Kronig and his chamber was always the lynch-pin.
Easiest way to get to the Altar of Hestia was through the former lord's panic room, across the parapet, and down the north-east tower to where the spymaster had set up the altar 15 years earlier. The secret door was not operated like the others in the Keep, hence why Kronig never discovered it. And even if he had, it was too smal for him to use.
Alternative way would have involved the party crossing via the parapets through the other doors on the 2nd floor (easiest was by the Bullywugs) but would have involved risking contact with the stirges. So a night-time crossing would have been better. A work around of the stirges was hinted at by the local crazies - smear yourself in fecal matter or at least carry it on you - it repels the stirges. And thanks to the horses and Fergus' stomach sickness, we had plenty of crap to make this happen.
Kronig being slain was a 50/50. He doesn't spend all day in his area and is fond of visiting the Bullywugs and the Half-elves, so risking a trip into his chamber was more than possible. The flip-side of that of course were the yuan-ti who were constantly watching Kronig's area and were opportunistic should a chance to strike arise.
Overall, I really liked the way the party handled it.
Write up follows:
We spent roughly 20 minutes going over tactics and what our plans were. Nerill and the half-elves were going to be equipped with bows; Fiona Silverhair was going to bless the entire party with the force of Ares. Murgo and the Bullywugs were going to jump into the room, Fergus and Ben filling in the gaps, the 6 of them holding Kronig in place. The rest of us were going to fill in the other areas and support the front line fighters with spells, shields, and bow work.
Assuming we did drop Kronig fast, we were then going to make an effort to drop the sanctuary as fast as we can before running into Sisspak. What about Tempi? We hoped to find him fast and save him as soon as possible.
We left the elven area, crept back to the overlook, snuck up to Kronig’s room, and drew ourselves up, ready for the combat. The Bullywugs were crouched low, spears up and ready, poised to jump. The knob was turned, door thrown open, and there was the one time royal bedroom, now used as Kronig’s area. Near the bed was the 9’, 775 lb Ogre, holding Tempi aloft and slapping the half-orc back and forth across the face. He seemed to be unconscious, cheeks are bloody and red.
The Bullywugs then leapt. Their jumps cleared across the intervening space as the hit the Ogre, spears first. Some of them were batted aside; one of them scratched his arms. At the last moment though Kronig was able to lift the half-orc up and blocked one fairly deadly thrust with Tempi’s body. Fergus and Ben charged next, Ben hurled a spear, but struck shaft side. We roared, shouted, and snarled as we filled the room. Fergus was concentrating, the holy aura of Poseidon flowing about him.
Kronig lifted Tempi over head and hurled the half-orc into the massing fighters. One of the Bullywugs is knocked down from the flying half-orc. The room filled up fast as we filed in. Kronig whipped up Korlok’s axe and sneered, “You’ve made a tremendous mistake” as he tore into the throng about him.
The half-elves hurled arrows all over the place, almost a dozen clothyard shaft peppered around the Ogre, one of them critically hitting Kronig. With a furious cry, he swept his axe back and brought it whistling around, one Bullywug ducks behind his shield but it is crushed, a 2nd Bullywug struggled briefly but managed to avoid getting slain outright. Flimflam called out to Demeter and lined Kronig with burning fairie fire lights.
Bill, very drunk on Bullywug wine, was shouting out the words of his spell, summoning a zombie which hit the Ogre. However a wild surge happened and a 2nd zombie appeared – this one appeared over the Halfling and hit him – effectively dropping him to zero. Flimflam and Whosea struggled to stand over the Halfling, trying to block any of the blows. Marcus tried to blind Kronig but the ogre dodged and the light spell shot past.
We shot arrows at Kronig, once again hurting the ogre. However, during the exchange, Fist’al critically fumbled, his attention off to the side, and then was struck in chest and would be dead in an hour or less. He stumbled over and smashed his skull and was knocked out. Marcus sent his own flaming arrows into the melee.
Kronig swept his axe sideways, critically smashing into Fergus whose own shield fell apart. He snarled at the paladin who was shouting “URTHAR! A SHIELD!!” that his luck was over. Axe came over and JUST missed, slamming into the floor. Bullywugs (only 2 remaining) stabbed out, whittling away a few more precious hit points from the Ogre. Kronig smashed one Bullywug over, causing one of them to be stabbed and slain instantly.
Whosea and Flimflam were taking the zombie down and Urthar frisbee’ed a shield to the paladin. Kronig’s axe slams out at Fergus who manages to block the weapon with the tines of his trident. Trying to twist it around, he held it long enough to screw up any other assaults from the Ogre. Ben lashed out, more hit points whittling away.
We continued to press the attack on Kronig, while Marcus read his scroll of Monster Summoning III, getting a GIANT tick to appear! 75#, 5’ tall, 6 legs, it assaulted the Ogre immediately. This appearance though terrified Fergus who turned and fled the battle. He made his way out of the room, shoving everyone out of the way. Once outside the paladin hit the hall and started to run faster – however he was surprised – by a 7’ tall snake-man who spit a globule of venom at his face.
Poison in his eyes, he coughed, slid, and fell onto his face. Before passing out, he did shout, “Yuan-ti!” The group shuddered, we could NOT fight Sisspak OR his minions as well as Kronig at the same time.
We poured on our attacks, arrows, spears, and swords flashing. The Ogre was bleeding terribly, and then the Yuan-ti in the hall spit another globule of poison, this time in the room where he struck one of the half-elves. He too fell over. Kronig tried to tear the tick from his midsection, succeeding but doing terrible damage to himself. His axe came up one last time and crashed down on the last Bullywug who sacrificed his shield.
Seeing Ben down and Fergus have run, Ploog, the last Bullywug loses his morale and ran out of the room, jumping to the hall. Kronig fell over, dead at this time. The yuan-ti there tried to spit at the Bullywug but missed. Meanwhile the remaining party members swarmed the hall and with Marcus’ tick, hit the yuan-ti hard and fast. Flimflam meanwhile raced for Fergus and used his anti-venom to get the paladin back up.
The yuan-ti was having a difficult time with the combat and after a short round, attempted to flee, barely making it back to the barricade in time and slithered through, arrows dogging his steps the entire time.
We dispensed healing, bandages, and whatever anti-venom we had, taking time to see what resources we had left. Rattireg was still here, as well as Nerill Silverhair, Fiona, and 2 other half-elves. Kronig was dead and the yuan-ti now knew we were here.
We searched over Kronig’s chamber for anything, finding a secret door on the eastern wall. It was too small for Kronig, and the opening mechanism was too fine for his to use. We opened the secret area, the passage a small 4’ tall, 1.5’ wide opening; and it revealed a 20’ x 30’ secret cache and panic room.
Inside were 6 sets of leather armor, 6 shields and swords, 12 spears and daggers, barrels of food and water (currently empty), 12 sets of clothes, 6 backpacks, 12 cloaks and boots, 12 blankets, 6 50’ coils of rope, 3 iron strong boxes, and 1 potion travelers case. There was also a door on the north wall that we assumed would lead to the parapet.
We agreed to share the bounty of the room with the half-elves, and agreed to give a portion to Ploog the Bullywug who lived but did flee @ the end. The boxes were filled with crowns and nobles. The majority of the box was filled with healing draughts and potions, as well as a few invisible potions and a fly!
From here we opted to go to the north door, checked it for traps and unlocked it, revealing indeed the parapet. We went to the right, going to the tower there. The door was opened without issue and we were looking in the 20’ round chamber. There was a trapdoor in the ceiling and one in the floor, each was 3’ x 4’. We lifted the one going down first and shone our torch down. It was 20’ down to the floor and there was some sort of candle light burning down there already.
We tied rope to the crenellations closest to the tower and tossed it down the hole to the base of the tower. Fist’al was lowered down to the base of the tower, 2 other doors in here, South and west. Another trap door was along the east wall. On the north wall was an altar; altar cloth, bowl, chalice, talus, two candle sticks, and two lit candles. We seriously expected it was Hestia’s altar.
Fiona joined Fist’al at the base of the tower. We talked about what to do next and Fergus was adamant that we needed to take apart the altar in the inverse that it was assembled. There was some sort of red dust in the bowl which according to the books we had taken from the Reeve’s office was most likely some crushed garnets.
It took us some time to decide what to do first and eventually made the decision to have Fiona blow out the candles. As soon as they extinguished, we noticed Fiona was not there. We reignited the candles and Fiona reappeared, unconscious from some sort of enchanted exhaustion. This was not the order.
So we now needed another plan. Fergus was lowered down to the floor of the tower and lifted the bowl instead, putting it aside. Whew. He then touched the chalice, moved it aside, put it down –and disappeared. Damn. We replaced the chalice and Fergus reappeared unconscious. Ok…what to do.
We had a series of back and forths, going through 6 of our party until we succeeded in dismantling the altar completely and without issue. As soon as the last piece was removed, we felt a strange pressure running through the Keep and those on the upper portion of the tower looked out at the parapet and watched a seemingly red tinted aura creep up the very air and up to the sky, ending with a ‘pop’.
The Crimson Sanctuary was lifted.
We decided to rest here, sleeping for the night in the tower for ease and the wait for our people (our party and the half-elves) to awaken from their magical sleep. The next day we all woke up, had a great meeting with the half-elves, went back up to the panic room, split up the gear, and checked out Kronig’s chamber. No change.
We walked across the 2nd floor, met with Ploog and gave him his share of the found bounty. We learned that he heard a mass exodus of bodies leaving Candlewick, the Bullywug wanted to wait until it was safe. The half-elves went back to their area and gathered all their belongings, bidding us farewell and then left Candlewick. Ploog also bid us a farewell.
From here we went down to the main floor and it was quiet. And we heard the remaining goblins address us and learned that most everyone had gone, only 9 goblins stayed. Rattireg was suggested to strongly go with the goblins left and to leave Candlewick now. Rattireg and Bill were sad to lose one another but it was going to be for the best.
We went off to the Chapel to check on our cart and were terribly dismayed to learn it was taken. It was 9:30 AM on the 25th of Birthmonth when we discussed what our next action was going to be and where we were going to look for the statue of Zeus.