Our characters had located an ancient ruin in the desert, found our way inside, and successfully retrieved the Ancient Magical Siege Weapons - and then promptly had to use them to fend off a horde of attacking undead, because our bard has no sense of self-preservation and Touched The Thing when he shouldn't have. We'd used a portal to get inside, and it took some looking to find a way back out. Finally, though, we found a carved magical gate, which led us into another set of ruins and out into the crypts below a temple.
It was there we met a young sorceress, apparently mute, with a parrot for a familiar. She'd come into the crypts in search of something - treasure, probably, or maybe just mischief - and gotten trapped by undead. Once we established that we weren't undead and didn't seem likely to gnaw on her skull, she helped us find the way back to the surface.
This placed us firmly in a town whose name I've completely forgotten, but which is basically Sidequest City. And boy, have we done some side-quests. In no particular order:
- We've looked over the local temple, where they worship a chaotic sea god.
- We've figured out that the wizard who was selling dragon-protection potions was basically just scamming people.
- The bard and my rogue/ranger helped the bard's most recent girlfriend break into the wizard's house in search of a magical treasure, which she apparently took for herself right before turning the wizard into a statue and leaving town.
- We've gone in search of a missing sword, which was a wedding a gift for the local lord's also-missing son, found it, and returned it to the lord.
- We've trapped and destroyed the vampire who murdered the lord's son.
- We've been spying on another lord from nearby ("Naima" or something similar) as he coordinated with chieftains from the desert barbarians and the local bugbear tribes.
This is probably not the most efficient way to carry out our duties to the fort and its soldiery, but we kind of needed the time to figure out what to do on that front. The issue is that... well... we were assigned to bring the Magical Siege Weapons back to the fort for the Baron's use. The best way to get them out of the ruins would be to carry them through the magical gate. We don't want to do that while we're here, obviously, but the gate could be moved - except it's large, made of stone, hidden in a crypt, and not easy to either remove or to transport, even if nobody objected. So: sidequests, and looking for ways to ingratiate ourselves with the local lord, whose name is Crock or something like it.
Well, we're pretty ingratiated now that we've solved the mystery of his son's disappearance, returned the wedding gift, and avenged the son's death. So naturally the local lord invited us to a party at his manor. This required us to find dates - and not with other people in our party, either. About that, well... the less said the better. My skulking would-be Batman (ranger/rogue) wound up going with a sort of emo druid, for whom we also need to perform a sidequest.
Anyway, we arrived at the part, and not only was the local lord there, but among the various other notables was the villainous lord Naima (or however you spell that). During the mingling-before-dinner stage of the event, Naima stopped a couple of our party members and essentially offered them jobs. He was, he said, putting together an invasion, and the lord Crock had assured him that we were the sort of group that could get things done. With the bugbears and the desert tribes behind him, the fort would fall and he would be able to press into Sol Povos. This wasn't entirely new to us, of course. Not only had we been spying on them for the last week or two, but we'd actually invaded the guy's house on the suspicion that he was involved in the attacks on the fort. As soldiers in the border guard of Sol Povos, well... basically, part of the reason we were out here was to deal with the situation he wanted us to help him create.
Our bard mentioned that he'd heard some indications that the invasion was actually going to be a bluff, that lord Naima and his allies were likely to be sacrificed as part of some deeper plot (which is true), but lord Naima wasn't having it. He considered his victory inevitable. "It's too bad the Baron will have to die," he told us. "Still, his bloodline won't go to waste. I'll take his wife for my own, and each of you could have one of his daughters." The bard assured him that we'd think about it, and then everybody sat down for dinner. (Some of us in the main dining hall, some of us outside.)
Dinner was... interesting. Lord Crock had apparently had enough of Lord Naima, and began insulting him. He even asked our fighter, "Which daughter did he promise you, then?"
Our bard managed to defuse the situation before it got too ugly, but the villainous lord Naima stormed out of the room and went down to the wine cellar, where his bugbear ally was already fourteen bottles into his own celebration. This seemed to consist largely of lying on the floor with no pants on, drinking liver-killing amounts of wine, and singing off-key. The bard took that opportunity to step outside and bring my character up to date.
Vendril thought about all this for a couple of minutes, then excused himself from the emo druid and went inside. He stationed himself inside the house, at the top of the steps to the wine cellar. Below, he could hear lord Naima pacing back and forth and muttering things like "kill him... didn't need him" between snatches of drunken bugbear songs. By the time he came back up the stairs, Vendril had decided that Lord Naima was the sort of man who clearly needed a knife in his kidney, so I put one there.
By the time the dust settled, Vendril and the young sorceress had taken down lord Naima and the bugbear (who was fighting with a broken bottle and no pants), while the fighter and the cleric held off and eventually killed the two barbarian war-leaders. Lord Crock even heard enough to step in and get involved in taking out lord Naima. So at the end of the party, a big chunk of the visible leadership for the invaders was dead, our party was remarkably (and luckily) unscathed, and Vendril clapped lord Crock on the shoulder and told him that he threw the best parties.