After two days of holing up in an inn to recuperate from their injuries, the party geared up and prepared to head back out to find a way to exit the city of Ashtakahr on the 28th day of Quinadahn. Coming down from their room into the common area to get breakfast they began to notice an unusually high number of city guard filling all the tables but one. Realizing there was not much they could do against these odds if the guards were there for them, they decided to act normally and attempt to get some breakfast before heading out. As expected though they were promptly confronted when the Lieutenant of the guard who previously had threatened to arrest them for returning the giant pet to Sara Omneril, the daughter of the wizard Vincent Omneril, walked into the establishment.
A feeble attempt by Forest to talk their way out of trouble achieved nothing, and the party quickly found itself under arrest for transporting a dangerous creature through the city streets without safeguards or permit, and were stripped of their gear, led into a prison wagon, and sent to the arena to face the usual punishment of law breakers in Ashtakahr, death in the arena.
Upon arriving at the arena the party was led into the prisoners entrance and locked into a strong holding cell of their own like the other prisoners. The party’s gear was unceremoniously dumped into a large container and Dax overheard the Lieutenant saying that the merchants would be by in the morning to bid for all the gear in the container. Two guards were left to watch over the prisoners, and the arresting party left the prison chamber. Not much later they prisoners in the cages nearest the arena door were escorted out, allowed to pick from some poor grade weapons and led out into the arena to face their fate. Once they were outside one of the two prison guards began watching through a peephole to observe the combat and excitedly exclaimed that they were going to be fighting a Stone Giant. The guard talked his partner into going up to the stands to get a better view of the spectacle. The second guard was worried about leaving the prisoners unwatched but the first talked him into it, assuring him of the strength of the bars holding the captives.
As soon as they were alone members of the party began looking for means to escape their cell. They looked for tools to give Dax to work the lock, they tried using their combined strengths on the door and cage bars, and looked for weakness in the bars and walls, but all was for naught. While still endeavoring to find a way out they began to notice a swirling mist begin to form outside the cage. It began to coalesce and then when it dissipated and their stood Sara, the young girl whose pet they had saved. Sara wasted no time telling the party she knew of the deception of her father, of his trying to dispatch her beloved pet, his anger at the party for returning it, and how he had set them up to be arrested. She was happy to thwart his plans and reward the party for returning her dear Peaches. She also let them know she had a talk with Battle Master Glen and had secured for them a posting to work as creature hunters for the arena, a posting which would give them free pass to leave the city. Using some of her fathers magical wands she dissolved the bars of the cage, freeing the party. Then with another wand she fire blasted the cell to make it look like it was incinerated to possibly make it look like the party had been obliterated and perhaps they would not be missed. Thanking the party again she left them with a parting gift of 100 Platinum pieces liberated from her father and then disappeared the way shed had arrived.
Hearing the roaring of the battle out in the arena and knowing their time was limited, the party hurriedly retrieved their gear and threw it into canvas bags along with a few extra pieces of gear. Erg found set of plate mail, Forest spied a very nice set of hide armor, and Helman cast a detect magic spell and quickly found a ragged old hat with a magic aura, but had no time to figure out what it was or continue searching for more items. They then grabbed some commoner’s cloaks from a pile of discarded clothing of previous arrestees and fled out the North door into the spectators stands. Wasting no time they headed straight to Battle master Glen and requested a license to catch creatures for the arena. With their new found wealth they were able to purchase the required cage transport cart and Protoc beasts of burden to haul it. With a signed license in hand the party headed back down the NE road, stopping at a trading house to purchase needed equipment for an extended journey along the way. With hooded robes over their heads the party was able to make it to the city gate without incident, and soon found themselves free of Ashtakahr and heading North following a road paralleling the east bank of the Ribbon Sea following a map they had purchased at the trading post.
The first night passed uneventfully as they passed over the flat terrain on a raised roadbed, with poor farmland to the East and sand dunes to the West. [Correction for DM's error: Two more days of uneventful travel follow.] On the fourth day of travel they passed through the first town listed on the map only to find it was uninhabited and had been deserted for quite some time, and in an advanced state of decay. Finding no clues of what befell the place the party moved onwards along the road to the North. They had not gone too long before out of nowhere a hail of arrows appeared from some hidden location to the West. Erg, walking in front of the wagon bore the brunt of the volley despite his plate mail armor, taking several hits and was badly wounded. Forest also took a minor hit along with Helman riding in the cage of the wagon cart. Erg became enraged at the sudden attack and charged toward the direction of the ambushers while the rest of the party sought shelter behind the cart. After charging forward around 35 feet Erg found herself surrounded by six camouflaged lizard people the like of which the party had had no experience with. The next volley of arrows proved nearly fatal for Erg and she dropped to the ground badly wounded and unconscious. Helman bravely charged forward next to aid his fallen teammate, while Forest cursing under his breath for the rash charges of his companions followed, knowing the party had no chance if they were split apart. Realizing it would be nearly suicidal he nevertheless summoned his animal companion eagle to dive in and attack the enemy from behind to give them time to close the gap and engage the archers in hand to hand combat and hopefully revive Erg with their healing powers. Forest’s eagle attacked, and then it faced the next volley of enemy arrows and succumbed while only managing to do a small amount of damage to the creature it attacked. Dax moved forward in a circuitous route providing support with his bow as he too maneuvered into position to engage the enemy. Helman and Forest began taking more hits from the incredibly precise shots of the lizard creatures as they drew near to them. By this time the party had managed to down one enemy with their ranged attacks, but then Helman went down from the withering fire. Forest managed to heal Helman and then down another creature with his scimitar and help from Dax before he too went down by an enemy's scimitar, which they seemed to be just as skilled with as their bows.
Things were looking grim for the party when two of the lizard creatures began dragging their downed companions to safety, leaving only two remaining in the fight. Helman managed to revive Forest and they went after the remaining two although both were still rather weakened. One of the remaining two creatures was badly wounded in the ensuing fight and attempted to flee after downing Helman yet again. Forest charged after it and brought it down with a vicious strike from behind only to fall victim to the last lizard who emulated what Forest had just done. Finally Dax charged in from behind that lizard and was able to dispatch it quickly, leaving him as the only one standing, completely unscathed. Using the potions the party had been lucky to acquire earlier, he revived Helman and between them the rest of the party was revived and healed.
Glad to be alive, the party headed back to the road and renewed their trek North with a more wary eye to the dunes. Not even thirty minutes later they came upon a small wagon with five humans heading South. Hailing the other travelers they tried to warn them of the dangers ahead, but apparently the party knew of the creatures we had been fighting and were themselves looking to find them and rescue two sons of the farmer who had been captured. No amount of convincing would turn back the farmers from trying to rescue the boys who might not even be still alive. Realizing they needed to make some connections with the locals and somewhat moved by the plight of the poorly armed farmers, Forest, Dax, and Erg decided to help them despite the grumblings of Helman the dwarf. Once the party decided to help they began retracing their steps to the place of the morning’s battle and track the lizard creature’s retreat, bringing 3 farmers and leaving two with the wagons. Along the way they armed the farmers with crossbows of the fallen lizard men. With Forest’s tracking ability it was relatively easy to follow the trail due to the lizard’s burden of carrying the bodies of their comrades, and it was not long before they spotted their subjects. While carefully rounding a dune Forest managed to spot two sentry lizards before they noticed him. The party drew back behind the dune and hurriedly decided to try and ambush the sentries and hopefully take them out before they could give the alarm.
All at once the party rounded the top of their berm and unleashed a volley of projectiles at the nearest sentry in a surprise attack. Especially thanks to Dax’ skill with the bow the first lizard went down immediately, but the shots against the second missed the mark. Still having the initiative of surprise the party concentrated on the second sentry, but luck escaped them and all the missiles went wide. Forest who had started off at a run from the outset of the ambush was able to reach the sentry and deliver a crushing blow with his scimitar before it could react, but he was left dumbfounded when the badly wounded creature was still able to run and escape down the darkness of a hole that had been previously out of sight from the party as they approached from the East.
Quickly gathering together the party decided it would be best to attack immediately and reduce the amount of time the enemy would have to set up a defensive position. Making their way down the hole the found it to be a narrow tunnel that twisted back and forth. They came upon their first line of defense when rounding a bend Erg took a couple arrows from two lizard men that immediately retreated. The damage to Erg was severe and the party had to use up more of the precious reserve of potions to heal her. The ability of the lizards to hit a plate armored opponent was very disconcerting, but the party pressed on with Erg still in the front but more wary of another ambush around every corner. It was not long before they enemy struck again, but this time their aim was not as true. Erg rushed in and engaged an enemy taking one down while the rest of the party rushed forward in the slightly wider confines of this section of the tunnel. The second lizard was quickly surrounded and decided to flee, taking a wicked but not fatal cut from Forest as it ran down farther into the darkness. Moving along, the party eventually came to a “T” in the tunnel where yet another archer awaited. This one too was unsuccessful and Erg charged again making short work of it. When Erg looked up from dispatching the creature she could see the base leg of the “T” opened into a large chamber 15 feet farther down and she charged in. What awaited in there was something new though. Along with two of the lizard men were two large Stingtail creatures. These beasts were very formidable and the nearest attacked Erg with both claws, a bite and even it’s stinger. Even Erg knew better than to be caught in the open against such foes and she fell back into the tunnel entrance to the cave. The party attempted to draw back to where the creature would be flanked in the “T” intersection but was unable to due to the crush of so many people in such close quarters. A desperate battle ensued with the party fighting on the brink of death, in many cases attacking while laying on their backs as the creature towered over them. They managed to down one Stingtail but then the other charged in. In the brief respite before the second Stingtail could move in the party was able to fall back to the “T” and the second creature fell after a short battle to a hail of crossbow bolts from the farmers, arrows from Dax, and the weapons of Forest, Helman, and Erg. Now severely outnumbered the remaining two lizard archers who were already previously wounded succumbed quickly to the combined assault of the party and the cave was cleared.
Scouring the cave a small chamber was found in the corner. Dax spotted a trap and tried to clear it, but he failed and set it off, inadvertently taking the only damage he received that day. [Another previously-injured lizard-like creature attempted to ambush Dax as he entered the chamber. He was killed. -DM] Inside the chamber was found a cage box, and within the limp forms of the farmer’s sons. The famers went to work reviving their sons while the party began the process of deciding when and where to rest up before continuing their journey. The cave would provide good protection, yet they still had their wagon to worry about......
So ends the log on the evening of the 31th day of Quinadahn.
To be continued......
[Minor editing and corrections provided by the DM.]