The Rescue Mission
“Our enemy has made a grave error. In believing that the search for the lost heir, Decius Avan, had ended, he allowed to lapse whatever magical protections were blocking our divinations. Last night, priests of Altius Highfather confirmed that young Decius is being held in a fortified stockade to the north, several days’ journey along the coastline. Will you and your friends do what must be done to ensure the safe return of the duke’s younger son?”
Within hours of hearing these words from Lorcan, High Inquisitor of the Church of Altius, the paladin Alarion Northsea had assembled four of his companions to mount the assault: Adarrial Smythe, Man of Renown; Duran Fortnite, devout cleric of Altius; Jarvis Osburn, mighty warrior of Great Rock; and Thomas Johnson, security expert. These five brave individuals boarded a ship commanded by Captain Fitzpatrick of the Royal Blackmere Navy and set sail for the cold north.
After a week of travel, the ship dropped anchor and the five adventurers went ashore. Alarion sent his cohort, the wyrmling bronze dragon Verdigris, ahead to scout the area while the rest of the group made camp. Verdigris soon returned and described a compound about a day’s travel inland, surrounded by a wooden palisade and guarded by several fur-wearing humans who bore more than a passing resemblance to the barbarians fought by the characters in previous encounters with the Scarlet Sails. They realized that this was the stockade described in documents found earlier, and that it was likely commanded by the barbarian warlord Woldemar Skell.
The heroes decided that subterfuge would work better than a frontal assault, and Adarrial fashioned disguises for himself and his allies. Posing as wandering barbarians from another tribe, the characters gained entrance thanks to (seemingly) impossibly difficult bluffs by the Man of Renown. Even his own friends had difficulty telling the bard apart from the role he had assumed.
Once inside, the heroes joined the barbarians for dinner, where they met both the warlord Skell and his second in command, a bear-cultist cleric named Alsgaard. They also spotted the young heir, sporting a number of severe injuries and currently serving as a kitchen slave, seemingly barely able to carry out even the most menial of tasks. As the meal wound down, Adarrial accompanied Alsgaard back to the shrine while the other characters stayed behind.
When the time seemed right, the adventurers struck against the barbarians, but the element of surprise was short-lived. The battle raged between several rooms of the central building of the compound, eventually drawing the attention of the two dozen barbarians stationed elsewhere in the stockade. Though by now the adventurers had defeated Skell, Alsgaard, and the cleric’s enormous pet bear, their resources were depleted and another drawn-out battle wasn’t appealing.
Once again, however, the combination of guile and wit worked in their favor, as the characters successfully intimidated the remaining barbarians into letting them leave unharmed, demonstrating that their leaders were already dead. Taking the duke’s son with them, the heroes hurried back to their ship and returned to Helmsport in triumph. The clerics, after confirming that Avan’s injuries—including many crudely-stitched cuts and a severe head wound—were to blame for his addled condition, relied on the most powerful of their healing magics to restore him to full health.
Overjoyed, the duke rewarded the heroes richly and granted them each a well-furnished apartment in the Royal Quarter of Helmsport. The last remaining wrong caused by the Scarlet Sails had been restored, and the duke’s family was reunited. All was well in the city.
But evil still lurked in the province, and the heroes would soon become ensnared in a web of treachery whose repercussions would echo for many months to come.
Previous: Here Be Dragons
Next: The Secrets of Ossington
All material copyright Andy Collins 2001-2008.