NB: For those of you who notice, I am aware that certain minor details have been altered. In their individual cases I have omitted certain details either for a better narrative (as opposed to a blow-by-blow account) or because they couldn’t be recalled or logically discovered due to lack of detail on specific character sheets (so if you notice inaccuracies regarding your character’s weapon in a specific moment etc, I apologise). While it isn’t particularly important, I am very happy to correct the error if you so wish. In addition, for those of you who haven’t, I would strongly encourage you to fill out your character bio. It’ll help make these logs slightly more colourful.
Upon easily defeating the ancient lock to their cell, the Villains set about exploring the cell block. Consisting of only five communal cells, Shivani discovers that there is in fact a sixth, a heavily fortified walled room which appears to function as an isolation cell. Looking through the small barred window in the door and stealing herself against the appalling stench of fetter and decay, the Villains come to realise that they are not the only ones who have incurred the wrath of Brandescar. A great shadowy shape, hunched against the wall, spoke to the Bard in a humble and grammatically simple version of Common, calling itself Grumblejack. This massive ogre appeared to have weathered a great deal of abuse at the hands of the guards, beaten and tortured almost beyond the means of sanity and certainly beyond the bounds of logic and decency. As Shivani offered the ogre a sympathetic ear and honeyed words, the other party members debated over strategies to escape the room and bypass the guards. Knowing they only had little over ninety minutes before the patrolling guard would return to re-check the validity of their confinement, it was grimly agreed that should any plan they devise be faulty, dozens of armed guards would be on top of them in moments. So they debated and deliberated, they schemed and scoured their imaginations for a possibility, all the while the intermittent sobs and sorrowful self-pity of Grumblejack floated through the chatter like flatulence through a vital Parliamentary meeting.
Eventually, as the minutes grew thin, a plan was indeed agreed upon and Grumblejack was freed, his wounds too serious for him to lead the charge but all accepted his brutish strength and malleable loyalty could prove useful nonetheless. As each of the torches that illuminated the room were snuffed out, throwing the entire cell block into blackness, those who could penetrate its veil positioned themselves appropriately. Vaelus and Lucian stood either side of the main door to the block, ready to grab the guard as he came into the room, Grakas lurking close by. Rythern set himself up in an open cell directly opposite the door, armed with the bullseye lantern taken from the Handkerchief of Many Things. Everyone else lurked in the blackest shadows and dared hope that soon they’d each taste revenge against their captors. All was silent and to those whose eyes could not see, were it not for the heavy breathing of Grumblejack, the world itself was as nothing, barely seeming to exist at all. With each agonizing minute ticking away, this quiet inactivity seemed to last a hundredfold longer than when the room was buzzing with discussion and tense anxiety. Then through the silence, the sound of distant and muffled singing and chatter could be heard approaching. The guards it seemed were enjoying a few kegs. The jangle of keys, a slightly slurred guffaw at a crude joke and the door opened. At first the guard seemed not to notice the lack of light as he took some shaky steps into the room, but it was far too late for him by the time he realized something was amiss. Rythern released the light from the lantern, shining a relatively dazzling spotlight into the guards eyes. The door was shut as quietly as haste would allow and Vaelus brought the trained and practised fists of a skilled boxer to bear as he landed several jabs into the guards jaw. The guard was dazed but the blows appeared to have shaken him from his intoxication. Blind and confused he lashed out but hit nothing. Lucian swung with a wild hay-maker but his unskilled punch did nothing against the sentry’s armoured shirt, the Anti-paladin’s fingers bitter as they connected to the metal. But then Grakas slipped silently from the darkness as if it were one of the Pits of Hell. He was an unholy predator and he smelt an impending kill. The flash of claws caught the guard across the neck and face and a fierce uppercut from Vaelus that would have felled a prizefighter forced the human’s head to snap back violently, rupturing tissue in the cerebellum and upper spinal cord. The man collapsed and had the privilege of feeling the two hands of a murderer grip his head tightly and the sound of the vertebrae in his neck crunching filling his ears before he fell to the flagstones dead. There was silence again, the Villains listening intently for any evidence that the guard’s friends were on their way. The silence confirmed their Hell-bent fortune and within a few quickened heartbeats, the former guard was stripped of his weapons, armour and keys. Vaelus, a self-trained fighter, smiled at having a steel blade in his hand once again. He spun the longsword expertly in his hand and smiled inwardly at the continuation of his “education” that needed to be exercised upon the world.
Quietly, the Villains snuck through the door and onto a landing, an enormous fireplace with a single chimney flue traversing the multiple floors and a flight of wide stone stairs leading downward in front of them, a simple wooden door to their immediate left, the sound of drunken laughter and chatter continuing to emanate from the room beyond. Rythern recognised this place. He had seen it when he was taken into the interrogation room behind the door on the left. Not knowing how many guards lay inside, Shivani thought it best to simply lock the door using their newly acquired key, hoping that theirs was the only copy. The sound of the lock however alerted the guards inside and apparently not quite as inebriated as their fellow who now lay dead next door, simply unlocked the door again and pulled it open to investigate. What greeted the opener’s eyes at first was the great looming mass of beaten bone, muscle and flesh that towered overhead, grinning down at him with the anticipation one would see in a hungry dire wolf at a prospective meal. In front and around Grumblejack were the prisoners, knives and bows and claws held against faces of varying degrees of pleasure. In an instant, Shivani cruelly robbed him of his focus, her words holding his undivided attention. His eyes blurred at her command as they unfocused and locked onto her. With his own words of power, Rythern launched a dark green ray from his palm where it seeped through the man’s skin and into his muscles, the magic, borne of necromancy, eating at his strength so that his hand sagged under the weight of his sword. Grakas had no need for words of magic, but his hands had formidable power all the same. This inferior mortal had no need of his life and a single mighty claw strike tore out the guards entire throat, sending a cascade of blood pouring satisfactorily down his front, the spray dripping thickly from the doorpost and wall.
At this point, the half-elf Druid, Zeran, noticing Rythern’s limp earlier, believed that this was an opportunity to curry favour. With the sorcerer only a few steps from the interrogation room door and the possibility of more guards therein, Zeran began charging his hands with positive energy, seeking to mend the wounds Rythern had been forced to endure during his attempted hobbling. Pulling the powerful energy from nature itself, Zeran gripped Rythern’s shoulder as he allowed the celestial ephemera to pass through his body and the sorcerer suddenly spasmed violently. To Zeran’s shock, rather than the familiar itching of wounds healing and fractured bones knitting together, great gashes manifested in Rythern’s neck, chest and arms, blood gushing from him as if he had just been slashed by a skilled swordsman. Rythern had time to scream in agony as he felt more bones fracture until his bloodied lungs filled up his mouth, stealing away his breath before he collapsed, his head smacking hard against the stone and he lay unmoving, his lifeblood slowly pooling around his form, tracing lines in the flagstones, outlining them in red pain. The half-vampire, barely alive, had less than a minute as he lay in Grumblejacks shadow.
The second and final guard who had witnessed all of this from within the interrogation room, emboldened from the alcohol and feeling righteous fury at the death of his friend, drew his sword and charged like a paladin into the Villainous line, his sword singing a single note as it sliced surgically through the air and tore straight down Vaelus’ chest. The force of the blow spun the half-elf hard and sent him careening towards the grave. However, while he saw the bleak beckoning of oblivion, the dark prayers wielded by Chase ensured he never saw it for long. Vaelus’ wounds were healed but strength had not fully returned to his body and so while he was alive, Vaelus was still out of the fight.
Upon the felling of two of his rescuers, Grumblejack lunged. The ogre, while having been beaten and tortured for months, possibly even years, locked in isolation and degraded by those who claimed to bear the mantle of holiness, nonetheless still possessed arms as thick as mooring cable strung onto fists that could crush stone and while the man-sized club he held looked comically undersized in that fist, it was swung with such horrific strength that when it landed there was no question over whether the blow would be fatal. There was such fantastic power in the strike that it literally lifted the guard a full foot off the ground and slammed him hard into the door frame, the wooden frame cracking sharply under the combined weight of the ogre’s blow and its victim. As gravity caught the guard and began to throw him down, Grakas maliciously brought up a hungry claw to meet him, catching his face and tearing off a sizeable chunk of flesh from the lower jaw to the nose, exposing the man’s teeth through his cheek and his nose dangling from the thread-like sinews that were left.
With the final guard on this level sent to the arms of Mitra, the party split themselves to investigating the interrogation chamber and dividing up the newly acquired arms and armour. As Shivani and Lucian scouted the floor below, Chase began to turn his attentions to Rythern. As the powers of unlife itself pulsed from the Cleric, from the unholy heartbeat of Asmodius himself, Rythern suddenly found his breath. He drew in such a breath that it were almost like his lungs were making up for lost time. The negative energy coursed through the dhampir’s body like medicine, healing the half-vampires flesh as easily as it would his undead brethren. The adrenalin still surging through his veins, Rythern quickly scrambled to his feet and threw his head from side to side until his eyes finally found Zeran.
‘You!’ he growled slowly as an injured tiger would before it pounced ‘You will pay for each drop of blood you spilt from me with your own three-fold!’
‘I didn’t know you were undead!’ Zeran protested ‘I was trying to help!’
‘I am not undead, I am not of the immortals but I own their blood, their power. I am not weakened by silver and sunlight as my kin would be, I am a perfected being, drawing power from the grave itself but with all the benefits of life!’
‘We don’t have time for this’ Chase reminded Rythern sternly, a calculated look of authority on his face.
Rythern paused for a moment as if trying to find an argument against this.
’You’re right’ he relented. But sharply turned back to the Druid ‘I will spare you from the grave for now’ he said indicating with a fierce finger ‘but know that I make it a point to repay my debts and this is one I’d be more than happy to revisit. We will… “speak” on this later.’ and with that final pointed use of the word ‘speak’, Rythern stormed off down the stairs, ducking under Grumblejack who had picked up a stripped guard and was enjoying a long anticipated meal, the sound of giant molars grinding a skull as if it were a boiled sweet emanating clearly from the happy moaning of the ogre.
Down the stairs, Lucian and Shivani could hear more voices beyond the door before them, heated grumbling over the chief of prison security, Blackerly. Upon the stairs, the Villains quickly agreed upon a course of action, a bolder strategy than before now that each man and woman had a weapon to hand. Once all were in place, using his practised and formidably deceptive vocal skills, Rythern began to sing a drunken bar song he had once heard, imitating the inflexions of one of the recently dispatched guards and calling out for his ‘friends’ to see something amazing. The door opened and once again, a guard stood dumb-founded at the sight of the former prisoners dressed in familiar and bloodied armour, the blades of his brothers in the hands of murderers, blasphemers and seditionists. With his belly eager for another meal, Grumblejack launched the club in a devastating arc but in his overzealousness, aimed too high and the guard needed only duck his head slightly to feel the wind of the club’s wake that aimed to decapitate him. Chase however, didn’t miss. He launched himself up and came down like a thunderbolt, lending his entire bodyweight into the blow, shouldering the guard hard into the door frame as the tip of the longsword burst several of the chain-links protecting the man’s chest and biting deeply into flesh, no doubt puncturing a lung. The force of the shoulder barge caused the Cleric to rebound slightly, Chase controlling it expertly and in a moment, Grakas occupied the vacated space with incredible speed. His agility leant his claws such astounding acceleration and power in fact that not only did they burst every metal chain-link they touched, so deep did the serrated claws bite that they tore open the guards entire belly, a great waterfall of blood and entrails slopping from the vast opening. The guard was dead before he hit the ground. A few of the Villains blinked in astonishment at the sheer ferocity and barbarism displayed by the pit-born, until a shout of horror erupted from inside the room and the heart-stopping cacophony of an alarm bell sounding from within. So much for stealth and trickery.