On November 30th, Year 5, while a high level party makes its way North along the road to the gnomes, another party follows a shorter foot path to make camp at the prison and gain a little time. They are on their way to the Great Road to investigate reports that a Union of Schek (orcs and goblins) patrol went missing there with evidence of a powerful danger.
- Rowan (MiM): Level 5 Elf Magic-user
- Stephen (EnS): Level 4 Human Thief
- Animus, Level 1 Hawk Animal Companion
- Ragnvaldr (TrS): Level 3 Human Fighter
Camping at the prison is shelter from any inclement weather and a little further along their path than Iron Fields, plus the company of the adventurers currently acting as prison guards is a pleasant opportunity. They offer to take the watch and let the guards get some rest. Close to midnight, on Stephen’s watch, he hears movement outside the prison doors. He wakes Ragnvaldr (who had recently finished his watch) and they go take a look.
Outside, they perceive movement in several places in the brush surrounding the prison, but with the moon set and the sky cloudy, they can’t make out what it is. Ragnvaldr sends Stephen to get a closer look and the skeletons lurking beyond the light from inside make their ambush. Stephen retreats, running to wake Rowan while Ragnvaldr starts smashing with his war hammer. Rowan and Stephen join him with halberd and sword, but there are so many they soon start to feel a need to retreat into the prison and use the bottleneck of the doors. While they do so, they yell to wake the guards.
Just as Ragnvaldr is taking up the rear of their withdrawal, an agile, jester-dressed skeleton leaps from the woods, swapping places with Ragnvaldr by teleportation while creating illusions that make them look like they’re in the same places. When Ragnvaldr tries to warn the others, his voice is the Jester’s. Stephen believes him anyway and tries to stop Ragnvaldr (the Jester) from getting inside, but the Jester is too quick.
While they get the doors closed and the guards take up stations to defend as they break the doors down, Ragnvaldr slays skeletons with impunity outside in the appearance of the Grim Jester. Inside, Rowan casts spells to try to stop the Jester in Ragnvaldr form and Stephen gives chase with one guard who heeds them, but the Jester tells a magically morbid joke that causes the guard (Peter) and Stephen to collapse in fits of laughter. Neither recovers before passing out.
At this, Legolas joins Rowan in pursuing Ragnvaldr, but they don’t stop the Jester before he arrives at the mirror where the college vampire can be seen. Ragnvaldr transforms into a bat (which caused MiM significant distress, he stepped out for a moment), but before he can fly out through the splintering doors, Rowan manages to hit him with a spell and force him back into vampire form.
The vampire flees through the doors on foot, but Ragnvaldr uses his shields to create a force dome locking him in with him by the doors. While the vampire targets Ragnvaldr with death spells, Rowan hits him with a spell through the dome. Badly damaged already, the vampire (Dinak) quickly teleports out of the dome and flees into the woods. They try to pursue, Ragnvaldr even commanding Animus to follow him, but the vampire is too quick and soon disappears in the dark woods. Animus returns an hour later having pursued as far as she dared.
They return to the prison and heal Stephen and Peter, disappointed to have lost their most dangerous prisoner, who will certainly be soon arriving at the college to rejoin the lich’s forces there. They finish out the night, warn Percy that he has a new inmate where the vampire was, and head back to Citadel to report the loss to Matthias. Ragnvaldr and Stephen level up.
I confess that I pushed them toward the prison with this mission rather that let them chase something that seemed unlikely to bear fruit. My original plan for this prison break involved a larger, stronger force, but the Grim Jester was the only fundamental piece and more than a match for this party, so I trimmed it back. They came very close to slaying Dinak on the way out, anyway.