Luc, Deaton, and Amarack decided that deception would be their most powerful weapon in attempting to retake the keep, given the 10-12 foes inside. Weaving a powerful illusion, Luc made Amarack and himself appear as the dead OO’ and his vizier, and approached the keep shouting insults and challenges to the hobgoblins in residence there, while Deaton hid at the edge of the woods, ready to snipe as needed. A hobgoblin and three goblins came out to keep the two disguised Cyrans while the courtyard of the keep filled up with the rest of the garrison, confused and surprised by the sudden appearance of seeming ghosts.
Surprisingly, it was the clever goblins that discovered the ruse, recognizing the Amarack’s footprints did not match those of his form, but Deaton dropped one with a shot to the back before it could attack. Seizing the moment of confusion, Luc and Amarack attacked, killing the two goblins with a sudden thunderwave, while the hobgoblin broke and ran for the keep’s interior. Rushing into the bailey, Luc and Amarack were attacked by two archers on the wall and a combination of hobgoblins and a minotaur bruiser.
With spell and sword the two Cyrans began working through their enemies, as Deaton closed the distance to the keep and picked off enemies with his bow. Two hobs were put to sleep by Luc’s spell while Amarack squared off against another, driven on by the fury of his sword. Dropping that enemy he pivoted to the minotaur.
Just as the hobs and the minotaur seemed to be in hand as threats, the manticore they knew was there burst forth from its room, firing tail spines at Luc and Amarack and them attacking Deaton with tooth and claw. The hobgoblin leader bolted and ran back to the tower; Amarack was knocked out; and Luc began dragging him to safety as Deaton and the manticore fought – it seemed that the fortunes of battle had shifted against them when Luc glued the minotaur to a wall with his Wand of Web and gave Amarack a healing potion. The three men, beaten and bruised, had enough fight left to kill the minotaur and manticore.
Their blood still up, they followed the leader’s path into the tower, but found only a rope hanging out a 2nd-story window as evidence of his flight, a minute or more before them. In his room, however were found some parchment pages with messages on them, and a map of the region, showing what looked to be troop movements and time tables for attacks.
Drellin’s Crossing was due to come under attack within days, it seemed, followed by forces seizing the old stone bridge at Cullin’s Gorge, and then the cutting of several roads at strategic points, preventing flow of men or information in or out of the immediate region. New Cyre, it seemed, was their ultimate target, within weeks.
What to do, and when? Drellin’s Crossing was about to face an onslaught that it could not hope to defeat. The old stone bridge seemed like an important part of the monsters’ transport plan; and it seemed that other trails out of the Seawalls would be used to move unseen through the Crownwood and into the foothills south of New Cyre.
How could this invasion of the region be met, or perhaps stopped?
Aside from the messages, which are communiques between this advance base, some scouts, and some higher command to the south, and the regional map, there is no treasure to be found – no coin or magic or items of note in the room. Incidental coin is found on the dead troops to the tune of 52GP in total (they’re traveling light – and after all: they’re part of an invasion, not on a shopping trip). It’s clear, too, from the messages that scouts have been in the region for well over a month, and they’ve got solid, timely intel on forces, roads, and other important information from New Cyre to Drellin’s Crossing and farther north.
You can access a map of the region here. Each hex is about 2 miles across, putting New Cyre and Drellin’s Crossing roughly 60 miles apart. Note, too, that Drellin’s Crossing is not due east of New Cyre – it’s NE of it, and the Shrike River runs from NE to SW.