Getting Out of the Tower
After all the enemies had been defeated and loot collected, the party still had to pass the Gust of Wind at the bridge back to the castle.
Captain Biggy McLarge-Huge of the Biggonites’ ring of free action allowed him to travel through the wind and he ran off into the fog of the castle loosing track of the party.
The rest of the party fell back on the old ‘hug the paladin’ strategy and allowed his magic resistance to protect them from the magical wind.
Once back inside the castle, the party discovered the magic fog extended throughout the entire building. They continued to cling to Donald Oates and cautiously made their way through the silent and apparently deserted castle. The castle appeared to have been abandoned while the party was inside Seifer’s tower since they saw no one and did not even hear far-off sounds of other people. Making the magically foggy halls super creepy and unfamiliar.
A Plan Revealed
Eventually the party made it through the foggy halls back to the audience chamber to find the general waiting for them. He revealed that Duke Staggreig had always known about the party’s plan to attack him. Staggreig and Seifer Veinlash thought the party would be too powerful to resist outright because of their reputation as dragon-slayers and so laid a trap. A body-double would fight in place of Staggreig if they chose to attack. If he was defeated, the party would be led to Seifer’s tower where the traps and defenses there would surely destroy the party. While they were inside the army would then set up a defense outside the tower to pick off any weakened survivors. Then the army would march south and destroy Talowdale.
The General had gathered the troops loyal to him and Cup’s soldiers under Leftennant Franklin and had captured the keep from the forces loyal to Staggreig. The remains of Staggreig’s standing army had set out south while the party was inside the tower.
Upon hearing this the party ordered the general to prepare Arborath for a siege in case Staggreig’s army attacked and the party teleported back to Talowdale.
No Time To Mess With the Court
Back in Talowdale preparations for an attack began.
The wall was still unfinished so Lo-kag Fanglord Gathakana spent the next couple of days using magic to move earth to speed the fortification efforts.
The party then dispatched the rangers and thieves among their followers to spy on the enemy army and to sabotage their advancement as much as possible.
Pythagos spoke with Hobarth Burgher about preparing the citizens for fighting.
Cup disguised himself as one of the escaped lunatics the party had freed from Seifer’s tower in order to avoid detection from bounty hunters who might be after the reward put out on his head.
Pythagos, Cup, and Whuh teleported to see Estnod Dragonswing about clearing Cup’s name of the assassination attempt on King Yon but Estnod told them that he was still fighting to keep his position in the court and it would take some doing to set up a meeting where the truth could be aired. And even then the inquest would likely take several days. He told them it was best if they all pretended that Cup had not been there that night and they all come back in a few days when the necessary arrangements could be made.
Lo-kag communed with nature to discover the location of the enemy army and teleported via plants to get there. Once there he melded with the earth to approach unseen and made a touch attack with Contaigen on a soldier in the camp, causing an outbreak of the Shrieks which immobilized Staggreig’s army.
From the Fiery Pits of the Infinite Hells
Shifty McPardee was transformed into a humming bird by Pythagos and he flew to the enemy camp to spy in preparation for an imminent attack while Pythagos watched him through his scrying crystal.
Shifty moved through the camp with expert stealth to the command tent. There he saw a human commander accompanied by a Demon general. A maralith Tanar’ri from the infinite hells named Ka’arl’lya.
Shifty climbed up on top of the tent to hear the conversation inside. He heard the demon say she had seen spies outside of the camp and that this disease was clearly magical in nature so the party must know of their approach and are attempting to interdict the army prior to its assault on Talowdale.
Just then she sliced open the tent below Shifty causing him to tumble down into the tent. She unleashed a ferocious barrage of attacks from her fierce magical axes and swords reducing Shifty to less than half of his HP and binding him in her constricting grasp.
Seeing this in his crystal ball, Pythagos teleported the party into combat to rescue the thief. Shifty used his new prestige class abilities to tumble through the demi-plane of shadow out of the marilith’s clutches and the tent. Lo-kag magically generated a severe thunder storm to confuse the enemy and he and Cup(in disguise as Beaker the mad Cleric) each cast firestorm to eliminate entire regiments of the enemy army.
The demon summoned a squad of lesser demons from a fiery gate to hell. These were quickly dispatched by Glvag, acolyte of Whuh Sdat. The marilith joined the fight bringing a cloudkill with her and pressing the fight to the party members.
Another War-Crime is Committed
Lo-kag and his tiger had been causing trouble on the other side of the camp, attacking regular foot soldiers and surprising them in the storm. He then conjured a huge tornado that destroyed almost the entire camp, including the hospital with all the convalescent soldiers.
I Condemn Thee Back to Hell
Meanwhile the battle against the demon was not progressing well. She had reduced the troll to less then 0HP and tossed his unconscious body into the tornado. Soldiers were closing in around Pythagos so Donald and “Phill” the Lizard Man charged through their ranks on their dinosaur mounts.
Cup cast Holy Word banishing the last of the summoned demons back to hell but the marilith passed her save. Still she was rendered blind and deaf.
She created an illusionary double of herself and attacked the wizard, nearly killing him. This brought her within reach of the paladins and half of the party fell into melee with the demon. Ehlonna AriEr was the first to cause damage to the demon.
The rest of the party determined that the second demon was an illusion and then all attacked the marilith with the desperate ferocity appropriate when faced with a lethal threat to the wizard. She fell and vanished back to hell in a puff of brimstone.
The party made a new and powerful enemy today.
Shifty looted the devastated camp.
Cup healed the wounded and survivors.
Lo-kag and his tiger rounded up the last of the enemy troops.
Pythagos gave them an ultimatum to join him or go home.
What to do About an Evil Act?
A paladin may not associate with someone who willingly and unrepentantly commits an evil act.
Destroying a military hospital full of over 500 convalescent, defenseless, and non-combatant people is an evil act. Lo-kag did this.
Phil and Donald were faced with the possibility of having to leave the party. Lo-kag was unrepentant, thinking what he had done was justified as a force of nature culling the weak and eliminating an enemy. The paladins beseeched Pythagos, as the legitimate ruler of the jurisdiction, to use his legal authority to not only impose just punishment on a war-criminal, but to make amends for the harm that had come from it.
A long discussion took place where Pythagos took counsel with Cup and Whuh, Lo-kag and Donald presented their cases, and politics and morality were considered.
In the end, Pythagos ruled that Lo-kag would enter into indentured servitude to the Duchy for seven years, would be fined the entirety of any earnings for that time, restitution would be paid to the families of the victims, and an education fund would be established where the children of the victims would be provided with funding to come to Talowdale and learn at the university Pythagos had built. This was adequate for the paladins to not have to leave the party immidiately but they would certainly be watching the goliath closely in the future.
The party began marching the remains of the army north to Arborath. A day and a half later, when they neared the city they saw that it was on fire and a blue great wyrm was circling over the city.
The ancient blue dragon saw that the city was defenseless and decided to seize this opportunity to capture Staggreig’s treasury for his own horde. The colossal beast had thrown himself bodily through the city walls and burrowed deep channels into the districts of Arborath, completely flattening a fifth of the city. He tore down walls and fortifications and even ripped huge gashes in the side of the castle. As he flew back and forth between the city and mountains taking claw-loads of treasure he would fire his lightning breath into the residential districts of Arborath, destroying buildings and setting the city ablaze. Every time he returned and threw himself into the sides of the hill, it shook the ground all over the city like an earthquake and would roar with ear-splitting ferocity.
The party teleported just inside the gates of the keep and rushed through the castle to find the treasury. Shifty’s keen thief senses and navigation allowed the party to arrive at the treasury vault in short order as panels of marble fell from the walls and shattered on the floor.
They opened the vault door to see open sky. The north and east of the building had been rent off entirely and the floors and ceilings of the castle were in a state of slow collapse, dislodging more stones each time Nilakanta returned.
The party positioned themselves among the rubble and loot and prepared themselves for battle. At this point they had slept for eight hours in five days of constant combat.
Thinking quickly, Pythagos cast the spell Dragon Ally hoping to attract a powerful dragon to help them resist Nilakanta.
The spell summoned Nilakanta.
He recognized Pythagos as one of the mages of Verland and as the slayer of Rovarath. Nilakanta landed next to Pythagos and asked if he wished to enter into a contract. Pythagos asked that Nilakanta leave the city and never return south of the mountains. Nilakanta refused to exile himself from so much land merely in response to mid-level spell. Pythagos asked him to simply leave and Nilakanta demanded all the treasure in the Duchy’s treasury in return. Pythagos agreed, Nilakanta gathered up the remainder in his claws and flew off to the mountains in the north.
A full third of Arborath had been destroyed by Nilakanta in his day-long raid on the treasury. When he left the city was in flames and buildings were still collapsing. The healers in the party set to work healing the wounded and were soon overwhelmed by the triage. Inexperienced in this type of disaster response the healers used their spells rapidly but the injured just kept coming. The seriously wounded and in danger of dieing kept arriving at the field hospital at a steady rate for three days.