Chapter 16: Airship Down / by Anthony Morales

 

Our heroes, after escaping the Yuan-Ti and regrouping with warrior from Skorra, are assigned the task of recovering a downed airship. They are air-dropped near a castle where the airship is thought to be hidden. The find the castle, occupied by Myoor soldiers and see the airship beside it, the balloon deflated.

The heroes scope out the stronghold ahead. Leon tells them what he can see through his spyglass: a squarish stronghold set into the hill. It has 4 towers in each of the corners, tents and men mill about in the yard and one stone building towards the back. The only entrances appear to be the front gate and maybe a creek that runs through it. 

They hear the crash and snap of branches, flying branches and leaves obscure Leon's view and then it goes dark. He pulls away. It's an undead fire giant. He's patrolling the area and quickly moves south.

They can't agree on a plan, Leon wants to enter via the water way, Pip wants to use his ability to turn into an animal to study the place. Macro wants to sneak onto the ship and use the sparker. 

While they're arguing, Pip hands his gear to Leon, turns into a Mastiff and heads towards the stronghold. He approaches the soldiers playfully. The soldiers mostly ignore him or let him be. Trying to get into one of the towers, Pip befriends the necromancer of the stronghold. Wins his confidence by playing fetch with him. But the necromancer won't let him into the tower because an angry sounding gruff voice complained about the noise at the door. 

Pip snoops on the troops in the camp.

Pip, still in mastiff form, decides to create a distraction by taunting the giant who is coming back around. Staying out of reach, Pip taunts the giant by barking and leaping. Successful, he draws the giant towards the keep. The soldiers go crazy, this enrages the fire giant zombie. The half-orc leader of the Myoor soldiers and the necromancer rush out of the front gate. Mastiff Pip runs up to the necromancer.

Clouds fly over, and it's starting to rain. 

The half-orc leader kicks Mastiff Pip in frustration, yells at the necromancer to get the giant zombie under control. The necromancer reaches for his component pouch to begin, but Pip grabs the pouch with his teeth and speeds off into the darkness of the forest. 

Seeing the commotion at the keep, Macro and Leon sneak towards the stronghold, Adahn, dressed in Plate Mail and not very sneaky, waits for a signal. Macro sneaks over to the ship, Leon sneaks to the river entrance, but is seen by archers in the tower above. 

Leon takes an arrow to the knee, casts silence on them, bashes the iron gate down and walks in. He scopes out the area, sees the giant at the gate. The Myoor soldiers are busy with keeping the giant out of the keep and finding the necromancer's spell components. 

Macro climbs up the anchor chain into a lower (2nd) deck of the ship. He starts feeling around for a way down to the engine room. He can hear two voices somewhere in the ship. Pip makes a great ability check and sniffs out Macro, turns into a gnome and, naked, follows him in. He startles Macro who freezes, hoping to hide but then realizes it's Pip. They formulate a plan

The archers from the tower exit through the ground-floor door and pursue Leon into the space between the outer wall and the tower. Leon kills one and wounds the other who flees to get help yelling "Help! Intruder!". 

Pip turns into a rat and rushes down some stairs to the 3rd level of the ship to the Engine room. He squeezes through the space between the floor and the door to make sure the room is empty and the door unlocked. He runs back to Macro, and via squeaks and scratches, leads the blind Macro to the room. It's very dimly lit. Moonlight reflects off the dish that sends heat up into the chimney and into the balloon, leaving the face of the heating element in shadow. Pip watches in rat form as Macro feels around for the sparker slot. They hear a door open in the hall. Eventually macro finds the slot, slides the sparker into the divot. Macro whips out his bow, draws an arrow and points it towards the door. The sparker in the heating element emits a great orange glow lighting up the room. Sweat begins to drip off Pip and Macro as heat increases. The light gets sucked back into the ball and moves into the element. The dish, which looks like a giant wok, starts to heat up and emit. light. The room flash fills with heat and light. Then the head focuses upward, leaving the room cool but lit. 

In a panic, Leon tries to remove the House Myoor arm band from the dead soldier so he can hopefully blend in. Nervous, panicky, he just ties the arm band tighter onto the dead soldier's arm. The archer returns with two more soldiers to take out the intruder. Leon uses spell after spell to take them out. Shatter kills one instantly and severely wounds the other who fights back hard. Leon spends two spells and all of his spells to kill him then the other with inflict wounds and his sword. Severely wounded, Leon downs his one healing potion before moving on. 

Shouts and yells echo down the corridor outside the engine room. Pip and Macro hear boots approaching. Pip heads towards the door and Macro hides behind a chest as two men burst through the door. Macro sticks the first with arrows to the leg and hurts him severely. The second fires at him but misses. Pip rushes towards the armory on the other side of the deck, squeezes under the door, turns back into a gnome (naked again) and pulls a scimitar from the sword rack. He sneaks back toward the engine room.

Macro, however, is in trouble. The injured soldier has Macro in full view and attacks with furious swings of his swords injuring Macro. He responds by slashing the man's throat with his acid-etched blade. The dead man falls face down. His companion leaps over the dead body and stabs Macro. Macro lies unconscious, dying. 

Pip steps into the room at the back of the Myoor soldier and immediately casts Thunderwave which throws him and the dying Macro onto the nearby wall injuring them both. Pip and the prone and stunned Myoor soldier trade blows while he tries to crawl to a safer position but Pip stabs him in the chest, killing him. 

Leon sneaks around the one building in the stronghold to get a better view of the area, he sees most of the soldiers supporting the doors to keep the giant out while two archers in a tower fire arrows at it. The other Myoor soldiers are preparing for the giant to enter the stronghold. Then a bright light streams over the eastern wall and everyone, including the giant and Adahn, take notice.

Macro does not look well, and appears to be fading fast, Pip stabilizes the dying halfling and then searches Macro's pack for the healing potion he grabbed in Thornbyr. Pip feeds it to him, and the halfing regains consciousness.