Rizzenil and the prisoner known only as ”#37” had been lurking around the Deep Ward for a few days now. How #37 could get in and out of his cell Rizzenil would never understand – it was enough that he could. The drow was free and the only way he’d let himself be locked up again was if he were dead. Life in a cage is no life at all. Stalking around the Deep Ward, trying to get a sense of their surroundings in the pitch black darkness, they were bound to run into guards eventually. The pair were even holding their own… until the slaughterstone eviscerator showed up and ruined everything. Then it was time to retreat and hide again. And how did #37 manage to stay invisible?! Rizzenil was determined to learn that trick if at all possible.
Gareth stood before Warden Zaxxon d’Kundarak, bound in chains and pleading, but this time for someone other than himself. Herself. Whatever. Gender was flexible. It all depends on the needs of the situation. Why be so narrow-minded? At any rate, Gareth found himself explaining that Aurann really was just under a lot of pressure, you see? It wasn’t really his fault. It’s not like it wasn’t without good cause… And there was the whole conspiracy.
That did it. Now the Warden was interested. He had heard the “innocent prisoner” bit a thousand times in the century he’d held the keys to Dreadhold, but a conspiracy within the walls of the Kundarak prison? That was something else entirely. Names are what he required. Details. Places. Identifying marks. Specifics. And Gareth was more than happy to give up Durok the Masher as the mastermind behind the conspiracy to kill General Verdgrin. Now if only he could figure out what was nagging him in the back of his mind… Did he really believe that Durok was in charge? Certainly not, but he’d do for a scapegoat. At least for now. It would certainly get the bugbear out of his hair, and more importantly, the hell away from Kallen. How did a gnome manage to find THAT much trouble? Was it a size thing? The Artificer certainly had a knack for causing a disproportionate amount of aggravation.
The Warden would do something, he promised.
Coming out of his paralysis, Aurann ached everywhere. The healing process continued when transmuted into stone, so he couldn’t have been under for that long. It was dark and somewhere in his peripheral vision he could see a slithering… the medusa. He was in the Stone Ward… Boots nearby. Looking up, Aurann realized he must be on the floor, and the dwarf towering over him was none other than the Warden himself. For half a second, the eladrin considered attacking him then and there – fighting through the Mark of Justice again MIGHT be possible… But no, the Warden was talking to him. About a transfer? It was hard to make out in the fog that seemed to surround his head. But yes, the dwarf was talking about transfer to the Deep Ward. Still, there would be the Mark of Justice, he reasoned, but he was simply too dangerous to keep near the other prisoners. He would be isolated, but that could be turned to Aurann’s advantage – more time to work out the ritual that might remove the hated Mark of Justice.
It was easy to agree to the dwarf’s demands. Of course he’d cease and desist any escape attempts. Of course, he’d be on his best behavior. Of course, this was what the dwarf wanted to hear.
Kallen, Gareth and Armus had decided to bite the bullet and make temporary allies with Ragna the Oathbreaker. This was a gamble, to be sure, but as they saw it, they had little choice. Armus would be the man “inside” the General’s trusted inner circle, Kallen would be the distraction, and Gareth would be the hand that sealed the General’s doom. Or at least, that’s how it had to look. Even to the General, who couldn’t be counted on to go with their escape plan. It got too complicated. Too many people knew. Too many variables. Too many mouths that might talk and too many ears that would sell a secret to the Warden.
Deciding that their window of opportunity was quickly approaching, the team worked to beg, borrow, and steal enough cloth to craft a makeshift rope. There was no getting out of the front door of Dreadhold. Aurann’s aborted escape attempt had shown the obviousness of that. They’d never get out of the Red Ward, let alone through the halls, past the invisible death wards to find a way past the upper walls. And even if they could get out of their cell and out of the prison itself, they’d still have to deal with the manticore patrols and… it was too much to the consider. It wasn’t going to happen that way. But perhaps, just perhaps, there was a chance to go through Khyber. Down the center of the prison was a huge elevator shaft that took guards and the doomed to the Deep Ward. How deep the shaft was, no one really knew, but it was substantial, and they’d need a LOT of rope to lower them down to the Deep Ward when the time comes to escape.
The team had decided that the time was right. All the signs pointed to today. The plane of Lammania was at the weakest it would be for another century or more. All the pieces were in place… and then Armus was called to the Warden’s office. The news he received in that office was for his ears alone, but now as the chance to escape appears, his excitement seems dimmed somehow—lessened.
Armus was back in the Red Ward rec room. Gareth, Kallen, Ragna and his minions had as much makeshift rope as their clothes could hide. They had decided that today would be the day. Everyone knew their role, and Kallen was instrumental in the opening stages.
As Kallen moves to cause a distraction, violence unplanned by the team breaks out suddenly in the recreation area of the Red Ward. Guards turn their backs for a moment and two human thugs grab the gnome off his feet and shove him into a corner unobservable by the guards. They savagely beat him for a few seconds, and then violence erupts all over the room! Tables are overturned, guards cast stun spells haphazardly about the large area, hitting instigators and innocent bystanders alike. This chaos was just what the team had hoped for. Now was their chance!
Through the chaos and confusion of what followed, Kallen proved his usefulness when he managed to get his hands on the guards’ keys! Combined with the key he had already secreted away in his shoe, the team was able to make their way out of the rec area and into the halls of Dreadhold. With Ragna leading them and the General in tow, they barely made it into the central tower—but they made it. Quickly combining their makeshift rope and lowering themselves down, they realize too late that the shaft is longer than their rope. Not able to see the bottom in the dark, Kallen (who had insisted on going first) decided to make the ultimate gamble, and let go at the bottom.
Falling in the dark is unsettling, but without knowing how long he’d fall… he was barely able to divert some of the impact and rolled as he hit the floor. A good twenty feet. Calling up to the others to let them know, the rest quickly followed suit and were soon collected near the bottom of the shaft.
Having heard the ruckus, Rizzenil and #37 decided to investigate. Since when did the dwarves make this much noise coming down? The elevator must’ve slipped a magical gear… But wait. Those weren’t dwarves. One was too short. The others too tall. And human? An elf? What the hell was all this? Who were these madmen? Dressed in prison issue, the pair soon reasoned that these were escaping prisoners. With these temporary compatriots, they stood a chance against the horrors of Khyber!
They all came to the same conclusion: band together and live, or die alone.
As the team started down the hall towards Khyber, Rizzenil stopped them.
“Wouldn’t you rather have all your gear?”
And then the team was faced with a choice: make a break for freedom immediately through Khyber – or try to retrieve their equipment. The alarms were echoing even down here in the Deep Ward. They’ll need to act quickly, whatever they decide.
If you’ve read this whole post, bring the 12th level version of your character to play in the game. Tell no one else.