But, before the party could depart, Sir Karl approached them with an urgent matter.
|Good morning, Sir Karl. Thanks for getting straight to the point.|
Sir Karl told them that a messenger that was supposed to return from an outpost to the south hadn't checked in and no one knew where he was. Because the information being sent was important, he asked the party to delay what they were doing and head down to the outpost and report the information to the Commandant of the Southern Outpost in person. This, he figured, would be for the best because the party had first hand knowledge of everything that was going on.
The party agreed to deal with the situation and put exploring the ogre situation on hold. They headed out and turned southward.
A day later, they arrived at the gates of the Southern Outpost. The guards seemed unusually edgy and demanded to know what they wanted. The party informed them that they had been sent by Sir Karl to report on the situations up north and they relaxed a bit. "You can never be too careful," one of them said. "Follow me, I'll take you to see the Commandant. He'll want to meet with you."
The party followed the guard and eventually were lead into the office of the Commandant. He greeted them pleasantly and listened intently to what they had to say. The conversation turned to the subject of the messenger that had gone missing.
The Commandant assured the party that it was not anything to be concerned about. "He has been seriously ill. The clerics are doing what they can. No one should disturb him at this time, though. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must get back to more pressing matters."
The Commandant curtly lead them out of the office and shut the door. Thaddeus Durin expressed that he felt the Commandant seemed a little bit nervous when they asked about the messenger.
|The party is famous.|
At this point, the party began to notice that everyone on the street was paying attention to them and watching their every move. Something odd was going on.
"I'm feeling thirsty," Tamera said. "Perhaps we should check out the outpost tavern and see if the locals know anything." The party agreed. After all, taverns were a good place to hear the local rumors. Maybe they could find out something more about the messenger's illness there.
But, as the party moved down the street, they were stopped by guardsmen. When Lord Benjamin asked them what the problem was, the guards demanded that they leave the area, as it was off limits to outsiders. The party quickly retreated, not wanting to start any issues.
"I've never seen an outpost locked down like this," Kavina Do'Arden pointed out. "I mean, there aren't even any children playing in the street. That's unusual, don't you think?"
The party agreed that it was. They noticed a large group of guards moving toward them from the main entrance. Lord Benjamin guided the party around the Commandant's office to the alley in the back. They hid there until the guards passed by.
While hiding out in the alley, Wil Dhargon noticed something and called the party's attention to the wall. A secret door had been concealed in the back of the Commandant's office building. He suggested that the party sneak in and get some information about these weird happenings. And possibly rummage through the valuables inside.
|Better than prisoners filled with cells, I guess.|
Slipping inside, the party discovered a small jail. Hands reached through the bars of the cells inside, calling for the party's attention. Stepping toward the bars, the party discovered that the outpost's guardsmen were inside the cells!
One of the guards recognized the party and told them the story of what had happened.
"We were captured by draconians disguised as the merchant band that comes through here every month. When we were sleeping, they killed the guards at the gate and captured us before we had a chance to even fight. They took our leaders to the barracks and interrogated them. They've all got to be dead now. Be careful! I saw one of the draconians kill the Commandant. As the Commandant died the draconian's shape changed and then he looked and sounded just like the Commandant."
"The draconians have captured our children and are holding them hostage. We dare not move against them so long as they have them. If you can kill the draconian leaders, perhaps we would have a chance."
Angrily, Lord Benjamin pulled his sword and swore that the draconians would pay for the atrocities committed with in the outpost. He called for the rest of the party to follow him to the Commandant's office.
|Whose enemy? Yours or ours?|
The party opened the door and overheard the 'Commandant' addressing some of the soldiers gathered in his office. He mentioned something about enemies moving on the city of Sanction before realizing that the party had entered. The fake Commandant shouted in alarm as the party rushed in to engage those inside.
As they did, the Commandant laughed. His face twisted and the shape of his body began to change...
|That's no way to hold a sword.|
As the party engaged the others, he transformed fully into a draconian. He shouted at a wizard to warn someone named Jadefang while he held the party off. With that, the battle was engaged.
Fueled by the anger of what they had heard, the party fought hard and quickly brought the Commandant down. He died with a gleam of hatred in his eyes as he melted into a pool of acid. His guards fell down around him.
Janessa Waylan mentioned that the wizard had fled out the door to the east. The party knew that the fight was just starting. They headed off after him.
|Not just evil. Immense evil.|
Once the party reached the door, however, they were overcome with a feeling of fear and dread. Only Wil Dhargon, the kender, seemed immune to the effects. He rushed forward and opened the door.
A blast of warm wind hit the party as they stepped outside. A large shadow fell over them.
|Why is the dragon in the barracks?|
A large green dragon dropped down in front of them. It sneered and spoke to them in a deep voice that rattled the windows.
"Welcome. I am Jadefang. I have been assigned to capture this hole and convince you humans that you still own it. We did this so we could gather information and keep the southern road open. Since you have given us a lot of useful information, I thank you."
"However, you have also discovered our secret. That means that I have no choice but to kill you. Alas, your meddling has brought you to this bloody end."
The large creature spread its wings and flew into the air. As it did, guards rushed from the nearby barracks to help attack the party.
Weapons ready, the party met the attack head on. The dragon dropped low, spewing burning acid from between his lips and burning Thaddeus Durin. Janessa spoke loud incantations and hit the encroaching guards with a fireball. Chaos erupted as the party was surrounded.
The battle went on for many minutes. In the end, three members of the party managed to finish off the guards. Kavina Do'Arden, Thaddeus Durin and Wil Dhargon had all been badly wounded and were slowly bleeding to death.
Lord Benjamin hit the dragon with the killing blow. As it died, it roared in defiance. Its large frame fell to the ground with a thud. In the distance, draconians and fake guards began to abandon the outpost. With their strongest ally defeated, the enemy's morale had dropped.
The party had freed the Southern Outpost. The guardsmen were freed and reunited with their children. A few hours later, the newly elected Commandant offered the party healing and a place to rest, which they gladly accepted.
|The new commandant looks like the old commandant. What's up with that?|
The Commandant thanked them for coming to the outpost's aid when they needed it.
Tamera Beldon replied: "If Sir Karl hadn't caught us when we were leaving, we would have been somewhere else, investigating some ogres. Come to think of it...we should probably get back to doing that..."
NEXT TIME: The party starts looking into the ogres...maybe...