Briskly, the Party sets off into the depths of Moonwatch. Arxius Cole has joined the Party. Kartug is left in the company and care of Dwarves in the 4th Underground Storage Room base they have established. Two Dwarf Scouts and Stumpy follow the Party down to the Cistern Room on the 5th Underground level, and into the narrow, dark outflow tunnel and its long exit from the fortress.
A quick bob under the chilly surface of the outflow pond, and the Party finds itself shivering and wringing water out of its clothes and armor on the shore. It is now 7AM on Day 8. Exposed to natural light for the first time in what seems like weeks, the Heroes are greeted by fresh air and dewy grass and overcast skies, mist hanging low from the clouds.
The Scouts advance ahead; the Heroes do not want to waste time fighting Dwarf Rogues and
Fire Hill Giants, and want to avoid their marauding patrols. Once they have spotted a suitable lookout bunker, the Heroes take cues from the Scouts on when to proceed with haste and where to duck and hide. Far ahead of them, atop the broad, flat hill that covers the Moonwatch Fortress, the Heroes get their first look at the Moonwatch Tower itself. Like a grey-black fang, the Tower rises high above the sparse plateau, dark and foreboding.
Where the plain begins to slope up toward the base of the Tower, a section of hillside is displaced by a curving wall of grey stone. Perhaps ten feet high by twenty feet wide, this slightly convex, seamless stone wall is broken only by four narrow horizontal slits set up about eight feet from ground level. Each slit is about four feet wide, six or eight inches high, and is set back into the wall such that an archer inside could fire at ease upon a point immediately below the wall, or gain some angle to lob shafts out onto the plain.
Fortunately for the Heroes, there are no archers in this bunker. Lester casts Reduce Person on himself and becomes Tiny. It is easy for someone to boost him up to take a look inside. Inside looks clear. Even Percy cannot see anything of concern in the dark room beyond the slits. Genive very much wants to squeeze through the narrow opening, believing she can do it, but a more realistic look suggests that she would need an Escape Artist check of 30 to do so. If she Took 20 she could accomplish this feat, but doing so would take an hour.
It’s just easier for Faldorn to assume the form of an Umber Hulk and, in seconds, carve a neat large hole into the bunker wall for the Party to enjoy. Climbing inside, the Heroes find a bunker that does not seem to have been recently occupied. Two bunks sit unused; dozens of quivers of arrows, and some low-quality bows, are stacked near a table. Unlit lamps hang on the walls, and some detachable wooden shutters lay along the floor, to block up the slits as needed. When occupied normally, this bunker would serve as an excellent observation post over the plains to the south.
A heavy wooden door out of this dark space is closed. Genive tries it – unlocked. The hallway leading deeper into the hillside is well-lit, with Everburning Torches in their usual sconces. This is how the Fortress would seem under normal circumstances. There is less debris and no visible bodies down the long stretch of passageway.
The Heroes leave the observation post and move as quietly as they can towards an intersection of another passageway. Peering down this well-illuminated hallway, they spot a small group of Barbarians, perhaps two hundred feet away. There look to be four of them, and two wolverines, loitering in the passageway, talking amongst themselves. They do not notice the Heroes.
A quick tactical session occupies the Party, as Wobberts and Genive and Faldorn pass around clever ideas on how to best engage this obstacle, either through guile or stealth or stratagem. Arxius Cole sighs, annoyed, and says to the effect of, “How about we just hit them with a Fireball already?”
It’s all Jaques needs to hear. Casting a Fireball and converting it to Acid, the Wizard lets fly. And the fight is on.
The Barbarians are surprised, to say the least, when an Acidball explodes in their midst, catching only one of the four with full damage. Faldorn turns into a huge Scorpion, and the Dread Pirate Wobberts and ally Stumpy take off down the hall toward the enemies. Arxius Cole is not far behind. Genive is not interested in direct combat; leaving the Party behind, she turns Invisible and sneaks further down their original passageway, toward the next intersection.
The Barbarians charge at the Party, with wounded wolverines in tow, and meet the Heroes in the middle. Wobberts, Cole, and Stumpy form a forward line, holding back the raging Barbarians. Lester is close in behind, and at his side is Scorpion-form Faldorn.
Seeing one of the wolverines loitering in behind the Barbarians, Lester casts Baleful Transposition. The wolverine has no real chance to make a Will save against the effect, and finds itself standing beside Lester. Faldorn, on the other hand, quite willingly allows himself to be teleported to where the wolverine had been – in behind the Barbarians.
Reaching the next intersection, Genive looks down this passageway and discovers another patrol of Barbarians, composed of the same numbers as engaged by her allies. The Spymaster is sneaking down the passageway in their direction when the Barbarians catch the sound of distant combat, and hurry away from Genive toward a closer cross-passage. Genive gives chase.
Back at the fight, Faldorn is handily Grappling a helpless Barbarian, removing him from the fight, as the Heroes take damage and deal damage. Jaques launches a Magic Missile at one Barbarian, then decides to cast a Channeled Pyroburst, converted to Acid. This spell he can hold for this and one more round, allowing him to pick his target. He has a clear line to hit the center of the Barbarian group and only slightly, mildly frag his companions. Inevitably he decides not-to.
The other Barbarian patrol, moving to investigate what it hears, leaves the passageway and cuts through one of the Armory rooms. As Genive enters, she kicks away a wedge holding open one of the security doors of the fortress, closing off the route behind her. She does the same to a second door. The Barbarians run ahead, unaware they are being followed through this department store of weapons and armor. They are getting closer to the source of the noise.
Jaques is out of time and find he must waste the Channeled Acidburst on a lowly wolverine instead of any enemy of note. Lester had been avoiding this pesky nuisance without issue, and did not mind when his Acid Wizard ally obliterates it with over five times the amount of damage needed to kill the beast.
Arxius Cole is a machine, dropping his opponent and helping Stumpy drop his. Faldorn has cut his Barbarian chew-toy in half, and Wobberts scores a kill. This fight ends just before the next Barbarian patrol party, tailed by Genive, makes its entrance on the scene.
The adventure ends here for the night.