The Action Shot . . . And Then Loot!
The next morning started with a bit of a debate . . . if debates were held at the top of the participant's lungs. It seems the group was not all in agreement with their next course of action. Did they want to loot the treasury? Face the evil Prince? Hunt down the MacGuffin? Have Breakfast?
In the end, it was decided (by a slim margin of 2-1-1-1) that they would explore the towers connecting the outer wall of the courtyard.
Yes, I'm aware that wasn't one of the original options; the DM only knows how to make sledgehammer style hints. The first tower was chosen at random by Nelzask, ostensibly because he was tall enough to see over the trees . . .
Even then, the group could not agree on a route to said first tower. Lucius wearied of the argument and cut diagonally through the courtyard. Whenever he was spotted by a Wolf in Sheep's Clothes he would dimension door past it.
Aria chose to clomp behind in her heavy plate. Without the ability to dimension door, she resorted to simply ignoring Any wisc's and tromping through.
The rest of their entourage followed the stone paths, the pussies . . .
They reached their destination without further incident. Nelzask opened the large door to find a large circular room filled with filth. As they watched, a piece of trash fell down from the next floor through a large hole. The upper floor was essentially a doughnut. Apparently they had just entered the trash can.
Lucius (being the only stealthy character at the time) elected to mount a spiral staircase in order to check on the floor above. Unfortunately, he had a bit of an issue sliding the door he found at the top open. It wasn't locked, it simply felt as if something heavy had been placed behind it.
Muttering about Fire safety violations, he headed back downstairs to report. Cue Nelzask the Gigantic. He . . . squished his way up the protesting steps and pushed the door open a few inches, as if it were completely unencumbered. Lucius took a quick look.
It appeared they'd arrived at the tail end of a goblin kegger. Most of them had already passed out. In fact, the blockage at the door was actually a pile of sleeping goblins. There were a few others still moving about on one errand or another, or eating. None of them were very perceptive.
He motioned Nelzask downstairs and explained the scene. Then he informed them that he had a plan. All he needed was a trip wire to be strung at the entrance to the tower. Enter Killgore. Nelzask then altered the plan slightly, suggesting that the wire should be strung at the average neck height of the standard goblin rather than ankle high. Because self decapitating goblins are much more fun than prone goblins!
All amongst them agreed, of course. After that, everyone got to their places. Lucius took a spot below the stairs, to box the goblins in. Nelzask mounted the stairs, to present the bait. The others hid outside the tower. The trip (decapitation) line sat two feet high, crossing the plane of the entrance. It was perfect.
Nelzask, again opened the door. But this time he reached one of those tree trunk sized limbs through, pawed about until he found one of the sleeping doorstops, grabbed it, and yanked it back through the door.
Just stop and think about how horrifying that would have been. No really, close your eyes and look at it from the goblins' points of view. Terrifying isn't it? Would you chase that? No of course not. But you, my friend, would make a poor goblin.
Of course, Nelzask wasn't too worried about that. He was busy hurtling downstairs, squealing goblin in his ham sized fist. He timed his gate to ensure his pursuers would see him exit the tower.
He remembered to leap (more of a slight high step for a 14ft monster really) over the decapitation wire and, while still airborne, spiked the screaming goblin into the ground. Percentile dice would later show that the head went one direction and the body another. Oh for a picture of that moment!
Sadly, that's about as far as the ambush went. The goblins rushed down the stairs of course, emboldened by the sick slapping sound of their comrade's unconventional demise, ready to make the Cupcakes pay. But the moment one of them was visible, Killgore stepped out from behind the tree he was hiding behind and shot it.
This prompted the goblins to slam to a halt and draw their own crudely manufactured bows. Not a one of them decapitated itself.
Seeing the plan lying about their feet, the others turned and fought their way back into the tower. Lucious cursed and summoned an Erinyes. He also cast a fireball at the backs of the goblin horde. Before he could do anything else he noted a figure (See above), still on the second floor, peering down at him. He taunted it, to no avail.
Shortly thereafter Nelzask joined him, noted the figure, and proceeded to intimidate the ever-living shit out of it. It fled away from the hole. Well, he is a half ogre and all . . .
The rest of the group's trek up the stairs was fairly easy, except for the fact that Lucius could not stop crit failing on his trip attempts. The fact that this was precisely what I'd built him to do only made the situation more humiliating. And, invariably, the fail card he'd get would have him tripped instead.
Well, at least they were only goblins.
When the group got to the second room, the mysterious figure (Jareth) was not present. An army of goblins was, blocking the stairs to the next level. While tougher (these must have been the goblin king's royal guard) they were still goblins. The group cut through them in short order.
Lucius tripped himself twice more.
On the next floor the group met a short time fate changer. Gareth called a truce. The group felt obliged to grant it. It's a code . . .
Any-who, he then challenged them to a bard off. The stakes: if any of them could beat his performance he'd give them 'what they need'. Otherwise they had to leave the island.
Lucius agreed and whipped out his latest acquisition. Hermin followed suit. In the end, Gareth won. Some in the party suggested they renege, but Lucius warned them that a contract was a contract. Besides, the agreement only said they had to leave. It did not say they couldn't return, or stipulate a minimum time before such an event. And they had loot to spend.
So, they retired to the barn to collect their spoils. There was some suggestion that they should finish emptying out the treasury, but again, Lucius insisted they keep to the agreement. His vote was backed up when a rather large owl delivered a note from Jareth, dripping with concealed threats.
So the group loaded what they had on the collapsible boat and headed back to their port of exit. They sold what they could in order to buy a much larger merchant vessel. One that could hold all the loot in the castle. Cha-Ching!
They did inquire as to the possibility of locating an airship, perhaps captained by a grizzly guy named Cid, but no luck.
The only real issue came when it was time to pick a name and figurehead for the boat. Lucius wanted it to be called The 'Comeuppance', or words to such effect. The rest threw far inferior names about until they settled on 'The Coup De Grace' . . . for a merchant vessel.
And the figurehead? Oh, that's a guy preparing to perform the act on a prone person. Because that's the merchant vessel I'd charter . . .
Seeing himself defeated by the glitch inherent in Democracy, Lucius agreed. So, two days later a newly christened ship sailed back to the island. Jareth was there on the beach inquiring as to their return. But before he could throw any threats about the group all pointed at Lucius, who was more than willing to illustrate the size of loop hole the goblin king had left in his agreement. With a muttered curse he departed.
The group then proceeded to empty the coffers of anything not nailed down. Unless it was expensive stuff that was nailed down. They left that pilferage to Nelzask. Then they set sail again, this time in search of a port that could absorb a castle's quantity of treasure. Preferably with no questions asked . . .