CHAPTER 4

1 QUEST UNLOCKED

WAR COUNCIL

Our party has arrived on O-Meido island and is joined by Ronja, a Mohyar hired by the Druids to get them into the notorious O-Meido prison to free the Prophet of Thorns. How should they approach this difficult quest? Vote for your favorite plan:

This poll has ended (since 3 months).
A Deal with Demons. Lure a Horde into O-Meido, and let the fireworks commence!
29.05%
Leave No One Behind. Trickery gets you in, but the Prophet better get you out, or you'll be over a barrel.
26.22%
Escape the Rock. Let the ghosts of Volantris do the work with the help of a Wave Singer.
15.17%
Full Frontal Assault! It always works in D&D, right?
8.48%
Trojan Koloth. The Inquisition will never expect it.
8.23%
The Red Claw to Victory. Hiding among giant, pinching, angry crabs will definitely provide good cover. The exit path is even worse.
7.97%
Ruthless Pragmatism. Sacrifice a few farmers and mercenaries to create a diversion.
4.88%

*Please note that we have to playtest these thoroughly, so they might change a bit.

Below are the stories written by fellow rebels, to continue the tale of Kha’al and Syndra. Click on the name to read their contribution to the Lore of Azuhl. Please keep writing this story with us!

Ronja turns around and calls: “Follow me”. Heading right to the tavern of the harbour. She asks over her shoulder: “Have you ever heard of these dumb ideas of infiltrating a fortress on a cart hiding beyond food? Do you know why this fails every time? Because every guardian wants his share of this delicious food. So this ‘suspicious’ goods have to be checked until their stomach is sure, that there is nothing to complain about. Have you ever met a guardian with an empty stomach, checking food but finding you? No? No for sure, you wouldn’t be here. Anyway. We will do right this!”

Saying this, we pass the harbour tavern without entering it. So that wasn’t our Destination. But why by the gods are we heading right in the opposite direction of the imperial fortress?

A few minutes later our way ends at a mole where a cutter is moored. Everything here stinks disgusting like rotten seafood.

Ronja smiles: “Here we are. A great fortress like this needs much food. Nearly every food is gone, because nothing grows on this cold barren fields. But at some places exists much more food as ever before. Crabs love this cold water beyond the ice. And the inquisition itself want not only cheap crabs, no, only the best for this picky bastards. They want red king crabs. This up to 6 feet gigantic monsters. I want to see a guardian tasting this cuties. This is the food that will hide you for sure. Inside the fortress these crabs get into an empty flooded part of the prison. So you will be right next to the prophet. I know the crabs doesn’t smell like a rose bush. If you want to vomit, do it know. You should avoid it later on the cart, the crabs could think you are something edible. In this case the guardian’s would be the lesser problems.”

“You are insane. And what’s about getting out of this mess after we are in?” Kha’al asks.

“Oh that should be easy. There is a slippery outhouse shaft leading from anywhere near the torture chamber outside into the moat. Please no complaints, it’s temporary not used for excrement, or better, not only. It’s the easiest way to dispose a prisoner, that has no more informations. It’s you slip ride to freedom. After all, you will no longer smell like seafood.”

This is the dumbest idea anyone ever had. Do we have a choice? Let’s do it.

So that’s the story. Designing the quest behind the crab cart ride has to be done by you, Nemesis guys. Perhaps Something about stealth and shields. You’ll now best how to balance it 😉

“There are walls, traps, guards and who knows what. O-Meido is a death trap. How do you propose we free the Prophet?”

“By bypassing most of them.” Ronja said, folding her arms across her chest. The inquisition may have O-Meido up and running again but they haven’t plumbed its depths. My people still have legends of secret passages and ancient tunnels that lead out of the prison. We use one of these to go IN.” Kha’al scoffed. “So your plan is to drag us to the foot of the prison, search for some dank cave entrance that’s probably been walled off or barred, and then what? Wait around to get captured and become prisoners ourselves?” Ronja bristled. “I’m no fool, Krowh! I’ve already scouted the way I plan to take you, and I know it’s open. I’ve been to the detention levels without being seen. I don’t know where this Prophet of yours is being kept, that wasn’t part of the deal. I take you in, and get you out. Finding and securing the Prophet is your end.” Baranth extended his hand towards Ronja. “You have a deal. The Kathrak Khautil will do all in our power to secure food for Mjornfalheim once we have removed The Prophet of Thorns from O-Meido and secured her safety.” Reluctantly Ronja took the offered hand and gave it a firm shake. “Its good you arrived when you did, any later and we would have had to postpone until tomorrow. We go now, while the overcast hides the moon.” Looking Kha’al up and down Ronja adds; “And -try- to be quiet won’t you? As lovely as the screams of Imperial Legionnaires are, success rests on subtlety.”

Dust covered and hot the four adventurers stopped for a short rest. The frantic dash across pitch-black, rocky ground, combined with squeezing through a crack in the granite foundation of the prison that was distinctly too small for Kha’al and Baranth, left them winded and covered with bruises and abrasions. Despite this however, they were successfully within the walls of O-Meido undetected. “Enough rest.” said Ronja. “I’ll take you to the detention levels and wait for you until you return with the Prophet. I’ll give you until an hour before dawn. That’s three hours for you to search, release and return. Don’t waste time.”

The search was slow going. Moving stealthily, dodging patrols and freezing whenever the moaning wind through the corridors sounded a little too human, the party had used up half their allotted time. “We need to pick up the pace.” said Kha’al. “Oh sure,” whispered Syndra, “be my guest. Rush down the halls shouting ‘heeere Prophet Prophet’.” Kha’al grumbled “Well, what’s your plan? We’re getting nowhere!” Suddenly the wind rose again, keening down the hallways, setting Kha’al teeth on edge. “Cursed wind, I wish it would shut up!” Quietly, from a cell to their right a voice spoke. “Tis not the wind thou hearest. Tis the voices of the dead…” Baranth moved up to the door and peered through the barred viewing port. Inside all he could see was a shadow rocking back and forth slightly. “Syndra.” he said, pointing to the lock on the door. She gave him a wry look, but then focused on the door, waving a silent spell. Within moments the lock rusted completely and with a light tug Baranth pulled the door open. The light from the hallway crawled onto the form of an emaciated Tua Than female, arms wrapped around her knees and rocking forwards and back. Her eyes squinted shut as the light hit them and she hissed in discomfort.

Entering slowly Baranth knelt in front of the Tua Than. She tried to get away, pushing herself back into the cell wall as if she could somehow meld herself with the stones and escape. “Easy… easy Wave Singer. We are not the Inquisition. We’re here to free someone. If you can keep quiet, and keep your head, you can come with us.” Looking at him with fear she lifts a trembling hand, palm out and fingers splayed, for a moment all is quiet, then she lets out a sigh of relief. “Thou dost not speak falsehood.” Still trembling all over she tries to stand, but can do so only with the help of Baranth. “Mine name is Yvai, Oracle of the Tua Than. Mine imprisonment wast… wast for…” Baranth pats her hand. “We know. You’re not the only one here for not forsaking the Old Gods.” She nods wearily. “I wilt join with thee, but mine legs are weakened. Wouldst thou have stick or staff I may use as support?” Baranth shakes his head and looks towards the others. Syndra sighs and makes a gesture, a gnared oaken staff appearing in her hand out of thin air. She passes the staff to Baranth through the door and says in a harsh whisper “Anything else? Maybe a horse to ride, or a twelve-course meal? We’re running out of time to find the Prophet of Thorns!”

At the name Yvai begins trembling even more fiercely, the staff handed to her by Baranth barely able to keep her up. “Thou… thou seekest the Prophetess of Thorns?” the question barely audible. “We do” says Baranth. “Why does that disturb you so?” She shakes her head slowly as she speaks. “Tis… tis the dead. As they roam the halls, I ever hear them speakest of the Prophetess. They linger here awaiting her bidding. Whispers are ever on the wind of how tis she who wilt reclaimest the throne of ancients from the Empire.” “Well, isn’t that a good thing,” asks Kha’al, “to finally be rid of the stinking Drakoreans once and for all?” “Be weary of what thee wisheth. Ye know not of the plans of thine Prophetess, nor of her methods. Tis possible one evil wilt beget a greater evil still.” “We don’t know that for certain,” said Baranth “but we do have a mission to complete. Your door will remain open. We won’t stop your leaving, but don’t hinder us.” As he turns to leave, Yvai puts a hand on his arm. “No. Thou hast freed me, and I am indebted to thee. … I can guide thee to thy Prophetess. I knowest whiter the ghosts go to commune with her.”

Following the Tua Than, the party makes their way through the halls until they reach a large room, heavily guarded, with a cage suspended from chains in the center. Kha’al’s mouth splits into a hungry grin as he looks across the room. “Time for stealth has passed.” Syndra puts her hands on her hips and stares at him. “Great idea. Rush in and attack, let them raise the alarm and get us all thrown into cells or killed.” Kha’al points his sword towards her. “Keep at it and you won’t need to wait for them to notice you before you die.” Baranth shoves Kha’al sword arm down. “Enough!” he hisses out. “She’s right and you know it. Even if we do kill everyone in this room, that leaves the rest of the prison between us and escape. We need to do this quietly.” Looking over the room he says “Good news and bad news. Bad news is, we won’t be able to get the cage down without alerting all these guards. Good news, Kha’al, is that means you -will- get to kill everyone in this room. Just be quiet about it.” Syndra leans in and says close to Kha’al’s ear “You owe me 10 gold for every body I hear hit the floor out there.”

“So little Pirate, tell us, how do plan to get us in?” challenged Kha’al.

Sonja smiled. “Who said anything about getting in?” dropped Sonja.

For once in her lifetime, she saw a Krowh speechless. Delightful…

Syndra, broke the silence. “There’s no way they will get the Prophet out. Unless…” and then, she understood.

“No way women. Are you crazy?!” said Kha’al – Apparently, the Krowh found out his tongue after all. Damn.

Sonja, still smiling just whispered “What’s the saying again? The enemy of my enemy is my friend?”.

“Ok, She’s crazy.” continued Kha’al.

Baranth was at a complete lost. Syndra helped him by saying “What does the Empire fear the most?”

“By the Old Gods, she’s not suggesting that we lure an Horde into O-Meido?” said Baranth, know understanding.

“Freakishly, wacky nuts.” finished Kha’al.

Ronja pulled out some maps. “O-Meido fortress is damn near impossible to breach. It sits on the high rock formation in O-Meido making it easy to see anyone approaching and the rocky terrain makes it hard to approach outside of the surrounding footpaths. It is however your standard fortification making the front gate the most vulnerable. If you had a large force you might be able to storm the gate but the Inquisition archers are just too accurate and last I check three is not a large force.”

Kha’al snarled at this comment

“Another spot we looked for was a sewage outlet. We found one but it is completely inaccessible. The outlet is a little over half way up the backside fortress wall. Also is covered by iron grates and it would make a decent amount of noise getting rid of them. Which leads us to the last option but truly the only option. The back resupply entrance that is connected to the Taurel trade route.”

Syndra, familiar with this trade route, came forward and looked at Ronja’s map. “How is this our only option? They have a triple gate gatehouse there and they don’t open the next one till the one behind you is closed. Not to mention this entrance is at the lowest part of the exposed prison and they have built up the protruding walls creating a valley of sorts. When walking down this you feel as if you are being led to the slaughter house. You know what we traders call that place right? Death Valley. What kind of trick do you have for us getting in there?

Ronja looked up at Syndra and simply said. “ we are going to walk in”. Syndra and Kha’al each started protesting this plan. Kha’al even started to look a little aggressive towards Ronja. Baranth spoke up with a booming voice that drowned out the protests. “Clearly the Druids trusted Ronja with this portion of the plan so let us hear the full explanation. Ronja nodded at Baranth in thanks for showing some trust.

“Yes we are going to walk in. We however, does not include any of you three.” Ronja pointed at the barrels behind her. These barrels have false bottoms. We will be placing you in there and you will be unloaded with the next shipment that is due for resupply at the prison. The rocky wasteland may be a good position to hold until you need to be self sustaining. Also the trade entrance is heavily fortified and designed to be protected by a small force of troops. The first advantage in using this method, if things start to go sour we have a better chance of fighting off a skeleton crew rather than the legions that are stationed in the upper barracks. Second advantage is that this entrance is about as close as you can get to the dungeons. The storage room is connected to the same staircase that leads to the dungeons. Also my sources tell me that typically the men stationed for the back gate and supply room are just your general run of the mill soldiers and are there because of some sort of punishment. They usually don’t take their post too seriously and are easily spooked by the spirits from Volantris.”

After getting a better explanation from Ronja, Kha’al and Syndra seemed to be less resistant towards the idea. Baranth however looked a little concerned, “it’s not a bad plan Ronja… We knew going into this it would be dangerous, but how exactly do you plan on unloading a barrel with Kha’al or myself inside of it without making it look obvious”? “Or worse, dropping us,” said Kha’al. Ronja grinned, “I have someone who owes me a favor, I think he is up for the job”. Just then having to duck through the doorway enter a male Ytuma. Mjor was huge and his entire body seemed to be covered in muscles.

“Now that we have addressed that concern, let us move onto the second item of the deal. The druids not only asked for a way to get into the prison, but they also asked for an odd mix of plants that were harder to find than I thought they would be. Not entirely sure what they are for but they weren’t easy to obtain so here ya go.” Ronja handed over the herbs to Syndra but when Syndra took a look at them she had no idea what they were. “Well that just about settles it, so you best be getting some rest as we head out in the morning. There are some rooms that you can use overnight just down the road.” Ronja then started heading out the door.

Baranth grabbed her shoulder and addressed her. “What about the exit strategy?” Ronja turned around, “look the druids and I only negotiated a deal for me to get that sack of herbs, and get you in. I will be long gone hopefully by the time you stir up trouble. The druids seemed content enough that if i could get them to their prophet all would be fine. That’s the deal. Take it or leave it” Baranth, not likely what he was hearing, let Ronja go. She took it as a silent agreement and proceeded to walk out followed by Mjor.

Baranth, Syndra, and Kha’al went up the road, rented rooms for the night and got some food. “I am not sure I like the no exit option.” Syndra said between bites. Baranth set down his fork. “Well I am not sure we have much of a choice. The prophet seems to be a key piece in restoring some sort of order to Azuhl.” Kha’al then grabbed the bag that the medicinal plants were in and took a sniff. He closed the bag and looked up. Baranth asked, “you have any idea what that is”? “Actually I do”, said Kha’al and both Syndra and Baranth looked a little stunned. “ this combination of herbs when mixed properly, will give you quite the wake up. A lot of Krowh warriors would use this before battle to give them a surge in strength but after most found it to be severely addicting with nasty side effects that tradition stopped. Now it is only by Krowh Shamans for healing purposes.” What kind of healing purposes”, Baranth asked? “Mostly for keeping people alert or waking them when unconscious” Syndra then starting to put the pieces together asked Kha’al, “is it strong enough to override sedation drugs or spells?” Kha’al thought for a second, “with this amount I would say it could probably wake the dead.” Baranth could feel a shiver go down his spine. “Well we had better get some rest, we have a lot of challenges to overcome tomorrow.” The three of them headed to their rooms for what might be their last night’s sleep.

It is not possible to go in and out of the most notorious Prison of the Empire…. on your own. So thats why Kha´al and his fellows needed a distraction maneuver.

The local farmers and mercenaries were hired. This cost a lot of salt. But it paid off. They had not seen such a force outside the capital for a long time. A thousand men stood at their gates and challenged them. The legions of the empire came out of the capital. An incomparable massacre began. But that was not the important fight at this hour. Ronja’s archers were able to destroy individual henchmen of the empire at the rear, so that Syndra could use her magic to create a small hole in the walls without being seen. Through this Ronja, Syndra and a few elite soldiers could get into the fortress. The few remaining henchmen of the Empire were easy targets for our heroes and so they were able to free the Prophet while thousands died outside the walls. This was only possible together. As a reward for this risky endeavor, they got what they were looking for: an additional godpower.