A new day begins and our Heroes leave the Drake’s Dragoons guild-house and set off on their way. On horseback and at a steady pace, the travel to South Bend from Meridian should take the day. It is early summer and the weather is pleasant.
In the first hour of travel, the urban press of buildings and crowds eases into lower density suburban village life, then farmlands, and suddenly open fields and thick forest. Meridian, like all of Corinthia’s settlements, is an island of civilization in an otherwise under-developed country-side. Indeed by noon-time as they stop to rest the horses and take a mid-day meal, our Heroes find themselves in what could pass for wilderness. The road has narrowed down from wide cobblestone highway into a wagon-track, meandering through evergreen groves and hilly fields, tracking almost due east. There has been no road traffic with or against their travel.
By evening our Heroes expect to make the town of South Bend, where they are to locate their first contact, CORPORAL ANDERTON. Anderton will provide information regarding Moonwatch Tower and its layout.
Riding again, not long after lunch, our Heroes make a Spot check. It is not challenging; by the road-side all members of the party notice a wooden box, with a piece of paper pinned on top by a shiny dagger. The group stops, aware that this is unusual and likely the precursor to an event. Lester activates Mage Armour, dismounts his pony, and investigates the letter. He reads :
The Conjurer Wizard must think quickly. An ambush is upon them, and what he does next will either trigger the attack…or…if he is clever enough…Lester might avert certain bloodshed and violence and win a peaceful resolution to this immediate threat.
For the ambushers to see, Lester steps back and offers up a rude hand-gesture. Then he casts Celerity upon himself, and then Stone Body.
From the trees, a hail of heavy-crossbow bolts burst from the foliage. The acid Wizard is hit and suffers 3 points of Dexterity damage from a poison smeared on the bolt; Lester is hit but is immune to small amounts of damage, and poisons, among an impressive list of other afflictions. Stone Body has turned the pint-sized Halfling into a veritable scale-model Golem, a modestly heavy mini-colossus.
Most of the surprise volley miss their marks; Arxius is hit but makes the Fortitude save and is unaffected by a venom which might have cost him Dexterity or Strength. He could not know that an Invisible
Assassin assailant has taken notice of him, and begun an intent study of the flat-footed Fighter.
The Dread Pirate Wobberts sets his keen eye to the trees and spots a single archer, about halfway up an evergreen tree. The Swashbuckler ignores terrain and scrub-brush and darts for the base of that tree. The Yet-Nameless-Fighter hefts his tower shield and hustles into the trees in the opposite direction. Only one archer has been spotted. The acidophile Wizard grabs his rod and Quickens himself into casting two spells; Greater Mage Armour and Greater Invisibility.
The six archers in the trees drop their Heavy Crossbows (which are tied to a tree-branch and only fall out of their grasp) and pull bows. Three archers have Short Bows; the other three archers have Strength-mod Composite Long Bows. The action of switching weapons exposes the exceptionally well-Hidden snipers.
The fight is fully joined. Actions come fast and furious. Our Heroes find themselves on the ground while their enemies remain safely perched above. The more Rogue-ish archers fire volleys of magic-enhanced arrows; fire-, frost-, and shock-damage shafts find their marks. The Fighter-ish archers alternate between Explosive and normal-magic arrows.
Only the acidic Wizard, and Lester the Conjurer, can make any reply to the hail of arrows coming from above. The acid Wizard lays down an Ice Storm on two trees carrying archers; while this causes no immediate damage, it will make for a perilous descent if the archers find cause to move. Lester considers his options, smiles, and drops a Summon Monster V. In a few seconds, some friends will arrive to help him out.
Wobberts has reached his target tree and starts climbing, with heroic reckless abandon. Nameless Fighter has followed to this tree but, heavily armored and tower-shielded, there is no hope of climbing to engage the archer.
Arxius is considering his next move, when the
Assassin associate of the archers drops his Invisibility and strikes from behind. For three rounds this Assassin assiduous foe has studied Arxius and now, with stealth and guile, he has chosen to strike. Murder is not an interest to this Assassin asset of the enemy side; this ambush was meant to profit by theft, and so he chooses not to instantly kill his mark. Instead, failing his Fortitude save, Arxius finds himself suddenly taking a lot of Subdual dagger damage, and falling Paralyzed for 11 rounds.
A fight that started to the advantage of the archers, turns the other way when Lester’s Summoned friends arrive. Four Fiendish Apes appear; two each at the base of two trees where archers had enjoyed uninterrupted free-fire on our Heroes below. Scaling the trees without hesitation, it is an understatement to say that the archers find themselves in a world of hurt, their short-sword or battle-axe no real defense against hulking simians with anger issues.
Assassin asshole that dropped Arxius, goes Invisible again. But only until the acid Wizard casts See Invisible on himself, as well as Acid Sheath. Aware that he is exposed to at least one of the Heroes, the Assassin assessment made by the foes’ leader changes. Intending to go for the acid Wizard, who remains out of sight (but audible), the Assassin assigned target becomes the Nameless Fighter.
While Fiendish Apes befiend panicked archers, Lester rescues Arxius with a Benign Transposition spell, swapping physical locations with the paralyzed Fighter. Lester and the acid Wizard dole out more ranged spells: Orbs of Fire, Electricity, Cold; Chain Missile and Chain Lightning, both Energy-Substituted into Acid-based spells. Archers caught in the Ice Storm spell cannot fire ranged weapons; attempting to climb down, both fall up to twenty feet and suffer damage. They will engage in melee despite acid-lightning damage, eventually both retreating into the woods when they come too close to Death.
Assassin assistant to the archers realizes the cause is lost, and he is exposed to the more-Invisible acid Wizard. Casting the Deeper Darkness spell, the Assassin ass-kicked leader uses its cover to dart away into the forest and escape.
A battle has raged in the tree barely supporting the Swashbuckler Wobberts and a battle-axe wielding former-archer. Both parry and hack and climb and dodge along the rough, sap-sticky branches and trunk of the tree, Wobberts eventually becoming the victor.
Four archers slain, two plus their
leader Assassin escaped. The bodies are collected, Arxius propped up for the next half-minute until he regains movement, and the dead are stripped of their goods. Magic bows, magic arrows, Improved Shadow padded and scale-mail armor, Rings of Protection, Cloaks of Resistance, Gloves of Dexterity, and gems. No gold coins.
The adventure ends here for the night.