Ebardos 12th (cont.)
After dropping Blyx’s corpse off at the Temple of Eternal Light, the party spends the evening trading in loot and buying supplies before they retire to their house for the night.
As they are finishing their breakfast, there is a knock at the door. It’s a messenger from the front. They recognize him as one of the men who fought alongside them against the Cult of Tsaag-Nalta. He says he’s been sent by Thorndyke and that they have a job for the heroes. He tells them that if they’re interested, they should meet Thorndyke at the Nine Lives Gaming House at about noon. The party says they’ll be there. They wait a couple of hours, then head to the temple where they find Blyx recovering from her ordeal. The party head to the Slums and to the gambling hall. There, they meet with Thorndyke, who explains that a band of highwaymen led by an ogre named Blarok has been targeting their shipments specifically. He believes the Fangs may have something to do with it. He offers Blyx free membership if they can take care of the bandit. They accept, then return home, deciding that it’s best to depart in the morning.
The party set out on foot heading to the south. They stop a mile north of where the attacks supposedly took place. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, they continue further south. When Cinndell spots a place on the road where a struggle took place, the party examine their surroundings again. They can see a good place to ford the river a ways further south. After listening for a moment, they hear voices coming from the forest across the river. Unable to see anything through the trees, they travel back to the north for half an hour. After stopping to try to come up with a plan, they see a figure approaching from the south, walking north on the road. They pretend to be preoccupied tending to their gear. When he approaches, he looks at them, continues walking, then turns and warns them that this isn’t a safe place to be. When he learns that they have come to go after the bandits, he offers to join them. They accept. He introduces himself as Tenedor, a ranger who helps to look after the village of Anbrook. Heeding his advice, they decide to wait for a boat to come by to see if they can be ferried across the river. After a short time, a boat does approach, and they do just that. They head northward through the forest until they approach the area west of where the attacks took place. There, they find human tracks leading east and west. They follow these. The tracks soon follow a creek. After another half an hour of walking through the forest, they come into view of a cave in a steep hill. The creek is flowing out of the entrance. There is a wooden gate there, slightly open and two bandits standing guard. They can see animal tracks that appear to lead around the side and up the hill. They sneak a bit closer and open fire on the guards, taking them out before they can call for help. They stealthily approach the cave entrance. Blyx peeks in and sees six bandits inside drinking and talking. Xen casts a spell into the rear of the cave, creating the illusion of dancing lights. The bandits are startled, believing they are will o’ wisps. They turn theit backs on the entrance and begin to open fire on the lights. The heroes open fire on them through the partially open gates. They drop a couple of them, Xen shoots one of the leaders through the eye with a crossbow bolt. Now they can see that on the opposite side of the cave, there are six more bandits. The bandits seek cover and begin to return fire, though the party has good cover themselves from the gates. Two more bandits join the battle through another gate in the back. Xen casts a fireball into the cave, filling the entire chamber with a roaring inferno. The blast kills all the bandits, save two and incinerates all the wooden bridges and gates. Then, an ogre wielding a massive greatclub comes charging into the chamber from the rear opening. One of the surviving bandits follows him, taking a shot at the party. The other bandit tries to leap a small chasm to the other half of the cave, fails, and falls into the creek. Xen casts glitterdust and aims it between the ogre and the first bandit. Both are covered in glittering dust. The ogre bellows in rage, blinded by the dust. The bandit looks briefly in wonder at his now sparkly leader before being shot down by Xen (who is having an exceptional day with his crossbow). Sebastian steps forward and casts doom on the ogre. The second bandit trudges through the stream toward the party, shooting his crossbow. The ogre charges blindly forward, but stumbles a bit coming down an incline. He takes a wild swing at Blyx and misses.
The party begin dropping back out of the cave while laying down ranged fire, attempting to draw the ogre and the bandit outside of the cave. The ogre misses the party several times with his greatclub, but manages to catch riot with a massive blow. He exits the cave pursuing the party. The party has trouble getting enough separation between him and them. Tenedor risks a shot with his bow as he’s dropping back and takes a resounding hit from the brute. The bandit, meanwhile, heads north to where Sebastian and Riot are attempting to help his leader by flanking the party. He skewers Riot with his longsword. The wolf drops to the ground, dying. Cinndell manages to begin casting a spell to call lightning down on the ogre. Duncan lands a solid blow with his axe. Several of the party hit the ogre with ranged weapons. Cinndell completes her spell and calls a bolt down on the ogre. It partially strikes him. Blyx hits it with another bolt. The giant swings and misses, then is struck solidly again by Duncan’s axe. The ogre comes crashing down to the forest floor.
The party loot the cave. Amongst the stash of stolen goods the bandits had in the rear chamber, they find several art treasures, gems, gold, and a magical scepter. Xen casts identify on the scepter. He learns that it was once known as the Scepter of Ninurta. It allows a spell caster to enhance several spells each day. He also learns that Ninurta was once king of Varadinum. Himself descended from the Luxian wizards who retreated there, he had a vault constructed to hide the secret arcane knowledge of his ancestors from the holy warriors of Sembria who were quickly spreading into Avralor. The scepter was said to be the only way to reveal the secret vault hidden somewhere below Varadinum.
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