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12/9/59 Diary of Thibault: The Retaking of Fort Skulnar

1615761167

Edited 1619990729
Diary of Thibault 12/9/59 The Retaking of Fort Skulnar&nbsp; We had set our objective.&nbsp; We had the beginning of an attack plan.&nbsp; But we had no idea of the forces awaiting us. In the past, such hazardous premises inevitably used to take quite a dramatic turn rather quickly. But not this time. This time, something special happened: With the help of the forces of Good and the newfound bonds between each other, our ragtag group of intrepid adventurers turned into an inexorable evil-slaying phalanx… but I am getting ahead of myself. It all started much earlier, at our favourite watering hole: After some deliberation, we had decided to raid Fort Skulnar. It was actually called the Shadowed Keep by the locals who feared the recent evil emanating from that place. The name itself dates back more than 300 years, to when the men of Raven Rock first built a fort here against demon-following barbarians - the Skull-Nar. Most recently Fort Skulnar was held and rebuilt by the adventurer Valentin Ironwolf and his family, but has now lain in ruin for more than forty years.&nbsp; In recent weeks, travellers in the region have been disappearing. Local rumour blamed bandits, in service to the renegade outlaw knight Firean - or worse things. But all agree that the ruins of Fort Skulnar are the centre of the growing threat. I was only too happy to lean towards that objective. Every time evil sprouts in our peaceful world, I rest a little bit less well at night. And Gods know how much I am keen on my beauty sleep, as my companions like to tease me about.&nbsp; &nbsp; So we grabbed all our weapons, strapped our shiny armours: Sirondar Altur Banacath, an old friend of mine for the good ol’times where my family was still alive in Brandiar happily decided to join the group. Greeba said goodbye to Bob the lovable drake, Braltak (a local heartthrob who had an eye for Greeba, tried to catch her attention away from Bob by declaring is keenness like only Barbarians can do: "I shall think of you as I cut a bloody swathe through our foes!"...(gasp).&nbsp; - “How romantic” she replied, blushing greener than usual.&nbsp; Gorlock the heartbreaker blew farewell kisses across the dining room to each of his latest conquests (emphasis on plural) (Was Margrethe among them? I am afraid I am losing track of Big G’s shenanigans). Mirabelle and Wysteria made the conscious effort of stopping her libations under Arian’s watchful and virtuous eye, and we eventually made our way for that infamous Fort… On the trail, a traumatic reminder of a previous near-death experience abruptly interrupted our forest hike (and Arian from collecting tasty berries): A “fallen” tree was barring the path and soon after, an albino white ravenfolk emerged from a nearby bush, visibly very nervous.&nbsp; Arian suddenly remembered that our new Kenku ally and also her trainer, the venerable Starfeather, had told her that there is an albino Kenku going by the name of Snowbeak and who is an “emissary” (read: agent) for the devious chief Kreeak. Long story short, he came to negotiate a truce with us and more globally between humans and ravenfolk. We gladly accepted, quite proud that we made any impression on these people after our previous very partial victory at the tree. However, something tells me that we haven’t seen the last of them and one day or another, we will have to deal with them in some way. Let’s just wish that it will be peaceful. We finally arrived in sight of the Fort but decided to approach it very prudently: the most stealthy of us (helped by Arian’s magic) scouted the area for tracks, weaknesses in the fortifications, possible sentries, etc. Personally, I was just trying to be immobile and not betray our presence with my clunky armour and bric-a-brac of weapons stored on my back. Gorlock even sent Tiffany, his angelic sprite familiar, on a reconnaissance mission in the heart of the fort to assess the personnel inside. Upon her return, the news was not encouraging: she saw a foursome of Orcs, but also an Ogre! She also declared nonchalantly: "Oh, and there was a big half-Orc upstairs in a bed - quite dishy looking! But there was a girl lying at the foot of the bed with almost no clothes..." I got suddenly concerned at the mention of that potential foe and asked: “Greeba. Are you ok with killing an half-orc?” Greeba replied:"dishy, hey? " and suddenly perked up with a big smile and twinkling eyes. I concluded waringly: “OK I just got my answer…” Listening to that exchange, Gorlock was chuckling, but I am not sure if it was because of Greeba, or the mention of that girl wearing very little clothes…. Who knows? Bringing us back to more stern matters, Tiffany also warned us about a pack of wolves that were guarding the perimeter of the fort. In my mind, this news crushed instantly any hope of a silent, surprise attack. We’ll have to make a brute force entry on as many weak points as we can to overwhelm their defenses. Thus, a group of us (Arian, Torgin and Eamon) started to deal with the wolves, the other half led by Gorlock (including Greeba, Wisteria and myself) went on a search for the weakest entry point in one of the side walls. Luckily, we promptly found one and hid in the bushes nearby to wait for the outcome of Arian deceptive maneuvers with the wolves. In a couple of instants, Arian shapeshifted into a beautiful, strong wolf. Perfect creature to deal with these sentries, in theory… in theory! Unfortunately, Arian tried to intimidate them at first, which seemingly made them even angrier. Still resourceful, she then tried to fake fearfulness but alas, that too didn’t convince the wolves. So, desperate for an outcome, she just ran away a bit and courageously waited to see if they would “follow suit”. Unfortunately again, they were well trained by their masters and stayed at the gate.&nbsp; Ah well, it’s not so bad, I thought to myself: at least the wolves are fixed there and won’t impair our assault on the eastern wall. When the second group started to hear the wolves howling and their Orc masters cursing at them for doing so, unaware that it was not a false alarm, it was the signal that the diversion had worked and we could have a chance of climbing the wall and finally attacking. Greeba, bravely leading the way, ran towards the bottom of the rampart where the stones were crumbling, and climbed effortlessly, taking footings in every cranny in the cement and grasping the rare protruding stones as if it was a ladder. Once at the top of the rampart, she lowered a rope for us and, lacking the time to tie it to an anchor, coiled it around her strong shoulders, looking so determined that she could easily have hauled the whole team in one go if necessary. Meanwhile, the wolf situation at the gate was still quite tense but at a standstill, the orcs started shooting at the party and thankfully, missed miserably.&nbsp; Grateful that thanks to that diversion, not a single wolf was catching our scent nor running after my tenderloins, I dashed to the rampart and used the rope to propel myself towards the top. It was an easy enough climb. It was more than easy: almost unmissable… and yet: halfway through I wedged my shoe between two stones, the surprise made me lose my grip on the rope and my body went upside down face first, cratering into the ground. Not my finest hour... Next in line for the rope demonstration was Sirondar. Probably warned about the stone issue, he climbed in one fell swoop. That’s what friends are for I guess. Next was Gorlock to climb easily, followed by Wisteria and me when I eventually dusted myself off. I could hear the hissing of crossbow bolts flying nearby but fortunately hitting no-one. I thought, we’ll have to deal with this artillery later on, sooner than later hopefully. On the wolf front at the gates, Arian decided to run to attack them and in one bite, ripped one apart cleanly at the neck! She looked at the next one and snarled at it with her jaws now bloodied. The wolf got rightfully scared and ran for his life, his tail between his legs. But it was a short respite, when its masters the pig-orcs saw their wolves being defeated, they panicked and rushed out of the fort to attack Arian with a scimitar and slash her with full force. Back on the wall, the bolts were still flying and it was only a matter of time before one of them would pierce one of us. So Wisteria jumped down the wall, followed by me, hurting myself quite hard in the process. Decidedly, I don’t have much luck with walls at the moment… Xarius was not better off than me in the rope-climbing department and got stuck in the middle of his journey upwards. By now, even more bolts were hissing around our ears and eventually one hit Wisteria who was prone on the fort grounds. She replied to that by casting a spell but was too far to be able to see its effect. I just could hear the lugubrious toll of a funeral bell, for some reason. Suddenly, in the distance somewhere in the courtyard, the terrifying growl of the ogre that Tiffany warned us about was only too audible by all of us. I suddenly had the blood-curling feeling that I would be the one having to hold his anger away from my friends very soon... And indeed, that moment came faster than I ever thought. The second group was now relatively concealed behind some crumbly barracks so we naturally took a defensive formation: Greeba and Sirondar on one side, Xarius, Wisteria and Gorlock protected in the middle, and yours truly on the other end. I moved towards the end to be sure to block the access or any far-reach from the Ogre should he try to lunge at Gorlock who was close behind me. As I was about to turn the corner of the barrack, a huge javelin thrown at full speed landed straight into my left arm under the shoulder (“keep you shield higher” my master of arms kept telling me!) but it didn’t incapacitate me. I happened to have a javelin ready as well and give the ogre a taste of his own medicine. Unfortunately, I was much less successful and my javelin bounced off his fat folds. On the other side of the barracks, Greeba was keeping extremely busy with a crowd of 5 orcs ganging up against her. They merely scratched her, though. They learned that day that it’s quite a feat to really hurt a raging barbarian.&nbsp; And that’s in that perilous situation that Greeba was seen by Veizz, the half-orc brigand chief who brandished his cutlass at Greeba like an unsubtle phallic symbol. He then barked at his platoon of malevolents: “Who is that magnificent creature? Have her stripped, scrubbed and brought to my quarters!". I thought to myself “Cutlass notwithstanding, that’s a bit of a cocky statement. What makes him think the victory is his?” and that annoying overconfidence whipped me into a very much awaited counter attack. I took my longsword and lunged a nasty stab at the Ogre who roared angrily from the painful steel. By now, the battle was properly at its peak: in one corner, “Greeba the green octopus”! Fending off 5 orcs at the same time while managing to shoot a love-arrow in the heart of “Veizz the fruity”. On the opposite corner, “Thibault the Ogre slayer”. And let’s not forget the backbone and brains of the operation: the spellcasters healing the “muscles” and cursing the enemies with support attack spells like Eldritch blast.&nbsp; Last but not least, Arian, Eamon and Torgin were fixing and inexorably pushing the defenses at the gates and preventing them from coming to overwhelm us. Round after round, the Cumin Inn team was on its way to retake Fort Skulnar, hands down! Closer to the bitter end, the Ogre fled the melee in fear and the two other orcs got slain as well as Greeba’s five ones. Arian, Eamon and Torgin push through the gate line, rejoin our front and engage with the cheeky Veizz who staggered back from the force of the attacks and fell from the lethal shard of one mighty ice knife spell from Arian. All remaining for the endgame was one demoralised Ogre and one archer at one window that Greeba, in her most fearsome voice, ordered the shooter to surrender and come down in the courtyard. Needless to say, he complied immediately while a young lady in a somewhat revealing outfit appeared at the same window and muttered “H-hello down there” unsure of what would happen to her given the new situation…. She seemed to have been enslaved by Veizz and his band of savages (she wore a metal collar) and told us her name was Elia Chatzoudis. "I'm a... Shadow Sorcerer…” She said, “I kinda slip through the shadows between... places?" Not sure what to do with that information but I hope my spellcaster friends will make sense of it. She nevertheless helped us nicely to find the treasure of the pirate without any additional problems. &nbsp; We also agreed that this Fort should be occupied by the forces of Good to avoid being retaken in the current climate of Evilness. So we (GM edit) shall make it our main stronghold. We had a (GM edit) short rest there and (GM edit) Greeba (now wearing Veizz thigh-high boots) chanted a victory lullaby from her refined and subtle cultural heritage which went a bit like this: <a href="https://youtu.be/InRMwptcgAo?t=34" rel="nofollow">https://youtu.be/InRMwptcgAo?t=34</a>
I was going to say that Greeba doesn't really care about music, but that is evident from your example! :D
Thibault’s diary: 3/10/59 - No Time To Die... Twice! The previous combats were a series of blazing victories but it was not a reason to get complacent or to sleep on it. Everybody in the group was nervous, wary of some unknown evil that could be awaiting at the corner of a corridor, or crawling in the impenetrable darkness on the levels below. Arian, still sporting her majestic, fearsome wolven form, was sniffing the air around. Smelling the tiles on the floor, she tried to capture some intelligence about any impending threat and who could be our next enemies. Because two pairs of nostrils are better than one, I decided to do the same with my own modest talents: I reached the eastern staircase and stared along the steps until they disappeared into the darkness. I took a deep breath and muttered a prayer to let the divine open my senses for any emanation of an evil nature: Nothing… I never know if it’s reassuring news or if I should be more alarmed.&nbsp; Trying again on the north stairs, this time I sensed the foul spiritual stench of undead entities, exactly where Tiffany the fairy conducted her reconnaissance and promptly returned, frightened. Meanwhile, Arian had caught a smell from where she was and was trying to tell us about her findings. All we could make of it was that “something” was there. Something not undead is often better news than something undead, so Greeba and I opened the way and marched down the eastern stairs. A square room presented itself to us, with a dry font at its center and a beautiful ancient lance hung on the opposite wall. At regular intervals, frescoes depicted vulture demons savaging men in furry hats. Always curious and keen to discover new scriptures, Wisteria studied the artworks and thought out loud: “Looks like Narish… from the era when the Demon Empire of Narfell… often warred with Raumathar.” Her eyes turned towards us, regaining their focus and she said in a steadier voice: “These demons may yet sleep here, we should be careful…” As she was uttering these words, everybody froze: emerging from a dark corridor in the room behind me, an owlbear suddenly lunged towards Arian. Most of the party froze in surprise, and the wolf, who was faster than anyone, even missed the creature and her jaw clenched the air instead of the arm of the owlbear. Luckily, the monster’s beak and claws also failed to harm Arian, wasting the tactical advantage of its surprise attack. But that was not the end of it: I suddenly felt a chilling cold grabbing me. An evil presence was in the lance room... a presence that we couldn’t see and which could attack at any moment. With a battle-front just being opened in the other room, I didn’t like the unfolding of this situation one bit… To make sure I was ready to counterattack as soon as the threat would materialise, I prepared a ritual to repel the Evil. I planted my feet firmly into the ground, raised my sword and shouted defiantly at the darkness: “I am not afraid!” The darkness responded in kind: out of nowhere, a shadow demon suddenly took form and was immediately confronted with the divine glow of my ritual. Unfortunately, the glow didn’t seem to be powerful enough and the demon passed through it as if my ritual was as meaningful as a faint cloud of smoke and swung its claws towards me. Fortunately, the power of my faith was protecting me and the claws ripped on my armour before vanishing as it came, in the dark. I immediately regretted not having invoked my sword to become a divine instrument of my faith. I am now certain that its holy brightness would have kept that demon in the realm of the visible. I am still a humble student and never should forget it, especially in the heat of battle. Once the stupor of the first assault subsided, the party was all hands on deck and from the next room, noises of a fierce animalistic brawl could be heard: A wolf barking and growling, Greeba shouting like she was hurling something across the room (I later found out it was a javelin that found its way in the owlbear).&nbsp; Still without an enemy to fight me, I positioned myself so I would block the exit of the room. I certainly didn’t want to bring another enemy to my companions who were already well entertained with the owlbear. As expected, the Shadow-demon materialised again from the darkness and reached me… Unfortunately, he was much more successful than the first time. Its spectral hands went through my armour... I felt the fear penetrating my very soul when its fingers passed through my ribs and invaded my chest. My heart suddenly constricted, I lost my breath and a veil of despair and darkness obstructed my vision, my hopes and will to live. A faint light in the middle of a deep night sky devoid of stars is the last thing I could remember seeing… an evil cackle, the last noise I remember hearing… The first thing I remember feeling was an enchanting tingling on my lips. Tiffany the Fairy was right in front of me, her eyes closed and bright golden sparkles were passing from her mouth to mine. I still couldn’t move yet, but I knew it was not my time yet. The sparkles stopped and I felt Wisteria holding my hand and warmth invaded my body and filled my chest with fresh air and a renewed life-force. I felt truly alive then. Once the owlbear got defeated, my companions were now available to take care of the demon. Eamon the monk slashed the shadow and did hurt it (albeit not as much as it should, due to its immaterial nature). The demon lashed back at him and, in turn, he also fell under the spectral claws, but was soon helped by Gorlock and the ever helpful Wisteria who then proceeded to shoot at it with her longbow (no luck). That shadow demon proved to be a very resilient enemy: the magic arrows of Eamon were effective, and Greeba’s warhammer did something to it, if not much. Little by little, my companions were nibbling at it. The shadow retreated behind the font and I was unable to reach it and hit it at the same time, so I decided to jump atop that font and unleash a spectacular attack on it. Unfortunately, today was not a day to be basked in glory for me: my foot missed the edge of the font when I jumped and I slid into it on my back like a soap in a bucket instead of gracefully landing upright as planned. And yet, I was not feeling like giving up making a fool of myself and decided to take a swing at the demon while sitting down in that font… and unsurprisingly, I missed! In turn, the demon turned towards me and, seeing me lying in the font helplessly, he clutched my chest one more time, and once again, extinguished the flame of life in me.&nbsp; I never learn, do I? Meanwhile, Gorlock and Xarius were hurting the creature pretty effectively with their spells. Again, a very weary Wisteria brought me back from the antechamber of the realm of the dead. “This is my last spell, paladin, and your last chance before Myrkul welcomes you!” Now, Xarius, Gorlock, Wisteria, Elia and Arian were taking turns at chipping away at the monster. But it was Greeba who had the last word with one her famous Greeba-smashes, when her warhammer shattered the shadow and it evaporated into darkness. We seemed out of danger for now and decided to heal our wounds, explore the safe parts of our surroundings and find some loot. That’s when Greeba stepped between two pools from which 6 grotesque creatures emerged...
1620120142

Edited 1620120964
Matt
Pro
Oh no!&nbsp; Good luck.