It would be fair to say the evening could have got off to a better start.
As the flames from the burning tavern flickered in the dead eyes of the fallen Redbrands, the adventurers gathered in the town’s remaining hostelry to discuss the way forward. It seemed clear that the Redbrands would soon visit retribution on the town. But would it be better to meet them on the road, or to try to organise the villagers into some form of defensive force?
Their deliberations were rudely interrupted by a recently-ex pub landlord, who quite unreasonably blamed Tuakiin for his present predicament rather than reflecting upon the inadequacy of his own fire safety procedures. A stern talking-to from Captain Brond muted the man’s protests, but the relief would be short-lived. No sooner had Kai scurried off to see what aid the local holy woman might provide than the landlord was raising his complaints with the town sheriff.
There are those who believe that law enforcement is merely legitimised gangsterism. A meeting with Fandolin’s police officer, Michael Kronen, would do little to abuse them of that notion. Kronen seemed less concerned with justice than with preserving his own good standing with the Redbrands by offering them the adventurers’ heads. He was whipping up a fair crowd of pitchfork-wielding peasants to this end when the adventurers pushed through the crowd and confronted him. A heated exchange ensued, which only calmed down when it became clear that these townsfolk were too intimidated by Tuakiin to back Kronen up in combat.
It was resolved to restart negotiations more peacefully in the remaining inn. Kronen revealed that his relationship with the Redbrands went deeper than self-interest. The Redbrands had been keeping his sister hostage to ensure his cooperation, and their leader, evidently some kind of magician, had personally visited Kronen in the dead of the night to make his threats.
It was decided that Kronen would accompany the adventurers on a mission to attack the Redbrands, on condition that they would enable him to attempt to rescue his sister. The more idealistic members of the party were keen to do everything they could to help with this rescue, but Captain Brond was quite clear that his obligation extended no further than getting Kronen to his sister’s location.
The Redbrands were known to approach from the east road, so the adventuring party of Brond, Kai, Tuakiin, Ogmore and Kronen set off that way. Unfortunately, Kai’s forward scouting failed to pick up the path off the road that the Redbrands had been using, but when the main party spotted it they sent Ogmore after him while they set up an ambush.
It wasn’t long before two Redbrands came down this smaller path, but they were quickly cut down with missile fire, both being finished off by throat shots from Brond’s crossbow.
The skirmish over, Kai scouted ahead once more. He certainly couldn’t miss the huge ruined manor house at the end of the path, and he was able to determine that the cellar was open and in use before returning with his intelligence.
At first the party set up an ambush with snare traps, imagining that more Redbrands would emerge to look for their missing comrades, but when a couple of hours of fruitless waiting had proved this hope in vain, they decided to take a more proactive approach.
Kai went into the cellar first, with a view to luring out a few Redbrands into the ambush. Finding four of the mercenaries sleeping in bunks, he reported back. The adventurers decided to assault.
The plan to take the sleeping Redbrands by surprise went pear shaped when the creaking door woke them. Brond charged in nevertheless. He slit both arteries in one woman’s throat, bleeding her out in seconds, but his strike at her companion in the upper bunk missed and he soon found himself grappled by a semi-clad woman in unwelcome circumstances.
Kronen shot into the melee and the other adventurers piled in. The combat ended with the last Redbrand surrendering, her male comrade unconscious, the other two dead and Brond rather beaten up and in need of some of Tuakiin’s healing.
The party dragged their prisoners up to the surface, where the woman who had surrendered was only too willing to buy her life with information. She mapped the cellar, confirming that Kronen’s sister was in the slave pen, and provided the numbers and disposition of the defenders.To the adventurers’ dismay, this included three bugbears. Mindful of their encounter in the goblin caves, they decided to avoid a full on confrontation if possible, and instead to launch a quick raid to free the prisoners.
There was some heated debate over whether the party should keep their word and let the prisoner go, as Kai and Tuakiin urged, or slit her throat to be on the safe side as Kronen insisted. In the end, Brond told her to strip naked and run of into the woods, assuring her that her unconscious companion would be given the same treatment when he awoke.
Once she had gone, Kronen expressed his displeasure to Brond in no uncertain terms. Taking him aside, Brond explained that he had to keep the party together, and that this risk was a price he was willing to pay. His mercy was strictly pragmatic, however, and when Kronen surreptitiously killed the remaining prisoner Brond was content to look on.
A collapsing floor trap proved a minor obstacle, thanks to some agility and the use of some rope. The skeletons in the central chamber were spooky at this time of night, but otherwise inert. Ogmore cunningly avoided a repeat of the creaking door debacle by liberal application of lantern oil to the hinges, and the two sleeping guards in the slave pens were quickly dispatched.
Kronen picked the lock on his sister’s pen, freeing her for an emotional reunion. Ogmore released the other prisoner by the simpler method of using the dead guards’ keys, and soon the party were heading back to Fandolin. The rescue mission was complete, the enemy’s numbers had been reduced some more, and they had incomplete but still valuable intelligence on their remaining foes.