SC3.06: The red bead

The level three heroes for this session

In order of Initiative

Lord Lincas Sulfarn, human wizard with his familiar Puff;
Garth Ironhewn, mountain dwarf fighter;
Dakeyras, wood elf rogue;
Richlen Ilineiros, high elf paladin

The story so far

Having taken the treasure of Savras Shrine, the heroes find themselves presented with a devil’s alternative by Hamun Kost. He appears to be one of the sinister Thay order, certainly a necromancer. He tempts them to clear orcs out of his upper camp at Old Owl Well, and from Wyvern Tor as well. The prizes he offers are a rez-worthy diamond or a Ring of Protection.

All goes well enough, and after a hard-fought retreat through the villainously rugged terrain below the Tor, they triumph over an orc war-chief, and bring a hand-cart of loot, and heads to show their success, down to Old Owl Well.

Murder! And theft!

It’s already clear something is wrong, before they reach the campsite. Vincent’s tracks and the wagon ruts are clearly visible in the post-storm mud, heading out. Garth stays hauling the handcart but the others race ahead, and Linc sends Puff ahead:

“Boss! It ain’t good! The oc ain’t here, nor’s the wagon! Oh yeah, that guy? He’s just lying down…”

Kiro is lying prone outside the tent, face down. And blood has pooled under him. Dak feels for signs of life: nothing. Moving his clerical robe aside he finds a large stab-wound in Kiro’s back. Linc arrives and confirms the sword-thrust has gone right through Kiro. Finally Rich, slow in his chainmail, arrives. Being proficient with medicine, he discerns that Kiro has been dead since not long after Garth left yesterday.

Though angry they pause long enough to pay respects to Kiro’s departed spirit. Then, hiding the handcart and heads in a nearby pond, they jog along Vincent’s track.

Dak has a good idea of who it is leading Vincent. The spacing and gait match one of Hamun Kost’s two henchmen.

XP: lvl4-8 covering a number of good checks and sensible decisions

Loot: Kiro’s magical staff is missing, along with his personal money-purse

Talk, or fight?

The trail, inevitably, leads back down to Savras Shrine. And here some thought is needed. As Linc emphasizes, Hamun Kost is no mean opponent. Had he wished to annihilate the party when first they met, he could have.

After discussion, the team vote to go in asking to talk, but go in at night, so at least give themselves some edge, no matter how vague.

With about a third of a day to spend, they then vote to pull back to Owl Well, retrieve the cart and heads, and bring them all down, not too far from the shrine.

XP: lvl4-7

A polite address is rebuffed with zombies

The night is moonlit between low, rain-bearing clouds. Approaching the front (north), the three with darkvision see two “bandit” sentinels, unmoving, standing just outside the gate and off a little west.

As Rich approaches to relay a message to Kost through the nearest, it lurches to the attack!

Inits: Han Duble, Linc/Garth, Most Icey, Dak/Rich, Hamun Kost, zombie minions

Ready for such mischief, Linc hurls a firebolt, and Garth rushes to assist Rich, crunching through ribs with his hammer. The “bandit” is unperturbed by spreading flame and broken ribs. As the second “bandit” lurches to the attack, a battle royal is joined!

I’m rolling activation dice for zombie reinforcements and the bosses, and I score lowest possible activations. Hamun Kost and his two henchmen fail to materialize, and the zombies are so slow to reinforce that the party has plenty of time to whittle them down, despite good zombie resilience checks. Eventually…

“We have to sound that bell! Dak, think you can get a shot?”

“I’ll have to try from the tower – cover me!”

Dak races past some slow-chasing zombies inside the ward and up the ladder. One zombie detaches and chases. Dak’s three comrades have by now fought their way to the inner ward. Then Garth picks up the scrape of metal on stone – someone has squeezed through that gap in the west wing!

Rich heads west and spots fresh footprints in the night dew – someone invisible is lurking! They charge! As Rich nearly goes down – thank the gods he has Blade Ward up – he catches a glimpse of something more bestial than the musclebound henchman the illusion portrays.

I forgot to add sneak attack! Oh well…

Clang! A beautiful first strike on the bell, from Dak, who then desperately defends from the surprisingly-agile zombie coming up from below!

Linc and Rich hammer on the doors with pommels, and Garth bellows for attention. Then the bar is taken off the doors…

XP: lvl4-5, the presence of Most Icey raised the danger level a great deal

Explosive confrontation

“My dear chap, come in, we were just setting some tea on,” Hamun Kost claims.

“I hadn’t thought you to be so incompetent at controlling your minions, or we would have given you more notice,” Linc begins endearingly. He’s a little nettled that Puff was blinded as soon as he flew inside. With his own human vision, all Linc can see is what Kost wants to be seen.

To the others it seems as though the stealth-based henchman, Most by name, has slipped back inside from the west wing, and is lurking at the door to the nave, idly swinging Kiro’s staff. The strength-based henchman seems to have pulled back from opening the door and is helping with the tea, off in the east wing. There’s no sign of the dead bandit that used to be lying below the belfry.

“I’d like my buddy’s staff back,” Garth tells Most.

“This staff… oh woops!” Most sneers, breaking it against the doorframe.

“We’re gonna have words, you and me,” Garth growls.

Kost himself has a concealed wand ready to throw down with, and Linc has Suggestion lined up. So a stand-off… except for one little factor Kost can’t know about.

Flashback: Zach farewelling the party

“I’ve been carrying the Fireball beads so far, but since I’m just heading straight back to Phandalin, let me give you one. I’ll keep the other – I may need to defend the ladies’ virtue…”

“By the way, among the orcish treasure we picked up a bead, and you being a connoisseur, I wondered if you could give me your opinion of it,” Linc says politely. He tosses the fireball bead, deliberately short…

XP: lvl4-3, this was good thinking from Dak in the first place and good psychology from Linc.

Pursuit? or No?

The explosion is carefully aimed that Rich and Garth escape injury, as does Vincent who is comfortably stabled beyond. There’s only a smear and shadow where “Kost” was standing. But tellingly, it looks as though the dead bandit got up under its own steam and walked about. And using the delay, the real Kost and his strong henchman Duble packed their gear and fled, while Icey escaped out the west wing.

The party are in possession of the wagon and Vincent. It means that they can load their packs and orc-loot into the wagon and head north for the road to Phandalin.

But on the other hand, they do know a good hiding place right under their feet, and Vincent might be safe if they close the shrine doors again. And after all, how fast can an overweight human wizard flee?

Inspiration all round for good character based decisions and holding the shrine!

Stay tuned for their decision next Sword Coast session!

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