A courageous incursion into the very heart of Grusenomar Vleddril’s slave ring operation had led to both the unshackling of slaves and the shedding of much blood. The young woman Taldred Sterond had been among those freed, but more innocent captives remained in the enemy stronghold. Of chief import to the Agents of Prince Sevlen and their allies, Wulalta Plonnor, wife and sister to the Party’s comrades – and Regila Minel, beloved sister to the valiant Sir Brendolm.
Homeday, Twenty-sixth of Mid-season Harvest, 1044 Y.K.
Having cleared the dock and taken the recently arrived slave ship, the next task was to ensure the absence of any lingering threats aboard the vessel. Acting quickly, the Party moved through the lower decks, blood-soaked weapons still at the ready. As they neared the stateroom of the craft’s captain, the clomping of approaching boots was heard and the Group made ready for renewed battle. The boots soon came into view, and proved to be something other than anticipated.
Leading a small band of armed bodyguards, an elderly man still in his night clothes and slippers, leveled his sword at the Party and demanded to know on whose authority they had boarded his ship. His men bore emblems of Brolenese origin and stood ready to defend their controller. The Party informed the man that the ship had been taken, and commanded his surrender. Despite the futility of his position, the elder refused to relent, and proposed discussion.
Reiterating the situation, Brendolm instructed the venerable one lay down his sword. Growing angry, the man refused again, stating his willingness to fight and die if necessary. With neither side offering a concession, talks broke down expeditiously and the aged Brolenese was soon rendered unconscious by force. His bodyguards were less fortunate, added instead to the night’s body count. The Party had yet to even finish tying the man when another sound was heard.
Hearing the voice of a lone female, the Group allowed the woman to come forth and enter into discussion. She identified the elder as Melnul Corguld, a Brolenese slave trader and former ambassador to the kingdom of Cosdol. She identified herself as Uziah, a consort to Corguld and assistant to his business interests. The vessel was indeed of Pel Brolenon and had made numerous trips to the island to purchase slave women over several months.
Her description of the slaving operation angered the Party, and convinced them of her complicity in the kidnapping of citizens of Cosdol. The Agents were disinclined to believe that she and Corguld were unaware that the women they were purchasing were in fact victims of kidnapping and not legally acquired property. As collaborators, Stoat stated that she and her employer shared equal guilt with the kidnappers. The pair was placed into custody deep in the bowels of the ship.
Following a brief discussion amongst themselves, the Group decided that rest would be needed before they could make an assault against the stronghold complex that surrounded the island’s lighthouse. They enlisted the help of the ship’s compliment of slave workers to move the boat away from the dock and into the safety of the waters out of bow shot from the shore. The Party assured the workers that once the island was safe, they would be free men.
Godday, Twenty-seventh of Mid-season Harvest, 1044 Y.K.
With renewed strength and conviction, the Agents called upon the slave workers to maneuver the craft again. As they moved back toward the island’s dock, the view through a spyglass informed that Group that the enemy had removed the bodies of the previous evening and had scouts watching for the ship’s return. Upon seeing the approaching vessel, the scouts retreated, most assuredly to warn the inhabitants of the nearby stronghold.
Once again on dry land, the Party advanced on the complex, learning that the lighthouse itself had been incorporated into the defense of the stronghold, serving as a point of attachment for two sections of wall. The Group moved with haste, gaining entry to the compound with a clever application of a stone shape spell. With the Party suddenly fortified inside the stone structure of the lighthouse, the first wave of slavers found themselves unable to attack the Group in force.
Positioning themselves on the uppermost level of the lighthouse, Stoat and Hilg made use of their ranged abilities, while utilizing the cover of the low wall surrounding the top edge of the building. Downstairs, Maldus and Brendolm maintained the bottleneck with shield and spell while Zeph and Relmir dispatched the few enemies who managed to get inside. Even the addition of a slaver lieutenant’s fireball spell was unable to dislodge the heroes.
With the remnants of the first wave forced to withdraw and regroup, an opportunity to press forward presented itself and the Party took it. They exited the lighthouse and moved into the compound’s open interior, engaging the slavers found there, who turned out to be armored extraordinarily well. The arrival of the remnants of the first wave reinforced the slavers, leaving the Party outnumbered two to one. The daring advance suddenly ground to a halt.
Unable to carve through this armored resistance, the Group quickly found itself in an extended melee, slowly becoming separated, with some members cut off from the Party altogether. The tactic was soon revealed to be an enemy trap, as Cosdrelita shouted of additional combatants charging from the rear. In short order, the Party was boxed in amongst a sea of swords, with little in the way of available escape or maneuver.
Attempting to even the odds, Hilg focused his efforts on summoned companions to bolster the Party’s number. Meanwhile Maldus, Brendolm, Zeph and Relmir held the line, allowing Stoat and Cosdrelita to move to the safety of higher ground in a nearby building. Bardic song filled the air as arrows whistled into the cacophony of steal and claw. Cries of the wounded and dying came slowly at first, but increased in frequency as the battle continued.
Finally slaying the last enemy before them, the fanaticism of the slavers was plain for all to see. Even unto hopelessness, the villains were willing to stand and die rather than surrender or retreat. The question of what force could possibly compromise the desire for survival so thoroughly offered no easy answers. Would that answer lie within the final building?