Being on the surface again and having to shift gears from "kill em all" to "blend into society" has not gone well for the group - and to make matters worse, they have been split into two - a larger main group and a second one with the party leader (and group healer) and the main fighter.
And I continued to not guide them along or help them extricate themselves from inserting foot into said mouth.
And now we have a problem with two of the party captured and the rest of the group not hearing anything.
It does indeed get interesting and as a DM who is winging it at this point (there is no script short of what happens at that moment) and handling two groups - its going to end very badly for someone.
Write up follows:
Detheron and Gwyn made decent time away from Dragonhole, skirting what few patrols were in the area and eventually slowed down long enough to take stock of their situation. It was growing late in the afternoon and the last the druid had planned with the group, they were going to travel east for a bit and then get back to the road, eventually rejoining either before or AT the walls of Dilabria (capital city in the Barony, some 30 miles away to the east). Detheron clad himself as well as able to in the rag he had taken from some of the peasants and the two friends and the druid’s animal companion travelled eastward, getting closer to the road but trying to keep at least a quarter mile from it if able to to avoid identification.
Meanwhile, Soren led the rest of the party on the rented steeds overland for a few miles, using Zoltan’s map as a guide and assuming they were close to 2 miles or so north of Dragonhole. They stayed east, south east, moving at a slow clip to allow for those unfamiliar with riding to stay together. It was about an hour or two after they had started off when the ranger scented wood smoke not too far from here. The wind was blowing from Northwest to Southeast.
Scouting the land about there was a thin copse of trees a half mile to the east of here and Zoltan was to lead the party there while Soren (and Coruth’tae) went North and west to make sure that the fire we smelled was not bounty hunters, monsters, or anything that could cause us trouble. It didn’t take them long to come upon a caravan encampment – three covered wagons, a half dozen oxen, and maybe a like amount of rangy looking horses. From the furrows running northeast, it was obvious they had not come from Dragonhole. It seemed they were setting up camp for the night and there were close to 20 of them that the two elves could see.
They went down to talk and learned that the group was a party of spice traders from Flatrock on their way to Huntington to sell various spices to the elven city. They were taking the overland route to avoid Northedge as the local lord there was not able to stop the rampant thievery against merchants and they were also avoiding Dilabria to skip out on paying a tax on moving wares through the city.
We were invited to stay and camp with them and Soren offered to go get the rest of the group, Coruth’tae stayed behind to chat with them and offer what services he could. The party was mostly human, with a couple of half-orcs and a single elf (high).
Soren rejoined the rest of the party who had decided that coming into a strange encampment with bags and bags of money was not a good idea. In the copse of trees they buried their goods and covered it with fallen leaves – enough to hide it for a single night and then rode with Soren to the spice traders. We shared our food with them (including almost 70 pounds of sausage!) and they with us and we chatted for a while. There was some talk about maybe buying a bow from one of them but they were not keen on selling what they saw as a necessary tool to a strange group of travelers. Norris bought some spices from them (pepper, salt, and meat seasonings – a pound of each!) and we stayed mostly quiet.
Coruth’tae and Soren did try to have a private conversation with the elf who gave some of his impressions of the locals and the towns up here, giving us one demi-human’s view of life in the barony of Dilabria. We also were unhappy to note that our cover story as to why we were out in the wilderness at night didn’t hold up under even light scrutiny but since only the lone elf was talking with us about it, and he was not going to break the bonds of “race” and let the caravan leader know of what he had gleaned about us, what concerns we had on the matter passed. Eventually Zoltan spoke with the trader and we shared the night watch, walking pickets and always making sure that one of us was up at the same time that one of their men was.
As for Detheron and Gwyn, they had travelled for a few hours and the sun was setting and still no sign of the party. They had noted at least two armed and armored patrols wearing the livery of Dragonhole had been on the road travelling east, most likely looking for them. Taking the road was not seen to be a good plan and the sun had set. Where would they go? What would they do? They walked on in the twilight for a bit until they saw a light ahead from the road.
Gwyn stripped his money and some of his weapons and told Detheron to stay here with the tiger while he went to investigate. It was a wayfarer’s rest, a single thatched wooden cottage that some homeowner had added a covered outhouse and a small corral to. Four horses were currently there and the sounds coming from within showed there to be a bit more than the same number of people inside. Deciding quickly, the dwarf walked up to the door and opened it.
There were 6 vassals from Dragonhole in studded leather and tabards, armed with broadswords and maces currently eating some bread and stew in the large main room while and older man and woman told Gwyn to come in and shut the door behind him. The dwarf walked up and asked for a nip to eat and some whiskey that the innkeep said he made himself. The food was filling and the drink strong and Gwyn listened carefully to the 6 riders talking about the tiger and the dwarf and the fire and whatnot.
It was at this time that one of them tried to talk to the dwarf (a seemingly uncommon sight in these parts) and Gwyn’s answers were…less than stellar at best. Where are you from? “My mom’s vagina.”…What’s your name? “Melvin.” …Really? Of what clan? “Chipmunk”…Where have you been living? “Anywhere. You know, in the wilderness?”…Ever been to Dragonhole? “Umm..3 weeks ago?”
The guards wanted to take Gwyn to Dragonhole for questioning and the dwarf sighed and agreed. They took his weapon belts and shield and then Gwyn said he had to go to the outhouse as he was feeling cramped up and it was a few hours ride to the city. Two guards went with him and he sat on the privy and brought his backpack around where he reached in and casually drank an Efreetiskin potion. The guards were not happy with that and he said it was water and that he was feeling dehydrated. Then he snatched a flask of oil out and the guards grabbed his backpack and called out for the others.
He smashed the oil on himself and was dragged out of the outhouse and pressed to his knees while 4 guards were around him. One of them tried to take his helmet off and he realized that it was now out of hand so he elbowed one of them in the knee, took a few blows to his skull, staggered to his feet and was going to try to run through the wall of the cottage and throw himself into a torch or the fire and then trust in the oil and efreetiskin potion. However he misjudged and slammed into the support beam and slumped to the ground where the guards beat him into unconsciousness and then trussed him up with chains.
Detheron was waiting almost a half hour when he saw and heard the patrol of guards from Dragonhole coming the OTHER way, back towards him from the “light” that Gwyn had gone to investigate. He crouched by the side of the road with his tiger and watched the 4 horses ride by, each of them with a torch and rider. The 1st and 4th steed had 2 guards mounted on each, the 2nd horse was a single rider and some heavy bundle wrapped in front of him, and the 3rd was similar but also sported Gwyn’s specific looking shield and some of his weapons. And then they were past.
Thinking quick, Detheron called a Sleet storm to pound in front of the riders to slow them up. The 1st three steeds skittered through but the 4th fell over and one rider jumped free while the other landed awkwardly and broke his thigh bone. There were calls from ahead and one of them blew his whistle on seeing the tiger storm forward and assault one of the guards. Some of the torches went out and other continued to ride on ahead of the main party. And then it went poorly as Detheron was forced into the melee and his tiger was shot from the dark by one of the dismounted riders using a bow and sleep elixir slathered arrows. Maces smashed the druid and he slumped unconscious as his tiger fell over and dropped to sleep.
The other party awoke well rested and thanked the spice traders for their generosity. Their water skins and the horses’ feed bags were refilled and we wished each other well. They went back to the copse of trees, gathered their buried coins and treasures and rode southeast to the road and then eastward to Dilabria, making it to the city’s gates by 5:00 PM. No sign of Detheron, Gwyn, or anything. This bothered Zoltan who said that it was not like Detheron to disappear. There was talk of walking into the city but the gypsy said that the city was large and finding the druid in there was not going to be easy if at all possible.
He was going to wait outside to see if the two missing companions would show up before the gates closed (gates shut at 8 PM). The rest of the group went over ideas and plans and we opted on the group going in and turning in the steeds to the stablery. Arnog was going to bring the two girls and drop them off at the brothel and ask there and around if anyone had seen either the druid or the dwarf (both of them not common to the area). We would then turn most of our coin into easily carried gems, grab some quick provisions, and rejoin Zoltan outside the city gates. Norris and Olthar would stay inside the city and attempt to find out through their “seedier” contacts where the two missing friends might be. If we heard nothing of them by morning, we would make a better decision as to what to do next.
As for Detheron and Gwyn – they both eventually woke with aching heads, stripped of all but a thin rag of cloth, in a 10x10 stone room with a single metal door, chained to a metal cot by short lengths of stout chain. Neither of them were near the other and neither knew where the other was. Each was visited by a purple robed official and a 4 count of guards. Gwyn was being held and accused of attacking with his demonic tiger and causing the death of 6 members of Dragonhole’s militia and 10 local peasantry in Slopeside. They had his name as Melvin of Chipmunk and claimed that he was also a cohort of Vanir, a sorcerous brigand with a 5,000 crown bounty on his head who was blamed for attempting to set the Orphan’s Cap Tavern on fire. (damn…some of the party’s plan came home to crap on their bed).
As for Detheron his story was filled with holes. He was honest about his name and some of the local peasants from Slopeside said that he had come from the crater and had been naked and robbed by the dwarf and his friends. But then his tale grew fragmented and filled with inconsistencies and the magistrate was calling him a warlock and that the tiger was a familiar. He was in fingerlocks so he couldn’t cast spells OR change form and he said that there was a priest of Thor in Ponyboro who could speak for him, but it was a false name and all it did was buy him about 4 days for the aviary to get to Ponyboro and then a response come back.
The two of them were given a poor meal of gruel and water and Detheron was told that if he was found guilty of magery he would be burned at the stake. Later he had learned that the magistrate had his tiger killed for being a part of the attack on the people of Dragonhole as well as supposedly Detheron’s sorcerous familiar. This hardened the druid’s heart and there was murder in his eyes as he faced off against the magistrate, dismissing the other man with fury.