ASFTD: Session IX
As diplomacy failed, the guards overseeing the prison convoy began to move in to attack the party. What followed was a ferocious fight between the party and the guards, where the party found aid in the form of a young Halfling prisoner, who seeing his chance to gain revenge on his captors attacked the guards from behind, managing to throttle one of the guards with the chains of his manacles, before managing to break free and fight on with his weapons that he had reclaimed from the guard’s body. Eventually, the prison column guards were either slain, or had fled into the surrounding countryside to save their own lives. With the situation having calmed down somewhat, the Halfling introduced himself as Finnan Leagallow to Elijah and Thorwald, who thanked him for his aid. At the back of the column, a scuffle was still ongoing, as Rain had managed to capture one of the guards, who was now being held high up in the air by the throat, as Rain attempted to deal with a final guard, who was weighing up his chances of escape. With the arrival of the rest of the party, the guard fled and was followed and injured by an axe that Rain hurled after him in a fit of rage. Thorwald was able to convince Rain to not kill the guard he had captured, but to instead keep him alive for questioning. With all of the guards now dead or dispersed, the party were able to root around among the corpses and find a master key to unlock the shackles of the prisoners, who now began pressing in around them, desperate to be released. As the prisoners began to throw their unlocked manacles to the ground, Thorwald and Elijah addressed the assembled throng, telling them that if they chose to remain with them and return to Kleinhaupt, then they would be given food, gold, employment and accommodation by Linde Frankesen. Out of around 25 prisoners, including Finnan Leagallow, only five decided to flee and attempt to make it on their own, pausing only long enough to allow Thorwald to press a few coins into their hands to make their journeys easier. The 19 released prisoners that chose to stay, were given a few gold coins as a show of good faith, and a tabard bearing the symbol of Linde Frankesen to wear in an attempt to disguise their true origins and identity. As the released prisoners massaged sore wrists and ankles, rubbed raw by their manacles and shackles, the party, including Finnan, whose natural aptitude with a blade meant that he was almost immediately adopted into their ranks, discussed what to do next. It was decided that Elijah, Finnan and Thorwald would set off with the prisoners back towards Kleinhaupt, a journey they reckoned would take them until the next morning to complete on foot with a much larger group, with a rest stop built in. Rain, on the other hand, was to take his horse and pursue the two guards known to have escaped, capture them and conceal them by the roadside for the party to pick up on route, and then return to the town, pick up supplies and return to the party and the freed prisoners with provisions to feed the many more hungry mouths. Having agreed on this plan, Rain mounted up and galloped away, whilst the party began to move much more slowly after him, with the column of freed prisoners, and their captured guard. The rest of the day was fairly uneventful as the much expanded party journeyed back along the road to Kleinhaupt. En route they discovered that Rain had successfully managed to capture both guards, one of whom had been hog tied and gagged, whilst the other one was very obviously dead, with a poorly written, apologetic note from Rain pinned to his chest. As night drew in they moved off the road and bedded down in the heather banks with the prisoners to rest. Not long after stopping the sound of a wagon could be heard, as Rain re-appeared driving a horse and cart full of provisions, much to the delight of the party and the freed prisoners. With the party reunited, they turned their attention to the two captured guards. Before the questioning began, Thorwald cast Zone of Truth onto the ground, and asked the two guards to step into it, after explaining what it was and what it would do to them. As the two guards stepped into the area, they were questioned by the party as to their knowledge of what was going on in the Baronial mansion, and how much they were aware of what Valentin and Baron Theobald Hohensten were planning. As they didn’t learn much from the two men that they didn’t already know, they changed tack and began to probe to see if either of the guards would work for them as a mole, and potential access point into the Baronial Mansion. One of the men was clearly much more self-interested than the other, demanding that the party have him promoted to the position of Captain of the Baron’s guard in payment for his services, which they knew they could not commit openly to. As the party were discussing this, the guardsman used their momentary indecision and attempted to make a break for it. Elijah, with the quickest reactions was able to tackle him to the ground before he got too far, and without a second thought, cut his throat. The remaining guardsman seemed much more resigned to the fate he felt he had in store for him, but when Thorwald began to discuss him working for the party again, he perked up, and agreed to act as their mole within the mansion. As he was still within the Zone of Truth the guardsman, who introduced himself as Kepler, was asked the direct question of would he betray them, to which he answered ‘no’. Following this, the party, Kepler and the freed prisoners bedded down for the night. The next morning they set off on the final stretch back to Kleinhaupt, pausing only to rough Kepler up, a task that Finnan took on with a grim satisfaction, so that once back in the town he could add weight to his story that he had escaped from an attack on the prison convoy. After a couple of hours of travelling they arrived back at the Baronial capital, where they could see and hear that the The Feast of Ludgera was now in full swing. The streets were full of revellers celebrating the feast and the sound of the temple bells and noise of jubilation filled the air. Once inside the town they made straight for Linde Frankesen’s compound, where they were greeted by Linde herself, who treated the freed prisoners to a hospitable welcome and confirmed to them that they were now in her service as free men and women. She then suggested that the party should seek out Notker and tell him of their success, supposing that he could be found in the Sleeping Wyvern Inn. Before setting off again, the party released Kepler, who began to push his way through the celebrating crowds back towards the Baronial Mansion. Elijah, Finnan, Rain and Thorwald then began to make their own way across town to the Sleeping Wyvern Inn. The inn, which was much more rough looking that the Wolf Tavern they had frequented before, had a motley assortment of people inside, and as soon as they entered the establishment they noticed a staircase, guarded by a large, surly Human, and also noticed that they had been followed by two Humans into the Inn. Thorwald, seizing the initiative, took both men by the arms and brought them over to the bar, Rain in tow, hoping to extract some information and distract them. Finnan, meanwhile nipped through the crowd to distract the large bouncer with a well-timed blow to the crotch, allowing Elijah to slip upstairs unnoticed. The upstairs of the Inn was full of tables where people were gambling, by invitation only it would seem. Elijah spotted Notker at the far end, and approached the table he was sat at. Although Notker did not verbally acknowledge that they knew each other, he invited Elijah to join him and his companions to play Sultan’s Bluff, a dice game. Meanwhile, downstairs in the Inn, Thorwald and Rain, along with Finnan who had joined them were enjoying a drink and were extracting information from the two men that had tailed them into the Inn. The men suggested that Thorwald and Finnan looked like they were used to getting their hands dirty, and offered them a chance to do a job for a their boss Lukas, for which they would be paid handsomely. All they had to do was go to the third, and most well-to-do drinking establishment in the town, The Royal Flower, find a Dwarf named Magnus, and rough him up for wagging his tongue too much. Judging that Elijah would be some time, the two decided to head across town to earn some extra coin, whilst Rain decided to stay at the inn and wait for Elijah. As Finnan and Thorwald left the inn, they heard Rain loudly proclaim to anyone that would listen, that he would wrestle any takers who would wager a free drink against him.