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Hostile Takeover Part Three

Part Three begins at the same campaign time that Part Two does, since the PCs split into two groups at the end of Part One.

After the drilling troops push past them up the stairs, Group B climbs back down to the bottom of the great staircase and decides to climb down the well.

Olga wants a place to regain spells; her half-brother Brandt also wants to rest to regain psionic strength. They fasten a rope at the top of the well; Brandt the mindbender goes first, and Olga (strength 7) goes once Brandt is most of the way down. They use a continual light stone to light the way down. Olga slips and falls on Brandt, but miraculously (considering his strength of 6) , he keeps his grip on the rope and she holds him. They both sustain damage from gripping and falling, and are beginning to wish that they had just fallen into the water, until a Cistern Fiend rises from the water, ready to attack.

BRANDT and OLGA thank the elements for the Teleport science (and that their DM uses the C&T initiative system in which the smaller creatures tend to move more quickly, especially when it comes to using psionics.) The mindbender uses the last of his PSPs to bring them up 10 yards to the top of the well.

[Aside: I find Mindbenders much more handy than spellcasters in a pinch. Spellcasters have to have everything just right: both hands and legs free for complex somatic components, material components available, and often legthy casting time. If you use C&T, spellcasting in melee leaves the caster open to attacks of opportunity (although I actually limit this to spells with somatic components which is only 97% of all spells!) How's that for a defense?]

But during the terrifying the moments that Brandt and Olga were near the water level in the well, their magical light illuminated the underground river that feeds the well. Brandt is certain that he had seen at least one dry passage passage: a level below them! Brandt and Olga hypothesize that this third level is where IANTO would logically go to hide. They guesse that he is probably still on the loose. If only they had not lost BERN, and the rest of the party . . .

Brandt and Olga dimention-door into a safe, previously seen dry passage tunnel off of the well area on the newly discovered third floor. Over several hours, they discover (See map below):

blt-dry1.gif (699 bytes) an underground river.
blt-dry1.gif (699 bytes) A small staircase leading up to the second level and all the way up to the top level (master room, but Group B does not know this)
blt-dry1.gif (699 bytes) The still pond well area with the cistern fiend.
blt-dry1.gif (699 bytes) Many caves and side passages that the river created over the centuries.
blt-dry1.gif (699 bytes) A cave full of rotting, horrible smelling garbage and excrement
blt-dry1.gif (699 bytes) One freshly killed human body, lying in the pile of garbage.
blt-dry1.gif (699 bytes) One hungry Otyugh that nearly kills Group B

After the combat, Brandt and Olga talk to each other, and they hear a whisper from a hole in the vaulted cave roof above:  "is that you, Orik?" "Yes," Olga says. No more whispering. The PCs shrug it off.

Group B has already explored the river-level of the caves, which took up a great deal of their time. They found no walled-off areas, no sign of human interference with the natural caves except for the mysterious pile of offal, which they avoided, of course. But the fight with the Otyugh has them all smelly (bad for sneaking around), so they decide to bathe in the freezing underground river.

As they carry their bundled clothes upstream towards what looks like a more shallow aand safe area, they see a light and hear noise coming from the stairs behind them, so they try to head farther upstream to get out of sight. They hear voices:

"Master Ianto, we found your little secret staircase, and it is just a matter of time until we find you and your henchmen. Give up now! Your men are still alive. All Mistress Troika wants is your fort. Come and be reasonable. As a token of good faith, we have your son right here, alive and well — for now..."

Wouldn't you know it? When Group B was looking for IANTO, they couldn't figure how to find him, but when they were looking for a hiding place . . .

Group B finds another set of caves upstream. Exploring, they find a passage that smells bad and realize that this connected with the offal-cave. They also find a cave that dead-ended in a still pool of water.

Finally, they find a man camoflaged in grey clay, and tried to tell him (IANTO) that they are friends of BERN, but he escapes them, diving into the pool, which Group B connects to the Cistern Fiend's pool (since tentacles waved them back as they approach.) IANTO swims back up to the surface a moment later, though, and allows Brandt and Olga to talk him into trusting them. 

IANTO, who himself placed the Cistern fiend in the well, has a ring that allows him to command the monster. He returns to Group B because they are clearly the better choice: TROIKA troops saw Ianto emerging from the cistern on the other side of the wall and came after him. Group B is at least not dressed in the uniforms of his enemy! As IANTO speaks to the party now the Cistern Fiend is slaying Troika troops. ]

At IANTO's request, Brandt uses Dimention Door to take IANTO and Olga into the offal room.

IANTO points at the cieling and says that one of the old prison cells opens a 3' crack about 25' over the cave, which he and his men used as a convenient waste disposal site.

Olga tells IANTO about the voice from above earlier, and as she does, the voice calls out again, "Master, is that you?" Ianto recognises the voice of one of his liutenenants.

Another easy Dimention door does the trick, and now IANTO and Group B sit with the Lieutenant and two other imprisoned Ianto troops inside a 10 by 10 cell. It is a good thing that the Troika troops did not know about the garbage chute, the lieutenant tells IANTO, adding that one of her comrades had tried to escape through there hours before, but she had not heared from him since (the Otyugh got him).

IANTO explains to the party that the cell they are in the middle of about fifty small cells in a long corridor on the second level (see map below). He would have walled this obselete part of the old prison out years ago, but for the utility of the "garbage chute."

The party rests a few hours; Brandt recovers most of his PSPs but Olga just sleeps: she needs light to recover spells, which would attract the attention of the Troika guards.

The Lieutenant says that the Troika guards brought everyone in the cells wine and bread, but that she did not trust the wine (it tasted too sweet) and forbid her subordinates from drinking it. She is glad that she did this, because later evidence suggested that it was drugged: For the last few hours, Troika guards have been opening cell doors to see "who is asleep," and taking sleeping people out, about five at a time, the lieutentant estimates. There are about three or four prisoners to a cell, and all sixty cells _were_ full, but the Troika guards bave been emptying two or three cells of sleepers every hour or so. What are they doing with the sleepers, group B wonders.

So Group B (hereafter refered to as "the party" since Group A is out of commission) hides with IANTO in a cell, in the middle of a hallway of cells full of Ianto troops, guarded by a stiff guard of Troika troops. The party tries to recoup a few hours, and eventually, by using a continual light marble and huddling averyone around the wizard, allow her to rememorize a spell in the dark. Fireball, Olga's favorite. She tries to memorize more, but suddenly the sound of guards shouting overcomes her concentration.

From the sound of it, the number of guards had just doubled, and they were opening all the cells and removing the sleeping ones. It was being done methodically, from one end of the hallway to the other. The party [I temporarilly allowed the Group A players to run IANTO and the Lieutenant] bursts through the door and the wizard fireballs the hallway.

Sigh. Olga always miscalculates. The fireball sweeps the whole hallway, and backfires into the PCs' cell, killing all of the Troika guards, and also all of the sleeping Ianto troops that were being carried, and the two Ianto soldiers in the PCs' cell. (Is Friendly Fire a problem in your campaigns as well?)

The guards beyond the hallway go running for the main stairs to go warn TROIKA, so the party is injured (from the fireball), but quite free. They spend a few minutes opening all the cells, and assemble sixty awake (but unarmed and unarmored) Ianto troops.

The party wastes time trying to equip the newly-freed Ianto troops with the burnt armor and weapons of the fireballed Troika guards, and finally they rush up the great central staircase.

The wooden stairs were previously damaged by Olga's Flaming Hands spell, and a portion of the stairs is giving way now, but the small unarmed army makes its way up the stairs without combat. They do hear someone at the top of the stairs shout "they're coming."

On to Part Four View all Maps Back to Introduction

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