Spoiler alert: if you plan to play The Evils of Illmire, don’t read this!
Leaving behind the mysteries of the town of Illmire for now our party head out to the Old Watchtower on a warm, muggy spring day; acting on Lord Crellmont’s information, they seek Sergeant Wilfret who is stationed at the watchtower and is the only man that Crellmont trusts to help the town. The countryside here is idyllic, overlooked by the impressive Klepperhorn and a vigorous walk soon sees them approaching the foothills where the Old Watchtower is to be found. Looking back from the hills they get a sense of the land; many miles to the west beyond Illmire lies a vast wooded area known as the Redthorn Forest. Amidst the swathe of trees an observative traveller may spot a glimmer of sunshine of the surface of a lake and a tall object further north; a tower perhaps. A swamp lies to the north and east of the forest, a sickly miasma lingering over it, surely a foul place. East of the swamp and directly north a huge mountain range dominates the landscape, surrounding the mighty Klepperhorn. Those with keen eyesight might spot creatures in the air flying around the most distant of the mountains; just too far to make out any detail.
It is mid morning when the adventurers arrive at the Old Watchtower, situated on the northernmost of two prominent hills, the gaps between them protected by stone walls and crenellations. Silhoutted against the sun, four figures guard the west gate. They also spot figures in the watchtower windows and a balcony cut into the face of the southern hill, another guard keeping watch across the roads to the south from there. A question is asked… “Could this be where the bandits we were tracking were headed?”. The players had a hunch all might not be as it seemed.
The party talked to the captain of the west gate who identified himself as Rohn. They told him they had a message from Captain Frey for Sergeant Wilfret; Rohn replied that Sergeant Wilfret had left the fort and was not there, but he would take any message they had and try to get it to the Sergeant – it was clear there was still a lot of distrust on both sides. Evalore the Magic-User meets Rohn at the gate, both parties cautious. Rohn pressed for the message which Evalore made up on the spot “They need more in Illmire” and was surprised by the reply, “More? Already? I’ll have a word with Malstern”. This confirmed our heroes’ suspicion that something was wrong at the Old Watchtower; if this was the Malstern Kristos the Thief had heard of, he had a reputation as a ruthless bandit.
Withdrawing to a nearby copse to keep an eye on the fort they wait until darkness falls, their plan to infiltrate the place and find out what was really going on. They approach the southern balcony, luckily the guard has left his post and Kristos easily scales the 15′ to the ledge. Dropping a rope for the others to climb up, Kristos explores ahead and finds a corridor cut into the stone, on one side an armoury (which they have yet to thoroughly search) and on the other a door leading into a comfortably furnished bedroom, but no one about.
Once assembled in the corridor the group edge forward. The corridor opens into a pit in the hill with a further corridor to the north and a building with two doors to the west. From one of the doors can be heard shouting and a scream. Moving into action they burst open the door and find Malstern mistreating what they can only assume are slaves; a young man and two young women. Responding to Maltern’s indignant questions with rightful violence Anistor leads the attack, inflicting wounds on the bandit leader. Malstern grabs one of the women, a glinting dagger held to her throat, threatening to kill her, then shouts for help (which the dice cruelly determined was heard by his lackeys). The bandit leader backs out through an internal door, with clear intent to escape back into the pit and through the northern corridor. Not being known for subtlety or negotiating with bandits, Gravik the Dwarf charges after him and with a carefully timed blow caves in Malstern’s skull. The dagger is seen to have a glowing blue sheen to it’s edge, and hoping it is magical in some way Gravik grabs it before helping the woman to her feet.
The heroes clear the building, but on hearing shouts, the stomp of feet and the clank of weapons on armour, they know the rest of the bandits are heading their way. They retreat to the corridor in the southern hill, using a huge table to create a barricade while Rohn sends for reinforcements. The party have a way out of this, they can return to the balcony and run for it but something tells me they want to sort these bandits out and discover the fate of Sergeant Wilfret…