Sir Bruce and Octavius moved swiftly. They had not fully explored the entire complex but they were too badly wounded. Their chief priority was to free Sir Bentley Dunlavey and the human woman from the altars they were chained to. The cold black iron manacles glowed with red infernal runes and were attached to the stone altars. Octavius produced the silver key found on the person of Bressard Montaine. They key fit the lock of the manacles and freed both prisoners. They appeared alive and unhurt but were still unconscious and non-responsive. So Sir Bruce picked up Sir Bentley Dunlavey and fireman carried him towards the door. Octavius did the same with the human woman.
They closed the doors as they went, leaving the temple sealed as they passed through the teleportation circle arriving safely back in Bressard Montaine’s observatory in The Village of Tommen. It was just as they had left it – deserted. Fearing that more prisoners may have been in the unexplored sections of the temple, the knights bound what wounds they could and prepared to return. But first they carried Sir Bentley and the human woman to The Standing Stones to leave them in the care of Felicity Briarpatch. There they found the entire Briarpatch family reunited at last.
Sir Bruce and Octavius went back into the devil cult temple and fully explored it. They found that they had defeated all of the cultists and their guardians. All that remained was the personal bedrooms of Bressard Montaine and Warden Duthane.
They found many incriminating documents on a desk in Bressard’s room. They described various plots and day to day activities of the cult. Sir Bruce packed them carefully in his satchel. In Warden Duthane’s room they found a horrible sight. Desta Triss was chained to Duthane’s bed. Rashid Al-Hassan was in a large cage and had clearly been severely beaten so badly he was barely conscious. Both were freed and brought safely back to The Village of Tommen. Leaving Rashid and Desta with Felicity Briarpatch, Sir Bruce and Octavius went to The End of the Road Inn for a special meeting of the town council convened by Sir Bentley Dunlavey.
The large common room at the inn had been cleared and all the tables put together to form a huge meeting space. In attendance were council members Karn Miller, Louisa Little, Orion Endar, Raquel Richards, Tabitha Jensen, and the newly liberated Sir Bentley Dunlavey. Also in attendance was the freed prisoner Laska Jendelle. Sir Bruce began the proceedings by describing what they had seen at the devil cult and presenting various journals and written documents written by Bressard Montaine implicating both Bressard and Warden Duthane in the cult. Together they had kidnapped citizens of the town including Sir Bentley Dunlavey, Lawrence Briarpatch, and Rachel Briarpatch. Laska Jendelle also testified explaining that she was a member of a trade delegation from Sembia who was interested in bringing Tommen Salt to the city of Saerloon. They were attacked in the salt mine by the trolls and the devil Skarloch. Sir Bentley also described his harrowing experience of rallying the miners to try and protect his investment in the property only to be cut down by the grimlocks and trolls in the dark. Both told of their imprisonment and inevitable sacrifice in an infernal rite were it not for the valiant efforts of Sir Bruce and Octavius to save them.
Many questions were asked an answered. The Council thanked Sir Bruce and Octavius for their help. They offered them joint ownership of Warden Duthane’s old house. The two nights accepted the gift and now use it as a base of operations while staying in The Village of Tommen. With Duthane dead, the town needed a new warden. The council offered the job to Sir Bruce but the knight kindly declined explaining that he had to follow Tyr’s will and go where he was needed which may or may not be Tommen in the future. Sir Bruce artfully suggested that Felicity Briarpatch be given the mantle of warden. After some discussion, it was unanimously agreed to. Felcity was offered the job and she graciously accepted.
Sir Bruce asked that Persephone Montaine be brought before the council. She was and Sir Bruce asked permission to cast a zone of truth spell. The spell would not allow those within its area to tell a lie. The Sir Bruce questioned Persephone Montaine about her involvement with the cult. She denied any knowledge of it or any knowledge of her father’s involvement or that of Warden Duthane. Sir Bruce also asked his questions of Laska Jendelle when hearing her story while in the zone of truth. However, Laska made her save against the spell and was not affected. But none in attendance doubted the veracity of her claims.
Sir Bruce asked the council about Sir Darius Black and his men at Graveth’s Fort. All agreed they were criminals – highwaymen who had stolen Raquel Richards’ cattle and attacked many travellers seen first hand by Tabitha Jensen. It was agreed by the council that Sir Bruce and Octavius should destroy graveth’s fort and bring Sir Darius Black to justice.
It was decided by the council that all of Bressard Montaine’s property and possessions would pass to his daughter Persephone Montaine. Sir Bruce and Octavius were to have joint ownership of the Duthane property. Felicity Briarpatch was to be the new Warden of Tommen. And the two knight’s were granted permission to bring justice to Sir Darius Black.
After the proceedings were complete, Laska Jendelle approached the knights. Her employment with the trade coster from Sembia had ended with the death of the rest of the trade delegation. She owed the two knight’s her life so she offered to join their adventuring company as an equal member. She had many skills. She was well trained in combat arts, stealth, and negotiation. In exchange for her services she would be entitled to keep 1/3 of any treasure found on their adventures. The two knights agreed to the terms and Laska Jendelle became a member of the party.
Sir Bruce and Octavius spent some time resting at their new house and invited Laska Jendelle to stay in the guest room. They discussed their plans to attack Graveth’s Fort and bring justice to Sir Darius Black. They took the time to look over the treasure they had won in Lady Fierna’s temple. The wand was black with a crystal shard tied to the end with strips of leather. It was determined to be a wand of magic detection. Bressard Montaine’s iron staff adorned with emeralds was not magical other than it was a focus for his warlock spells. A chest containing 400 emeralds worth 10 GP each were nonmagical. The golden amulet, however, was an Amulet of Health – a rare item requiring attunement that granted its wearer a 19 CON. The silver helmet was a Helm of Comprehending Languages. The Golden Ring worn by Bressard was a Ring of Spell Storing -a rare item requiring attunement.
Later the party visited Felicity Briarpatch and congratulated her on her new position as town warden. In order to prepare for their assault on Graveth’s Fort, Sir Bruce purchased the following potions from Felicity: 4 anti-toxins (2 each),* fire breath* (Bruce), climbing (Octavius), fire resistance (Bruce), necrotic resistance (Octavius), and lightning resistance (Octavius). The total spent was 1300 GP. Felicity also thanked them for the return of her parents by brewing two greater healing potions and giving Sir Bruce and Octavius each one of the potions as a gift. The Master Treasure List was updated.
The party visited the Salt Mine and met with Jarik Goth. He showed them that his improvements to the mine were finally all coming together. The magical gate the underdark was still sealed off as he had promised. A thick 5 foot stone wall and two locked iron doors sealed it off from the rest of the mines. Goth insisted that 3 guards had been on watch at the doors the entire time the knights had been gone and that nothing had some through those doors. Sir Bruce bid the dwarf to open the doors. He did so and they found the gate just as they had left it. After some debate, the Knights and Laska agreed to destroy the gate. They had Jarik Goth summon some of his miners with pick axes to smash the ring of stone forming the gate. Once the magic circle was broken, the magic faded away and the gate was sealed.
Sir Bruce and Octavius did something similar in the observatory, prying up the wooden boards upon which the magic circle had been laid. In so doing that magic circle was also destroyed and its magic faded away, sealing the evil devil temple off from the observatory.
Sir Bruce purchased a high quality riding horse for Laska Jendelle for the sum of 75 GP in town. Laska was fully geared up with armor, weapons – including a whip, rapier, and heavy vrossbow she had claimed from Bressard Montaine’s armory in the observatory. Fully rested and healed, everyone mounted up. Octavius frowned and said in his gravelly deep voice, ‘Black… Sir Darius Black must pay his debt to Hoar.’ Each of the knights nodded and rode off towards Graveth’s Fort.
The plan began perfectly. Under cover of darkness Octavius hid in a copse of trees overlooking the fort to the north, close to the northeast guard tower. Laska Jendelle rode her horse right up to the main gate. She was hailed by the guards and asked to state her business. She said that she wanted to join up with them. She told them quite a convincing story of how she was down on her luck, interested in coin, and extremely well trained in combat. Sir Bruce, following on the road behind Laska in the darkness, was impressed by the woman’s guile and charisma. She was quite well spoken and had an unsettling command of language and speechcraft.
The guards opened the western gate and as it creaked open, Sir Bruce spurred Leadbelly into action. He burst through the door and rode down the gatesman, trampling him beneath the thundering hooves of his heavy warhorse. Laska Jendelle followed Bruce swiftly through the gate and then leaped off her horse to roll into the shadows at the foot of the stairs leading to the gatehouse and vanished into the darkness. Octavius heard the commotion and sprung into action. He quaffed the Potion of Climbing. and ran down the hill to the base of the tower.
Each tower had a manned ballista. There were 7 in all. The one guard on the northeast tower saw Octavius running out of the woods and fired at him but missed the mark. The other 6 trained their ballista at Sir Bruce. One fired at his horse and the 5 at the knight himself. Sir Bruce used his shield to protect Leadbelly, but had badly misjudged the range and power of the ballista. The huge siege weapons fired spear sized bolts with deadly accuracy to damage him greatly. The onslaught was difficult indeed. Sir Bruce was badly wounded and bloodied.
Sir Bruce yelled out to his comrades to take out the ballista towers as men began to run out of tents to see what was happening. Octavius did just that climbing right up the side of the tower thanks to his potion as the bandit fought furiously with his ballista to reload it. Just as he finished he looked up to find Octavius and saw him standing over him, TitanCleaver – The Green Scythe held high. The huge axe swiftly descended as Octavius leaped down onto the tower floor cutting the man through his chain mail armor cleanly in half. Octavius smiled grimly and swung the loaded ballista around towards the inside of the compound.
Meanwhile the guard at the main gate reloaded his ballista and began sighting it on Sir Bruce when a whip cracked out of the darkness and lashed around his neck. There was a sickening snapping sound as the whip was yanked back. The man’s head hung limp and his body crumpled down off the tower. A lithe shadowy form climbed up the ladder and kicked the fire brazier off the top of the tower in a shower of sparks and plunged the top of the tower in darkness. Then suddenly a deadly thwap was heard as a huge bolt from the ballista flew out of the darkness of the tower to impale another of the tower guards on the other side of the compound. With a satisfying thwack the huge spear like bolt flew through the air and caught the highwayman full in the chest picking him up and launching him into the air and off the wall of the the fort with a terrible scream.
Bandits and highwaymen began to rally and move towards Sir Bruce. The knight had dismounted seeking cover behind a building. He fought hard swinging Talon with bold strokes and hewing his enemies like wheat. But they kept coming and the devastating ballista fire kept coming as well. Sir Darius Black and his second in command Sir Merril Redgrave got to their horses and mounted up. Sir Merril charged Sir Bruce with his lance and delivered a nasty blow. A mysterious female figure emerged from a tent to join the battle. She was clearly a Tiefling woman with horns and green hair. Faith Inhiri was her name and she called upon the power of Lady Fierna creating a swirling maelstrom of black energy around her.
Octavius took a bead on Faith Inhiri and gently stroked the trigger. The ballista tore through the swirling maelstrom to greatly injure the Tiefling. Not wanting to reload the ballista, Octavius slid down the ladder to join the fray in melee. He cut through bandits and used a Potion of Necrotic Resistance as he pressed the attack on Faith Inhiri. As he cut into her he felt the dark magics of the maelstrom surrounding her eat away at his soul. But the necrotic damage was partially resisted through the magic of the potion. But suddenly 2 ballista bolts tore into his hip and his shoulder. Sir Darius Black laid into him as well with some mighty blows. And suddenly Octavius Mort went down.
Sir Bruce was hard pressed he had healed himself but the onslaught was too great. He was trying to fight his way to the side of Octavius but he knew he would not make it. There were too many men between him and his friend. But Sir Bruce gritted his teeth and put his head down. In an act of desperation he drew forth Inferno – The Spear of Immolation and let loose a ball of fire. The huge ball of flame lit up the night sky. The bandits screamed as 5 foot soldiers and Sir Merril Redgrave fell to the ground as charred corpses. Sir Darius Black and Faith Inhiri were badly burned and bloodied but still alive.
Sir Bruce ran towards them but 2 ballista bolts caught him in the back and he staggered forward. The mighty knight fell to one knee and then completely collapsed and everything went dark.
Sir Bruce felt a sweet warm liquid in his throat. He just had his own potion of greater healing poured down his throat. The darkness faded away and Sir Bruce found himself lying on his back on the ground with Talon still clenched tightly in his mailed fist. He opened his eyes and looked straight up at the crotch of Laska’s leather pants as she stood over Sir Bruce with her short sword in one hand and whip in the other brandishing them menacingly. When he realized what he was looking at, Sir Bruce blushed. Laska Jendelle looked down at the knight between her legs and winked. She smiled and said, ‘Come now Sir Bruce, no lying down on the job. There are brigands to slay. Get yourself up and back into the fray.’
Sir Bruce looked around quickly and saw Sir Darius Black and Faith Inhiri, the tiefling woman, still standing 10 feet away. Four of the ballista towers were still manned. Each ballista was loaded and ready to fire. Octavius and Max were still down.