Here are the events of Fifth Dryday. Once again, anyome is encouraged to replace this clinical recounting with a narrative from the party’s viewpoint.
Only timid, benign sounds disturbed the dark stillness of Calimon’s Inferno. Aelar should have been able to meditate restfully. He had hoped that by taking all of the watches, he could investigate the creeping psychic malaise that had haunted him since leaving [home]. But now the predawn approached, and he knew another dreadful day lay ahead. He was committed to supporting his fellow adventurers, yet he’d begun to wonder if his loss of focus would hurt them worse than his absence.
The stars began to dim one by one. As Aelar watched the lightening sky, he thought he detected a rhythm to the animal scuffles outside and made a mental note to investigate later.
“Maybe we should move in and fix ‘er up,” said Aesgir. He kicked at a pile of debris, picked up a chipped stone on which was carved and ancient, worn, but vaguely familiar symbol, and then tossed the stone down again. “This wouldn’t make a bad starter tower for a wizard on his way up. Nice and isolated, plenty of …”
“‘Tisn’t to last,” said Aelar, turning away from the ruined gate. He motioned for Senirab to head up the nearest tower and scout. “Something approaches, large — and quickly.” He stood silently watching the tower until Senirab’s head appeared, looking to the southwest. After a moment, Senirab shook his head slowly and then headed down. “Besides,” he said to Aesgir again, “there’s an ant problem.”
Aesgir snapped is fingers with a loud pop and sparks showered from his hand. He winked at Teerin. “I’m not worried about insects.” Teerin smiled back, then turned and walked with Aelar over to meet Senirab by the tower. Senirab spoke a few words and shook his head and shrugged at a question from Teerin. Aelar headed back into the keep. Senirab began jogging along the inner wall of the fort, peeking quickly into the rubble near each of the towers. Teerin returned to Aesgir.
“A humanoid party is heading straight for us, several dozen at least. Not marching, but organized. We have a quarter hour, maybe less.” Teerin’s smile was gone. He turned slowly, looking along the tops of the walls. Senirab whistled from the back of the fort and motioned the others to come.
“Better wake the dwarf,” said Aesgir.
“Aelar is waking him and clearing our tracks,” said Teerin, shaking his head, “although the echoes of Gottliest‘s snoring will probably give us away.” He noticed the juicy orange glow of the rising sun on the capstones of the western wall, seeming to flow downward as they walked towards Senirab. Whatever came, it should at least be a pleasant day.
“We can split out right through here,” said Senirab, pointing to a gap in the rubble where a tower had stood. Huge stones the height of a man lay scattered in several heaps. He noticed Aesgir’s raised eyebrow. “There’s way too many to stand about,” he said. “And there’s no place here to hole up.”
“What about the cellar?” asked Aesgir.
“Aelar and Gottliest are checking,” said Teerin. He knew the dwarf would make short work of the keep cellar and find any potential escape routes there.
“Unless the cellar opens into Fat Hinny Half-Elf’s Wholehouse in Geht, I’m outta here,” said Senirab. “Nothing here, we need to keep moving.”
“You know, for a tough guy you sure do a lot of running away,” said Aesgir.
“Easy to say for the guy who fights from behind a wall,” said Senirab. “You know who picks fights with poor odds?”
“The dead,” said Aelar, approaching quickly. He and Gottliest walked back to meet the remaining three. “Or at least the soon to be. Which isn’t us today. We’re cleaned up, I don’t think our presence will be noticed.”
“‘Sides, they’ll be crocked up dealing with the ant problem,” said Gottliest. Aesgir raised the other eyebrow. Gottliest met his gaze. “Cellar is a no-go,” he continued. “unless ye can pop us all on an extra pair of legs. Actually wouldn’t be a bad fit for normal-sized folks like Teerin and me.” He nodded at the gnome.
“I’ve got to see these ants,” said Aesgir.
“Try lookin’ behind ye,” said Gottliest, motioning with his war hammer to Aesgir’s rear. Aesgir turned just in time to see the rear half-meter of a giant ant disappearing over the lip of a giant ant hill. He didn’t answer. Senirab and Teerin looked at each other.
“Cellar is out,” they said in unison.
The party hides amid the ruins of a tower at the western wall of Calimon’s Inferno, uncomfortably near to a guarded entrance to the man-sized ant nest. The party watches as a hundred or more kobolds and dragonborn march into the fortress and set up camp. Kobolds bear two interesting burdens on their shoulders: A large chest, which they take inside the main keep, and a strange metal cage containing a beat-up dragonborn, which they deposit in the open courtyard. A half dozen kobolds guard the cage.
Once the army has settled in, kobolds begin working on the northwest tower of the fortress, bringing in lumber and strange lengths of metal.
As the party observes and wonders what could possibly motivate them to stay in such a dangerous situation, a lone kobold approaches them. Teerin translates, and the kobold introduces himself as Fetch, the servant of the dragonborn in the cage. He is desperate to rescue his master and mentions something about another dragonborn – a shaman named Ignath – and their mission to Osfenix’s Pyre.
The party climbs the cliffs that butt up against the south wall of the fortress and get a better view of the whole place. They see a storm approaching, and as it gets closer, the kobolds lift the cage containing the dragonborn and carry it inside the keep.
The Ant Plan
The Party decides they can drive the ants out the nest entrance inside the keep by harassing the ants at the other end – near where they were hiding. They kill the guard ants and begin unleashing all their ranged at-will powers at the vertical walls of the ant entrance, collapsing a lot of it. It doesn’t drive away the ants, but it does blocks the way for workers coming to fix the problem, so workers begin to emerge from the keep to fix the problem from above – causing some commotion among the kobolds and forcing them to move their supplies, and the caged dragonborn, outside the fortress walls.
The Rescue Plan Involving Fire
While Aelar, in dancing bear form, distracts the kobolds that now guard the cage and their supply of lumber, and Senirab sneaks in close to the cage, Asgier uses his elemental magics to set the wood on fire. He finds himself at the vanguard of the attack on the kobolds but is soon joined by his friends and they prevail in time for Senirab to pick the lock on the cage before new enemies arrive. The party, including Fetch and his rescued master Zanthis, run north into the mostly flat lands of the pass, but are pursued by more kobolds and a special hopping drake. The party halts on good defensive ground, battle commences, Gottliest keeps everyone alive, and they make short work of the enemy.
Zanthis thanks the party for their help and agrees to show them the way to Osfenix’s Lair, but he would like help before they go. He needs to recover a pouch of gems and the tome of his dead shaman friend, Ignath, which are inside the chest inside the keep inside Colimon’s Inferno.
The Bluffing Kobold Plan
The party returns to Calimon’s Inferno before dawn and sets a plan in motion whereby Fetch pretends to be a survivor of the group the party destroyed out in the pass. Fetch successfully gathers the guards patrolling the fortress courtyard and a few others and leads them north into the pass, where most of the party is waiting in ambush. Meanwhile, Senirab sneaks around the courtyard of Calimon’s Inferno, searching for the large chest, even exploring the northwest tower, where he finds newly constructed floors and a strange metal sculpture on the very top floor. He doesn’t find the big chest, but concludes from all the places it wasn’t that it is probably in the basement of the keep.