Chapter 10: Truce
Two weeks after the assault on Armsby Abbey, Father Jannus returns to the abbey where Pat and Radcliffe have been recuperating and helping the clerics to rebuild (Orik has recently left on a scouting mission of the occupied town of Steelheart).
Jannus leads the young men to his vault, where he rewards each with 500 gp, and two potions of cure moderate wounds. In addition, he allows each to select one item from treasure belonging to those that fell in the battle. Radcliffe selects a magical crossbow that shoots flaming arrows (“Flamethrower”). Jannus selects a special “soul diamond” that can be used in a material component when raising the dead.
Jannus informs the party that the Knights of Lakewood have been asking if they would be willing to participate in a secret mission, and if so, to meet at Stonedennus as soon as possible.
Pat and Radcliffe proceed to Lakewood, and gather information in town at a pub near Stonedennus, The Sword and Spoon. There they are put in contact with a couple of guards that provide information on a jailbreak that occurred during the attack on Lakewood: apparently one Captain Tolland disappeared in the chaos of the siege, and also several high value prisoners escaped from the prisons of Stonedennus.
Arriving at the fortress, Pat and Radcliff meet with the recently revived Basil, Sir Renton the Red Knight, Commander Dankirk of the Southern Reach, and Radcliffe’s uncle, Bezrin, an elven ambassador. They inform the pair that the previous day, a young woman claiming to be the handmaiden of a Vermese Countess arrived on horseback. The handmaiden claims that Lady Ashwind is on a mission to discuss peace terms, and is seeking an official escort to Tyn with representatives from Lakewood and Brennevin.
Basil fears that the request is a trap and balks at sending his immediate councils or Bez’rin, but offers Pat a temporary knighthood if he agrees to go along with Radcliffe. If successful, he can offer Pat a small plot of land between the Abbey and Lakewood to call his own, with an apple orchard and cider house. Pat and Radcliffe agree to meet the handmaiden, and are soon traveling east, through the occupied crossroads of Halfway Home where they meet the Lady Ashwind.
Meanwhile, in Zella’s Vineyard, Porkin’s childhood friend Deen is appointed the new Sheriff, with Porkin’s cousin having been exhiled from Peckton. Deen informs Porkins that the constablary has decided to give Porkins the traditional weapon of the Sheriff- the Peckton Defender- a magical rapier. Clinton trades Cotton for a small staff of spell storing.
Peckton receives a pigeon indicating that Pat and Radcliffe are meeting Hillibrand at Alta Toon, and suggests that Porkins and Clinton join them.
Pat and Radcliffe along with the Handmaiden, Hazel, arrive at Halfway Home. There Lady Ashwind is waiting. The lady strikes an imposing figure, breathtakingly well shaped in a tight black and green gown, with tightly cropped red hair. She at first appears to have an aged face, but on closer inspection her young face is criss crossed in many tiny lines. The entourage of Lady Ashwind includes her bodyguard Sir Schlecht, a giant of a man in finely crafted green-tinged steel plate armor adorned with the shapes of dragons, her carriage driver, and Schlecht’s squire, Stuben.
After exchanging pleasantries the entourage proceeds to Est Harbor where they stay at an Inn for the night. Schlecht strongly recommends that Pat and Radcliffe stay in their rooms to avoid encounters with Vermese conscripts or officers, and the night passes without event.
The next morning, the entourage proceeds to Alta Toon, passing a bridge littered with bodies from a recent battle. Arriving at Alta Toon in the late afternoon, the party is re-united. They discover a half-elf scout, Meznick, who maintains a lookout tower in the abandoned city. Meznick informs the party that Hillibrand is due to arrive in the morning, but that there is a nasty storm about to pass through, and they best seek shelter under cover. He recommends the largest buildings in the ghost town that still have roofs, the twin market buildings.
The party parks carriage and horses under the marketplace as the rain starts. Schlecht takes first watch among the Vermese, but the friendly Stuben decides to stay up with Pat and Radcliffe to trade stories and drink Applejack by a fire. After downing a whole skin in minutes, young Stuben braves the rain to take a piss. There is a tension in the air as Pat’s horse stirs, and a faint whistling can be heard over the wind. Suddenly, there is a crunching sound and Stubens bloody head slides across the floor of the market.
As lightning flashes, the party sees a giant, green skinned creature with a large hooked nose, massive crooked teeth, and long arms right near the marketplace. The creature charges into the market, attacking as the party wakes Clinton and Porkins from near slumber.
Simulaneously, a female troll barges into the neighboring Market, attacking one of the carriage horses and biting a huge chunk out of its neck as it flails to the ground. Schlecht engages that troll.
As the battle proceeds, Radcliffe attempts to shoot a flaming bolt at the troll, as the rest of the party backing away from it. Radcliffe finds himself the center of the troll’s attention, who misses Radcliffe with a bite but lands massive claws, dealing grevious fatal blows that rend flesh and send Radcliffe sprawled along the floor, dead!
Incredulous, the party fights back, and with Schlect’s help manages to defeat both trolls, burning their remains to prevent regeneration. The rest of the night is somber as first Pat confronts Meznick, who is as surprised as they about the troll attack, and then they sleep under the tower in the rain in case other trolls are about who would see the fires.
In the morning, Hillibrand arrives to meet a somber party. The group wraps Radcliffe and proceeds to Tyn. On the second day from Alta Toon they arrive at an Inn that looks like a suspicious trap. The party confronts the would-be ex-soldier bandits, defeating them resoundedly and sending the survivors running away.
The next day, the party arrives at Tyn, the imposing capital of the Duchy that is nine times the size of Lakewood. Along the main road they pass by a veritable army of Tyn soldiers that looks like they are ready to mobilize. Lady Ashwind expresses confusion that an army would be mustered for an invasion south.
The party is lead to a series of fancy tents, where the Advisor to the Duke Regent, Garek, is meeting the Lady. Garek snidely hints that the party will not be allowed into the city due to assassinations that precipitated the war, but invites the Lady and ambassadors to a dinner at eventide.
Meanwhile, the party attempts to find a cleric to raise Radcliffe. At the main cathedral, they are rebuffed by busy clerics until Pat shows them the soul diamond, at which point a cleric tells them to return the next day, offering to store Radcliffe in a special vault.
Hillibrand meets with The Engineer, an elderly black man who has been in charge of excavating a tunnel dug by hobgoblin sappers at the southern wall. Surprisingly, the tunnel goes straight down, not through the wall. He explains that they sent 6 soldiers to clear the tunnel of possible leftover goblinoids who never returned.
At dinner, Garek breaks the news to Lady Ashwind that his spies have spotted the Est Harbor occupiers preparing to attack Lakewood, and he is sending the Tyn army south to retake Est Harbor and catch the Vermese invaders in a pincer. He dismisses Lady Ashwind’s peace offer summarily and sends her to her carriage under arrest. The lady incredulously returns to her tent.
At that point, the Engineer returns to Hillibrand, saying that two scouts posted above the tunnel disappeared. Hillibrand initially orders the engineer to collapse the tunnel, but the Engineer shares recent research indicating that the tunnelers may have been trying to reach the ancient city underneath the old Tynor castle, perhaps searching for a secret weapon. The engineer consulted with a sage on an old map that clearly indicates that Tyn is labelled as Pallmoor Gates- or more accurately, King Palimor’s Gate.
Worried that something bad is afoot, the party agrees to scout the tunnel on the condition that the Engineer uses his connections to raise Radcliffe from the dead. Clinton, Pat, Porkins and Hillibrand proceed into the tunnel. Porkins reaches the bottom, which connects to a horizontal tunnel that opens to two ancient double doors with strange inscriptions. The doors open and the party is attacked by bugbear pikemen and a fell priest in a dead bear mask- who collapses the tunnel. The party barely escapes with their lives before killing the attackers, but are trapped in the tunnel!