Chapter 5, Occupied
After clearing the Moncrief estate, defeating Maise Pegoram, and discovering a portal to Foxon’s Cellars as well as what appeared to be a planar portal, the party arrives back in Foxon finding its citizens abuzz and a troop of mercenaries settled in guarding the city.
As the party proceeds into Foxon, Asher feels a distant call and must leave the party. He gives the severed head of the enchantress to Roben promising to meet up with the party again after he has completed his extended meditation.
[Asher’s player couldn’t make it this game night, so I devised this out for the character]
It is early evening in Foxon. The party immediately notices pairs of guards patrolling the streets and standing as sentries at various buildings. They all wear similar armor looking well-traveled. They decide to go straight to Celia’s store.
After enduring the goblin Xazt’s flirtations with Roben and contempt for everyone else, the party asks to talk with Celia somewhere private. Celia takes them upstairs into her living area. Here the party explains that the estate has been cleared. Even though Celia is glad and thankful, the party continues on telling her that it was occupied by Maise Pegoram.
Celia doesn’t know the name but when the enchantress is described to her, she realizes Maise has been the woman coming to town hiring folk to serve her. Celia explains that those hired get paid well and are usually gone for about two weeks. When they return they almost immediately begin to lose their memory of what they did and end up only recalling Maise and the fact that she gave them work. The group reveals that Maise will not be coming around again showing Celia the severed head. Celia is understandably queasy at seeing it. She asks them if this was the only proof they have of clearing the estate. John is quick to provide Celia with the papers he took from the butler’s desk. Looking them over, Celia agrees that it may be best to present the papers to the city’s council rather than the head.
Celia explains that with the estate back in her family’s control, she can now take a seat on the town council of nine. She goes on to say that given what’s happened in the party’s absence revealing Maise was squatting in the manse may not be a good idea. The whole party agrees, they also ask about the soldiers they saw coming into town. Celia explains, after the group had left Zaghain serving as head alder ordered the mines (Foxon Cellars) cleared of the hobgoblin threat.
When a lone survivor of the first expedition returned calling for reinforcements, Zaghain recruited towns people willing to fight. The second expedition succeeded in killing the remaining hobgoblins but nearly all of their number were killed or gravely wounded. The town’s two temples are working overtime attempting to resurrect as many people as they can.
Even though the mines were returned to the town’s control, the council blamed Zaghain for showing poor judgment and removed him as head alder. He was replaced by Wena Riffolk, who ascended because she said she would pay for a company of mercenaries she knew of to come protect the town. These mercenaries, calling themselves The Hundred, now guard and patrol the entire town. Zaghain although still on the council is under a sort of house arrest and Wena is slowing convincing the council that a wall needs to be built around the town for protection.
Several players asked about the politics of the council, so I had Celia reveal the names, race, age, and alignment of the nine members (including Celia):
Zaghain Berylbow, male dwarf, 50ish, lawful neutral
Athur Berthold, male human, 60s, lawful neutral
Wena Riffolk, female human, 40-50, chaotic evil
Dandelene Thalasa, male elf, 50s, lawful evil
Diamay Ambling, female halfling, mid-30s, lawful neutral
Moin Peright, female gnome, 30s, chaotic good
Celia Moncrief, female human, 30-40, neutral good
Melvawen Lamilwen, female elf, 70s, lawful neutral
Alfred Brewalt, male human, 50-60, true neutral
Celia also tells the party her seat was previously held by an acolyte from the Serene Shepherd (temple of Rao), Rarder Frey, who is rather angry about being booted from the council.
The group then explains how in the basement of the manse, there was a huge treasure store and a portal. Celia is shocked at hearing both items. The family vault was no where near the amount the party relays. When she asks about the portal, the party explains where it goes and how within the mines there are several other portals. Celia and the party agree to not tell the council about the portals, but Celia desperately needs the portal closed in the manse or else her position is precarious. She tells the party that a priestess at the temple of Rao would know how to permanently close the portals.
The group also then hashes out a plan to remove the treasure from the manse for safe keeping. They decide to split the treasure up into three parts–a cache a Celia’s shop, one at the temple of Pelor, and the last at the temple of Rao. John goes to the Serene Shepherd to pray and talk with the priest of Pelor, the faith he does belong to. John is able to get them to agree to house some of their loot in the church’s cellar. Then, at the Serene Shepherd, John finds the tiefling priestess Vada with whom he negotiates the same deal while also discovering the nature of the onyx pendant found at the Usurer’s Tower.
Rather than being a symbol of a cult, Vada explains the pendant is more likely a key or trigger to something. While not magic itself, it is the sort of token used to either lock/unlock something, a door or another portal, or to activate something. After hearing John’s description of the portals, she explains what they found were really teleport pads and one portal, perhaps planar. The solution for the teleport pads is rather simple–destroy the dais over which the portals stood. Destroying one will render its partner useless. However, a person could copy the runes on the remaining dais and again create a connection.
For the true portal, there are only two ways Vada knows of to close it. The first is incredibly time consuming–cast Dispel Magic for a year (essentially, doing the opposite of what is required to create a portal). The second is incredibly dangerous–find the Hag Coven to the south near the Lazaran River. The Hag Coven will definitely have the knowledge necessary to close the portal. The party will have to be very good negotiators providing the three hags with something they covet or they will have to defeat the coven in battle searching their hovel for items to be used.
The party go back to the Foxon Cellars after buying a donkey and horse cart. Once there, John and Nym travel through the portal back to the manse where they transport the loot through the teleport pad. Once the manse is empty, they goes through to the other side and destroy the dais. Nym then transforms into a horse in order to cut her and John’s return time back to town in half. Still in the mine, Roben and Jorg destroy the remaining teleport pads, load up the cart, and discretely plant the loot in the various caches.
Once the party is back together, they talk with Celia and Vada in her library in the Serene Shepherd about what the party should do next. Celia advocates for the destruction of the remaining portal and Vada (a sixth level cleric) volunteers to go with the party to confront the hags. However, the party decides not to go that route just yet. Instead, they decided to head back to the Usurer’s Tower to loot the treasure there they had originally left alone fearing Maise. Celia agrees to work the council to try to get more information for the party to use.
Because it’s very late in the evening by now (early morning hours), the party decides to take a long rest at the inn. They awake the next day in the middle of the afternoon and spend it browsing through Foxon’s shops to see if they can get some better gear. The next morning, they leave town at the crack of dawn for the Usurer’s Tower with their donkey and horse cart.
At the Usurer’s Tower, they discover a lone guard dressed in the armor of the mercenary squad in Foxon. He’s obviously bored and uninterested in his sentry job. John casts Sleep on the guard, then props him upright on the stairs leading up to the only door into the tower. The party quickly move inside closing the door behind them. Once inside they see a spiraling wooden staircase going up to the roof of the tower. They begin to go up it but at the first landing the rickety stairs collapse. Instead of continuing up, the party follows a narrow hall. They hear the guard come inside and mumble about the stairs finally collapsing. They quietly head down into the tower’s basement.
They discover a floor with a barracks and armory, both nearly empty, but unoccupied. After thoroughly exploring all the corridors, they head down further arriving at the prison level where they had originally awoken in cells. This level as well is unoccupied. Going down another level, they realize they are now where they first met Maise. They proceed to the treasure room again.
Nym sees her dagger lying on the floor where she had thought Maise had dissolved it. Apparently, Maise had only used an illusion spell to make Nym think her weapon disappeared. Nym also spies the eversmoking bottle they had first looted and believed had alerted Maise to their presence. Confident they can now take what they want, the party loots the chests. They discover two Charms of Restoration, fifty gems, two spell scrolls (Charm Person & Wrathful Smite), five potions of climbing, a Wand of Magic Detection, a Periapt of Health, a small wooden globe, a pewter hairpin, a wooden ring, a statuette of a well-endowed man, 5000 copper coins, 3000 silver coins, and 100 gold coins. They divide the loot up between them.
Heading back up, the party moves quickly. Back on the main floor they decide to again try to get to the roof of the tower. Drinking one of the potions of climbing, Roben manages to scale up along the wall of the staircase. At the top, he discovers the roof door locked. Lowering his rope, the others climb up–with the exception of John who somehow fails to roll well enough to climb. Instead, John fails flat on the ground. He gets back up, grabs a hold of the rope, and is pulled up by Roben just in time as the guard comes back inside again certain he heard voices and a commotion. Frustrated, the guard sits at a table immediately adjacent to the staircase. The party has to be be extremely quite or they will reveal their presence. Jorg picks the lock successfully and the group quickly gets on the roof.
They discover a beautiful view. Deciding to climb down, they tie two lengths of rope together anchoring at on a parapet opposite the door. All but Jorg climb down. Jorg then unties the rope sending it down to the others. He drinks a potion of climbing easily making it down to join them. With the guard still inside, the party quickly move around the tower to the front, dash into the forest, and join back up with their donkey and cart. They make their way back to Foxon by late afternoon/early evening where they rest for the remainder of the day.