Thirty minutes had passed, and in the interim had seen the prison escapees plan an ambush for the guard-swap. Grumblejack was waiting in the armory, door closed, for the signal “Caw caw, caw caw”; Grakas took the mess hall, Shivani and Vaelus the office and Zeran was posted at the far south end of the hallway. Lucien watched patiently from a crack in the courtyard-facing doors, waiting to fall back to Zeran’s position and sometime thereafter give the signal.
After some time, three figures emerged from the dark courtyard and approached the ambush point while Lucien quietly re-positioned himself. The three men entered the wide stone hallway, with one of them laughing and taunting the other two about his winnings for the night. It was none other than Blackerly himself, the charlatan! He was offering the two guards a nightcap in his office when one of them noticed something odd. The floors were stained with blood. Something was wrong.
The three drew steel as Blackerly gave the order to investigate as Lucien nocked an arrow. “Caw caw, caw caw,” he called, loosing an arrow towards the men. Bristling, the guard closest the mess hall threw himself down the hallway towards Lucien and Zeran.
Nearly simultaneously, the office door was thrown open to reveal Vaelus and Shivani. The closest guard, intended as relief for one of the slain guards upstairs, advanced upon the doorway, attacking Shivani mid-routine, but missed. Blackerly was hot on the man’s heels, filled with fire and bluster and shouted “Move out of the way; I’ll show you how to swing a sword!”
It was just then that Grakas burst forth from the mess hall, Grumblejack from the armory and Vaelus stepped up to meet the guard assaulting Shivani even as she thrust her spear straight through the man’s throat – felling him instantly. It was just then, that Blackerly’s gusto faded; and, he was soon crushed beneath the might of Grumblejack and Grakas as Vaelus stooped to break his neck.
Meanwhile, the errant guard who’d pressed the assault against Zeran and Lucien was unawares of the two deaths behind him. His swordarm had felt the rush of battle, biting into Zeran, and he continued to attack the two retreating archers.
Just then, Shivani called to the man in a threatening voice and he turned just in time to see Vaelus rising from Blackerly’s corpse. Curiously, the white-haired half-elf offered him clemency if he would surrender. Realizing his situation, the man obeyed instantly. His sword clattered to the stone and his arms shot up.
He cautiously approached Vaelus, and Vaelus him, begging for his life on behalf of his family. “I have questions, and you will answer them,” Vaelus demanded of him. The party proceeded to learn that the prison had approximately 25 guards on site at all times. There were two guards posted outside the bridge, a guard post outside the Warden’s office, several guards who patrolled the gate (from atop the ramparts of the former-castle), and a few other guards still gambling. As far as the guard knew, the Warden was in the prison, but rarely emerged from his tower. It was likely that the spellbook was in the library (one of the lower floors in the tower), but he wasn’t certain.
Attaining this information, Vaelus grinned and callously said “Grakas, kill him.” The man began to sputter at the betrayal as Grakas grabbed him by the throat. But, before the tiefling could finish the deed, he decided better of it. There was no sport in this type of murder, no challenge or thrill in it. And so the guard’s neck was released and the man crumpled to the floor, relieved. With a sneer, however, Vaelus stooped and broke the guard’s neck. He then opened the man’s throat with his longsword, painted his hands with the man’s blood, and then spent some time writing ‘ASMODEUS’ on the nearby wall.
The ambush concluded, the group then concocted a plan for the rest of their escape. The first order of business was to lay the foundation of their escape – the lantern oil. Next, they plotted, they would relieve the library of the Warden’s spell book, make their way to the front gates of the prison, fight their way out (if necessary) and set the oil aflame as they leave.
With their plan laid out, the villains began putting it into action. Grakas and Vaelus began the process of converting the whiskey the group had found into Molotov cocktails while Shivani, Lucien and Zeran tackled the task of spreading oil across the prison grounds, carting it with pots and pans taken from the kitchen. It had been suggested that only one barrel of oil be spread, with the other barrel reserved for use as an explosive. This idea was agreed upon with gusto and quickly set into action, with the three saboteurs slipping like shadows through the courtyard.
Deciding not to simply line the insides of the walls with oil (as the stone would merely scorch, and wouldn’t be consumed), the three opted first to begin with the garden. Zeran and Shivani came upon a unique-looking bush and quickly identified it as a poisonous belladonna plant (otherwise known as “Deadly Nightshade”) and harvested as much as they were able. It, additionally, dawned on them that this was likely the source of Grumblejack’s infirmity, and the means by which the prison guards had kept him subdued.
As the oil-splashing and exploration of the courtyard commenced, an enclosure of dogs began to bark angrily in alarm (apparently their ire stoked by the unfamiliar scent of the escapees). From within the wooden stable-like building, a guard could be heard – calling out to anyone who may be outside (correctly thinking that the dogs had been stirred by an unexpected presence). Thinking quickly, Shivani impersonated a guard, shouted for the dogs to shut up and that all was well. The guard, fooled, joined her in her shouting, commanding the dogs to be silent. Meanwhile Shivani (apparently inspired to insidiousness by the brutality she’d witnessed earlier) cleverly jammed her spear into the ground in front of the door, trapping the man in the small structure (much to his surprise later), and oiled it heavily.
Lucien, Zeran and Shivani completed their circuit of the grounds, having spread oil on every flammable surface possible, in the fountain, spoiling the garden and soaking the dog pen. During their task, they had also been able to scout and map out the complex, easily identifying the warden’s tower in the process.
The entire group was then armed with Molotov cocktails (with Vaelus dressed up and disguised like Blackerly) and they moved on to phase two of the plan: the infiltration of the Warden’s tower and the recovery of his spellbook.
This phase of the plan went rather smoothly. The escapees slipped unnoticed into the ground floor of the tower and found it to be a museum of sorts. Of note, there was a tapestry which appeared to hold some value (though the self-righteous content of said tapestry was enough to curl the lip of any or all of them), and it was ripped down, rolled up and tossed outside for reclamation later. Grumblejack was instructed to remain on the ground floor while the rest crept up the stairs.
A couple of the group scouted ahead, but found the second floor to be a proper library. Several rare books were identified during the group’s perusal of the library’s contents, and these were claimed. The spellbook, however, was not among these, yet the circular staircase yet rose to another floor.
The group pressed on (altogether, aside from Grumblejack), and unfortunately alerted the guards posted on the north side of the narrow hallway that the circular stone stairs fed into. These guards were dispatched both quickly and brutally, though not before delivering some punishment to Grakas. During the scuffle, Grumblejack was summoned from below and opted to slip into the southern room (followed soon thereafter by Lucien), while Shivani, Grakas and Vaelus struggled with a locked drawer in a magnificent desk in the guard room.
Zeran (and quickly Lucien) discovered that the room to the south was the Warden’s bedroom – and that he was not asleep. “How dare you disturb my rest!” came in a wrathful whisper from the darkness within. The voice was quickly silenced, however. The Warden attempted to ensorcel Zeran, but Zeran was able to shake off the charm, and scored a shot with his bow in retalliation. Lucien advanced upon the Warden and likewise scored a hit on the man with a rapier. The Warden retreated hastily to the far back wall of his room and began incanting another spell. A rolling ball of fire roared towards Lucien, who was able to dodge out of the way at the right moment, and struck the back wall. Lucien, knowing the deadly seriousness of the threat the Warden possessed, rushed forward upon the man again – this time, skewering him clean through. As he pulled the blade from the Warden’s body, the Warden crumpled, dead on the spot.
It was at this time that the three in the other room (with Grumblejack still in the hallway with the stairs, bitching about having nothing to do) were able to finally unlatch the locked drawer and claim its contents, rewarded for their efforts with the spellbook of one Mathias Richter, Warden of Brandescar! Huzzah! A search of Richter’s room revealed several fine silk garments, and a few other small treasures.
Their task in the library now complete, the party of murderous villains retreated back to the prison courtyard, and advanced upon the gate. As they neared it, they could hear screaming from the man in the dog pen – as he had apparently discovered that he was trapped inside. One lit torch later, courtesy of the group’s comedic entertainment, Shivani, and the pen was aflame. The oil was quite volatile, and the fire spread until the courtyard rapidly became an inferno.
The prisoners made for the smaller side door, next to the gates and found it empty. There was a ladder leading upwards to a trap door, and it was quickly knocked down – to trump any attempted escape from the burning ramparts outside. The party pressed onwards into the adjoining room and found that it was a large intermediary room between the inner courtyard doors and the outer doors to the bridge. Shivani braced the doors to the courtyard (again to prevent any chances of escape), and the group breached the gates leading to the bridge.
At last, outside, the sweet smell of freedom graced them. With a winding path and a bridge before them, and a rampant raging fire behind, the first-ever escapees from Bradescar rapidly fled.
The bridge was some 40 feet above the cold, crashing sea waters below. The 100-or-so foot length of it, and the small guardpost at the end of it, was all that stood between our villains and true escape. The other barrel of lantern oil was setting at approximately the midpoint of the bridge and a hole was punctured in it, and they began to advance (dressed in their prison guard uniforms) towards the post at the far end. Accursed hounds, however, foiled any attempt at ambush or duplicity as they bolted from the small structure and fixated upon Grumblejack. Two guards, likewise, broke from the building and (upon seeing the dogs’ foes) joined the attack.
Shivani made a daring gamble which nearly cost her her life when she rushed one of the guards, begging him to save her from her kidnappers. He, however, would have none of that, and scored a deep hit on the poor young girl with his bared longsword. Grumblejack fell to the snapping maws of the dogs, but Vaelus and Grakas held the line. Lucien and Zeran assisted as well while Shivani ensorcelled the guard who had only moments before nearly killed her. The dogs were slain, the men killed and the reverse-portcullis blocking their escape was lowered. Somehow, the only casualty was Grumblejack who lay bleeding on the cobbles.
For as yet unknown reasons, seeing the ogre bleeding out upon the stone, Vaelus took a flask of curative potion from his personal stock and forcefed it to the ogre – bringing the creature back to consciousness and beyond imminent threat of death.
The barrel was ignited, and the ensuing explosion collapsed the bridge (with enough concussive force left over to stagger a few of them). With this, Shivani produced the map of Varistan and the oldmoor road, and the group had finally, fully escaped.