We had a fun one shot at year end and took a few weeks off for the holidays before coming back to the midpoint/2nd half of the 1st adventure. They know what they have to do and now are on the path to try and get the kids out of the Orphanage and away from the Gorokian Mountain Dwarves.
We had some time to come up with a plan and for the better part of an hour, we discussed various options on how to get into the Sunrise Rabbits Orphanage, and do it in such a way that we would be undetected. Meanwhile Thalin reshuffled his spells a bit and the group talked about options. Go with the guards? Rappel down the wall? Go in through the sewer? Split into 2 groups? Couldn’t we just ring the front bell? How would we get the kids out? Could we find the two kids that Sybil had spoken to somehow and maybe convince them to show us the passage through the wall?
It took some time but we figured the best bet was to go to the Blue Flowers Orphanage and hopefully appeal to the Headmaster Jori to allow us to climb over the adjoining fence and make our way to the Chapel at the Sunrise Rabbits. We made sure we were outfitted with arms and armor. The thought was to bring Grin, but Eoghan eventually decided the mostly trained wolf would not accord us the “sneakiness” we were looking for, so the lupine was placed in his room for now, the Ranger sure that he would have to clean the place up when this was all over.
From here we made our way to the Gate where we had some discussion with the Wall Guard and Sergeant Barrim. We had learned what had occurred 3 days ago and also learned that the Practical had been released back to the Orphanage about a day later. So we deduced 4 Practicals, and maybe Hisvild, Ghalen, and whatever staff was on site. We implored the Sergeant to speed us on our way, the Wall Guard agreeing to have an escort bring our armed bunch through the streets and leave us at the Blue Flowers. The idea was that we’d speed through the town without having to explain to the populace our gear, and by not taking us to the Sunrise Rabbits or tarrying after delivering us, we’d attract less possible attention from the Practicals if they were watching.
The Sergeant mustered a 4 count to escort us through the street, eventually leaving us at the Blue Flowers, wishing us well, and then returning to their post at the Wall. We rang the bell and the Practical here escorted the kids playing outside into the building and hoped to get Jori for us. Feeling happy and good about what we were doing, Shim decided to flop back and make a “snow gnome” imprint, waving his arms and feet accordingly. Tidra thought it was cute and used her shield as a shovel and half buried the gnome in the melting slush from his head to his chest. Helping him up she laughed and helped him brush the worst of the snow off, but much of the wet had gotten under his layers and was soaking against his undergarments and bare skin.
Jori came out to meet us and he and Darius got into a conversation. The Fighter laid out a very simple version of what we hoped to do and our desire to get into the Sunrise Rabbit without being seen. Was it possible she could help? She mulled it over and decided to help the group, opening the gate and ushering us inside and to the building. She had us hang up our wet clothes and on seeing Shim’s state, asked one of the maids, Ingrid, to get something that would fit the gnome so he doesn’t freeze in his skin.
While all this was going on (and Shim was getting naked behind a changing screen) we asked about the two younger kids Tholding and Helga, wondering if they were here. She was loath to give up any info yes or now as the kids had been removed from the home and separated to the other 5 orphanages. We understood and then asked about possible secret ways in? She did confirm that there was an escape tunnel here at this Orphanage that ran across the main street and exited in the park, but she had no idea of any other place. Tidra and Vulwulf were once again wondering about rappelling down the wall with rope or spell but that was discarded. Along with 3 other plans that relied on invisibility as an option.
As Ingrid returned and was helping Shim get dressed, taking his wet clothes away to be laundered, we settled on the idea of climbing over the adjoining wrought iron fence near the back of the property and then crossing the Courtyard to the building proper. We would need a ladder. And that would require the aid of the Groundskeeper, Bjorn.
Damn it all to Hel. Someone has once again touched my tools. Not asking a lot, if you take a shovel. Put it back. Seventy Three winters should stand for something at the very minimum. Maybe respect? Courtesy? Baldur knows there’s precious little of it these days. If they need something done, I need to be able to get my tools without wondering if they are in poor repair or missing from where I left them.
Ingrid went off to get him for Jori, and the party once again went over their plan. They wanted to get the kids and get them out. Darius thanked the Headmaster and the two of them settled on the idea that not only was this exciting in its own way, but there should be another date, a proper one, in their future.
Bjorn arrived, the older male giving the party a once over before learning from Jori that he would need to set up the ladder at the back of the property and help this group get over the 10’ iron gate.
What in Hel’s name is this? Are we helping adventurers now? Are they going to go crazy and kill one of us with an axe or maybe set the other Orphanage on fire? Damn it Jori, you’re thinking with your nethers right now while making moon eyes at the moron in the moustache instead of saying Loki damn no to this foolhardiness. And what the hell is with this one, giving me the side stare? You got some moxie boy. Challenging me? Here? In my youth I beat panty wasted twits like yourself.
“Yes, Headmaster,” Bjorn answered and left with a gruff turn.
“Wot’s wit dat guy?” Eoghan asked, his accent getting a bit thicker. “He was givin’ me some serious stink eye.”
“Eoghan, you have to stop needlessly pissing people off,” Darius shrugged. “I don’t know what it is with you.”
“It’s not me, I swear.”
“Sure it isn’t. Sure it isn’t.”
We thanked Jori and had her lead us to the Gymnasium where we bundled up again and walked outside in the cold, heading for the back corner of the Courtyard where it shared a fence and wall with the Sunrise Rabbits, the elder Groundskeeper already had a 12’ ladder up in place and placed against the crossbar at the top of the 10’ fence. He was just putting some old blankets to use as padding in place.
“This is my ladder,” he said, addressing Eoghan as the Ranger went to move or adjust it. “Mine, ok? Something happens to it, it’s my responsibility.”
“I hear ya, I was just hoping to help out.”
“I’ll hold the bottom and adjust it, ok? Don’t want anyone to get hurt. Safety is no joke.”
Watching Bjorn go to the underside and brace it there, Eoghan shrugged and tossed out, “You got it, Buddy,” with a heavy dose of disdain.
“Damn,” Tidra, Vulwulf, and Shim all muttered.
“Not cool, Eoghan,” Darius offered.
“What?” The ranger was half way up and looked down at the frowning Bjorn and then back at the group. “What?”
“Just go,” Bjorn growled and Eoghan sighed and climbed up to the top. Once there he balanced himself, lowered himself down, and dropped to the other side. Vulwulf went next but misjudged his step and fell with a clang on the other side, groaning as he rolled to his feet. “Careful, lads.”
Thalin followed and the elf also slipped, getting lightly wounded. Shim followed next and the gnome was able to get down without injury. But Darius had his hand caught in the rope and got a back strain and Tidra decided to jump down but slipped at the top and slammed face first into the snow, Darius slowing her fall by catching 1/3 of the half orc fighter.
Once we were all situated, it was decided that rappelling down the wall was most likely a terrible idea as the 10’ fence kicked most of our asses.
Bunch of amateurs. Hope to Hel they didn’t damage my ladder. Shame that first shifty eyed looking untrustworthy fellow didn’t fall off and get hurt. That would have brought a smile to my face.
We stayed along the fence line, heading north until we drew even with the Chapel. We then ran across to the chapel wall and listened. It was mostly quiet within, nothing was definitively heard. As for getting it, we’d have to break a shutter free and that might make noise, as well as an unwelcome breeze. We decided to stay low and follow the walls around to the front. It was fairly quick going and we made it to the front of the building, no one was outside. We decided not to try the front door as we would need a key and didn’t want to chance it yet. We figured we’d go back and look for another possible way in.
We followed the wall back along until we came to the chapel again and then kept going. There were offices and then the jut out that was the dining room. It was here that a set of billco style cellar doors were situated, a chain and lock upon them. We cleared off the snow and Thalin used one..and then a second Acid Splash spell on the lock, eventually weakening it enough for us to pop it open and loop the chain off the handles.
We looked down. Twelve steep steps, 12” high, 9” deep, let down to narrow landing and a heavy metal blast door was here. No handle on this side to open it. Ok. We guessed that this door would lead to the furnace section of the basement – the same place the kids had been last time. We came out and Vulwulf gave thought to possibly stone shaping the frame around it, but it would take time and no guarantee it would work. But an idea.
We closed the billco doors and then wrapped the chain back around it for now. We decided to enter through the shutters at the southwest window of the Chapel for now. We made our way back there and noting that it was pinned in place and firm to the wall, Vulfulf called to Idun and warped one of the shutters until it popped free and swung open. Alright. We used a knife to cut the paper over the window aside, lifted it up, and everyone one at a time, rolled into the Chapel and stayed quiet.
Once inside we used a leather thong to tie the shutter closed again, while Thalin and Darius checked the altar. Vulwulf went up and down each pew. Tidra and Eoghan split up and took each wall looking in the alcoves, and Shim was at the front exit, noting that we could hear a few dwarven voices not too close and not too far away. We hoped to find a cache or secret area under the chapel, maybe the kids were in there? But 10 minutes had us together and sure there was no such thing. “If there was one,” Darius posited, “It wouldn’t be easy to find.”
As for the dwarves, anything real was hard to make out, but some complaint about Ghalen and Hisvild was made out. Eventually they geared up and made their way to the front door, unlocked it, and went out to patrol, locking the front door behind them.
With 2 Practicals out now, we felt it was a good time to risk entering the hall and moving with haste to Hisvild’s office at the end of the long main hall. We hoped we could convince him we were effectively on his side and maybe get some help to get out of here. So we hit the hall and moved south, keeping our pace steady and maintaining the same speed Tidra could go without the half-orc fighter needing to run and make unnecessary noise. We could hear dwarven voices UP one set of stairs and we kept on to the office in question, and then dashed in after pushing the door open.
The place had been trashed.
It was obvious that someone had thrown the office apart looking for something, actually revealing a small wall safe that had been crowbarred open. But if they had found what they were looking for, there was no sign they had done so successfully. We surmised they were looking for the keys and then thought it was worth maybe check the downstairs doors to see if Hisvild was actually down there.
We were lucky so far (great rolls!!) and no practicals had come back in yet OR gone down to this level to look around. So we left the office, crossed the hall, and went down the steps, Tidra and Vulwulf taking the back weapons out in case we were spotted.
We knocked on the door and heard the Taskmaster tell us to “Fuck off.” We had a brief back and forth until he was assured we were who we were and not the Practicals. He had the kids. They’ve been there for almost 3 days. They have food and water for maybe 2 or 3 more. Need help. He decided (another great roll) to trust us and unlocked the door letting us in. Once inside we locked it back up and cast another alarm spell on the door.
Hisvild and the 14 “saved” children were indeed here. They were dirty, tired, strung out, and worried. But the kids were very tight with the Taskmaster and stayed closed to him. We learned that some of the household staff had moved some water and food stuffs into here during the chaotic first day. As for the kids, he had used some rope and opened a dimensional pocket that could only be seen if you were right under it and looking up. The kids were hiding in there and avoided being found by the Wall Guards when they came, or the Practicals when they were looking as well.
Once the place was safe, Hisvild and Ghalen had a bit of an argument and the Taskmaster came down here, locking the door behind him, and decided to wait it out, not trusting the Practicals or the Underthane to do what was best for the kids. Stavern, the lead Practical, then started abusing and hurting the staff, Ghalen as well, hoping to get Hisvild to open the door and let the kids free. He has refused but he is running out of ideas.
There is the escape door but the billco doors are locked. Not anymore. Ok, that helps, but when that door is opened, it will alarm the entire temple as to its breach and the Practicals will come. He also does not have a key to the front gate so they would be stopped there. And he would most likely be shot.
Any spells? He’s almost out – three Alarm spells and 1 firefinger. Where’s his spellbook? In his office and he suspects the dwarves have it and most likely destroyed it and his room. We agreed. Once again we thought about using the Stone shape spell, but based upon the thickness of the foundation stones, Vulwulf suspected we would need the spell twice. And he had only one left.
The thought was to open the door, alert the dwarves, and maybe entice two of them to go out that way. Then we could run through the Orphanage and out the gymnasium door to the back and maybe find another way out. There were lots of variables and Ghalen’s name came up to rescue, but he was placed on the “if we can get to it” side of the equation for now. Kids first. And they were going to stay with and follow Hisvild – in their now shorter life experiences, he was one of the only 2 people (other than the others in this room) that they knew, knew had their best interests, and wanted to keep them safe.
By this time, Stavern had come to the door (the alarm spell alerting us, as well as how many were approaching). The dwarf was blaming Hisvild for this mess, it was time to come out. The Lesserthane was going to be here soon and it was pointless now. They’d take all the kids, and still pay top coin for them. Just open the door. It’s on you. Just do it. You like Hilda, right? She works here, you’ve been friends for years. She wants you to open the door. If you don’t, I’m going to have to break her leg. Please Hisvild, don’t make me break her leg. That would be cruel. Don’t be like that. Hisvild. Hisvild? Look what you are forcing me to do. Thanks, this is on you, I don’t want to do this, but you are making me do it.
And then Hilda gave a horrible scream, the Orphanage nurse howling as her shin was busted with a hammer and Stavern was just disappointed. So disappointed. You made this happen, Hisvild. You did. You are cruel. He then walked back up the stairs, leaving Hilda crying in agony and pain at the bottom of the steps, leg broken, her wails cutting through the door and making the children upset. Hisvild upset. The party upset.
“That’s pretty damned dark,” Tidra muttered after we were sure the Practical had gone.