Earlier sections can be found here:
Fragments of the Last War 20 - A Game for Knights, part 1
Fragments of the Last War 21 - A Game for Knights, part 2
"I looked down at the chessboard. The move with the knight was wrong. I put it back where I had moved it from. Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn't a game for knights."
Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
Cymru, Tirane, Eifer
Evening, Ogronn 19, 21 OC (After the Opening of the Caer)
This session began exactly where the previous one left off.
Grind, Malpais, and Nota'Cor began questioning their prisoners. Grind sent Dinty for a bucket of pig's blood. And brought the five human Dock Rats to a basement room. Louis returned to headquarters.
When Dinty returned, Malpais, Nota'Cor and Grind entered the interrogation room. Mal asked the five men for information about the Dock Rats: who were they, who was their leader.
One of the Dock Rats told them that they wouldn't give them anything. At that, Grind grabbed the human and drug him out of the room. He had Dinty make pained screaming noises while he lead the prisoner to a room by himself, and returning he smeared pigs blood on his body before rejoining Mal and Nota'Cor, both of whom just smoked and waited.
Seeing the ogre covered in blood - after hearing the screaming - the other four were quick to tell Mal and Nota'Cor everything. The Dock Rats had been a local, small time gang until about a month ago when their leader brokered a deal with another group. No one know much about who the group was, except they had some mercenaries, mages, and were led by the well-dressed human.
It quickly became apparent to the Dock Rats, their new allies outclassed them and were using the Rats' warehouse as cover. One of their number tried to leave, and a mage burned her alive. Their leader soon protested and the Dock Rats haven't seen him since.
Grind left the room to clean the blood from his clothing and sent a runner to find Sgt. Duncan.
Nota'Cor and Malpais left soon after. They discussed and decided to give the humans to Duncan.
The next prisoner they questioned was the halfing. When Malpais let the halfling out of the magic sack, they readied themselves to fight. But assessing the situation, the halfling, who when asked said his name was Rolli, sat on his haunches and waited. Grind questioned Rolli and learned the halfling had recently been contracted to lead the Dock Rats and friends through the underground.
Grind asked why Rolli fled, and the halfling responded that he wasn't contracted to fight. The Katar then asked the halfling if he could contract him as a scout to the Dock Rats warehouse. Rolli confirmed his contract was at a end and he could accept another. He asked for paper. Grind wrote out a contract that Rolli would guide them.
After some thought, he offered Rolli a share of the loot if he agreed to fight with the Irregulars. Rolli agreed, and Grind added that to the contract. The ogre, grippli, and half-orc signed the contract, then Rolli poked the pen in his hand and signed in blood. The contract glowed blue, and the halfling announced. "It is written."
Mother Jaheena approached the Irregulars and told them that Captain Daniau of the East Cymru City Guard station had arrived. The Irregulars met with him, he proceeded to berate them for their episode at the Temple of Abadar earlier as well as the giant snow statue left by Nota'Cor (of himself.) Malpais succeeded in making him angrier.
After leaving, Daniau marched his guards to the giant statue and hit it with a maul - knocking the entire thing down on top of him. He emerged from the snow shaking his fist and yelling, "Nota'Cor!"
Their final hostage, the half-elf mage, sat by herself a warded room to prevent her from casting. Rolli told them she was one of three mages now running the Dock Rats. When questioned, the mage only replied. "You are dead. All of you. Food for the One who Watches. It's children will soon be born and they will destroy you. One we are summoning now, the other soon."
She jibbered on for a while. By this point Duncan arrived bringing with him a pair of mage shackles. Grind asked Duncan if he could provide support for the assault on the Dock Rat's warehouse. Duncan agreed, though he told them that his jurisdiction was North Cymru noy South Cymru. When they mentioned Captain Daniau, Duncan confirmed that he could make trouble.
Grind sent a runner through the snowy streets to the Temple of Manoc to ask the priest there for support.
Malpais, Nota'Cor, and Grind decided to sleep for a while.
They woke from the sound of rain. Nota'Cor at up and realized he was sitting under a lean-to in a cedar forest. Nearby he saw a larger lean-to covering Grind and a much smaller one over Malpais. The three debated what happened. Grind assumed they were dreaming and hit himself but did not wake. Nota'Cor searched for magic and detected an emanation from the distance.
They decided to investigate and head off in the rain, noting the temperature is much warmer than the snow in Cymru. After some time they find a thatch hut with smoke coming out a hole in the top.
Malpais knocked, and an old human man finally opened the door. He grinned toothless at them. "Yes, of course," he cackled. "You have come for answers. But to get them will you drink?"
Invited them all inside, even Grind, he took a wooden bowl, mixed in some boiling water (maybe) and a pouch of herbs. He asked who was first, and Malpais volunteered. "You must drop your blood into the mixture and then drink it."
The Irregulars frowned. Grind did not want any part of it, but Malpais agreed. The grippli dripped his blood in the bowl and drank half. The old man drank the other half.
Staring blankly, the old man smiled. "The Beast Who Watches. It is one of the Fae who seeks a way into the world. It's children will be born soon. One through a mirror and one from a tree. Perhaps you will be able to defeat it. Perhaps not."
Next, Nota'Cor participated in the ritual. Drinking the mixture after the half-orc, the old man stated. "Beware of the wizard Rista. He is not what he seems. He wants your power, half-orc." Nota'Cor nodded. "Of course, he does."
Finally Grind agreed. When the blood and broth had been drunk the old man smiled. "You seek a way to break the Ogre's curse brought on you by the Fae. You must kill the three exiled Fae who bound your race. The first is still in Ogrin. The second in his mountain retreat here in Tirane. The final one steps between worlds, preferring cold places."
Once they had all drunk, the old human took them outside in the rain. He blessed each one and then stepped back inside his house which winked away. The Irregulars woke in their bedding in the Temple of Desna, completely drenched as if they had been submerged.
They dried their clothing and prepared for the assault. Sgt. Duncan and the Priests of Manoc had sent notes while they were sleeping that both were preparing near the warehouse and would rush the front door once the Irregulars gave a signal.
Nota'Cor suggested they tell them "Fire." The others agreed, and Grind returned a pair of letters by runner.
When the trio was ready, they were joined by Gar the bugbear, Rolli the halfling, and Dinty the goblin. Entering the Undercaverns of Cymru again, this time they brought rags to wear across their faces and shield themselves from the feces smell.
After over an hour making their way through passages, Rolli finally brought them to a newly constructed wooden bridge over a chasm. "This was added recently," he noted. "So the Rats could get direct access to this part of town."
Moving carefully and quietly onto the bridge, he spotted two archers waiting, then signaled to Grind. Grind grabbed the goblin Dinty and tossed him the length of the bridge toward the humans. One archer fired at Dinty, missing, and the other spied and planted an arrow into Rolli.
Grind bounded down the bridge, the structure creaking and wood cracking, while Dinty hopped up from his position and charged one of the archers. Arrows bounced off Grind's breastplate. One of the human Dock Rats, seeing the ogre appear from the gloom turned and ran directly into Dinty.
Grind battled the Dock Rat, who ducked under the ogre's naginata and managed to stab him in close range. Dinty fought with the human archer who sought to escape. Gar and Malpais rushed to help Rolli - Mal forced one of their five healing potions in his mouth.
A deep rumbling came from the chasm beneath them and thousands of rats began climb the walls and the bridge. Malpais leapt past Grind and landed near Dinty, where the two of them subdued the Dock Rat. Frustrated, Grind grabbed the 2nd archer byt the head and threw him over the side of the bridge into the rats below. Gar rushed Rolli forward as one of the rats transformed into the well-dressed man they now recognized as being the new leader of the Dock Rats.
Malpais jumped at the man, bayoneting his arm. The well dressed man stabbed Malpais with a rapier.
Grind rushed toward the pair fighting rats while the others retreated from the bridge. Finally, Malpais fired his shotgun into the man throwing the human into the chasm. He and Grind fled the bridge as rats devoured it.
The captured human, Al, quickly surrendered and cried. He claimed the Dock Rats were no longer in charge of their own actions or hideout. That they were merely a front for the mages and the shapeshifter that Mal killed.
Grind asked Al for details about the headquarters - about twenty mercenaries, six more Dock Rats, three mages, and five dogs. He noted the Dock Rats resided in the basement with the dogs and they mostly guarded the underground entrance.
Nota'Cor cast a small illusion spell with an image of the giant spider Horror he saw a decade or so earlier, terrifying Al. "If your bosses get their way, this is what is coming."
Al agreed to help convince the other Dock Rats to join them. Waiting, they became worried that Al had betrayed them, but soon he returned and said the other Dock Rats had agreed to talk.
He lead the assault team into the basement of the warehouse (new construction) past some dog kennels (the dogs quieted with food) and to a common room where the remaining Dock Rats waited. After seeing Nota'Cor's illusion of the Horror (Jazrim broke down crying), they all agreed to abandon the mercenaries and wizards upstairs. Only Al and a female human, Edwina, decided to join the Irregulars. The rest (other than Jazrim) fled by way of the underground caverns. Jazrim lay in a bunk and covered his head.
The assault began in earnest. Edwina crept upstairs to start a fire and Al went to unlock the front doors to the warehouse. Soon the Irregulars heard screaming from upstairs.
Grind burst through the door first, shaking off arrows fired at him, and quickly surveyed the room. About twenty feet up, catwalks connected two raised platforms and enclosed rooms. In the center of the warehouse sat stacks of boxes. Mercenaries stood on the catwalks, and he could see several in the raised rooms. Grind then decided to rush one catwalk pillar, snapping it with his body.
The conflict, which followed, proceeded quickly. Grind and Dinty rushed to meet mercenaries pouring down to the bottom level. Edwina's fire brought in Sgt. Duncan, the North Cymru Guards, and the Priests of Manoc who battled mercenaries at the doors.
Gar and Nota'Cor attacked archers and mages at range. The enemy mages cast fear and attack spells, while Malpais jumped to the catwalks and proceeded to shoot down guards.
The fight went very quickly and very violently. All the Irregulars and their side ended up injured, but none of the PCs dropped below 0.
Nota'Cor pushed one of the mages off a catwalk and crushed him to the floor with telekinesis. They discoverd the mage they had captured earlier at the ambush under the Temple of Abadar had somehow been released and was back at the warehouse.
Once the opposition was dead or surrendered, the Irregulars proceeded to go through the paperwork and boxes of the warehouse. Sgt. Duncan told them that he had been required to turn the Dock Rat mage over to the East Cymru guards and was surprised to see her free. The North Cymru Guard captain, a drow named Bendorin, arrived to hurry along the operation before the South Cymru Guards arrived.
The Irregulars returned to their headquarters with their limited spoils, but no amber or driftwood.
As the game ended, we had a cut scene where the well-dressed, shapeshifting human crawled out of the underground ravine, his arm regrown. He looked toward the warehouse and ran the other direction.
The chronicle continues on Fragments of the Last War 23 - A Game for Knights, part 4