Even before taking a well-deserved long rest, the party decided to scope out the rest of the abandoned temple. They also found more treasure stored in another room, but it was about a third of what they had been expecting from Narunn's report. Near the exterior, they found three wagons and twelve draft horses, as well as a coded ledger appearing to detail the schedule of Narunn's shipments. Keith was able to figure out the symbols for numbers and just enough to realize that the temple was just a temporary holding facility for the loot. Upon reaching the temple, the treasure was divided into three portions of different sizes. The largest and smallest portions were being brought 5 miles downriver. The middling portion was transported 40 mi. north, past any civilization and into the desert. Keith knew that not many people returned from exploring that far away from Noivos.
The party then decided to take their overdue long rest. Dogaeen and Razael took first watch with Kaine, positioned near the rubble pile at the entrance, and Keith and Woodsy slept in the room with the most treasure.
Meanwhile, an erstwhile pit fighting pair — the goliath Dennis and his hype man Derryk — rode through the underbrush towards the temple. They were chasing a 50 gp bounty on a wizard wanted for blackmail in Noivos. The wizard, Royce, had been a freelancer until he had joined a gang of questionable morality and skipped town. They had traced him back to this ruin.
Dennis and Derryk climbed the temple steps and rappelled through the skylights into the central courtyard. The rough stone proved easy terrain for Derryk, but Dennis' hands, slick with sweat, slipped on the rope and he fell to the ground. Shaking this off, they crept through the tunnels and found their mark, dead on the floor with his heart missing, with two sleeping people nearby. They decided to try to swipe Royce's body out from under their noses and almost succeeded, but Dogaeen had heard Dennis' fall and woke Keith and Woodsy. Derryk and Dennis attempted to run for it, and Woodsy stopped them with a Sleet Storm. Dogaeen unleashed the Hunger of Hadar into the Sleet Storm, pummeling them with the slimy black tentacles. Keith decided to head them off, and ran out of the temple, back up the steps, and found their ropes. He cut one and slid down on the other.
Meanwhile, Derryk and Dennis managed to escape the Sleet Storm and continue fleeing towards their ropes. Keith was there to stop them. A somewhat civil discussion followed, during which Dogaeen managed to convince them that he was not responsible for the tentacles. Dogaeen also refused to hand over Royce's body for some macabre reason, and before the talks turned nasty again, the party heard the unmistakable squee of an angered bullywug. Keith quickly promised to pay the bounty hunters a hefty share of his current contract and let them keep (most of) Royce if they would stick around to fight off the bullywug.
Derryk and Dennis agreed, and in the nick of time. The bullywug teleported from thin air and began to attack. Woodsy was swallowed for a time, but they managed to defeat it and beat a hasty retreat. They loaded the treasure onto the wagons, hitched up the horses, and fled into the forest. They made good time, especially considering the poor construction of the road, and had gone three miles by sundown. They stopped, satisfied with their progress. Before they turned in, Woodsy watched a lizard drink from a pool of water, then immediately die. This was considered an ill omen, and they posted a watch.
As night fell, eerie sounds began to float in from the trees on either side of them. They doubled the watch and prayed for the best. A little after midnight, they received their first visitor: a fawn with a baby's face sewn onto its skull, walking on broken legs with bones protruding from the knee. It wanted them to leave. Keith killed it. Shortly thereafter, they were visited by a rat with a human hand growing out of its back, who carried the same message. Now sufficiently spooked, they readied the horses and woke up everyone. The next surprise was a swarm of wasps. And then another swarm of wasps.
At this point, they were driving twelve horses in total blackness on a rough road bracketed by creepy forest. It was no surprise, then, when their horses began to stumble and break their legs. They had to stop several times to heal them before continuing their reckless pace. The most observant of them noticed six worgs — three undead, three alive — chasing their caravan. At this point, Derryk and Dennis were riding in the back on their horses, Woodsy was controlling one wagon, Keith was controlling the middle wagon, and Dogaeen drove in front.
A worg jumped onto Derryk's horse and Dennis attempted to strike it off, but accidentally hit and seriously injured the horse. Derryk and Dennis fell behind and killed the worg by themselves, then healed the horse and caught up with the party. Woodsy turned into a bear and launched himself off the wagon, hitting the worg and sending them both under the hooves of the last wagon. Dogaeen killed the others with Eldritch Blast and Keith killed another that had jumped into his wagon.
Finally, the worgs were defeated and they were able to continue at a slower pace. At dawn, they reached a point where the road left the forest and bisected an enormous swamp for half a mile. There was no cover, except for a thin layer of pearly mist covering the fetid waters. Keith realized this was where Green Helmet's bandits had been bringing two shares of Narunn's treasure.
Then, those with sharp eyes noticed an aboleth watching them from the water…
- 1 banderhobb
- 2 insect swarms
- 6 worgs
- 2400 xp
- Level 6