As day dawns on Vedrana tower, Captain Chavdar seeks out the adventurers. He wants them to join a guard patrol and go back down the road to protect the remaining refugees from any further attacks. Many of the mysterious creatures have been killed, but no one knows exactly how many there were, and, given their apparent intelligence, they could be planning something.
In exchange for their help, he offers them free lodging at a guard house in Cyneburga- as housing is a luxury that will certainly be hard to find in a city swollen with refugees, the group agrees.
The creatures from the previous attacks seem to be absent, but one group of refugees has found trouble in the form of a Grick, which has dragged several of their number into it's lair. Uggh fells the beast with a mighty swing of his greataxe, and the refugees are rescued. A crack in the cave floor leads to another chamber, this one with a ruined worked-stone wall that opens onto an aqueduct. The grick's mate is here, and its rubbery hide resists the party's blows until Glerothain grapples with the beast and plunges its head into the aqueduct, drowning it.
Uggh takes on of the grick eggs for himself and goes to inform the refugees that the group is safe. He then hears word of some of his fellow tribesmen, and runs off in search of them.
The rest of the group investigates the aqueduct, and come accross a clandestine meeting from two shadowy figures. T'sabo detects a tremendous evil aura around one, and immediately attacks, taking the figure by surprise and putting an arrow through its eye.
The figure advances, and is revealed as one of the dread mind-flayers. It attempts to charm Malkus, but fails, just before being struck by several more precisely shot arrows and crossbow bolts. Horribly wounded, it vanishes, shifting to another plane.
This was a little bit ridiculous. I had meant for the characters to be incapacitated by the flayer and then taken in by the Duke so that he'd then have a way to prevent them from revealing his dealings with the flayers. This plan had to be scrapped when the party got four or five critical hits in the course of two rounds, dropping the mind-flayer from about 90 HP to exactly 0. They were level two at the time…
Anyway, I'm not unhappy with the result, as now I have a great recurring villain to throw in once the mind-flayers start moving in on the city.
The party manages to subdue the other figure as well- one Duke Nikolai. Although he was planning to sell Cyneburga's brightest minds to the Mind-Flayers in order to slow their invasion (and make a profit on the side), he tells the party that marching him into the city in chains is a poor plan- he's a Duke after all, and they are merely refugees. He says that if they keep quiet he can be a useful patron for them.
The party debates. Malkus is all for killing him right now and leaving him in the aqueduct, but the others refuse to kill a helpless opponent. The heated argument attracts the attention of a tribe of mutant orcs that reside in the aqueduct. They are mostly feral, covered in reptillian scales, and ambush the party by sliding down chains from the ceiling and throwing javelins from niches in the walls.
Malkus gives a mighty battle cry and charges the largest orc, but trips halfway there and falls flat on his face. The javelin throwers have horrible luck, with several falling from their perches and perishing in the aqueduct, and the others having their javelins deflected by the martial arts prowess of Glerothain.
The battle is easily won when a stranger appears, hurling bolts of fire at the orcs. It seems the patrol outside the cave grew tired of waiting and sent in back up. Nikolai manages to free himself during the fight, and proves to be a deadly threat to the orcs as well.
The stranger introduces himself as Esper Harland, a duskblade and adventurer in much the same postion as the rest of the group. They welcome him to join, as Uggh has not yet returned.