The rangers the party rescued were up and about, and eager to retake their fort. The party was also somewhat eager to retake it, since the cultists they'd been trailing forever were probably there. They had a map of the exterior, at least, so they tried to plan an assault.
It might have been easier if the rangers hadn't chimed in with a bunch of mutually exclusive suggestions every five seconds. Some of their information was useful, though -- the secret passage was full of dangerous lightning lizards, the barracks had been abandoned as a fire hazard, the watchtower was rotting and prone to collapse.
Vale: "We should attack at night!"
Kaito: "Don't the ogres have nightvision?"
Kale: "Bah, enough planning. Let's just make a frontal assault."
Kaito: "Isn't that what you tried last time?"
Kale: "... yeah."
Vale: "Let's split up and do all the plans at once!"
Kaito: "That would be really hard to coordinate..."
Vale: "If we tattoo evil symbols on our wrists, I bet they'd just let us walk in!"
Kaito: "Can we stop listening to Vale now? He's obviously a traitor."
Eventually, since they had access to plenty of flight magic and many of the party were good climbers, they decided to climb the cliffs over the fort and assault it from above. There was a trail they could try to sneak down, Shalalu and her father could snipe from the clifftop (despite it being 600 feet up), and Kaito offered to let Elsie borrow his Boots of the Cat so that she could make a proper entrance.
Then they split up, Shalalu and Pops getting in position to snipe, and Vale (with a flight spell) carrying Elsie until the signal was given. The signal would be the alarm being raised by the ogres, unless by some miracle that didn't happen, at which point they'd use a dancing lights spell instead.
The rest of the party snuck to the bottom of the trail, helped by the cover of night that limited the ogres' range of vision (since the fort was HUGE -- almost a thousand feet across -- and darkvision only goes 60 feet). Then the actually stealthy ones (Kaito in fox form, and Altei invisible) headed for the barracks, to set them on fire.
Vale came along, despite not being quite so stealthy. Ash lent him a potion of invisibility, which he accepted but didn't actually drink. Loyalty assessment: still uncertain.
The ogres somehow didn't notice anything, though, despite the complete lack of cover (maybe the darkness and sheer hugeness of the courtyard helped). Altei barred the door to the barracks with his backup katana, and then they poured a bunch of lamp oil over the pile of lumber stored underneath the barracks, lighting it up like a torch.
This got the attention of some of the ogres, but they still weren't able to find the stealth team. Fed up with a lack of obvious additional stealth targets, Kaito and Altei assassinated one of the ogres running around the courtyard searching for them, and the ogres finally started reacting.
So, Kale dropped Elsie, and flew down after her, brandishing his axes. On the way down, Elsie drank a potion of Enlarge Person, and prepared to do a proper superhero landing on top of the watchtower.
The watchtower *shattered*, killing most of the ogres inside. Elsie tumbled away from the wreckage to avoid being caught in the middle of it, posing dramatically for a second or two, until the Boss Ogre who'd been in the tower burst free and charged at her, slightly wounded and extremely pissed off.
Kaito, Vale, and Altei made a stand in the middle of the courtyard, fighting the ogres as they came. Kale down down to join them, only for Kaito to kill his target just before he was able to attack. He switched targets to go after Altei's, only for him to kill his as well. "Oh come on, stop stealing my kills!"
Ash: "I like him."
Ash, Phoof, and June, at the bottom of the trail, started running to help with the fighting, but were hundreds of feet from the battle and it took a while.
The giant Boss Ogre nearly killed Elsie, but she had a secret weapon -- another Power Berry given to her by Phoof before the fight! Eating it healed her, and gave insane bonuses to her attacks (and mild bonuses to her defense). June helped a little with a magic missile or two, but she quickly did a horrendous amount of damage and took him out.
Meanwhile, an ogre cook and one of the more powerful gate guards, both weilding nasty-looking hooks, closed in on the stealth team... and with one massive blow, the cook sliced Vale clean in half. No honor among thieves!
Enraged, Ash (who was finally in range) let loose with a fireball, aiming it to catch both the cook and another gate guard ogre who'd spent the whole fight slowly running along the 15-foot-high wall for some reason. Judging by the secondary explosions, that reason was 'to get into position to start using his necklace of fireballs'. Oops.
Unfortunately, the cook survived. The fight was out of him, though, and he turned to run. Kale and Kaito trapped him in the alleyway behind the kitchen, while the rest of the party finished off the stragglers (including a few burning ogres who'd escaped from the barracks and were running around in a panic).
Cook: "I surrender! Surrender!"
Kale responded with, "I accept your surrender." Then buried both his axes in the ogre's neck, finishing him off.
Ash: "Oh yeah, he's definitely my favorite."
We stopped there, figuring that the assault on the inner keep would have to wait since a bunch of people had to leave early.
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