Sword Coast Guard, Episode 3 – Hunting Ashton Sanguine

Session Date: March 11, 2017

In-Game Dates: 1 Flamerule to 2 Flamerule, 1367 DR

Previously on Heroes of GGG…

  • The heroes were commissioned to track down a criminal named Ashton Sanguine who tried to assassinate Grand Harper Pharlonae Song-joy of the New Olamn bard’s college in Waterdeep.
  • Near the village of Rassalantar, the heroes made a deal with an old lady, Granny Tichwillow, to recover the corpse of her sister Agnes who was killed under charges of witchcraft by a local order of knights of Torm.
  • The heroes infiltrated the crypts of Gauntlet Hall, recovered the corpse, and killed several knights and a priest of Torm on their way out.
  • After returning the corpse to Granny Tichwillow, the old woman cast divination magic, telling them where they could find Ashton Sanguine.
  • The heroes stormed a fortified plateau and ruined tower occupied by orcs and a giant, capturing one orc to interrogate.

The orc yields very quickly under interrogation, telling the heroes that Ashton Sanguine can be found in a cave complex behind the ruined tower. The monster exaggerates the number of orcs that can be found within, but Nigel shakes the truth out of him. Just a small force. The heroes then release the orc who promptly flees.

As the heroes approach the cave, a dark clothed figure from atop the mountainside above the cave entrance shows himself. He introduces himself as Shadoestar and, having heard the others interrogating the orc, says he was also hired by the Grand Harper to hunt down Ashton Sanguine. The heroes welcome him onboard with little fanfare or questions, though Guld secretly sees the newcomer – who claims to fight with fists and feet – as competition for the spot of “deadliest monk.” [This is the new player who fills our players out at five. He also plays a monk.]

Before they can move to the cave, though, a giant butterfly lands on the plateau. Shump seems to be drunk with glee as he approaches the magnificent creature, calling out softly to it, “Here Butter Bee. Come here, girl.” Using animal handling skills, Shump befriends the creatures and climbs on its back, and they fly up into the air.

“Sorry, guys,” the half-orc calls down at them. “But I’ve always dreamed of riding a giant butterfly. You all got this orc stuff handled, right?”

The heroes assure the happy barbarian that they do, and Nigel asks Shump to check in on his hippogriff in Waterdeep. Shump happily agrees to do just that as he flies off to the north.

In the opposite direction from Waterdeep.

[What? Cheesy exit for the NPC that’s no longer needed now that we have our fifth player? Whatever. I do this stuff for free. Sue me.]

The heroes silently enter the first chamber of the cave where they discover dozens of large crates and barrels. The crates are full of salted meat and other foodstuffs; the barrels hold ale that tastes like piss. Nigel comments that it tastes wonderfully familiar and tries to dunk his head in a barrel, though Shadoestar restrains him.

A corridor with two doors, one closer and one a little farther down, lead away from the first chamber. The heroes array themselves outside the first door – the darkness is causing trouble for the two humans in the group, though Elodin relieves the problem a bit with light cast on Rusty’s necklace – and begin to listen at the door. They hear orcish voices within laughing and talking, though Guld, the only one who speaks orc, can barely make out what they are saying. [Really bad perception checks… Is this a foreshadowing of how light monk vs. dark monk will turn out?]

Rolling his eyes at the other monk’s poor hearing, Shadoestar does a spinning back kick and smashes open the double doors. The small chamber on the other side has bedrolls spread about it and a door leading into a side chamber. Two orogs in plate armor and an orc shaman sit around a table playing dice. Another orog sleeps nearby.

“By Gruumsh’s eye, what the hell is this?” the shaman shouts. [I think all the players were itching for a fight. There wasn’t a whisper of negotiations, and they were rolling their initiatives almost before I asked them to. The players got the drop on them, too, gaining a surprise round.]

Guld and Shadoestar dash into the room, laying into the orogs with quarterstaff, fists, and feet. Nigel and Elodin fire eldritch blasts and firebolts into the fray. Rusty takes up position next to the two casters, “guarding the rear.”

The orogs pull massive greataxes from their backs and have at the two monks. One of them bellows in Orc, “Intruders! In the sleepy room!” The orc shaman blesses the three orogs and bangs on the door to the adjoining chamber, shouting in Common, “Adventurers are raiding the cache!”

As the battle continues, another orog and orc shaman exit the door that was further down the main corridor. The orc shaman blesses himself and orog, and the orog rushes Nigel, the closest target, laying into the fragile bard with his massive greataxe.

From within room adjoining the sleeping quarters, a lute-bearing half-elf emerges and casts a small burst of thunderous energy on the two monks, battering them about. Shadoestar recognizes the man as Ashton Sanguine. Then the half-elf darts back into the adjoining room, out of sight.

Things beginning to go south just a bit, Elodin launches a spell in the chamber, filling half of it with roaring flames. Both orogs and the orc shaman are burned severely, and one of the orogs goes down. All the bedrolls and furniture are now ablaze.

Nigel moves away from the large sweaty orog towering above him and takes a nasty hit for the trouble. However, Rusty is now standing between the bard and the creature. The bard probably wouldn’t have lasted long otherwise. Nigel then begins to fire more eldritch blasts at orogs.

Shadoestar and Guld continue to work on the orogs before them, wearing them down and dropping another. [Shadoestar is slowly edging Guld out on damage and kills…] Rusty lays into the orog in the corridor, cutting him up with his dual scimitars.

The battle proceeds with the tide shifting more and more to the heroes’ favor. Once all the orogs are dead, the last orc shaman makes a dash for the cave exit. Most of the heroes move to head him off and then take him down.

Shadoestar, however, shadow steps into the room that Ashton Sanguine has been taking cover in while blasting the party with magic. The shadow monk lays into his quarry with a flurry of blows, battering him savagely.

Spitting out blood and a broken tooth, Ashtone Sanguine snarls, “You’ll never catch me, fool!” and casts a spell.

He completely disappears.

The corpses of orogs and orc shamans lie around the heroes after storming the cave. However, Ashton Sanguine managed to escape.

The heroes suspect their quarry must have turned invisible and begin to search about the room, even casting various spells that both deal damage (to break Ashton’s concentration) and immobilize. In the end, however, their quarry is not to be found.

The fugitive having escaped, the heroes begin to shake down the rest of the complex. On a desk in Ashton’s room, they find papers with a complex cipher on them. Nigel and Shadoestar both try to decipher them, but are unable. They have a feeling the cipher is so complex it could take days or weeks to figure it out without the key. They also find on the desk a map of the Sword Coast region near Waterdeep.

In another chamber in the cave complex, the heroes discover a very large cache of weapons and supplies. They surmise that all of the food, arms, and supplies must be to support an army, not just the few orcs they’ve found here.

Thoroughly pissed, but just as thoroughly beaten up and bloodied, the heroes decide to take a short break to patch themselves up before giving chase.

Once the rest is finished, Shadoestar and Guld find a trail leading up the mountainside. The heroes follow it and find a small cubby hole of sorts with recent tracks in it. They also find an open and empty wooden coffer and two empty potion vials on the ground.

It would appear that Ashton Sanguine fled here and drank some healing potions. The heroes are not pleased.

They find fresh tracks leading west down the mountainside. Far off in the distance, perhaps ten miles, they can see a massive encampment of creatures. After some inspection, they determine it must be an orc army, numbering in the hundreds if not thousands.

Ashton’s tracks lead straight for the encampment.

Guld and Shadoestar decide to dash ahead of the group after their quarry. The fleet-footed monks are likely the group’s only hope of catching up to Ashton, who has nearly a two-hour head start on them.

After several hours of sprinting through the woods, the two monks catch up to Ashton Sanguine. A pitched battle ensues with the fugitive once again attempting his disappearing tactic, but Shadoestar’s senses are too fine to be escaped this time around. The monks find the half-elf’s invisible form and unleash unholy hell on him.

Once Ashton is knocked unconscious, they truss him up like a stuffed boar and make their way back to the group who was following along after them, though at a much slower pace. [Two monks with a movement of 45 feet are a force to be reckoned with…]

Once the heroes join back up, they move a few hours away from the orc army and set up camp for the night. Elodin casts a spell that creates an opaque magical barrier to protect them while they sleep.

Toward the end of the second watch, the heroes spot five small creatures tromping through the forest. They are only about waist high and wear large boots made of iron. The racket they make marching through the forest is enough to wake the undead.

As the diminutive creatures move along, they stop every so often to lick sticks and leaves they pick up from the forest floor. Occasionally they remove their dark-red floppy hats and rub them on the sticks and leaves. It appears they are following the trail of blood left behind from the bloodied and defeated Ashton Sanguine as he was carried through the forest.

The heroes recognize the creatures as fey known as redcaps. However, they know little more than that the creatures are renowned for their love of blood and bloodshed.

The redcaps follow the blood trail right up to Elodin’s magical dome and they begin to pound on the impassible barrier with their scythes while changing something in a language none of the heroes understand. The recaps spread out around the dome, and two climb above it.

Nigel casts a spell to understand what they are saying. The fey are chanting, “Blood. Blood. Blood. Blood. Blood. Blood…” without end as they surround the dome, banging on it with their weapons.

This continues for the next two hours while the heroes finish up their rest. Then, once they are ready, they engage the evil redcaps, striking out at them from within the dome.

Since the redcaps themselves are unable to pierce the magic of the dome, they quickly scatter, running for cover behind nearby trees. The heroes exit the dome and give battle.

There is much slashing of swords, punching, flinging of spells, and the like. The redcaps turn out to have a mad dash ability wherein they wildly charge the heroes, drop kicking them with their heavy iron boots. However, the only thing that really matters is that Shadoestar ended up killing three of the redcaps.

And Guld killed none.

The light monk versus dark monk competition had been decided…

And Guld was sad.

Poor Guld…

The Heroes of Gold, Glory, and Girls

This is the group's interim name until they come up with an official one...

Russel "Rusty" Striker - Human Fighter

Nigel Dyreus - Half-elven Bard

Guld the Tower - Half-elven Monk

Elodin - Human Wizard

Shump the Long - Half-orc Barbarian

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