From upstairs, in what their map indicates as the Command Room, the Heroes hear voices. The Heroes halt halfway up the staircase. Genive uses her Hat of Disguise to make herself look like a Barbarian; not any specific one she has seen in Barbarian-controlled Moonwatch territory, but just a generic-looking Four Nations tribal warrior.
The Patrol party relaxing in the Command Room, four Barbarians and two slumbering wolverines, look at Genive with little interest as she enters the room and nods a greeting. The Command Room is a windowless sixty-by-sixty-foot room, dominated in the center by a round, walled table displaying a detailed model of Moonwatch Tower and the lands surrounding it. Maps and schematics frame the walls, and low shelves hold thick register books and official documentation.
One of the Barbarians looks away from their discussion scowls at Genive, asking if she brings them “food or meat”. Genive grunts that she did not, but produces two bottles of fine liquor she had lifted from the Tavern yesterday.
Immediately she is hailed as a friend and welcomed to their circle. The bottles are uncorked with teeth and passed around, and Genive finds herself chumming up to frightful, unwashed barbarians. She is one of a very few civilized people to ever come this close to Four Nations warriors without being killed moments later. It is absolutely critical she maintain her ruse.
Another of the group asks if anything has changed downstairs, if the fighting has resumed. Genive grunts to the negative. This Barbarian seems indifferent. He mutters that the Chieftain has not yet come downstairs with any commands. Genive glances to the corner of the room, where another staircase leads up. This is an interesting discovery; the Heroes had believed the Barbarian leadership to be in one of the lower levels of the fortress.
Drawing on the best people-skills of her Spymaster trade, Genive makes a best guess at what is considered a polite amount of time to spend listening to Barbarians boast about the largest wild beast that they have ever killed on a hunt. That long is as long as she lingers, before grunting again and drifting away toward the stairs and her allies.
Halfway there, she is halted by a sharp word from one of the Barbarians. She turns to look, ready to bolt if the gig is up. He raises one of the liquor bottles in salute, and demands that meat be sent up from below. Genive grunts in assent, and goes back downstairs. Grunting seems to be a very effective mode of conversation.
Dropping her disguise once safely out of sight, Genive informs Lester, Jaques, and Stumpy of the situation. Lester and Jaques are heavy with spells, and believe they can one-punch this Patrol group with the right magic and a little luck. They quietly ascend the stairs.
The Barbarians turn and look with surprise to see their liquor-bearing barbarian ally, Disguised Genive, back so soon and without meat. This surprise is in fact a Surprise Round of combat, for Jaques and Lester and Stumpy rush in behind the Spymaster.
In the next fifteen seconds, there will be two Fireballs converted to Acid, an Arc of Lightning converted to Acid, and a Sculpted Fireball converted to Acid, thrown against the Barbarians. And two hits taken by Jaques on his Acid Sheath spell that actually deal back far more, and fatal, damage to the Barbarians making the attacks.
The closest any of the four wildmen come to a strategy is when one Barbarian breaks for the stairs up to the next level, urged by his fellows to spread warning. But Lester tags him with an Orb of Electricity at the base of the stairs, which also Entangles him. This fleeing Barbarian is then swiftly dispatched. The wolverines, even though relatively tough for their kind, are a quick afterthought.
The Heroes might like to examine in detail any number of things in the Command Room. Seeing the Barbarians’ interest in alerting some leadership group makes the Party want to hurry upstairs and confront them before they descend and jump the Party. The Spymaster just has time before they leave to grab one dead Barbarian’s weapon and shield to complete her disguise.
Genive, in Disguise, leads the rush up to the next level. This floor is an Archery post. The walls are covered with wood-plugged arrow slits, and there are platforms and ladders allowing archers to position themselves effectively at different points of the walls’ twenty-foot height and maximize the number of bowmen than can attack from this room. At the center of the room are stacks and barrels and bundles of arrows, thousands of shafts stockpiled. Dozens of bows stand unstrung.
Nothing else here. The Heroes hurry up the stairs to the next Tower level. This is the same as the one below, another Archery post. The Party hustles to the stairs and ascends.
Halfway up to what their map says is the first Ballista level, the Heroes freeze. From beyond the half-closed door at the top, they can hear voices. This must be the Chieftain’s group. The Heroes believe there are not very many Barbarians in there. Lester has two Teleport spells ready for today, in case there is a Barbarian or two more than can be managed. Quick planning; everyone knows their role. Game time.