“Moonwatch” – Fourth Adventure night (Day 5, part 1 of 2).

It is the morning of Day Five.  Lester is enthusiastic about his plan to replace the Party’s horses.  He enlists Genive to go and find him a supply of sugar and carrots.  Jaques is tired from a poor sleep last night.  He snoozes as the Halfling makes preparations.

They are in a quiet open space behind some buildings.  Lester has prepared a selection of spells for the day that are fit for this purpose.  Casting a Circle of Protection on the ground, the Halfling Summons a Celestial Riding Dog within it.  The creature appears, looks around, looks at Lester, and then sits down and waits.

Lester does not speak its language, but he knows that the intelligent Celestial understands Common.  Formally offering a pact, the Summoner gives the Celestial Riding Dog a brief background on himself, a summation of the mission, indication for what purpose Lester seeks the Celestial’s assistance, and a few offers of reward for service.

The Dog takes in the information and seems to think about it.  Then it steps over to the edge of the Protection circle, and makes an unfamiliar gesture.  Lester takes only a moment to understand; offering his hand, the Halfling Summoner permits the Dog to smell him.  The Celestial sits down and wags its tail – it is favourable to the proposition, and will serve as Lester’s mount.

Lester repeats the ritual, except this time Summoning a trio of Celestial Light Warhorses.  To these fine beasts he offers the carrots and sugar, again explaining the relevant details of the pact he wishes to enjoin.  Wary of those unseen humanoids that may be their riders, the Horses are less agreeable to the contract.  But they are nonetheless convinced.

The Halfling, Spymaster, and Wizard are due to meet their contact.  Lester’s rituals completed, they make for the Blackbird Tavern and arrive at the appointed 10 o’clock hour.  Inside, they find SPECIALIST RENN waiting.

Specialist Renn is a young woman, mid-20’s, more cute than attractive, more professional than cute.  She is alone at her table, unoccupied with any tasks but by no means inattentive to any detail she may notice around her.  Renn is aware of the Heroes’ arrival before she sees them, and looks in their direction more as a formality than to confirm it is them.

She rises, gestures for her guests to sit, and gives polite welcome.  Renn addresses Jaques and Lester by name, very familiar with these two despite never having met them before.  As a sleight of hand she produces a small cube of meat, and tosses it to Percy (whom she also knows by name).  This wins the bird’s affection.  To Lester, the Intelligence officer offers apology for the Halfling’s frequent mistakings as a Dwarf in his recent visits to towns.  She slides over a wooden box to Lester.  He knows the smell before he slides back the top panel; Licorice Root.  And it is of a stunning high quality.  Lester cannot help but beam in delight, secreting the box away.

Genive stumps Renn.  The Specialist looks over the Spymaster.  Renn is aware that Genive wears a Hat of Disguise to alter her features, but past the Spymaster’s name and appearance, the Intelligence officer sits before a stranger.  The women exchange pleasant, if guarded, introductions.  The level of mutual distrust is no more than professional.

Renn sets down to business.  She can afford the Heroes two hours of her time before she is required elsewhere.  Renn makes small talk about Sergeant Dell, Meadowshade, and the arrival of three Divisions of soldiers, letting the Heroes’ replies and body language flush out details of their personalities that her previous Intelligence-gathering operations had not.

When she asks to have their map of Moonwatch, the Heroes hesitate.  Renn explains that she only wants to take it for a half-hour, so that she may make notations on the schematic to help them find their way within the fortress.  She assures them that she will remain within their line of sight as she works, at a quiet and private table where she will be undisturbed.  Renn is secretly amused that the Heroes are so cautious; they must have been duped before.

The Heroes relent, and hand over the map, still wary.  As agreed, Renn moves away to work alone at a table.  She pays no attention to the group, even as often as they look her way.

As they wait the Heroes take in a drink, noticing a distinct similarity between the other patrons of the Blackbird, and Renn.  Also they notice that every table and almost all of the chairs are arranged so that they face, directly or peripherally, the entrance.

Renn takes her half-hour.  When she returns, she explains what she has noted :

As seen on the map, Moonwatch Tower is actually an underground complex of considerable size.  The Tower proper, from the ground-level up, is seven floors.  The ground- and second-floor of this tower are heavily re-enforced stone; there are no entrances to the tower from the outside, either at ground level or at any storey up to the pinnacle.  The upper floors of the tower contain ballista and archery ports, and the lower floors are command center and planning room.  At the very top of this tower will be where the Everburning Torches must be re-lit to indicate that the base is secure.

The first underground level (U-1) is the only floor to have any exposure to the surface world.  Three massive sets of gates (two facing East towards Khör and one rear gate facing West) show from the hillside.  Several observation posts (heavily re-enforced bunkers with barely more than defensive arrow-slits open to the outside) poke out from the earth to keep watch on the lands surrounding the tower.  The medical section, main armories, troop staging areas, mess halls and meeting-halls are on this level.

The second underground level (U-2) houses the enlisted men in warehouse-like, neatly ordered barracks, complete with basic lavatory facilities.  Common areas and workspaces for weaponsmithing and armor repair are on this level.  Each floor of Moonwatch is separated from the next above or below it by 20-40 feet of earth, and connected to the level above and below by stairwells and open hoist-shafts suited for the vertical movement of heavy crates and gear.  Kitchens and storage are also on this level, as well as offices for the higher-ranked officers commanding or garrisoned at Moonwatch.

Below, the third underground level (U-3) is the recreation level.  A chapel with attending clerics, the base stockade, a library, tavern, extensive training areas, NCO barracks and private washrooms, offices, common areas and storage, and two retail shops, are at this level.  The top level of the base cistern is here.

Deeper still, the fourth underground level (U-4) has the officer’s rooms, private residences with luxurious washrooms and amenities.  Additional offices and planning-rooms are here, plus packed storage warehouses.  The middle level of the base cistern is here.

Far below the surface, the fifth underground level (U-5) is entirely storage, and the base of the cistern.

Moonwatch Tower has a basic staff of two Companies; 400 men, many of whom do double-duty as the base’s quartermasters, cooks, warehouse crew, smiths, armorers and trainers, military-police, clerks and maintenance workers.  If necessary, Moonwatch is capable of housing a full Brigade (5000 men) for an extended period of time, with the vast resources stored all throughout the base.  Depending on the circumstances, most often if the weather is fair and there is little threat of attack, visiting soldiers will quarter on the open fields surrounding Moonwatch.

 

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About d20horizons

D&D player.
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