From the notes of Alric Brethencourt of Veluna
Sunday turning Moonday, 17th of the Readying, outside the walls of the ruined moathouse
Have taken first watch of our vigil. Plenty of time to mull the events of the past day over. Am dreadfully exhausted; fortunately the lingering pain from our run-in with the giant keeps me awake. Things happened very quickly and disorganized after Elmo’s inexcusable slip-up. As soon as we rescued him from the frogs and the light in the moathouse was lit, we beat a hasty retreat. Being the last to withdraw, I heard a grinding sound, presumably the portcullis being raised. We sped back to the clearing in the forest, where we suddenly discovered our companions Wilstan and Weebrian were no longer among us. Foolish Elmo mumbled some vague excuse about drowning as a kid and then just fell asleep in the woods. Debated what to do next. We prepared an improvised trap near the clearing, should the black men from the moathouse follow us there; they didn’t as such. Soon enough caught a glimpse of two figures moving through the dark, but as there was no sight of the dog Rotter, I decided against showing myself. The twosome must have heard me approach regardless, and they turned back towards the moathouse. Returned to the others. All of them seemed keen on leaving, even if it meant leaving behind our wayward companions. Unacceptable. Doffed my plate armor and retraced our steps, and to my great relief eventually saw Wilstan, Weebrian and his dog approaching the camp site. At this point we were all reunited.
It soon became apparent that the others were unwilling to try and use which little element of surprise remained to us, Elmo chief among them, and he led Spugnoir, Tuffnell, Kazireh, Ellaria back to High Watch and subsequently, Hommlet, taking some of the magical items we found with them. Felt obligated to stay, as Wilstan’s risky plans might have ended up getting him and Weebrian killed, or worse, captured and tortured for information on our mission. The three of us carefully made for a spot near the walls where Wilstan and Weebrian - blind as a bat in the dark - had hid earlier, next to the road leading to Nulb. There we would have the opportunity to observe the moathouse and its comings and goings from nearby, undetected. A sound, a cart approaching…
My companions’ plan proved successful sooner than we had hoped. Woke Wilstan and Weebrian as soon as I heard the cart, accompanied by a few men, draw near. From our advantageous hiding place we could observe how the men used a lantern to signal the moathouse. A few minutes later two figures descended through the rubble, over the moat, and came over to the cart. After they inspected it the men, bearing provisions from Nulb, made for the main gate. While the others took over my watch, we waited for the return of the cart, in hopes of ambushing it, but we caught no sight of it again that night. Morning came, and we made plans to move further down the road, waiting to see if perhaps the men would make the return journey to Nulb during the day. At this time we were suddenly surprised by the return of that oaf Elmo, who caught us all unware. Luckily he came bearing good news: the rest of our party, including Chryseis and the fully recovered Madrak, was with him.
We spent the day preparing for our assault on the moathouse. Escorted by the rangers a few of us scouted the high ground near the ruins to get a better tactical appraisal of the situation. Heard a fragmented account of the mysterious dealings that had befallen those who had returned to Hommlet. Apparently one of the town militia was discovered to be a turncloak when he tried to harass my companions in the
Inn of the Welcome Wench, during the previous night, but Madrak mentioned he was without a leg to stand on, or some such. Spugnoir had the enchanted stones we found in the giant’s hoard inspected by lord Burne, and learned from him that they were gnomish whispering stones. They would no doubt prove useful to coordinate our attack come nightfall. We planned to use the lantern signal as a diversion to draw a few of the defenders out, after which the majority of our group would climb the rubble where the outer wall had crumbled and gain the battlements. Madrak, Chryseis and I meanwhile would storm the main gate, hoping the portcullis would be raised, as a result of the signal.
A most glorious victory! Heironeous blessed our righteous cause! Using the gnomish stones I gave the order to Weebrian to commence with the ruse, and then the three of us moved in. Things became quite blurred in the frenzy of battle. Heard the distant sound of men falling down in the boggy water as we stormed the gate. The doors were not even barred. Put my weight into it and bull rushed it open, to be confronted by the sight of a ballista aimed straight at the gate. Tried to leap to cover, but there was no time: a bolt rushed by within inches of me, improperly zeroed in no doubt. Madrak and Chryseis ran past and took care of the black clad men operating the ballista. With a perfect throw my half-orcish companion speared one of them; took up his example and impaled one on the doors leading from to the courtyard buildings. Offering them no reprieve, the three of us immediately continued inside, rushing to a corner room where the remainder of the guard had barricaded themselves. Madrak valiantly charged past, battering down the heavy door effortlessly. At least five guards were inside, trying to postpone the inevitable. Madrak and I started to dispatch them quickly, but at some point my companion was struck down by the blow of a two-handed sword. I barged through the doorway and claimed bloody revenge, noticing that their leader, a man they called Hal, had mysteriously disappeared, though there were no other obvious exits. Captured the last of the lowly defenders alive, and made sure none of my less scrupulous companions would harm him.
We pressed this miserable fellow, named March, for information, but he was unwilling to divulge anything useful while we remained in the moathouse. Seems properly spooked by this Lareth character. His company, the Blackhand, was apparently hired by her to protect the moathouse and cause trouble in and around Hommlet. Made note of the fact that the burning eye symbol, which we had seen earlier in the letter we found, was emblazoned on their dress. Later Madrak, who was up and about again thanks to the miraculous healing properties of the ointment Wilstan carried with him, discovered a chest hidden under one of the flagstones in the room. In it we found yet another letter confirming what little March had already told us. Decided to spend the remainder of the night here, and search the ruins more thoroughly come daybreak.