Saturday, March 7, 2015

Westmist Session #91 - Back to Westmist

Just about midnight, Guy was surprised on his watch by a pair of Bear Tribe barbarians charging out of the darkness, spear leveled at the glum retainer. Dodging the spears, he whipped out his sword and skewered one of the attackers right through the belly. To Guy's horror, the wound closed over as soon as his sword was withdrawn, and the barbarian grinned at him before striking once more with the spear. As Guy struggled with the barbarians, the others struggled to wake up, Lomar being the first. The cleric  took in the scene, then ran around the fire, kicking as many of the others awake as possible. He followed this by calling on Salue to bless the party. Kern and Jasper opened fire with their crossbows, and Bjorn loosed a trio of magic missiles. And Erijay snored. As the elf maid at last arose from slumber, the two barbarians began to transform, taking on the shape of massive black bears. Maneuvering around, she blasted the two bears with a lighting bolt. This crisped one, and singed the other enough that it turned to run back into the dark night. Bjorn hasted  the party, which then headed off in pursuit, but the werebear fell quickly to a hail of crossbow bolts.
With much grumbling about lost sleep, the party looted the bodies of some gems, admonished Guy, and then settled to rest again. And Lomar animated one of the dead as his personal servant. The remainder of the night passed uneventfully. With morning's arrival, the party started to examine some of the items recovered from the hanging tree. Lomar cast detect magic, and found that the mace, book and potion were magical. Lomar handed the mace the Guy, considering how much trouble the henchman was in when faced with a magical creature but no magical weapon. Erijay expressed interest in the book, and sat down to study. It, however, was not the great learned tomb she hoped; but instead drained away a little of her vitality and intelligence merely through trying to understand the indecipherable gobbly-gook. She was not impressed.

Packing up, the party made good progress during the day and had no unwanted visitors during the night. Next day they continued their journey. Reaching a point where the trees began to thin, they suddenly heard the sounds of beautiful female voices singing in the trees above. Erijay and Loamr we entranced, and moved under the tree to stare dumbly up into the branches. The others followed their gaze, and saw three creatures with the upper body of a woman and the lower body and wings of a vulture; harpies! The trio flew down and proceeded to slash at Erijay with their claws, the elf still too entranced to fight them off. Jasper and Kern opened up once more with crossbow bolts, but the fight ended quickly when Bjorn tossed a fireball into their midst. After picking some slightly melted jewelry from the smoking corpses, the party contiuned east and finally reunited with the Ram barbarians that evening. The next few days passed without incident, as the party lead the tribe through the foothills of the Western War Peaks towards Stonehell. There they set the tribe down in the box canyon next to the Stonehell entrance, where the party's secret entrance lay. Tzarn agreed to this arrangement for now, but let it be known that the sheep would have eaten out the small canyon in  about a week. After that, he would be leading his tribe out in search of better grazing lands if Kern and the rest of the party couldn't make other arrangements.

Teaving Tzrn, the party headed back into Stonehell to meet with the Stonehell Resistance and Janus' men. They were still hail and hearty, and Barfirth reported no big problems in the weeks since the party left. They had continued stirring up the town, and seemed to have been successful in provoking Jax. The seneschal had clamped down harder on the town, effectively imposing martial law. Barfirth figured the town was split about three ways: a third that supported Jax, a third who who support a change, and a third who just wanted to go on with life and didn't care who was in charge. And as far as Barfirth knew, no one was aware of the plotters in Stonehell.

Needing more information about the situation in town, Bjorn and Erijay started casting invisibility on everyone in preparation for a nighttime raid into Westmist. The part slipped invisibly towards town, with Lomar's zombie servitor in tow. Leaving the undead in the marsh outside Westmist, the party first tried the town gates, but found them all barred for the night. Taking advantage of the wintery weather, they slipped around the wall and onto the frozen river, heading towards the keep. The plan was to waylay some of Jax's personal guard, take them prisoner and drag them back to Stonehell for interrogation. Silenced (thanks to Lomar) and invisible. they lay in wait. About an hour had passed when a patrol of a half-dozen of Jax's men in black and yellow livery appeared around the corner of the keep. Bjorn stepped out from cover and cast sleep, becoming visible but taking 5 of the men down right away. Then suddenly from behind the party came the sound of squealing and shuffling feet, as a half dozen rat-men burst out of the darkness and ran past them. Three surrounded Bjorn and and started slashing at him with their swords. Two others stood guard warily, seemingly aware the party was around but uncertain exactly where. Bjorn cast hold person on the remaining guardsman, then invisibility again. But the trio of rat-men around him had marked their target and continued to attack (albeit, with no success). The two other rat-men began to chitter very loudly; as if they were calling for help. Jasper, taking the silenced coin, rushed over to quiet the rat-men. This drew the attention of the remaining two, and they began to flail about with their swords in the general direction of the fighter. Meanwhile, Kern rushed around the fight, summoned the secret chest, and popped two of the sleeping guardsmen inside. The appearance and disappearance of the chest was the signal to everyone else to re-group and head back to Stonehell, picking up their zombie companion on the way.

Back in Stonehell, the two guards were pulled out of the chest and interrogated under ESP probing by Erijay. They learned that the March Baron had actually just arrived back in town that day, along with the Company of Good Cheer. Lord Merdwyn was there to gather recruits to take back to the County Palatine of Overmarch, as his new realm was now under attack by the necromancers of Djall and their undead armies. Jax and his men had been 'recruiting' for the March Baron, but Lord Merdwyn was there hoping his presence (and ability to lean on the local gentry) might bring better success. The men also revealed that Jax was well aware of the party's little army in Stonehell, and had hired the wererats to keep them under surveillance. How Jax first learned of the SR the guardsmen did not know. However, everyone (Jaxs men, March Barons men and town guard) were all under orders to keep a close eye around the town and around Stonehell for the party's reappearance.

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