After we finalized our trading from the previous session, some members of the group decided to attempt to hire some additional muscle to aid us during our further adventures and to retrieve the remaining loot from the shrine of Zingalis. So we paid to hire a crier and put up flyers announcing that we were looking for hirelings and spread some money around in the local taverns to further spread the word. We were surprised at the response that we got – we had ten adventurers of various stripes respond to the ads! This was probably a result of a few things. Word of our success could have gotten out as witnesses saw us return to town from our last adventure with full bags of clinking coins and saw us head straight to the money changer’s shop. The following day we returned to the woods to retrieve what we had stashed in the Stone Giant’s lair, and then returned once again to the city with even more money.
This was no small task – there were close to 31,000 coins stashed in the temple (7,400 G.P. and 23,250 S.P.) with a total combined weight of 3,100 pounds! This was far more than could fit in the bag of holding even fully loaded so we had to devise another way of transporting it back to Medea’s Gate. We decided that with a couple of successful trips, we would be able to transport it back to town on two 10’ x 20’ rafts navigated downstream along the shallow banks of the lake and Lady’s Finger branch and poled along the banks upstream on the way back. So we purchased the rafts and set off.
The way to the headwaters of the Lady’s Finger was an easy and uneventful trip along the placid waters of the Lake and was made easier by the fact that we merely had to use the poles to navigate, and really didn’t have to fight the current. We poled our way up the branch to a suitable landing spot in an area we recognized as having traversed before, and pulled the rafts up onto a sandy beach. As we were doing so however, figures began to appear on the riverbank above us. They were Crognar warriors (Neanderthals) who weren’t sure what to make of us or our rafts. We had encountered their kind before during our frequent forays to the Hill at Limus Town (B5 Horror on the Hill) and knew that if we gave them simple gifts and showed no open hostility towards them, that they would probably leave us alone.
So Lucias walked toward them, held out his hand in a greeting and pulled out his sword and laid it on the ground to indicate that we meant them no harm. They approached and gestured eagerly towards the sword Hope Blighter, indicating that they thought he was offering it to them. Taleth the Ranger offered them a dagger and the dwarf Beorn gave them his spear instead (these weren’t magical) and they were happy with these offerings and excitedly left us to our tasks. So we camouflaged the rafts with branches and leaves from the surrounding forest and set out towards the shrine. We arrived uneventfully and began loading up the loot from the temple which we found exactly as we had left it, behind two wizard locked doors and hidden in the area of continual darkness in the catacombs below the temple.
So we were loaded down pretty heavily and made it back to the rafts with as much of the gold as we could carry. There was still a considerable sum of gold but mostly silver that remained stashed in the temple which we would have to come back for later. So we made it back to the rafts with no problem and loaded them up and set off upstream towards Medea’s Gate. We poled along the banks for the rest of the day and eventually landed the rafts at a suitable camping spot along the bank of the lake where the branch emptied into the larger body of water. We pulled the rafts up onto the shore and made a cold camp to spend the evening. Gradwin took the added precaution of casting Invisibility 10’ Radius on the area where we were sleeping while we set up the watches.
Then suddenly there was another tremendous crash as the dragon swooped in again and landed squarely on the second raft shattering it into a thousand splintered wood fragments! We decided that today was as good a day as any to die and the ranger and the three fighters let out a war cry and charged the giant beast waving their swords wildly. As they did so, there were two sounds that sounded like the crack of thunder and the report of lightning hitting home as Gradwin and Teth-en-Aire let loose with two thunderous lightning bolts which hit the giant beast squarely only slightly singing a few of the fighters on the way in and making their hair smoke and stand on end as the acrid smell of burnt ozone filled the air. Their sword strokes did little damage but the beast had had enough after having been attacked by foes that seemed to spring out of thin air. It had been burned badly by two powerful lightning bolts and a magic missile and was facing four strong and fearless warriors that had both the courage and audacity to charge a huge and powerful ancient green dragon, so the giant reptilian beast took to wing and flew away. Apparently, the gods were smiling on us that day and the dragon decided to flee the bold attack rather than risk being killed or captured by the courageous adventurers. We were tremendously fortunate to have had the wherewithal to attack before it could unleash its chlorine gas breath weapon upon us, which would have probably killed half of the party (in other words, luckily we won the initiative roll).
Taleth was traveling light and was alone so he made the trip in two days and after a third day, finally a ship showed up along the shore to rescue us and we returned to Medea’s Gate with our shiny cargo. We learned a few things from that trip. The first thing we realized was that the dragon would have most likely never spotted our camp had we camouflaged the rafts during the second night like we did when we first arrived. We also realized the perils associated with traveling the lake on rafts – dragons weren’t the only danger but were a tangible one. We hadn’t even considered that there were pirates on the rivers and lakes in this region until the sailors mentioned it. We would have made easy and tempting targets for them with two simple rafts loaded with silver and gold. We also learned from the sailors that the boats generally stayed towards the center of the lake far away from the shore lines to avoid ambushes and to leave them room for maneuver when they encountered marauding pirates or flying attackers. So with our recently returned loot we went to see the money changer and prepared to return to the shrine for the rest as soon as we were ready. This time, however, we vowed to take a simple baggage train of horses and mules overland and leave the perils of waterborne travel to those who knew how to navigate Poseidon’s waters better than a group of simple and foolish adventurers.
TO BE CONTINUED…