Barely a moment to think before the Party finds itself in a new fight.
One hundred and fifty feet away, at the intersection of this passageway and another leading to “Armory B” and “Staging Area B”, there suddenly appear four Barbarians. These are the Barbarians that Genive is following; reaching the new passageway, these interlopers look down the two unoccupied directions of the hallway before looking right and seeing the Heroes. With a mighty cry of battle, these new foes charge the Party.
Genive is not far behind, Invisible, tailing the Barbarians and their wolverine pets at a safe distance so as not to be noticed by sound or scent.
The Party consists of Lester, Genive, Jaques, and Stumpy (tonight run as an NPC by the DM). Faldorn, the Dread Pirate Wobberts, and Arxius Cole have fallen back with the Scout to watch against enemies from the rear.
Lester knows the Party’s numbers are scant. He Summons four Dire Wolves between himself and the rushing Barbarians. And when the opportunity presents, he casts Haste on as many of his Summons and allies as possible.
The Barbarians move to melee range with the two Dire Wolves blocking the width of the passage. In the rear of the Party line, Jaques casts Acid Sheath, and then Mirror Image to generate seven duplicates of himself.
This dust-up is a contest between the Dire Wolves and Barbarians for almost its entire, short, duration. Barbarians that move suffer Attacks of Opportunity from the Wolves, whose attacks have an impressive reach. Half the Barbarians are Tripped and prone at any given time, and even when standing and attacking, the enemies only drop the first line of Dire Wolves.
Jaques casts a Fireball spell, converted to Acid, and places it behind the Barbarians to catch all of them in its blast radius. He does so again the next round. Genive emerges from Invisibility and starts firing arrows into the fray, with the added damage benefits of Flanking. Jaques then casts Searing Ray, in Acid form, and splits it three ways. With all this hurt dealt by the Party, the enemies stand little chance and are slain.
Silence again returns to the passageway, the echoing sounds of combat fading out. There is no telling how far the sound may have traveled and who might have heard. The Party cannot afford to stay in one place for too long.
First, a quick raid of the dead. The Barbarians are equipped with impressive gear, all stolen from the vaults of the Moonwatch armories. There are +2 Keen Flaming-Burst Scimitars, +3 Breastplates, and +2 Light Steel Shields. All of this equipment is marked with Corinthian military insignias, and is almost brand-new. Lester’s Knowledge : Local check tells him that, while Corinthian law imposes only a mild fine for the possession of military gear by civilians, there is a stiff penalty for the possession of such weaponry and armor with any intention or potential to sell it. The government recognizes that independent adventurers may, at times, legitimately find lost or abandoned gear; but the kingdom will not permit caches of such armaments to potentially be sold to enemies of the state, foreign or domestic.
Lester directs Wobberts, Arxius, Faldorn, and the two Scouts, to return to the bunker where the Party made entrance to the 1st Underground level of the fortress. The Halfling, plus Genive and Jaques and Stumpy, will advance from here and see what they find.
Splitting up, the smaller Party continues down the passageway, alert for the sights or sounds of reinforcements. So far, none.
The passageway leads to a Hall. This Hall is an impressive space, one of several in the fortress intended to convey the might and majesty of the Corinthian military. From the ceiling are hung bright, clean-pressed regimental banners. Side tables and display cases, many toppled or looted, displayed trophies of heroes and battles long past -–a gauntlet here, a broken lance there, the preserved severed heads of some hobgoblin colonels who had failed their test of leadership.
The walls are covered with bright, broad frescoes and tapestries and paintings, depicting in propagandist finery the unlikely devastation and rout visited by Corinthian cavalry and footmen and archers upon dozens of nonhuman races that are or once were threats to the kingdom. One such image has been recently defaced and destroyed. What remains of it suggests that it portrayed a less-than-flattering historical defeat of the Barbarian tribe who currently occupy Moonwatch.
There are three heavy wooden doors leading out of this room, all closed. The Heroes head to the one at the opposite wall from where they came in. Genive is about to simply open it when she thinks twice, and spends a few minutes checking it for traps. It is clear. Carefully, she opens it a crack, listens and peeks out, then opens it wider.
The door opens into a short passage. This leads to a wide space full of rows of structural support members. The Heroes are almost directly under the Moonwatch Tower proper; these stone columns hold up its base. Two staircases lead up into the Tower.
This makes the Heroes nervous. Jaques considers casting a Wall of Stone across the passage between that Hall and this tower base room before them. Lester does not think it wise to do so and alert those enemies to the Party’s presence here. There is no line-of-sight between the staircases and the Hall, so the Heroes can sneak up the stairs at least without being seen. They do so.
One staircase is blocked at the bottom by a closed security door, barring entry. Although Genive has a key, the Heroes instead choose the staircase with the wedged-open security door. Once past this door, Genive closes it carefully behind them. This will at least provide security at their backs, unless someone with another of Moonwatch’s master keys comes along.