The king finally finishes his story, hooray! We are then informed that a demonic gnoll army is marching on Karameikos and the gnollterba The Baron/Bargle summoned was some servant of the gnoll demon Inagu. A history check reveals that in the past the Hutakaans and Thiatians coexisted peacefully for a while until some giant army of gnolls invaded and drove out the Hutaakans and almost killed off all the humans. We also learn that the sword of Halav, which the Baron had been using in his gnollterba ritual, was once used by a Traldaran hero to slay a beastman king and is a very powerful artifact. Of course, the king asks for the party’s help in dispatching the Baron/Bargle.
We teleport to the woods outside of Fort Doom where we are met by Deleune and some halflings. The plan is for us to go in and take care of Bargle while they attack the fort and try to capture the Baron. Hopefully the death/capture of the dastardly duo will stop the advancement of their gnoll army. The halflings show us a secret way into the keep through some caverns. After dispatching of some ghouls and nasty swarms in the cavern, we make our way up into the dungeon level of Fort Doom. We find some prisoners chillin’ in their cells and convince them to start a riot, which allows us to slaughter the guards watching the entrance to the fort proper and steal their bloody, nasty uniforms. Once inside the fort, we find a barracks filled with lovely, flammable beds. And would you look at this, we have this awesome ring that allows us to set anything on fire with a mere touch so long as it is “unattended.” We set about making a burning barrack distraction. We find the tower that has a bridge to Bargle’s tower and try to convince the guard inside that he should come out and help with the fire, but he seems to feel that we’re trying to punk him. I get the feeling the Baron’s guards are both assholes and bored and must mess with each other fairly often. In a teleport win solution, I teleport inside and then swap with Talia who makes quick work of the one really surprised guard and lets the rest of us in to the tower. When some other guards shout from a nearby room to ask us what’s going on, we tell them there’s a fire outside and they lose all curiosity, deeming that the courtyard guards can deal with it. Like I said, they are assholes. But, their douchebaggery saves us time, so whatever.
We make our way to the top of the tower, where we find a secret way across the top of the walkway from this tower to the Bargle!tower. After fighting some gargoyles and batquitos, we make our way into the attic of Bargle’s tower. A level or two down, what do we find but TREASURE STEALING MOFO stealing treasure. The party is torn on what to do. We need to get to Bargle and stop him from summoning some demons (which TSM assures us he is doing right now) and we want to find out more about TSM’s background/motives/etc, but we also really, REALLY want to kill him. It goes as far as initiative rolls and Justin rolling 2 criticals on his opening shots, but the attack is called off at the last minute when a deal is brokered to manacle him to Zlata’s back and take him with us in exchange for giving him the sword (which we totally will not do. Bluff FTW). Elly makes some sort of blood oath to kill herself if we let him go, which is never actually carried out despite the sour turn of TSM killing later in the adventure.
The party makes their way down to Bargle’s room where we find him summoning some demon gnolls out of a -stargate-hellgate. Gnollterba and friends are hanging out looking nasty. Mortal combat ensues. No really, over 50% of the party is dropped. Almost everyone runs out of healing surges and Zlata runs out of healing spells about halfway through the battle. Eventually, after several failed knowledge checks, we manage to figure out how to destroy the gate. Talia goes out in an awesome blaze of glory, staying alive far past her expiration date due to some nice DR from Zlata, lucky rolls and the awesome 17-20 crit range Sword of Halav. Seriously, nicely done. Dyne and Zlata are the only ones left alive at the end of the encounter. They pour potions down our unconscious throats and the party is once again (barely) alive.
Here is where the TSM suckage continues. At some point during the battle he managed to de-manacle himself, and then he spent the rest of the time just standing around checking out the Hellgate. I know you had some potions on you, you mofo, would it have killed you to help us just a little? Bargle’s minions do not attack him, but he doesn’t help them and he doesn’t run off either. His behavior confuses me. After the battle, he keeps trying to get us to give him the sword by stating over and over again that artifacts are dangerous blah blah blah. You are not our parent, TSM, and you steal things (things that we should rightfully be stealing ourselves). Stop lecturing us! We agree on giving the sword to the king and part ways with no further knowledge gleamed into his actual motives or origins. TSM, I hate you so much. Elly satisfies herself with our regret at not killing him and doesn’t actually commit suicide. However, going by the fact that he wasn’t worried at all by the party of Bargle/gnollterba, I’m guessing this guy has a nasty ace up his sleeve and will be much harder to kill than we anticipate.
After we are done killing Bargle, we find the fort being overrun by a tiny army of halflings. Awwwww. When we get back we find out they have brought back the Baron for trial and the king throws us an awesome party. We also convince him that the sword would be better off with us, since we could use it to smite evil and protect it from certain mofos who would try to steal it. Both the halflings and the king give us some awesome presents. Adari has returned from shadow elf-topia with a promotion and also gives us a present. It is not awesome. It is, instead, a list of commandments the shadow elf immortal, Raiel gave his people. About half of them are kind of creepy or disturbing.