…and act they did! Throwing caution to the wind, they group decided to go in after Po, as was their charge from Lady Kyoko to deal with the Shadowhands. As they entered the burned out tavern through the back door, Po suddenly awoke from his nasty bump on the head to find himself in a dimly lit block of jail cells. Looking around, he discovered that he was not alone, for each of the surrounding cells was occupied by pregnant women in various states of consciousness. The cell next to his held a young woman who appeared mostly lucid, so he inquired of her where they were and what was going on…but the young woman revealed herself to be not as lucid as she had appeared. Mumbling something about a “monster” who put a “darkness inside her,” Po wasn’t able to get much out from the poor woman, and decided to revert to his training and meditate.
Meanwhile, the group having discovered a trapdoor in the floor of the burned out tavern, they descended the ladder and began traversing carefully through the twisting corridors of the tunnels in which they now found themselves. Eventually, they saw a light from around a corner and, peeking carefully, found themselves in front of a relatively ornate door in a small antechamber. They checked for (physical) traps, but found themselves beset by a magical spray of acid when they attempted to open the door, scalding poor Grimpem (an oddity from what they expected were a bunch of hoodlums and sneak thieves…). As Arauka quietly opened the door, he say before him a large domed chamber bisected by a running waterway. One the near side were tables and chairs, an apparent eating hall. On the far side were more lavish accommodations: over-stuffed chairs, couches, luxurious pillows and such for pure comfort (an oddity in what they expected to be a den of thieves…).
Seated at the tables and on one of the far couches were a few thugs clad in dark leather and carrying nasty looking weapons. Arauaka, in a moment of inspiration, grabbed his pet mouse and flung it at one of the seated thugs….only to miscalculate his aim and simply lob the poor creature into the room in full view of the thugs! With their cover blown, the crew burst into the room and set into fierce combat with the 4 occupants. After dispatching them and hiding their bodies in the waterway, they opened a door to find the kitchen and a boistrous chef hard at work. Hettle, in an attempt to befriend him, managed to (quite quickly) earn the ire of the mustachioed chef, who then flung his bubbling pot of bolognese sauce at gnome in the doorway. It clattered with an enormous BANG off the door, and the trio quickly subdued the man as he slipped in the bolognese as he fearlessly attacked the crew with a kitchen knife. Binding his hands and feet and gagging him with a potent block of hard cheese, they hid the bound chef in the pantry and closed the door.
The mighty sound of the pot of red sauce crashing against the door was enough to rattle Po from his meditation, and he began calling loudly for help, and to his great fortune, Pluefin, Arauka and Hettle all heard him! They followed their ears to the door Po’s voice was coming from and jimmied the lock open, and the soon found themselves in the cell block with Po and the Pregnant women.
With a sobering realization, they deduced this must be one of the holding cells for the women Keith has been using in his dastardly experiments! With so many of the women appearing to be in such poor health and shell-shocked mental states, they decided that they would focus on springing Po from his cell and leave the women here to be retrieved later by Lady Kyoko’s guards.
Some mighty swings from Grimpem’s hammer freed the monk, but the sensitive perception of several of the party heard that the massive hammer blows had drawn the attention of some other undesirables in the stronghold. Realizing they were trapped in the narrow dead end of the cell block, they decided to set a trap as they had in similar situations. They heard the voices of multiple people and shortly thereafter, the sound of keys in the lock of the door at the end of their narrow hallway. The poor fool who came rushing through as the door swung open met with a grisly fate: in near identical circumstances as Arauka’s last trap, the man’s leg was completely severed, and he fell, shrieking to the ground.
BATTLE WAS ON!
As the members began to fall and the prowess of the party in battle became apparent, the apparent leader called out, “Master! Master, we need you!” From a door they had discovered earlier to be locked emerged…Keith the Mysterious Halfling himself! Despite the relentless bombarding the party with vicious spells, it only took a few solid hits for the crew to watch Keith’s expression of rage and ferocity melt to one of mortal panic, and in what seemed to be his preferred method of escape, filled the room with a magical fog and made a break for it.
Arauka, having magically marked the halfling as a target, followed the sounds of pattering footsteps as it beat a hasty retreat towards the entrance. Arauka followed the direction of the sounds and headed back towards Crab’s Cup.
The rest of the party remained in the stronghold for a few short moments, gathering what items they could find, including a few potions.