We decided that we needed some more info before getting into the ruined keep; Miaako was volunteered to do the scouting. There were three guarded entrances, and it took us a while to figure out the most tactically appropriate way of doing things. The best suggestion seemed to be some sort of flanking maneuver, though I’ve got no idea why Reeshka is so insistent on riding Anusk. I’ve only met one creature more foul tempered than that horse, and it was that godsdamned hound.
The first guard was spitted on Ceor’s lance so hard that he was dead before he finished sliding. The second didn’t have time to even see what had happened before Miaako and I took care of him. Their swords were fairly decent, and between them they had about 11 gold, but nothing else worth taking.
When we opened the door they were guarding, there was a large courtyard and skeletons. Because of course there were. Fortunately, Disrupt Undead is a useful thing to keep prepared. Ceor neatly dispatched one, but Miaako was too afraid of getting his new dagger dirty to do anything. And then the bird got in my way. Ceor took care of the third one.
The noise caught the attention of the people in the guard tower, so we decided to take initiative. While we didn’t manage to kill them instantly, they were not much of a threat. We were able to convince them to surrender. They were most informative. Although I can’t imagine how they were thinking to extort tolls from passing armies, when four people managed to neatly take them apart. Miaako made off with one of the men’s money pouches and Reeshka deigned to make sure one of them didn’t die.
There were some more guards in another room, but we barred the door shut just to avoid the nuisance. We found an inner room that had something that sounded like something growling. I expect it’s that damn hound. We decided to split up and try to take the guards on the north road, which was a fantastic idea… up until we discovered three of those damn skeletons in the entry way. This meant that we were trying to deal with the damn things while Ceor was still moving into position. This actually worked for us, as Ceor was able to charge hard up on one and skewer him as he had the other one before him. Miaako was ineffectual as always. Reeshka and I took out the skeletons. The second guard was subsequently trampled into unconsciousness by Anusk.
The next guards were a little trickier. They heard us coming, and unfortunately, they were a little more on the ball than their compatriots. Arrows in the chest hurt. Quite a lot, really. Both Miaako and myself took them. Apparently, the competent guards were on the east road.
We dispatched them, but then that… thing started howling. And then more skeletons attacked. Anusk took out the first one. We were still working the other two when that asshole and his psycho sister showed up. Because we have such wonderful luck. Naturally, that beast threw itself at us. And Sionna’s standard form of greeting is to try to take off Ceor’s head. Things got a bit ugly, then. The damn hound tried to take Anusk apart… and was doing a pretty good job of it. That bitch pounded on Ceor for a bit, but we managed to hold them off long enough that she fell back. After some judicious application of frost and lances to the face seemed to at least dismiss it for a while. It’ll probably be back. Due to the shredding of the horse, Miaako used the potion we’d found earlier. It was not just a normal potion of healing. It gave Anusk some sort of shielding. I have no idea what sort of potion it was, but with enough study I can probably find out. We managed to at least hurt that asshole, but both he and his sister retreated via a ladder that led to some underground passage. If we had been in better shape, we’d have followed them; as it was, we just blocked the door. We found a shrine; I expect one or the other of them is following the Hunter. Probably both. It wouldn’t surprise me. I do want to investigate that passage, once we recover a little. Those two are probably long gone, but that I don’t entirely mind. They’ll be back, but I don’t really want to deal with them any more right now. That goddamned hound will probably be back too, since we’ve killed it twice now.
There were a few more guards, but they didn’t take much convincing to get to surrender. Neither did their fellows. Apparently, they feel the same about that fucking hound as I do. We took their longswords and some reasonable shortbows, and Miaako was able to find some more crossbow bolts. All told, we ended up with 21 longswords and 12 shortbows, which we’ll sell once we can. We got about 20 gold more, giving us a total of 31, and all manner of alcohol. After some examination, the shrine could have the insignia of the Hunter removed and it could be made portable. I found one of that asshole’s spellbooks; his spells are mine. I found a letter from someone named Bloodstone; he was instructing that asshole to secure the keep for the march. That sounds… ominous. Upon closer examination, the sealing wax had an insignia embossed on it. It matched that signet ring we took off the first group of bandits. This bears further investigation.
After kicking the bandits out, we decided to secure the place and wait for the company. We’ll see what they say when they get here. Maybe they’ll start taking us seriously.