed the face of the wall to the top of the east tower to help. He was met at the top by three of the hobgoblins, but two of them fell prey to the Sanctuary spell Diplo had cast on Illyia and could not decide how to act. The third held no reservations, and pushed Illyia back off the tower.
Illyia plummeted, but luckily not far. He landed back on the top of the center wall section where he had started, merely 15 feet below. He activated his Ring of Misty Step and teleported back to the top of the east tower, another 15 feet behind the soldiers. He ran over to the soldier who had just finished beating Beeblebrox’s brains out with the other three in hot pursuit. As Diplo and Greves battled the defenders at the door a level below, the Sanctuary cast on Illyia again forced three of the hobgoblins into indecision and inaction, but the fourth… the fourth tackled Illyia to the ground also, and a 1-v-1 wrestling match was on.
In the east wing of the curtain wall, Dajjal and Karraway found a curious play of light splashed against the interior wall, opposite a long since burned out torch, and just below a ladder and trap door in the ceiling to the parapets above. They watched the blurry scene of a group of soldiers making their final stand on this very spot, an unknown time ago… and die to the last man. The light on the wall was actually a glowing mist, and it pulled away from the wall and slowly morphed into a vaguely humanoid shape with open dark sockets for eyes. The haunt reached for Karraway, and the cleric attempted to turn the apparition with no effect. He then tried the trapdoor above, only to find it barred from the other side.
The apparition seemed unphased by the activity; it laid its semitransparent hand on Karraway’s shoulder gently. Karraway got no sense of ill intent or aggression from the haunt, but the touch was frigid to his soul, and he felt his senses numb and his reflexes slow. He stepped away from the apparition, but the entity just floated along with him, ever touching his shoulder and zapping his dexterity. Dajjal, witnessing the effect, starting blasting away with Eldritch Blast and his hand crossbow, but to no avail.
Can Illyia Baham save his friend Beeblebrox from the hobgoblins atop the gatehouse tower? What is the strange entity that is draining Karraway away right before Dajjal’s very eyes? Will the Heroes 4 Hire be swarmed by the fort’s defenders?
Tune in , on, “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!”