In the meantime, I do have about three more meaty posts on the slow, slow go.
And still bummed I have to miss Dragonmeet this year.
Session, Nov 30, 2014
Fingauble, the wizard who had been paying the Lightning's Hand party to grant access to the library of the Mad Archmage, opened negotiations with the Muleteers for a cheaper deal if they could find out the secret to opening the doors, which he thought was a password. After reviewing their analysis of the 25 puzzle rooms he opined that they must have made an error somewhere, and that there should be a way to determine in what order the path adds letters of rooms to the word. The Muleteers inadvertently gave away their guesses about the password to the final interior door of the library, which Fingauble "charitably" repaid by casting a Detect Magic spell for free. Fingauble further agreed to give the party 50 pieces of gold and a scroll and holy robe that would help in fighting the demons in the upper castle cellars if they gave him the secret to entering the library.
The next day, Grimnir wandered off and the remaining Muleteers headed to the Castle to study the puzzle rooms. On the way, they were approached by a pack of five beak dogs, which their tame beak dog seemed all too eager to meet. As the beak dogs loped toward them, they staked down the tame dog and opened up with missiles. The pack charged and managed to seriously injure Erasmo's head and arm, also giving Titus a good scare with a near-miss beak to the throat, so that against such odds there was no such choice but to flee. The beak dogs soon freed their fellow beast and after a short test of dominance accepted him into the pack. With what remained of the day the Muleteers decided to make haste to the Grey City, leaving the still-injured Nixington and Erasmo in Garyburgh to heal more.
On arriving at the Silver Eel Inn these travellers found a large beer cart parked outside and a drinking contest about to begin courtesy of the Fickle Firkin brewery. The contest was eventually won by a dwarf (of course) but for a while Winmore held him neck and neck, and got a forty ounce bottle of beer as a runner-up prize. The members of the party were wheeled into their rooms afterward.
Back in Garyburgh, in the common room of the Wizard's Wench, as the end of the evening drew into sight, a peasant ran in shouting "Orcs in the fields!" The initial order of battle of the defenders of the village consisted of the barkeep and a following of drunkards; Captain Rurik and a detachment of six Grey City-State guards; the novice adventuring party Free Roamers, down to four active members after taking injuries in a fight with kobolds; the five-strong Lightning's Hand, their lightning wand, alas, depleted; and the weakened, leg-maimed Muleteer wizard Nixington.
The night was wracked by strong-gusting winds and rain. The defenders saw torch lights behind a line of trees and charged there, only to find the lights were an illusion, and came back to find the village green surging with Bloody Axe orcs, the same tribe seen and fought in the dungeons. Nixington, exposed, almost took an arrow. Spellcast and sound fighting held off the central thrust of the attack, but not before another Free Roamer went down injured. Fingauble came down the stair of the inn, grumbling about roisterers outside disturbing his sleep, opened a window and casually lobbed a ten die fireball into the midst of a cluster of orcs before heading back upstairs.
But on the flank, fighting between the houses, orcs slaughtered the barkeep and drunks, then outflanked and slew all but one of the guards. An old man was spotted at the back of their ranks, consorting with a baboon and two young, strong fellows - the same group the party had heard tell of before, travelling to Garyburgh and then vanishing. This old man was a spell caster, incapacitating foes with stinking vapors and placing a charm on Rurik. When the flanking group emerged into the square and saw charred bodies and smoldering grass, they beat a retreat into the night, Rurik among them.
In the morning after the slaughter, it became clear that no law or government would be left in Garyburgh, as Pennypacker the tax collector loaded a cart with worldly goods and family and set off back to safer places. For now, it was enough to bury the dead: 10 humans and more than 20 orcs. One captive orc commander remained to tell the tale.