Chapter 1: Epilogue to Exodus
Your party is invited to rest at Ket Keep for two days to heal while Lord Basil and Borden catch up on the situation and gather intelligence for the next move. Basil’s men have cleared the keep of any remaining goblins but since Sargent Goodwin knows that Lord Basil was heading for Ket Keep, it’s not wise to stay here long.
Ket Keep is a bustle of activity as soldiers divide into teams and begin training and studying maps of the surrounding territory.
During the night of the second day, Borden disturbs your sleep in the early morning hours, entering the common sleeping area.
“Lord Basil requests your presence at the second floor ballista station. Get your armor and gear together and prepare for action.”
You hurriedly get your gear together, wondering what’s happening. You hear loud whispers up the spiral stairs from the second floor of Ket Keep. You ascend the stairs and proceed down the hall to the southern side of the keep where you find Borden and Basil giving orders to two men manning the ballista stations that cover the portcullis entrance. The old, broken ballistas have been repaired and you see that the men have cranked and loaded the large fixed crossbows with bolts as big as a halfling’s arm.
Basil turns to you, his bushy eyebrows shading his eyes in the dim candlelight and his fat jowls casting shadows over his armored neck.
“Glad you could make it for the action. Yesterday, one of our scouts spotted a group of three score heavily bugbear heading directly for the keep. It would seem that somebody told them where they could find some easy victims. I would hate to be a group of young men barely able to lift a sword, led by a group of knights exhausted by a long journey, trapped in this old keep while a small army of bugbear sneak in to attack”.
Borden motions you to an arrow slit overlooking the path that leads to the rusty portcullis. In the dark, you can see dozens of large dark forms quietly approaching through the tall grass. The forms carry large tower shields and a small team in front carries a portable ram, heading for the portcullis…
“Luckily,” Basil continues, “we were warned of treachery in Lakewood and were able to scatter most of the men into hiding places in the forest around the keep. The only people left in here are us, and a few men on the roof waiting with fire arrows.”
The bugbears have reached the portcullis now. The lead column sets their tower shields and draws crossbows while the ram team charges the portcullis.
Borden turns to Racliffe: “Sir elf, our friends are arriving at the gate, would you mind giving them some light to work by?”
You are puzzled for a minute when you see in the forest edge, dozens of pinpoints of fire light up. A team of archers waits in the woods to ambush the bugbears. Radcliffe casts a light spell on the bugbears who start to panic and shout orders. Simultaneously, volleys of flame arrows fall on them from their flanks. The bugbears charge the gate, but the men manning the ballista fire bolts which staple the lead bugbear to the ground through his abdomen. The bugbears are in chaos now, turning their shields toward the surprise attack just as a group of mounted knights of lakewood charge through their ranks, decimating the humanoids. The bugbears, blinded, losing surprise and half of their force in minutes, start to flee, but are quickly mopped up by the knights and archers. Sir Brattle of Lakewood is killed in battle, and two archers are killed by fleeing bugbears, but naerly sixty of their number are slain.
After the battle, Basil turns to you:
“It’s not safe hear, we leave now to split into our secret locations in the wood. Tomorrow you’ll follow Borden who has a task for you, if you’ll have it. You’ll be paid for your service, and you might just save Lakewood from Baron Rottlich’s forces.”