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An Adventure in Five Acts (AD&D 2E) (Final Update 25 Feb 2023)


How inconvenient
An Adventure in Five Acts, Act IV: Return to Apple Island

In which the DM informs our noble heroes that they spent four days aboard The Lovely Theresa, one in Big Beach, two on The Black Owl, and then four to get to where they are now. He also says that the capital of Thuxra has a combined population of 600 souls, spread evenly among the town proper and an outlying area dotted with numerous farms.

Day 11, continued: The Palavan captain takes his leave and our noble heroes start after Sir Oengus.
“Gentlemen,” Sir Suvali says, when our noble heroes are together again and about halfway to the river. “I have something to say.”
When the others have stopped, the sorcerer falls to his knees.
“I ask your forgiveness for my behavior,” he says. “Gentlemen, I am sorry. It may have been the thrill of flying around in that machine that sent my head spinning and led to my irresponsible behavior. Perhaps it was the events of the past week that drove me to hasty decisions I now regret. Whatever the reason, I humbly ask your forgiveness.”
Navarre looks at the kneeling sorcerer with mixed feelings. He decides not to say anything for the moment.
“I see now that I should not have drawn the sword without conferring with all of you,” the sorcerer continues. “I admit that I could not restrain myself and that it was a foolish act.”
When no one reacts, he continues: “The decision was mine and mine alone. Sir Eber is not to blame. I approached him when he was tired and I played on his own desire to draw the sword. I left him no choice. For this, gentlemen, Sir Eber, I offer you my full and unreserved apologies.”
The chevalier is the first to react, a tear in his eye.
Mon cher!,” he cries. “I, too, do not know what came over me to start acting like my father!”
The sorcerer politely averts his eyes. Navarre looks at the chevalier with a raised eyebrow.
“Rise mon ami!,” the chevalier continues. “All is forgiven!”
The sorcerer looks at the rest of his noble fellows and most of them nod some form of agreement.
“I suggest we establish a council,” he continues. “A council in which we all have one vote, except the King, who shall have two votes and the right of veto. Just like we were taught at the Academy.”
“Hell, yeah!,” Sir Oerknal says. “I like it!”
“I, for one, will pledge allegiance to such a council,” Sir Eber says.
“Bravo!,” the chevalier cries. “I agree!”
“I’m not one to hold a grudge,” Sir Oengus says.
“Then it is agreed,” Sir Suvali says, getting to his feet. “Now, before we go on, I would propose to you a change of plan. While we agreed to go to Sarazin and Dauberval to rally whatever remains of the armies there and then join the effort to retake Apple Island, I say a change is in order now that we have the Sword of Shadows. I believe that, from now on, we must avoid the enemy at all costs. They will look for us among the royalists and joining their armies is a risk we cannot take.”
Navarre is not so sure about that. At the very least, it would mean that the enemy would have to deal with the royalists at full strength.
“Suppositions,” the chevalier says. “But first, I am relieved that we can let the past be the past! As to your proposition, I would say that the notion that the enemy knows that we have the sword seems premature. While I admit that they will now know that the sword is no longer on the Isle of Bread, all they can know about us is that ‘du monde’ took the sword. I say we still have the momentum and that we must keep it. That way, the enemy will have to deal with the advancing royalist armies as well as ‛des inconnus’ with the sword – us.
“I suggest a twofold plan. First, we shall take our responsibility and rally the royalists in some unknown location. Note that, this way, we will still remain out of sight of the enemy. Second, and depending on the outcome of this, we shall consider undertaking another mission – perhaps an operation behind enemy lines.”
“And then let them know who we are?,” Sir Oerknal asks.
“Non,” the chevalier says. “We must give the enemy as little information as possible.”
“I still think we should stay away from the royalists,” Sir Suvali says. “So far, the enemy seems quite aware of what goes on in the realm and us joining the royalist army could betray their position. We must forget about the military side of things and begin operations behind enemy lines immediately.”
“Piffle!,” the chevalier cries. “How can they know about us?”
He turns to Navarre, who hasn’t spoken a word yet: “Mon cher. Why so silent? What say you?”
Navarre turns to face the sorcerer.
“I accept your apologies, Sir,” he says, with a formal nod of the head. “I applaud the idea of a council and I shall honor its decisions. As to your new plan, Sir, perhaps you can tell me what you think it is we should do ‘behind enemy lines’?”
“Gather information,” the sorcerer says. “Learn as much about the enemy as we can.”
“Commendable,” Navarre says. “But would you desert your people, Sir? Leave Mim and Palava to clean up this mess?”
“A river dies when its source is blocked,” the sorcerer says.
“Wise words, sans doute,” the chevalier says. “But how do they pertain to our future?”
“I say we stay on course as planned,” Sir Oengus says. “We still have the element of surprise.”
Tiens!,” the chevalier cries. “We must keep the momentum! Join the royalists and charge into battle!”
“We’ll be easier to find if we linger in locations where they expect us,” the sorcerer says. “We cannot risk the sword falling into enemy hands. We must watch our backs and act as effectively as possible.”
“Can we do this on board?,” Sir Oengus says. “We’ll have to get to the lake in any case and the skipper isn’t very likely to hang around much longer.”
“Wouldn’t that rather depend on the fee you seem to have promised the good captain?,” Navarre asks, nodding at the bag of diamonds in the hand of his noble fellow.
Sir Oengus tosses the bag into the air and catches it again.
“Best be prepared,” he says, grinning at the chevalier. “Right! Parley is over, lubbers! Go, go, move, move, confuse the enemy. Action everywhere and in all locations. Handsomely now!”
“Oerknal?,” Sir Suvali asks.
“We compromise,” the creature says. “We gather the armies of the peacocks and hand them over to the other peacocks. After that, we start looking for some answers. Get to the source, go rimward.”
“Gentlemen,” Sir Suvali says. “Your votes.”
“Yea,” Sir Oerknal says.
“Yea,” the chevalier cries.
“Yea,” Sir Eber says.
“Yea,” Sir Oengus says.
“I abstain,” Navarre says. Although he has promised to honor the decisions of the council, he has a hard time accepting that it now seems more than likely that he will not be able to lead his men in the fight against the enemy.

With this, our noble heroes continue to the river. When they enter the palisade, Sir Oengus suggests they buy supplies and so blankets, rations, ropes, cloaks, oilskin coats, gloves, and cases of quarrels are bought.
The town is abuzz with people, from both Thuxra and Wyrsn. When asked about the fate of Wyrsn, the refugees fall over each other to inform our noble heroes of the unspeakable horrors they have witnessed there: ice giants running amok; witches invading; dragons in the skies laying waste to the land; bandits hanging all nobles they can get their hands on; Ulm himself being on a rampage, reaping souls for his shadowy realm. Infuriatingly, nobody seems to know what really happened on the other side of the river.
When our noble heroes get to the barge Sir Oengus has chartered, a stout man, obviously the captain, appears on deck and gruffly welcomes them aboard.
When the barge is on its way, the captain turns out to be as taciturn as they get – until Sir Oengus procures a large bottle of rum. However, the man has but little to say about the situation in Wyrsn, especially when Sir Oengus starts talking rivers, barges, ropes, favorable winds, and the summer weather and the pair lose themselves in banter nobody else can understand.
Sir Suvali spends the rest of the day in the air – when he is not in the water or crashing onto the deck. Navarre decides not to remind the sorcerer of his own suggestion to keep a low profile.
With Sir Suvali thus occupied, the others try to make sense of the outrageous stories regarding the situation in Wyrsn, eventually concluding that the tales about ‘commoners having taken control of the duchies’ actually seem the least improbable – however improbable they may be. They discuss logistics and conclude that it will probably take them six days to get from Thuxra to Dauberval by barge and that it will therefore probably take them a ten-day, perhaps eleven days, to get, perhaps, 20 barons and around 1,200 soldiers to some location on the duskward shores of King’s Lake. They consider sending a herald with word of as much to the royalists in Palava, but the idea is abandoned when the chevalier points out that the whole operation would be blown if this herald would be captured.

Just before dusk, the barge reaches a jetty on the left bank, where a ferry connects both sides of the river, right on the border between Thuxra and Dara. Many barges are moored here and folk are seen moving on the shore – bargemen, refugees, stranded passengers, merchants. Our noble heroes disembark and start for the the riverside inn.
Attention mes amis!,” the chevalier whispers when they enter the inn. “We are incognito. We shall be fermiers!”
“I’m off for some tail,” Sir Oerknal announces. He heads to the bar and starts talking to the innkeeper.

Reacting to this by rising a single eyebrow, Navarre decides to see if he can get any information on recent events but, once again, doesn’t really get anywhere. This time, the tallest tales speak of the people having risen up against the oppressor; of bandits ruling Wyrsn; of three dukes being behind the whole thing; of ice giants landing in Big Beach; and so on, and so on. Of more interest is news that no barges can get to the lake because of an enemy blockade further downstream. Apparently, six barges manned by ‛bandits’ prevent all traffic from passing.
When he eventually gets to the table where most of his noble fellows are seated, the innkeeper is just putting some jugs of ale on the table.
“What,” he ventures. “No wine?”
“Your health, Lord,” the innkeeper replies, bowing slightly.
Pas nécessaire, aubergiste,” the chevalier says. “We are fermiers.”
The innkeeper has a good look at him and shrugs his shoulders.
“As you wish, Lord,” he says, before starting back to the bar.
Donnant donnant, aubergiste!,” the chevalier calls after him, tapping the table. “How much for these breuvages?”
The innkeeper turns around.
“Not at all, Lord,” he says. “Your bearded friend has already paid with gold.”
Le nain?,” the chevalier cries. “But I have never seen the creature in my life!”
“Certainly, Lord,” the innkeeper says. “All has been taken care of – a meal, beer, lodgings.”
“Lodgings?,” the chevalier asks.
“Best rooms in the house, Lord,” the innkeeper says.
“The best rooms?,” the chevalier exclaims. “But there is no need! We require no more than some sacks of hay!”
“Certainly, Lord,” the innkeeper says. “I’ll have them brought to your rooms.”
This goes on for a bit, with the chevalier failing miserably to impersonate a farmer and the innkeeper wisely agreeing to everything he says. Obviously, the man has dealt with his fair share of nobles.
Navarre decides to leave his noble fellows to their little charade. He has a meal and some ale and then retires.

Day 12: The barge leaves at first light and the day passes without any random encounters, even though the traffic increases rather than decreases. At the end of the day, the barge drops anchor at another jetty with an inn that doubles as a general store. Some more supplies are bought and Sir Oengus, who has suggested that they may have to ram their barge into barricade if they want to get to the lake, acquires some nets, tar, torches, and tinder.
When our noble heroes get to the common room, Navarre starts asking around for news again, to find that, now, most people seem to agree that the commoners have revolted and that bandits currently rule the duchies.
“But why?,” Navarre asks one of the men who has told him such a story. “What could the commoners possibly gain from such a revolt? How could they have organized their ‘revolt’ without anybody noticing anything?”
“They are men of Ulm,” the man says. “A new era is upon us.”
“That’s what I heard,” a second man says. “Every village has its own council, speaking justice, hanging the oppressors and confiscating their goods.”
“These councils won’t last,” Sir Oengus says. “In the end, all hands be wantin’ a single captain.”
“I cannot believe it,” Navarre says. “Every village? How would these people know where to begin? It will lead to chaos and indecision!”
“Sure enough,” another man scoffs. “No beer’s been delivered in four days! People’s councils! Ulm take ’em all!”
Navarre decides he has had enough and retires. Sir Oengus spends much of the rest of the evening fabricating tar bombs.

Day 13: As the day progresses, there is less and less traffic on the river until our noble heroes are the only ones still going downstream. At various locations along the shore, barges have dropped anchor and are offloading their cargo.
“Bandits downstream!,” a man yells when Navarre asks him what he is doing. “They won’t let nobody pass and I won’t have these bastards confiscate my cargo for their bastard revolution! We’re dumping everything here! Let the miller come and get his stuff himself!”
“How many men on the blockade?,” Navarre hollers.
“Sixty!,” the man yells back.

The barge enters the Lake District just after six o’clock that evening. On the left bank, our noble heroes see many people moving among the trees.
Sir Suvali takes to the air again and flies some ten minutes downstream until he gets to where the ferry must be. There are no barges blocking the river, although he does see some five or six of them moored on the Wyrsn side. Furthermore, all manner of vessels appear to be transporting what must be hundreds of people across the river. From what he can see, they appear to be soldiers but he doesn’t dare get close enough so as to be able to identify them.
“We can get to the lake,” he says, when he gets back. “There’s no blockade. Lots of soldiers, though.”
“No blockade?,” Navarre asks. “Soldiers? What banners?”
“Hard to say. They seem organized enough but I don’t think they are the enemy.”
“Then who are they?,” Navarre asks. “The royalists from Palava? How did they get here so fast? Are they men from Dara on the move?”
“I guess we’ll find out soon enough,” the sorcerer says.

An hour later, the barge arrives at the lake ferry, where, sure enough, a veritable fleet of boats, rafts, and barges are getting hundreds of soldiers across the river. When they get close enough, our noble heroes recognize banners from Mim, Bagabuxsha, Thuxra, Dara, and Palava.
”By Olm!,” Navarre yells. “They are the men from Palava!”
Sir Oengus drops anchor and our noble heroes find themselves ashore on the left bank about half an hour later, among many, many soldiers moving to and fro and waiting to board the vessels. Some are definitely wounded and most look tired, albeit quite pleased with themselves.
“Who is in command, soldier?,” Navarre asks one of them.
“High-ups over there,” the soldier says, pointing downstream.

Navarre starts walking downstream, with his noble fellows in tow. When he reaches to a guarded clearing, the chevalier rather unceremoniously pushes past him and addresses one of the guards.
“Hail the King!,” he calls, straightening his back. “What is the plan?”
“Stand aside, citizens!,” the guard replies. “This is a dangerous place. Lay doggo until we have cleaned up here.”
“Who is in command?,” the chevalier asks.
“That’ll be His Excellency Duke Mim III the Younger to you.”
“Sarazin,” the chevalier says.
“Then you’re on the wrong side of the lake,” the guard says.
Navarre wonders if this means that Sarazin troops are on the move on the other side of the lake but this notion escapes the chevalier, who presently shows the guard his ring. The guard has a good look at it and then hollers a passing soldier: “Private! Take these brass to the officers’ club.”
“If you would follow me, Lords,” the soldier says, starting downstream. En route, our noble heroes discuss what to tell the nobles when they get there and, more importantly, what not. They decide not to mention that they have the Sword of Shadows and to omit any details that might lend an air of exaggeration to their story – no magic, no giants, not a word about the strange map they found on the Isle of Bread.
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How inconvenient
An Adventure in Five Acts, Act IV (Continued)

About half an hour later, the company reach an impromptu camp of large tents among some deserted barrows. Soldiers and servants move about in an organized fashion and royalist banners fly everywhere. Navarre notices that the banners of his family are not among them, although he does recognize some Sarazin banners.
The soldier takes our noble heroes to one of the larger tents and announces them to a guard outside, who ushers them in. Inside, many nobles and officers are gathered around long tables laden with copious amounts of food and drink.
“What news?,” Navarre asks an officer close to the entrance.
“No resistance to speak of,” the man says. “Operation running smoothly. Now, if you’ll excuse me?”
When the man leaves the tent, Navarre has good look around for any signs of his kinsmen. He doesn’t find any but does recognize some notable barons and even some low-ranking members of a few ducal families. He concludes that the men and women gathered here must be about a third of the ranks just below the fine fleur of the nobles of the realm.
The chevalier addresses another officer.
“Sarazin,” he says.
“Welcome, welcome,” the officer says.
“You have fought bravely?”
The officer throws him a befuddled look as if he isn’t quite sure what the chevalier meant – which few, if any, others are.

Then, a tall, lean, old man with a crooked nose and a burnished skin approaches. He is wearing a high-quality chain mail armor and a number of richly clad men follow in his wake.
“Here, here,” the old man says. “What banter is this?”
The chevalier executes a grand gesture.
“Ah!,” the old man says. “The second Sarazin! Scaralat, is it? Where are your men?”
The chevalier guffaws something unintelligible, neatly avoiding answering the question before continuing: “Is there anybody in command we can speak to? How many men?”
Monsieur, I have the honor of introducing Duke Mim the Younger,” one of the duke’s entourage, obviously one of his barons, says in a formal tone.
Mon Duc,” the chevalier says, with an elegant bow.
“What of these chaps?,” Duke Mim asks, looking at our noble heroes. “Can’t say I recognize them.”
Almost as an afterthought, the chevalier introduces his noble companions.
The man who spoke earlier clears his throat.
“Cintugnatus of Mim,” he says, with the slightest nod of his head, before proceeding to introduce the rest of the duke’s entourage, barons all. “Dejotarus of Bagabuxsha. Cynfawr of Thuxra. Odo of Dara. Corwin of Palava. Bomaris of Palava. Ariovanus of Dara. Vanemir of Sarazin.”
Mon cher Vanémir!,” the chevalier exclaims, hugging and kissing the baron. “Merveilleux! Merveilleux! Mon cher! Quoi de nouveau de Sarazin?”
Terrible! Terrible! Terrible!,” baron Vanemir cries, wringing his hands. “The paupers have revolted! We couldn’t make it to the Fortnight! L’infamie!”
Inacceptable!,” the chevalier cries. “Is there any news of my father?”
Salauds!,” the distraught baron continues, his hands in the air. “They came at us from all sides! Raiders came from the mountains, plundering and pillaging, hitting us and Dauberval! We sent men to crush them but then bandits attacked from the rivers! It was all part of some nefarious plan! They blocked the rivers!”
“You speak of Dauberval, Sir?,” Navarre asks.
But, like a true Sarazin, the baron does not appear to hear him and continues venting his indignation in a high-pitched voice.

And so our noble hero leaves the Sarazins to their excited exchange and notices Sir Montagum among the duke’s entourage, a peasant hero and second in command of the King’s Cavalry. The man must have been among those who escaped the besieged Military Academy now almost two weeks ago.
“My compliments, Commander,” he says. “Is there any news from Apple Island?”
“No news to speak of, Sir.”
“Unfortunate,” Navarre says, gritting his teeth. “So you have not yet retaken it?”
“Preparations are under way, Sir,” the commander replies in a measured tone.
“Perhaps I can be of assistance?,” Navarre ventures. “I was on the island when the attack happened.”
He proceeds to provide the commander with a summary of the events of that fateful night: that soldiers wearing iron armors invaded the island; that the King was murdered; that the invaders were highly organized and that they specifically targeted mages; and that it was Augustus Magister Rex who facilitated their escape from the island.
Since he isn’t sure how the commander will react to the notion of iron-clad giants killing kings in one blow and magical spells going awry, he leaves such details out of his report.
“I have heard rumors about these soldiers,” the commander says. “Of course, people say many things these days. Sir.”
“Indeed,” Navarre says. “Am I to assume that you have not yet encountered these soldiers?”
“All I can say is that the Academy was attacked by bandits, Sir,“ the commander says.
“And what of your fight?,” the chevalier cuts in. “How many men are here?”
“We have cleared the river and prevented the bandits from attacking Palava,” the commander says, again with some emphasis on the word ‘bandits’. “I’d say we are some twelve hundred strong at the moment.”
Mes felicitations, monsieur,” the chevalier says. “Et maintenant? Regroup and retake the island?”
“Exactly so, Sir. We head for Apple Island at first dawn – with as many men as the Duke sees fit. I’d say we’ll be some two-, three hundred men in all.”
“Count us in,” Sir Eber says. “I’ll be the first off the barge.”
“Of course,” the commander says.
“How far to the island?,” Sir Eber asks. “Are there enough barges?”
“It should be about a mile, Sir,” the commander says.
“Hmm…,” Sir Eber says. “Too far to tie some boats together and have the troops march to the island.”

Navarre turns to Duke Mim again: “Is there any indication as to how many men are still on the island?”
“Intelligence reports some minor activity there,” the duke replies.
Navarre raises an eyebrow.
“Indeed?,” he asks. “How many men do they say are on the island?”
“I’m sure the men will take care of whatever ruffians they may run in to,” Duke Mim replies stiffly.
“Of course,” Navarre says. “However, while there were certainly bandits among the invaders, I have also seen many rather well-trained and surprisingly well-equipped soldiers.”
Duke Mim casts him an absentminded glance.
“Excellent, excellent,” he says. “The men sent some two hundred peasants packing – dissolved some of these ‘village councils’. Assure me there are no more than a handful of men on the island.”
“That may be, Sir,” Navarre says, rather miffed at the duke’s apparent disinterest in the matter. “But I assure you that many soldiers were there that night. I have seen them with my own eyes. If you would allow me to speak candidly?”
The duke is obviously bored with the whole affair.
“By all means,” he says, glancing at a dish with candied quails and gesturing a servant for a refill.
Once again, Navarre recounts the events of that fateful night, this time in much more detail although still taking care not to mention any details that could further alienate the intractable duke. He speaks of numbers, orderly formations, iron armors, organized advances, trained archers, targeted attacks.
When he mentions the enemy specifically targeting sorcerers again, the duke nods.
“Indeed,” he says. “I have been told that some four or five sorcerers have been killed.”
“All I am saying, my Lord, is that the scouts may not be fully aware of who or what may still be on the island,” Navarre resumes. “If only half of the invaders are still out there and the scouts have not seen them, we will be in for an unpleasant surprise. The attack happened two weeks ago! A well-organized enemy will have had plenty of time to set up a trap.”
“My dear fellow,” the duke interrupts, emptying his glass and eyeing the quails again. “We’d better leave it to the men to deal with the situation, wouldn’t you agree? It’s what they’re there for.”

Realizing that the duke clearly seems unwilling to accept he could be walking into a trap, Navarre looks for support from his noble fellows and the assembled barons – only to find that most of them avert their eyes or, indeed, have already wandered off. Among the latter are the chevalier and some barons, who are presently perusing a table laden with a variety of choice viands and fine wines.
Furious, Navarre takes a deep breath. Then Sir Suvali nudges him.
“I’ll go and have a look for myself,” the sorcerer says under his voice. “Be right back.”
Navarre nods but continues his attempts to convince the – ever-dwindling – group of nobles around him of the possible risks of the operation, meeting with little success.
After about an hour of this, Sir Suvali returns.
“The island is deserted,” he says. “There’s no one. No corpses. All I saw was a handful of looters hauling stuff around but that’s it.”
“What?,” Navarre asks incredulously. “No one? No corpses? Where did everybody go? How?”
“I don’t know,” the sorcerer says.
“What mystery is this?,” Navarre exclaims. “What was the whole thing for?”
“Maybe the stories about a revolution are true,” the sorcerer says. “Maybe they did want to kill our kinsmen. Invade the duchies, kill everybody and then install their village councils.”
“And then what?,” Navarre cries. “Surely these people cannot expect us to lie down and subject to the rule of their peasant councils? Don’t they know that such a situation cannot endure? I don’t buy it. People capable of organizing an attack like this cannot be that stupid. Why waste so much time and resources on some fad? Who are these people anyway? And what about this whole Ulm thing? Giants? There must be something else going on!”
“Stranger things have happened,” the sorcerer says, shrugging his shoulders.
“Hardly,” Navarre says. “Anyway, I’m off for a leak.”

He leaves the tent and heads to the lake. He has just finished when he sees what looks like a speck of fire on the island across the water. Unable to make out exactly what it is, he returns to the tent to find his noble fellows gathered at one of the tables.
When he tells them what he saw, Sir Oengus immediately gets to his feet.
“Anchors away!,” he says. “We must go to the island now. I’ll ready the barge.”
“Sit down,” the sorcerer says. “I made the fire to get the looters away from the trees. I had a look at what they’d been doing and found a mass grave.”
“A mass grave?,” Navarre asks. “Now you tell us? Mass grave for whom?”
“Hard to say,” the sorcerer says. “Judging by its size, I’d say it could contain a lot of corpses.”
“Anything else you haven’t told us?,” Navarre asks irritably.
“Not much,” the sorcerer says. “The whole place is a mess. All boats and barges at the jetties were sunk. That’s about it.”
“We should inform Mim,” Navarre says, getting up. “Try one more time.”

But when our noble heroes report Sir Suvali’s findings to the duke and his entourage, they seem unimpressed.
“I’m sure the whole thing will be cleared up tomorrow,” the duke says.
“We must send a scouting party to the island now,” Sir Oengus says.
“Perhaps accompanied by one of your men,” Navarre adds. “To avoid any misunderstandings.”
“We sail at first light,” the duke says, looking at Navarre with a weak smile. “Best to see things in the light.”
Navarre finally decides to give up. He turns his attention to a selection of superb wines and then to a number of damsels of unmistakable allure.
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How inconvenient
An Adventure in Five Acts, Act IV (Continued)

Day 14: Just after the morning rain, Navarre pays a visit to the barber for a shave. When he gets back to the tent, he grabs some breakfast, quaffs a couple of glasses of wine and dons his armor before joining some of his noble fellows on their way to the lake. Here, the duke’s soldiers are already embarking and it doesn’t take long before the first boat sets off – our noble heroes on board.
There are a total of 20 boats, each carrying around ten soldiers. When the fleet is about halfway, Sir Suvali takes to the air – to the loud cheers and applause of the duke and his entourage in the last boat.
When the boats get to the island, the soldiers are landed in groups of ten and spread out along the shore before moving inland in an orderly fashion.

Our noble heroes decide to go after Sir Suvali. They advance cautiously but meet no resistance and, when they get to the festival area, they find only collapsed tents, broken chairs and tables as a poignant reminder of what happened here two weeks ago. Items of clothing lie strewn about and there are the remains of several extinguished fires and similar debris. There is no sign of anything even remotely valuable – no weapons, no glasses, no cups, no cutlery, nothing. There are no corpses.
“Where is everybody?,” Navarre asks. “Where are our kinsmen?”
When Sir Suvali appears, he is once again in the company of the dogs he had to leave behind when our noble heroes fled the island.
“Found them in the forest,” he says. “Follow me, gentlemen. The mass grave.”
Our noble heroes follow the sorcerer to the edge of the forest, to an area of loose earth some 30 by 30 feet. There are definite signs of digging after the fact, leaving some body parts exposed.
“Looters,” Sir Eber says. “We’ll need shovels.”
Sir Suvali flies back to the landing site and presently returns with some shovels. Sir Eber and Navarre take one each and start digging. After some time, they conclude there must be some four dozen corpses in the grave. They haven’t found anyone they know – indeed, it seems that the grave contains only the corpses of royalist soldiers and servants.
“No one,” Navarre says, wiping his forehead when he is taking a breather. “How many more of these graves do you think there are?”
“Don’t care,” Sir Eber says. “I’ll dig until I find my family.”
The noble duo continue their efforts, finding more soldiers and servants until Sir Oengus appears.
“All boats at the jetties have been sunk, most of them burnt,” he says. “We found some four mass graves – maybe there are more than a hundred people buried over there. We did some digging and found mostly royalist soldiers. Naked. No humanoids. No enemy corpses. No signs of the invaders at all.”
“I don’t get it,” Navarre says. “Where are our people?”
“Taken away,” the chevalier says. “Maybe they will use them against us.”
“My dear fellow!,” Navarre cries. “Taken? How? Do you think they would go willingly? Take up arms against us? Preposterous!”
“There can be other ways to turn them against us,” the chevalier says with a shiver. “In the service of Ulm.”
It takes some time before Navarre gets an idea of what the chevalier may be on about.
“The walking dead?,” he says, with a look of both anger and disbelief on his face. “Haven’t we heard enough old wives’ tales of late?”
“Everything points to a raid,” Sir Suvali says. “In and out, take everything of value, leave no corpses. Let’s go and see where the King was killed.”
When our noble heroes get to the Royal Barrows, they find much of the same – some burnt corpses are in the ashes of long-extinguished fires. An inspection of the barrows proper informs them that all supplies are gone.
“I don’t get it,” Navarre says. “What in Olm’s name went on here?”
“It was a foraging raid,” the chevalier says. “An army travels on its stomach.”
“A foraging raid?,” Navarre cries in exasperation. “Travel where? Where are they now? What about our kinsmen? By Olm! Who are these people? Where are they going? Where did they come from?”
“It must be the Icy Waste,” Sir Suvali says. “With the lands below the rivers back under control there’s nowhere else they can be. They must have come from the Icy Waste as well. No one lives in the mountains except Blurh.”
“So they passed Blurh…,” Navarre muses. “I wonder what he will have to say about the matter.”
“I’ll go and have a look,” Sir Suvali says.
“Perhaps we should all go,” Navarre says. “Can you not use your magic wand again?”
Obviously shocked, the sorcerer starts speaking rather incoherently: “No!. Erm… I think not! I’ll be safer on my own! You are needed here to convince Mim! Lead your armies! You see?”
Navarre casts his noble companion a suspicious glance but then decides he doesn’t want to know.
“If you say so,” he says, shrugging his shoulders. “It seems we are about finished here anyway. I suggest we get on with it. Rally our armies and join Mim to fight whatever is up there in the mountains.”
“Let’s check where they landed,” Sir Suvali says, obviously relieved. “See what we can find there.”
Our noble heroes subject the beach to a close inspection but find nothing they didn’t already know. There were multiple landing craft and the tracks in the sand indicate that there must have been many, many invaders.

Realizing that this probably still won’t be enough to convince Mim and the other nobles of the true nature and numbers of the enemy, Navarre decides to have another look at where he and the others fought the soldiers chasing Augustus Magister Rex.
When he gets there, he has a good look around but only finds more of the same until, finally, he actually does find some sign of the enemy: it is an arrow, fairly standard but of some quality, black and with red fletching, a iron arrow head painted red, and a band of red paint at the back of the shaft. Unable to connect the colors to any known banner, Navarre guesses that it must have belonged to one the various bandit or mercenary groups. Although he realizes that it isn’t much, he still takes the arrow back to his noble companions. When he joins them, Sir Eber has just rolled a “1” on his Tracking skill and he presently points at a clear print of a booted foot at least three times larger than that of an ordinary man. An additional investigation clearly reveals that the giant came ashore, moved in a straight line to where the King was and then straight back to the beach.

When Duke Mim and his entourage arrive, Navarre shows them the arrow, which neither the duke nor his entourage say they recognize. They do appear to be somewhat impressed by the footprint.
“Uncommonly large foot I’d say,” the duke admits, before turning to his entourage. “Gentlemen, that will be all! Get your men back to the camp and have them prepare to sail up the Blue River at first light tomorrow. Let’s put an end to this damn’ thing!”
“That gives us time to cross the mountains,” Sir Eber says. “Check in on Blurh before that. The man must have seen something when these bastards passed him.”
“Agreed,” Sir Suvali says, lowering his voice quite considerably after a furtive glance at Duke Mim. “It’ll take me more than eight hours of straight flying to get to Blurh and I don’t want to do the whole thing in one go. Getting to Blurh may take me as much as twenty hours. That’s almost a day and a night and that only gets me to Blurh.”
“‛Me’?,” the ranger asks. “You going alone?”
Sir Suvali starts stammering again.
“Well…,” he starts. “It’s like… You see? I’ll be faster in my own… You…”
“Stop whining, mage,” the ranger growls. “I want to be there when you get to the Icy Waste.”
“Alright! Alright!,” the sorcerer says hastily, casting another glance at the duke. “We’ll leave at dusk.”
“What are you chaps on about?,” the duke asks. “Cross the mountains? Icy Waste?”

Perhaps the duke has been listening after all. Our noble heroes exchange some looks.
“We have his attention,” Navarre says. “I say we show him the map.”
When the others nod their agreement, Sir Suvali reaches into his robes, procures the map and unrolls it.
“What’s this?,” the duke asks, looking at the map with interest and then back at our noble heroes. For some reason, he doesn’t seem very surprised at all.
“It’s an extended map of the world,” Sir Suvali says. “The enemy may have come from beyond the mountains.”
“It is where the giants come from,” the chevalier says.
“We’ll have to cross the mountains if we find that Blurh has fallen and there’s no sign of the enemy,” Sir Suvali says.
“Best take care up there,” the duke says. “Been to these mountains. Tall bastards. At least twelve thousand feet. Not for the fainthearted. Giant eagles in the sky and all that.”
“This is no time for the fainthearted,” Navarre says. “We will cross them if we cannot find the enemy.”
“Let’s put it this way,” Sir Suvali says. “We’ll start flying rimward and get back to you as soon as we find something of interest. Since we’ll be moving a lot faster than the army, we’ll have plenty of time to warn you of anything untoward before you get there. If I’m not back within, say, forty hours, you can advance as far as Blurh without any problems and make camp there. I’ll report to you there if we find anything beyond the mountains. We’ll leave tonight so that we will fly as much as we can under cover of the night.”
“Gentlemen, I accept your proposition,” Duke Mim declares. “Damned if we don’t need all the information we can get and damned if you chaps aren’t the ones to do it! You’ll leave tonight and get back to me as soon as you have something to say. Messieurs, I salute you!”

And so it is that our noble heroes return to the army camp and spend the rest of the day preparing for their trip to the mountains, stocking up on supplies, polishing and checking their weapons and armors, and so on.
Sir Suvali takes to the air just after sunset. The others have been reduced in size again and each is in his own pocket of the mage vest. It has been agreed that they will sleep while the sorcerer flies, except Sir Oerknal, who will serve as an extra pair of eyes.

Day 15: Some eight hours later, just before the morning rain and after he has flown a considerable distance up the Blue River, Sir Suvali decides he has had enough and lands in the forest. He wakes the others and instructs them to stand guard while he and Sir Oerknal get some sleep.
He wakes up again just short of eight hours later and, after a quick bite to eat, he takes to the air once more, his noble fellows back in the pockets of his vest. Now flying in daylight, our noble heroes sees the valley get narrower and narrower, the farms and jetties on the banks of the river slowly disappearing as they make way for a mixture of rocky slopes and dense coniferous forests. In the distance loom the snowy peaks of the mountains and the whole gives the landscape a rugged, even foreboding look.
About three hours later, they spot what appears to be a collection of buildings at a jetty on the dawnward bank of the river. As they get closer, they also discern a fortified hill a bit further up the valley. A high palisade runs across the top of the hill from forest to forest and the fortification is buzzing with activity.
“It’s them!,” Navarre says, excitedly. “By Olm! It’s the enemy!”

Sir Suvali turns right and lands on some vantage point among the trees, from where our noble heroes observe the goings on for a while. There is no activity at the buildings near the jetty, which must be an inn of some sort. Tracks on both sides of the river run up to the fortification, the construct effectively blocking all access to the hinterland. Beyond the palisade, the tracks continue, the one on the duskward bank soon turning left and disappearing into the forest. On the dawnward bank, the track continues, turning into little more than a goat’s trail when it reaches a steep cliff face still further up the valley. About halfway back between there and the palisade, a sidetrack turns into the forest to the right. In the hinterland, groups of bandits or mercenaries with dogs are seen, obviously patrols. There must be at least a thousand men on the fortified hill, some half of whom appear to be iron-clad halberdiers, the remainder being bandits and perhaps mercenaries in leather armor. From the palisade fly many black banners – the banners of Ulm.
“By Olm!,” Navarre says to Sir Eber, who is right beside him. “How long do you think they have been here?”
“Building that palisade probably takes about three days,” the ranger says.
“The cavalry!,” the chevalier suddenly yells. “We must get back! The horses are no match for halberdiers! He will be cut to pieces!”
Navarre and Sir Eber look at their noble companion in amazement.
“What are you on about?,” Navarre asks.
La cavalerie!,” the chevalier cries. “Mim will run his horses straight into the palisade and kill them all! They are uphill and behind that palisade! We must stop him!”
“The Duke may be many things but I don’t think he’ll be that stupid,” Navarre says. “Poor? Yes. Pig-headed? Absolutely. But a complete idiot? No. The man has eyes like all of us, old fruit. Why would he order an attack that will lead to certain defeat?”
Mais tu comprends pas!,” the chevalier cries. “He will charge the enemy as soon as he sees them. He is chevalier!”
“Mim?,” Navarre scoffs. “A cavalier? Nonsense! Even if he were, wouldn’t that be all the more reason for him to know that he cannot win an uphill battle against halberdiers behind a palisade?”
However, as so often seems to be the case these days, the chevalier doesn’t seem to want to hear him and continues rambling on and on about Mim running his horses into palisades and that he must be stopped. Navarre is just about to ask him how he thinks to achieve this when the chevalier seems to reach a somewhat unconnected conclusion all on his own.
“That’s it!,” he cries. “We must stop the flow of the river! Deprive them of water!”
Navarre wonders how much his noble friend has been drinking.
“Stop the river?,” he asks. “Stop a river? And how would we go about that?”
“Block the source!,” the chevalier cries. “Where is the source?”
“Somewhere in the mountains back there, I says,” Sir Oengus says.
“Mes amis!,” the chevalier cries. “We have found our mission! We must find the source and block it!”
“I say we don’t spend any more charges of the wand than absolutely necessary,” Sir Suvali says. “You’ll all get back to normal again in about three hours so we have just enough time left to get to Blurh and back.”
“I concur,” Navarre says. “We must find out what happened to Blurh. There must be a thousand men down there!”
“He may be with them,” Sir Eber says.
Navarre considers this for a while.
“Whatever the case may be, we must get this information to Mim as soon as possible,” he says, before turning to the sorcerer. “Since you seem unwilling to use the wand, perhaps you should get back to him alone. You can get us to Blurh before you go and even leave us there depending on what we find. Perhaps we can do something up there while you’re away, even though we will have to wait until we get back to normal again. I don’t want to be running for cover each time we come to the attention of a sparrow.”
“Bah,” Sir Eber says, flexing his muscles. “Have a little faith!”
Last edited:


How inconvenient
An Adventure in Five Acts, Act V: Diamond Castle, Part I: Against the Ice Giant

In which the DM informs our noble heroes that they are not in the forest on the dawnward bank of the Blue River but in the inn; that Mim and his men have already arrived; and that the whole conversation about the extended map actually took place in the inn. He also tells them that the enemy camp is about 1,500 feet above sea level and the immediate hinterland some 2,100 feet; that the rest of the royalist army, some 300 men, will arrive in about three days; and that the whole royalist army will then consist of some 1,500 men.

Day 17: Not at all bothered by this strange turn of events, the chevalier continues his bewildering statements about blocking rivers and Mim letting his horses charge to a certain death. It must be said that this quickly gets the rest of our noble heroes back into the flow, which soon leads to yet another discussion about what to do next.
Messieurs,” the chevalier says. “Although we have the numbers and our horses give us the ability to move at speed, we are still at a disadvantage against heavy infantry behind a palisade. We must lay siege to the enemy and cut their water supply. Find the source and block the river.”
“My dear fellow,” Navarre says. “Have you any idea of the risks and the amount of time it would take to start searching for the source of a river behind enemy lines?”
“Gentlemen,” Sir Suvali says. “An inventory! We have the ability to create some one hundred and thirty potions of sleep-inducing tea and the wand still has over sixty charges left in it. Then there is the flying apparatus…”
Merveilleux!,” the chevalier exclaims, clapping his hands. “We shall engage in covert action!”
“I will say it again,” Navarre says frostily. “We need information first. What happened to our kinsmen? Who are the enemy? Where do they come from? What are their motives? What of Blurh? Is he aware of what transpires here? Can we call on him if he should still be holding out up there? Is he responsible for this? I say Blurh is where we must begin.”
“The enemy is on terrain they know,” Sir Suvali says. “We have magic on our side so we can engage in hit-and-run actions, choose our targets. We can be in and out again before they know what hit them.”
“To what avail?,” Navarre asks. “Nibble away at their numbers? Kill some patrols? It would hardly inconvenience them.“

With the debate continuing like this, more and more nobles arrive at the inn. The innkeeper is running to and fro, taking orders, allocating rooms and then vacating them again to make way for new arrivals of higher station. Presently more than 100 nobles and officers are in the common room, discussing the situation and with opinions ranging from ‘charging the rabble’ to ‘maintaining the status-quo’ and allowing the enemy their territorial gains so that everybody can go home to restore order in the duchies. Still, by now, the consensus seems to be that there has been ‘a revolution of the poor’ and that ‘peasant councils’ have indeed taken control of large parts of the realm.
Of course, Navarre still isn’t convinced. How could no one have noticed the commoners stirring? Do these people truly believe they can succeed? Pondering the situation, he comes across Sir Oengus and an officer discussing the impending arrival of troops from Dauberval, Sarazin, and Nisibis.
He stops to listen.
“That is, if she can get the men moving,” the officer says.
“She?,” Sir Oengus asks.
“Well, it is she who leads the men of Nisibis,” the officer says.
Navarre flashes Sir Oengus a wide grin.
Mademoiselle your sister, Lord Moon?,” he says. “Congratulations, old fruit!”
“Well, it seems she’s got more balls than you and your men put together, old fruit,” Sir Oengus says. “Seeing as she’s also currently commanding the Dauberval and Sarazin lubbers.”
Navarre looks at him with a face like a lemon before regaining his composure.
Touché,” he laughs, slapping his noble fellow on the back. “Well played, mon cher!”
He turns to face the officer.
“And who of Dauberval is among them?,” he asks the man.
“Alas, Lord,” the officer says, “I have no more information.”
So nothing new here.

Navarre gets back to the table, where the rest of his noble fellows are speaking to the innkeeper – who turns out to be quite the source of information. He informs our noble heroes that he established the inn 15 years ago when his father died; that his inn is the last stop on the way to Blurh, which he calls Diamond Castle; that barges can sail up the Blue River right up to the inn and that travelers must continue rimward on foot; that it takes one day to reach Diamond Castle via mountain tracks and trails.
“The Duke is obsessed with security,” the innkeeper says. “Bandits ruled here before he arrived and it is said that it took him a lot of time to establish himself up there. When he finally did, he cordoned off the area around the castle, with his guards not allowing anybody in.”
“Fifteen years, ‘ey?,” Sir Oengus says. “Have you noticed any recent changes in the color of the river? Seen any strange lights up in the mountains?”
“Can’t say that I did,” the innkeeper says.
“And what of Blurh?,” Navarre asks.
“Last thing I heard the cordon was still intact.”
“Indeed?,” Navarre muses. “What about large amounts of troops moving down and upstream?”
“There were some.”
“And you didn’t consider that to be… unusual?,” Navarre asks.
The innkeeper flashes him an apologetic grin.
“Any giants among them?,” Navarre continues.
“I have heard rumors of such creatures,” the innkeeper says. “I did see them haul barges up into the mountains, though.”
“Come again?”
But before the innkeeper can repeat his remark, the chevalier intervenes.
“What about the height of the river?,” he demands.
“I’ve never seen it as low as it is now,” the innkeeper says.
“Where is the source of this river?”
“Somewhere up in the mountains, I presume,” the innkeeper says. “Where else?”
“What about Diamond Castle?,” Sir Suvali cuts in.
“I haven’t been there much but it is a bizarre thing,” the innkeeper says. “Not like a barrow, more like some construct of stone, with towers. The strangest thing.”
“Ha!,” Navarre beams to the chevalier. “I told you that castles are the future!”
“Philistines!,” the chevalier mutters under his voice.
“About these barges,” Navarre continues. “Did they also carry them from the mountains to the river?”
“Could be,” the innkeeper says, shifting a little in his seat.
“Could be?”, Navarre asks sharply. “Are you telling me that you didn’t notice anything?”
“I prefer to stay well away from people passing my inn in large organized groups, if you don’t mind my saying, Lord,” the innkeeper replies, getting to his feet.
“Unless they knock on your door for drinks, of course,” Sir Eber says. Sir Oerknal and Sir Suvali burst out laughing – apparently the ranger beat them to it.
The innkeeper grins some more and leaves the table.

“Perhaps Blurh is still holding out if this cordon is still intact,” Navarre muses when the man is gone. “Where is this castle? Is it impregnable? Is it so far out of the way that the enemy didn’t bother to take it?”
“Let’s find out,” Sir Eber says. “Let’s go to the castle through the forest and see what’s what.”
“I like it,” Sir Oengus says. “We shall approach the castle with raised visors.”
Fi!,” the chevalier exclaims. “We must approach like thieves! Blurh might mistake us for the enemy!”
Navarre looks at his noble friend with a raised eyebrow.
“You seem to have developed an alarming penchant for furtiveness and larceny of late, old fruit,” he says.
But the chevalier isn’t listening. Apparently keen to remain on top of absolutely everything, he has turned his attention to Sir Eber and Sir Oerknal, who have started discussing bowel movements. He pours them some more ale and heartily joins in.

“He may have a point,” Sir Suvali says to Navarre. “Blurh may have a very specific reason for the cordon, which could mean that he won’t distinguish between royalists or rebels approaching his castle.
“So, I’ll take one of you with me and fly to the castle to see what’s going on. We won’t waste charges and the rest will be their normal size if the enemy decides to strike tonight – Mim is going to need all the men he can get when the attack comes. I can always get back and collect the rest if we run into trouble up there.”
“I’ll come,” Sir Oengus says.
The sorcerer needs only a fraction of a second to recover: “Navarre?”
“No need to ask,” Navarre says. “I’m game for anything that could finally lead to the heart of this whole affair.”
Sir Suvali tries to inform the others of the plan but these hear but little of what he says, their guffaws ringing loudly throughout the room. Nevertheless, Sir Eber and Sir Oerknal agree to his every word, if only to continue their boorish exchange.
But then the chevalier suddenly seems to notice that something is afoot and that he is not going to be a part of it.
“Why only you, mon cher?,” he asks Navarre, somewhat piqued. “Why not all of us?”
“You might want to consider actually listening to people when they are talking to you, my friend,” Navarre returns, getting ready to leave. “And do not come to me with questions about plans in which I did not have a hand. Speak to the sorcerer if you must.”
Sorcier!,” the chevalier calls to Sir Suvali, who is already halfway to the door. “Look for the source of the river, will you?”
“You’ll be the first to know if we find one,” the sorcerer yells back at him, leaving the inn without so much as turning to look at him.

21.00 hrs: And so it is that Sir Suvali, Sir Oengus, and Navarre move to a secluded spot some distance downstream, where the sorcerer procures his wand and reduces his noble companions in size once again. He puts them in the pockets of his mage vest, takes to the air and starts flying rimward.
When the sun sets about an hour later, the noble trio locate what must be ‛Diamond Castle’. It is located on a high plateau and about a third of the way to the foot of the snow-capped mountains in the background. A large lake stretches from the castle proper to a precipice at the hubward end of the plateau. On its dawnward shore, only barely visible ion the rapidly fading light, they see what appears to be a huge, deserted army camp.
The castle itself is a rectangular affair that actually comprises two castles merged together, the older of the two being the duskward and the newer the dawnward section. A river runs straight through the older section and empties into the lake. Clouds of steam smoke billow from the courtyard of the new castle.
When darkness falls, our noble heroes discern numerous fires burning in a perimeter around the castle and the lake, culminating in groups of several fires to each side of the precipice. There are no barges or boats in the lake and, from what they can see, getting anything larger than a canoe up to lake from the Blue River valley would be nothing less than a monumental task. There is no mine in sight, which leads our noble heroes to believe that it will probably be somewhere in the mountains at the back of the plateau. Apart from the fires and some lights in the castle, there are no signs of life on the plateau.
“Let’s go round,” Sir Suvali says, starting a wide turn to the left.
Flying past the castle on the duskward side, our noble heroes notice groups of soldiers patrolling the walls and a large circus tent in the courtyard of the new castle. People seem to be moving in and out of it and great clouds of steam appear to billow from it.
“Is that steam?,” Navarre wonders. “A hot spring?”
Continuing their tour, our noble heroes reach the back of the plateau, where they have to cross the river coming from the mountains.
“Let’s check the encampment,” Navarre says.
When they have flown past, our noble heroes estimate that it may be as much as a decade old and that it seems to have been deserted about a year ago.
“When was the last time Blurh was at the Fortnight?,” Navarre asks.
“Three years,” Sir Suvali replies.
“Hmm….” Navarre says. “It seems unlikely that Blurh would allow for such a camp to exist next to his castle if it was not his own. I think we can safely assume that he is actually behind all this.”

Sir Suvali has made a turn to the right and, now, our noble heroes approach the fires burning on the dawnward side of the precipice. They hover in the air for a bit and clearly see men moving on the ground below – some arriving, some departing, some with dogs, some without them. When our noble heroes get to the other side of the plateau, past the second concentration of fires, they land at some vantage point to discuss what they have found.
“Was that a dam between those fires?,” Navarre asks.
“Aye,” Sir Oengus says. “Must be the reason why the river is so low in the valley.”
“Makes you wonder how long that dam has been there,” Navarre says.
“Let’s ask one of the guards,” Sir Suvali says. “Snatch one from one of the campfires, take him back to the army and start getting some answers.”
“I would prefer a guard from the castle walls,” Navarre says. “The men at the campfires may be just mercenaries and they may not know what is going on inside the castle. Remember that Blurh has a reputation for being paranoid.”
“Too risky,” Sir Suvali says. “There’s too many people around that tent and too many guards on the walls. We’d risk being seen and shot at. What’s more, the way back would be too long.”
“Point taken,” Navarre says.
“Agreed?,” the sorcerer says. “We’ll approach from the air and I’ll cast my spell. We land when everybody’s asleep and I’ll use the wand on the first one we get to. I’ll stash him in my pocket and head back.”
“Let’s do it,” Sir Oengus says.
“One moment,” Navarre says. “Chances are we witnessed a changing of the guards at that fire. I think we should make sure about that so we won’t run into any nasty surprises. This will also give us the most time if things go pear-shaped.”
The noble trio take to the air, fly past the dam again and land in a suitable spot to observe the goings on at the first fire. They have to wait almost all of two hours before Sir Oengus sees something move.
“There they are,” he says.
And, sure enough, two men arrive and two others leave. When everything has settled down, Sir Suvali takes to the air, gets within range and casts his spell. Unfortunately, only one of them starts sagging slowly to one side.
“Drat!,” he says, before casting another spell.
While it would have been nice if this would have led to both men being fast asleep now, the three-faced god seems to have decided against such a fortunate turn of events. Instead, after the sorcerer has cast his second spell, the first guard turns out to have all but slumped into the fire and presently the heat wakes him from his magical slumber.
Quick as a hawk, Sir Suvali lands next to him and touches him with the wand, just in time to prevent the man’s screams from alerting everybody on the plateau. He grabs the squeaking guard, stuffs him into the pocket where Navarre is and takes to the air again, leaving our noble hero to deal with the problem. Indeed, Navarre has some considerable trouble getting the guard to stop struggling and screaming and he eventually has to put a knife to his throat.
“Shut – the – f**k – up!,” he hisses.
The guard finally gives in and now Navarre has little trouble tying his hands and feet.

Now, the DM informs the noble trio that they end up in a smallish, comfortable cave at the edge of the plateau, where there won’t be any random encounters, where there is a source of fresh water, and where they can recuperate and memorize lost spells. After Navarre has congratulated the DM on this rather excellent reference, Sir Suvali starts brewing some tea from the sleep-inducing herbs while Navarre starts questioning the agitated prisoner.
“Who are you?,” he starts.
The prisoner flushes and straightens his back.
“I am John Soldier!,” he says defiantly.
“In whose service?”
“I am descended from a long line of soldiers in the service of Blurh. But no more! We have freed ourselves from the yoke of the oppressor and the era of progress has begun! Nothing can stop us! The time of kings and dukes is over!”
“Is it?,” Navarre says mockingly. “And who will replace the kings and dukes?”
“Councils of the people!,” the prisoner says. “No more oppressors! From now on, all are equal and we will decide our own fate!”
“And what, pray, has been the fate of Lord Blurh?,” Navarre asks.
“An unfortunate accident has led to the death of the oppressor Blurh and his wife and children some time ago!”
“Unfortunate indeed,” Navarre says, gnashing his teeth and glaring angrily at the man. “And all this under the banner of Ulm?”
“The High Priest of Ulm is one of the leaders of the council,” the prisoner says. “He is an engineer and he will bring progress to the people!”
“I see,” Navarre says. “Well, it would seem that some are more equal than others in your little scheme. By what name goes this priest?”
“He is called mister Albert Murphy.”


How inconvenient
An Adventure in Five Acts, Act V, Part I (Continued)

This is something Navarre didn’t expect. Albert Murphy? The architect who built his father’s mountain castle? What treachery is this? Why, the man has dined at his father’s table, for crying out loud! Navarre has to take some time before he can ask his next question, through gritted teeth.
“And how fares dear old Albert?”
“Very well,” the prisoner says. “He was educated at the Academy of Royal Engineers. He is a man of great knowledge!”
“So he is,” Navarre replies. “What about the tent in the courtyard of the castle?”
“It is the entrance to the mine of the people!,” the prisoner says.
“I suppose Albert Murphy is in charge of that as well?”
“It is he who has armed the people and led the revolt! He and mostly the giant.”
“Ah yes. The giant,” Navarre says. “Is he also one of the people?”
“He came with mister Albert.”
“And how did that happen?”
“It was after mister Albert returned from the mountains, where he spent two years to free his mind of the confusion created by the oppressors. He returned with the giant when his plans for the revolution were finished.”
“The giant who disappears every now and then?,” Sir Suvali asks, smiling at the prisoner while stirring the tea.
“No, no,” the prisoner says. “He lives in the castle.”
“Who else lives in the castle?,” Navarre asks.
“All the leaders of the revolution. Vincilli Litworth, the chancellor; mister Albert Murphy, engineer and High Priest of Ulm; and Serena… Fallen. She was a leader of bandits before she committed to the revolution.”
“A sorceress?,” Sir Suvali asks.
“Magic is banned!,” the prisoner says. “It is the root of all evil!”
“And so it would seem,” Navarre says. “Tell me. What is the function of that lake?”
“It was created when we built the dam,” the prisoner says. “We brought rocks and trees and built it.”
“Why?,” Sir Oengus asks.
The prisoner hesitates.
“There is a beast in it,” he says, after some time.
“Well?,” Navarre snaps. “Spit it out. What kind of beast?”
“It is a creature of ice,” the prisoner says. “A troll, an elemental. It was captured by the giant to serve the revolution.”
Our noble heroes exchange doubtful glances. A creature of ice? Does such a thing even exist? Then again, they didn’t really believe that giants existed until two weeks ago.
“It is sleeping,” the prisoner continues. “Serena can put it to sleep and wake it up.”
“Using magic?’, Sir Suvali asks sharply.
“No,” the prisoner says. “She is a herbalist – she uses herbs and her knowledge of nature to control the ice troll.”
“So it is an ‘ice troll’ now?,” Navarre asks sharply. “And how will this creature serve your little revolution?”
Again, the prisoner seems to hesitate.
“It holds the dam together,” he says, eventually. “The dam serves the revolution!”
The noble trio take some time to consider how a dam could serve a revolution.
“We’ll need some details, my good man,” Navarre says. “How does it serve the revolution? Is it a permanent structure?”
“It can be partially opened,” the prisoner says, again after having thought about his answer for a bit.
“For what reason?,” Navarre asks.
The prisoner hesitates again.
“It is a good idea to let the water through,” he finally says.
“I’m sure it is,” Navarre says.

Then it hits him. It’s a trap! The royalists have been lured into a trap! If the dam breaks, the resulting wave of water would utterly kill everything in the valley! But then what about the so-called ‘army of the people’? Would the three leaders go as far as to destroy their own army? Could this be the ultimate goal of Albert Murphy? Why not? What better way to serve Ulm than to kill some 2,500 people at once?
“You say the ice troll in the lake holds the dam together,” Sir Oengus says. “How does it do that?”
“It adds ice to the dam.”
“So the dam is a construct of wood, stone, and ice?”
“It’s not like that. The ice troll freezes the dam.”
“So the dam is a man-made construct and the ice troll is just there to freeze it?”
“That’s it.”
Navarre is still pondering whether Albert Murphy is really planning to destroy his own army.
“Where are your leaders now?,” he asks. “In the castle?”
“Each in their own tower,” the prisoner says. “The giant has his own quarters because he is a cantankerous naughty word. Serena was his prisoner when mister Albert found him.”
“Some tea?,” Sir Suvali says, offering the prisoner a steaming cup of the stuff.

When the prisoner is sound asleep moments later, Navarre shares his thoughts about the dam with the others.
“I know,” Sir Suvali says, apparently suggesting that he thought of the whole thing first.
“Would they really kill their own men?,” Navarre wonders. He ponders the problem for a bit until he suddenly thinks of something.
“How many men in the castle, you think?” he asks his noble fellows.
“Hard to say,” Sir Oengus says. “Five hundred? A thousand at most?”
“Hmm…,” Navarre muses. “If they still have men in the castle, it could mean the army in the valley is expendable. First, they wouldn’t have to pay them. Second, they would neatly rid themselves of a lot of people they had fight for them in the name of this so-called revolution. Third, there would be no more royalist army. If they would still have some sort of coherent elite force in the castle, they would have little trouble dealing with some bickering barons in the duchies. The realm will be at their feet.”
“Captains don’t kill their own hands,” Sir Oengus says. “It sends the ship adrift.”
“You don’t really believe this drivel about the people and revolutions, do you?,” Navarre says. “There is no such thing. I’ll bet you a hundred gold that these three have some other agenda entirely. They are obviously evil to the core so why would they care about some peasants and bandits?”
“That’s the morning rain,” Sir Suvali says, when the first drops start falling outside. “I’ll have another look at the castle in the light and then we head back to the camp.”

Day 18: The sorcerer’s short flight does not yield much more information. When he returns and Navarre asks him whether it’s Blurh’s or Ulm’s banners flying from the castle, the sorcerer says he didn’t get close enough to see what’s what.
“They were mostly black,” he says.
“Great,” Navarre says. “So are Blurh’s banners. Black with some red.”
“In that case I’d say they where Ulm’s rather than Blurh’s,” Sir Suvali says. “Let’s get back to the camp.”
On their way back, our noble heroes keep their eyes peeled. When they are approaching the enemy camp, Navarre manages to roll “1” twice for something called an ‘observation check’ – just when you need them and all that – and he spots an expertly hidden barge just at the end of a track leading up and into the forest on the duskward bank of the river. Nets and piles of leafy branches are stacked against and on top of it so as to make it almost undetectable.
“Do you suppose this is how they are going to save their own men when they burst the dam?,” he wonders. “Get them on barges and then flood the valley? And then perhaps sail back to King’s Lake to finish their conquest?”
“Seems a bit strong,” Sir Oengus says. “They’ll need a lot of barges for that. Besides, that barge is pretty high up on the slope. I don’t think the water will reach it.”
“I must bow to your superior knowledge on the subject,” Navarre says. “I have no clue at all as to the effects of this flood.”

When they get back to the inn some two hours later, the noble trio report their findings to the others, which causes a bit of a stir. With everybody speaking and shouting at the same time, Navarre suddenly gets an idea.
“We must use their own trap against them!,” he exclaims. “Get our own men to safety and break the dam before they can.”
“I was thinking the same thing,” Sir Eber says. “Is the ice troll part of the dam? Would we have to kill it?”
“I’d say it certainly has to be removed in some way,” Navarre says. “How big is an ice troll? Does it function as some sort of stopper if it is a part of the dam and would using the magical wand on it do the trick then? Would killing it? Does anybody know how to kill an ice troll?”
“It’ll probably die after I hit it a couple of times,” Sir Eber says.
“Hmm,” Navarre muses. “Should we consider using the Sword of Shadows just to make sure that it dies instantly?”
“I will not draw the sword again,” Sir Eber says.
“Commendable,” Navarre says. “Alright then. Perhaps Suvali should shrink the creature first? Just in case it doesn’t die after you have hit it a couple of times?”
Sir Eber looks at him with thinly veiled contempt.
“There’s more,” Navarre continues. “How do we get to the dam unnoticed and still pack a punch? We can hardly start fighting the creature when we are small – it just wouldn’t work. And where is it? Even more important: how would we get out of the way when the dam breaks? There’s no telling how fast the water will come through. Although I gather it would be fast.”
“Bah,” Sir Eber scoffs. “Talk and more talk. Let’s just do it.”
Navarre casts him a doubtful look. Has his noble fellow not heard a word he said?
“Perhaps we should see what Mim has to say before making plans,” Navarre says. “We might need some considerable time to convince the man of all this and the glass is running empty. Maybe we should use the prisoner to convince him?”
Mon cher!,” the chevalier exclaims. “The man is chevalier! We can hardly expect him to listen to the tales of a peasant!”
Navarre nods.
“Point taken,” he says. “I think we should speak to Mim alone. This whole ‘revolt of the people’ thing does seem to be at least a part of the plan and I think we would be wise to consider who we talk to. Some of the servants may have taken to the notion and the whole plan depends on the utmost discretion.”

22.00 hrs: An hour after Navarre and Sir Oengus have reverted to their normal size and the prisoner has been fed some more tea, our noble heroes head for Duke Mim’s room. One of the guards announces their arrival and they are ushered into the room, where they find Mim in the company of two more guards and two servants preparing him for the night.
Sir Eber is the first to speak: “Get these people out of here.”
Duke Mim looks at him in startled surprise.
“I say!,” he exclaims. “I will do no such thing!”
“I am afraid we must insist, Lord Duke,” Navarre says. “What we have to say is for your ears only.”
The duke considers this for a moment and then nods to the servants.
“The guards remain,” he says. “I trust them with my life.”
“After them,” Sir Eber says. “We don’t want anyone listening in on this out there.”
“Move!,” Sir Oerknal says, herding the servants out of the room like a flock of geese. “Go!”
He follows the servants into the hallway and shuts the door behind him.

Monsieur,” the chevalier starts, bowing elegantly. “We have information of importance about the enemy.”
“Excellent!,” Mim says. “Out with it!”
“The château is in the hands of the enemy,” the chevalier continues. “A direct assault is out of the question.”
“Damn’ nuisance!,” Mim says.
“There is another option but timing will be of the essence,” the chevalier continues. “There is a dam at the edge of the plateau with a huge reservoir of water behind it. The enemy is planning to break the dam and flood the valley, killing everybody in it. We must get our men to safety before this happens.”
The duke seems to ponder this for some time.
“How certain are you of this?,” he finally asks.
“We have seen the dam with our own eyes,” Navarre says. “Allow me to draw you a map of the situation.”

The duke gestures to one of the guards for a quill and some parchment and Navarre starts scribbling while the chevalier continues to answer the duke’s questions about the castle itself. When Navarre has finished, the noble company gather around the map.
“Considering all this, monsieur, I suggest we break the dam before the enemy does,” the chevalier says.
The duke studies the map for some time, with the noble quartet explaining things when required.
“We must secretly retreat our troops, get them to safe ground before the enemy can react,” the chevalier says. “Timing and discretion are of the essence. We must seal off the area and leave fires burning to create the impression of a manned camp while we retreat.”
The duke nods.
“We’ll have to move under the cover of darkness,” he says.
“I must point out that we cannot be certain that the dam will actually break,” Navarre says.
“Words,” Sir Eber scoffs. “The opportunity is too good to ignore. We must use their own trap against them.”
“How long would it take to get our men to higher ground?,” Navarre asks.
“An hour, two at the most,” the duke says.
Messieurs,” the chevalier says, a solemn look on his face. “There is nothing to stop us.”
“Gentlemen, the plan has merit,” the duke says, extending his hand to each of the noble quartet. “I give you Mim’s word and you have my full support. In return, gentlemen, I assume I can count on each one of you when this affair is over?”
Mon Duc!,” the chevalier cries, straightening his back. “House Sarazin is behind you!”
When his noble fellows also loudly voice their support for the duke’s royal aspirations, Navarre nods. He doesn’t care who will be King after this.
“We’ll need some time to prepare,” Sir Suvali says. “We’ll get back to you when we’re ready to move.”
Allez!,” the chevalier cries. “Messieurs, when the enemy has been crushed, we shall move against the château!”
“Gentlemen,” the duke says, donning a surcoat. “I will leave you to it. I will personally instruct my officers to be ready for immediate action.”
And with this, he signals his guards and leaves the room.
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How inconvenient
An Adventure in Five Acts, Act V, Part I (Continued)

As so our noble heroes return to their own rooms, left to come up with a foolproof plan. They agree that time is of the essence and that they must get to the dam as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this would involve them flying there and thus reducing most of them in size again, meaning that they will probably stand a poor chance of attacking the ice troll to any effect. And then there is the small matter of getting out in time if the dam should break. How fast will it break? Would they stand a greater chance of getting out of the way when they are large or small? What if they fly to the dam, have to wait for 24 hours to revert to their normal size and only then attack the ice troll? Surely this would give the enemy too much time, especially since there is no way of knowing their timescale? Should they try and get to the dam on foot? That would also take about a day and would lead to the additional problem of getting past the palisade and crossing the hinterland unseen. It is a true conundrum.

An hour has passed when we find Sir Eber and Navarre entertaining the feeble notion that Sir Suvali could perhaps reduce one of them in size and dangle him from a line so that he could try and kill the troll with the Sword of Shadows.
“We’re not really considering this, are we?,” Navarre says.
“No,” Sir Eber says. “But only because I won’t draw the sword again. Anyway, I don’t care how we do this, large or small, as long as we do it and fast.”
“Undeniable,” Navarre nods. “I will say this, though: I will not be a part of this unless we can come up with a sure way to get out of the way when the dam breaks. I do not intend to die a fool’s death.”
“I’ll do it,” Sir Eber says.
“You’ll likely die.”
“Don’t be an idiot,” Navarre says angrily. “What of your responsibilities? Your people are going to need you when all this is over.”
“The people can take care of themselves,” Sir Eber says. “They seem to be doing all right at the moment.”
Navarre raises an eyebrow.
“Surely you jest, Sir?,” he says.
But it doesn’t look like his noble companion is.
“Gentlemen,” Sir Suvali says, rising to his feet. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna have another look at the enemy lines. Just to make sure everything is still as it’s supposed to be.”
He leaves the room, leaving the rest of our noble heroes to continue discussing the plan and it becomes clear that they will probably have to get to the dam in reduced form. So how are they going fight an ice troll when they are the size of garden gnomes? How large is an ice troll? Will their little legs allow them to get out of the way in time when the dam breaks? Will the frozen part of the dam instantly thaw upon the death of the ice troll – its magic lost as Sir Suvali seems to suggest – or will it take time?
“Time flies,” Sir Eber says when the bell strikes midnight. “We’ve been at this for two hours now and I say we get a move on, now, come what may. Where’s the sorcerer?”
Has it been two hours? Tempus fugit indeed! Two hours! Has that allowed the enemy to find out about the plan using the Kettle of the Coven?

It is this what Navarre is thinking of when Sir Suvali bursts into the room.
“Alarm!,” he yells. “Alarm! The enemy has moved to higher ground!”
Sir Eber is the first to react: “Get word to Mim! We have to move! Now!”
“I’m on it!,” Sir Oerknal yells, grabbing his axe and charging out of the room.
“We’ll have to move fast!,” Sir Suvali says. “We must know what is going on and there is only one way to get to the dam in time. Gentlemen, prepare to be shrunk!”
Although he does see that he is left with little choice, Navarre still manages to utter a feeble protest before the sorcerer points the wand at him. Minutes later, the others already in the pockets of the mage vest, Sir Oerknal returns.
“He’s gonna need two hours!,” he yells. Sir Suvali reduces him in size and when the creature has climbed into a pocket of the vest, the sorcerer runs out of the inn and takes to the air.
Below him, orders are shouted and men start scrambling to higher ground in all haste.

Day 19, 01.00 hrs: When our noble heroes get to the dam about an hour later, there are more fires on both ends of it than before, which either means that the enemy has increased their vigilance because they found out that a guard had gone missing or that the game is afoot – or perhaps a combination of both. After several passes, our noble heroes conclude that there are at least 30 men to each side of the dam.
“We can’t get to the dam from the plateau without engaging them,” Sir Suvali says. “I’ll have to lower some of you directly onto the dam if we want to get this over with.”
“Why?,” Navarre asks. “It would seem that the enemy is about to break the dam. Why not leave them to it?”
“To the castle, then?,” Sir Suvali says.
“Yea,” Sir Oengus says.
“Would there be any point at all if we were to stop the enemy from breaking the dam?,” Navarre asks.
“Nah,” Sir Oengus says. “Let them spring the trap and get rid of it. We might want to make sure they don’t do it too fast, though. Mim will need another hour.”
“Agreed,” Sir Suvali says. “We’ll wait to see what happens and get to the castle when the whole thing is over.”

Our noble heroes do not have to wait long. They observe the goings on for over half an hour until Sir Oengus points at the castle.
“Sail ho!,” he says. “The witch is coming.”
On the other side of the lake, the gates of the old castle have opened and a group of some 60 people emerge and start for the lake in the light of their torches.
“I see no giant,” Sir Eber says.
When the group is close to the dam, our noble heroes retreat to a vantage point on a cliff to the duskward side of it. The group moves to the middle of the dam and splits, with about half of it moving to the left and the other to the right, leaving only a smallish woman and a handful of people in the middle of the dam. The giant is still nowhere to be seen.
“So the witch is going to do it,” Sir Eber says.

Although our noble heroes cannot exactly make out what is happening, it is obvious that the smallish woman engages in some activities and then there is a loud ‘crack’. Instantly, everybody on the dam starts running left and right until there are no more people on it. All remains quiet for some five minutes when there is another loud ‘crack’ – and then another one, and another. Suddenly, there is a huge cracking sound and the whole lake shudders.
Seconds later, the dam breaks.
“Keep eyes on Serena!,” Sir Suvali yells, rising into the air for a better view.
“Where’s the troll?,” Sir Eber yells.
With the water thundering into the valley below in apocalyptic fashion, our noble heroes try to keep track of their target while spying for the ice troll at the same time.
When the group with the witch starts back to the castle, no one has seen the troll. Did it wash downstream with the flood?
“They’re on the move,” Sir Suvali says from above. “We’re going after them.”

When they get to the castle and the witch and her entourage have disappeared, our noble heroes have to decide what to do. At this point, it is still about four and a half hours to the morning rain and some 22 hours before they will revert to their normal size.
“I’m going back to Mim and be his scout,” Sir Suvali says. “Want me to drop you into the castle?”
“What else?,” Sir Eber says. “Get us to the courtyard and we’ll kill the giant and the rest of the leaders.”
“I’d say that would be a little rash,” Navarre says. “We have no idea how many soldiers are in the castle and I am not going to fight all of them in that courtyard. And most certainly not while I am this small.”
“Then we’ll start in one of the towers and work our way down,” the ranger says.
“Wouldn’t that sort of be the same thing?”, Navarre says angrily. “What is wrong with you? Do you really want us to charge into the castle and start hacking away at the enemy when we’re this small?”
Much to his surprise, Sir Eber grins apologetically.
“I’m just saying that we should stop talking and do something for a change,” he says.

Navarre takes some time to calm down and then has a good look at the castle. He is the only one with some understanding of its layout and he notices that there is only one tower with a roof: the pigeonnier. There are no guards on it and it could be approached from the back in a bit of a blind spot for the guards on the walls.
“We could get to the pigeonnier unnoticed and wait there until we get back to normal,” he says eventually. “Even at our current size, we could probably handle a dove keeper if the worst were to happen.”
“Let’s have a look,” Sir Suvali says.
After some scouting, the pigeonnier is indeed found to be the best place to wait for the magical effect to end. After a stealthy approach, the sorcerer drops his noble companions onto the ledge where the pigeons normally land and heads back to the army.

When he reaches the valley, he looks down upon a scene utter devastation. Whole sections of the rocky slopes and the forests on both banks are gone, carried away by the raging torrent. Even though the worst seems to be over, the river is still thundering through the valley with force, past veritable mountains of rocks, boulders, splintered trees, and other debris.
When he gets to the army camp just before daybreak, he finds everything gone except the inn. On both sides, the armies are scrambling to take up new positions in the valley.
He finds Duke Mim in the inn and informs him of what transpired on the plateau and that he left his noble companions up there to keep an eye on the enemy. The duke tells him that neither army suffered much from the flood.
“It would seem we are stuck here for the time being,” he says.
“Okay,” Sir Suvali says. “I’ll get some sleep and fly back to the castle tonight. We are planning a move against the enemy and I’ll get back to you with news as soon as we have achieved something up there.”
He takes his leave of the duke and retires.

Navarre wakes up at the break of dawn. Our noble heroes are still in the pigeonnier, which takes up most of the upper floor of the tower, its only connection to the rest of it being a trapdoor in the floor.
He has slept for some four hours and decides to start observing the goings on in the courtyard below. He is just in time to see the giant emerge from a row of buildings on the other side of the courtyard, stooping low to get through what seems to be an enlarged doorway. It has a white skin and white hair and it is wearing a filthy, white hauberk. It stumbles about for a bit and then starts pissing into a barrel. When it is done, it picks up the barrel, staggers out of the castle and tosses the contents into the lake. It returns to the castle, picks up another barrel and drinks what seems to be most of its contents. When it is done, it stumbles back into the building it came from. It is obviously blind drunk.
“The other giant was black,” Sir Eber says.
Navarre turns to face the ranger.
“An ice giant?,” he muses.
“I say we poison the f**ker,” Sir Eber says, nodding to the barrel.
“Commendable,” Navarre says sarcastically. “If somewhat beneath a peer of the realm. Pity we don’t actually have any.”

Since there is little else to do, our noble heroes observe the goings on in the castle for much of the rest of the day and they can now confirm that the banners flying on the walls are those of Ulm. The large circus tent turns out to be the center of activity in the castle. It is surrounded by many strange constructs and contraptions: hoists, cranes, and all manner of other contrivances with ropes and pulleys. Voluminous clouds of steam billow from the the tent itself and there is a huge pile of what seems to be blue earth next to it. Maybe as many as hundreds of slaves come and go, operating the constructs, emptying buckets onto the pile of earth and then sieving the blue earth, all watched over by armed soldiers.
“At least now we know what happened to our families,” Sir Eber says grimly.
“It is an outrage!,” Navarre growls.
The castle is clearly composed of two parts, an old part to the right and a new part to the left, separated by wall with a gatehouse in it. The main entrances to the complex are in the rimward and hubward walls of the old castle. A bridge crosses the river running through the old part and on the far side are the stables and numerous barracks where the slaves are kept and the soldiers sleep. The tent is in the new part of the castle, as are the giant’s quarters and the stables. If the prisoner told them the truth, the three remaining towers of the new castle must be where the three leaders reside.
There must be hundreds of enslaved nobles, watched over by some two dozen soldiers. Another two dozen men are patrolling the walls of both parts of the castle and our noble heroes gather that there must be from 50 to 100 enemy soldiers in the castle. Judging by what they saw back in the valley, this would mean that the ‘army of the people’ there constitutes perhaps 95% of the entire enemy force. Since most of the soldiers in the castle are armed with halberds and wear the strange iron armor, our noble heroes assume these must constitute some sort of elite force.

After some six hours of continuous observation, just when Navarre concludes that he has seen enough, something stirs in the courtyard. People start cheering and applauding loudly and now a smallish man appears. He is probably some 40 years old, of lean build, clean-shaven, and clad in spotless overalls. He benevolently acknowledges the admiring crowd and crosses the courtyard to the tent, where he starts inspecting the various constructs.
“There he is,” Navarre says, gritting his teeth. “Albert bloody Murphy the traitorous architect.”
It takes Albert Murphy about half an hour to complete his inspection of the courtyard, after which he disappears into the tent. Since it is still a long wait until our noble heroes will revert to their normal size and because he thinks that he has seen enough for the day, Navarre decides to get some more sleep.

23.00 hrs: It must be close to midnight when Sir Suvali turns up and finds most of his noble fellows fast asleep. Not so Sir Eber, who instantly jumps to his feet when the flying sorcerer appears, wide awake.
“Time to take the castle,” he growls, flexing his muscles, tiny as they are at the moment. “The little architect is still in his quarters.”
“Patience, friend,” Sir Oengus says. “We still have to get back to normal.”
“I say we liberate our kinsmen first,” Navarre says. “There must be at least five hundred of them, most of them able warriors. We will stand a better chance against the soldiers if we have the numbers. We can get to the barracks via the wall and there are only two guards on it. We can get in through the roof. The operation will be fast and we will be at the other side of the bridge, which we can easily defend against the soldiers and giant when they attack.”
“We must get the giant first,” Sir Eber says. “Get the punch out of their attack.”
“There are too many soldiers out there,” Navarre says. “Even if we would make it to that building, we may be in bad shape when we get to face the giant.”
“I won’t sacrifice my family to the giant,” Sir Eber growls. “He killed the King in one blow. He will crush all of them.”
“I am sure your father would be honored to die for the King,” Navarre says stiffly.
“Let’s do both, starting with the giant,” Sir Suvali says. “The giant is our most dangerous opponent, especially if he should get the chance to get into his stride.”
“The giant must not be allowed to roam free,” Sir Eber says.

Although he sees the point, Navarre is not convinced – he is not convinced at all.
“There is no way we can get to the giant’s quarters without being spotted by the guards on the walls – not to mention everybody else in the yard,” he says. “The giant will be out long before we get there.”
“Then we use the walls,” Sir Suvali says. “If we are careful, we only have to deal with two guards at the time. The route isn’t that different from the one you propose to get to the slaves.”
“Possibly,” Navarre says. “But the end result will be different! If we free our kinsmen, we will end up with an army of trained fighters. In your case we will end up fighting a giant with enemy soldiers closing in all around us. We will not survive.”
“Then we die,” Sir Eber says.
Navarre casts the ranger an incredulous look.
“I did not think that was the purpose of this exercise,” he says.
“We cannot take the castle,” Sir Suvali says. “Not even with the help of the slaves and definitely not when the giant is still alive. Our mission must be to make it as easy as possible for Mim to take the castle when he gets here. We cannot allow the giant to wade into Mim’s troops and start slaughtering them.”
“I think we can get to the giant without attracting too much attention,” he continues. “Even if he would come out before we can get to his quarters, I think we can still kill him if we concentrate our attacks on him. Job done as far as I’m concerned, whatever may come next.”
Navarre has to admit that the sorcerer has a point. Moreover, if his plan would fail, it would alarm the giant and possibly lead to the death of a lot of his peers, whereas, if the plan with the giant would fail, at least the unarmed nobles wouldn’t be in the line of fire.
“I say we get through that trapdoor and then onto the gatehouse wall,” Sir Suvali says. “Get the first guard and drag him inside while I take his place in disguise and take the next guard. After that it’ll be playing ticker with the wand. I can get to get to the next tower in no time.”
“And how will you ‘disguise’ yourself?,” Navarre asks. “You will need more than just a cloak. You may have to speak to the other guard.”
“I am very good at disguising myself,” the sorcerer declares.
“I suppose you are,” Navarre says pensively. “Hmm… We could probably get into the building through the roof from the hubward wall. It might work.”

The discussion continues like this until all of our noble heroes are back to their normal size.
“Let’s go!”, Sir Eber says.
He opens the trapdoor in the floor and disappears through it. The others follow and now our noble heroes are in a dark room. They have a hard time recognizing exactly what is in it until Sir Oerknal tells them that there are crates and racks with weapons everywhere. There are three doors: one to dawnward; one to the gatehouse wall; and one to duskward, to the old part of the castle.
The sorcerer speaks again: “Everybody ready? We’ll take the guards one by one and replace each of them with one of us as we proceed. If we move quickly, we can cover more ground than you think.”

Navarre still has his doubts but Sir Eber has already opened the door to the gatehouse wall and is presently confronted with the back of a guard who has just started moving away from him.
“Stay low and get him in here!,” Sir Suvali hisses, unleashing his spell.
The guard is asleep before he can turn around and Sir Eber has dragged him into the armory even before he has had time to hit the ground. Quickly, the sorcerer dons the guard’s cloak, grabs his buckler and steps outside. Sir Eber closes the door behind him, drags the sleeping guard to the back wall and moves back to the door again, setting it slightly ajar. The whole thing hasn’t lasted ten seconds.

Outside, Sir Suvali is moving down the wall at a leisurely pace and approaching the second guard, who seems blissfully unaware of what happened moments earlier. When he is within range, the sorcerer casts his second spell, never breaking his stride while the guard collapses. Witnessing the event, Sir Eber opens the door, silently runs down the wall and drags the second guard back into the armory without making a sound. He takes the man’s cloak and buckler, gets back out and starts walking down the wall.
In the armory, Sir Oerknal drags the second guard to the back wall, right up to where Navarre, the chevalier, and the first guard are.
“My turn,” the chevalier announces, taking a buckler from one of the stands moving to the door.
Not wholly sure of what the plan was but pretty sure that it didn’t involve the chevalier charging after the sorcerer and the ranger at this time and without a proper disguise, and with Sir Oerknal and Sir Oengus now also eager to join the action and moving to the door, Navarre is left with the problem of the two sleeping guards. He ponders the situation for a moment before he decides to cut their throats. All is fair in war and war and all that.
What follows is a rather remarkable series of events involving the chevalier and Navarre replacing the sorcerer and the ranger on the gatehouse wall; Sir Suvali and Sir Eber finding the door to the second tower locked and clambering up to its roof using a rope; a short, muffled fight with the two guards up there; Sir Oengus replacing the chevalier on the gatehouse wall when his impetuous noble fellow has also climbed up to the roof of the second tower; a spot of a-guard-on-the-third-tower-looking-at-the-trio-on-the-second-tower-for-some-heart-stopping-moments-before-deciding-that-all-is-still-well – all of which has led to the following situation: Sir Oerknal still in the armory; Navarre and Sir Oengus on the gatehouse wall; and the chevalier, Sir Eber, and Sir Suvali on the roof of the second tower, where they have found a trapdoor in the floor.

“This is it,” Sir Suvali whispers to his noble companions, of whom Sir Eber is on his knees next to the trapdoor. “I have no more spells and we’ve been pushing our luck. Eber, you and I get through the trapdoor and see if we can reach the giant’s quarters via the courtyard. Scaralat, you remain here and prop up that dead guard against the hubward battlements so that you’ll at least seem to be two up here.”
“Certainly,” the chevalier says, with more than a hint of irritation in his voice.
The sorcerer opens the trapdoor to allow Sir Eber to climb down the ladder thus revealed. Unable to see a thing, the ranger strikes a spark and sees that he is in a study cum bedroom taking up most of the floor. The air is dry and parts of the room have been partitioned off with drapes and curtains; there are numerous bookcases and chests, one or two desks, some chairs, books and papers everywhere, a flight of stairs leading down, and a large four-poster bed with a sleeping man in a night-cap in it.
The man is probably bald, perhaps 60 years old and he has a short beard and it doesn’t take a genius to know that this must be Vincilli Litworth, the Chancellor. Without much ado, Sir Eber stabs him in the heart when Sir Suvali steps down from the ladder.

After a cursory inspection of the room, the noble duo descend the stairs and end up on the ground floor. They open the door in the dawnward wall and run across the empty courtyard to the giant’s quarters.
Sir Eber opens the door, lets the sorcerer pass and follows, closing the door behind him. The noble duo find themselves in a large room taking up most of the building – indeed, the inner walls have been torn down to create one large room. Some barrels and several piles of what looks like garbage are in various locations on the room.
Sleeping on the floor, its back to the door, is the giant.
Taking but a moment to take in all of this, the noble duo advance. Sir Suvali touches the giant with the Loremaster’s wand reducing the giant to just over a foot tall. He lights a candle and Sir Eber starts hacking away at the miniature giant, which therefore suffers considerable damage before it can come to its senses. Indeed, it is already bleeding profusely when it finally manages to speak: “What, what…? Stop! What are you doing!? Who are you!? Stop!”
Without saying a word, Sir Eber continues hitting the miniature giant, now aided by Sir Suvali, who has drawn a sword.
“Master! Master!,” the miniature giant yelps. “Stop hitting me!”
Sir Eber hesitates and stays his attacks. But Sir Suvali is not so easily swayed and he continues hacking away at the miniature giant, hitting it again.
“Stop!”, the miniature giant squeaks, now desperately trying to shield itself from the sorcerer’s relentless blows. “I’ll do anything! I’m your slave!”
Still the sorcerer keeps hacking away at the miniature giant, which is now definitely seriously injured.
“What the f**k!,” the miniature giant yelps, finally trying to get away. “Help! Help!”
This wakes Sir Eber from his reverie and he starts hitting the miniature giant again until it sags to the floor, where Sir Suvali finishes it off. Instantly, the giant reverts to its normal size.
“Dead,” the sorcerer says, already scanning the room for treasure and spotting two large, quality chests that stand out from the garbage. A quick inspection reveals a collection of smith’s tools and what appears to be gear for survival in arctic conditions.
“Nice,” Sir Eber says, picking up a huge hammer.
“Leave it,” the sorcerer says. “We’re getting out of here.”
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How inconvenient
An Adventure in Five Acts, Act V, Part II: Assault on the Castle of the Slave Lords

Day 20, just after midnight: With the noble duo thus occupied, Scaralat de Sarazin is looking at the sky, where dark clouds are gathering. When a fierce wind starts to blow, he huddles deep into his cloak and laments his failure to stand up to the sorcerer. Pardieu! What was the buffoon thinking, ordering him around like that! He is chevalier!
Suddenly, lightning strikes the third tower. Much to his delight, he clearly sees the bolt directly hit one of the guards on the roof before arcing to the three others, killing all of them outright. In his excitement, he throws all caution into the wind as usual.
“Friendly fire!,” he hollers, to no one in particular. “Friendly fire! Hurrah! Where does it come from?”
He starts running around in an excited manner, frantically trying to see where the lightning bolt came from. Unfortunately for him, he rolls a “1” for yet another ‘observation check’, which seems to mean that he sees nothing.
Then Sir Oengus appears on the battlements, his eyes as big as saucers.
“It’s a giant eagle!,” he yells to the chevalier and pointing to the hubward sky. “There! Up in the sky! It’s praying!”

Sir Eber and Sir Suvali have just made their way back to the dead chancellor’s room in the second tower when the lightning bolt strikes. The ranger climbs to the roof, where he finds Sir Oengus right next to the trapdoor.
“Lightning strike!,” the chevalier yells, approaching fast. “Four guards dead! Coincidence? Witchcraft!”
Sir Oengus is already halfway down to the steps to the chancellor’s room, where Sir Suvali is busily gathering books and papers and stuffing them in a bag.
“It’s a bird!,” Sir Oengus yells. “A BIG bird!”
“Mmm?,” the sorcerer mumbles, without looking up from what he is doing.
“In the sky!,” Sir Oengus yells, before heading back up the ladder again. “It’s calling down lightning!”
The sorcerer seems to consider this for a moment and then places the bag around the neck of the dead chancellor. He procures his magical wand and touches the dead chancellor with it in the hopes that he can shrink both the corpse and the bag. When nothing happens, he curses softly and looks up to see the chevalier stepping down from the ladder.
Mais c’est un boudoir!,” the chevalier says, quickly scanning the room for valuables.
“A bird?,” Sir Suvali asks.
The chevalier startles.
Une pie?,” he exclaims, flushing. “Moi? Pas du tout! Je…”
“I meant the big bird and the lightning bolt,” the sorcerer says.
“Ah!,” the chevalier exclaims, presently dashing to the stairs in the corner. “The bird! Suivez-moi! A friendly darkness! Terrible forces! Aux armes!”
When Sir Eber has also made it back to the room again, the noble trio start climbing down the stairs.

Back in the armory, Navarre sees Sir Eber and Sir Suvali emerge from the giant’s quarters alive and get back to the second tower unchallenged. Assuming that the mission to kill the giant was a success, he breathes a sigh of relief and turns to look down into the old courtyard under the darkening sky to re-evaluate his chances to get to the barracks where his kinsmen are kept.
Then lightning strikes the second tower. Startled, our noble hero turns around and then the chevalier starts screaming his head off. He turns around again to see the guards on the wall below him look up to the tower. He shakes his head and retreats into the armory to prepare for what is to come.
“What was that?,” Sir Oerknal hisses.
“I think the giant is dead,” Navarre says. “We’d better get to our kinsmen before Sarazin has alerted the whole castle.”
“Okay,” Sir Oerknal says. “We opening the door?”
“Good idea,” Navarre says. “Maybe then I can finally see something in this damned room.”

But they find the duskward door locked and it takes them some time to open it – to find that the wall they know to be there is some eight feet below them, something they somehow to have missed when they were looking at it from their vantage point earlier that day. About halfway down the wall, the two guards are now looking down into the courtyard of the old castle.
“What the hell?,” Sir Oerknal says, looking into the courtyard from the doorway. “The slaves are escaping!”
And sure enough, although the noble duo cannot make out any details, it does seem that people have started fighting in the courtyard across the bridge.
“It’s soldiers against slaves,” Sir Oerknal resumes.
“What?!,” Navarre exclaims. “We must get to them!”
“I’ll charge the guards,” Sir Oerknal says. “Lower me onto the wall and cover me.”
When Sir Oerknal is on the wall, Navarre loads his crossbow and starts firing at the guards. When he misses his first shot, his noble companion has reached the first guard, who deftly parries his charge.

Down in the courtyard of the new castle, Sir Eber, Sir Suvali, and the chevalier have already reached the gate to the old castle. Although they, too, cannot be sure what is going on, it seems obvious that people are fighting across the river.
Parbleu!,” the chevalier cries, taking a few steps back. “Qu’est-ce qu’y se passe?”
“It’s a fight!,” Sir Eber yells. “They’re killing our families!”
Without another thought, the ranger charges into the courtyard and to the bridge, screaming for his dad.

The chevalier shifts uneasily when he sees his noble companion depart in this manner and it takes him some time to regain his composure. He lights a torch and assumes a gallant stance and, now, in the light of the torch, things become a little clearer. Across the river, at the other end of the bridge, large numbers of unarmed nobles are fighting numbers of soldiers. More and more nobles and soldiers are emerging from their respective barracks, the latter hastily donning armors. Already, several of the nobles and at least one soldier are on the ground.
“Weald!,” Sir Eber shouts, when he gets to the bridge. “To the castle! Fall back to the castle! We killed the giant! Weald!”
Far behind him, the chevalier also rises to the occasion.
Sarazin!,” he cries, without moving an inch and with his voice only barely audible over the shouts and screams in the courtyard. “Sarazin aussi!”

Some time before this, on the roof of the second tower, Sir Oengus is watching the giant eagle approach the castle. He climbs back into the dead chancellor’s room and opens the door to the hubward wall to see that the giant eagle has landed on it. He runs to the creature and falls to one knee as if it were a King.
“How can I help?,” he asks.
The giant eagle casts him a regal glance.
“I seek the Kettle of the Coven,” it says. “Where is it?”
“I don’t know,” Sir Oengus says. “Maybe the witch has it.”
“Where is this witch?,” the giant eagle asks, glancing at the third tower.
“I think she must be in one of the two towers down there,” Sir Oengus says, rising to his feet and nodding to the third and fourth tower. “Allow me to help.”
“I will not stop you,” the giant eagle says.
Sir Oengus tentatively moves past the giant eagle.
“Thank you, Lady,” he says. “Thank you for your help!”
“Drink from the Chalice of the Tree,” the creature says, spreading its wings. “Use the wand liberally.”
“Wait!,” Sir Oengus says, turning around before the eagle has taken to the air. “My Lady! Your name!”
“My name is Bandolo,” the giant eagle says, after a moment’s hesitation. “Wandering Bandolo.”
“I am Oengus Moon of Nisibis!,” Sir Oengus says.
The giant eagle throws him an amused glance.
“I know,” it says, gracefully taking to the air. “I have been following you for a week.”

Back in the old courtyard, the chevalier is jumping from one foot to another.
“To me! To me!,” he cries. “House Sarazin is here!”
Next to him, Sir Suvali, obviously clairaudient, gulps down some of the novice’s potion. Instantly, he feels ready to take on the world, the blood pumping through his veins.

Across the river, Sir Eber has reached the end of the bridge and he has already driven back some of the soldiers, allowing some of the nobles to slip onto the bridge and start running.
When they reach the chevalier and the sorcerer at the gatehouse, the chevalier starts gesturing to the armory.
À gauche!,” he cries. “À gauche! Weapons to the left!”
Then, finally, he starts running to the bridge himself, Sir Suvali right behind him with the novice’s potion in his hand. When the noble duo get to the other end of the bridge, the chevalier executes a few flourishes with his sword, allowing Sir Suvali some time to hand the potion to Sir Eber.
“Drink!,” the sorcerer yells. “Drink and follow me!”
Sir Eber gulps down some of the potion, hands it to the chevalier and charges back into the fray.
“We must get the leaders!,” Sir Suvali yells. “Follow me!”
When the sorcerer starts running back to the gatehouse, the chevalier is right behind him.
“Sarazin!,” he cries. “Sarazin!”
“Nisibis!,” numerous voices come from the crowd. “Nisibis!”

And so poor Sir Eber is left to face the ever-growing horde of halberdiers in plate armor alone. Not that he seems to be in need of any help at the moment, mind you: when Sir Suvali and the chevalier reach the gatehouse, he has already killed two soldiers and wounded another so badly that the man can barely remain standing.

Lightning strikes again just when Sir Suvali and the chevalier enter the new courtyard, this time hitting and killing the two guards on the roof of the fourth tower. Then, they hear someone shout their names from the third tower. Looking up, they see Sir Oengus climbing to the roof of the third tower on a rope looped around one of the battlements.
“Where are we going?,” the chevalier asks.
“Hold on,” the sorcerer says, unfolding the wings of his flying apparatus. “We’re going to kill the leaders.”
And with that, he takes the chevalier up into the air and to the roof of the third tower. When they get there, Sir Oengus has already opened a trapdoor and revealed some steps leading into a dark room below. He climbs down the steps and ends up in a small room with many wardrobes, chests, coffers, and a large mirror. Piles of clothes are all over the floor and there are two doors: one in the hubward wall next to the stairs and another in the dawnward wall.
“Damn’!,” he says to the chevalier coming down the steps. “Someone’s been dressing for the occasion!”

On the roof, Sir Suvali takes to the air again and heads for the roof of the fourth tower. When he gets there, he notices a trapdoor in the floor and opens it – to be missed by two arrows coming from the darkness below. Muttering a curse, he kicks the trapdoor back in place. Deciding that two men with bows are a little too much for him, he flies back to the old courtyard.
Just when he crosses the gatehouse wall, he hears Sir Eber bellow his name and call for medical aid.

In the armory, Navarre realizes that he will risk hitting Sir Oerknal if he continues firing at the guards and so he drops onto the wall below and charges into the fray. He manages to hit his target, just – albeit hard enough to send the guard off-balance and allow Sir Oerknal to finish him off. The second guard turns out to be a bit harder to kill, even though Navarre initially manages to inflict some serious damage. The man parries everything the noble duo throw at him for far too long until Sir Oerknal can finally deliver the killing blow.
Free to move at last, the noble duo turn their attention to the fray below, where the fighting has only intensified. More and more nobles and soldiers are coming from their respective barracks and it is hard to see who’s who. What they do see, is that several nobles have reached the gate below them and that some of them are now opening it to the loud cheers of others.
“Back to the armory!,” Navarre yells to his noble companion. “We must arm them!”
With this, he runs back along the wall and hoists himself into the armory, where he finds the room lit by torches and full of unkempt nobles, some of whom have already armed themselves. He has a quick look around but doesn’t see any of his kinsmen.
“Form a line!,” he yells. “Form a line! To the wall! We must arm our kinsmen! Get these weapons to the courtyard!”
The nobles take their time to react but Navarre and Sir Oerknal eventually manage to get them to form a line on the wall and start handing down weapons so the noble duo can throw them to the nobles below.
“Dauberval!,” Navarre yells, when the weapons are received to loud hurrahs. “Dauberval! This way! Weapons! This way!”

But the whole operation has taken far too long and, now, Sir Oerknal stirs.
“When is enough enough?,” he growls to Navarre.
“Keep at it!,” Navarre cries. “There’s much more!”
At that moment, the noble duo hear Sir Eber calling from somewhere down in the courtyard: “Dauberval! To me! Suvali! Medic! … They are falling like flies!”
“That’s Eber!,” Sir Oerknal yells. “Where is he?”
“Dauberval! Suvali!,” Sir Eber’s voice sounds again. “To me!”
“That’s it!,” Sir Oerknal yells, dropping the weapons he is holding. “I’m outta here!”
And with that, he takes a great leap off the wall, landing quite badly. But he doesn’t seem to bother and he gets to his feet without so much as a grunt. He picks up his double-bladed axe and charges into the fray.
“Out of my way!,” he roars. “Lemme through!”
Back on the wall, Navarre has decided to take a more careful approach and presently lowers himself into the courtyard.
“Dauberval!”, he shouts, when he gets to his feet again and charges after his noble companion. “Dauberval!”

At the bridge, Sir Eber has been wreaking havoc among the enemy soldiers ever since Sir Suvali and the chevalier left him there. He has noticed that the front line, although moving back and forth from time to time, is actually preventing the women and children from getting to the bridge safely. Furious and fully pumped up by the novice’s potion, he continues to swing his sword and axe with deadly accuracy, cutting down soldier after soldier and slowly making his way forward until he and some other nobles finally manage to push the soldiers back far enough to allow some of the weaker nobles to get to the bridge.
“To the castle!,” he shouts, planting his axe in another soldier. “To the castle!”
More and more soldiers are coming from the barracks, hastily donning armors and joining the fray. Clad in their iron armors and wielding halberds, they are cutting down nobles like flies – even though these are fighting with vigor and panache.
Fuming, Sir Eber seems to double his efforts. But, although he has already killed at least five and wounded many more, there seems to be no end to the soldiers for the time being. Worse, with more and more nobles now starting to cross the bridge and he is proving himself to be a force to be reckoned with, the enemy increase their efforts against him, and he has already suffered severe damage. But he continues to fight like a lion, cutting down two more soldiers and wounding a third in the next couple of rounds until, finally, after taking a couple of serious blows, he feels his luck may be about to run out.
“Dauberval!,” he bellows. “To me! Suvali! Medic! … They are falling like flies!”
He cuts down another soldier and repeats his call for backup. He is hit again and cuts down another soldier, who is quickly replaced by another soldier.
Just when he has parried a particularly vicious series of attacks, he notices Sir Suvali right behind him. The sorcerer is trying to smear some of the novice’s ointment onto him but has to give up when he is told that things don’t work that way. Then Sir Oerknal arrives on the scene, hurling himself into the melee, swinging his axe at one of the soldiers attacking the ranger and delivering a tremendous blow that sends the man reeling.
“Drink this!,” Sir Suvali yells, handing Sir Oerknal the novice’s potion just when Navarre arrives moments later and takes up a position on the ranger’s right flank.
There you are, Dauberval!,” Sir Eber roars, cutting down his tenth soldier. “Ten!”

The noble trio now face perhaps a score of soldiers, with about ten more tending to the wounded behind the lines. The bodies of many, many dead nobles lie scattered in the courtyard. Furious at the sight, Navarre takes a swing at an advancing soldier, who deftly parries his attack.
“Eleven!”, Sir Eber roars, working another soldier to the ground.
“Drink this!,” Navarre hears Sir Suvali yell next to him. He accepts the novice’s option handed to him, takes a step back and gulps down some of the concoction. He instantly feels its magic take effect and charges back into the fray.
“Dauberval!,” he roars to the soldiers in front of him. “Dauberval! Surrender or die!”
“Piece of cake now!,” Sir Eber yells next to him, cutting down yet another soldier. “Next!”

To his left, Sir Oerknal’s axe bites deep into the shoulder of another soldier and, now, with the noble trio advancing slowly, ever more nobles are getting a secure access to the bridge. Cheering loudly, whole groups of them start running across the bridge and then out of the castle through the open gate in the rimward wall – the momentum inspiring the armed nobles returning from the new castle to start running for the gate as well. Indeed, only very few of them actually join the noble trio in the front line.

“Surrender!,” Navarre yells, when he fails to harm his opponent. “Stand down and be judged!”
Next to him, both Sir Eber and Sir Oerknal are faring a lot better, inflicting great wounds on their opponents. The fight continues like this for some time and it doesn’t seem to be Navarre’s day – his opponents parry, evade, dodge, and even blunder their way out of most of his attacks. Fortunately, he doesn’t suffer much damage himself. Sir Eber and Sir Oerknal do suffer considerable damage but they continue to cut down soldier after soldier in the process.
Then, after what seems like an age, the enemy, greatly reduced in number, finally start retreating.
“Victory!,” Navarre yells. “Dauberval! Victory!”
At the other end of the courtyard, the few remaining fighting nobles break through the enemy line, which sends the medics and the wounded running.
“After them!,” the nobles roar. “Kill them all!”
Navarre executes another fruitless attack and, then, when his noble companions cut down a soldier each, the enemy has finally had enough. Only a handful of soldiers remain, many heavily wounded, and now all of them start running.
“To me!,” Navarre yells, still attempting to rally the nobles for an assault on the new castle. “Dauberval! To me! To me!”
“To the castle!,” Sir Eber roars, turning around and charging back across the bridge, Sir Oerknal right behind him. “After me! To the castle!”


How inconvenient
An Adventure in Five Acts, Act V, Part II (Continued)

But it is all to no avail: with the enemy soldiers dead, wounded, or on the run, now all nobles are running for the gates. Breathing heavily, Navarre continues to try and rally them – looking for his kinsmen at the same time. But the fine fleur of The Forest continue their ignoble run for the gates and he doesn’t see anybody he knows.
Then, finally, he sees his noble mother running past.
“Mother!,” he yells. “Over here! Where is father?”
“Fighting the rabble, of course!,” his noble mother yells, barely slowing down.
“Where is everybody going? We have to fight! Mother! Where is everybody going?”
When Duchess Dauberval stops running, Navarre runs toward her.
“We’re going home,” the duchess says, when he reaches her. “Rally our troops and come back to burn them all!”

Now, finally, Navarre realizes that his attempts to rally the nobles and storm the new castle have failed miserably.
“Of course, mother,” he sighs. “How right you are. Off you go, then.”
“I’m proud of you, son,” his noble mother says, before starting for the gate again.
When Duchess Dauberval has disappeared, Navarre turns around and heads for the new castle.

Right after Navarre handed him the novice’s potion, Sir Suvali left his noble fellows to it again and flew back to the new castle. He presently lands on the gatehouse wall and takes his time to have a good look around – to find that there are no more guards on the walls, that the courtyard is empty and that the giant eagle has disappeared.
He flies down to the courtyard and has a quick look inside the tent to find that it, too, is deserted. There is a huge hole in the ground, all manner of constructs and tools around it – obviously the mine. He leaves the tent and flies to the third tower, where he lands on the roof. After another good look at the gatehouse and the courtyard, he heads for the trapdoor and listens.
From below came the sounds of a fight and the excited cries of the chevalier, as reproduced by the DM: “Oh no! Pardon! En garde! Oh no! Stop! Stop!”
As stealthily as he can, Sir Suvali descends the stairs and ends up in the dressing room. He moves to an open door in the dawnward wall, the sounds of the fight becoming louder the closer he gets. He peeks around the corner into a corridor stretching rimward to hubward, just in time to see an iron-clad man fall back from a doorway across another corridor at the hubward end. The chevalier is in the doorway and two men wearing leather armors are throwing knives at him.
Long before all of this, in the third tower, Sir Oengus has kicked open the door in the dawnward wall to reveal a corridor running rimward to hubward, with another door at the hubward end. He dashes to the door, the chevalier right behind him, and opens it to reveal another corridor running at right angles to it. In wall opposite him is another door.
He opens the door, the chevalier still behind him, and enters a large room that takes up the entire hubward half of the tower and perhaps best described as a lavish, cluttered bedroom cum witch’s laboratory. There are a huge bed, a large fireplace, and two smaller ones. Tables, benches, and desks are all over the room and line the walls, laden with alembics, burners, mortars and pestles, pottery jars, and lots and lots of similar and related paraphernalia. Herbs dangle from the ceiling, draperies hang from some of the walls and objets d’art are everywhere.
At the back of the room is a smallish, buxom, healthy-looking middle-aged woman with a cascade of blonde curls framing a surprisingly pretty face. She is also brandishing a large bottle.
“Alarm!,” she yells, hurling the bottle at Sir Oengus, who has already started moving. “Alarm! The parasites are here!”
The bottle crashes into the wall next to the door and releases a hissing cloud of acid, which Sir Oengus only partially manages to avoid. He cries out in pain and charges further into the room but the chevalier beats him to it.
Chargez!,” the latter cries, charging past him and hitting the woman with his sword.
When Sir Oengus also reaches her and cuts his cutlass across her stomach, the woman sags to the floor, bleeding and gurgling. Still clenching his teeth against the pain, he hits her again and now the woman stops gurgling.
There is a moment of silence.
“Ssh!,” the chevalier hisses, pricking his ears. He listens for a second or two and then tiptoes to the door, closing it and putting his back against the wall to the right of it.
Sifflets!,” he whispers, holding up three fingers. “Three men coming up the stairs! Find the kettle!”
Sir Oengus has a good look around the room but doesn’t see anything he thinks could be the Kettle of the Coven.

The chevalier is listening at the door. When he doesn’t hear anything for a while, he signals his noble fellow to ready his bow. Sir Oengus takes a position at the back of the room, facing the door and with an arrow knocked to his bow.
The chevalier opens the door and, seeing no one, he takes one step and thrusts his sword through the doorway in an attempt to hit anyone who might be hiding on the other side of the wall to the left of the door. Instantly, three knives flash and he hastily retreats and presses his back against the wall again, his arm bleeding. Sir Oengus releases his arrow in a reflex but the projectile just hits the wall on the other side of the corridor.
When nothing happens after this, the chevalier, still with his back against the wall, gestures his noble companion to take the right side and dashes across the doorway into the corridor, where he sees three men – one in iron armor and two in leathers. He lashes out at the man in the iron armor, who grunts when the sword hits him.
Sir Oengus drops his bow, draws his cutlass, charges through the doorway and hits a man in leathers to his right. The fury and speed of these attacks drive the enemy a few steps back and presently our noble heroes attack again, with Sir Oengus announcing that wants to crouch low in order to present as small a target as possible and then stab upward – to which the DM replies that “wij dit in in dit spel abstraheren door een d20 te gooien.”
Both attacks draw blood again and, now, with the noble duo back to back, the fight is on. Some furious exchanges follow, with Sir Oengus taking some considerable damage and the chevalier remaining virtually unscathed.
“Thunder!,” Sir Oengus growls to his noble fellow and gnashing his teeth when he is hit again. “Looks like I’ll have to start wearing that perfume of yours!”

As if this was a sign, the chevalier presently launches a particularly unfortunate attack, sending him off-balance and allowing two of his opponents to hit him. Sir Oengus is hit again, leaving him with little choice but to retreat into the room. The chevalier regains his balance and executes a series of defensive maneuvers to cover his own retreat into the doorway, his opponent following closely. Now facing only the man in the iron armor, the chevalier manages to hit him again. In the corridor, the men in leathers start throwing knives at him.

In the witch’s room, Sir Oengus, heavily wounded but not ready to give up just yet, is looking for things to throw for when the enemy should manage to get past the chevalier. Not being an expert in things alchemic, he decides on a large glass bottle containing what seems to be a large, hairless rat in a viscous yellowish fluid.
He is right on time for presently the chevalier utters a muffled cry and falls back into the room. Without hesitating, he hurls the bottle at the door, hitting the man in the iron armor hard on the head and sending him back into the corridor cursing. When the chevalier is with his back against the wall again, he runs to the door and closes it with a bang.

Witnessing the event from his position down the corridor running rimward from the door, Sir Suvali realizes that the second door in the dressing room may well get him into the corridor where the men attacking the chevalier are in at the moment. He moves back across the room and opens the door as slowly and silently as he can, just in time to witness the man in the iron armor move back to the door where he fell back from the chevalier earlier. To the right of this door is another man, in leather armor and with his back against the wall.
Leaving his own door slightly ajar, the sorcerer moves to the other side and presses his back against the wall so that the door will hide his presence when it is opened further.
“Reinforcements!,” he yells, hand before his mouth. “They’re on the roof! Reinforcements!”
Moments later, the door opens and the man in leather armor comes through on his way to the ladder to the roof. When he is about halfway into the room, the sorcerer steps forward and touches the man with the Loremaster’s wand, instantly reducing him to about a tenth of his normal size. The man panics and starts squeaking loudly, calling out some names, and running back to the door.
“Shut up!,” a voice in the corridor hisses. “Who is this? Identify yourself!”
“Help!,” the tiny man squeaks, still on his way back toward the door. “Help!”
When he reaches the door, Sir Suvali emerges from behind it and kicks him in the back, sending him flying into the corridor.
“What the f**k!?,” the sorcerer hears the man in the iron armor holler. “Olaf? Is that you?”
“Help!,” Olaf yelps. “Help! I’ve been bewitched!”

Back in the courtyard, Sir Eber has found no one to fight and he is now looking for a way to access the fourth tower. But he has not found a door in it and presently turns his attention to the four stable doors in the building taking up all of the dawnward wall next to it. He opens the first door and enters a large room, obviously the stables. In the wall to his left and far away in the wall to his right are a door each. He has just started trying the door on his left when Sir Oerknal enters.

In the witch’s room, the chevalier, already having proven himself to be an able looter on multiple occasions, now also seems to have become clairvoyant. He opens the door again and finds the man in the iron armor staring at something on the floor. His sword flashes and he hits him in the back.
The man grunts, knives flash and then the fight is back on.
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How inconvenient
An Adventure in Five Acts, Act V: Diamond Castle, Part III: Castle Diamond

Day 20, continued: In the third tower, tiny Olaf is now also at risk of being stepped on by the combatants. He runs back into the dressing room, where Sir Suvali kicks him again, leaving him no choice but to start running back to the corridor once more.
“Help!,” he squeaks when he gets there. “Help! I’ve been bewitched!”

Some way down the corridor, in front of the door to the witch’s room, the chevalier only just manages to parry a furious attack from the man in the iron armor. With knives still flying past his head, he has a good look into both corridors to see what it is that he is actually up against. He counts three men: his iron-clad opponent and two men in leather armor, one behind him in the part of corridor to the other side of the door and the other way back in front of a door at the end of the other corridor to his right. Deeming this to be a bit too much for him alone, he retreats into the witch’s room and closes the door behind him.
Sir Oengus is at the rimward wall and he has been collecting all manner of flasks and alembics on a table in front of him, one of which he now has in his hand.
“Could be acid,” he says to the chevalier. “Open the door and I’ll start throwing them.”

In the dressing room, Sir Suvali is standing with his back against the rimward wall.
“Now what?,” he hears one of the men in the corridor whisper. “They have witches!”
“Let’s get back to the others,” another man says.
The sorcerer hears the men start down the corridor and then sees them pass the door in the dawnward wall, the man in the iron armor with the tiny Olaf in his left hand. When they are past the door, the sorcerer sneaks through the rimward door, just in time to see the door to the room with his noble companions open, slightly at first and then a bit more.

When the chevalier opens the door again, using both the door and his shield to protect himself from the flying knives, he sees his opponents leave the tower through the door at the end of the corridor in front of him. When the last of them is gone and the door is closed again, he suppresses a sigh of relief, opens the door and steps into the corridor, to see Sir Suvali coming through a door to his left.
“I’m up to the roof to see where they’re going,” the sorcerer says when he Sir Oengus also appears in the corridor.
“Fine,” Sir Oengus says. “We’ll go after them, then, shall we?”

When the sorcerer is gone, Sir Oengus and the chevalier move to the door their opponents used earlier – to find that they cannot open it. They spend precious minutes pushing, pulling, kicking, and ramming the door until the chevalier loses his patience.
Mon Dieu!,” he exclaims. “Merde!”
“They must have wedged it,” Sir Oengus says, drawing a dagger. “I’ll see what I can do.”
“Out of my way!,” the chevalier cries, also drawing a dagger. “I’ll do it!”
He starts trying to work the dagger between some of the thick planks of the door and fumbles about for a bit, furiously muttering under his breath. When this gets him nowhere, Sir Oengus tells him to step aside and sticks his dagger into the narrow opening underneath the door, wriggling it about until he runs into a wedge. He jabs and stabs at the thing for some time and then, after a lot more kicking and ramming, the noble duo finally manage to open the door.
“Ha!,” the chevalier exclaims.
The noble duo step onto the wall outside and start moving. Advancing slowly, they approach the door at the other end, some arrow-slits in the wall above it. When they get to the door, they find it firmly locked.
The chevalier heaves a deep sigh and looks up at the battlements above.
“Grappling hook!,” he demands. “I have had it with doors.”
“Stand back,” Sir Oengus says.
He swings his grappling hook and hurls it straight up into the air, missing the battlements by what must be yards. Behind him, the chevalier is tapping his foot impatiently when he hears Sir Eber and Navarre talking in the courtyard below. And is that Sir Suvali on the tower behind him?
“’Allo!,” he yells, gesticulating wildly. “’Allo! This tower over here! Suvali! Over here! This door!”

When Navarre comes running out of the gatehouse, he sees Sir Oerknal disappear behind the large tent to his left. He runs after him, past the strange hoisting device with the cage, around the tent, to see that a door to the stables is open. He approaches and hears a loud bang, followed by Sir Eber and Sir Oerknal speaking.
When he enters the stables, he finds his noble companions at a door to his left.
“Locked,” Sir Eber says. He takes a few steps back and hurls himself against the door, which doesn’t budge.
“My turn again,” Sir Oerknal says. He hurls himself at the door with force – to no avail.
“This isn’t working,” Sir Eber says, already in the doorway to the courtyard. “I’m going to get the giant’s hammer.”
When he reaches the second hoisting device at the back of the tent, he has a good look around for something he can use to open the door in the stables. He doesn’t find anything and continues to the giant’s quarters, where he collects the giant’s hammer and a huge crowbar. When he leaves the building to get back to the stables, he notices four halberdiers in iron armor in the gatehouse.
“Enemies!,” he hollers, alerting his companions in the stables. “We must close the gates!”
He drops the giant hammer and crowbar, draws his sword and axe and charges the advancing halberdiers. Moments later, one halberdier is down and then another is hit by an arrow. The ranger hits the wounded halberdier with both of his weapons, sending him reeling and now another arrow hits one of the remaining halberdiers.

When Sir Eber has left, Navarre also has a go and likewise fails to force the door.
“Isn’t there something in here we can use in here?,” he says, rubbing his shoulder.
Sir Oerknal lights a small lamp and moves to the first box, where he finds some crates containing weapons. He rummages through them for a bit until he finds two crude halberds. He gets back to Navarre and the noble duo use them to try to and force the door, again without any success.
When they hear Sir Eber calling from the courtyard, they run outside and start for the gatehouse, Sir Oerknal to the left of the tent and Navarre to the right. When Navarre rounds the tent, he sees Sir Eber fighting three halberdiers. A fourth is on the ground and Sir Oerknal is already closing in from the left. Arrows come flying from somewhere to the left and presently one of them hits one of the halberdiers.
Navarre draws his sword and charges into the fray. His attack is parried and when Sir Oerknal also misses his man, Sir Eber does make both of his attacks count and another halberdier sags to the ground. Now, the two remaining men start moving backward and, when one of them leaves his flank open to him, Navarre executes a devastating attack, instantly killing him. When another arrow takes care of the last halberdier, the enemy have not managed to land a single blow.

Navarre runs through the gatehouse looking for more enemies in the old courtyard but all he can see there are what must be more than a hundred dead nobles. Behind him, Sir Oerknal and Sir Eber approach.
“Do you see any gold?,” Sir Oerknal asks.
“There is nobody alive out there,” Navarre says grimly. “We must get back to the castle and finish this.”
“We must close the gates first,” Sir Eber says.
But Sir Oerknal turns around and starts walking back to the new courtyard, so it is left to Navarre and Sir Eber to close the gates. This takes them some time and when they eventually get to where Sir Eber dropped the giant’s hammer and crowbar, the hammer is gone.
“Olm!,” Sir Eber growls. “My hammer!”
“The creature must have taken it,” Navarre says. “Back to the stables!”

Sir Eber picks up the huge crowbar and the noble duo start for the stables. Halfway across the courtyard, Navarre looks up at the third tower, where he sees Sir Suvali looking down at him from the battlements and waving his bow at the fourth tower. He turns to the fourth tower and sees the chevalier and Sir Oengus at a door on the wall leading up to it, the latter swinging a grappling hook.
“The others are up there,” he says to Sir Eber, pointing at the fourth tower. “We will go in through the stables. Attack from two sides and meet in the middle.”
When the noble duo reach the stables, they hear the chevalier yell at them from above. Is there a hint of irritation in the voice of their noble fellow?
“’Allo! ’Allo! This tower over here!”

Moments earlier, Sir Oerknal did find the giant’s hammer and crowbar.
“My hammer,” he says.
He lifts the handle and starts dragging the huge hammer to the stables. When he gets there, he has a good look at the door and then at the hammer, estimating his chances. But then, considering who may be behind the door with arrows knocked, he decides he’d better wait for Sir Eber. He puts the hammer against the wall next to the entrance, picks up his lamp and starts searching the stables again. He discovers four large metal cages taking up most of the second box – obviously an impromptu cell block of sorts.

When the chevalier and Sir Oengus have left the witch’s room, Sir Suvali climbs up to the roof of the third tower, just in time to see the man in the iron armor and his companions reach a door at the other end of the dawnward wall. They knock a couple of times, the door opens and they enter the tower.
The sorcerer has another look into the courtyard, where he observes Sir Eber rummaging through some items at the hoisting apparatus to the right of the tent and then walk to the giant’s quarters. He turn his attention to the dawnward wall again, where the chevalier and Sir Oengus are now moving to the fourth tower.
Just when his noble fellows get to the door, the sorcerer hears Sir Eber sound the alarm in the courtyard below. He moves to the battlements to his left and sees his noble companion charge four halberdiers exiting the gatehouse.
He takes his bow and starts firing arrows – hitting at least two halberdiers before Navarre and Sir Oerknal come running. When Navarre cuts down the third halberdier, the sorcerer plants two more arrows in the fourth, killing him.
He puts away his bow and watches Sir Oerknal drag the hammer to the stables while Sir Eber and Navarre are closing the gates. Turning his attention to the chevalier and Sir Oengus again, he sees that they haven’t made much progress. He looks down again and sees Navarre pass below. When he looks up at him, he waves his bow at him, pointing to the fourth tower.
Then, when the chevalier starts hollering, he flies to the roof of the fourth tower, attaches a rope to the battlements and throws it to Sir Oengus and the chevalier below. Next, he moves to a position close to the trapdoor so that he can kick it back into place again the moment the enemy should try to get to the roof and waits for his noble fellows to arrive.

Sir Oengus is just swinging his grappling hook again when Sir Suvali’s rope comes tumbling down the tower wall.
“Out of my way!,” the chevalier cries.
He pushes past Sir Oengus, grabs the rope and starts climbing up the wall. But he hasn’t even made it a yard up the wall when his hands slip and he falls back down and ends up sitting on his bum and with his legs spread wide.
Zut! Zut! Zut alors!,” he yells, before uttering a high-pitched laugh. “A-ha, ha, ha! Merde!”
Sir Oengus hurls his grappling hook a second time and now the thing settles firmly. He starts climbing up the tower wall but fumbles as well and also falls back down, right on top of the cursing chevalier and sending both men sprawling.
Tonnerre!,” the chevalier yells when it is all over. “C’est une impasse!”
Cursing, the chevalier gracelessly scrambles back to his feet and starts climbing up the rope again and, now, finally, he reaches the roof of the tower, quickly followed by Sir Oengus.
“Now what?,” the latter asks.
“There’s a staircase below the trapdoor,” Sir Suvali says. “Archers at the bottom.”
“We going in?,” Sir Oengus asks, readying his bow.

By now, the chevalier seems to have regained some of his composure. Shield ready, he moves to the trapdoor and opens it slightly. No arrows come flying out and, when all he sees are some steps leading down, he opens it further – upon which two arrows come whizzing through the opening, only just missing the sorcerer behind him. He starts a slow approach to the top of the stairs, shield and sword at the ready – before he can no longer restrain himself.
Chargez!,” he cries, suddenly charging forth at full speed – before executing a sharp but rather elegant turn when he gets yo the top of the stairs and sees four men at the bottom of it, two with longbows and two in sturdy leather armors and brandishing shields and short swords.

Reacting to the chevalier’s call-to-arms, Sir Oengus has also moved closer to the opening, out of the line of fire of the four men below and ready to start firing arrows into it. When the DM explains to him that he has only three hit points left and that the men can hit him in return if he can hit them, he retreats and puts his bow on the floor.
“Oh dear,” he grins, opening his trousers. “I do believe I have to take a rather urgent leak.”
And with this, he rolls “16” and relieves himself down the opening, pissing all over one of the men below.

If anything, his forced retreat seems to have agitated the chevalier once more.
Merde!”, he cries, taking his bow from his back, knocking an arrow, and calling for a table to be brought to him.
But no one brings him a table.
Mon Dieu!,” he cries, exasperated, before approaching the opening and starting to fire arrows into it.
“I know,” Sir Oengus says, closing his trousers. “I’m not going down there either. I mean, look at me!”

Sir Suvali does exactly that and notices that his noble companion does seem to be in a bit of state. He procures the jars with Ilm’s ointment and smears some of it on Sir Oengus, who regains 11 hit points. When this is done, the noble trio start firing arrows down the opening, ducking for cover after each shot as enemy arrows whiz past them. Angry cries from below indicate that their own missiles at least manage to cause some consternation below.
But then the spirited chevalier changes his mind again. He puts away his bow, readies his shield and sword, cries ‘chargez!’ again, and charges down the stairs. About three-quarters of the way down, he is met by two soldiers in leather armor who easily parry his attack.
Sir Suvali and Sir Oengus continue firing arrows into the opening, targeting the archers and then, with arrows now whizzing past in both directions, the chevalier finally manages to land a serious blow. Praying that his luck may finally change, he fumbles his next attack when his opponent hits his right hand, causing him to drop his sword. The poor chevalier utters an incredulous, high-pitched laugh and scrambles to pick up his sword, cursing loudly when he only just manages to retrieve the weapon. But he manages to follow up with an impressive maneuver and finally inflicts some significant damage on his opponent.

Long before all of this, Sir Eber and Navarre have joined Sir Oerknal in the stables and presently the noble trio are using the giant crowbar on the door. They have been at it for a while when Sir Eber finally manages to force the door with a mighty effort, revealing a narrow corridor leading to another corridor running at straight angles to it. At the intersection are five men in leather armor, two behind shields covering two archers with longbows and a fifth behind all of them and holding a bull’s-eye lantern.
“Alarm!,” the man with the lantern yells. “They have breached the door!”
Two arrows come flying down the corridor, one of them grazing Sir Eber’s arm before he gets a chance to duck for cover. When Navarre and Sir Oerknal have also taken cover, to the other side of the doorway, the ranger removes his backpack and puts in on the ground. Two more arrows come flying through the doorway when he retrieves some flasks from it and starts lobbing them to his noble companions.
“Fire bombs,” he says, lighting one himself. “I’ve got eight of them.”


How inconvenient
An Adventure in Five Acts, Act V, Part III (Continued)

Navarre and Sir Oerknal light their projectiles and then three fire bombs fly down the corridor, hitting walls and soldiers, breaking and releasing a flammable oil that quickly ignites. Two of the soldiers get the full brunt of the attack and end up covered in burning oil.
Now, everybody in the intersection starts yelling and shouting at the same time: “Water! Water! Watch out! Pull back! Pull back!”
When the noble trio ignite three more fire bombs and hurl them down the corridor, they see two of their opponents frantically trying to douse the flames engulfing them, while the others retreat left and right into the second corridor.
Although Navarre and Sir Eber manage to hurl their projectiles to great effect again, Sir Oerknal fumbles his attempt and the projectile falls to the floor just in front of him. Incredibly lucky, the creature manages to stamp out the flames before the oil has chance to ignite.
Now being the only ones with fire bombs, Navarre and Sir Eber look into the corridor again where only the burning soldiers remain in the intersection, on the floor, and with only one of them still kicking and screaming. Smoke and the stench of burning flesh comes wafting through the doorway and our noble heroes have to wait until the worst of the smoke is gone.
“Let’s go,” Navarre whispers to Sir Eber at the other side of the door and lightning his fire bomb. “Left! Ready?”
The noble duo charge into the corridor, Sir Oerknal right behind them, right up to the intersection, where both soldiers have now stopped moving. Without looking around the corner, they hurl their firebombs into the left part of the second corridor as far as they can, hoping to hit the back wall to generate the maximum effect. Moments later, more soldiers start yelling and screaming, indicating that at least one of the projectiles hit true.

“Are we going in?,” Navarre whispers to his noble fellows. “We don’t know what’s in there.”
“We’ll have to go in anyway,” Sir Eber says, shrugging his shoulders.
“Fair enough,” Navarre says. “We’ll take the right. Ready?”
“I’ll cover you,” Sir Eber says.

Navarre and Sir Oerknal jump to their feet and cross the intersection, turning right and charging down the second corridor, straight for two doors at the end, one in the left wall and one in the right, and with two soldiers positioned between them: one with a shield and a short sword and the other with a longbow behind him.
Targeting the second soldier but intercepted by the first, the noble duo make their attacks count, Sir Oerknal with considerably more success than Navarre. Behind them, at the other end of the corridor, a soldier starts yelling: “Reinforcements! Reinforcements! They’re breaking through down here!”
The noble duo hit their opponent again and the man sags to the floor. The archer drops his bow, draws a short sword and lands a glancing blow on Navarre, driving him back. Sir Oerknal jumps to the fore and lands a terrific blow, sending the man crashing to the floor. With both soldiers down, Navarre turns around to see Sir Eber cut down a soldier and another man disappearing through the door in the dawnward wall, calling for reinforcements. He charges down the corridor, Sir Oerknal right behind him.

With his noble fellows off to the right, Sir Eber charges into the left part of the corridor, where he immediately runs into an archer frantically trying to douse the flames on his body. Behind the man are two doors, one in each wall, and with two men at the end of the corridor, one with a lantern and another with a shield and a short sword. The ranger cuts down the archer and now the soldier with the short sword advances and executes a professional maneuver, which doesn’t quite work out. With his opponent off balance, Sir Eber makes both of his attacks count and the soldier sags to the floor. At the end of the corridor, the soldier with the lantern starts yelling for reinforcements.
But the first soldier isn’t dead yet. He scrambles to his feet – but only manages a feeble attack and Sir Eber all but cuts him in half when both of his weapons inflict full damage. When he looks up, he sees the soldier with the lantern disappear through the door in the left wall, calling for reinforcements.

“After him!,” Navarre yells, as he comes charging past the ranger.
When he gets to the door, he finds it locked.
“Oerknal!,” he yells. “Where is the crowbar?”
“I’m on it!,” the creature hollers, starting back down the corridor.
“I’ll speed things up a bit,” Sir Eber says. “Step aside.”
With a mighty effort, the ranger kicks down the door, all but sending it flying into the room beyond. Navarre is the first through the doorway and he finds the room to contain an arms-rack, a stove, some stools and benches, and – believe it or not – a table with some dice on it. An open flight of stairs at the back leads to an opening in the ceiling.
Fully expecting Albert Murphy to be on the next floor and probably cowering behind a wall of archers – or worse – Navarre hesitates. But the blood is pumping through his veins and the adrenaline is still urging him on.
“Albert Murphy!,” he hollers. “Do you hear me? The game is up! Surrender and we will be merciful!”
There is no reaction and now Sir Oerknal and Sir Eber enter the room.
“We gonna kill them?,” Sir Oerknal asks.
“Let’s do it,” Navarre breathes. “You and I go first to attract their fire. Weald?”
“I don’t like it,” Sir Eber says. “We should secure this floor. But we’d lose the momentum.”
“Right on both accounts,” Navarre admits. “I say we keep the momentum and get the bastard before he has time to reorganize.”
“I’ll be right behind you,” Sir Eber says, dragging one of the benches to the door in order to block it.
Navarre turns to Sir Oerknal.
“Ready? Go!”

He runs to the stairs and starts climbing them, crouching with his shield and sword raised high. When he is halfway up, he notices a wall to his left, reaching right up to the ceiling. In front of him, the stairs do not lead all the way up to the wall at the back and a small curtain is about halfway up that wall.
Never having stopped moving, he hears a sudden, loud cracking and splintering sound behind this curtain when he gets to the top of the stairs. Still crouching, he uses his sword to move the curtain to the right, revealing an arrow-slit in the wall behind it, a damaged shutter in front of it just coming to a halt.
There is a moment of silence and then a voice sounds: “It’s me!”

Some time before this, Sir Suvali decides to see if he can somehow manage to get behind the soldiers at the bottom of the stairs, perhaps even to surprise Albert Murphy, who must surely be somewhere in the room below. Indeed, if he should be able to locate the man, perhaps he could even go as far as to use the Loremaster’s wand on himself, enter the room through an arrow-slit and then use the wand against Albert Murphy?
He takes to the air and starts looking for an arrow-slit that could take him into the room. When he finds one, he peeks through it, finding it to be shuttered from the inside. Realizing his chances are slim to say the least, what with him hovering in the air and thus virtually unable to generate force, he tries to kick his way through the shutter anyway – and manages to do exactly that by rolling “02” on percentile dice. The shutter flies open and he has a look through the arrow-slit, just in time to see Navarre looking at it from the other side.
“It’s me,” he says.
Now even more eager to locate Albert Murphy, he moves a bit further down the wall, turns a corner and manages to kick open the shutter behind yet another arrow-slit – rolling “05” this time. He has a look inside but sees nothing but darkness beyond. He considers entering the room anyway but then decides that he doesn’t really want to spend the next day and night in diminished form and heads back to his noble fellows.

Recognizing the voice of Sir Suvali, Navarre turns the corner and rises to his feet, his back against the wall, which he now realizes must be hiding another staircase leading to the floor above. To his left, light comes from a opening further down the wall – as do the sounds of a fight, most notably the angry cries of the irate chevalier.
Glancing around the room as he moves forward, he sees some bunk beds, torch holders, a door in the duskward wall. Sir Oerknal is right behind him when he peeks around the corner and sees three soldiers obviously engaged in a fight with the unseen chevalier on the stairs. Arrows come flying down the stairs and one of the soldiers sags to the floor, next to another with some arrows sticking out of his chest. The furious exclamations of the chevalier come from somewhere halfway up the stairs.
“We must be in some military section of the tower,” Sir Eber whispers behind him, nodding to the door at the back of the room. “Murphy’s rooms will be down there.”
“There’s at least two of them,” Navarre whispers to his noble fellows. “Ready? Go!”

The noble trio round the corner but the soldiers react quickly and parry most of their attacks – even managing to inflict some considerable damage on Navarre and Sir Eber. All in all, there turn out to be six enemy soldiers, three on the stairs and fighting the chevalier and with the rest now engaging Navarre, Sir Eber, and Sir Oerknal – two in leather armor and with shields and short swords and another in studded leather armor, a corporal by the looks of it.
“Dauberval!,” Navarre yells, when he misses the corporal again. “Surrender!”
Zut!,” come the cries of the chevalier. “Zut et merde!”
Obviously as opposed to the irate chevalier, Sir Oerknal and Sir Eber make their attacks count and the corporal sags to the floor bleeding.
“Well…,” the ranger laughs, shrugging his shoulders at Navarre almost apologetically. “Next! Ha, ha, ha!”

Now, with our noble heroes attacking from all sides, the fight quickly turns in their favor. Halfway up the stairs, the chevalier finally manages to eliminate his first soldier – although not without suffering damage from a number of attacks himself – and then, just when he seems to be getting into the semblance of a stride, one of Sir Oengus’ arrows takes out a second corporal and the remaining soldiers put their arms in the air.
“Surrender!,” one of them yells. “We surrender!”
“Drop your weapons!,” Navarre yells at them.
“To the wall!,” he yells when the soldiers have dropped their weapons, gesturing them to move away from the stairs and next to the door in the rimward wall.
When the men start moving, the chevalier comes running down the stairs and pushes past Navarre.
“Out of my way!,” he yells. “Where is your leader?”
“Which one?,” one of the soldiers starts. “We have the chancellor, Vincilli Litworth… then there’s the giant, the witch…”
“Who do you think!?,” the chevalier screams at him.
“I don’t know, do I?,” the soldier says, obviously not much impressed.
“Albert Murphy!,” Navarre yells at him, quickly losing his patience with the man and advancing. “Where is he?”
“He hasn’t been seen for some time.”
“Where is his room?,” Navarre asks. “Is it on this floor? Take us there.”
“I’m asking the questions here!,” the chevalier yells, pulling the soldier to the right. “Where is the kettle?”
“The witch has it,” the soldier says.
Without another word, the chevalier starts climbing the stairs to the roof, Sir Oengus right behind him. The noble duo climb down the rope to the dawnward wall but then the chevalier seems to change his mind again and stops dead in his tracks. What if he would run into more enemies?

Back in the fourth tower, when the chevalier and Sir Oengus have left and the fight seems to have been fought, Sir Eber is inspecting his wounds. Although he is still feeling like a million dollars thanks to the novice’s potion, some of the adrenaline has ebbed away and he realizes that he has suffered some considerable damage in the last half hour.
“How’s about some of that ointment?,” he asks when he sees Sir Suvali enter the room.
The sorcerer applies some Ilm’s ointment and so the ranger regains 11 hit points.
“Where is Scaralat?,” Sir Suvali asks.
“He would seem to be after the kettle,” Navarre says. “For the moment.”
“I’m on it,” Sir Suvali says, perhaps a bit too fast, and leaves the room.

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