The third installment of this epic saga opened with the our heroes crouched behind some shrubs at the edge of the clearing, and observing Ruined Manor, the dread lair of lizard folk, from a safe distance.
Leaving their fellows behind, Kruhd & Neverick set off to reconnoiter the manor house. Upon closer inspection its sorry state was quite evident. Much of the structure was over-grown with vines, and there were several gaping holes where portions of its outer walls had collapsed. They also spied an encampment of half-a-dozen or so conical tents located at the far end of the front of the building. The pole of the largest of these flew a mysterious pendant bearing a green dragon. Several humans were observed moving about the site, including a woman barking orders. Obviously she was their leader. All were dressed in the traditional attire of seafaring pirates—colorful headscarves, loose fitting shirts, gold earrings and curved cutlasses. All save one, that is. This lone sorry sot was a prisoner of some sort. Stripped to the waist and bound, he appeared bruised and bloodied, likely from ill treatment received at his captors’ hands.
The stalwart duo then crept closer, passing undetected into the building through a breach in the wall that appeared to have once been a widow. There they surprised a none-too-attentive lizard-man guard. Although armed with a sturdy stone-studded club, the fiend was slow to react. Luck alone saved the great gecko from a vicious swipe of Kruhd’s smitey great-axe, but there was no such reprieve from Neverick. With a swiftly plucked lute string and soothing lyric, the bard lulled the savage beast into a magical sleep, …one from which the burly barbarian quickly made sure it would never, ever, awaken.
There was a door in this small room, leading deeper into the manor. It was open too, but dark beyond. Not wishing to press their luck, the two heroes carefully and quietly back-tracked to the wood-line, there to rejoin their companions and share news of what they’d seen.
It was soon decided that a further bit of snooping was in order. This time, however, Neverick ventured forth alone. Surveying the rest of the building, the sly songster located first a watch station and later a collapsed corner tower. Both locations, it appeared, would allow easy entry through the rear of the structure.
With this new knowledge in hand, a plan was quickly formulated: the party would stealthily make their way to the watch window, surprise & overpower the lizard lookout, then enter the rear of the manor to search for and (hopefully) rescue the missing captives.
It seemed simple enough.
Making their way undetected to the lookout post was no problem for the party, but the surly saurian sentry there stationed proved more powerful than expected. Neverick’s charms were ineffective. Led by bold Riswynn the party charged forward. Out-manned 6-to-1 the beast was hard pressed, but put up a stiff fight before breaking off and retreating down a back stair, presumably to fetch reinforcements.
With that our heroes reversed course, exiting as they’d entered, then quickly re-entering through the collapsed tower at the far end of the building. Here they found ready access to a few vacant rooms before eventually coming upon a large central courtyard. Strange voices—hissing lizard and hushed human—as well as an occasional low croaking could be heard from somewhere beyond. Neverick again crept warily ahead. He soon spied several humans, including the woman previously seen at the tents, and watched from the shadows as they crossed the courtyard to delivered their captive into the clutches of foul lizard-folk. They then left through an arched stone hallway, heading back in the direction of their encampment.
Confident most their foes were at the far end of the manor and fearful the savage beasts might be planning to have their recent delivery for lunch, our heroes readied their weapons and started across the open space. But no sooner had they taken a few tentative steps, than they were confronted by several club wielding reptilians.
A chaotic melee ensued.
Kruhd, in a frenzy, boldly held the line whilst the rest of the party fell back to regroup. At Sakhir’s urging his goblin familiar Turnip rushed to join the barbarian. Soon brave Riswynn was by their side too. Now three wide, they confronted their scaly green foes in force. From somewhere behind them Sakhir loosed a bolt of eldritch energy that passed cleanly through the melee to dissipate harmlessly against the far wall. But this was soon followed by another, then yet another. These blasts, thankfully, found their marks with devastating effect!
Meanwhile the half-elfin skald spun sing-song slanders (♫Your mother was a newt, your father was an alley-crock!♫), distracting foes and inspiring friends. And young Fin wove his way through the fray, lending both help & healing. Indeed, he strengthened the bloodied dwarfess more than once as she pressed on with her attack.
Even the goblins Turnip & Urnog fought bravely, both suffering grievous wounds before retreating to relative safety near Sakhir.
Suddenly several bulging eyed frog-men emerged from a door on the far wall, rushing to support their faltering allies. Undeterred our heroes pushed forward, led by Riswynn’s reaving & Kruhd’s cleaving. Beyond the commotion, through the now ajar portal, could be seen glimpses of a near-naked young man fighting yet another amphibious fiend. Was he wielding a table leg? Perhaps. Moments later came a loud, dull thud, followed by a wheezing death croak. Then the copper skinned stranger burst ut of that chamber, charging headlong into the courtyard to take Kruhd’s foe from behind with a spear! ♫You smell of roses, you stinking, slinking skinks!♫, sang the silver tongued scop as this last of the lizards fell.
All that remained then were a few tepid toads. Though every bit as feisty as their brethren in the marsh, these slimy slaads were not long for the world. Soon our heroes stood alone in a now blood-drenched corpse-yard littered with broken & bled-out foes.
The copper skinned stranger, now clearly a lithe wood elf, introduced himself as Ell, a ranger from the Misty Forest. With that he led the way to the holding cell from whence he had appeared, there to release his fellow captives.
A quick survey of their surroundings revealed several things: the manor seemed now to be cleared of both lizard & frog men; the freed captives included Jeggred’s wife & children as well as few of the dead farmer’s hands and several other formerly missing locals; a bit of lizard loot had been recovered too, including what proved to be an enchanted short sword; and finally, the pirates had broken camp and apparently set-off for the coast.
This last bit of news was disappointing to Ell, especially when he learned the party intended to escort the freed captives at least as far as the safety of Tarkus’ farm. He had wanted to extract a little payback on those brigands who had captured him and brought him to this hellhole. But as a ranger, he was not unfamiliar with putting the needs of other less hardy folk ahead of his own desires.
And so the party and their charges set off in the direction of the farmstead, the keen eyed elfin ranger at their head. With Ell leading the way through the marsh, they arrived safely at their destination in just a few hours. There they were welcomed by a much relieved Tarkus, who happily exchanged the well earned reward for the freed captives and offered our heroes a hot meal, strong beer and safe lodging for the night.