The day after cleaning out the Graul Farmhouse, our group starts the day at the Bottoms Up Tavern. Together with Shalelu and the three Black Arrow Rangers, we discuss strategy options for retaking Fort Rannick. After quizzing the Rangers on our options and how their last attempt to retake the fortress failed, the group narrows our strategies down to either sneaking through the shocker lizard-infested tunnels or climbing up the cliffside to the eagles’ nests above the fort. After weighing the pros and cons, we opt for the eagle nests.
Zazz asks for the group to chip in so that he can create enough scrolls of spider climb for all of us to make it up to the nest in spite of our lack of natural climbing abilities. Once this preparation is complete, our group treks to Fort Rannick. Along the way, we speculate on the fact that the constant rain coming down seems to be due to someone casting spells to control the weather. While this could prove to be ominous news, we’re more preoccupied with the ogres for now.
Once we make it to Fort Rannick, we can tell immediately that ogres are on patrol on top of the walls and that we will need to climb the cliff from a far enough distance from the fort to avoid being noticed. We ford the river, some more successfully than others. Luckily, Aella quickly throws out a rope to Wallace, Jakardros, and Vale before they can get swept too far downstream. It’s a miserable climb up 600 feet with the rain continuing to fall, but we all make it up into the apparently-empty nests. We look down to see approximately eight ogres on patrol, and try to sneak down the cliff and into the fortress courtyard.
Of course, stealth has never been our party’s strong suit, and a couple of the ogres see us coming. They promise us a “good ole ogre welcome,” and mount the attack. Jakardros sinks a few arrows into the ogre at the front of the line and brings him down. First blood is ours, but we’re facing a gauntlet of ogres coming straight at us. Karly-Lop responds to his fallen ally with a vicious attack that nearly guts Kaven. The ogres also focus on the fire pelt, knocking the kitty unconscious. Eric steps into the fight and kills an ogre in one blow by exploding its head with his earthbreaker. Not to be outdone, Aella brings down Karly-Lop by charging him, climbing up his body, and hacking off his head. Wallace focuses on healing, channeling to restore Kaven and bring Kibb back to consciousness. Of course, Minktuck charges in and cripples Kaven a couple seconds after he was healed, bringing him back to the danger zone.
Zazz singes a few with a scroll of fireball, and Vale takes a serious beating while Aella mutilates and than bisects Minktuck. The battle rages on as we start to gain the upper hand. Ogre bodies drop as Zazz slows a bunch of them and Jakardros continues to fire arrows into the fray. An enlarged Aella takes the fight to the remaining lieutenant on the field. Eric and Aella finally take damage as one of the ogres bypasses Aella’s mirror images and Jolly slices Eric’s neck. Eric smites him and takes him apart by hammering through his stomach. With a flurry of blows, the group polishes off the remaining ogres and the battlefield finally falls silent.
Wallace heals the group before we all move on to the keep itself. Aella kicks down the door and we head inside to find the ogres have made a royal mess of the place. The first door we come to reveals two ogres wrestling. We spring in and attack. We have the upper hand from surprise at first, but reinforcements crowd their way into the halls on either side of us. We have to split our group down the middle to battle both fronts. Gregavan the ogre kills the fire pelt while Eric and Aella lead a trail of bone and gore on the other end. Silas steps up after Gregavan falls and nearly kills Wallace in one particularly vicious blow. Zazz intervened at the last second to grant the cleric cover via a clever floor trick, or Wallace would have met Ragathiel on the other side. With Wallace out cold, Zazz greases the floor beneath Silas to buy time for Eric and Aella to fight through a room and emerge on the other side. They both dash down to finish Silas off just after he stands up and knocks Vale unconscious.
Eric heals Wallace with his lay-on-hands, and the group pauses for more healing. Jakardros also mournfully drapes a sheet over his fallen animal companion. Keen on some vengeance, we continue down the hall and explore the area. We find dead Vincent in the infirmary with his entrails spooned into a disgusting bowl in a grisly scene, but the floor is otherwise empty. We find stairs going up and down, Eric choosing to lead the way down. At the bottom, Eric opens a door to find a strangely luxurious room that seems very out of place. Equally out of place is a beautiful red-haired woman who begins to speak when she sees Eric. Detecting that she is evil, Eric dashes in to attack without even allowing the female to finish her first sentence. While we are initially surprised by his aggressive attack, she is quicker on the uptake. She sidesteps the paladin and reveals her true form as another lamia. Aella has Eric’s back, following up with an attack that hits her. As she attacks, Aella notices the sihedron rune amulet the snake lady is wearing. She stabs Aella viciously with her knives, proving herself a worthy adversary.
Kaven enters the room next, and the snake lady asks him to take care of Aella. He agrees and stabs Aella in the back, proving himself a traitor and likely the instigator behind the success of the ogres’ initial assault on Fort Rannick. The room erupts into battle as the Black Arrows and Shalelu vie to be the one to take out their turn-cloak former friend. Aella beats them to it, rounding on Kaven after Snake Lady vanishes. She educates him swiftly on why one does not just simply betray our Shoanti friend when she beheads him.
Zazz’s summoned bat points us toward a secret door that reveals the tunnels with the shocker lizards. Not seeing footprints beyond the door, we double back and go up two flights of stairs. The first room we come to up here is a chapel, but we’re more distracted by the biggest ogre we’ve ever seen waiting for us. This is Pappy, and he doesn’t seem overly pleased to see us. He hooks Eric with his massive weapon, while Wallace spots Snake Lady behind him with his invisibility purge. Zazz casts black tentacles, which don’t affect the lamia much but do grapple Pappy long enough for us to land some precious blows.
The Snake Lady sneaks past us again and sends in more ogres from the next room. We’re suddenly embroiled in yet another battle. Eric finishes off Pappy with a spine-crunching hammer blow, while Hookmaw steps out and hits Vale twice. The Ranger falls unconscious, and Aella and Wallace hurry to engage this new ogre. Eric dashes into the southeast room to take the fight to the Snake Lady with Shalelu not far behind. Zazz and Jakardros are effectively taken out of the fight by the sudden emergence of Dorella Kreeg who casts a spell to confuse them. The two of them suddenly want to fight each other with physical and telekinetic fists while the rest of the heroes face off with the ogres.
Dorella continues to wreck havoc, putting Aella to sleep. Wallace finishes off Hookmaw and wakes up his friend. Eric puts the hurt on Snake lady before she poofs away again. Eric, Aella, and Wallace gang up on Dorella together, slowly whittling away her mirror images while she valiantly fights back with lightning bolts. At last, the paladin finishes her off just after she manages to confuse Aella. Eric and Wallace dogpile on top her and wait for the spell to run its course.
Once the spells are finished and the ogres all lay dead, we begin to heal up again and loot the area. The second floor’s biggest revelation is that the Commander apparently was writing love sonnets to a nymph named Marianna. Jakardros and Vale recall that the Commander went out into the Shimmerglens before the attack, and that he hasn’t been seen since. We finish exploring the rest of Fort Rannick before joining the Rangers in burying their dead friends and burning ogre corpses. This takes much of the night, and we rest for a time before starting to head back toward Turtleback Ferry.
We leave Shalelu and the Rangers behind after promising them we would look into the Shimmerglens to see what happened to the Commander. On the way back to town, however, we come across a terrified guy on horseback who informs us that Turtleback Ferry is flooding. We make haste for the town and try to help the villagers in the chaos. Our first order of business is saving a boat of students and a teacher from an attacking boa constrictor. The snake almost kills a student before we finish it off, and we only have time to catch our breath before Wallace notices the floodgates surging and a tree headed for the church suddenly being violently submerged. Our jaws collectively drop as a giant tentacled monster emerges from the water beside the church.
Our group will have to react to this new monstrosity if we are to save the poor souls of Turtleback Ferry. As to how we will tackle the creature, evacuate the citizens, and figure out what on earth is going on around here, we will have to wait for our next session in a week. For now, things look as bleak as usual for our intrepid heroes.