The misshapen figure reached forward, pleading for help. What outline was left of the mouth moved in time to the phrase that has been stuck in your head, going round and round, obscuring all other thoughts: “What you are, we once were. What we are, you shall become”.
It was being dragged into a tunnel, dug by one of the prisoners as a desperate escape attempt. Stumply and Gatsu grabbed its fused humanoid fingers, played tug-of-war with the Meenlocks, attempting to pull back the victim… Suddenly, the Meenlocks disappeared! The figure flew out of the tunnel, still being pulled forward.
Stumply managed to channel divine power into the poor victim, restoring her to consciousness. Still dazed, all they managed to get from her was her name- Jeska- before the two Meenlocks flanked them, appearing at the cell door!
A wave a fear crashed over the group… These hideous creatures had them trapped. Before they could react, the vile aberrations had raged through the small cell, paralysing everyone they could touch. Only the brave and valiant Stumply Fingerbottom managed to hold back the attackers! He destroyed one with a mighty blow, as the other dimension doored down the escape tunnel.
Quick thinking by Gatsu and Rosaline started the chase- Rosaline magically greased the tunnel, and Gatsu leapt forward, sliding sword first after the attackers. He ejected into a shaft, and fell directly into the Meenlock lair.
After desperate fight, fought both in the tunnel and at the bottom of the shaft, ensured the death of the Meenlocks, and cessation of the infuriating telepathic mantra.
Climbing the shaft, and with Stumply’s dwarven cunning, moving the stone that capped the top, finally led the party outside.
But relief was short- In moving the stone, they had unknowingly freed a pair of assassin vines! Despite been attacked from behind, Gallidad managed to engulf one in flame, as Stumply was greased up by Rosaline to help escape the other vines’ crushing grasp. A hideous blow of great power from Jeska obliterated the final vine.
Approaching the winery-come-prison, Rosaline noticed dust settling from the road. A quick recon revealed two merchant wagons had pulled up out the front, the merchants inside and guards near the front door. Using her bardic… skills… Rosaline distracted the guards, allowing the others to enter through the back door.
Using the ancient customary barbarian ritual, Gatsu kicked open the back door and charged in. The group was of course noticed by one of the guards, who called for Rook and ran.
In the main hall of the winery, the warden and two guards were entertaining the four merchants. When Stumply began to explain to the startled warden, he quickly ushered them away from the merchants and into the office. Something was amiss here- The warden obviously knew of the meenlocks, and did not want the merchants to know.
The warden contrived to get Gallidad and Stumply into his office, along with his two guards. But their hackles were rising, and they watched their backs- Thankfully, for the next move of the guards was to attack. A quick, dirty brawl ensued, with Rosaline, Gatsu and Jeska converging on the office, just as Rook, who we now know as the warden, gave them the slip and ran for the nearest defensible location- Little did he know that his cunning hiding spot, the assassin vineyard, was breached, and he was running to his death. As the pursuers turned away, the snap of his bones echoed around the grounds.
The merchants were in a tizz… They came simply to purchase a large amount of wine, at a fantastic price they had been offered. Eventually, the party made it clear to them. Confused, and afraid, they agreed to the terms:
Give us half your money, we leave you alone. The house is yours.
Now we posses a cart full of treasure, a prison guard as a hostage, and one final bit of information. Jeska, the prisoner they rescued, recognised one of the bodies in the Meenlock lair as the actual warden of the prison.
So who was Rook?
Rosaline’s infuriated gaze turned towards the hostage, the prison ‘guard’...