After dealing with their intoxicated werewolf issues, Jerkxes, Beck Darkmantle, Aeryn, Wulf, and MacTavish rested for a while in the small plaza where Mac had paused to pray to his violent God and regain his spells. After dispensing the obligatory healing, he and the party moved on. They slew a hippogriff that had made its nest in a burned-out house, then discovered the remains of an orcish war-ceremony in an abandoned warehouse. Tracking the orcs, they arrived just in time to foil their attack and discovered its object: a small hospice run by three initiate priests of Sune, whose mission was to dispense their Goddess’ love in the form of healing and aid, and their single patient, Vola (played by our friend Dave), an amazonian half-orc barbarian of indeterminate origin and little regard for personal space. Vola and Jerxes quickly became…er…intimately acquainted (Sune’s a goddess of passion; the priests were not scandalized though I certainly was), while the rest of the party talked to the priests of Sune, learning to their horror that they had discovered the dying Raymo in the streets and healed him after which he departed for parts unknown. Low on spells and needing more equipment, the party decided to return to Phlan before taking on Raymo again. Vola, having finished with Jerkxes, then set her sights on Beck (to Beck’s horror) and accompanied the party back to civilization.
Having been alerted by the guards at the entrance to the Slums, the party stopped by the Town Council building where the Council rather unenthusiastically (with the exception of their patron Poryphrys Cadorna) offered them 2500 gold pieces to clear out Sokal Keep and make it safe for use as a harbor fortification again. Bishop Braccio of the Temple of Tyr, speaking for the Council, hinted that the place might be cursed, lent Wolf his holy symbol, and suggested the party might try to find some password to get around whatever magical defenses remained.
After accepting the mission and securing seedy but comfortable rooms at Nat Wyler’s Bell, most of the party went shopping while Aeryn and Vola accepted a dinner invitation from Poryphrys Cadorna (Cadorna’s got an eye for the ladies…even half-orc ladies…and Aeryn’s pretty easy on the eye too). We will draw a tasteful diplomatic veil over what happened next: suffice it to say that it involved broken crockery, misuse of a buffet table, and an extremely scandalized butler. After it was over, Aeryn slipped Vola the key to Beck’s room in order to get Cadorna alone for her own nefarious purposes.
Later that night, Wolf awoke to discover a dark figure climbing out the window of the Party’s room. He, Jerkxes, and MacTavish gave chase, but the stealthy figure eluded them. Returning to Nat Wyler’s Bell, they discovered that the magical sword they had looted from the dragon hatchling’s nest was missing.
In the morning, Aeryn did not return from the Cadorna townhouse, and Vola had essentially trapped Beck in his own room (their players couldn’t make the session). Jerkxes, MacTavish, and Wulf decided to get a jump on them, clear out the Keep themselves, and keep the cash. In light of subsequent events this wasn’t the smartest choice, but of the three of them only Jerxes had any real pretension at being the brains of the group.
The three secured a rowboat from the Council and rowed through the morning fog to the scrubby isle where Sokal Keep stood. After exploring the perimeter (and discovering a skeleton bearing a scrap of parchment with seemingly nonsensical words), the Party headed inside and were immediately beset by animated skeletons forever cursed to defend the Keep. Moving out of the Keep’s courtyard to avoid the undead patrols, they then had the unfortunate luck to run into a grey ooze which had made its home in the rafters of an old stable. The highly acidic ooze dissolved their weapons one by one, until Wulf and CoT were reduced to using rusty scimitars from the skeletons. Eventually, Jerkxes managed to dispatch the monster with his magic and the Party moved on, always alert for more skeletal guards.
Their next stop was the remains of the keep’s smithy, where damp and dark conditions had created the perfect lair for a pair of giant frogs. Caught off-guard by the humor value of vicious frogs, Wulf and CoT were astounded to discover that these frogs packed a powerful bite. After a single exchange of blows, both Fighter and Cleric ran, leaving Jerkxes alone hoping to finish the hopping menaces with magic missile. Sadly, after only a single volley, the frogs mobbed Jerkxes and tore him apart. Wulf and MacTavish returned to the smithy only to find their Sorcerer companion’s legs disappearing down a froggy gullet. Fortunately for the two remaining adventurers, Jerkxes’ magic missile had weakened the frogs to the point where they were easily dispatched.
Now alone, in a hostile keep, and in freezing early Spring weather, Wulf and MacTavish barricaded themselves in the now frogless smithy for the night, burning the old tables and benches for heat. Their plans to return to Phlan in the morning were frustrated by a blizzard, and the search for more fuel drove them to Sokal Keep’s kitchen, where a black pudding had taken up residence. After dealing with this threat, they returned to the smithy with more tables, huddled close to the fire for warmth, and roasted giant froglegs for food. On the bright side, Wulf did discover a warhammer behind the furniture which seemed to be radiating magic.
The snow had subsided by the next morning, and the two returned to their boat and paddled for Phlan as quickly as possible. The cold wind and mist of the lake chilled them to the bone (nobody had thought to purchase winter clothing for the trip to Sokal Keep), and Wolf nearly dropped dead from hypothermia in the streets of Phlan before the soaked, chilled, and disheartened pair reached the safety of the Temple of Tyr.
Quotes of the Evening:
“I just got bit in the nuts by a giant frog, and you’re asking me why I’m running?”
“You know I just realized…I got killed by frogs. That is the lamest thing ever.”
-Bob, approximately one hour after the death of his character