As the boat glides towards the rickety pier the villains have a hushed conversation.
Adelea do we necessarily want to kill Odenkirk?
Fitch Our boss wants us to, we got told to.
A but we'll have a boat with a captain who owes us
S no. Kill him and take his stuff. I have a plan. If we can get him to fight the bugbears then it's our chance to take him out! he hits like a truck with that axe, this is our chance to not take him in a fair fight, ambush him when he's busy.
Fitch We can't kill him yet, do you know how to make this boat go? How about you employ your diplomatic prowess? Can we see if we can get the boat to its destination and just kill him in his sleep?
Fitch is confused. He asks Odenkirk if everyone knows where the secret landing spot across the lake is, and Odenkirk carefully explains to him that no, it's a secret landing spot and he is the one who knows it.
Fitch then asks the group if anyone knows where they were supposed to deliver the weapons. They look from him, to the pier, to the assembled throng of bugbears, to him again. Yes, they're delivering the weapons here. Adelea explains to Fitch that when Sam told the patrol boat they were delivering weapons to the wall that was something called a "lie".
The approaching bugbears seem minded to storm the boat and eat the squishy humans. Sam is disappointed to find she can't manouevre Odenkirk into fighting the bugbears himself, but he is adamant that this sort of thing is why the party are along. She then, in a virtuoso act of diplomacy, persuades the bugbears they are delivering weapons for Sakkarot, and that Sakkarot would be annoyed if they ate any of the party. Yes, even Fitch.
Three of the bugbears act as bouncers, while the fourth runs off to fetch Sakkarot.
Have they actually got buildings here or tents? Tents
I'll say it's tense, there's thousands of bugbears!
Sakkarot is a huge, dark-furred bugbear in a breastplate, and he is indeed carrying a flaming axe. There is a glint of intelligence in his eyes, and he speaks common without an accent. He arranges for the weapons to be passed out to the bugbears, and they soon transform from a rabble into a well-armed fighting force.
After a barbarous feast in their honour Sakkarot invites the villains to his quarters for a quiet chat. Sam wins him over by telling Fitch not to patronise him. Sakkarot rolls his eyes at Fitch, says “me heap big chief ug ug” then continues to talk urbanely to Samra'el.
He doesn't get much conversation in his day to day and, glutted on roast boar and rot gut, seems in an expansive mood. He questions the villains on their origins, and when shown a Branderscar brand, shows a brand of Asmodeus on his own chest. "We all have our scars"
The party are a little cagey about exactly how deep they are in Thorn's schemes, and perhaps sensing this it seems Sakkarot holds back a little himself. However he does tell them he has heard Thorn wasn't always called Thorn, and might have once been high in the priesthood of Mitra.
Sakkarot is delighted by the "mace fell into the sea" story and laughingly repeats "twenty four tons of weaponry and there wasn't a single mace on board!". He arranges for a lackey to find a discarded stone mace from a pile of weaponry abandoned in favour of steel.
He tells the villains they have a month to bring down the impregnable fortress Balentyne and gives them a signal rocket to fire to launch the assault.
Odenkirk is glad to get clear of the bugbear camp and quickly takes the party to a hidden cove, which is a couple of hours walk from Tower Balentyne and the nearby small town of Aldencross.
As they are just about to ground the boat Sam signals the party and strikes! Despite his more than half-expecting this, Sam is just subtle enough and Captain Odenkirk is taken by surprise.
She demoralises him: "Your greed is only exceeded by your stupidity. You have displeased Thorn you have displeased me and now you will pay!". This intimidation is extremely effective.
Adelea mutters "actually I think your stupidity exceeds your greed" but in this instance her remark is more cutting than her sword.
Fitch plants a thrown dagger in Odenkirk's back.
Sam greases his greataxe, which slides right out of his hands. Suddenly he is unarmed. She shouts to the sailors
You. Can't you see your captain is a traitor? Four of you perished on the journey.
He did not bat an eye. he only wanted to increase his share of the fee. Join us. or die
Odenkirk, frothing at the mouth and screaming that he killed his own brother to get this ship and that no-one will take it from him, fails to pick up his greasy greataxe, swings a wild punch at Adelea and misses.
He goes down under a hail of blows, finished by an arrow from one of his own sailors. The two remaining sailors, promised the ship for themselves, end up sharing the burning ship with Odenkirk as a communal pyre. In the secluded cove the fire goes unseen.
You are close now. Just a few miles from here sits the
small market town of Aldencross and less than a mile from
there is the watchtower of Balentyne – your goal. Already
Sakkarot’s horde gathers and prepares to move. Within
two weeks, they will be in a small valley north of the lake
awaiting your signal. Fire the rocket into the air at just
the right moment and you will take the frst step towards
claiming vengeance against Talingarde.
Destiny has taken you here. Destiny has given you a
mission. There is no doubt that the future of this green
and pleasant land lies in your hands. You could go to that
town right now and warn them of the plots of the sinister
Cardinal Thorn. You could give yourself up and face the
justice you deserve. You could turn back from the horror
and the slaughter that you are going to inﬂict upon these
Mitran sheep. This is that moment. This is the turning
point. Afer this, there is no going back. Any one eager
I thought not. Come, my friends. We have work to do.
We must burn Balentyne.
In the morning Sam persuades Grumblejack to stay at their supply cache while the party infiltrate the town. He agrees to stay for a while and to keep out of sight.
"A town! Let's go shopping!!"
Flush with Odenkirk's gold the party stock up on supplies and magically enhanced weapons and shields. Shopping is fun. They obtain a room at the one tavern in town, and repair to the bar to buy people drinks and listen to gossip. They hear the following:
Prisoners escaped from Branderscar (!!)
A raven arrived at the rookery – its important.
Captain Mott is a captain – there are 4 of them
Thomas Havelin is the lord commander – he's well 'ard
Posters – play coming to town – Marcus Marlowe – fall of amberline. Command performance to guards in tower.
Belham Barhold – pub owner – enjoys wine – cant get good stuff.
100 soldiers in Balentyne
Captain Varning on patrol with 6 men
Mama Giuseppe's beef stew – Mondays – goes to fort. (got vague directions to her house)
Bugbears amassing to the north – no shit.
Lords dalliance was a brothel – secret passage in basement to tower.
Fitch almost gets into a bar fight through sounding sarcastic at the wrong moment, but just about wriggles out of it. The party retire to their beds after a good days' work.