Return to the Hidden Encampment of the company of hanged Men
On your return you are greeted by a foppish bard and a large group of refugees from the country side,the bard sings a ballad in your honour.
After some briefing on information from some spy’s and scouts you find that the city is being held by humanoids and undead, and Lord VonSooth has sent his Human Mercenary Companies out of the city to harass, pillage raid and expand his control of the country side surrounding the city. One of the scouts reporting to you heard a rumor that a pay wagon with the months payroll for the human mercenaries in the employ of Lord VonSooth, is headed to the hamlet of Elderwood, to pay the mercenaries for taking the hamlet and using it as the base to push his influence into the Elven lands to the North. You decide that with the groups limited amount of rescources and trained troops, that it would be good to intercept the mercenaries pay and remove a portion of VonSooth’s army from play, and perhaps get an army of your own, as opposed to trying to take on a huge mercenary army.
Contacting the Scout and forming a plan of action
You scout out the hamlet of Elderwood and the nearby castle with the aid of your groups scouts and spies, and find that a large force of mercenary fighters belonging to different company’s (Wolf Company, Goblin Company, Manticore Company, Hydra Company, and Specter Company) have the hamlet besieged, and have given the hamlet 4 days to surrender or be wiped out. Your informant also advises that 2 days before you arrived in the region a large armored, heavily laden wagon pulled by a team of 6 Draft horses was seen arriving at the keep. So you will have to steal the payroll out of the castle’s vaults.After some initial scouting of the area youi find that most of the mercenaries are tied up in the siege of the hamlet, with only a skeleton force left within the castle, to hold the keep and guard the payroll. You then decided to send the 150 troopers that accompanied you to the region to sneak into the hamlet and aid in bolstering its defenses, while you scout out the keep, formulate a plan and conduct a raid to liberate the payroll from the Mercenary forces of Lord VonSooth.
The groups reconnaissance uncovers that the mercenary companies all report to a despotic follower of Lord VonSooth, who titles himself Lord Tanlan, and that each mercenary company has a lieutenant in charge of it. Wolf Company is made up of blade duelists, with 10 stationed in the keep, and 70 in the field, and are commanded by a warrior named Gaheel. Manticore Company is made up of sharp shooter archers, with 12 stationed within the keep, and 50 in the feild, and are also commanded by Commander of the Watch Captain Gaheel. Hydra Company seems to be the backbone of the mercenary forces, with its veteran mercenaries, with 28 stationed in the keep, and 280 in the field, and are Commanded by the Mercenary Commander and Liaison of lord Tanlan, Kamren. Goblin Company is made up of brutes and thugs, with 24 stationed within the keep and 240 in the field. Commanded by a a Half-orc warrior called Thorsk the enforcer. Specter Company is made up of assassins and thieves serving as intelligence, with 6 stationed within the keep, bringing the information they gather from their forays outside of the keep to their Commander, a halfing called Olos the Spymaster. Your groups scout reported that rthe keep seems to be accessed by a magicaly locked gate, that seems to be opened by a magical talismin and a command phrase or password, that each of the Commanders seem to have and carry, and that he has observed that the keep seems to keep a weekly schedule, in that in the morning of every Bladeday 4 members of each of the Wolf, Manticore and Goblin Companies and their respective commanders gather outside pf the keep for a competitive fox hunt, leaving less guards in the keep. The scout also advised that in the evening of the same day the troops stationed in the keep are inspected in the keeps courtyard and seem to be the most alert at this time. Also on tghe morning of Craftersday the keep receives its weekly delivery of food and supplies by a horse drawn cart and a small detachment of Hydra company guards. The rest of the week is usually spent with the troops within the keep taking shifts on the walls, or drinking and carousing or sleeping while not on duty.
Your group quickly decided your best chance of gaining access to the keep is via ambushing the Fox hunt and capturing one of the commanders, inorder to gain the gate key and password. It was decided that Cat would take her cat form and disguise herself as a fox, to lead the hunters into a hidden pit trap and ambush zone. The party communicated their plans with the local fox population, and prepared a 15’ deep pit trap with spikes at the bottom, and covered and obscured the trap from view. On the morning of the hunt a fox led the hunter’s to a stream inthe woods near a tree where Cat was hiding, then Cat jumped out from behind the tree disguised as the fox when the hunters came into view, ensuring that they saw her and took up the chase. Cat then lead the hunters on a merry chase deeper into the woods, to the ambush zone and pit trap. The party then unleashed a flurry of spells that quickly eliminated the troopers, Captain Gaheel, Commander Kamren, and ended with Thorsk the Enforcer being knocked unconscious by the warrior Denagar. The priest then quickly revived him and the party offered to release him on the promise that they would not kill him, if he gave them his gate key and password and swore to leave these lands and not return. Thorsk agreed on one additional stipulation that the party promised to kill the Halfling spymaster Olos.
Into The Keep
The party then steals some the uniforms from the slain Hydra and Wolf Company Troopers, and takes the body of the slain commander Kamren, so they can use her to get close enough to the gate to use the keys and password to gain access to the keeps courtyard without raising any alarms with guards until it is to late for them, and recovered a Magic Glaive +3 and a suite of Dwarven Platemail Armor +2 off of Commander Kamren. As the party approaches the gate you carried the commanders body like she was seriously injured and you where returning her to the keep for medical aide. This allowed the party to get close enough to the gates to use the keys and password to open the gates without getting any of the guards upon the walls or towers to attack before you where able to open the castles gates. As you entered into the castle’s gatehouse passage to the outer courtyard one of the Wolf Company troopers sees that Commander Kamren is dead and not injured, and challenges the party raising the alarm within the castle, the parties initiative scores where such that given you where already inside the keeps gates, it was determined that the party had gotten the jump on the wolf company troopers and both Teithen and Coroane let loss with fire spells that incinerated the wolf company troopers and took out the Spectre Company troops in their barracks before they had a chance to react to the alarm. Theren then took out some of the Manticore troopers atop one of the towers, while Learl took out the remaining Manticore troopers atop the other gatehouse tower. Cat tried to manuevwer into position to be able to attack the quickly approaching Goblin Company Troopers, but Gaven beat her to the punch and took them out, Then the halfling spymaster Olos attacked Tiethen and Coroane from the shadows, and was blasted into dust by Tiethan.
Following the fight at the gatehouse the party thoroughly search all of the out buildings in the inner and outer courtyards. The party found a few interesting bits and pieces on Olos remains and in his office, including Goggles of Night, a map of the keep, without the vault location and some notes on the possible types of magical and non-magical protections placed on the keep proper and possibly used within the vault, and a small black leather bound book of names (some of them etched out with a line of red). Upon closer inspection of the book several parties members recognize some names of stature with red lines through them, including the name of the former Hugh Priest of the temple of Aubadur, and realize that you have found a hit list for specter company. Learl also note that some of his clan elders have made the list.
Searching the Keep Interior for the Vault
The party approached the main doors to the keep with some caution after reading Olos map and notes. which paid off as the party detected a magical trap on the main doors, but Theren with his skill in arcana detects that forcing the doors open with out using one of the door talismans and the password will set off some sort of audible alarm. The group successfully bypassed the first trap and entered the grand foyer of the keep intererior.The party then conducted a room by room search starting with the Grand Foyer, then the dilapidated Banquet Hall, the Former Kitchen which was converted into a bedroom containing some arcane reagents. Then the group moved on to a storage room filled with supplies and provisions. Next was a a trophy Room containg an assortment of nick nacks and brick a back and a spiral staircase leading upwards. The group decided note to head up the stairs yet but to finish searching the main floor and moved onto a Sitting Room, which contained 4 chairs arranged in front of a large ornate chair placed with it’s back to a large hearth. The party then entered a large study, opulently decorated with a large ornate desk covered in maps and papers, Tanlan’s official Seal, some sealing wax and huge stuffed bear in one corner. The sharp eyes of Cat Tiethan and Gavin spotted scratches and scuff marks on the wood floor surrounding the stuffed bear. The group works together and was able to maneuver the stuffed bear to the side to reveal a heavy iron trap door set into the floor. Upon examining the trap door Cat was able to detect a poison dart trap and disarm it. The group once again decided to finishing searching the main level, before moving further up or down into the keeps interior. The party then entered a library filled with books, a table filled with reagents and an elf conducting experiments with them. Luck was once again in favor of the party, as most of the group where able to surprise the Elven Enchantress Fermina so immersed was she in her studies. Fermina did manage to get one spell off with little effect before she was brought down by the group. A search of the books revealed that a quarter of them where on military history, strategy and diplomacy, and the remaining books where tombes on enchantment magics, traps alchemy and Fermina’s research notes. The group then decided to head up the spiral staircase in the trophy room up to Lord Tanlan’s Chamber which contained an ornate bed and wardrobe full of clothes.
Accessing the Vault and bypassing Fermina’s Traps
The trap door from the Study opened up into a dark tunnel that descends down a set of mortared stone stairs that ended at a pair double obsidian doors, in set with a circular mithral disk with 8 metal nubs around the outside edge, and Dethek Dwarven ruins enscribed on the surface of this strange lock device. Learl was able to translate the dwarven ruins as a the phrase “3 Paths”, and with his knowledge of history realizes it a reference to a famous Dwarven poem, that detailed the three paths to cictory followed by a legendary Dwarven King Brannaborg, which are the names of the three chapters of the epic poem. The three chapters are named “The Hand of Victory”, “The Seal of Power”, and “The Sword of Conquest”. After examining the lock the group decided that the title of the first chapter eluded to the fact that the first stage of the lack had to be manipulated by hand, and following some careful examination of the mechanism and some deft finger work by Cat the party opened the first stage, of the lock, and the disk popped open revealing a pentagonal hole. The arcanists in the group detected that the second stage emanated an aura similar to those emanating from the commanders talismans and and Lord Tanlan’s personal seal, and with the reference of the second chapter’s title the group quickly realizes the hole is the same shape as Lord Tanlan’s seal and presses it into the hole thereby bypassing the second stage of the lock, and a cylindrical lock apparatus slides out Upon examination the group saw that the cylinder had slots on either side with medal rods inside them that slide away from a blade shaped opening. with the reference of the third chapter title Gavin takes one of the groups short swords and inserted the blade into the opening until the party heard a load click and the obsidian doors cracked open with a groan. The double obsidian doors opened into a oblong area that ran from east to west with 2 open doors on the north side of the chamber at either end. The 2 open doors lead into a pair of 50 ft long hallways that appear to open into another unlit chamber.The chambers and hallways are all made of polished smooth stone walls with tile floors. The party carefully examined the area before entering the area, and the arcanists in the party spotted a gem that acts a sensor that if triggered would set off an audible shrieking alarm, the Cat perceived a hidden panel just out side the eastern end of the chamber, that contained a reset lever. Upon further examination Cat was able to tell the the tiles in the eastern corridor from the oblong chamber are all pressure plates from ten feet of either end of the corridor that would drop a ten foot thick slab of obsidian at each end of the corridor trapping the victim between each slab. The other corridor to the west was unimpeded by any traps. The corridor leads into a huge chamber with a large pile of silver bars stacked in the center, and the more observant party members quickly spot small hole in the ceiling, and two pipes just above the floor on opposite side s of the chamber, and that the tiles beneath and adjacent to the silver bars where depressed by several inches from the weight of the huge horde of silver bricks, and that the tile floor rest upon a mettle grading that would allow fluids to flow through into a large underground lake below the chamber. Upon further investigation by the party it was determined that the commanders talismans where detected by the censor in the first chamber and served to deactivate the traps in the chambers, and that the chamber with the silver is one large trap of layered traps, moving the weight of silver or stepping on the pressure plate adjacent would activate the trap, releasing an acidic sleep fog from the ceiling. The fog is an powerful enchantment that causes those in it to fall unconscious and take large amounts of acid damage until they would be dissolved to a liquid state, then the pipes at either end would quickly flood the chamber with water washing away the acid sleep fog and any disolved organic residue beneath the tiles and through the grate below.
Escaping with the Horde and the Aftermath
Sitting in the vault was 100,000GP in the form of 400 bars of silver weighing 50lbs a piece, so using muscle and magic it takes the party several hours to move the treasure from the vault and back into the huge armored wagon Lord VonSooth had used to ship it there. The party then assigns several odf the scouts that assisted in the reconnaissance to drive the treasure wagon back to the encampment of the Company of Hangedmen. Before you left the keep you were sure to set off the audible alarm in the vault, before heading back out into the country side to weight and watch for the immediate results of your actions. Within the hour of your departure you watch Lord Tanlan and 20 mercenary guards of the Hydra Company come thundering back from the outskirts of the hamlet to find that their payroll had just disappeared. You watched as Lord Tanlan quickly reacted by activating the keeps magical defenses and barricading himself inside away from the angry unpaid mercenaries. Several mercenaries quickly headed back to the gathered mercenary forces outside the hamlet, and it is not long before the mercenary army has moved from the hamlet to storming the keep. Several hours later after witnessing the mercenaries hang their former leader Lord Tanlan, the party approached a group of departing mercenaries, and advised them that a certain group of adventures that had recently slain a red dragon and that where working in opposition to Lord Von Sooth might be looking to hire a mercenary army willing to fight for the forces of good, and that if they where interested to report to the encampment of the Company of the Hangedmen.