Extra long post today, accompanied by a few motivators...
Part 3: THE BATTLE
We came that night to a large encampment. Seraphim and I scouted it, he with concealment and I invisible. After some close calls with the sentries, we determined that a large number of prisoners were being kept there. There was a large circle of rocks, within which were three tents, one which was quite large and fancy, the cages, including one suspended with a single figure in it, and a campfire in the middle. All in all there were about 20 people that we could see.
We discussed options. Two of us were reasonably stealthy, though the warlock had had some difficulties, but Dalziom couldn't pass a stealth check if he was carried in a soundproof bag. Were the prisoners our concern? Were they the people we were searching for? Were these even the bandits we wanted? Eventually, we decided that the cleric would simply walk forward and try the diplomatic approach, while the pair of us followed closely whilst hidden as backup.
He walked up, and the berserker guard stopped him and asked him what he was doing. He was given permission to pass through, but nothing more was forthcoming. After failing to make small talk with a guy of single digit intelligence, Dalziom was forced to start walking or start the fight. So we walked VERY slowly around the edge of the camp, by the cages. I remembered that I can still cast cantrips whilst invisible, so I started asking yes/no questions to the guy in the suspended cage via Ghost Sound. We discovered that he was the captain who had led the convoy, and these were all his soldiers in the cages. That pretty much settled things.
With 20 against 3, we figured the caged men needed freeing. Seraphim with his criminal tendencies was left on one corner of the field by the cages to unlock them once the rest were distracted. Dalziom and I took care of that with a beautiful surprise round, prefaced by a pair of extremely useful buffs from the cleric (I think consecrated ground did over 100 damage by the end of the battle).
I opened with an action point and both my daily spells, trapping the nearest 4 guys in the camp in a large web, and then engulfing them in a stinking cloud of poison, planning on spreading it around the battlefield as things progressed. The cleric engaged the nearest berserker, and they started a duel that would last a long time. Not sure what to do, Seraphim started an infernal eruption within the fancy tent, which proved to be quite potent. It meant that the bandits had a fire in their boss’ tent on one side, and a poison cloud on the other.
A pesky wizard dispelled the cloud, and a second struck Dal and I with a lightning bolt. A horde of bandits charged us, though a fair number got stuck in the web. They thundered past me and into the cleric, thinking to take him down before the mage. This was not a good idea, in my opinion.
Seraphim barely failed to pick the lock. This was perhaps his least productive round.
I created a sheet of ice to trip up some of the charging bandits, including one who was already in the web - his day did not go well. I don't think he ever stood up. A wizard quickly dispelled it, but the damage was done, and a group were on the floor. Dalziom got ready to begin his counter attacks to the onslaught on him with a quick heal and a hammer blow that dented the side of the berserker. Everyone around him crackled with the energy of the consecrated ground he stood on, and the pain they were feeling just from being near him was visible.
Seraphim decided to try lockpicking one more time, and failed again. Determined to make a difference, he spun around and inflicted his most powerful curse on the large dragonborn warrior who was emerging from the burning tent. The half-dragon was lifted into the air and frozen whilst pain racked his body, fueled by the warlock's anger.
The bandits continued charging. The swarm around Dalziom was getting ugly now, and the web had more occupants than ever. Thankfully, the wizards failed to dispel it.
Seeing Seraphim's difficulty with the lock, and, to be honest, craving safety away from my exposed position, I teleported into one of the cages with the prisoners, ignoring the DM's threats of a percentage dice to determine if I got stuck in the bars instead of the cage itself. I blew out the door with a thunderclap and handed both of my weapons to the warriors who surged out of the cage.
Dalziom, surrounded, pulled out the big guns. Lightning surged around him and ripped the ground apart, striking all his attackers plus the obvious hammer blow. Then he struck again, throwing a cascade of lightning into the face of another assaulting berserker, dealing nearly as much damage again. All the while everyone around him was being worn down the consecrated ground beneath them.
Seraphim, either following my lead or just because he'd had enough, blew in the door to the second cage with an eldritch blast, injuring a prisoner. However, the others surged out and joined what was now an almighty melee. The dragonborn remained helpless, suspended in midair by his curse, and his berserker guards watched on helplessly.
It should be mentioned at this point that Seraphim had cursed a passing bandit earlier. When he had been killed, the curse had passed onto all of those surrounding him, on the other side of the battlefield. Rod of Corruption is a stunning item.
The bandits kept running around, but between the web, the vastness of the arena, the general confusion, and Dalziom's awesome presence, not a lot happened.
I remained in the safety of the cage and cast a lightning bolt at the nearest berserker, who'd knocked out the warrior holding my beautiful longsword. It struck him full in the chest and arced out in two directions, one striking the already dying dragonborn, and the other striking down a bandit attacking the cleric.
Dalziom kept on laying down the pain, striking around him and bringing Kord's might true glory as he single-handedly took down a mob of no small prowess. Seraphim, seeing him surrounded, shot off a fiery bolt that incinerated a handful of bandits down to ashes. Coincidentally, most of these bandits were those with his warlock's curse upon them. As those who die under Seraphim’s curse granted him HP, his health nearly doubled because of this, and this vitality was reflected in his face. The web ignited from the flames and all those caught within it were burned as well. Seraphim, clearly, was making up for lost time.
The battlefield was now strewn with bodies, mostly still alive, but maimed and burning, or crippled from lightning. Blood ran thick over the sands. The freed warriors were hacking bandits down but were being cut down in turn as well. Had a warlord been there to lead them into battle, perhaps they might have fared better. However, such was not their fate. *cough*Gotrek*cough* The 3 burly guards of the dragonborn, spotting the warlock, decided to try and save their leader by charging him, though their attacks were almost in vain, with the combination of skilful dodging and the life blood stolen from their comrades sustaining Seraphim.
Spying the mages, readying spells on the other side of the battlefield, I opted for intimidation. I projected my voice across the fray to right behind their necks. "I'm coming to kill you now," I whispered to them. "Run."
As they saw me striding through the flames and blood towards them, they decided that I had a compelling argument and obeyed, fleeing into the night.
Dalziom, with a triumphant flourish, struck down the second berserker of the battle, only to be tackled to the ground and trampled by the remaining few bandits, who managed to practically flatten the dwarf in their desperate need to escape the bloodbath.
Seraphim backed into the cage (again imitating me? I was flattered), and reached out and drained the life out of one of the warriors before him.
The remaining warriors, who were only the ones attacking the warlock, made some futile attempts, that did little against him. Seeing that the battle was essentially over, I went looking for my sword. Eventually, I found it under Dalziom, who was standing up. It was caked in blood and sand. It will require cleaning.
The last warriors were swarmed by the freed prisoners and a final swipe from Seraphim's scythe drained the life out of the dragonborn. The battle was ours.
3 vs 20. We are awesome.
Part 4: EPILOGUE
The convoy leader was freed and told us of further prisoners in the tents who had been tortured. I investigated and found a group of people who'd been pushed past the edge of sanity by torture. Calling for Dalziom to tend to them, I went into the next tent and found the chest we had been sent to find. It was locked and sealed. Realizing that the leather case was not there, and that the other tent was currently burning to ashes, I ran out and fixed up the larger tent somewhat. Inside were the leather case and a number of interesting locked chests. After some issues trying to blast open the lock of the first one, I found some beautiful, magical, slightly burnt clothes. The other chests I resolved to leave for the criminal zealot to open, and dragged them out.
Outside, an argument broke out. Seraphim had a deep hatred of the wizards who had sent us on this quest and steadfastly refused to let us give them back the case and chest. The convoy leader quickly planted a dagger in his neck, but that did nothing but make the warlock angry, and he knocked the leader out with a flick of his hand.
There was a very heated discussion, with Seraphim arguing to keep the objects and Dalziom arguing to stick to the contract, and in the end, it was more or less resolved that we should at least find out what is in the chest and case before giving them back. The case was easily opened, and I privately looked inside to find a very impressive staff inside. Shame I don't use a staff really. I'll have to test it's abilities.
And there we left it. Probably heading back to Kaldahar to try and figure out what the chest contains.