Rise of the Runelords

 

Retaking Fort Rannick (Part One)

 

                The adventurers continued exploring the basement of the Graul farmstead, worried about what other horrors they would find down here. Moving through a set of double doors they came into a large chamber that seemed peculiar. The area was quite damp as moss grew on the sides of the walls and numerous puddles scattered the ground. It was then their eyes saw a large plant in the corner of the room that was a mix of vines and leaves. As they stepped into the room the plant began to stir and a large purplish mouth appeared as it lunged forward to try and grab them.

                The SIhedron Knights leaped into action as Xiha and Chester ran in towards the large plant. Duline studied the plant momentarily as she called out to the rest of the group. “Careful with that thing. It looks like a Tendriculous. Quite dangerous.” She accented her words with an arrow as it flew through the cavern and into the monster bursting into flames. The Fetchling monk unleashed a flurry of strikes as each one tore vines and leaves off the plant forcefully as it screeched in pain trying to bite and grab a hold of him in retaliation. However the monk was too nimble and was quick to react and dodge out of the way. Duline and Shalelu fired a barrage of arrows from the doorway piercing through the leafy side of the tendriculous. Rion moved around the room slowly trying to get a clean shot with his bow but by the time he got into a perfect position the plant creature was slaughtered and laid dead by the swarm of arrows and the tearing strikes of Xiha.

                With the plant dead they moved towards the other doorway that was in this chamber. Opening the door slowly they saw a large chest and upon opening it saw the treasure was filled with various gear. Items ranging from longbows and axes to chainmail and gloves. A quick assessment of the items revealed that a lot of it was in fact magical.

                “This must’ve been the gear of the Black Arrows…doesn’t look good.”  Rion said as they began to sort through all the gear. One item of note was an exquisite longbow that had Elvish designs to it. It certainly looked like a fine piece and drew the eye of Maiwyn as she took the bow and strapped it on her back. After taking all the treasure the group had finished exploring the farmhouse and now needed to check the old barn that was in this clearing still. Moving back out of the house and towards the barn they saw that the door was wide open with a pile of chains broken and tossed aside on the ground near it. Walking inside they saw the barn had been converted into a kennel of sorts with a number of empty cages, the smell of fur still strong in the air. Near the corner of the room was an old moonshine still covered in filth, obvious signs of not having been cleaned for quite some time. Two catwalks line the walls of the barn with two staircases that come down. Near the other end of the barn is a set of double doors that have been completely boarded over with boards.

                “Hmm…it looks like they wanted to keep something in there.” Xiha said, studying the door and looking around the barn. He motioned towards one of the catwalks. “Rion and me will go on ahead to see what’s in there and report back to everyone. Rion looked at him and nodded as they made their way up the catwalk and towards one of the unblocked doors into whatever was on the other side of the wall. When they peeked inside they saw the catwalks continued around the wall to two large cages in the corner. Below the catwalk the entire center area of the barn was covered with thick webbing that went down to the ground. The two of them looked at each other and knew that a big spider must’ve made these webs. They turned to looked at the cages in the area and saw one cage that was empty but had dried blood on a series of manacles in them. The other cage however wasn’t empty as three bodies were in it, cuffed to the cage and unconscious as they sat propped against the cage bars.

                The two of them moved back to the rest of the group and told them what they had found. With these bodies being the first non-ogrekin that they found in here they figured that they might know something about Fort Rannick and what happened to it. They agreed that they had to get these guys out of there and safe so they could talk to them. The group moved up the catwalk and again Rion and Xiha moved into the chamber and towards the cage. Upon getting close to the cage they saw it was locked as Rion began to pick the lock. The sound of tinkering with the lock echoed through the chamber as he hurried and opened the door. Once inside the cage he looked at the three men and began to work on the closest one’s chains. Xiha stayed alert, watching the room as he began to hear sounds from inside the webbing.

                “Rion…hurry up. I think we’re going to get some company soon.” Xiha said.

                Rion was still working on the first set of manacles as he looked over. “These are quite rusted. I’m working as fast as I can.”  From behind the two of them Roccal had an idea as he ran down the catwalk towards the cage. Xiha turned to look at the tiefling. “What are you doing?” Roccal ran past the fetchling and into the cage. “I’m going to help speed up this rescue.”

                At that time, the webs begin to stir as a large spider emerged from it. The legs were longer than a normal spider and the front of it had a face that almost resembled a female face more than a normal spider one. Xiha cursed under his breath as he turned towards the cage. “We gotta go. Now!” By now Roccal had made his way into the cage as he grabbed a hold of the two men that Rion wasn’t working on freeing. With a quick incantation he used Dimension Door and vanished himself and the two men back into the front of the barn. Meanwhile, Rion had finally finished opening the manacles for the last man and was dragging his body down the catwalk and into the room. Xiha was helping him with the body as the large spider drew near. Rion got the body through the door and as he went through the spider lashed out trying to bite him but the rogue rolled through just in time. Once inside they moved the three bodies to the doorway of the barn and waited to see if the spider would give chase but it did not.

                The adventuring group took a moment to decide what their next plan would be. Should they go after the spider or would it be better to just let the spider be? After much deliberation they decided to take on the spider and end its vile existence. Xiha began to work on prying the boards off from the door as Duline, Rion, and Shalelu got in positions with their bows. Roccal went up to the catwalk and peeked through the door as he began to spark up the webbing to ignite it. The plan would be to burn the web to force the spider towards the door where they could attack it on their terms. Once all the boards were taken off Xiha tried to open the door but saw that it was still stuck. “Crap. The webbing must be on the door as well.” Xiha said as he continued to muscle the door. After a few minutes of the sparks burning the webbing and him working on the door, Xiha managed to get it open and reveal the large spider in front of them.

                The archers let loose their barrage of arrows as they pierced the thick skin of the spider. It lashed out with its bite trying to attack Xiha as it sunk its teeth deep into his shoulder. The monk winced in pain but fought through it as he punched and tore at the monster’s skin. The large beast screamed in pain as it flailed trying desperately to attack anyone it could. Unfortunately it was no match to the combined wrath of the SIhedron Knights and soon the beast fell lifeless. Even though the creature had been slain the webbing was still aflame and had spread to parts of the barn itself as

                “I..think we should go.” Maiwyn said watching the blaze continue to spread. The rest of the party agreed as they took the bodies and made their way out to the clearing away from the now burning structure.  Once they were a safe distance away they began to tend to the wounds of the three men they had rescued. One of them was a dark skinned man with a bald head and quite a muscular frame to him. The next was an older male with an eyepatch and a goatee. The last looked to be the youngest of the three and had more wavy hair then the other two and could be quite the dashing fellow when he was all cleaned up. Once the men were healed they stood up and began to dust themselves off looking at their saviors.

                “Thank you for saving us. We thought we were certainly dead.” One of the men said. Xiha turned and looked at them all. “What are your names?” The three of them went around and introduced themselves as Jakardros Sovark, Vale Temros, and Kaven Windstrike. The man with the eyepatch, Jakarados, walked over to Shalelu as he looked at her.

                “Shalelu is that you?” The man said.

                The Elven ranger nodded. “Yes…father.”

                Jakardos began to tear up as he moved in and hugged her, catching Shalelu off guard. But her tough exterior faded away as she returned the hug having found what she had tagged along to find. While the two of them moved to the side to talk and catch up the dark skinned man Vale approached the adventurers. “What brought you guys out this way?” Rion looked at him responding “We were sent from Magnimar to check on Fort Rannick. What happened?”

                Vale began to explain how their group was out patrolling one night and when they had returned they saw that the fort was under attack. Finding whatever survivors they could they launched a counterattack on the fort only to get defeated once again. The ones that were left fled for their lives but were quite injured and weak which left them with no chance against the brutish ways of the Graul family. There had been more of them but the ogrekin had taken care of them and now only the three of them were still left.

                “What took the fort?” Roccal asked. At that moment, Jakardos returned to the group with Shalelu as he looked at them all. “Ogres. And a lot of them.” The man began to explain how the ogres lived in the mountain and that part of Fort Rannick’s duty was to keep the ogres from coming down to the forest to attack the innocent villagers. The tribe that was responsible for the attack was the Kreeg tribe, led by a violent warlord known as Jaagrath Kreeg. The group talked it over and decided that they had to make an attempt to get the fort back. There wasn’t any time to go back to Magnimar to get reinforcements so what they had here was all they had. Jakardos motioned towards Vale to try and help the group by drawing a map. Using some parchment that Roccal had brought with him the man drew a sketch of the fort outline for them all.

                “While the ogres have the numbers we have the advantage in knowing the area and the intelligence. We can try to make our way through either the Southern or Eastern gates but they might be guarded. There also is a secret tunnel network in the mountain itself. The entrance is behind the waterfall, I doubt that they found it. It can take us around the fort and inside the wall with ease or even straight into the lower levels of the fort itself.”

                “What about going in from above?” Roccal asked, studying the map.

                “There is a way. We have a small summit where a number of our eagles rest. Landing there and heading down the tunnel to the ground would also get us in past the wall.” Jakardros answered as everyone began to decide what the best plan was. Roccal and Maiwyn had means of flight that could get them over the fort but they would be without backup as nobody else had any means which eliminated the flight option. After much talk they decided to go through the tunnels behind the waterfall and up into the fort itself. With their plans set the last thing was to gear the three rescued Black Arrow members. It was clear that a number of the items they found in the large chest at the farmhouse belonged to the Black Arrows, including the Elven designed longbow.  Maiwyn reluctantly let go of the longbow returning it to Jakardos as they all readied their gear and headed out towards Fort Rannick.

                As they approached Fort Rannick they heard the sounds of thunder crackling overhead as the large grey fort came into view. The area smelled vile with a combination of urine, blood, and fecal matter.  From the trees corpses hung on large hooks, their bodies cut open or heads missing. The scene was like a wasteland as the group slowly snuck along the treeline towards the small pool that the waterfall cascaded into. The shores of the pool were stained with the blood of giant eagles and soldiers but the water was clean closer to the waterfall. The large group snuck along the rocky outcroppings and behind the waterfall into a cavern area. They continued through the cavern until they came upon two small blue lizards.

                “Shocker lizards. They live down in these tunnels. Their den is below the fort.” Vale said as the lizards panicked seeing humans down here. The lizards started to arc lightning between their bodies as they released a blast of electric energy to ward off the intruders. Before the lizards could flee though, Xiha and Vale were on them as they killed the lizards with no problem. Maiwyn quickly tended to everyone’s wounds as they saw the chamber split into two different directions. One direction led them around the fort and to the back where they could sneak in behind the walls while the other led through the shocker lizard den and into the lower levels of the fort.

                One last discussion on where they should go before it was decided. The Sihedron Knights joined by their friend Shalelu Andosana and the three Black Arrows Rangers headed down the tunnel towards the shocker lizard den.

                The assault on Fort Rannick had begun.

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