Back in New Phlan, Ginallath had returned to Nat Wyler’s Bell, and discovered that the rest of the party had left without him. In the inn’s common room, he encountered Beck Darkmantle, who had been sidetracked from his original intention of finding the wizard by the prospect of drinking a lot. As Beck finally got around to telling Ginallath where everyone was, they were approached by three mysterious figures – a sun elf noblewoman, a dusky-skinned human woman dressed for wilderness travel, and a quiet, tattooed thief.
Over drinks, the elf woman introduced herself as Vilanestra, a former student of the mage Ren the White. Ren had disappeared into the Old City after contacting Vilanestra via sending, and the sun elf mage had traveled from Evermeet to find her old mentor. Having heard of the party’s victory at Sokol Keep, she had hoped to use their knowledge of the area to aid her search, but they had departed for the Temple of Bane before she could speak to them. The thief, Girald Authar of Luskan, and Vilanestra’s associate Rajmani, a ranger/druid of some skill, had tracked the party into the Old City, and witnessed their defeat by the orcs. Vilanestra theorized that Mace would probably keep the adventurers alive, planning to sell them to an orc tribe outside the city which routinely raided the area for slaves to sell to Mulmaster, Melvaunt, and Zhentil Keep. She offered to help Ginallath rescue Wulf, MacTavish, Inigo, and Aeryn in exchange for his promise to help her find Ren the White. Ginallath and Beck accepted, whereupon Vilanestra revealed that she had hired additional local help: Vola. Naturally, Beck was overjoyed.
Meanwhile, the party awoke to find themselves lying uncomfortably in a wooden wagon jouncing over the rough terrain east of Phlan. Soon, they found themselves approaching a large camp, fortified by rough wooden walls and towers. At the gate, they were met by Grishak, who combined the functions of tribal subchief and oily slavedealer in one unappealing package. After inspecting the party (and checking Wulf’s teeth), Grishak ordered them placed in the slave pen, which turned out to be a 20′ pit topped by logs and guarded by bow-armed orcs. Some of the prisoners turned out to be former New Phlan City Guardsmen, who recognized MacTavish as a cleric of Tempus and turned to him for leadership.
As MacTavish organized the slaves and Inigo sulked, Ginallath and his new allies tracked the Orc slavers to their camp. In the process, Ginallath’s willowy form attracted Vola’s attention, and the elf only escaped becoming another notch on her bedpost by casting sleep on the lusty half-orc and convincing her that something had, in fact, happened. The elf mage then volunteered to disguise himself as an orc (via change self) and reconnoiter the camp, while a similarly disguised GIrald infiltrated the camp and distributed weapons to the party.
At the gate Ginallath was met by Grishak. Fortunately, his disguise held up, and he was taken to inspect the tribe’s current stock while Girald disappeared into the crowded camp. After inspecting Wulf’s teeth (again) Ginallath purchased him from Grishak for 150 gold pieces, and proudly led his new slave out of the camp to safety. Girald, meanwhile, knifed an Orc guard and made it into the pit, where he informed the party of the attempt being made to rescue them and gave them the daggers he had brought with him.
At dawn, the rescuers executed their plan. Vilanestra and Vola provided a compelling diversion (courtesy of Vilanestra’s mastery of Abjuration spells), while Ginallath, Rajmani, Wulf, and Beck assaulted the gate. Their attack was met by javelins from the orcs, as well as the attention of the two ballista crews stationed in the towers on either side of the gates.
Beck swung into action immediately, using his grappling hook to yank Orcs from the walls and towers to their deaths, while Ginallath used his bow and his spells to pick off those that remained. One unlucky orc had the misfortune to be wedged between the right tower’s crenellations and caught. Acting quickly, Rajmani scaled the rope over the objections of the screaming orc. Beck shrugged, handed the rope to Wulf, and followed, as did Ginallath – leaving Wulf standing in front of the gate all alone with javelins raining down on him.
Hearing the commotion at the gate was too much for Inigo. Inspired by the lust for battle, he screamed “Attack!” and hurled his dagger at the guards. Girald watched as the blade sank into the earth at the edge of the pit and swore softly – then he flattened himself up against the side of the pit while the rest of the party (and the guards) blinked in astonishment. With a cry of “The slaves are armed – kill them!” the orc guards began to fire wildly into the pit as Aeryn and MacTavish desperately searched for cover.
Meanwhile on the tower, the rescuers split up, with Beck and Rajmani clearing away the guards while Ginallath climbed down (or more accurately dropped down, since he failed his Climb check) to the courtyard to open the gate. Winded and bruised from the fall, the elf mage looked up to see Grishak and a squad of Orcs rushing towards the gate. Hurt and out of spells, Ginallath braced himself for the end…