Our wouldst-be heroes rest as best they can in the small storage room below the inn. Over the next few hours, the sound of booted footsteps, moving furniture and some indecipherable words from above fade in and out as the apparent invaders sack the Half Moon Inn.
As Althar prepares to use acid to weaken the metal barrier between the room and the tunnel, RRanjai, no stranger to forced enclosure, spots something unusual about it and starts fiddling with the uppermost bars. Twisting this bar as such, and pushing that one while turning this… and suddenly the gate swung open list a blacksmith’s puzzle finally solved.
Carefully keeping the children in the room for now, the three mercenaries venture forth to discover that the tunnel changes from square cut stone blocks to more natural-looking cave walls after just a few paces. It splits in three directions: left, directly forward and upwards, and to the right and slightly downgrade. Arbitrarily choosing one, they explore to the left and quickly come to a sharp turn. The smell of ammonia and something – other- fairly reeks out of this room with its piles of detritus and trash collected from somewhere. But the curve of the room implies an exit right around the corner, so they move in to explore.
Out of the trash comes a squealing dire rate, charging at Simon who is blocking the exit. Two more rats (one wearing a simple saddle, though none noticed this detail) follow suit, biting and scratching at the party members. Large or not, these are still rats, and are subdued quickly.
They search through the smelly mess for riches, but in vain. The cave mouth they were heading towards was actually just a small indentation in the wall – there is no exit from this room other than the hall they came in and a few rat-sized tunnels far too small.
Meanwhile, Serenia and Honeysuckle are out near the main entrance, where the tunnel goes forwards and slopes upwards. They do not go far because, a mere ten feet in, there is a pile of boulders It would take days to clear this away, at best.
The men-folk lead the party to the right while Serenia and Honeysuckle mind the passage of the children. Suddenly, from VERY near Serenia, comes a terrible sound (and smell!) as a bizarre and frightening monster rises up. It would look like a giant cobra at first – until one realized that instead of a hood, that is a goblinoid head! Trying to clear a path to the smallest child, it lunges out at Serenia, narrowly missing a bite.
The others convene and the fight, while made all the more nasty by the goblin snake’s sickening belch attack, was short.
They moved up the tunnel to the right, taking the children with them. Near the entrance (two hours walk away), Simon scares away a small group of Rat-Folk hunters, who scamper back the way they came.
Emerging into the night, the group was lost despite Simon’s desperate attempts to position himself by the stars. Hungry, thirsty and without shelter, the children are far from quiet.
At dawn, Serenia volunteers her raven familiar, Poe, to go searching for the town while Simon and Rranjai went searching for food.
While doing so, they heard a noise and discovered a small group of goblins. “Who’s that?!?” whispered the goblin towards the large, poorly hidden shape in the dusk. “A tree!” answers Rranjai…
Simon steps out of the gloom, being his hulking half-orc self in armor and holding a huge Greatclub, and the goblins nearly forget the Tree Monster in their startlement. Simon and his TreeFriend intimidate the hell out of the goblins, learn the direction to the nearest creek and exact a promise from the goblins to leave the town alone.
From here, we reached the town as quickly as we could – carting about 17 puling kids like we was some whorehouse’s wet nurse. Got there, Serenia’s dad had been abducted along with half the town and many of the weapons. Everyone who fought the invaders was either struck down or taken, while most who just hid or fled were left alone
- or taken. The smoky assholes did not leave any more bodies behind.
We patched things up as much as we can, and I inspected the Black Company’s house… no one was left. Most of the troop was dead in the street, with a few missing. The armory had been sacked, but a little bit of pay and plenty of food was still sitting in the house. I took what I could use and told the others the house was clear.
We stayed a night, then set off to the town of Braden to the north – some freckle-faced kid had come racing in the night, asking for help. Sounds like the same routine as here, but there is a bigger contingent of TBC up there, so I’m sure it was fine. Kid bolted out of town before anything even happened.