Campaign of the Month: July 2012

Guardians of the Frontier

Day 138-144

Day 138-144

Day 138
Rudi blasts the ghoul several times with his wand until the undead creature slumps in its bindings, smoky, scorched, and dead.
Farouk pushes the boulder back into the wagon and the group makes camp.
Evening passes without incident.

Day 139
Morning breaks and the group continues tracking the wagon trail with Klembsy, Wren, and Trist scouting ahead and Dagnoe circling invisibly above.
Moving a good pace, at mid-day the party approaches elevated and particularly rocky terrain between a pair of mountains and the pace is slowed.
An uneasy feeling settles on all when passing between the mountains but the trek continues without incident.

Closing in on late day/dusk the group come down out from the hills, entering low grass lands, and finally arriving at the river. Strangely, the tracks continue, disappearing directly into the water.
Maybe a half a mile or less wide(across), at this current point it would definitely be difficult and dangerous to forge through, and the wagon can’t be taken by any conventional means. Aside from building a raft to cart it.
While the party discusses options, the scouting trio head up river and then eventually down river for a better crossing point. Unfortunately, the river is of similar width for at least 3 miles in each direction. They head back to reconvene with the party as the sun sets and night falls.

Thoughts? Cross the river here? Move up/down stream for a less dangerous, narrower stretch? Other options?

MAP

Farouk, makes and ugly face at the stretch of river… “I think we should cross here… or risk losing the trail, Its gonna take all I got, but I think I can levitate the cart so we can cross…”

If the party agrees….

Farouk will memorize 3 levitates 1200lb total weight… he will then cast it on 3 objects of appropriate shape and size to maintain stability of the object he intends to lift…the cart… He then levitates the cart. The party should be able the forge the river cart in tow… like a balloon.

With Mal helping with levitates and flys (on peeps for towing) … we can move even more on the cart…Makeshift flying cart yeahhh!
Francis would add a quick swim, using his magical earring, to the recon work to see if anything was going on underwater. Or in case there was something weird where the trail continued underwater, or if anything had fallen near shore.

Maltron offers to cast fly on Trist or someone else to see if they can pick up the trail across the river. If so, he or she could come back and they could decide whether to cross the river here or not.

Otherwise he will help Farouk with casting levitate.

Alvyra squints into the river, trying to see if the tracks might lead to some underwater structure. She groans inwardly, more swimming!? it takes forever to get in and out of plate mail!

Rudi casts Detect Magic and examines the tracks carefully trying to see if magical means were used to travel underwater. He offers to cast Reduce on any equipment to help lighten the load as they cross.

DM EDIT: A Large stone set in the riverbank nearby radiates magic. It has two runes carved into it. After a bit of quick research through his library, Rudi is able to determine one rune is an old symbol meaning ‘bridge’ or ‘connection’. The other is a bit more confusing. “Summon death?” Says Rudi.
DM EDIT: Francis is going to have some difficultly if he dives in now. The sun is setting and he will have very limited visibility underwater unless he has a light source.

how about not now? How about when the scouts were going 3 miles up and down the river? Francis wouldn’t have just sat there and waited.

DM EDIT: That works. Francis doesn’t find anything underwater. No tracks, no bodies, no wagons, no bridge, nothing. It’s almost as if the wagon and the tracks went over or on top of the water.

Farouk takes a swig…“Lets see what the scouts find…on the other side of the river… If the wagon crossed here it will be easy to pick up their trail on the otherside. My gut tells me though…that they more than likely crossed a bridge..a magical one.”

Farouk looks more closely at the stone and nearby area. any blood?

DM EDIT: Who’s flying over to the other side of the river? Are the flyers waiting til morning or going now? Farouk can find no blood.
Farouk begins to memorize Identify….

Wren tells Mal “I can go. In this light I will still be able to see. Is there also a means of communication that you or the others can provide?”
Rudi ponders the runes, “Since it’s a death cult, perhaps the bridge is made of bones or undead. A morbid thought, but possible.” Rudi memorizes and casts read magic to see if he can figure out the spell or command for the bridge.

Maltron casts fly on Wren, but suggests she waits to see if they can figure out this bridge.

He will attempt to read the Rune labeled bridge. He will speak the word “bridge” in all the languages he knows. If that fails, he will unsheathe Jes to see if the dagger can read the rune or figure out its workings.

He will then touch the rune labeled “bridge” to see if that activates it.

DM EDIT: Unfortunately all of Maltron’s attempts result in no reaction and Jes is unable to ‘read’.
Maltron and Rudi, utilizing the ring of read magic and casting read magic, determine the runes true definition. “A coin for each traveler and the ferryman will give pass.”Klembsy adds to the mystery by commenting “I only know one ferryman that takes a coin for every man he passes through. And he is quite dreadful”. Pauses a while and then goes on “Mielikki will help us anyway. Let’s see if this works”.
Klembsy takes a golden piece from his pouch and passes it in front of the runes. If nothing happens, he tries the same by repeating the words of the rune: “A coin for each traveler and the ferryman will give pass”.Farouk first places a coin on the stone slab… If nothing happens he tosses it in the water…. Not one to part easily with his gold… he starts with a copper working up from there…Rudi follows suit with Farouk and encourages everyone else to do the same.

Klembsy’s attempts to activate the stone bring about no reaction.

When Farouk finally places a gold coin on the rock, it ‘melts’, sinking into the stone.

Rudi follows suit with Farouk and encourages everyone else to do the same.

As each of the party place a gold coin on the rock, each reacts in the same manner, seemingly melting, absorbing directly into the rock.

A low moan echoes in the distance. A wind rises, quickly gathering momentum from a light breeze to a fresh gale.
The river laps and splashes under the effect.

It’s somewhat difficult to fully determine under the dwindling twilight but what appears to be a shadowy bridge manifests. Beginning at the rock and continuing on over the river disappearing into the dark distance.

Roughly 15ish’ wide, it is a deep velvet black and ripples to the touch like water. Testing it determines it is solid as stone.

Party want to cross now or wait until morning?
Farouk suggest waiting for daylight… “Chasing undead at night…. well Im not a fan of those odds…”Klembsy suggests crossing now and camping just at the other side of the bridge. Or, better, scouting ahead to see what is going on and then decide. "We may not know the duration of this bridge ", he adds.Francis standing next to Alvyra says, “huh!” while looking at the bridge materialize. “I doubt they’re just sitting on the other side. I bet they don’t figure people are going to use this, but who knows? Still I say we traverse the avenue post haste, then camp on the other side.”Alvyra concurs with Francis and Klembsy. “Yes, what are we waiting for? The undead may be waiting for us on the other side, or they may be waiting for us on this side. Either way, we need to destroy them.” This statement makes a lot of sense to Alvyra even if those who think they’re smarter than she is are confused.

Rudi is too fascinated by the bridge to worry about any consequences of crossing and thus agrees to cross now, “We don’t know how long it will last. It may sink once we cross or only last for so long. We should go now.” He studies it and makes detailed notes about the bridge, the runes and the key to using it.

While looking through his notes, Rudilaan is reminded of the thrill of destroying the ghoul. The fact that it thrilled him is somewhat alarming, but the alarm fades and he realizes he might need a few more offensive spells.

Rudi approaches, Maltron and Farouk, “Um, would you be willing to share or trade spells with me? It occurs to me that I may need a few more options for more . . . dangerous situations.”

Maltron will share his spells with Rudi as he needs.

“I too believe we should cross now. The bridge was hidden. They most likely think they lost us and have continued on their path. I do not suspect there will be a trap waiting for us, but we should prepare for one anyway.”
Finna looks at the bridge, places a foot on it to make sure it is sturdy. “Well? This isn’t going to be here forever. Let’s get across the river and make camp.” She pulls up her hood and begins walking across the bridge, leading the horse behind her.Trist says, “I’m ready to go as well.” She places the appropriate coin where needed and joins the others.rouk rolls his eyes…. “Fine lets go.”

The party quickly moves over the shadow bridge crossing the river without incident. A few moments after the last of the group steps off, the bridge and the wind dissipate completely, evaporating from existence.
A nearby campsite is determined and the party settles in.

Around 3 bells past midnight, Alvyra and Rudi are both on watch.

All is quiet save for the light ruffling of the plains grass under the cool night air, the nearby lapping of the river, the pop and crackle of the dying campfire, and the occasional skitter, chirp and croak of various local nocturnal wildlife.

Alyvra notices the horses suddenly become a bit skittish, restlessly shuffling as if nervous or anxious.
With a low ‘hsst’, she alerts Rudi to ‘perk’ up, ‘get alert’. The pair strain to listen and scan intensely the surrounding dark landscape.

Mere moments pass. A rustle, a low scrape, then the familiar twang of a bowstring, many bowstrings.

Alyvra leaps up, shouting “Incoming! Attack! Arrows, get down!” as she charges towards Rudi.
Tackling the wide-eyed mage, she covers his body with her armored self.

The rest of the sleeping party quickly comes awake as all around the whistle of arrows fill the air, thunking into the ground and clattering into rocks, shafts rain down on the party’s camp.

Francis is hit in the hip. Wren, in the bicep. Trist, in the lower back. Klembsy takes two in the calf. Finna scrambles for cover under her shield but is hit just above the knee. Maltron takes an arrow in the buttocks. (each only -2 HP)
Al, covering Rudi, feels several arrows ricochet off of her plate and bounce aside nearby.
She hears Portius squeal and whinny in fright, looking up she spots 6 silhouetted figures attempting to steal the parties horses.

The hail of arrows finally taper off and cease falling from the sky. The scene is silent for a breath before a chorus of howls shatter the night.

Francis being awakened by an arrow hitting his side, does so at first in pain, and immediately after in anger. “Oh no, this will not do,” he says getting himself up and armed, “this will not do indeed.” He shouts out, “Arm yourselves, there are things that wish to no longer live.”

Once up and armed, Francis ignites his flaming cutlass, and heads to the nearest shadowy figure to extinguish it’s bothersome meddling."

MAP
MIDNIGHT_ATTACK.png

Alvyra springs onto her feet, “Come on Rudi, stay right behind me. Let Portius cover you while you blast the one on the left (number 4). I’ll cut down the one on the right (number 5).”

Alvyra vaults onto Portius and brings Red down on number 5. She turns Portius so his head is at about 10:30 so Rudi can hide to the left of the horse.
Grasping the arrow and pulling it out with a grimace, Finna looks into the darkness from where the arrows came. “A silly arrow to the knee won’t save you from my blade!” She pulls up her hood and tries to see how far away her attackers with the arrows are. When she sees the attackers, she will relay their numbers and distance to the others. She then moves back towards Maltron to help protect him from any further arrow attacks.Trist grabs the hilt of ripper as she begins moving back toward Farouk and whispers, "Ripper create 2 Elder Brownies Quicklings each with 4HD named Dusty and Smokey. Dusty attack 6 and Smokey attack 3. Trist winces in pain as she gets behind the wagon for cover. She says, “Farouk. Protect yourself.”

Rudi hurries to comply with Alvyra’s orders, not fully understanding what’s going on. He fumbles in his sleeve for his wand of magic missiles (he can’t think of anything else at the moment) and moves to the left of the horse and fires on #4, “Alorto!”

As he analyzes the situation, Rudi decides to follow up with Color Spray on 3 and 4 as he draws near.
Farouk takes cover under the wagon, Having seen Ripper create those amazing quickling browine elders on many occasions, Farouk is confident he can create a believable illusion of one..Using Imp Phantasmal Force he creates one creates 1. giggling ever so slightly Farouk is anxious to test his little manifestation out…Farouks elder attacks what ever dusty is fighting…unless it is undead…Klembsy runs towards #1 and 2 with his hand on the hilt of his scimitar. If they look undead he attacks the nearest of them with it, aiming low (legs) just to dismember. If they look ‘fleshy’, he doesn’t unsheath but casts Produce Flame instead and again attacks the nearest.

Maltron awakes, disturbed by a hot arrow sting to his ass. “Can’t get a decent nights sleep in the Frontier,” he thinks. He quickly casts Shield and puts his back to the wagon.

“Gnolls!,” he curses, as he slips 3 +1 darts at the ready. “We are getting warmer at least.”
The painful sting of the arrow rudely awakens Wren from her slumber. Rolling out of Klembsy way to the corner of the wagon for cover. As the others launch attack on the silhouetted figures Wren focuses on the direction the arrows came from by firing a volley of low arrows trying to catch tall or small creatures.

As Finna pulls out the arrow, she notices it has no head, only a sharpened shaft and it’s coated in a black sticky ichor. ‘Poisoned!’ Flinging it aside, she pulls up her hood and scans for the archers. There looks to be two large groups. One to the east and the other to the southeast, both about 40-60ish yards away.

Alvyra bolts towards her mount and vaults onto his back. She feels and hears an arrow bounce off her back as well as a few others fly past. Drawing her blade, Portius rears up whinnying and snorting. As the horse comes down so does the paladin’s blade on the nearby intruder. A gnoll dressed in various leathers and hide garb of a tribal plainsmen. It has various bone necklaces and accoutrements as well as multiple black markings and rune work painted all over the matted fur of it’s body. Alvyra slashes it across the chest and it howls in pain, stumbling back.

Gnoll #6 mounts one of the horses and yanks on the reins. It turns and gallops away, one other horse in tow.

Klembsy sprints towards attackers #1 and #2, spotting them as gnolls, he casts produce flame. Two arrows whiz past him. He comes up on them as they climb onto the horses. Klembsy hurls the fire and catches #1 full in the face, knocking the fiend off the horse in a burst of cinders. #2 ditches his fallen companion, turns and bolts, one horse in tow.

Maltron, moving closer to the wagon for cover, casts shield.

Francis charges ducking and dodging two arrows, up around Klembsy and sticks the fallen gnoll (#1) full in the chest as it attempts to sit up, killing it.

Trist, staying low, moves back to the wagon and summons two shadow quicklings.

Farouk casts Improved Phantasmal Force, creating a quickling version of himself just outside the wagon next to the others. The small, chubby, elder Farouk is slightly comical.

Arrows thunk into the wagon, a few go wild over, a few clatter off the boulder in the back.

Rudi scrambles up and move forward. Withdrawing his wand he fires at the closest gnoll to Alvyra (#4). The missile blasts into the creature’s upper chest, knocking it back.

3 swings up onto the nearby horse and gallops away into the night.
4, fur still smoldering from the missle, roars and charges Rudi. An arrow sprouts from its chest and it falls face down, dead. The young mage, face pale and white, turns back to see Wren crouched next to the wagon, readying another. The ranger fires two more into west group, she’s able to spot at least one figure drop down.

Arrows continue to fly towards the camp. The firing has shifted from the first overhead barrage to straight on, focusing on the wagon and those in the party that are up and moving.

The remaining horses (except Portius) begin to panic as the chorus of howls increase in number.

MAP
MIDNIGHT_ATTACK.png

Maltron tries to position himself with his Shield active in a manner that protects the wagon and Farouk within. His main action is to throw a Fireball right in the middle of Group 2.

If he overhears Finna shout about the poison, he grits his teeth and pulls out the arrow from his ass. “Damn that I didn’t bring along an anti-toxin. Maybe I’ll be fine, like back on the boat with Cyton and company.”

OOC – Distance from Campfire to Finna and Distance of campfire to Farouk in the wagon?

IC- If possible Trist cast Bless centered close to the campfire in such a way as to encompass both Finna and all those around her. Trist says loud enough for Finna to hear, “Freya my goddess. Bless Finna and those around me with your favor this morn.”

DM EDIT: Trist will be able to bless Finna and those around her who are not involved in melee.
Judging that Alvyra will dispose of gnoll#5, Klembsy co-ordinates with Francis to fight back to back or side by side against incoming gnolls from the north as a second flame appears on his palm. He takes care to use the flames to scare the gnolls away.

Pulling out the arrow, Finna notices that it is only a sharpened shaft. She then realizes it’s coated in a black sticky ichor. ‘Poisoned!’ Flinging it aside, she pulls up her hood and scans for the archers. There looks to be two large groups. One to the east and the other to the southeast, both about 40-60ish yards away.

She calls back towards the wagon. “Watch yourselves! Their arrows are poisoned! Wren, two groups One east, one southeast. Both are 40 to 60 yards out.” She take a couple of steps back towards the wagon and halts. She kneels down and hides behind her shield as much as possible. Now, where did I put that wand? She quickly pulls out the wand and readies herself to use it.
Rudi gives a shaky nod to Wren as he realizes she just saved his life. Not sure what to do, Rudi targets the first gnoll he sees and fires his MM wand. If #5 is within line of sight he’ll fire on it first, if not than #2 as it gallops away.Francis quickly nods to Klem, “Yea, stick together.” and stops and surveys the scene. “Looks like 2 groups to the east. “We shouldn’t get too separated from the others. But it would be good to have 2 fronts one flanking them.” Raising his voice, but not shouting Francis, gets Alvyra’s attention, “What do you think? Howls coming from the north too. I don’t want to get pinned from both sides. Tactical retreat back toward the group?” He then looks at the Klem and Rudi, either of you ride a horse? I’ll stay on foot.”“Oh, no, poison is one thing I hate from this beautiful world”, says Klembsy and removes any arrows remaining on his body with his left hand while surveying the scene and trying to judge the distance between them and the northern group of howlers.Alvyra hates the idea of giving up the horses, but she also sees the sense in Francis’s suggestion. After clobbering #5, she gathers up reins and retreats back to the wagons. She stays mounted. “Rudi, stay on foot. We don’t want you to get thrown.”

Maltron casts fireball into middle of group 2. The explosion briefly illuminates a large group of gnolls in the tall grass as they drop, scatter, and scramble in the blast. The mage is then overwhelmed with vertigo. His head swims, the world spins, his vision blurs to darkness and Maltron passes out.

Klembsy co-ordinates with Francis and the pair move back to the wagon, standing together defensively against any incoming attackers. As the druid readies a second flame in his palm, his vision grows a bit murky and his body flushes with a general ‘wooziness’ and nausea.

Rudi raises his wand to fire on the gnoll (#2) galloping away in the dark. The missile streaks towards its target and connects. The flash of the blast illuminates the strike in the horse thief’s back for a second before the gnoll completely disappears into the distant darkness, leaving Rudi unsure as to the fate of the rider.

Wren continues to fire into the gnoll archers, she’s confident she hits at least two. Waves of dizziness pass over the ranger, she struggles to maintain aim.
Trist casts Bless, encompassing the team. Her head then fills with a blinding, pounding pain. Her vision tunnels into darkness and she passes out, crumpling to the ground. Dusty and Smokey evaporate from existence.

Farouk watches Maltron and Trist slump down through the slats in the wagon, he positions his illusion nearby to protect.

Finna retreats back, two arrows ricochet off her shield. She fumbles to pull her wand finding her fingers and hands have gone numb. She retches bile moments before blacking out.

Alvyra lurches forward and skewers the nearby gnoll (#5) through the neck. Not watching as it falls, she sheathes her blade and grabs the reins of two of the nearby mounts. Shouting orders to Rudi, who gathers the remaining two mounts, the pair guide the horses back to the wagon as arrows streak past. Rudi is able to tie off the reins to the wagon while Alvyra moves into a nearby protective position.

The arrows and the howls cease. To the north a wave of mounted gnolls on what look to be dire wolves (dire coyotes maybe?) are charging the party’s position.
Most look to be brandishing clubs, morning stars, some flails, and others…..nets.

MAP
MIDNIGHT_ATTACK.png

From the cover of the wagon Farouk yells out “Everyone get close! We lost this hand, time to fold! Francis Put up a ring of fire around us and we still might be in the game!”

Farouk pulls out his potion of gasseous form, determined to drink it if he gets hit by a poisoned arrow or looks like he going down… He does not want to be caught by slavers!

When Rudi gets back with the others and sees the unconscious party members, he’s shocked and says, “What happened to them?” Upon finding out their poisoned, he’ll kneel next to Maltron and did through his haversack looking for a book on poison cures, “Maybe I can find something to revive them. Did they all have the same symptoms?” He’ll dig and read until the mounted gnolls get closer or until someone redirects him.

ooc – the plan is to use his wand of wonder when the mounted gnolls get within range.
A quick scornful look at Fraouk, Francis Says, “Finna has the Wand of fire.” Looking around at the foes to goes on, “this does look lost. Got a distractionary illusion, or maybe a illusory explosion, something to make them look like we all perished in a long lasting fire? We need time, or distance, or both.”

“Guys I don’t see all of us getting out of here. Those of us still standing have a chance. We might have to cut our losses…We ain’t no good to nobody, prisoners of these dogs…”

Farouk casts his Faroukian cloud (Improved phantasmal force) encompassing the whole party….In addition to the screen he adds a sound component… a very high pitched screeching sound, as loud as he can make it, His intention is to further confuse the senses, especially those with great hearing like dogs.

“Guys it’s just an illusion you should be able hear and see through it just fine… not so much for those guys… Hopefully.“

ooc – Rudi has no levitate. Also, Mr. DM, Rudi has herbalism prof. I don’t know if that will help with this short amount of time.

Rudi concentrates on his books and doesn’t look up when he responds to Farouk, “We can’t just leave everyone to the enemy Mr. Farouk. There must something we can do. Francis has a good idea if you can accomplish it.”

Rudi will work on a poison cure (I know it’s probably not going to happen, but that’s what he’d do) until the gnolls are within range of his wand of wonder. He’ll then use it hoping something useful happens.

“I don’t intend on leavin them to the wolves but Im not dying here either…”

“Rudi, when this cloud goes up you need to start getting bodies into the cart while the tough guys take out any of those pooches that get to close. "
Gnolls will be on the party next round. the group has 1 round before they will be in melee.

Did Farouk get his smoke cloud off?

DM EDIT: That will be his action for the round before the gnolls arrive. Please update your current spells.
Trist grabs her head and grunts in pain as she falls to her knees and finally collapsing to the ground.

Alvyra scans around. She thinks the party can handle the mounted gnolls, but there are still unknown forces to the east who have already used poisoned arrows. With 3 down and 2 afflicted, the party will probably not survive another volley.

She thinks the cart is a trap. The party will never be able to outrun the gnolls in it. The gnolls will swarm the cart, kill the horses pulling it, and it will be a glorious last stand before all are captured. She fears Farouk is correct and the party can’t prevent everyone from being captured. Still, we owe it to each other to try…

She shouts out, “Leave the cart, make for the bridge. Once we cross it, we can defend the bridgehead on the other shore. They will have to approach us in a column and will not be able to surround us. That way, we may be able to hold them off. If we’re lucky, they don’t have enough money to cross.”

“There are nine of us, but only five horses. We’ll have to double up. I’ll remain solo and do my best to fend off any who get close. If anyone has any other ideas to buy us more time, do it now!”

Rudi + Trist Farouck + Finna Francis + Maltron Wren + Klembsy

OOC, I’m pairing able with unconscious and putting the two afflicted together. Also trying to make sure we don’t put people with the same skills on the same horse. Don’t want both Farouk and Maltron getting caught for example.
Farouk will go on foot – He has boots of speed and should be able to easily keep up.Fearing she may only have one round of fire left to her before the poison leaves her like the others Wren says to no one particular “If one of you will give me one of those exploding baubles you have, I know just how to get it where it needs to go and it should buy us some time” she pulls out one of her arrows of seeking and use all her will to try to clear her head.

Rudi + Trist Wren + Finna Francis + Maltron Klembsy Alvyra Farouk on foot

Klembsy ends his spell of Produce Flame and grabs the reigns of the horse brought by Alvyra. He too thinks that remaining near the cart will not be helpful. He is unsure that the bridge will be there for them though…Francis figures all is lost, and gauges the situation. He grabs his wand and makes a wall of ice and places it between the party and the on coming mounted gnolls. he’ll take into account the movement of them, and even place it closer to the party to try and make sure none get through or that the wall is placed with the gnolls already past his point of placement. (in a diagonal fashion, based on the map the left side of the wall will be higher and the right side lower, making it more difficult for them to turn to the river) and the scoop up the closest party member, or whoever he can get, and sprint to the river. Once at the river he’ll dive into the water and swim away. If for some reason he cannot make the river with the added weight, he will run the rest of the way on his own, and do what he can to escape.Rudi thinks about the limited options and thinks trying to move all the unconscious party members to a safe location doesn’t seem possible. Running and swimming away doesn’t seem a good option for him either, so he tries to lift Trist onto a nearby horse and does as Alvyra advises and makes for the bridge

Farouk casts his Faroukian cloud (Improved phantasmal force) encompassing the whole party and emitting a very high pitched screeching sound, like an off key frontier signal.
Francis levels his wand and fires at the incoming horde. In a wave of blue eldritch energy, a wall of ice erupts from the ground ahead, amidst the gnolls. Several of the attackers and their mounts are tossed in the sudden upheaval, a few that cleared it rear back their charge in surprise. One or two cracks and slaps echo through the night as only one can assume, the riders on the opposite side of the wall fail to prevent barreling directly into it.

Rudi, an academic and Wren, groggy and weak, mount up as Francis and Klembsy heft Finna and Trist onto their horses. Farouk sprints. Comically, the chubby mage swiftly disappears into the night towards the direction of the bridge.

As Klembsy mounts his horse, the howling begins again, this time much closer and more sinister in nature. The rage of the gnolls is palpable.
A horn sounds in the distance answering the howls. The noise coupled with recent events and the chaos of the scene proves to test the fear of the mounts. Rudi and Klembsy’s horses each rear up in panic. The druid holds in the saddle. Unfortunately Rudi, having spent more time in books than on horses, falls with an unconscious Trist.

“Go! Go! I’ll cover the retreat, they won’t expect me on foot. I’ll catch up with you on the other side!” Shouts Francis as he hefts Trist, this time onto Klembsy’s horse with the druid.
Rudi, only slightly bruised climbs back up. And as Francis lifts the final unconscious member of the party, Maltron, over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry, Alvyra slaps Rudi’s horse on the backside, spurring it into a full gallop towards the bridge. He is quickly followed by Klembsy and Wren.

The paladin holds for a moment, locking eyes with the navigator. The two exchange a quick nod of acknowledgement before Alvyra lashes her reins into a full charge after the retreating others.

Francis pauses for a few breaths scanning the scene. He watches his friends thunder into the darkness. Shortly after, 1…2… then two more, 4 total mounted gnolls break off after them.
Horns blare out again, closer and more of them. Sounds of battle echo in the night, soon after accompanied by clash of steel and barks of rage and pain.

The gnolls regroup from the ice wall and charge away from the clouded cart, with renewed fervor, rushing off towards the east into the black.

Seeing his opportunity, the navigator bolts in the direction of the river.

Farouk arrives at the river stone key. He quickly ‘loads’ coins into the rock for each of his friends. In a similar matter as before, the wind picks up, the water ripples under it, and the shadowy bridge forms into existence just as Rudi’s horse, leaps from the river bank onto the obsidian surface. Seeing the others rapidly approaching, the mage sprints across the bridge and is soon followed by Klembsy, Wren, and Alvyra.

Looking back, the paladin watches as two of their pursuers attempt to leap onto the bridge only to pass through as if it were air and splash into the river below. Slowing her gait a bit, she sees the two other final pursuers halt retreat on the bank. They pause only until their water fallen companions climb back ashore before turning and heading back, away from the river.
Turning ahead with a smirk, Alyvra charges on, catching up with the party and taking the lead.

Francis hustles through the dark. The sounds of battle quickly fade as he puts distance between himself and the ambush. Finally the sound of water indicates he’s arrived at the river. Dragging off the mage his shoulder and into the river, he wades into the freezing water. Locking Maltron in a swimmer’s carry, he begins to traverse. With the ring, the difficultly is minimum but because it’s a one handed stroke and the current of the water is somewhat strong, he’s being pushed downstream as he crosses.

Even with the pursuers halted, the ride across the shadow bridge is difficult. Without infravision, Alvyra is having difficultly discerning the edges of the magick road. She calls out for Wren to come up and take the lead. When the ranger does not reply, the paladin does a quick look back. Realization registers into terror as she watches Wren slump in the saddle, pulling her horse to pitch over the side of the bridge in mid gallop crashing into the water with a loud splash.

Alyvra rears her horse to sudden halt, surprising both Rudi and Klembsy’s in full gallop behind her. Rudi manages to hold but his horse, in full panic, continues on thundering across the bridge. Klembsy struggles for control, trying to prevent from being thrown. The horse begins to buck and froth, whinnying and screeching. Like a rag doll, unconscious Trist is thrown over into the darkness with a loud splash.

Klembsy tries to maintain control of the horse and arrive at the other side of the bridge. He immediately climbs down from the horse and casts Flame Blade. He descends the bank of the river towards the water and using the magical flame of the blade as a light source, he tries to locate poor Trist.
Trist while unconscious, dreams of her childhood with her father swimming in a lake near their home. Her father teaching her to swim and she struggled to learn at first often times swallowing some water which made her cough. Her dad was always there though it seemed just at the right time to grasp her hand and pull her above the water. Despite the fears of swimming it was a fun and cheerful time for young Trist. Her father was all she had after a band of orcs killed her mom.Wren struggles against the poisons effects, trying to stay awake, wake up, float, whatever she can to not drown. Thoughts of her family and her fathers strength, drive her harder. She must not die in foreign lands, not like this………….

Farouk runs along the shoreline, watching helplessly as Wrenn is swept away by the current… Maybe if the fates allow for it, she will wash up on, or come close enough for a rescue attempt….

Farouk otherwise holds, back…

Alvyra curses in frustration. “Two, plus one horse in the drink!”

She shouts into the dark swirling waves, unsure if either Wren or Trist are in any condition to respond, “Draw your arrows of Continual Light! They will help us to find you!”

She hustles what remains of her entourage to the far bank. Alvyra hopes Farouk gets lucky and somebody washes up on the shore.

She instructs Rudi, "Take your horse and follow Farouk. Here, take my rope (25’ silk) as well. Tyr willing, one or both may wash up on our side of the river. You’ll need the horse to bring them back here.

“Klembsy, don’t worry, we’ll send Francis to swim after our friends, Farouk and Rudi will tend to them when they’re back on shore. You and I need to take care of Finna and Maltron when he gets here. Is there anything you can do about this poison? We’ll also need a fire. Tyr willing, we’ll have three wet fish to dry out. Can you work on that? I’ll stand guard. Some of those gnolls might have the coin to cross the bridge.”

Alvyra borrows Finna’s spear. If anybody starts coming over the bridge, she’ll hurl the spear at them before melee begins. She mutters, “How is it we lose both archers?” Alvyra remains on horseback.
Rudi nods rapidly with wide eyes, worry for his new friends obvious on his face. He heads along the shore in the direction of the flowing water, rope slung over his shoulder. He uses his elven night vision to look for signs of fallen party members as he rides.Klembsy feels that somehow Alvyra is right without knowing why. If only he knew what to do with that poison. But, wait a minute! Of course he can do something. He can pray!
Klembsy quickly prepares a fire, delibarately using his spell of Flame Blade in the process. He then takes a quiet corner and prays to Mielikki for a Slow Poison spell.

Rudi on horseback follows after Farouk, scanning the river’s edge for their fallen companions.
Eventually the pair come upon a shivering, exhausted, and half-drowned Francis pulling an unconscious Maltron from the water.
With no sign of Wren, Finna, or Trist, the group heads back and rejoins Alvyra and Klembsy.

Francis and Maltron are brought close to the fire as Klembsy casts slow poison on the mage but it seems to have no effect.

Alyvra stands guardian and after a few hours, the dawn rises.

An hour or so after sunrise with no incident, Maltron comes around. Groggy, but otherwise no worse for wear.
With three missing, Alvyra has a moment of doubt about calling the retreat to the bridge. It is quickly dispelled. She confirms to herself it was the best tactical option. “We need to confirm none of our comrades are washed up on shore. Maltron, can that raven of yours scan downstream for signs of Wren, Trist, and Finna?”

Rudi, not sure what to do in this situation, offers what help he can and follows Alvyra’s instructions. Otherwise he spends his time chronicling the party’s exploits thus far. If they are camped for long enough, Rudi will borrow Maltron’s spellbook and copy spells. (Charm person, Feather Fall, Identify, Magic missile, Mending, Mount, Sleep).

He speaks to Maltron, “Thank you for sharing your spellbook! I’m glad you’re ok. I hope we can recover the others soon. That was my real experience with battle, you know. There was the ghoul, of course, but it was bound. I’m not sure how I fared. It was quite an overwhelming force! What will we do now? Do we continue the mission if we don’t find the others?”

ooc – GM, do you want to roll for success on the spells or me?

Maltron shakes off the headache and grogginess from the poisonous arrows. “That was unpleasant.” Looking around, “Where are the others? Wren, Trist, Finna.”

Once informed of the situation, he asks Dagnoe to fly around to scout for the missing three. He will then pull out Jes the dagger and ask it to locate the Guardian Whistles for each of them (3 uses).

“Rudi you did great. You are still alive aren’t you?”

“Our next move depends on what Dagnoe and Jes find. We will try to rescue the others first. If we cannot find them near the river’s edge, we can either assume they are dead or captured by the gnolls. In the case of the latter, we should head off at once to find our companions and our revenge.”

He sits quietly to re-memorize Shield and Fireball.

Francis warms himself by the fire shaking his head a bit. He thinks to himself, That could have gone better. He chuckles at the fire like it was a cute little bunny making scrunchy faces at him.

Francis nods at Maltron, “Yea, the bird and the knife. Sounds good to me.”

He sits a bit not ready to get up, and not ready to offer any suggestions. Warming his clothes and body by the fire, he drinks some water from his skin, and sips on a bit of rum going back over everything that just happened, trying to sort it all out.
Klembsy is completely crashed for losing Trist from his hands (for one more time). He stands by the fire unable to gather his thoughts. He seems absolutely weak. After a little prayer for Trist’s well-being, he raises his head. “We must find them! The sooner, the better!”, he exclaims. “But we must get ready for that”.
Klembsy takes some time in order to pray in order to regain his used spells while Maltron’s bird searches the skies.

Farouk stands up, “Ok so we lost a few, but the way I see it, and you should too is that WE are still in the game. Its far from over. We are gonna win those chips back and some. WE still got options. Now we know their game…they got nuthin. Just a bunch of dumb yappy brutes that got lucky….yeah lucky. But we here got luck AND skill. We ARE the freekin Chains!”

“Take your emotions out of the game, that’s gonna getcha killed… TRUST me on that one… We take this slow, understand our enemy, plan and then we killem all… every last one of em…Put their head on stick to rot to remind the rest not to Frak with the chains!”

With that Farouk takes out a bottle of his good whisky and takes a big swig, and passes it to Francis…“You done muelling like a little girl, or are you ready to get some!”

“Rudi, what did you find out about that arrow poison? Gimme a looksee… Farouk uses his Herbalism/Alchemy skill to assist in identifying the poison…. and more importantly and antidote…

Farouk guesses due to the sheer number of arrows that were fired, that the poison more than likely a local brew, distilled from things common in the area…If thats true then its antidote should be local as well.. That’s where Klems comes in if we get that far… We will have to forage for ingredients to make an antidote…
Klembsy will gladly help Farouk in any way he can with the poison and the antidote after he finishes praying.

Jes is unable to locate any of the missing party members signals.

Farouk and Rudi review, research, and discuss the gnoll’s poison. It appears to be a more raw/potent version of the paste Kistol had recently.
Farouk believes it’s derived from a fungus base. Without his alchemical bench he’s unable to truly reverse engineer the substance and identify all ingredients involved, but he has few theories on synthesizing a generalized working antidote. He’s somewhat knowledgeable of the locale/climate/etc. and the foragable necessities available, tracking them down with the aid of a druid shouldn’t be an issue. And that’s just what Rudi, Klembsy, and Farouk do while waiting for Dagnoe’s return. Combing the riverbank and surrounding area and using Klembsy’s ability to talk to plants, the trio are able to find enough ingredients to brew a dark, pungent and foul tasting, antidote tea. Farouk continues to boil the tea down to a resin-like paste which he scoops and folds into a small cloth for storage. This paste can be applied to a poisoned wound or rolled into a ball and swallowed in anticipation of poisoning. (8 doses total).

Finna comes to. She panics for a moment as she believes herself blinded. Feeling the wet cloth on her face, she realizes it’s just the dark cowl covering her eyes.
As she moves to shift it, her physical situation becomes painfully apparent. Her left arm is unresponsive. Pulling back the cowl with her right, reveals the midday sun. She’s laying on her back in the muddy bank of the river. Head throbbing, her left eye is swollen shut, her feet (still in the water) have no feeling up to the knee. The rest of her body is covered in mud and grit and in a state of cold, numbing pain. Sitting up, her left arm (still in her shield) is most likely dislocated at the shoulder. She retches. Coughing and choking up murky river water. Collecting herself, she pulls the shield off and downs a dose of her healing potion. Her shoulder snaps back into socket and her eye clears as the swelling vanishes. Reclaiming her shield, the cleric crawls up out of the riverbank and into the tall grass nearby. Cautiously she scans the area. She is alone and most likely on the south side of the river based on the direction of the current. There is no sign of the campsite, the bridge, the battle, or her party. She does have her pack on but not her spear or any gear that was on her horse. Her body aches as if she’s fallen down a long rocky hill. Shivering, she is soaked. The only benefit is that the cold of the water is helping numb what she fears is just the beginning of her overall pain. (Current HP 7).Finna vomits as she begins to black out. The ground begins to rush up but she never meets it. She finds herself standing in a large hall. There is a roaring bonfire is in the middle of the room, several long rows of tables fill up the rest of the space. Warrior’s shields hang along the walls. A small noise to her left jerks Finna’s attention to it. She gasps as her eyes fall upon Freya in front of her. She begins to move towards Freya but halts when seeing the look upon her face. Freya’s voice is cold as she speaks. “Sister, you have fought well. To fall in battle is good, to fall by poison when you have ways to fight it is not. So, I have no use for you, let Hel have you.” Rough hands grab Finna’s arms and begin dragging her away, pulling her over tables and chairs, occasionally banging into one of them. At the hall entrance, she is heaved out into a dark void.

As she falls downward, she becomes aware of a form beside her. She looks over and sees a woman’s figure. One half of the woman is white, the rest is hidden against the blackness of the void. Finna quickly closes her eyes, holding her breath for a moment. She shudders, hoping she did not look at Hel’s face and be doomed to even more pain. “So, Freya has no use for you? Good. It should be nice to see you suffer.” Hel’s voice crawls across her, the words clinging to her body as they decay away. A slight light begins to appear below, lighting up the mist that fills the void. The roots of Yggdrasil begin to appear in view and Finna realizes she cannot avoid them. She slams into several of them while the mist becomes denser, dense enough to even taste. The taste is unpalatable, its chill pierces every inch of her body. Hel’s voice issues forth again, “Welcome to my world, Nifleheim.” A few more roots try to slow Finna’s body down but the ground welcomes her with a thud.

A feeling of time passing causes Finna to awake. She opens an eye but sees nothing but greyness. Panic washes over her, the stories of Nifleheim’s mist flood her mind. Labored breathing starts, a tightness grips her chest, wetness trickles across her neck. Wetness? Feeling the wet cloth on her face, she realizes it’s just the dark cowl covering her eyes, creating her illusion of Hel’s domain. She reaches up to shift the cowl and every

corner of her being is washed in pain. Her left arm won’t move! She gently takes her right hand and thankfully moves the cowl to reveal the sun directly above her.

As she lifts her head, she takes in her situation. She’s laying on her back in the muddy bank of the river. Head throbbing, her left eye is swollen shut, her feet (still in the water) have no feeling up to the knee. The rest of her body is covered in mud and grit and in a state of cold, numbing pain. Sitting up, her left arm (still in her shield) is most likely dislocated at the shoulder. She retches. Coughing and choking up murky river water. Collecting herself, she pulls the shield off and downs a dose of her healing potion. Her shoulder snaps back into socket and her eye clears as the swelling vanishes. Reclaiming her shield, the cleric crawls up out of the riverbank and into the tall grass nearby.

Okay, that helps for the moment. Looking at the river, I must be on the south side of it. The rest of the group must have moved me when I passed out due to the poison. From the way I hurt and how soaked I am, I must have fallen into the river. And hit every rock in it on the way to this shore…. twice. Everyone else must be upstream. My problem is I’m still hurting, wet and cold. I need to get warm and dry as quick as I can. Then, I can pray to Freya for assistance and guidance. Let’s get moving.

Finna achingly moves to her knees and thanks Freya for keeping her safe. After a few moments, she stand and scans the area for a nearby location she can hide from casual eyes and build a small fire at. Once she locates the place, she will gather any wood and combustible materials as she moves to it. She also keeps an eye out for any berries along the way as well. She builds a fire (hope the flint and steel as still in the pack), removes the bulk of her wet clothes so they can dry out and places the fire between her and the entrance to her shelter. She will spend time in prayer to gain two (2) CLW spells and cast them. She then goes through her pack and sees what else is damaged or ruined. If her food is any good, she will eat some.

Finna scans the area for a nearby location and spots a grouping of rocks that offers a low overhang for protection from the elements as well as reasonable cover from the outside. She builds a small fire, collecting nearby brush and scrub, and begins to dry out. Praying and casting 2 clw spells gains back +9 HP.
Foraging, she finds no edible berries in the area, but her rations are still good.

Around mid-afternoon, her gear and clothes are re-donned after being dried out. She moves away from camp a bit to forage and collect more kindling. After about 30 minutes of cautious and alert gathering, she spots a circle of birds in the distance. Scavenger birds, circling slowing above what, she is unable to determine.

Thank Freya, I’m dry again. Still a bit sore but I should manage for now. Let’s get a little more for the fire for now. Finna straps on the sword and moves out from under the rocks. Sunlight pours over her, the light pushing past the fabric to her bones. She pauses for a moment to drink in the feeling. Great Odur, my thanks for your light and warmth. Freya is blessed to have you.

She begins to move about, stepping cautiously through the brush. After collecting the first few dry branches, she slowly stands and scans around her. Seeing nothing, she steps to another small area of brush, placing it between her and the river as she gathers. After 10 minutes, Finna’s body leaves off of the gentle reminders of her ordeal and begins making emphatic suggestions of stopping. Gritting teeth, she continues on.

There, that should be enough for now. Need to bundle this up and…. Pausing her thought, she stares into the sky at a group of scavenger birds, slowly wheeling in the sky. They give no clue as to what lies below. Returning to her shelter, she gingerly sits down and feeds her small fire. The flames greedily swallow her gift and rise up to thank her.

Finna stares into the flames for a bit and they lose focus as her mind weighs the options. I need to start heading back towards the rest of the group, if they are still in one piece. Those birds could be useful for a general scout and they are above something that has a good chance of dying. I’ve got a few hours before sundown….

Finna begins praying for Freya’s blessings (Speak with Animals, Wyvern Watch, Anti-Vermin Barrier – 1-1st lvl, 2-22nd lvl spells; dropping Aid and one Hold Person). She puts out the fire, gathers her items and sets off in the direction of the birds. She will move far enough away from the river to keep an eye out for it as she uses the brush to help hide herself. She travels towards the birds, trying to reach them before sundown.

Wren and Trist regain consciousness. The midday sun beats down from above, warming them. Pain blankets each as the realization of the predicament settles in. The pair are bound, beaten, subdued, soaked, stripped of their gear, armor, and weapons, and in a moving caged wagon. Looking around, they are not alone. There are several other prisoners of similar state with them in the large cage. 5 in total. 3 humans, male, bound and unconscious. And 2 halflings, male, also bound and seemingly unconscious. The humans looks to be soldiers possibly, while the halflings are dressed in more tribal, plainsmen attire. Cautiously scanning outside the wagon reveals they are 1 of at least 6 wagons in a gnoll caravan. Too many to gnolls to count in a quick glance but at least 30-40+ are estimated. Most of the wagons appear to be pulled by horses and at least 10 mounted gnolls rides horses, no wargs are spotted. In a horrifying twist, at least two of the mounts appear to be steeds consisting of no flesh, only bone. The rest of the gnolls are on foot and the caravan is moving at a fast pace. (Current HP 2 both Wren and Trist).
don’t delete any gear from character sheets but currently both rangers are dressed only in their light clothing worn under the armor.

Trist groans a bit as she starts to waken and come to terms with her situation. She spots Wren and silently thanks Freya for keeping them alive and together. She takes in her surroundings and tests her bonds but doesn’t remove them completely but will loosen them. Trist tries to tears a strip of her clothing off or says to Wren softly, We should tear our close in small pieces to leave as a trail for the others. Let’s help each other."

Small enough not to be noticed by the gnolls but large enough if someone is looking they might see it. She does this every so often as they are travelling.

She says to Wren softly, “Thank Frey and Freya we are alive and together. Let’s work on each others bonds and at least loosen them but not remove them so we can get free of them if we need to.” Quietly and as covertly as possible.

Trist also checks the suns location in the sky and attempts to figure out the direction of travel based on the map they were using and any surrounding familiar landmarks if visible. Her survival skills kick in and she starts to utilize them.

OOC-If Trist is able to cast she will cast CLW on Wren. I’m assuming she can’t though.

Wren wakes slowly at first continuing to feign sleep until she hears Trist gentle whisper. Taking a deep breath she subdues her growing anger with a silent prayer to Frey for guidance. In a quiet whisper Wren responds “We have been blessed sister to have each other. I am sure that Frey & Freya have sent us here for a purpose. I agree we should leave a trail for the others we at least know we will have back up coming” while tearing small strips of cloth to use for the trail.

“Let us move close so we get these bindings loosed. Can you see any thing that looks like it might be carrying our gear? Looking around at the other wagons when she can to see if any other members of the party are visible and to try and see what might be hauling everyones stuff.
Trist nods at Wren moving closer and trying to inconspicuously look for where their gear might be. Trist gathers her will to survive and strengthens her resolve to find a way out of this mess with Wren , Freya willing.The pair are unable to determine direction they are heading by the sun as it is currently in mid-day position, directly overhead. Both are bound with their hands behind their backs. Trist is unable to cast any spells as a result.As the two slowly and cautiously attempt to position themselves back to back in an attempt to work on their bindings. A gnoll barks out. Leaping on the wagon, it climbs up to the top of the cage, spear in hand. It squats down, leaning in close to the bars, examining the prisoners. It snarls, drooling a bit of spittle. Turning its head it barks something in gnollish and a reply is quickly barked back. The gnolls stands and spins it’s spear around. Jabbing the butt of it through the cage bars, it viciously thumps both Wren and Trist, each in the head and back into unconsciousness.

Finna is able to approach the birds before sundown.
Looking from a distance, the scavengers appear to be circling what looks to be the corpse of a large animal, most likely a dire boar.
Unfortunately, the birds are too high up to be affected by an Animal Friendship spell.

Moving closer, the boar does not appear to be moving and Finna can see at least two arrows protruding from its large mass.
Sword at ready, she approaches the fallen beast.
She’s able to confirm it is a dire boar, it’s dead, and looks to have collapsed on top of its rider, pinning him underneath.

The rider is a young Halfling male dressed in hide armor with some items of gnoll bone. Tribal symbols painted on his person would indicate he is a sort of plainsman or barbarian. He looks to be unconscious and trapped at the waist under the dead weight of his large mount. A broken spear, gnoll skull helm, and intact short bow lay nearby, very much out of reach of the warrior.

Coming over a small rise, the scavengers interest becomes visible to Finna. Taking a long look helps determine it is most likely the corspe of a dire boar. This is the first evidence of any animals out here and it is a huge one. If those things are roaming around out here, I better be a little more vigilant. And….. yeah, there are no birds close enough to be friendly with. She moves forward, being more vigilant for a trap. Noting two arrows protuding from the still form of beast causes her to gently pull her sword from its sheath. She glances around as she approaches, wary of falling victim to a similar fate as what lies before her.

Yeah, it’s a dire boar and…is that something under it? It is, something was riding it! Let’s see…. a halfling? What is this, some sort of armor made with hides and… gnoll bone?!? What in Freya’s name have I come across? Hmm… he’s still breathing but not awake. He’s some sort of barbarian from the looks of the symbols. Never heard of such a thing, wonder if Rudi has any information about this? I need to get him from under this beast before he becomes dinner for any scavengers. Well, I hope I can do this quickly.

Finna will first try to reach under the boar to see if the halfling has any broken bones. She will then give a quick attempt to push and lift the boar enough to pull the halfling out then try pulling the boar. If that fails, she will see if she can use either the spear or her sword to lever the boar up and away for pulling the halfling out. If that fails, she will try digging out around and under where the halfling is trapped under his mount, hopefully moving enough dirt to then pull and slide him out.

Once he is out from under the boar, she will examine him to see if there are any broken bones that need setting and use her experience with to patch him up (Healing proficiency). She will then look around to locate a suitable area to camp, sheltered like she previously had done. She will start a small fire then return to the halfling. If he had broken bones, she will pray for 20 minutes to gain two CLW spells (dropping Bless and Command) then cast one on him. Otherwise, she will lift him up and move him to the camp location. She will then spend time in prayer, thanking Freya and waiting for the halfling to awaken.

IF she cannot get the halfling out from under the boar, she stops and looks for the camping location as before and starts a fire. She will then return to the halfling and pray for 30 minutes to gain Draw Upon Holy Might and CLW (dropping Speak with Animals and Bless). She will call upon Freya for the strength to move the boar (cast Holy Might) and lift the beast off of the halfling then examine the halfling for three more rounds. She will then sit down within arms reach before the spell ends then wait until her strength is back before casting CLW on any broken bones and then moving the halfing to the camp, along with his equipment.

When he wakens, she will not speak to him but hold up some food, place it down to one side and move far enough away to not be a threat. She will wait for him to speak so she can determine how friendly he is going to be.

Finna is able to dig the Halfling out from under the boar. Pulling him away she spots his leg is broken.
Casting CLW on the rider, his leg resets and she then carries his still unconscious form to her campfire.

A few turns later, the warrior comes around. With a low groan, he sits up holding his head. Spotting Finna, his eyes go wide.
He scrambles up and back, grabbing a nearby rock and raising it, he begins to bark out at Finna in a language she does not understand.

The halfling comes free from under the boar, a sigh of relief escapes Finna’s lips. Thankful she didn’t have to try and push the carcass, she examines the unconcious rider for injuries. The broken leg becomes evident as she touches it. She moves to make camp and start the fire.

As she places the halfling near the fire, she silently thanks Freya for her blessings once again. Rumaging through her pack, Finna pulls out some food and places it to one side then waits. Watching the halfling rest, her mind begins to consider where he comes from and why he was out here alone.

The groan brings her out of a reverie, eyes refocusing on her patient. She sits still, waiting to guage his reaction. A slight grin tugs at the corner of her mouth as he sits up holding his head. She fights to hold steady as the halfling scrambles away and begins threatening her with a rock, his speech unintelligible to her. She composes herself to keep her voice even. She holds up empty hands, palms up then speaks in common, “Look. Food. Eat.” She moves one hand slowly to point out the food. She looks back to the little man and repeats her words, in elvish this time. She then slowly scoots to one side away from the food to give him some room.

Once he calms down and eats, she will speak to him again in both common and elvish. “I am Finna. Who are you?”

The Halfling stays agitated and aggressive, rock in hand raised. He keeps looking around but always keeping one eye on Finna. Not until she samples some of the food offered does he, like a wild animal, slowly approach to snatch the rations and jump back. It’s clear by his appetite the little warrior has not eaten for some time. Not until the offering of Finna’s waterskin does the beast rider finally lower his rock and sit by the fire across from the Cleric. Taking a deep pull, and wiping his chin he begins to question Finna, unfortunately she does not understand his language. After some time of pantomime, gesturing, and drawing in the sand do the pair begin to communicate on a very basic level. Exchanging names, his is Dalrir. His war party spotted the party’s encounter with the gnolls and decided it was a good opportunity to ambush them, the gnolls that is. However, they underestimated the size of the gnoll caravan and were forced to retreat. Dalrir was separated and chased down. He was able to dispatch his pursuers but he and his mount eventually succumbed to their wounds. He fell unconscious but his beast continued on until collapsing.

Finna leads him to his fallen companion and there is an obvious internal struggle to hold back a flood of emotions. Dalrir collects his bow and what arrows and gear he can, as well as his broken spear. Breaking the upper part of the shaft into a make shift dagger, he cuts a lock of hair from the fallen boar. He kneels beside the beast and, with head lowered, speaks some in a low voice before returning back to the campfire.

After a few more turns of ‘conversation’, Dalrir winces several times in discomfort, implying more internal wounds. Finna offers to cast clw once again. Hesitant to allow her to touch him, he eventually relents. Dalrir is mystified and amazed by her healing ability. He begins to excitedly jabber on until eventually, he calms and (through pantomime, gesturing, and drawing) insists Finna the magic healer accompany him back to his tribe.

Finna realizes she has been holding her breath as the little man takes a deep pull from her waterskin. Seeing him relax and lower the rock in his hand releases the tension in her shoulders. A new tension fills her head as she begins trying to converse with him. Great Odin, what is he saying? Please allow us to understand each other.

After Dalrir explains about the raid, Finna makes a decision. She stands up, motions to Dalrir to follow and leads him back to the fallen beast. A strong wave of empathy crashes down as she watches the beastrider struggle dealing with the reality of his companion. A lump forms in her throat as he cuts a lock of hair from the fallen boar. When he kneels and starts to murmur, Finna raises her head with eyes closed. Oh Freya, bless this man who shows the great passion you ask from all of us. Guide me as we work together to end the vileness in this land. I pray that he is able to help me find the rest of the party, especially sister Trist. Finishing her prayer, she is taken back seeing that she is standing alone.

As they continue to converse with each other, she begins to notice that he is uncomfortable and squirms a bit. Motioning to him, she conveys her desire to help him by touching him. Taking several minutes of convincing, she finally places her hands on his torso and prays.

Maybe I shouldn’t have healed him….. He seems to have become overly excited… I didn’t know anything could speak as fast as that…. He.. He… Why won’t he just Calm Down?? I know he sees me, why is he ignoring me? Oh Freya, what have I gotten into now?

Dalrir finally slows down enough to convey his desire for Finna to follow him back to his tribe. She begins to speak but hesitates. Her brow furrows with concern and concentration. It may be possible to gain his and his tribe’s assistance with our quest if I go with him. But I don’t know where they are or what has happened to them. With the number of gnolls in this area, it is not safe to be alone. I don’t know where his tribe is but they must be within a day or two of this place. Still, who knows how injured the rest of the party is… or where they are? I know I must be downstream from the party but how far? Wait…. He said his group observed the gnoll attack and he does live in these parts…..

Finna looks to Dalrir and gives her head a slight shake. She thanks him for the honor of inviting her to visit his tribe. She will convey that she should find her party first before meeting his tribe. She will ask if he knows where are right now, how far away they are from where the gnolls attacked the party and how close they are to his tribe.

If they are closer to the attack site, she will insist that going to meet the party is the best option for them, since there is safety in larger numbers. She will also ask him if he feels they could make it back there safely, avoiding any further gnoll attacks. If it is not safe, she will sigh and let him know she will go to the tribe. If they are at an equal distance or closer to his tribe, she will relent and go with him.

She will allow him to lead (whichever direction they go) but suggest that she be allowed to rest since she walked for a large part of the day and needs some time to recover since she has not healed from her wounds either. She will get both of them to eat more of her rations to gain strength. Asking him to watch over her for a bit, she will pray for 30 minutes to regain 3 CLW spells (dropping Anti-vermin Barrier) then cast two of them upon herself. If she still feels injured, she will cast the 3rd one on herself as well. When darkness falls, she will convey to Dalrir that she will ask her goddess for protection and that he should stay within 10 feet of the fire. She will then cast Wyvern Watch, pray another 30 minutes (gain Bless and two CLW) and chat with the small warrior for a short while before falling asleep. Before they begin their travels, she will pray for 40 minutes to gain Hold Person and Aid (2nd level spells)

Note: Double checking things, I realized that I had not adjusted the character sheet for the correct number of spells per level. I’ve corrected things to the point after healing Dalrir.

Dalrir draws a crude map of the area in the dirt. He indicates their current location, the location of the gnoll battle with the party and the shadow bridge, as well as the area of his tribe.

MAP
hand-drawn_map.jpg

Dalrir is insistent she accompany him to his tribe and after, from what limited communication will allow, conveys to her his tribe will help her return to her party. He hesitates briefly, as if pondering a serious internal issue, and then continues. He goes on to explain that either a chief or a person of importance within his tribe needs her healing ability.

His insistence becomes more of a plea to her ears. Finna begins again to argue for heading towards the party since it looks closer on the crude map. His hesitation becomes contagious and she holds her tongue. As Dalrir continues on, the plea becomes more evident to her. She also realizes that she was originally on the opposite side of the river and probably really is in the middle of the two groups.

Something inside Finna stirs. Empathy for the small warrior begins to well up. Well, he seems to be rather concerned about this sick person, it could be a relative. If it is a person of importance and I successfully tend to them, we could possibly have the entire tribe assist us. That may be worth the risk. I don’t want to hurt his feelings either, I think I understand his earlier enthusiasm.

Finna will communicate that she will follow the halfling but hold to her previous actions of resting, eating and restoring spells.

So according the internet a raven can sustain about 40 miles of uninterrupted flight each day. Taking that into account, Dagnoe can scout out about 20 miles before he hits a point of no return and turns back.
As the sun begins to set, Dagnoe returns the party. He communicates to Maltron that he saw no sign of any of the missing group. He did however, notice a figure some 3-4 miles away, moving towards the party’s direction. The figure seemed to spot Dagnoe and take cover from the bird’s field of vision in a grouping of nearby rocks. The figure stayed hidden as Dagnoe continued on. It looked humanoid and wore a tattered cloak with its hood up covering the face and head.

Upon hearing the news, Rudi perks up, “A diversion!” He looks around at the party members staring at him, “Subterfuge! A trap! We should set up the camp as though we are sleeping soundly. Lure the figure in, then surround it. Oh! I could be the bait. It will appear as though I stand watch, distracted, studying a tome, my back to the figure. As the creature enters the camp, I notice and back away silent and scared. Then one of the stealthier of the group, probably Francis, sneaks up and commands it to hold. A diversion!” Rudi smile widely, very pleased with his plan.

Rudi adds, “I also have a suspicion the figure may not have malicious intent. We saw it before, remember? The appearance of the cloak means it is probably a lone survivor out here and not well equipped and may well be able to help us if we do not harm it.”

Maltron praises Dagnoe for a job well done.

Maltron takes in Rudi’s idea of an ambush. “Sure, why not Rudi, we can set a trap. I bet Farouk has some ideas for just such a thing.”

He memorizes Comprehend Languages and Shield and then casts Invisibility on himself and one other person if they want it. He will then re-memorize invisibility for a total of 2 times. “If this creature is undead, he will see us anyway. I’m not sure what manner of foul creature it is.”
Klembsy suggests that Maltron uses invisibility on Rudi or Francis. He will use a new way to hide.
When everyone is ready for the ambush/trap, Klembsy casts Tree on himself and takes the form of a dead fallen trunk on the ground.

Farouk speaks up when talk comes of planning…“Well the way I see it, that whatever it was that’s coming our way was spooked by Dagnoe. What that tells me is its no undead. Undead don’t get spooked, and definitely not by no bird. IF its alone, then its either a scout, which I doubt or one of our own… but I don’t think its that either. My guess if I had to make one is that it may be a survivor from an earlier attack. We still need to be cautious though… We should be able to handle this guy without too much trouble. Let me take a closer looksee. Invisibly with my boots and levitation, shouldn’t take me long to find out what this is all about.”

“As far as the other chains go… I’m surprised Dagnoe didn’t spot anything of interest from way up there. Those gnolls cant be too far away. Possibly cloaked in magic….But im not itchin for a straight up fight with em…they were surprisingly coordinated. If only we knew where they were, I got a thing or two that’s sure to change their minds about attacking us again.”

Farouk memorizes his spells….
Alvyra checks all her stuff while waiting for Farouk to come back with his report.

The rangers awake, now gagged and heads throbbing, to the blare of a horn sounding.
It appears now to be late afternoon. The sky is illuminated by the twilight of the setting sun.
The horn sounds again and after a few moments a chilling response echoes out. A low bass drone, it builds slowly into a high pitched shriek before abruptly cutting off.
There is a silent pause for a few moments before the wagons start moving again.
The rangers attempt to observe their surroundings while attempting to appear unconscious. The wagon moves through what appears two ruined towers, eventually coming to a halt. The drivers dismount and the sounds of the commotion of ‘parking’ and unpacking the caravan can be heard. Soon after, the door to the cage is unlocked, swung open and the prisoners inside are callously pulled out, thumping to the ground. Wren, Trist, the two halflings and the three men are dragged a short distance and then dropped. Gnolls roughly grab all prisoners and force them into an upright kneeling position.

The scene ahead is laid out as such. The prisoners appear to be inside the remnants of a ruined stronghold. There are 8 wagons total along the inner wall, with live horses tied to them. 4 skeletal horses are hitched together in the south of the bailey.
There are many gnolls. At least 45+. 4 are guarding the prisoners. A small group of 9 appear to be in discussion away from the others, near the skeletal mounts. The rest are unpacking the wagons. Half of the wagons appear to contain barrels, trunks, and crates while the others are gruesomely stacked with bodies. Human, gnoll, and a few Halfling corpses are being dragged to a pile close to what looks to be a large pit in the north of the ward. The goods, crates, and trunks are being stacked in a pile near the inner keep. After about what seems like an hour, a procession of black cloaked figures approached the gnolls, exiting from the inner keep entrance, 8 in total. All figures have hoods up save for 1 who, terrifyingly appears to have no head at all. The headless figure wears no cloak, only black chain and is armed with a longsword at its side. It walks in pace with another cloaked figure behind a leader. The group of 9 gnolls engaged in discussion earlier, approach the cloaked procession and begin discussion too low to overhear. The gnoll leader motions to the goods pile, the bodies, and then finally the prisoners, assumingly negotiating a deal. The 5 cloaked figures in the rear of the procession begin to comb through the goods pile. Separating out various crates and trunks. The headless figure is directed to a specific trunk which appears to be some weapons and from a glimpse, jewelry. The cloaked leader continues talk with the gnolls as the final cloaked figure approaches the prisoners. Keeping a safe distance from them, the figure passes by each after a brief examination. Coming on Wren and Trist, it pauses, leaning in only to reveal the lower half of its face which appears female. The cloaked woman returns to the cloaked leader and leans in, apparently whispering, before falling back into position in the procession. The leader nods, discusses a bit more with the gnoll, when what appears to be an agreement is made. The five cloaked, carry off a various amount of goods, followed by the cloaked female, then the cloaked leader. The headless warrior takes the small trunk of weapons and follows suit after the others.
The gnoll leader turns to his subordinates and begins barking out orders. The dead bodies are dragged and unceremoniously dumped into the nearby pit. The remaining goods are loaded back on the wagons, a small group of gnolls begin building a large bonfire in the middle of the ward. Two very large boars are dragged off a nearby wagon and butchering begins on their carcasses. Both of the Halfling prisoners look visibly upset at observing this action.
The prisoners are kept under close guard, given a small amount of water each, and a rope leash is tied off to each of them, binding them together by the neck.
Evening progresses and the gnolls drink and feast on boar, gathering around the large bonfire, barking and chattering to each other.
Around midnight, another procession of cloaked figures return. 7 this time. The rear 4 lead each a skeletal horse in tow which they hand over to the gnolls. Each of the horses are packed with large bags of gear which are pulled down and examined by the gnolls.
Three of the cloaked approach the prisoners, Trist specifically. The leader lowers his hood to reveal a human male. Bearded and shoulder length blonde hair, he is in his late twenties/early thirties, rugged but attractive. He withdraws a longsword still sheathed, Trist recognizes it as ‘Ripper’. He squats down and removes Trist’s gag. Holding up the sword he asks lowly, “Where did you get this blade?”

MAP
Dragonspear.jpg

Trist tries to spit in his face and says, “Untie me and I will show you how to use it. She smiles at the human. Why have you brought us here? By Freya I’ll gut you, if I ever get free.”

Trist is hoping he needs to know more information. She tries to stalls for time, for as long as she can.

Trist continues and says, “I found it in Waterdeep on a blind man using it as a cane.”
Trist runs through her mind the image of the man asking her about Ripper and attempts to identify him if possible. She says in Elven, “Hang in there sister.”

Wren is not able to identify the blonde man.

The blonde man wipes Trist’s spit from his face and stands up.
He back hands the ranger who reels into the ground.
As she fights to clear her head, she feels the bonds on her wrists cut.

“Hold her up.” States the blonde man.

Gnolls grasp her by each arm and lift her.

The blonde man tucks the sword into his belt and pulls off one of his gloves.
He rolls his sleeve up just above the elbow then draws ripper.

Even in the firelight, the shift is visible.
As the blonde man holds up the blade, an inky black shadow flows over his arm.
He leans in, his obsidian black arm slowly moves the blade to Trist’s neck.

“Ripper was mine once, we had to part ways before the blade overwhelmed me. I gave it to a dear friend Kargan, who wielded it until he was slain.”

The blonde man moves the blade from Trist’s neck to her right hand. As he does so an inky black shadow flows under the rangers skin. From the finger tips to the just past the second knuckle become midnight pitch. Trist feels nothing as this occurs and is still able to move her hand.

The blonde man pulls the blade away from Trist’s arm, the inky black shadow dissipates, her skin returns to normal.
He sheathes it and rolls down his sleeve and puts on his glove, as he does the blackness on his arm seems to fade much more slowly than Trist’s, if at all.

“Secure her, bring them all….” He smiles at Trist.

“We have much to discuss.”
Trist is most curious about the blackness and most worried. She silently prays to Freya for help and guidance. She gathers herself and controls any outburst sensing only pain would follow. She steels herself for the coming days. She gets the sense she’s in over her head for the first time in her life and that worries her. She keeps her composure and tries to gather as much information about where she is the camp make-up, where she is being taken, face and sound recognition, tracks, location of their gear. Well at least I’m still alive for the moment and they must need something else from me beside how the sword works. Thanks to Freya for my life and may I continue to do her work. She tries to wink at Wren through her non-swollen eye and a small smile. She tries to will her thoughts to her sister Wren. Hang in there sister.Wrens mother always taught her to maintain her composure, to not give into the wild elvan madness that her anger had the power to trigger. She watched this evil, pathetic, human threaten her sister and friend with his physical assault then with his evil darkness. Rage burned in her eyes, her mind fighting the urge to gnaw off her own arm to get out of these binds, quelled only by her mothers words. “Patience’s child, patience’s. Its the only thing that will calm the mind and only when the mind is calm can you really understand”……….Looking into*Trist* eyes trying hard to let her know it will be ok.

Wren and Trist and the other prisoners are hooded and dragged off.
The sounds of the Gnoll camp fade and replaced by boots on stone. The rangers are able to determine they are being taken underground.
After some time they are dumped onto a cold and damp stone floor. Rope bonds are replaced by iron manacles and eventually the hoods are removed.

The two are in a large cave cell (12×12×12) with iron bars and gate enclosing the opening.
They are alone. Their hands are shackled in front of them together and chained to shackles on their feet. In this manner, limited shuffling is the only method of upright movement (1/4 movement rate). The chain length linking the wrist manacles might be able to be used to strangle an opponent if the prisoners were able to take down and grapple an individual. Also, the length is such that Trist is able to spell cast should she choose. It appears the captors do not believe either of the rangers are magic users.
A slow trickle of water from the ceiling drains into a small hole in the far recess of the cell that smells to be the privy.

There are no loose rocks, bones, or any other items of note within the cell.

As the captors leave the cell, the iron gate is slammed shut and locked.
Outside of the cell looks to be a hallway that disappears into unnatural darkness some 10’ from the gate.
There does not appear to be a guard nearby.

The only source of light in the area is coming from what looks to be a spike set into the ceiling in the hallway 8’ from the gate.
Enchanted with some form of continual light, it gives off a sickly green-ish blue gloom that barely illuminates the area.

No other sounds save for the trickling of the water can be heard. Occasionally, a scream echoes in the distance.

Invisible Farouk, using his boots and levitation in combination, creating a very effective method of distance ‘leap-running’, soon comes upon the area described by Dagnoe where the cloaked figure was spotted.

He drifts in, hovering a few feet above the ground.
Scanning the area for a few turns reveals nothing until he finally spots the figure.
Popping up from the grass, it bolts in the direction of the party’s camp, it does not appear to spot the wizard.
It’s ragged and tattered cloak whips about as it sprints. It’s gait is awkward and lumbering.

What details Farouk can determine of the figure are scarce.
The figure appears to have no weapons, no possessions, and strangely no clothing save for the cloak.
It’s exposed legs and arms do not appear to be of flesh. From the hard angles of the muscle definition, Farouk suspects the figure was constructed of either wood, earth, clay, or something else.

The mage quickly returns to the group and relays his observations.
Farouk relays his information and adds “That thing reminds me alot of my workbench…an ambulate but different, it seemed to have an intelligence.”Francis takes a swig of his rum skin as he listens to Farouk speak.“Maybe some kind of golem? We have a clay one in the Library called Teek. Though he is more of a machine than a sentient being, acting only with someone controlling him. Sounds more like one of the warforged to me.” Rudi’s face lights up, “Oh! How exciting! I’ve read about them but have never met one! Let me see if I have a book here. What an excellent opportunity!”

If the party wants to stay hidden,* Farouk* does too behinds some rocks or other cover – Farouk isnt actually trying to stay too covered though and would like to Parlay when the wood guy comes into view.

“You guys stay hid while I try to talk to this wooden guy ok? Ill let you know whats up. Farouk casts message on party so that while they stay hidden he can remain in silent communication.”

Invisible, Rudi readies Reduce and stands to the side ready to cast it on the figure if things go poorly.

Alvyra gets on her horse and hides. She does a terrible job until somebody gives her some tips. Where’s that whats-his-name sneaky elf?
The figure approaches what seems to be, a camp unaware of its presence.
Cautiously and silently, it moves towards the nearest gear (Farouk’s pack) and makes as if to search it.

Farouk slowly comes out of his hiding place hands raised “Hey there buddy, your not with those dogs back there are ya?”

Farouk moves slowly and non-threateningly towards the woodman. trying to get a better look. "Im not lookin for trouble, names Farouk.
Francis makes a similar move as Farouk does. He thinks, “Damn Fark, I was gonna talk to this one.” He rolls his eyes, turns over slowly in no manner of threat, and smiles at the Woodsman, and says, “Hey, names Francis, want a pull of rum?”Rudi stays hidden, ready to cast in case any action starts!

Alvyra resists the urge to charge from her hiding place and cut the creature’s hand off. She waits to see what happens next, hand on the hilt of Red.

The creature lurches back from the gear when Farouk approaches but doesn’t bolt.
In a deep and gravelly voice it speaks. “Please, I mean no harm. I was only looking for food. I haven’t eaten for days.”

It lowers its hood to reveal the sculpted human face of what looks to be a clay golem.

Francis looks the creature up and down trying to determine anything about him, any items, markings, clues from his clothing, trying to figure where it came from, or where it’s been.

Francis questions, “What do you eat?” If it eats rations, he gives the creature some.

“What are you doing out here? How did you come to be like this? My name is Francis, nice to meet you.”

Francis will chew on some jerky and take a swig up rum while hearing the reply.
DM Spellcraft roll? Does Farouk know anything about clay golems?

The golem snatches up the rations and jams them in it’s ‘mouth’ in an attempt to eat. Because the creature has no hinge on it’s jaw, chin, or lips ( the mouth is set slightly open but does not move), the rations mush against it’s face, most of it falling to the ground in bits. Taking a swig of Francis’ rum skin results in a similar mess, pouring out of it’s mouth and down it’s face.

Farouk knows that clay golems usually don’t talk, get hungry, or try to eat…
Francis grins at the display, “It looks like you’re having an issue with the food and drink, my friend. I’m getting the feeling that you are more in need of assistance than you are even aware. Tell me about yourself, if you would be so kind. By the looks of you, I wager you there is a very good story in there somewhere.”

The golem stands about 7’ tall and is clad in only a ragged, tattered and filthy cloak/poncho. Around its neck under the cloak, looks to be a gold chain necklace.
Having seen many clay golems out and about in Frontier, this one seems strange, different.
It’s movements are more humanoid and fluid, less bulky and lumbering than other clay golems.
When it speaks its mouth does not move. The voice emanating echoes as if originating from a cave or well.

He says his name is Lewiter and he wasn’t always ‘like this’. He was once a human mage, part of an adventuring party exploring the tortured lands. The party was attacked and captured by a cult of priests. They were tortured, experimented on, and finally sacrificed. He survived because during an magical ritual his ‘essence’ was forced into this golem. For months he was an automaton, a slave laboring for the priests. Until one day, he became self-aware. His thoughts and memories flooded back. He was then able to barely escape the cult’s underground lair and he’s been wandering the wastes ever since. He was in hiding watching when the party was attacked by the gnolls after crossing the shadow bridge. Recognizing the party contained magic users, Lewiter decided to make contact. He hopes the group will be able to aid him in an attack on the cult, avenging his fallen fellow adventurers, and ultimately recovering and repossessing his old body

Rudi is so interested in the story, he forgets and drops his invisibility, walks toward Lewiter and begins a barrage of questions, “Fascinating! I’ve never heard of such a process! Do you remember any of the incantations? Do you believe the cultists still have your body? It is interesting that you still feel hunger. Do you feel pain as well? What about magic? Could you still cast a spell if you had your spellbook? Do you remember what they called themselves? Were they Charnelists? Were there any undead in their camp?”

He turns suddenly to Farouk, “If Bel’Ybryaa is indeed in league with the Charnelists, that might explain Lewiter’s current predicament and the golems being used by the cult. She did have a Frontier Golem construction libram when she disappeared.”

Back to Lewiter, giving him a discription of Bel’Ybryaa, “Did you encounter or see a woman of that description among the cultists during your imprisonment? Or did you perhaps see an obsidian skull in use? I’m Rudilaan, by the way. A pleasure to make your acquaintance!!”

Using his previously cast message spell Farouk whispers back to the group AND Rudi,

“Something doesnt add up, look at that bauble hes wearing… doesnt look like something an escapee should have… and hes hungry? What kind of Golem eats? Rudi what does your book say about hungry golems?”

DM EDIT: Rudi can find no information on ‘hungry golems’

Francis considering the situation is thinking, this poor guy. Sounds like a tough run of luck. As Farouk’s messages comes in, he thinks, ‘yea, that chain does throw something off. If he was a prisoner, why does he have that?’

Thinking some more, ‘maybe this guy is just crazy.’

“This cave you were in, did it have mushrooms in it? Did you regularly eat them before you became that big lump of clay?”
With a mental shrug Rudi replies to Farouk via Message, and says, “It’s probably trauma from being transferred into the golem. He hasn’t come to terms with his new body and therefore still feels like he needs to eat and drink, even though he doesn’t. Kind of like a ghost, still trying to live life as it used to. The chain may be a link to the magic used to keep his essence in the body. It may even be that the essence is stored there. In his state, he probably hasn’t even thought about it.”

“It isn’t so much as a cave as it is a cave complex. The cultist’s lair is at least three levels deep, that I know of, each a network of caves. As a prisoner I was kept starved with only water and a scrap of bread maybe once a day. When I was transferred into this form, I was never fed. They do have several fungi gardens where they cultivate and harvest mushrooms, I never ate any of them.

Seeing Rudi suddenly become visible and approach startles Lewiter some, but that builds quickly to excitement as it seems the golem realizes he is talking to a fellow Spellcaster.

“I do not remember much of the ritual. I was on a cold stone slab naked, there was chanting, pain, light, screaming, and more pain. When I escaped I managed to find where they had placed my body. For fear of damaging it, I felt it best remain and I return for it. I did take this.”
He slips a thumb under the gold chain on his neck and pulls out his necklace. It appears to be an amulet set with a large red gemstone in the middle.
“A family heirloom and the only reminder I have of my humanity.” He tucks it back.

“Yes I feel hunger, constant hunger. And cold, a deep cold as well as pain, always the dull pain. I have no spells ‘with me’ and I was unable to find my spell book. I would need to study to determine if I have retained my abilities. You are a wizard yes? Perhaps you would permit me a lend of your catalogue? Under close observation of course.

His tone becomes low as he continues. “The cult? Charnelists yes, a very dangerous faction. They refer to themselves as The Order of the Undying Righteous. They are led by a necromancer priest. The skull? Yes, I have seen it. It is used in many rituals, the high priest draws power from it, passing it on as living conduit. He communes with dark forces through the skull, I believe it object to be a direct link to a greater, unknown evil. Undead?”
He chuckles.
“They are building an army in the depths. There is much undead.”
Continuing. “I do not remember any woman of that description among them. There are many disciples, many priests, I could not keep track.”
Fr

ancis thinks this Golem is very forthright with his information. It could still be a trick, or his story could be true. He tries to think of any questions that would back up his story. And he really didn’t think there would be mushrooms. The cave under Frontier just popped into his head, and that poor crazy bastard they had met. Although there was that Golem under there too. He wonders if there could be any connection to that.

“Maybe since he was turned into a Golem when he was so very hungry and in pain, those feelings have been transferred to his current state and they cannot be satiated because his form can’t do anything about it. Truely a tortuous state to be in.” Francis looks at the creature with pity and shutters a bit thinking how it would feel to be in that situation. He takes a quick pull from the rum skin to shake it off.

Alvyra nudges Portius forward and declares, “It is an undead abomination and must be destroyed!” She points at it with Red while giving it the evil eye (Detect Evil).

DM EDIT: Alvyra detects evil.
Farouk raises a hand, “Hold your horses, this is no undead creature, Just a very unusual golem, as you can see it means us no harm othewise it would have already attacked”Rudi, too, moves in front of Alvyra, “Hold! He is not undead. He may be dangerous but, he has valuable information. Please just a little more evaluation.”

Maltron has difficulty holding back his disgust and anger at what the cult did to this poor mage. He tries hard not to imagine a similar fate for himself.

He approaches the golem, stating, “Lewiter, we will avenge you and do all that we can to restore you to your former self. We have powerful friends in Frontier. If anyone knows what to do, they will. But time is of the essence. We have been separated from some of our friends. Perhaps they have fallen into the hands of your enemies. Can you guide us to their cave complex quickly?”

Maltron uses his wand to detect magic on the golem and it’s necklace.

DM EDIT: Lewiter responds. “I can guide you. It is some distance from here and there will be many dangers to watch for. The order has many agents and scouts combing the tortured lands.” The Golem and the necklace radiate magic.

Klembsy will let the spell finish its whole duration unless the group want to leave the place or if instructed otherwise by Maltron.

Alvyra furrows her brow. It’s not undead? She vaguely remembers something about the souls of the holiest of paladins somehow being involved in the creation of holy swords of the greatest power. They’re not undead, are they? She shrugs off her doubt. I’ll leave it to these experts. They must be good for something.

She mindblasts back on Farouk’s Message. “Well if it’s not an undead abomination, it’s still an evil abomination and must be destroyed. It is either intent on immediate mischief, or else it is so powerfully evil that I can sense it even though it means us no immediate harm. We may gain tactical advantage by observing and following it for the time being, but should all be wary for a double-cross. Perhaps it seeks favor from those who wronged it by luring us into a trap!”

Farouk messaging the party "We may still be able to control this thing, When I get a chance im gonna try a couple things (ESP) it it works out we can reign it in (Charm Person)

Farouk knows that normally neither one of those spells would work on a golem, however this is a special golem housing a consciousness…It just might work.

“Lets just go with it for now, I don’t trust it, why should I? But right now its the only thing we got… At the very least it can give us some info on where the ruins are, the players, and a layout. Thats plenty for us go on if we take it slow. Keep it under wraps that Im a mage, Im just a merchant treasure hunter…. We cant show them our hand… not yet. "

Rudi rummages in his back pack to hide his concentration and responds via Message, “Wow! That makes sense. Did you notice how he chuckled when thinking of the army of the undead? Ok, I’ll keep it quiet. How exciting!!” He can’t help but raise his shoulders slightly in his excitement.

He pulls out his tablet and when there is a chance he’ll ask Lewiter a few questions, “Do you remember anything before the transference? Where did you venture here from? Who else was in your party? Were you sent by any officials or were you acting independantly? Where did you study magic? Do you have a specialty? You mentioned family. We hope to get you back to them. Can you tell me about them? What was their method of attack? Did they ambush you?”
Francis relays his suspicion of the creature, and agrees with the brash Paladin and the shrewd Illusionist. Via telepathic link he let’s fly, “Indeed, he may he part of a trap, either intentionally or not, but an edge he can be as well. Let’s gather what we can from him, help him if his intentions are genuine, but be careful if not”

“We were ambushed in the night, mounted gnolls on wargs over-ran our camp.” He dismisses Rudi’s personal questions with a wave. “There will be plenty of time to discuss that while we travel. What matters now is that we discuss approach. The tortured lands are swarming with warring Gnoll clans. When the cult first established itself it partnered with one of the more desperate and losing tribes, The Ark’barau. In exchange for aid, weapons, undead slaves, and some magic, the clan was to trade bodies, living or dead, and some goods obtained through raiding. This provided the cult the raw material it desired while allowing the Ark’barau to dominate their rivals. Most of the clans are now broken. Scattered, dead, or absorbed. A few hold outs remain but the numbers dwindle under a constant hunt. Strangely, one indigenous tribe prevents the Ark’barau from complete conquest of the territory. A small society of Halfling beast riders have proven a constant difficulty to the Ark’s. Riding dire boars, they are quick, deadly, and resourceful. From what I understand, their small raids on the gnolls are very effective. They are adept at evading capture and litter the land with traps.”

Upon examining the party’s map, Lewiter describes the following.
“There are 3 shadow bridges established by the cult. 1, 2, and 3. The cult compound is located here (purple X), underneath the ruins of an ancient stronghold. The land surrounding, north of both rivers, is primarily the gnoll territorial battleground. It will be difficult to avoid them. The lands on the west side of the west river are under Ark’barau claim and have been swept of any other gnoll resistance. This is their primary merchant and caravan hunting grounds. The lands to east of the east river are where halflings attacks are most active.”

The golem pauses, drawing a slow, methodical breath before continuing. His tone shifts, becoming lower and ominous.
“Finally, there are the Knights of the Order. A group of mounted priests scouting the badlands. They are vile, unholy warriors who ride skeletal steeds that never need rest. They search for pilgrims, report targets to the Ark, they are the dark cavaliers of the cult tasked with charges directly from the high lord priest.”

MAP
TORTUREDLANDSWITHBRIDGES.jpg

“Do you think we could work with the Dire Wolf riding Halflings?” Francis tries to hid the chuckle that starts as he finishes his sentence. And then he clears his throat.

Farouk rolls his eyes… “Thats at LEAST 3 days from here…probably more trying to dodge those hounds on our arse!”

In private, Farouk confers with Maltron

" You know over the course of the next few days we are probably going to encounter those dogs….Now we can use that to our advantage…I’ve been through your spellbook, and I thank you for that… Between you and me if we are careful, we can subvert a large number of em along the way. We are gonna need friends to make this happen"

Farouk thinks that the application of charm person on any badguys we encounter over the next few days could benefit us a great deal by the time we make it to the camp. In a nutshell we create our own army.
Rudi says, "Well, we will definitely need allies against so great a force. If nothing else, but to draw attention away while we enter unnoticed. I would rather have truly good aligned allies than those subverted by magic if it is an option. From what you say, it is doubtful the halflings would work with gnolls, even charmed ones, so we’d have to do one or the other.

Farouk just shakes his head, “Trust me when I say their aint no good reason to think a halfling is any better than a gnoll, or an orc, or a drilevian hive mother…”

“With their big sad eyes…nope. Thats just their dark charm playin tricks on you. At least with a gnoll I know what im getting into. But not for nuthin, I think your right. Making contact with the halflings might be our best bet.”

Farouk pauses for a moment before pointing an accusatory finger and glaring back at Rudi, “BUT dont you even think for a second we are taking one home with us!”

Maltron confers privately with Farouk, “I do not speak gnollish. I doubt I would have any luck charming them or manipulating one. I do speak Halfling. I would rather handle this diplomatically with the wee-folk, but if any difficulty arises, they can be charmed and I have no problem doing so. With the halflings, we could raise an willing army. With the gnolls, we could merely convince one at a time.”

“Be ready, I intend to push the boundaries of this golemn’s cooperation.”

Approaching Lewiter, Maltron gently asks, “Tell me about your necklace. Is it magical?” Regardless of the answer, Maltron will request his cooperation with casting Identify on the necklace. He will first memorize Identify after dismissing Comprehend Languages and cast it on the necklace. Requesting the other party members, in advance, to restrain him if they must.

Not the best at physical restraint, Rudi will step back an be ready if Lewiter needs to be restrained.

He adds via message, “Regardless of which direction we choose, we should cross at a different bridge. The gnolls know of our presence in this area and will be better prepared for another attack. We’ll probably be more maneuverable without the wagon, too.”
Francis nods in agreement to whatever info has been relayed to him. He’s on board with whatever Maltron has in mind and helps anyway he can.Lewiter responds to Maltron. “It has a bit of a charm on it yes. When worn by a person of my bloodline, they are not susceptible to any magical persuasion, compellings, or allurements.” He dismisses Maltron’s request to identify it. “We need to apply focus to the task at hand and finalize our plans of attack.”

Farouk steps in “We dont mean ya any harm bud, If we did you would be a goner right now. Look, we just got beat up by a bunch of gnolls, and lost a few friends. Now your askin us to go back into undead, gnoll territory to help you out? I don’t know you.”

“Bub, you came to us askin for help, your gonna have to trust us.”

Farouk flashes his million gp smile (Cha 18) and holds out an outstretched palm. (Not shaking hands here, just trying to get him to hand over the trinket!)

“C’mon, we are all on the same side right?”

DM-Did the initial detect magic determine the school of magic that the charm radiated?

DM EDIT: the wand does not determine schools of magic only the presence of magic.

Lewiter draws back. “My amulet? But why? I’ve already explained it is but a mere family heirloom with only a simple enchantment. It is no concern of yours…”

The golem stands. “If it is compensation you require, I assure you, the cult has ample treasures. I will forfeit any claim on found loot should you aid in my successful return to my human body.”
MAP
campfire.jpg
Positions of all look good? Klembsy is still in log form and assuming Alvyra is not mounted.

Maltron nods to Lewiter, “Of course you are correct, it is of no concern of ours. Forgive us. I am tired. We all are. Let us rest and resume our quest very soon.”

Maltron will go a distance away to memorize Identify after dismissing Comprehend Languages.

He will communicate to Farouk via ESP, “Act casual, but have our fighters surround Lewiter, as soon as I have Identify memorized, we can give the word go and restrain him. We need to know what that necklace is. He is being evasive. It could provide us with enough knowledge to label him an enemy and we could dispatch him now, rather than wait until he is among his friends. Or at least coerce him to tell the truth through any means necessary.”

DM EDIT: how does the group intend to restrain a 7’ clay golem?

How is the amulet secured around the golems neck, A simple clasp? Locking device? A single unbroken chain?

DM EDIT: From the brief look at the amulet earlier, it appeared to be a single chain.

OOC-Spellcheck? Any info on the strengths and weaknesses of a clay golem?

DM EDIT: success. Golems are all made from elemental material. So far, the great wizards have only discovered how to use various earthen materials, such as clay, stone, iron, and even glass, to make golems. The exceptions, such as the flesh golem, use organic materials as components. The animating force of the golem is an elemental spirit from the elemental plane of Earth. Since the spirit is not a natural part of the body, it is not affected by most spells or even by most weapons. The process of creating the golem binds the unwilling spirit to the artificial body, and enslaves it to the will of the golem’s creator. The nature of this spirit is unknown, and has so far eluded the grasp of all researchers.
Alvyra mindblasts on telepathy, “Restrain that thing? I think we can damage it to the point it cooperates because it fears destruction, but then we have a nearly destroyed golem who is mad at us as an “ally.” Even if we could render it immobile, I’m not sure it cares. Does it feel pain? It seems to feel hunger, but it’s not like anything we do will make that hunger better or worse. I’m guessing it doesn’t sleep. Where’s that elf? Maybe he could just steal the necklace, not that I condone stealing, but this is a golem, can you steal from a golem? It is an evil golem, so the necklace is probably stolen, so we would just be recovering stolen property and keeping it safe until we find the rightful owner. Or is this really just a case of a found object with another found object hanging on it? Are you sure it’s not undead? That would make things simpler. Can you cast Identify with the necklace still hanging on the golem’s neck?”

Rudi will take an excuse to study and move away from the golem. He does not want to be right next to him if any fighting starts.

Via message, “I can cast Reduce on him if we need to subdue him. That should get him to a more manageable size.”
Farouk whispers back to Rudi “Im not sure if that will work, all I can remember about clay golems is that they are highly resistant to magic…Im not sure a direct magical attack would get through. You got anything in that book of yours that can shed some light on what they are immune to?”hearing what is going over the ‘wire’ Francis smiles at the Golem, and takes a few steps back form it, out away from melee range, and looks at the nice scenery around him, pulls in a deep breath and lets it out and feels refreshed.

Rudi winces internally, not having found much before, “Uh, I don’t know. Let me see. The secrets are really well guarded. There might not be much in my collection.” Rudi checks his haversack library again for golem weaknesses.

ooc – not trying to abuse the item. Just going with Farouk’s suggestion and what Rudi would probably do.

DM EDIT: Rudi is able to glean the following info. Clay golems are very strong, similar to that of a stone giant. They are very susceptible to magical blunt weapons such as hammers or maces. Spells involving earth and the manipulation of earth also have damaging effects on them. It is also know that the clay golem can haste itself at least once per day.
Klembsy takes advantage of the little commotion and, as he is out of the line of sight of the golem, he ends the Tree spell and remaining lying on the ground he rolls completely out of sight behind the rocks. There he quietly prays at Mielikki for 20 minutes for the spell Know Alignment.
After his prayers end, he tries to hear what is going on near the campfire, without poking his head out yet.

Maltron confers with the others via ESP, “Let’s wait until Klembsy determines his alignment. He’s big. This is going to be a big fight, but who here trusts this creature? Shall we dispatch him now if he proves to be evil or bring him along as a guide, hoping he doesn’t turn on us?”

dM EDIT: Klembsy determines Lewiter is neutral evil.

Farouk relays that he does not trust the golem… but there must be a reason he hasn’t attacked us…For now I say we bring him along, but we shall continue to discuss ways to dispatch him if needed, and keep him out of the loop when planning.

Although Lewiter says that bauble protects from mental influence, Im still not entirely convinced… When a chance comes to memorize spells… away from the golem, Farouk prepares detect magic…. With the intent of detecting the school of magic that amulet radiates…. If its anything other than abjuration, then its not protective in nature…

Farouk will also prepare and cast a deepocket spell on the fancy cloak, then he will prepare a levitate and rope trick that he will hold in reserve for the right time…

“Hey Lew, you cant go wandering around without pants, just aint right.” Farouk gives Lew something to cover up in….

DM EDIT: Lewiter’s amulet radiates divination and necromancy magicks. Also. Lewiter, as a golem, has a loincloth ‘carved’ on.

Rudi relates everything he learns from his books to the others. (sorry for some reason, I didn’t see that until now). Especially the haste ability. Via message, “If we attack him, we should try to get him to expend this against something else beforehand.”

Rudi relaxes a bit, knowing they will not be immediately attacking the dangerous golem.

To all, “The lair and lands seem well guarded. I think the halflings are our best bet to get in and out. At the very least they can help us with the easiest route in.”

Once things have settled down. Rudi will cast Find Familiar. He’s been dying to try it ever since he learned it and seeing Maltron and Dagnoe work together is very excited about the prospects of such a bond. Plus, his father never let him have a pet.

At some private point, Farouk shares what he has learned via detect magic, and shares his paranoia as well…

“I detected only necromatic and divination magics upon the amulet….Kiddo is not being up front… Lets be very careful about what we say and do around him…There is a pretty good chance those death priests are lookin through his eyes…followin us.”

“On the other hand, if we play this right, we can use it to our advantage”

Maltron grimaces, responding via ESP, “I feel that we will regret not dispatching this creature while we have it alone. Perhaps we can test its loyalty somehow. A time may come when we can ask it to harm one of the death priests for example. Or perhaps these Halflings will recognize this creature as a foe. It would be a pity if they shun or attack us for keeping company with Lewiter.”

“So shall we keep the ruse of believing Lewiter’s ruse? If we do attack him, I would prefer to memorize different spells.”

Maltron will sneak away from the group and confer with Jes regarding this golem. “What do you know about Clay Golemns. Have you ever heard of Lewiter or seen this creature?”

When times allow for re memorization of spells… Farouk begins to memorize a repertoire designed to test Lewiters resistance to magic…

Farouk memorizes both improved phantasmal force and ESP….

Farouk with knowledge that vulnerability to illusion is weakness the of living mind creates the illusion of a desert bird, that first lands near Lewiter, then moving towards him, an finally hopping onto him to start a pecking…. Just to see if Lewiter reacts…. If he does he knows illusions will work. Farouk pauses between escalations, to see if there is a reaction before moving on to the next…

DM EDIT: Lewiter does not react to the bird. Either he does not see it or does not care…

Secondly Farouk, uses the ESP to determine if indeed a mind lurks within that clay shell, If so…then later… a charm or two or three will be in order.

DM EDIT: Farouk is able to pick up a few surface thoughts. ‘…need to get my body back…..what choice do I have….’
Klembsy prefers to stay out of sight for the moment until the party decides what to do with Lewiter. If he can communicate telepathically, he asks the others to consider what they will earn by attacking the golem and what they will lose…“A neutral evil companion is not the best choice for long…”.

Alvyra mentally frowns. “The druid confirms his evil nature is deeply rooted, not just an artifact of circumstances. Necromantic aura? I say we destroy him now. We will never have more favorable odds. There are others who can aid us. True, the halflings could prove unreliable allies, but we understand them. They seek territorial integrity. They are part of the natural world and susceptible to natural persuasion. This… thing… as Farouk says could be spying on us right now, drawing enemies ever closer.”

I think we should vote on whether to attack it not. Abstentions don’t count. Tie means we wait. Thoughts? Alvyra votes to attack.
arouk votes to take that lying golem down!If Klembsy can communicate without being seen or heard, he votes to attack. Otherwise, don’t count him.

The vote seeming to indicate favoring an attack, Farouk memorizes a series of message spells…

He then uses this to secretly communicate with the party while creating a strategy for an attack…

One suggestion for an ambush… is to create a dimensional mine… and use that to soften him up…

Farouk would cast rope trick a few feet off the ground and then hide the rope… he would then lure the golem to where the rope trick is…. Once there he will levitate a robe that has been enchanted with deep pockets into the rope trick, triggering a detonation.

Farouk will then runaway… the golem takes chase… chasing Farouk into the second ambush of the party members.
Since all signs point to Lewiter’s evil nature, Rudi agrees with an attack plan, though he has no spells that will directly harm the golem.Maltron definitely votes for attack.

ooc- Did Jes know anything about clay golems?

DM EDIT: Jes knows nothing about clay golems.

Farouk agrees with Rudi, "Ya after the big boom Im just about done. But that doesn’t mean we cant support the troops! Francis and* Alvyra* will be our heavy hitters, The rest of us spell casters need to do what we to support them. "

Rudi, you mentioned earlier you can shrink the golem? A better strategy may be to actually cast growth on Francis and Alvyra. Klems If you can cast Protection from evil or something else defensive on them for a little extra protection, that would be great. Maltron and I can Use a pair of unseen servants to to try to snatch that amulet while Lewiter is occupied with our warriors."

If everyone agrees, Farouk preps his spells and ambush…. He finds and excuse to lead Lewiter some distance from the party to where he placed his mine. Once Lewiter is on tht “X” he will levitate his trigger detonating the mine…

DM EDIT: What’s the excuse to lead Lewiter away?

Player EDIT: Farouk goes off for a while to prepare his trap, and comes back… “You guys wait here, Lewiter come with me, I want you see something, I think you might like it.”

Aware that spells cant normally cross the boundary of a rope trick window, Farouk actually casts the levitate on something flat and secures the tightly bundled robe to it in a way that the levitate will actually PUSH the robe into the dimensional space… that way the levitate spell never crosses the threshold. While Farouk is leading Lewiter away, Rudi and the others can begin their spell prep and be ready when Lewiter comes back raging.

DM EDIT: what is the length of the rope for the rope trick? Keep in mind the rope will be hanging from mid-air unless someone from the extradimensional space pulls it up. What is the flat item the robe will be bundled to?

Player EDIT: Farouk Breaks off pieces of the wagon to use for firewood, a short plank would be good to secure the robe to. The rope is 5’ long BUT it is coiled up tightly at the rope tricks threshhold and not dangling…. also it will be out of sight an camoflaged with natural materials if possible… The position of the rope will be such that it is on the opposite side of a 5’ tree, Rock or whatever completely out of sight as we walk_ towards_ it… kinda like a squirrel on the other side of tree…. As we walk past the spot…I hold up my hand…" Shhhhh…. wait here"… Farouks quickly moves a safe distance before detonation. Hopefully whatever object the rope trick and levitation are hiding behind are thick and solid as well so that if Lewiter can detect magic…He wont, at least not until he has passed onto the deadly side.

Rudi nods, “That is a better idea. I don’t have any protection from evil spells, but I can use my wand of magic missiles once the fighting starts. I also have this,” he pulls out a slender, curved and twisted wand that looks like an animal horn, “It is a wand of wonder. I’m not sure what it will produce, but if things look bad, I’ll give it a try.”

Rudi memorizes a second Enlarge and confers with Francis and Alvyra on who would like to receive it first and if Alvyra would like it on her horse as well.
Maltron relays his plans for the attack.“I’ll throw as much firepower as I can to cause damage. Otherwise the plan is sound. Let’s melt this deceptive bastard.”

As Farouk heads off to prepare his trap, the others keep Lewiter occupied with conversation, strategies, cult details, etc.

Farouk returns and prompts the golem. “You guys wait here, Lewiter come with me, I want you see something, I think you might like it.”

Lewiter stares to Farouk for a moment before looking to each of the party. Looking back to the wizard, without speaking, the golem stands and follows after.

While Lewiter is led to the trap, the party preps and positions.

Farouk leads the golem close to a spot nearby the tree where the ‘mine’ has been placed on the opposite facing side of the trunk. Halting, the wizard holds up his hand. “Shhhhh…. wait here.”
Lewiter stoically watches as the mage hustles off, disappearing behind a large rock.

There are a few moments of silence as Farouk activates the mine, then is a quick flash of light.

The explosion that follows shatters the night with a huge, hollow booming that echoes for several minutes after.
Clumps of dirt, rock, and debris rain down on Farouk, other than ringing ears, he is unharmed.

Peering around his cover to view the aftermath reveals a large area, 20’ or so in radius, affected by the blast. There does not appear to be any scorch marks but there is a large visible depression in the earth as if something large had ‘scooped’ it.

Lewiter is nowhere to be seen.
Farouks feigns shock and disbelief "Lewiter! Lewiter! Where are you?! Whats going on? " Farouk cautiously approaches the devastation eyes peeled for any signs of the golem, including a possibly invisible one… (looking for heavy footprints).Rudi, ducks behind cover at the sound of the blast, draws his WOMM (wand of magic missiles) and peers out waiting for Farouk, Lewiter or other sounds of battle.

A moment of trepidation passes before Maltron realizes the golem is gone. He lets slip the words necessary to cast Fireball dissipate from his mind. Could this trap of Farouk’s have been pure success? Or has their problem just increased in intensity? Where is Lewiter? Perhaps he was sucked into an extra-dimensional space. Perhaps he sensed the trap and turned himself invisible.

Maltron unsheaths Jes and immediately asks her to locate the golem’s necklace. If he is near, Jes should be able to sense the necklace.

“Stay wary.” Continuing Farouk’s ruse, “Whatever just destroyed Lewiter may come for us next. What in the Gods’ name was that?”
Alvyra is confused by Farouk’s and Maltron’s remarks. It’s as if they hadn’t planned this all along. She keeps her thoughts to herself, though, doesn’t like to sound dumb with all the eggheads around. She waves her sword warily at the empty space where Lewiter was.

Farouk feigns shock and disbelief "Lewiter! Lewiter! Where are you?! Whats going on? "
There is no reply.

Farouk cautiously approaches the devastation, eyes peeled for any signs of the golem, including a possibly invisible one…
There are no signs.

Malton unsheathes Jes and asks her to locate the golem’s necklace.
She replies, “It seems to be heading this way from the west.”

The group looks to the west to see the golem charging towards them from out of the darkness.
Farouk casts levitate on himself and takes to the sky….

Maltron quickly judges the distance and lets fly a Fireball at the golem’s head, (unless it would endanger the party).

He yells, “No worries Lewiter, just a Chain initiation ritual!”
Francis doesn’t ready himself for any attacks, but stands drinking some rum, waiting for the stage play to end.“Yee-AHH!!” Rudi panics a bit, switches his WOMM to his left hand, then reaches into his sleeve and pulls out his wand of wonder, levels it at the golem and activates it.Alvyra already has her sword drawn. She positions herself defensively between the charging golem and Rudi and Maltron. She advances to the extent necessary to have both of them behind her (about 10 feet). She attacks the golem when he closes for melee. If he stops in the distance and talks, she just stands guard (doesn’t charge forward).

Francis, having had less than even zero interest in fighting a Golem made of earthen anything, sighs quite audible and shows complete and utter defeat on his face. “Really?” he says under his breath. Francis puts distance between himself and the Golem. thinking in his head, ‘shoulda spoke up more earlier, but didn’t think the others we’re going to be so brash.’

’You guys made this mess, you clean it up."
Klembsy casts Flame Blade and positions himself on top of the rock he was previously hiding behind in a way that he and his flaming blade are clearly seen by the charging golem.
He shouts out with his strongest voice: “In the name of Cyric, you all stop this nonsense NOW!! The MASTER wants this golem alive!!”.

Maltron casts fireball at the oncoming golem. It explodes on Lewiter but doesn’t break his charge. Alvyra, blade in hand, moves into position to confront while Klembsy casts flame blade and climbs up the nearby rock, shouting to the group. Francis moves back, staying close to boulder for cover. Alvyra slashes at the golem as it comes barreling into range. The paladin’s sword sings as the metal lacerates over the hard ceramic body of the construct. Lewiter appears unaffected by the strike and swings in on her with his fist (-21 HP), knocking her back into the ground. The golem then turns to attack Maltron when Rudi fires his wand of wonder. A stream of butterflys emits, crashing into Lewiter. Almost instantly the scene becomes a hurricane of a massive swarm of the fluttering insects, blinding all. visibility is nil for the next 2 rounds
Francis continues to move away from the melee and pose no threat at all to the Golem, and try his best, if needed, to charm the pants off the Golem so that there is no direct conflict between the two.Rudi looks at the wand, surprised, then runs in the opposite direction of Lewiter’s last known location.DM EDIT: apologies. Only Alvyra was enlarged 20%. Heightwise that’s about 7’.

From above Farouk yells out, “Everyone Back off him! Spread out!”

Farouk takes to the ground and puts some distance between him and golem, assesing the situation and awaiting the butterflies to dissipate. Farouk pulls out his wand of magic missiles and waits for a clear shot.

Maltron puts his tumbling skill to use, jumping and rolling off to an odd angle, in hopes to confuse the golem as to where he will end up. Upon landing back on his feet, he casts Invisibility on himself. He will cast levitate on himself afterwards if time permits and raise himself up in the air.

“That was a nasty blow to Alvyra, one that may have killed me. I must avoid that beast.”

ooc- was there any noticeable damage to the golem from the Fireball?

DM EDIT: tumbling and invisibility – 1 round, levitate – 2nd round. The fireball created scorch marks on the golem and blackened it. Beyond that Maltron does not know if he damaged Lewiter.
Alvyra hopes the golem is as blind as she is. She takes advantage of the butterfly distraction to lay on hands (+8 HP).

As the cyclone of butterflies explodes on the party, Maltron seizes the opportunity and blindly dives away from the camp. Tucking into a roll, as he comes up he casts invisibility on himself.
Rudi turns and bolts from scene, retreating into the darkness.
Alyvra still on the ground, lays hands on herself (+8 HP)
Francis removes himself and moves behind cover, keeping the large nearby boulder between himself and the Golem.
Farouk, already 30 yards from the others, pulls his wand and levels for a clear shot.

The insect storm soon fans out, dissipating and revealing Lewiter standing in place. The golem looks over the nearby party members in camp, Klembsy flame blade in hand atop a rock, guarded Francis, and a downed Alvyra.
In a deep boom, the golem shouts out into to the night. “These three will die by my hand here and now unless each mage give up their spell books.”

Farouk committed to the plan takes his range to the limit, and lets loose a full volley of 5 magic missiles at Lewiter.

“Over my dead body!”
Maltron continues his plan to Levitate up in the air, (maximum distance for one round), he intends to continue the fight, but is quite concerned that the group might have bit off more than it can chew. Afterwards, if he feels that he is out of jumping distance, he will start to unload Magic Missiles at the golem.

Alvyra rallies at the golem’s words. Must be on the verge of destruction and getting desperate, else it would not make such a ridiculous boast. If it could simply will three of the party dead, it obviously would not have needed to ask the party for help.

Alvyra’s not sure what’s gotten into the druid. Who are Cyric and the Master? No matter, I answer to Tyr.

Alvrya gets back on her feat and rolls her shoulders before charging the undead evil golem again.

Klembsy, seeing that his theatrical act hasn’t made any difference to the golem, jumps towards it from a different side that that of Alvyra’s planning to get it in the middle and attacks with his Flame Sword.
Rudi turns, having no intentions of turning over any of his books, and levels his wand of magic missiles. He aims specifIcally for the necklace, the idea being to break it’s chain. And separate it from the golem.

Alvyra, picking herself up, flies at Lewiter. Again, the sound of her blade slashing across the golems ceramic body echoes into the night like the shrill twang of some alien instrument.

Farouk, edging back even further but keeping the brawl in sight, levels his wand and fires. In rapid succession, a barrage of five bolts streak away and burst in flashes against Lewiter’s back.

The monster swings in again on Alvyra, open hand swatting her across the head (-20 HP). There is a sickening audible crack from the blow and paladin flings back, her world goes dark as she collapses to the ground unconscious. Alvyra is now at -3 HP. She is not bleeding out so she will not continue to lose HP. However, if she is not healed by some means, she will remain unconscious for 3 days, regaining 1 HP per day, until she is at 0 HP.

Rudi levels his wand, attempting to hit the chain around the golem’s neck. 2 bolts of energy flash away and flare in blasts against the constructs neck. Unfortunately, Rudi is unable to determine if his missiles struck the chain.

Klembsy charges. His flaming sword stains a trail of scorch as he cuts a swath across the golem’s torso.

Maltron, invisible, casts Levitate on himself and rises 20’-ish into the air.
Farouk, changes up a bit, stowing his wand and casting blindness this time.Maltron fires a barrage of Magic Missiles at the golem, surprised anything could take down that stalwart Paladin. He briefly wonders what his more slender frame might look like if swatted by the monstrosity.Rudi is truly perplexed at the situati

on. This is a case where his books are of little use and he must act. His options are few and the effectiveness of his available attacks are minimal. Perhaps he can reduce the enemy’s effectivness. Reduce!

Rudi’s plan is to cast the reverse of both of his memorized Enlarge spells on Lewiter.

If he can’t do that, he will go back to the wand of wonder, hoping for a better outcome.

DM EDIT: Yes Rudi has the enlarge spell he did not use on Francis. He’ll need to move closer to cast it on Lewiter tho, within 10 yards.

DM EDIT2: One of his Enlarge spells was used on Alvyra, Rudi currently only has 1 Enlarge spell memorized.
That’s a little too close for comfort for Rudi. He levels the wand of wonder scrunches his face up, peers out one eye and fires, hoping for a positive result.

Klembsy swings again on Lewiter with his flaming scimitar. The blade arc through the golem’s mid-section, leaving behind a trail of scorch.
Farouk fires another barrage of missiles quickly followed by Maltron following suit, casting 3 of his own.
The 8 total bolts of energy detonate in succession all over the golem who shudders and swats under their impact as if he’s being pelted with rocks.

Lewiter swings on Klembsy(-28 HP). The druid crumples under the blow, flying back against a nearby rock and collapsing to the ground unconscious. Klembsy is now at -1 HP. He is not bleeding out so he will not continue to lose HP. However, if he is not healed by some means, he will remain unconscious for 1 day, regaining 1 HP, until he is at 0 HP.

Rudi levels his wand of wonder and fires.
Suddenly the campfire is gone.

With the light source snuffed, Maltron, Rudi, Francis, and Farouk strain to see under the darkness of night and what illumination the low starlight offers. A few tense heartbeats pass with no sound from the camp. The vision of all soon adjusts revealing what looks to be a 30’-ish hemisphere of unnatural darkness centered over where the camp and campfire were with Francis and horses just outside it’s radius. The trio of wizards quickly realize the result of what was most likely the spell darkness.
campfireblackedout.jpg

Maltron will hold his action until he can see the golem and will then fire another round of Magic Missiles.

He will levitate up 10 more feet while he waits.

Rudi looks at his wand, scowls at it, shrugs then puts it back in his sleeve. He pulls his WOMM and retreats another 10 yards, taking cover behind a rock or tree. If only there were something we could drop on the thing. Or bury it somehow. Using message, Rudi talks to the group, “Farouk, Maltron? Do you have a levitate we can set up one of these boulders (any boulders around?) to drop on him while he’s blinded. Can we wait until he moves out and hit him?”

Replying over the the message spell, “I got next to nuthin kid… Right now I’m worried about our peeps that are beat down. Maybe I can convince* Lewiter* to chase me out of the dark and some sort of rescue can be had while we regroup. Maybe….that worthless pirate if he has nuthin better to do can at least do that!”

“HEY LEWITER! IS THAT THE BEST YOU GOT! CAN’T BELIEVE YOU FELL FOR THAT!!!, HAHAHAA! YOUR BOUT AS DUMB AS BOX OF ROCKS….I GUESS YOU GET IT FROM YOUR MOTHER! "

Maltron asks the other 2 mages if either wants to be levitated hopefully out if reach of the golem, thinking Rudi may want that.

If so, he will cast it. He only has one.

Then they can cast spells from a safe distance. Farouk usually has that spell at the ready.

OOC- Farouk already has levitate on, but is currently on the ground. He wants Lewiter to “Think” he can get to him. Combined with his boots of speed he should be ok…. Unfortunately I do not have another Levitate memorize…

If you can find us a big-ole rock to levitate id be glad to get it up to ramming speed and clobber Lewiter with it.
If there are no boulders nearby to drop on the golem, Rudi will happily take the levitate. Since he’s more susceptible to earth based attacks, I think that would be the best bet, though.

Maltron ponders the options and chooses to cast Levitate on Rudi and raise him up full speed (for one round). A boulder may harm that beast, but with a limit of 500 lbs, it may not kill it from pushing it into him. The thought of Rudi smashed to bits turns his stomach. Besides, it looked like those Magic Missiles did the monstrosity some harm and he has those two wands to use. The levitate lasts approximately 50 minutes, so perhaps us three mages can take it down in that time. Otherwise, we face a grim future.

Maltron communicates the plan telepathically.

When Lewiter comes into view, Rudi will continue to fire his WoMM at his necklace trying to break the chain or destroy it.

Maltron levitates up higher and the trio of mages converse via ‘message telephone’ through Farouk.

As Farouk shouts taunts, Maltron levitates Rudi up to his height about 30’ above the ground and all three stand brandishing wands at the globe of darkness waiting for the golem to emerge.

15 mins-ish pass with no sign, then the hemisphere of darkness vanishes. As it does so the area is illuminated with what is left of the campfire.

There is no sign of Alvyra, Klembsy, or Lewiter. The campfire looks to be scattered as if something or someone has kicked it or stomped through it.
Farouk curses under his breath and then glares at Francis…. “We coulda had him…. we were almost there…”“Um, guys? Where is he? They. Where are they?!” Rudi is ready when Maltron is to move down to the ground and start looking for tracks.Farouk looks cautiously about the area…. Lewiter said he was a mage…its possible he could have Teleported away with them.Francis looks at Farouk, “Right, almost there, sure we did. Next time you start a fight with an Earthen Golem, you stand next to him. Anymore bright ideas?”Searching the area is difficult in the low light. Lewiter’s tracks lead north for about 30 yards before the party loses the trail.Rudi is stressed and starts recording the events in his journal while the remaining party members figure out how to proceed. He talks while he writes, “Well, we have to go after them, right? Follow the trail north? If anything happens to Alvyra or Klembsy I’d feel just horrible. This is not what I expected field work to be like at all. Not at all. How do you all live like this? We should find the halflings. They will probably be the best way to get a accurate account of where the lair is.”

“And so falls the holiest amongst us,” Maltron sighs.

He pulls out Jes askin her to locate Klembsy’s tree arm.

If nothing, he will recommend Rope Trick and camping for the night.

DM EDIT: Jes is unable to locate Klembsy’s arm

Since we are unable to locate the trail of Lewiter, Farouk agrees to the camp…

“Lets put some distance between us and this spot before we make camp, don’t want to make easy on anyone coming checking up on us”

Naturally Farouk declines the relative safety camping out in an extra dimensional space, fearing spatial instabilities and such with his pouch….instead, Farouk camps near (30’ or so) from the rope trick, and Casts both mount and then invisibility on himself.

Farouks intentions are to use sleep invisibly while relying on he natural skittishness of a horse to alert him to anything unusual, or unnatural…

Peeps taking watch?

The pair are left alone for what seems like days (no way of discerning time).
Eventually a black cloaked figure emerges from the darkness, tosses a stale hard crust of bread the size of a fist into the cell, and turns away disappearing back.

Starved, the rangers split and quickly gobble up the rations.

More time passes and the duo are ‘fed’ in this manner twice more.

On the third occasion the black cloaked figure enters followed behind by two others dragging a shackled figure. Opening the gate, the figure is callously tossed into the cell, gate is slammed and locked, and the cloaked trio exit.

The new prisoner is a petite human woman in chains similar to Wren and Trist only her hands are manacled with wrists touching (Bound in this manner prevents any spell casting). Filthy, bruised, and dressed in a tattered tunic, it’s obvious she has been a prisoner for some time and most likely been subjected to some torture.

Trist recognizes her as Bel’Ybryaa Malvetent. Bel does not acknowledge the rangers. She curls up into the fetal position and begins to quietly weep.

In as calm a whisper as the wood elf in Wren can muster “Sister, we have got to get out of here. Have you enough strength to heal each of us a little? If so, we can use these chains to knock out the next one that comes in here to throw some bread, get some keys to free us”

DM EDIT: Just an FYI, each time bread is thrown in, it’s through the bars, the gate isn’t opened.

Trist rests for 10 min or the required amount to regain her CLW spell then Trist attempts to cast a healing spell on Wren. She says, “Dear goddess Freya please allow me to heal my sister with your divine healing?” Cast Cure Light Wound. Trist will then if successful rest a time to continue the healing process alternating as she does. She shares the bread and attempts to check it for poison first. She does the same for any liquids provided.

She tells Wren quietly, “When we are ready we can create a diversion by faking an injury or death then surprise the guards to make our escape.” Getting the key to unshackle ourselves would be a nice start."

DM EDIT: According to character sheet, currently Trist has only Light and remove fear memorized.

OOC-I had cast CLW at the ambush on one of the characters, so I removed it as a spell used. I should have specified I would rest 10 min. first.

DM EDIT2: Since Trist has become a full cleric now, her daily powers had shifted into normal clerical abilities. She must pray to regain spells. They are no longer granted each day. Make sense?

Trist prays for CLW then casts on Wren. Prays for CLW then casts on herself. This process continues for about 3 hours until the pair are fully healed.

During that process, Bel takes notice. The broken, petite, mage seems to collect herself, pulling up against the cell wall. Watching Trist cast for some time, something clicks.
“I know you, I know you from Frontier. You’re Trist the ranger, we battled the Hand of Heklael orc clan together! What are you doing here?"
She begins to get worked up, excited.
“Did Marcetheus send you? Have you come to rescue me!? Please you have to help me, we must escape! They’ve been torturing me, for days. Unspeakable things, terrible things..”
She crawls towards Trist, pleading.
“Please, I’m begging you, you must save me. I’ll do anything, give you anything! My family has gold, influence. Whatever you want, name it, it’s yours! Please, please, please, pleas…”
She breaks down, sobbing.

Trist says,“I remember you Bel by Freya what happened? You just left us. I didn’t notice you in this cell. Here let Freya heal you through me.” Trist examines Bels wounds checking her condition. Trist calls upon Freya and asks for he to heal Bel. Trist continues to cast CLW on Bel.

Trist tells Wren the story about Bel in elvish and says in elven, “We must be cautious for a bit with a wink of her eye, out of Bels view.”

Trist continues in common with Bel,“We are scouting the area and was ambushed. I’m so glad we found you but not in these conditions. What can you tell us about the people who control this camp?”

While Trist heals her, Bel relays a woeful tale. She was assisting in the Mage Academy in Frontier, researching the Zhent signet ring.
Whilst doing so, she accidentally activated it. She was overwhelmed by the dark figure on the ‘other end’ of the device.
Her memories are cloudy and foggy since then. She knows she was compelled to steal several items from the academy and was then teleported to the cult.
Her time here has been a haze of interrogation and torture.

She knows they are death priests with a few necromancers among them. They have an artifact of power they’re using to build an undead army, for what purpose she does not know.
She asks Trist. “When and how did you learn to spell cast? It’s incredible. They must not know you have this ability otherwise you would be bound such as I. We can use this advantage to escape! We have to get back to Frontier and warn them of what is happening here!”

Trist unbinds Bel, and quietly tells both of them, “We must get out of here. Maybe we can hide on one of the wagons or find a way to get through the walls in the compound undetected. I don’t want to injure ourselves just to mask my powers. I say we try and get out of here now. Based on the feedings we have received so far it is probably after evening meal. Bel you should rest and regain your spell strength. I think our first priority is to get to safety then figure a way to get our gear back, unless you know where it might be kept and easily accessible.”

Trist looks around the area they are in to get a better layout of the place. She thinks and wonders why they threw Bel in with them and not another cell unless one isn’t visible. While Bel is resting she whispers to Wren in elven her concerns about Bel.

Trist says quietly to Wren in common, “We need a distraction to get the guard to open the cell.”

Trist prays to Freya for Finna’s safety and theirs along with the rest of her friends. She begins to wonder if there was more to that Shadow blade she wielded.

DM EDIT: Bel is manacled in chains. Trist cannot ‘unbind’ her without a key, picking the lock or somehow breaking the chains. Bel also does not know where their gear has been stowed.

cell.jpg

Tr

ist will examine the bars and gate, who knows maybe it’s unlocked she thinks. She also checks out the ceiling and floor for any weak spots. The water and drain locations in particular for any sign of weakness. She also releases from memory the spell Remove Fear and memorizes Light.

DM EDIT: Bars and Gate are solid and set into the stone surrounding. They do not budge when tested. There does not seem to be any ‘weak’ spots in the cell.

OOC – Spells in character sheet will have memorized in the component column and a 1 in the Qty Column until I use it. I can then either rememorize it or chose a different spell to memorize correct?

DM EDIT: Correct

Trist whispers to Bel and Wren, "One of us should play dead and the others can jump the guards that come in. Bel you probably have the least fighting skill being manacled and without magical powers at the moment. Before they summon the guards Trist will cast Bless on them to give them a little help.

DM EDIT: Is this the plan then?

Trist recalls the guards that tossed them bread. Did they have weapons, keys what race were they or anything of note. Were they ogling her and Wren or Bel in w,hich they could potential use that against a male guard?

DM EDIT: Trist was unable to determine race but Bel states most of the captors appear to be human. She’s not sure about weapons. The guards did not open the gate when they tossed the bread through the bars but one figure did have keys to unlock the gate when Bel was put in. The guards do not seem to be interested in the women in any sort of ‘romantic’ sense.

She hopes Fi
nna would not shun her for any course of action she might take to help get free of this dungeon.

Trist is baffled at her sister Wren’s silence and checks in on her to make sure she is ok. Trist tries to remember how many guards come at feeding time and or when Bel was thrown into the cell.

If the odds are at least equal or in their favor she will suggest the plan and start the plan in motion by having Bel feign death. If there is dirt available to grab a handful of she will use it to throw in the guards faces to get the upper hand if they come into the cell.

Trist says, “If we are hopelessly outnumbered I will tap you so you can come to and either assist in besting the guards or indicate you just fainted so the guards will go away. Bel, do you have any secret compartments they might have missed? When you are ready let’s try to get out of here ok?”
No dirt available. 1 guard comes at feeding time, 3 dropped off Bel. Bel has no secret compartments but is ready when Trist and Finna are.Wren must have been exhausted and collapsed while Trist was working with Bel she thinks. Trist goes over and gets some water to splash on her face to bring her around. "Are you ok Sister? You fainted for a bit. Here’s the plan and Trist tells her the plan. If you got any better ideas I’d sure love to hear it. Trist is relieved beyond words that Wren is still with them. Once they have their roles ready they initiate the plan and any updates Wren might propose.Seeming dazed and confused Wren blinks slowly, looking around like a rabid animal, as if she has never seen this room or Trist a low growl escaping her lips. After a short moment though she shakes her head and appears to recognize Trist. “Oh sister, I am so sorry, I have GOT to get out of here, my kind are not good at handling being away from the forest, we can go very…….mad…..” tears flowing down her cheeks. So trying to clear her head she listens to the plan “Do you think they will care if this friend of yours is dead?” Standing up, Wren walks as far out as the chains will allow, then steps back enough to be able to form a loop with the chains. “We will have to lure the capture this far in” scratching her foot on the ground “In order to attempt an attack.” Wrens head tilts slightly in thought, “We need to keep you safe too Trist in the event this attack is not successful. Since they know that your friend, did you say her name was Bel, is a magic user, it needs to appear that any spells cast are coming from her and not you.” Wren looks between Trist and Bel…….“Lets do this sister” Wren continues to stand, waiting for feeding time. “we have got to get out of here before I am completely lost in the madness” her moms words echoing through her mind

Trist begins to shout out to the guards to ‘come quick’, she’s sick’ and ‘she needs help’.

A few minutes pass and a cloaked figure emerges from the darkness. They approach the bars of the cell warily and watch as Bel feigns illness, writhing and moaning on the floor.
The cloak figure then turns and exits.

A turn or so later a cloaked figure returns, this time followed by 2 others carrying what look to be round studded cudgels.
One of the armed pair unlocks the gate and both move in barking for Wren and Trist to move back and away from Bel.
The pair watch the rangers while the third cloaked figure crouches down to examine Bel.
A few moments pass.

Suddenly the guard looking over Bel yells out in pain and doubles over to the ground, clutching himself between his legs and groaning.
As the armed pair of cloaks look to the shout, Wren and Trist pounce.
Trist grabs the club with both hands and with a twist, yanks it away. She then brings it back with a heavy ‘thwok’ across his temple, sending the guard into the ground, his head slamming into the stone with a wet slap.
Wren, hands clasped, steps forward and belts her guard in the jaw with a downward strike. As the guard reels, the elf loops her chains around his neck and wrenches back. The pair fall to the floor as the ranger strangles the guard to death.

Bel snatches up keys from the incapacitated guard and unlocks her chains, tossing the keys to the others who follow suit. She searches the last living guard and finds a dagger. She hands it to Trist stating, “You’re probably better with this than I am.”
MAP
cell.jpg

Trist takes the dagger and knocks out the one still living then says, “Search them and take their clothes so we can blend in a bit. Gag that one and put the handcuff/restraints on him with his hands behind him. He might be a caster. Once we are clothed and ready we need to get going quickly. * Bel* if you are a bit more familiar with the layout can you get us through the camp? Wren I have spells if you want the dagger sister? I will cast light on something small and loose, rock pebble or something small and insignificant that the guards might have had on them to act as a light source.”

Trist cast light on an small object they can carry easily and discard if needed to help them see through the darkness.

If Bel is not very familiar then Trist will lead the way or follow Wren if she prefers to lead.

Bel is not familiar with the layout. The darkness ahead is just a ‘curtain’ to prevent prisoners from seeing the goings on of the next room. Beyond the curtain is a ‘hub’ chamber that leads to several other different cave rooms. Bel knows one of them is where she was tortured but ‘it didn’t have an exit out’

Bel suggests killing the guard to prevent him relaying to anyone Trist’s ability to spellcast.
Trist quietly says, “If you want him dead here is the dagger. I won’t kill a defenseless being. Wren what do you think?”Wren looking at Trist, knowing that her sisters conscience would feel such guilt over the slaying of this sorry excuse for a human, yet feeling the need to keep her safe, reaches out and takes the offered dagger. She turns around and does the only thing that can be done to resolve both concerns. She opens the mouth of the unconscious human and cuts his tongue off. “This should resolve the situation sister, he will live but he will tell no one, anything. Now let us try and find our gear, I have been without my bow for too long now. We need to find the others and bring these barbarians to their knees” then pulling the hood up over her head she waits for Trist to take the lead as she falls in last. She does not trust this Bel woman and wants to keep her well within view.Trist gathers what she can and dresses more appropriately as quickly as she can using what’s at hand. Trist gags the captive to help with the blood loss and muffle any sounds the captive might make. Trist winces at the sight and thought of Wren’s actions. “Ugh, let’s get going. Bel follow me then Wren. Watch for hand signals so we can move with less noise. Bel can you cast now? Let’s see if we can find our stuff and get out of here. The priority is to get out of here though. Agreed?” Trist gets going once they are in agreement. Freya bless our journey.

Dalrir allows Finna to rest and recover. Casting her two CLWs brings her up to FULL HP. While she does so the Halfling leaves her camp reassuring he’ll be back. Returning around sunset with several rabbits, he cleans and preps them to eat. Partaking of only one, he insists Finna eat both of the other two, ‘for strong, need strong for move.’
As evening settles in, Dalrir puts the campfire out, burying it. He stands firm on no fires at night. ‘shadow men, shadow men ride demons at night. Demons chase down fires. No fires at night.’
He rests lightly maintaining a constant watch, snapping awake at the lightest sound or suspiciously sniffing the occasional breeze.

Several hours before dawn, the Halfling wakes Finna. ‘Time to go.’

Day 140
Dalrir keeps a fast and steady pace, running several yards ahead of Finna. Occasionally signaling for the cleric to duck or take cover while he scans the area.
The two maintain in this fashion non-stop until midday. Finna is thankful of her endurance training but also appreciates the short rest.
Dalrir conveys the pair must cover more ground faster, if they are to avoid the gnolls and the shadow men.
The Halfling withdraws a small leather bundle from his vest. Unwrapping it reveals a handful of pressed green leaves. He offers a leaf to Finna then takes one himself and begins ‘chawing’ it. “No sleep leaf”.

Gingerly following suit, Finna finds the leaf has a very sour flavor, almost nauseating. But after a few moments of chewing, her mouth begins to tingle and become somewhat numb. She feels flush with energy and revitalized. Dalrir smiles. ‘no sleep leaf. Run run, no sleep.’
After taking two deep pulls from his waterskin, he indicates it’s time to continue.
Chewing on Dalrir’s herb for 1 hour will allow Finna to continue the running pace until nightfall without constitutional penalty.

The moon rises high as the pair approach the river. Using a large piece of found driftwood, the two forge the freezing waters. It is difficult and exhausting but they cross successfully just before dawn.

What’s left of the evening passes without incident. The party now consists of Farouk, Francis, Rudi, Maltron and 4 horses including Pontius who is extremely skittish.
There are several options
-Head north in the direction of the cult as Lewiter pointed out in search of the golem, Alvyra, and Klembsy
-Head south east in search of the halflings
-Something else? Suggestions?

MAP
TORTUREDLANDSWITHBRIDGES.jpg

Farouk calls for a huddle….

“Fellas, we gotta get to work on the same page here… We lost with a winning hand, and now we are running low on chips…. I need to know if I can rely on you. We gonna follow Mals lead, majority rule or something else…. Whatever it is speak up or I’m outta here. I’m not dyin’ without a plan…It just ain’t happening…”

Maltron acknowledges Farouk’s concern. “Agreed, we need a plan. The golem was close to destruction or he would not have left. He wanted our spellbooks and departed without them. This shows that we almost had him. If not for the unpredictability of the Wand of Wonder, we may have been facing an entirely different situation at this moment. Never the less, here we are.”

“The problem is, we will be facing much more than a golem if we tackle the Cult’s headquarters. We need allies. I still say we seek out the Halflings. I speak their language unless they have a wild dialect. We shall see. We may also find some of our missing party members. I shall send out Dagnoe to scout ahead. We should all go invisible, along with the mounts. Someone skilled at riding should ride Pontius. I suspect the two fallen are still alive or the golem would not have taken them. We must make haste before they turn them into undead or some similarly horrific fate.”

“If we fail to find allies, I agree, we shouldn’t get ourselves killed. Enough of us have suffered too much already. We will have to abandon the quest and return to Frontier. At least we have new information.”
“Sounds good to me Mal” Farouk takes a quick glance in Frances direction “My problem is does everyone else think this is a good idea?” “Like I said before, how do you boys plan on playing this hand, I gotta know, cause I don’t like to lose”Rudi blushes with guilt and embarrassment that his actions with the wand may cost the party the battle and possibly their friends, “I-, I’m sorry Mal, everybody. I sort of panicked and was hoping for something big. I’l try to keep more calm from now on. We should definitely find the halflings, though! They’re our only allies and need some! They may even know where some of the other party members are.”

Maltron turns to Rudi, “Fear not, I would have done the same thing had I possessed such a powerful wand. The butterflies saved us. That monster would have ripped off our limbs had he the chance. I do not blame you. I blame the fickleness of fate. Now we must bend fate back to the desired direction of our journey.”

“What say you pirate?”
Farouk merely folds his arms and looks at the pirate….After taking a quick pull on his rumskin Francis wipes his chin and replies. “Well, we don’t know much about the halflings other than what Lewiter mentioned and based off recent events, I’m not gonna put to much trust in that walking petrified dung pile. He’s still on foot and we’ve got horses. If we push hard we may be able to catch him before he gets to the cult. Heading to the half pints territory will probably take at least a week and that’s if we double time it. That’s a lot of time out in the open we take a chance of running into more gnolls.”

Maltron listens to the pirate and responds. “Quite the aggressive stance you are taking towards the golem now that he is out of sight. Do you plan to fight him this time or watch again? Agreed that we may be able to catch him on horseback, but it may be difficult. I don’t think he needs rest and he has a night’s distance on us. As he is hurt, it isn’t a bad idea. Let us ride at once!”

Maltron will cast Mount rather than have anyone ride Pontius. The last thing we need is an injury. He will ask someone to lead the animal.

Francis smirks and takes another pull. “Wasn’t my idea to get him all riled up. Thanks to your aggressive stance two of our friends are snatched. So yeah, this time it’s personal.” He snaps his wrist and his wand of frost springs into his hand. “If we can separate him from his hostages, I’ll rail on him with this.”

Francis will lead Pontius, tying the horse to his own.

DM EDIT: Lewiter disappeared around 3 bells past midnight, so he only has 6ish hours lead. The hard part will be tracking him with no tracker in the party.

The party mounts up and begins the chase. Upon reaching the shadow bridge toll stone, they find what looks to be Alvyra’s and Klembsy’s weapons. Katana, daggers, spears, and scimitars lay scattered about in the tall grass. The gear is quickly collected and the toll is ‘paid’ into the stone activating the bridge. The party cross without incident and continue on. Dagnoe, circling high above scouting, reports mentally to Maltron he spots a glint of something reflecting sun in the distance and it’s moving. Dagnoe flies ahead to cautiously investigate and returns stating ‘the big big earth man is running and carrying shiny sharp smell good female human friend and other man forest friend human’. He relays a mental image to Maltron of Lewiter, who looks to be lumbering at top speed, holding the unconscious forms of Alvyra and Klembsy over each shoulder. Pressing on as only 4 riders with limited riding skill can, they continue. Dagnoe moves back ahead to keep Lewiter in sight, returning only to direct the party when he changes direction. The territory shifts as the chase pursues away from the river. From high grass, to scrub-brush plains, to rockier and low broken stone hills. About 6 hours in, 3ish bells past noon, Dagnoe flaps back to master, settling on the mages shoulder. He relays, ’close to big earth man but too many stone, too many rock, big earth man see me, big earth man hide, hide close, close, cLAAAWWWK.’ Maltron relays to the group.
The area surrounding is low rocky hills with some but very little scrub brush. Large boulders, stones pillars and natural rock formations are everywhere allowing ample opportunity for a person to hide from seeking eyes.
MAP
TORTUREDLANDSWITHBRIDGES.jpg

Rudi ponders the situation, “If he’s hiding, hopefully he’s set the other to aside somewhere. Perhaps one of us could search for them while the others look for Lewiter. Does anyone have any healing potion? We’d need it to get them back to consciousness and escape. Since we are invisible, our risk of being discovered should be greatly lessened.”

“Mal, we gotta take into consideration he got 2 of ours… Hes gonna threaten to killem… I plan on using levitate to get one of them safe but need you to do the other…. first things first then we take him down… I’m convinced that amulet is somehow the focus… a golem just doesn’t get possessed by a sentient…maybe that’s how the golem is being controlled…. it did radiate necromatic magic… we take it and hes done.

Francis, I need you to keep that thing distracted, while my unseen servants try to gank that necklace. Just a hunch but I think once we have it in our possession….it will be cake. "

Maltron praises Dagnoe for a job well done and rewards him with dried meat. “Now my friend, we will take to the air with you.”

If time permits, Maltron will cast Fly on the 4 party members. He will have Dagnoe to continue to scout from the sky for movement on the ground while memorizing the spell.

The game plan will be to fly up a short distance and then use Jes to Locate Object, first on the golem’s necklace, then Klembsy’s tree arm and Alvyra’s Signal.

The party should be able to attack from the safety of the air once the golem is spotted and the party members are safely levitated prior to any aggression.
Rudi lights up at the idea and readily agrees. “I can cast Unseen Servant, too. Maybe we can use them together. Or i can try to get the necklace while you two levitate the others.”Dagnoe scouts above while Maltron memorizes 4 fly spells. Casting one on each of the party, he’ll then use Jes to detect Lewiter’s necklace and 1 other item (tbd). Once the golem is spotted, Farouk will levitate Alvyra and Klembsy away while Rudi and, if needed, Farouk cast Unseen servant in an attempt to retrieve the necklace. That the plan?Farouk only has one levitate memorized and was hoping one of the mages could help with the second… some time prior to engaging lewiter, Farouk casts the unseen servant x2 since its such a long lasting spell he can do this quite a ways in advance.. that way he doesn’t waste rounds casting

Maltron will memorize 2 Fireballs if time permits prior to searching for the golem and after casting Fly. He will cast Fly on himself first of the 4 in case it wears off early.

If spotted, he will cast fireball on the golem if no party members are near. If party members are near, he will cast Knock on the golem’s necklace. He hopes it will unclasp the necklace, he’s never tried it on a magical necklace before. He will wait to cast Knock until the Unseen Servants are close enough to grab a fallen necklace.
Since Rudi cannot cast Levitate, he will assist where he can with Unseen servant, or other alternatives suggested by the two more experienced mages.ooc- in that case, Maltron’s first act will be to Levitate one of his fallen comrades into the air and hopefully out of reach of Lewiter. Then Knock on the golemn’s necklace. He will hold off on Fireball for the time being.

Yup thats also Farouks plan …

Rounds:

1.Levitate friends out of harms way
2a. Order the 2 unseen servants to try to lift the necklace off from around Lewiters neck
2b. Continue blasting away with MM.

The invisible foursome rides up to the area indicated by Dagnoe where Lewiter was last spotted taking cover.
The raven is instructed to scout the area above and then Maltron begins memorizing fly spells.

A few turns pass of quiet unease when the golem’s voice booms from the distance ahead, reverberating amongst the rocks.
“I know you’re here. Spotted the dust cloud of your horses and could hear their hooves on the stone in your approach. Your little bird friend up above is going to have trouble spotting a rock among the rocks. You can end this all now. Throw down a spell book and your friends will keep their heads attached to their body.”

Dagnoe relays to Maltron, interrupting his studying, a mental image of a black rider on the low north ridge. Behind him look to be several other figures creeping towards the area as well, they appear to be gnolls. The rider makes no effort to hide or conceal himself while the gnolls are crouching and slinking from rock to rock for cover.

MAP
golemrocky1.jpg

Maltron speaks quickly and in hushed tones, “Our plan to fly in has been blown. A dark rider and gnolls approach. Perhaps they are allies with the golem, but either way they are our enemies. We must act fast. Mount up and disperse yourselves. I aim to trick Lewiter or perhaps it is best that you do this Farouk. I have this book about mushrooms. Offer it as a spellbook in exchange for our comrades. Demand he drop them and you toss the book to the ground. When/if he goes for the book, we levitate the two bodies about horse high. Then Francis and Rudi can grab them and ride them off to safety. You and I can work on his necklace or just get the Hades out of here. What say you?”

“We should meet further west along the river if we get lost.”
“He’s very keen on getting a spell book. It appears any spellbook will do. Can we give him a decoy? I might have something in my haversack. Do either of you have an illusion spell to cast on it? The gnolls and dark rider make me nervous. We need to recover the others and get away fast.”

“Well I don’t have any spare books lying around, but if yous guys can come up with a couple more I think I can magic them just right to give em the look”

“I can go on in there and do some talkin… and cheezin with the big guy. I got just the thing.. “Yous guys just stay invisible, until ours guys are safely levitated OR everything hits the fan.”

“Ohhh yeah… one more thing… don’t forget bout that poison antidote me and Klembs whipped up…with those gnolls coming who knows what to expect.”
Maltron hands Farouk his 3 books about ‘Summoning’ rules, rites, warnings, issues, creatures, etc’, stating, “I won’t be needing these. Do what you need to do with them.”

Farouk plan is this….

He will get gussied up to Look like Francis, (im sure Ive got a puffy shirt lying around) and cast an illusion onto the books… He will then go out and negotiate for the release of the prisoners.

Since Francis did not attack or otherwise exhibit any hostile action I figured going as him would be best…. If negotiations are going poorly ill give a signal… like scratching my head. If they are going well hands on hips.

Ill take 2 of the horses with me…and tell lewiter to load them on.. and ill do an exchange… if it isnt going well…. Plan B… Levitate blast etc…. Since you guys are still invisible should give you some time to get into a good position.
With a shrug, Rudi nods, “I’m on board. I’ll have my magic missile wand ready.”

Maltron hands Farouk his three books.
Farouk casts improved phantasmal force on them making them appear as spell books. The mage then disguises himself to look like Francis and drops his invisibility.

When he does so, the creeping gnolls appear to suddenly halt and take cover, ducking from view seemingly surprised at his appearance and unsure whether they’ve been spotted.

Actual Francis dismounts from his horse, who then become visible. Farouk takes up the reins as well as the lead of the spare horse and begins to move forward.

A shout from the black rider on the ridge halts the mage. “That’s far enough! Lewiter! Lewiter what game are you playing at now, what fools have you called to your aid, scrounged from the cracks and the rocks? Come forth earthspawn deceiver.”

Lewiter’s booming voice echoes back, sounding somewhat sarcastic but cheerful. “Shade Templar! The dark one honors me. It has been some time. Despite past differences I come to you now olive branch in hand and bearing precious gifts. Unfortunately I have trailed a pack of zealot Samaritans bent on claiming these gifts as their own. Confederates of mine these are not. Let us put aside our history for now brother curate, should the interlopers overwhelm me, your master will most surely not be pleased. That is, once he learns of the prize I possess that you would have allowed be lost. Righteous chosen, hear my words, I bring the ‘catalyst’.
FYI, Farouk (visible) is mounted and leading 2 horses (visible). Maltron-invisible and Draft horse-invisible, mount spell has about 1 hour left. Francis (invisible) un-mounted but leading Portius (invisible). Rudi (invisible) and mounted (invisible).Maltron plays it cool, hoping Farouk will play the two sides against one another.

ooc – so are we all travelling in as a group?

DM EDIT: I’ve got only Farouk cautiously heading in while the other three hang back. Not the case?

Rudi follows Farouk’s lead. Catalyst? Rudi thinks. He racks his brain trying to remember to what Lewiter could be referring. Is that something he picked up before we met him or could Alvyra or Klembsi have or be one? Both are holy practitioners. Could one of them be needed to start an unholy rite with the skull?

If he can do so out with out giving away position, Rudi relays his suspicions to the rest of the group.

Player Edit: I’m sure that’s right. I was just confused. Rudi relays his thoughts to those he’s with.

DM EDIT: Just to be clear, no message spell is currently in affect. Rudi can whisper to the others.

Farouk/Francis takes a pull from his rumskin, before opening up negotiation,

“Hey there big guy, Looks like we got a bit of a situation here… You got 3 pissed off mages back that way, and some not to friendly friends up over there… So what are we gonna do make things right…”

OOC-Farouk/Francis is obviously not carrying weapons…

There are a few tense moments of silence then the black rider on the ridge begins, his voice echoing in the low canyon.
“Things will be made right by your death heretics. You have an agreement for now Lewiter. Ark’barau! Destroy these interlopers, feast on their bones!

With that the rider turns his skeletal steed back away from the ridge and disappears from sight. Howls erupt from the rocks as gnolls pop up from their hiding spots, bows and weapons drawn.

golemrocky4.png

Farouk/Frances pauses, before glaring a most troubling and icy stare at thing called Lewiter…

“Big guy, you don’t know what you done did… If any harm comes to them…I mean any harm… I will kill everything you love…slowly…”

Farouk/Frances turns and bolts towards his hidden companions horses in tow… 24"

DM EDIT: just an FYI, Lewiter was never visible. Dagnoe spotted him in this area but when the golem saw the bird he hid in the rocks. He’s been shouting out from his hiding place.

Maltron whips out Jes asking the dagger to Locate Object, Klembsy’s tree arm. If located, he will ride quickly towards the location.

DM EDIT: Jes states Klembsy’s arm is about 70’ feet ahead.
Halfway there the terrain becomes too rocky to ride over, Maltron can either dismount and go on foot or navigate around?

golemrockymal.png

Rudi follows Maltron when he finds a location.

Maltron whispers to Rudi if he can hear him, “Turn your horse around and be ready to flee. I intend to hand you a rope. When I do, ride as fast as you can to a meeting point along the river. Meet at the nearest ghost bridge to the east.”

At that, Maltron dismounts and takes to the rocky terrain, utilizing his tumbling skills as best he can to avoid making noise and dust.

When he sees either or both companions, he will quietly cast levitate on each one, but not raise them off the ground yet. He will then sneak up to a companion and tie his silk rope to him or her. He will then tie the other end of the rope to the other companion if they are close to each other (rope is 30’). Once both companions are tied, or only one if the rope is too short, he will levitate the companions and kite them via pulling them as fast as he can to hand off to Rudi. He will then mount up and ride to the designated meeting spot.

ooc- If he has to choose one companion, it will be Klembsy, thinking that the druid can provide healing to Alvyra if a 2nd rescue attempt must be made.

ooc- I know this plan might be interrupted, but this is the goal. Maltron will make adjustments as necessary or die trying.

Farouk turns and bolts back to hidden companions

Francis pulls his wand, becomes visible, and throws up an 20’x 30’ ice wall ahead.
The action is almost immediately followed by the sound of arrows thunking into the ice and the barking the gnolls on the other side.
“Whatever you’re gonna do do it fast!” Shouts Francis

Maltron gallops ahead then dismounts and moves over the rocky terrain to the location of Klembsy’s arm specified by Jes.

As the mage moves around a large boulder he’s taken back a bit when he finds himself suddenly a few feet from Lewiter.
The golem has his back to him and is coming up from a crouch. Underneath him, shoved into a small rock overhang, are the unconscious bodies of Alvyra and Klembsy. Lewiter reaches under and begins to pull Klembsy out when something stops him. Looking down, then around, he spins to face Maltron. “GRAAAAAHHHHHH” Booms the golem as it lifts a large stone from nearby over his head, ready to hurl. Maltron can see the golem’s amulet is glowing. Suddenly an arrow shatters against Lewiter’s face with a loud crack. 2 more follow in succession, crashing and splintering into his head. The golem reels back under the suprise strikes, dropping the large stone against his chest and knocking him to the ground.

Maltron looks back and up to the sniper. He spots what looks to be a female elf or half elf in leather armor among the rocks.
Looking back to the golem, Lewiter moves onto his feet, grabs Alvyra by the cuff of her breast plate and breaks into a full run north east leaving unconscious Klembsy behind.
golemrocky.png

Thanking the Gods his head remains attached to his body, Maltron desires to do ten things at once but settles on a small victory instead of a huge gamble. He casts Levitate on Klembsy and sticks to the game plan. He then will tie his rope to Klembsy, raise him with Levitate and hand the rope to Rudi. Afterwards he’ll mount up and ride to the nearest eastern ghost bridge.

He’ll attempt to communicate with Dagnoe to keep an eye on the golem, but avoid the arrows.

“I hope that is Trist up there.”

Ooc- Does Rudi recall anything about “the catalyst”? Does Endr’il know anything about it?

DM EDIT: ‘the catalyst’ isn’t ringing any bells for Rudi or Endr’il

ooc – Rudi did follow Maltron’s dust trail right? I didn’t think it needed confirmation, but if Mal is fine on his own, no worries.

DM EDIT: My bad. I had him hang back.

Endr’il growls to herself that the golem got away with the armor clad woman, she’d give chase but whoever is retrieving the other captive needs her help more.

Where are the rest of them? she thinks to herself, scanning the group standing against the gnolls, There should be 3 or 4 more. Some help they’re turning out to be.

The ranger will follow [Mal and Klembsy’s] progress along the ridge and provide cover along the way meaning to meet up with the group just after they do. She gives a few low whistles and clicks, signalling Jax to follow along but stay out of sight until called.

Rudi is good with that plan. These gnolls are making him nervous. Thank goodness for the ice wall.

Endr’il knows the area better than the party. A tactical retreat seems the best option. Over the nearest bridge is fine, but if she knows of a closer secure area she can lead the party to, she’ll suggest it.

Maltron casts levitate on Klembsy, ties a rope to him and pulls him back to Rudi.
Endr’il keeps pace with Mal above, along the ridge. She drops 2 gnolls with her bow as they come around the ice wall, charging after the mage.

Maltron fumbles a bit trying to hand the invisible Rudi Klemb’s rope but eventually passes it off the druid. The mage then mounts up on one of Farouk’s horses as does Francis leading Portius.

The group rallies and begins galloping away. Francis holds back covering the escape with a final blast from his wand. He manages to catch a handful of Gnolls with a cone of cold.

As Endr’il watches the party ride away, ‘kiting’ an unconscious druid in tow, she turns back to observe the golem.
Lewiter soon meets up with the black rider who looks to be riding a skeletal warhorse.
The rider appears to be wearing dull black plate armor and helmet in the shape of a skull. It looks to be carrying a rather nasty footman’s war hammer and a tattered black cloak flaps in the wind. A frayed black horse blanket under the saddle also whips and flutters in the air.
This is not the first time she’s seen the black knight.

The rider withdraws what looks to be a large black amulet and holds it forward.
The air ahead of him fluxes and ripples like a small pond of water perpendicular to the ground.
The rider, followed quickly after by the golem with prisoner in tow, charge towards the effect.
The portal ‘splashes’ Like stones dropped into a pool as the pair disappear within.
The portal then dissipates into nothing.

After about an hour of hard riding, Dagnoe confirms mentally with Maltron they are not being pursued.

Maltron will pour a dose of one of his Potions of Healing down the druid’s mouth or onto his wounds.

“A small victory for us,” he says somberly. “We must do what we can to save the paladin. Now that the golem is allied with the black rider, I lesser the odds for our success. Shall we storm their stronghold or continue searching for our other companions?”

ooc – does Endr’il know the location of the enemy stronghold?

DM EDIT: She knows the location of what she believes to be the stronghold but she has not been inside.

Small bursts of satisfaction rush through the elven ranger as her arrows hit home and the gnolls fall. With the Chain in retreat, she watches the trio transported through the dark portal. Endr’il’s body tenses trying to rush after the fallen paladin of its own accord, but she knows it’s no use and the others need her more.

She reluctantly pulls herself away and rushes after the party, trying to catch up with them by the time they reach the bridge.

Endril approaches the group as the pause before the bridge, making herself known well before she arrives. She wears worn hunting leathers, leather vest, dark green tunic and fingerless gloves. She has light brown hair worn in semi-orderly dreadlocks and green eyes that burn with intensity. She has a hardness about her and a large, nasty scar graces the left side of her neck.

Her speech is reserved, it is obvious she is trying to be non-confrontational, but is having a hard time with it.

“Greetings, Chain. I am Endr’il Sal’ayuun, Ranger of Frontier. I have been on mission here for some time, relaying information about the forces here. I requested your presence for aid and I am . . . confused about your progress here,” she scans the group, seeing the scared, yet alert Rudi in particular, her frustration lightens, “It seems the situation here is not what you expected. I am here to help. As you’ve, no doubt realized, the armored friend, is in great danger. The enemy is becoming quite agitated, so it is my belief whatever is to happen will happen soon, so we must retrieve her quickly. By the way, weren’t there supposed to be more of you? Where are the others?”

(Hoping the potion works) Klembsy opens his eyes and looks around with obvious signs of pain. "Where am I? Where are we? What happened? And…who’s her? (meaning Endril )

DM EDIT: +6 HP. Current HP a 5

The party is currently about 3-4 miles-ish away from the ‘X’ (current position). They only rode hard for about an hour before stopping. At this point it’s late afternoon, about 5ish bells past noon. Riding back to the shadow bridge would be another 5 hours of hard riding, most likely longer as the horses are tired and the last third of the journey would be at night.
TORTUREDLANDSWITHBRIDGES.jpg

Maltron suggests making camp before it gets dark in the foothills. “We could use some time to memorize spells, rest up, and bring Klembsy up to speed.”

Farouk, himself again refreshes everyones tattoos and offers them to Endri as well…. explaining the meaning behind them.

“So now what…”

Endr’il shrugs and says, “Time is of the essence for your friend, but we don’t know where the others are. They may very well have been captured, in which case they need our aid as well. I know the location of the stronghold. Once we are rested we can make our way there and plan as we go.”

If Endr’il knows of or has a relationship with the halfling tribe, she will suggest stopping with them and recruiting help.

Rudi is excited at the thought of finding the skull and studying it. He is ready to go when the party is.

DM EDIT: Endr’il knows of the halflings only because she’s witnessed several of their guerrilla attacks on the gnolls. She’s know the general area of where she believes them to be headquartered but has never made contact with them.

After taking a hefty swig from his rumskin, Francis pipes up. “POKK, pokk! They’ve got Al and, I’m sorry, are we not even going to talk about Trist, Wren, and Finna? Are we just assuming they’re dead then as well? This is turning into a real pokk up.”
He takes another swig.

“It’s Endr’il right? You’re a tracker. I say we split up into two groups. One goes after Al and the cult while the other follows the river in search of our ladies.”

Endr’il pauses, looking from Francis, an obviously brash, somewhat intoxicated fighter from her estimation, to the rest of the group. She walks among them partly to separate herself from Francis and also to assess the group, “I think splitting up is a bad idea. Your group is mostly wizard types. Strong in their own right, but weak compared to this terrain and these enemies. Splitting up with leave the rest with only myself or . . . him for physical protection. I know the way to the stronghold and I can, as Francis suggests, track the others depending upon how long it’s been. I’m not confident both are possible.” Endr’il drops to her haunches observing the ground absently as if it gives her comfort to know the story of the earth.

“You say three were lost and one, Al, was the one taken by the golem and dark rider. The needs of the many. I suggest we stay together and track the other three. We will need our full strength to infiltrate the stronghold, so the more the better. Can you take me to where you were separated?”

Endr’il whistle and clicks, a combination of different animal sounds. A large linx bounds out of the shadows and settles next to the elven ranger, sitting comfortably and licking it’s paws.

“This is Jax, She is my companion and I want you to see her so you’re not alarmed. Now where were your friends last seen?”
Klembsy will use the rest of the afternoon/evening to heal and pray. He will cast CLW on himself twice and then to anyone else that is in need. Then he will pray again to regain his spells. He will continue the cycle of praying-casting until everyone (including himself) are in perfect state.
If they don’t camp immediately but they leave to show Endril the place where they separated with the three ladies, he will do that there when they finally camp.

Maltron introduces himself to Endr’il.

“Francis, we only know where Alvyra is. At least we think we know. The others may have been captured during the initial gnoll attack. We know that gnolls are working with the cult. We will possibly find the others at the stronghold. Splitting up is the last thing we need to do, considering our numbers are already down. I say we make for the stronghold at once. Lead on Endr’il.
Farouk has no objections heading to the Fortress…Once the group is decided, Endr’il nods and starts leading the group allowing for rest when necessary. (Not sure of the actual route)

Farouk speaks up "Look guys, here’s what I see… Us guys vs a fortress… I think you know we don’t stand a chance fighting fair, so we are gonna need some kind of plan.
I figure Mal and I… If your upto it of course… can charm a bunch of them and make them come around to our way of thinking… or at the very least not fighting us… Klems… I dunno but they are kinda dingo dongo like… Maybe you can do some of the same (charm person / mammal)?

Between the 3 of us showing off our good looks, it wont be long before until we have a pile of chips too."
“Sure, Farouk. I’ll be glad to go with your plan as long as there isn’t a better one”, says Klembsy.

Day 141
As the sun breaks, Dalrir allows a fire to be made and the two dry out and rest.
Late afternoon, Dalrir returns from a hunt with more rabbits.
Drawing a map in the dirt, he indicates they are not far.
Evening approaches and the Halfling again puts out the fire and the duo prepare to continue.
He offers Finna another ‘no sleep leaf’, takes one for himself and they’re off.

Midday- the terrain has becomes progressively more rocky, slowing the pace. The pair manage to avoid being spotted by what appears to be a mounted gnoll patrol in the distance.

Sunset- Dalrir freezes and motions for Finna to take cover. As she does so, he scrambles to join her. ‘Shadow men, demon’. Peering from the rock, Finna spots a lone black rider come into view on a ridge maybe 60 yards ahead. The rider appears to be wearing dull black plate armor and helmet in the shape of a skull. It looks to be carrying a rather nasty footman’s war hammer and a tattered black cloak flaps in the wind. The warrior rides what looks to be the skeleton of what once was a warhorse. A frayed black horse blanket under the saddle also whips and flutters in the air. The black knight looks to be scanning the area, searching for something.

Finna hears Dalrir whisper a gasp. Tapping her, he signals to something. Ahead, in the rocks, halfway between the pair and the rider, is what looks to be another halfling barbarian. The warrior has his back against a large rock, out of sight from the ‘Shadow man’. He’s obviously wounded as blood seeps through his hand clutching his belly. He does not appear to notice Finna or Dalrir.

The rider continues to scan, as it does so, turning it’s head in the direction of the duo and the wounded halfling, it halts.
The shadow man turns it’s horse in the direction of the halfling and, hammer at ready, begins slowly walking towards. The skeletal steed’s hooves clop a slow and eerie pace against the rock as the dark knight moves in on the halfling’s hiding spot.

Watching the impending doom about to befall his companion, Dalrir nocks and arrow and looks to Finna with pleading, rage-filled eyes.

This ‘no sleep leaf’ is amazing. I should feel tired but I probably could go a few more hours. Wonder if I could get some to take back with me and show it to Hoken, bet he would be impressed with it. Those mages would love to get some of this as well, I can just hear Farouk trying to make a deal to get a supply to take back with him.

With the sun setting soon, we should be stopping shortly and make a camp. Glad we avoided those gnolls earlier today, we definitely don’t need unneccesary fighting. I need to get to their encampment, see if I can help whoever Dalrir is worried about, and get them to help me find the rest of the party. Hope they are okay.

Her thoughts are interrupted by the halfling’s sudden stop. Instinct takes over, unconsciously crouching and hiding before she realizes it. She looks at the panicked face of her companion for understanding. Shadow men, demon? What does he mean? Peering from the rock, the form of a lone rider rises up on a nearby ridge. The dull black armor, the skull helmet, the skeletal remains of a warhorse capture her vision. As it scans the area, the warmth of her previous exertions drains out of her body. A chill begins creeping up from the soles of her boots. Great Freya, I know not what that thing is and I certainly don’t like the looks of it. We do not need to get involved with that…. thing. Just stay quiet and calm and hope it moves away.

The slight whisper from Dalrir causes her stomach to knot up. His touch makes her heart sink in her chest. She looks to where he points, the sight of a wounded halfling warrior gives despair a foothold. Mind races to find a solution when the horse begins towards them. Dalrir’s expression pains her, a lump forming in her throat. By Odin’s beard, this may end up badly. Merciful Freya, give me guidance.

She looks to her companion and mimes to him to shoot his arrow and lead the rider away from the injured halfling. She will wait for the shadow man to come closer and then attack it. She draws the wand of fire, pulls out her holy symbol on its chain, readies her shield and waits for Dalrir to position himself and start the attack. When the rider has turned enough away from the injured warrior and is in line with Finna, she will send out a Wall of Fire (takes 2 charges), 20’ deep x 60’ long (length is parallel to Finna) centered on it. She will immediately stow her wand and move back and around to get closer to the injured halfling. If the rider comes towards her with its steed (after the fire attack), she will hold her holy symbol out and shout “By the beautiful name of Freya, under the leadership of the All-Father, I command you to begone!!” If
the steed turns away (somehow I don’t think she can affect the rider), she will continue to hold her symbol and push them away. If the rider is able to continue, she releases the symbol, draws her sword and prepares for battle.

Dalrir nods approval to the plan. He fires at the rider and the arrow ricochets off its breast plate with a metallic twang. The dark warrior yanks his horse and begins galloping towards the duo’s hiding spot. Finna steps out and levels her wand, dropping a wall of fire on the ‘demon man’ and his skeletal mount. The flames roar into life, catching the rider in the middle of an inferno. The horse rears back and then falls apart. The warrior clatters to the rocks, screaming in agony as he is burned alive. He attempts to clamber to his feet but is quickly overwhelmed by the flames and collapses.

Dalrir looks to Finna dumbfounded by the scene for a few moments before raising his bow and cheering in victory. He runs over to tend to his bleeding companion who looks pale as well as stupefied. Dalrir appears to be explaining Finna to his tribesman as he binds his wounds.

Blink. Blink.

What just happened? That ‘demon man’ looked tougher than that. Maybe that wand is that powerful. I owe a certain navigator a proper kiss for making that trade with me.

Oh. Dalrir is jumping up and down. Sounds like he’s cheering. That’s nice. Where is he running…. Right, there was a friend of his over there. That one looks a little pale… right, loss of blood from that wound could do that…. Wait, wounded? Move!

Finna quickly moves to the injured tribesman, keeping an eye on the recent collapsed enemy. Once she reaches him, she tells Dalrir to keep looking where the demon man was, just in case he gets back up. She will quickly bind the fallen halflings wounds and assess the severity of his injuries (Healing proficency). If she stablizes him, she will tell Dalrir that she needs to pray and he needs to keep watch and disturb her if the demon man comes back up. She will pray for 10 minutes for a CLW then cast it on the fallen halfling. If he won’t stop bleeding, she will pull out her last dose of the healing potion and use it on him.

Once he is healed, she will turn to Dalrir to help determine where they should go next.

Finna moves to the wounded Halfling and binds his wounds.
She then finds a spot nearby and begins praying. As she does so she can hear Dalrir and the other halfing in low conversation.
While she is still in prayer, her wall of fire extinguishes, leaving behind a large smoldering, blackened streak on the ground.

Bow at ready, Dalrir investigates the smoky remains of the ‘demon man’.

Prayer completed Finna casts CLW on the wounded Halfling and, much like her first encounter with Dalrir, his eyes go wide in surprise at the act.

Bleeding stopped, Dalrir approaches and makes introductions. Apparently this Halfling is called ’Tradak’.

Dalrir signals for the pair to view the body of the dead warrior.
The bone remnants of the skeletal horse are blackened and scattered.

Dalrir removes the helmet.
The face of the warrior is burned and blistered beyond recognition but Finna is able to determine his was most likely human and not un-dead.

The little pair gingerly search the still crispy corpse and the below items are recoverable:

-a black metal amulet on a black chain.
-pouch containing 20 GP, 10 small rubies and 3 small black gems.
-Satchel containing a bullseye lanten, a spyglass,
-Black chain shirt
-Black plate armor
-Black rams horn horn
-Helmet with skull face visor
-Footman’s war hammer
-bone ring
-bone wand
-The right gauntlet appears to have some silver symbols engraved on it.

Finna smiles as surprise takes over the halfling’s face. Learning Tradak’s name, she greets him warmly. She double checks to make sure all his bleeing has stopped before seeing what Dalrir is trying to get her attention for.

She grips the spear tightly as the helmet starts moving, scanning the body for any possible signs of life. The charred remains are hard to look at but Finna sighs with relief to see that the warrior was human, not some undead creature as she feared.

The industrious halflings search and gather up some items. Finna quickly tells the pair to not hold any of the items. She tells them to keep watch as she spends some time in prayer. She steps away from the body and asks for Freya’s guidance (learn Detect Evil and Detect Magic). Once her prayer is finished, she will use Detect Magic then Detect Evil on the objects. She will put any evil items into a sac by themselves and figure out how to distribute the rest of the items so the group is not weighed down for travelling. She will take the ring and wand on her person, since the halflings probably do not have experience with possible magic items (just guessing they are magic).

Afterwards, she will ask Dalrir if they are to continue on or stop for the night, suggesting a rest may be the most helpful thing for Tradak.

Finna casts det magic and det evil on the items.
The below items radiate Magic
-bulls eye lantern
-Black rams horn horn
-Helmet with skull face visor
-bone ring
-bone wand
-The right gauntlet with engraved silver symbols.

The below items radiate magic and evil
-a black metal amulet on a black chain.

Taking the wand and ring for herself, Finna places the black amulet into a separate bag while the other items go into a different sack.
The halflings scoop up the remaining armor and hammer and motion for Finna to follow.
Dalrir and Tradak trek amongst the rocks staying low towards a grouping of boulders nearby.
Both look to the cleric hesitantly before Dalrir triggers what looks to be a secret entrance.

A rock rolls to one side revealing a passage into the earth. The pair enter the pitch black followed by a somewhat hunched over Finna.
Donning her cowl to allow her to see in the dark, she follows the little ones through a series of tunnels, eventually opening up into a large cave.

Lit by what appears to be a single glowsteel rod set into the ceiling, an examination of the stone work reveals what must’ve been at one time, an ancient dwarven warren.
Eroded by time stone frescos covering the wall are now ‘graffitied’ over with crude charcoal and clay paint murals, symbols, and scenes depicting what is most likely a history of the new residents of the warren, Dalrir’s and Tradak’s Halfling tribe.

The pair are met by two more tribesman who emerge from the dark of a nearby tunnel brandishing spears.

Dalrir and Tradak engage in conversation with the guards and appear to convince them to allow passage.

Finna continues on with her guides, through various tunnels and several large cave rooms. Passing through, she observes a village alive within the underground. Families cooking over small fires, warriors sharpening weapons, individuals bustling about carrying bundles of firewood, goods, hides, etc all stop and gasp, shocked and stunned in silence at the sight of Finna as Dalrir and Tradak escort her through. Whispers among the little ones begin to reverberate and a crowd gathers following behind the trio until the tour ends in a final cave.

What at one time must’ve have been a dwarven forge looks now to be reclaimed as the chief’s hall. Dalrir and Tradak approach a raised landing ahead and motion for Finna to follow. The crowd of tribesman following the trio, enter from behind and fan out around the room. It appears most, if not the entire village, is in attendance to witness the unfolding events.

Three halfing warriors emerge from behind a hide covered opening on the landing. Adorned in similar markings as the other warriors, and from the look of their bone accoutrements and various scars, they are most likely the prominent veterans of the village.

The leader of the three warriors barks to Dalrir and Tradak who reply and a somewhat tense discussion ensues.
Dalrir and Tradak eventually reveal the black plate armor and the war hammer of the demon man. Dalrir motions to Finna to show the helmet as well to which the room erupts in gasps and whispers.

The items are tossed to the landing and inspected by the veterans.
Tradak and Dalrir continue conversation then begin to display the scars of their wounds that Finna had cared to, at this eyes go wild and the murmur of the crowd rises.

The leader, who’s name Finna is able to discern as Drofor Ussur, barks a command and the room instantly becomes silent.

Somberly he inquires to Dalrir, who approaches Finna. It appears he’s asking Finna for a public display of her magic ability.

As the amulet is the lone evil item, Finna feels a bit less anxious. Taking care, she separates it from the other items. Sighing as the two halflings move on without considering her desire for rest, she follows them. Her head tilts slightly as they stop at a nearby group of boulders. She starts to speak then stiffles her surprise as a secret entrance is revealed. She follows blindly into the tunnel. Remember her cowl, she dons it and moves on.

The large cave is a welcomed relief, allowing her to stretch her stiff back. Her eyes scan over the place, the dwarven handiwork bringing a feeling of security. Spear tips pointing towards her stops the inspection. The journey continues after a short conversation, mercifully through shorter tunnel stretches and large rooms.

I feel like the piper in the story with the rats and children. And they are not much taller than children are they? Guess I’m the first non-tribesman to ever walk these halls. Ah, I believe this is our destination.

Observing the interactions of the talking warriors, Finna notes that Dalrir is pressing the three warriors towards something. The revealing of the ‘demon man’s’ armor and helm returns a small voice to the crowd but doesn’t seem to move the trio. Neither does the recently healed scars of her two new warrior friends, the crowd becoming more excited instead.

There it is, Drofor is going to settle this now, keep the crowd from unduly influencing anyone. And…. he’s asking Dalrir something? Here he comes, wonder what is go….Really? A public display of magic? The power of Freya is not some street corner legerdemain! Wait, calm down…. you are a guest here and you need these people to help you find the group and possibly help with the slavers. Okay…. they want a display of power…… but what kind?

The shuffling of Dalrir’s feet and his head expectantly swaying back and forth stops Finna’s
mulling. Blinking a few times, she focuses on the young warrior, his eyes brimming with hope and apprehension. Drawing herself to full height, she directs her gaze to Drofor. She nods agreement and intones in Elvish “Today, I shall show you the power of the great goddess Freya and you will be humbled by it! I shall now pray to Freya and ask for her blessings among the heathen.”

Motioning at Dalrir, she tells him she will need a half hour to pray before continuing. She imparts that she would like him to see if there is anyone with a recent fighting wound that needs healing. She also asks for any spare wood and cloth for her to make a fire inside the cavern.

She takes a couple of steps back, making sure she will have room. She unbuckles the sword from her waist, places it at her feet then covers it with her shield and helmet. She places her other two weapons two feet behind her. She looks for two guards and points at them, motioning each one to take a spot on either side of her. “They can keep watch over me, keep me from attacking, make everyone feel safe” she tells Dalrir. Kneeling down, Finna begins her prayers to Freya, at times out loud. (Gain 1 CLW, 1 Resist Fire)

Supplications finished, Finna stands up and stretches. She looks to Dalrir, “I need a fire, a hot fire.” She will follow him to the fire and add any extra cloth plus add some oil to make it burn hotter. She will pull out three (3) silver pieces and drop them in. Waiting for a few minutes, she calls out, in Elvish, “Most blessed Freya, I ask for your blessings. Allow me to show these non-believers your power. Fire is under your control, give me your protection from these flames”. (Cast Resist Fire) She will reach into the flames, retrieve the coins then drop them before the three leaders and allows them to see her hands.

Continuing, she asks Dalrir “Is there anyone who is injured?” If someone is presented, she will kneel before the person and begin praying. Great Freya, I once again call to you. Please allow me to be a vessel of your power and heal this person. (Cast CLW)
If there is no one, she motions to Dalrir. She asks him to get a spear. While he retrieves it, she removes her Splint Mail and bares an arm. She motions for him to take the spear and slice down her left arm. If he hesitates, she will step over, slap his face and motions again. If he still does not use the spear, she will turn to Drofor and make the motion to him. Once her arm is cut, she will pray “Freya, I beseech you again. Please allow me to receive your blessing once again, show these non-believers how powerful you are. (Cast CLW)

1. With the Detect Magic spell, was Finna able to determine the intensity of the magical items? If possible (40% chance), could she determine the sphere of magic for any of the items? She is not able to determine the (wizard) school, so if there is not a comparable priest spell, it won’t matter.

DM EDIT: Finna is able to determine intensity somewhat but because she does not have spellcraft proficiency she is unable to determine spheres/schools.
-bulls eye lantern – light
-Black rams horn horn -medium
-Helmet with skull face visor – light
-bone ring -medium
-bone wand -heavy
-The right gauntlet with engraved silver symbols. –light
-amulet – very heavy

2. With the Detect Evil spell, was Finna able to determine the degree of evil and the general nature of the evil item?
DM EDIT: The amulet radiates very strong evil.
Elven speech does not seem to resonate or is not understood. As Finna prays, most of the crowd remains, murmuring quietly to each other in the background.
Once ready, her request for boiling water is somewhat mis-interpreted, Dalrir brings her a lit torch instead.
Casting Resist Fire, Finna then holds the torch under her forearm. Gasps of shock and surprise fill the room.
Handing the torch back to Dalrir, she requests an injured person be brought forward. Again, the request is not understood. Dalrir and the others look to each other in confusion until Dalrir finally shakes his head and shrugs ‘I don’t understand’.
The request for the spear is understood and as Finna removes her armor and explains her intent, it appears the Halfling understands what she is preparing to do.
The cleric bares her arm and Dalrir drops the spear but withdraws a dagger. He approaches, grabs her wrist, gives her a quick look and nod of ‘ready?’, then slashes her arm.
Gritting her teeth, Finna turns about showing the wound to the room. She then casts CLW on herself, completely healing the cut.
She turns again displaying her healed wound to the room. As she turns and in a wave, the crowd fall to their knees, hands clasping together in thankful prayer, eyes wet with tears, the room fills with a cacophony of what Finna can only assume is awe and praise.
Drofor and his companions leap down from the landing and approach quickly. The veteran grabs Finna’s arm and examines it closely. Looking to his companions, then Dalrir, smiles are exchanged. Drofor speaks some to Dalrir and grasping his shoulder, pulls him into an embrace. He then looks to Finna and grips tight her hand in his. He speaks some before motioning for her to follow him.Finna follows Drofor, his two companions, and Dalrir up the landing and through the hide covered door into a small cave.
Lit by a fire in the center of the space, the room looks to be the quarters of someone of note. Various hides and symbols decorate the walls. Stacks of clay tablets litter the floor. There are several attendants in the room. One female Halfling looks to be tending a cooking kettle set over the fire, while two others appear to be attending a much older male halfling laying on a pile of furs towards the back of the cave.
The older Halfling looks to be in the throes of a fever dream. Drenched in sweat and delirious, he is shaking and mumbling to himself.
From the appearance of the cave room, the contents within and the look of the sick Halfling, Finna is able to determine he is a priest of some kind and most likely the tribal leader. Drofor and Dalrir motion for Finna to aid the dying chief.
Upon closer examination, Finna is able to determine the chief is sick with some sort of disease. What disease, she is unable to ascertain.

Arm out strectched, she displays the healed wound. The wave of sound that rushes towards her causes a moment of pause. Have I given them something more than I can actually handle right now? Drofor seems very happy, wonder where he is wanting me to go now?

The cave grows smaller as the group passes through the hide doorway. Eyes adjusting, Finna takes in the decor. The number of personal items and greater amount of luxury goods lends towards a feeling of importance for the occupant. She smiles at the woman attending the small kettle over the fire. The scent of a cooked meal waters her mouth immediately, causing her to swallow audibly. Movement at the far end draws her attention.

Uncontrollable twitching, sopping wet clothing and furs and incoherent muttering greets Finna. Realization dawns as her two companions motion to her to assist and heal the chief. Pok! They did want something more, I should have asked Dalrir for more info before he brought me her! Finna, you fool, you better do the right thing or else you and The Chain could be in major trouble.

She presses her hands together and makes a supplicating nod to the two attendants. Kneeling down, she examines the feverish halfling. A small knot forms in her gut as she realizes that whatever disease the chief has, she has not seen it nor knows how to cure it. She scoots back from the bed and sits staring at the chief in contemplation. When Dalrir or Drofor make any attempt to speak or get her attention, she waves them off and continues to think.

Several minutes go by before she stirs. With an affirmative nod, she stands and turns to Dalrir and Drofor. She will convey the following:

She is not certain what is wrong with their chief but she will pray to Freya for wisdom and guidance in healing him. To start with, she needs a secure place, far away from everyone, that the evil amulet she retrieved from the ‘demon man’ can be placed. FOR NO REASON should ANYONE in their clan go near it. Afterwards, she would like a little food to eat and a small pot of water to wash with before beginning to pray for guidance.

After quickly eating, Finna sits down in a quiet spot in the chief’s area. She takes some holy water and pours it into the water basin. Using it, she quietly washes off the grime on her face and arms. Once done, she sets into a penative posture and begins to pray. (Gain Bless, CLW, Sanctify and Idea – 1 hour of time, dropping Speak with Animals and Wyvern Watch). She will spend another hour after that in general prayer, praising Freya for her benevolence.

She stands and stretches to loosen the tense muscles. Motioning for everyone to move to the other side of the room, she begins. Standing over the chief, head tilted upwards, Elvish flows outwards. Oh, most blessed Freya, hear the calling of a humble servant. I beseech you to hear me and grant me your power. I stand here in this cave with those who are in need of your kindness, your blessing. Without this man, he who lays before me, the task of bringing honor and glory to your name and pouring your wrath out upon those who cast aspersions on you is in question.

I ask that you hear my words, that you act upon them as the kind deity you are. I ask that you grant me a small portion of your power now, that this place can be made special and holy for your power to flow easier in here (Cast Sanctify). I call upon your favor, the favor you give to those who pursue their craft with full enthusiasm. She pours Holy Water over the chief and a small amount into his mouth for him to swallow. Place your blessing upon this small warrior, he who leads these brave warriors against foes that are giants to them. (Cast Bless)
Kneeling, one hand rests on the chief’s head, the other over his heart. Blessed goddess, I ask that you pour your power through me, use me as a vessel. Allow your kindness to flow through me into this sick man and help begin healing his wounds. (Cast CLW) I know there is something more that is wrong with this man. He is consumed with a sickness that I am unsure of. I would ask of your favor to cure him but I know I have not been blessed to channel that much of your power into one. Therefore, I beseech thee, I call upon you Freya to heed me. Allow me wisdom to know what to do, allow the knowledge of how to cure this man to be passed to me. May your wisdom, wisdom that comes from Odin All-Father, allow me to assist this man so your name can be raised in honor and glory and your vengeance can be poured out on those you despise. Grant me your boon. (Cast Idea).

Finna offers the evil amulet to Drofor but both he and Dalrir appear confused as to why.
Drofor seems anxious that Finna does not immediately ‘heal’ the chief but after some conversation with Dalrir, he reluctantly allows the pair to depart.
Dalrir takes Finna through the network of caves, as they do, similar to when Finna first arrived, all residents within stop and take pause, quietly watching as she passes through.

The Halfling leads her to a small cave behind a hide door which she is able to discern as his quarters. There is a large fur on the floor surrounding a small fire pit which Dalrir lights. Various personal items, small wooden and bone carvings, leathers, and a few weapons are scattered about. He motions for Finna to sit then he turns and exits. As she stows her gear and begins to remove her armor he returns with an empty wooden bowl with a leather cloth, a full water skin, and a wooden plate with pine nuts, fresh mushrooms, dried lizard meat, and a few sweet roasted agave stalks. He goes on for a bit and motions that he’ll be just outside while she tend to herself and pray.

After washing, eating, and praying, Finna exist Dalrir’s quarters to find him ready at attention. With a nod, he leads her back to the chief’s quarters where Drofor and the two other veterans are waiting.

As she moves to stand over the stricken chief, the others move back slightly.
She prays out loud in elvish and casts her spells Sanctify. She then anoints holy water over the chief’s face which is hot to the touch, and pours a bit in his mouth.
Continuing praying, she casts Bless. Kneeling down, she places her hands on him and continues to pray, then casts CLW. Praying more, she then casts Idea.

The candles and the fire in the room begin to glow brightly, filling the room with radiant white light until suddenly in a flash, Finna finds herself on a ridge overlooking a crystal blue fjord. A cool breeze carries the sweet smell of the ocean and a falcon cries in the distance. A hand comes up and rests on her shoulder from behind, turning Finna is stunned to find herself face to face with the Seithr who aided her so long ago. The woman smiles and embraces Finna. “Dear sweet Finna, you have done so well, you are strong, brave, selfless, and loving. There is great danger ahead and many who will need your aid. Do not doubt ever that Freya’s fire is within your chest. Go now and take this to the little ones, they will be great allies in the days to come.” With that she opens her hand to reveal a small flame flickering in her palm. She takes Finna’s hand and presses the dancing fire into it then closes her hand into a fist, seemingly extinguishing the flame. She then presses Finna’s fist against her chest.
She smiles once more and lightly strokes Finna’s cheek. The light surrounding amplifies, enveloping into a white blinding flash.
Finna finds herself back in the cave, hands still on the chief, tribesman anxiously looking on.
As the cleric raises her head, she realizes she knows the prayer to cure disease. Quickly the words pour from her. The chief’s tossing and twitching settle, his skin cools and flushes with color, his breathing slows, becoming steady and relaxed. His eyes blink open and he looks to Finna somewhat bewildered. He speaks a few words that she doesn’t understand but the room goes wild with cheer. The attendants rush in to embrace him. Drofor steps forward and looks on. A smile breaks across his face. He turns to Finna, tears in his eyes, and gives her a nod of gratitude. Slapping Dalfir on the back, he and the veterans leave the room and they can be heard shouting out to the cave. As what sounds to be all of the community, roars of delight echo out, Dalrir rushes in and hugs Finna.

Grant me your boon. The words echo across the small chamber and fade away. Finna waits, wondering how the spell works since she has only watched the spell cast once before. It takes her by surprise, realizing that the room is filling up with light then overtakes her sight with a flash.

Her vision quickly adjusts from the flash but she is unprepared for what takes its place. A majestic fjord fills her eyes, the cool, salty breeze flows through her nostrils, tongue and hair. Remembering the vision given to her when she first found Trist, she turns in giddy anticipation in response to the hand on her shoulder. It is quickly turned to astonishment, finding her mentor Edda facing her. Finna’s eyes water as Edda pulls her into a warm embrace. Her ears cling to each word that Edda speaks to her, her hand trembles with joy as Edda holds it. She tilts her head towards the soft stroke at her cheek and closes her eyes, trying to prevent the precious image of Edda from escaping as the light builds up again into a blinding flash.

The sight of the anxious tribesmen near her makes her take quick stock of her surroundings. Well… I’m in the chief’s cave, he’s still right here under my hands….. and still not cured. What do I… Realization flies up and fills her mind. I… I can do this?? I know how to Cure Disease? The fire!! Elvish quickly issues forth and Finna allows the fire inside her to flow into the chief. She watches in awe as his complexion improves, his breathing becomes even and steady. As his eyes open, his bewildered look causes her to smile.

Drofor’s smile comforts her as the attendants check on the chief. Sitting back, she relaxes as word of the chief’s recovery spreads outside the cave. Her mind returns to the vision. Edda… Edda… How long has it been? Your words are comforting and ominous. Freya, thank you for allowing me the power to cure this man. The message is coming clear, the party is in trouble, our separation is a danger to our mission. These little ones will be part of your will. Allow me the ability to hear you and follow the plans you are placing before me. Praise be to you for your gift of healing.

There is much rejoicing within the Halfling caves that night.
As Finna is paraded about. Heaps of what she can only assume as praise, thanks, and esteem are as bountiful as the food and drink.
Fresh baked flatbreads with creamy goat cheese. Roast snake with fiery yellow bell agave sauce. Peppered lizard, onion, and mushroom stew. Smoked tender rabbit with spiced wild rice. And Cream cakes with raw honey comb for dessert. Strong black currant wine and an even stronger agave brandy-like spirit flow as Finna is honored in celebration. Eventually, head spinning and belly stuffed she is lead to Dalrir’s quarters where she collapses alone into sleep in his furs.

She awakes as a Halfling woman enters her room. She brings a stone plate of figs, pine nuts, a few crispy blackened small lizard skewers, warm flatbreads, a small hunk of goat cheese and hot clay mug of sweet milk.
Placing the food nearby, the woman exits.
It’s difficult to determine how long Finna has been asleep as she is underground. She estimates it must have been some time. Other than a bit groggy and fuzzy from the festivity of the night before, she feels refreshed and the breakfast adds greatly to that restoration.
Washing up a bit, she preps herself some then exits Dalrir’s quarters only to find him outside, ready and waiting again. He’s puffing on a small clay pipe and smiles wide at the sight of Her. He escorts Finna back to the Chief’s council. The old Halfling looks to be in much better condition. His is sitting nearby the fire, sipping from a clay mug and also smoking a pipe. A nearby clay dish displays remnants of a recent meal.

He waves Finna in and motions for her to sit. He offers her a pipe as well as pours her a cup of dandelion tea. He quickly mumbles something under his breath and makes a slight gesture. He then pulls a small burning stick from the fire and uses the end to light his pipe. As he does so, puffing away, Finna is a bit surprised to hear his voice ‘in her head’.
“Like the dawn and the rain, you are most welcome Finna god’s-sent. Dalrir has told me much of you and the events of the past few moons. I am Cottar Hearth-tender, chief of clan Vyruul and I and my tribe owe you my life and great debt. Our paths have come to this crossroad by no accident. Wheels move across the sky with intent, this is fated. For what purpose is what we now must discover”

Dalrir’s very enthusiastic greeting brings Finna out of contemplation. Returning it back, she allows herself to be pulled up and out into the main chamber. The halflings swarm around her, each speaking to her, grasping her hands, touching her. She eats the food set before her, its bounty continuing to grow as the party continues on. One would hardly believe such wonderous food could be here in this harsh land. This wine is as good as anything Hoken has. And whatever this other drink may be is really is potent. It could prove to be too much of a match for Francis.

The sight of the sleeping furs is welcomed after the party. She falls into a dreamless sleep as her head touches them. A noise wakens her after what seems like a moment. Looking up, she watches the halfling woman place some food near her and exit the room. Her tongue feels thick, her thoughts push through cobwebs to the surface. Reaching over and taking a fig, she delights at the taste. Feeling a little refreshed, she falls into the plate of food.

A quick cleaning and adjustment of clothing gives Finna a refreshed feeling. Stepping out, she pulls to, noticing Dalrir waiting just outside. His clay pipe tilts down comically as his grin splits his face. He motions for her to follow. Returning to the Chief’s council, the curtain is pulled aside to allow access. The welcomed sight of the healthy chief greets her as he motions for her to sit. She notes that he is smoking a small clay pipe as well. I wonder what it is that they smoke in those small pipes? Oh, I get one as well? Generous men, they are. Think I’ll start with the tea…

As the chief’s voice fills her head, she ‘listens’ intently. Having done this once with Edda when they first met, Finna responds to him. “Well met, Chief Cottar. I give praise to Freya for your recovery and for our meeting. It is with no accident that we are here. Allow me to quickly tell you why I am here.”

“Several months back, I joined with a group that was hunting down a group of slavers, men who had once captured them. We destroyed their activities near our home but it appeared that one of their leaders may have escaped. Several weeks back, we learned more of the true story. The group behind this and other evil schemes is called the Zhentarim. The one name that we have is one called ‘The Ghoul’. The ‘Ghoul’ may also be in league with a demon, a name we think is Heklael.”

“Once we broke their operations, nothing more occurred near us. Word reached our area that similar activities were happening in this area. Leaders in our city worked hard to learn more information. They found evidence that a death cult, a religious group, called Charnelists were growing in power. The rise of this old group may be due to an item of great, dark power. It is a skull, carved out of obsidian, a dark, glossy rock. We have been told that it can increase the power of any who practice evil magic.”

“We were sent to find where the group was based, disrupt their activities and try to catch ‘The Ghoul’. We travelled to this land and first found the remnants of a gnoll attack upon some wagons. We followed the gnoll tracks along with their captured wagons around for a while. We were attacked one night by a ghoul, a creature that is dead but alive and feeds upon rotting flesh, if it can get it. We killed it and moved on. We made it to the river, figured out how to use the invisible bridges and crossed over. We were attacked that night by gnolls. I was shot by a gnoll arrow that made me sick and fall asleep. Somehow, after that, I was separated from the group and ended up on the other side of the river. From there, I began travelling back up river towards the group. At the end of the day, I came upon Dalrir laying unconscious under his slain mount. I healed him and you probably have heard the rest of our story.”

“As I tell you this story, something has occurred to me. The ‘Demon men’ that you fear may be warriors of the cult, the skull mask they wear could be representing the evil skull we have been told about. It is now apparent that they can be killed, the fire I was able to bring about did the job. They are also men with evil magic to help them in whatever their job is.”

“Although I do desire to learn more about you and how your tribe came to this place, I fear there are more pressing matters. I have to ask a boon from you. As I was healing you, I received a vision from my goddess Freya. From her words, it is apparent that for my group to do the job we have been asked to perform, we will need help. I would humbly ask for assistance from the clan Vyruul. My group needs the knowledge and the skills of your clan to help us deal with the gnolls. Hopefully we can gain the location of the accursed group and put an end to their evil plans. I am sure that they are just men with evil magic assisting them and can be killed just as men are.”

“I would also ask for one other thing. Dalrir and I retrieved several items from the demon man I killed. I know that many of them are magical and one item is magicked and evil. I would like you to examine them as well, they may become useful in destroying the evil that is filling this land. Can I be so bold to ask for all of this from you?” Finna rolls to her knees and bows to Cottar as she finishes her request.

Cottar puffs away on his pipe listening to Finna.

He explains the following:
-The gnoll tribes were warring internally amongst themselves always mostly minor skirmishes.
-The Halfling tribe was much larger then and was usually ignored by the gnoll clans
-Gnoll activity increased dramatically around 12 full moons ago.
-9 full moons ago the first demon man was seen.
-One tribe began to dominate the others. Given weapons, magics and undead slaves by what they now know as the demon men.
-They do not know how many demon exist but they do know they are in league with the gnolls.
-Since then one gnoll tribe has come to dominate the territory and when not raiding caravans, or whats left of the other gnoll tribes, they are hunting the halflings.
-Many undead have also been seen roaming aimlessly in the territories.
-The demon men and the undead seem to be searching for something, for what the chief does not know.
-The secure location of the secret warren has not been compromised but Cottar fears they are growing close to discovering the location as activity nearby has increased.

He gives Finna a tour of the warren with a veteran warrior and Dalrir accompanying.
Much of the warren looks to have collapsed, most likely to an earthquake or some other natural occurrence long ago.
But with what remains the little ones have utilized.
The air is a bit stale but never foul, it seems whatever ventilation system the previous residents constructed has endured.
There are Mushroom gardens and bat caves where guano is collected for fuel, as well as plentiful corrals of Snail, lizard, and insect livestock.
Several areas appear to be lit by magical means, specifically the dire boar stables.
Nearby in pens, dire sow are milked and shoats are tended and cared for.
In addition to the main hall, several guard posts, and quarters, there is a small distillery, a clay pit, several cave stores and a large underground spring.

A particularly impressive area is a large cave the appears to be lit by natural sunlight.
Cottar explains that sunlight from several hidden openings in the surface is reflected through a network of tunnels that ‘empty’ into the cave.
Here a small area of crops are cultivated. Vegetables, some fruits and nuts as well as various roots and herbs.
He praises and blesses the former dwarven residents for their ingenuity.

Life has been difficult adapting from a hunting tribe to an agricultural tribe but it has become a necessity.
Groups of scouts are always plentiful for outer foraging and hunting for game, always eager to spend time above. But excursions have become fewer and far between as activity and danger outside continually advances.

Warrior squads are also sent out to scout, survey, and raid gnoll parties when weapons and other necessary supply runs low.

Ultimately, Cottar knows the tribe must leave warrens in search of new lands; to hunt and return to their tribal ways but the gnolls and demon men would surely destroy them should they attempt an exodus.

Should the demon men be felled, the gnolls would most likely fall back to their inter-warring ways and the clan would be able to reclaim their lands and way of life.

He agrees to aid Finna.
She’ll be outfitted with 1 week rations, water, and a skin of the agave spirit.
She receives 5 doses of ‘no sleep leaf’ and is even presented with a new spear, a dwarven masterwork (+1 non magic) relic found in the warrens.

Dalrir and 4 other warriors will escort her. It’s all the tribe can spare. Halfling barbarian beast riders 2nd level, bone/hide armor. Spears, light bows, hunting boomerangs, and dwarven master work hand axes. All mounted on dire boars. Finna will ride with Dalrir as his new mount is a particularly large specimen.

Examining the items Cottar agrees the amulet is evil. He is unable to determine function but when communing with his gods states it may be used as a valuable tool against the demon men.
Testing the other items proves difficult for the priest.

bulls eye lantern -Green light emits similar to that of a light spell when opened
Black rams horn horn -Cottar will not test blowing the horn.
Helmet with skull face visor -When donned and the face plate is lifted the wearer’s face resembles that of a corpse or undead. When removed the wearer’s face appears normal. No other effects can be determined
bone ring -unable to determine use
bone wand -unable to determine use
The right black plate gauntlet with engraved silver symbols. -when donned the wearer is able cast produce flame. Charges or number of uses per day is unknown
amulet -unable to determine use

Cottar suggests her squad head back west along the river and cross after the mountain range on the opposite side, then continue to the shadow bridge in search of her companions.
He’ll be sending several other squads on sorties north to distract the gnolls and demon riders from her search.
Finna/Dalrir squad = Orange line
3 other Halfling sorties = Purple lines
TORTUREDLANDSWITHBRIDGESFINNAHALFLINGS.jpg

Finna listens and digests the situation the chief describes to her. These brave warriors have been enduring a lot. The death cult has got to be stopped so they quit supporting the gnolls. The balance in this land needs to be restored.

These caverns are amazing. It was providential that they found this place. This cave where they can grow food is incredible. They need to have some work done to this place, they just need to have the right workers for the job. Wonder if Hoken knows the right people? Wonder if that dwarf we found under the city could be of any use to these warriors? Guess I’m going to have to see how much good will Frontier has for those who assist us in our task…

As the mention of the gnolls, she nods gravely. “Whatever I can do to help you reclaim your old ways, if it is within my power, I shall help you. I swear this by the pillars of the Hall of Sessrumnir.”

As Cottar continues to confer with Finna in his quarters, she is relieved that he agrees to assist her. She nods understanding as he assigns five warriors to assist her, more than that would compromise the tribe’s ability to successfully function. She begins to wonder how she is going to travel when Cottar says she will ride with Dalrir on his new mount. Her eyes widen a bit and the old halfling gives a chuckle seeing her react to that news. Finna thinks back to a short time ago when they traveled through the stables and Dalrir showed off his new mount, Strashnix. It was easily the largest dire boar in the stables with the most wicked tusks. She swore it looked like it wanted to attack her when Dalrir showed him off.
As she finishes prepping her gear before bedding down for the night, she considers the items before her. She puts the amulet with its pouch into a deep part of the backpack. She places the bone ring and bone wand into another small pouch and puts them hear the top of the backpack. She places the helm and lantern at the top of the backpack and attaches the rams horn to the side. She places the gauntlet with her armor to wear in the morning. Satisfied, Finna lays down and tries to sleep. She ponders the route her group will take and what obstacles they will face. As she closes her eyes, she begins to whisper a prayer. “Blessed Freya, I thank you for the boon you have given to me. These warriors are risking so much, yet without the risk, they may possible die. I pray for your guidance over these next few days, allow us swift travel. I pray that the Chain is okay and all is still well. Whatever enemies stand before me, I shall lay them low and bring honor and fame to your name. Grant me your wisdom and will.”

A few bells before dawn the squads are assembled and Cottar blesses them all in a somber and serious ceremony. He then presents Finna with necklace of gnoll teeth to which all present erupt in cheer. It seems she has been made member of the clan.

Mounting up the warriors charge off down nearby tunnel from the boar stables. As she and Dalrir thunder into the darkness a portal ahead yawns wide and the squads gallop into the predawn night of the open air. Finna and her team break away from the others and head west.

“Hey, wake up! We need to get ready to go! You don’t want the chief mad!”

Dalrir groans as he regains consciousness. He rubs sleep from his eyes, mind clouded with remnants of dreams. A snore nearby clears his mind and he jumps up. “Right! We’re on a mission! We get to help put an end to the demon men! Hey, Strashnix, wake up! Time to go!” The snoring continues, not heeding his call. Dalrir rolls his eyes up and smiles. He stares into the stall.
~Strashnix! You awake?
~~Sleeping.
~Hey, wake up. Time to go.
~~Sleeping. Snoring gets a little louder.
~Wait… you couldn’t answer me if you were asleep. Get up already.
~~Still sleeping.
~Get up! We have to go!
Large exhale of breath. ~~Really? You not big to get me up.
Dalrir frowns. ~What? What do you mean?
~~You no big, me no up.
~There’s nobody in Vyruul big enough to get you up, would take 10 Vyruul to move you. Besides, we are bonded.
~~So?
~SO?!? You are supposed to listen to me and heed my requests.
~~Not me. Other tusks do. I sleep.
“Will you get UP!” Dalrir kicks the stall door. A large rustle and violent crash against the stall door echoes back at him. A red, murderous eye fixes its gaze on Dalrir. He smiles back at the eye. ~Strashnix, I got you up. Let’s go.
He feels the mental questioning then ‘shrugging’. ~~Okay, me up. Me go now.

Leading his mount over to main assembly area, he gets a load of food out for Strashnix. He turns at the tug on his arm to find the stable master beside him. With a jerk of his head, he leads Dalrir over to one side. He smiles and points to a bench. Dalrir moves over and looks at the large saddle, one with a second seating area. The two halflings grab the saddle and tote it over to the large boar.

Strashnix glances up as the two halflings approach. Seeing the saddle, he moves backwards. ~~What that?
~It’s the saddle you need for our journey.
~~Too much. Why?
~You have to carry two for this trip.
~~What two?
~Myself and Finna, the tall one.
Strashnix stamps the ground and tosses his head in agitation. ~~No! No Ride!
Dalrir looks confused by his mount’s refusal. ~What do you mean, no ride? Is there a problem with you carrying both of us?
~~No Ride. She…ugly.
The look of confusion deepens. ~Ugly? She is just different than us but not ugly…I think. Anyway, why does that matter?
~~She ugly. Like fur enemy.
This takes a moment to sink in. ~Wait, you mean the gnolls? She is not anything like a gnoll. Chief Cottar says she is like Vyruul, just bigger. She is okay for you to carry.
~~No like.
~Do it! Dalrir and the stable master get the saddle on after several more attempts. Winded, he gathers his gear from his sleeping pad next to Strachnix’s stall then places it on his mount. Turning around, he realizes the rest of his squad and the other squads have arrived and finished loading their mounts. A runner rushes in and calls to everyone to assemble in the main hall.

A noise wakes Finna out of sleep. Rolling over, the sight of an overloaded plate of food greets her. She smiles. Generous people. More so than some humans I’ve encountered. She eats and dresses quickly. Licking a stray morsel from her fingers, she pauses and kneels in prayer.

Finishing her prayer, a quizzical look crosses her face. What is this feeling? Why do I feel a more open connection to Freya? Could it be some effect from the healing I was blessed with using on the chief? This is strange… I must test this out when I get the chance.

A few clacks from outside the sleeping area tells her that a visitor has arrived. Looking over, she sees one of the female attendants for the chief pull the curtain back and beckon to her. Grabbing her gear and following, a new puzzle is presented to her. Where is Dalrir? Almost unlike him to not get me. Maybe he is gathering the rest of the group together.

Traveling the maze of tunnels, she passes through one end of the stables and thinks she catches a glimpse of Dalrir and another halfling trying to put something upon the largest of the mounts. She shudders with the thought of riding something that seems to have murderous intent in its eyes.

The ceremony reminds Finna of some of the rites she has taken place in, albeit with more understandable words. She guesses the chief is blessing the squads so she stands still, waiting for things to wrap up. When he stands before her, speaking to the clan and gesturing towards her, she wonders what has changed. Chief Cottar turns and gestures for her to kneel. She complies and he places a necklace of gnoll teeth around her neck, causing a raucous cheer to erupt from everyone. She feels overwhelmed and thinks she is now part of the clan, judging by the proud look on Dalrir’s face. She bows to the chief and speaks “Thank you. I shall treasure this gift and bring honor to Clan Vyruul.

She follows her new brother to the stables. He holds onto part of the saddle to stabilize it for her as she begins to mount the dire boar. It thrashes a bit, preventing her from mounting. She watches Dalrir stop and stare at the boar which swings its head around to look at her once again with hate in its eyes. I will not allow this pitiful imitation of Golden Bristles get the better of me. It just needs to know that I…. Let’s see. Finna begins speaking the blessing to allow her to speak to animals.

Smiling to Dalrir, she looks into the boar’s eye. So, is there a reason to stop us from this journey? The boar’s eye widens then narrows as it grunts back.
~You speak?
I can, with the blessing for Freya
~Why speak?
You should know I mean you no harm.
~Harm me? You no harm.
Maybe. For Dalrir’s sake, I would never do so.
~You no Vyruul.
I am Vyruul. Chief Cottar gave me the necklace. I am Finna. What can I call you?
~Strachnix
Thank you. Will you carry us?
~No. You ugly.
Ugly?
~Ugly. Like fur enemy.
Enemy… you are speaking of gnolls. I am different from gnolls.
~No different
They can’t speak with you like I can, right? I am different.
~…. Too big.
No, I am not that big. You are the largest, most impressive beast here. You are certainly stronger than any of the rest. At least, I would have thought so.
~I am strongest.
Really? Maybe one of the others is the strongest.
~No, I strongest. I show you. You ride.
My thanks to you Strachnix.
~Still big.
The boar turns and holds still, allow Finna to swing up. Dalrir recovers from his shocked look then swings up to take his seat. The group rides out and she feels an exhiliration as the massive boar glides across the ground with ease. She can feel the ripple of its muscles flow past her legs and through the harness gripped in her hands. This is definitely more impressive than those horses we rode with. It is easy to see why they chose these magnificent creatures. She sits quietly, enjoying the feel of the cool air and allows the squad to do their jobs. She will keep an eye out for potential enemies. Whenever they take any breaks, she will work on teaching the warriors the Elvish word for hide and using charades to show them she wants them to hide at that time.

A broad smile breaks on his face as he sees Finna. He stands proudly as Chief Cottar passes his blessing upon the squads. His chest almost bursts open as Finna receives the necklace and becomes a clan mate. Dalrir leads her back towards the stables. Motioning for her to climb onto Strachnix, he holds onto the saddle for extra stability. Strachnix begins moving and tossing his head, preventing Finna from climbing on.

Dalrir scowls. ~Seriously, you need to stop and let her on! Look! She wear the necklace. She is now *Vyruul!
Strachnix’s head turns a bit to see Finna. ~~Still big.
Dalrir is about to complain again when he hears the lilting sound of Finna making magic. He looks to her to see what she is doing. She finishes, smiles to Dalrir, then turns her attention to their mount. His jaw drops as she begins to grunt like a hog! He notices that Strachnix turns to get a better look at the priest, eyes widen for a moment then narrow then he grunts back. After a few moments, they stop and Finna deftly swings up onto the dire boar. Dalrir looks into the boar’s eye. ~What was that?
A small grunt. ~~Ok. Big one speak. I hear.
~She what?
~~You hear. She speak. I hear. She ride now.
~You listened to her and not me? Wow, she has amazing magic.
Large snort. ~~Still ugly

Dalrir swings up and grabs the reins. I’ve got a lot to learn about Strachnix. He is not at all like Tusker was. I’ll have to ask the others if they have ever heard of a mount who argued like him. The group charges ahead through the tunnel, a small sliver of light greets them and grows larger. The cool, fresh air welcomes them as they thunder out of the portal into the early hours of the day. After a short while they slow down. With a gentle West, he guides his squad away from the others. He turn in the saddle, making sure Finna is doing well. Seeing her face enjoying the rush of air, he looks past her. “Okay! Standard patrol form! Brachix! You go ahead first. Remember to keep within 300 legs! Make sure to pay attention to any scents your mounts come across.” He watches the first scout urge his mount ahead to take the point.

Finna quickly becomes impressed with the skill of Dalrir and the other riders as well as the endurance and speed of their mounts.
Dalrir pushes the group hard and at sundown the squad crosses the river. A short break is quickly taken where all, including the boars, consume a dose of ‘no-sleep leaf each before continuing. It seems that when combining the halflings infravision, their dire boar’s keen sense of smell, and the tribe’s herbal aids, the squad has no issue with barreling on into the night.

As the sun begins to rise the group comes upon the shadow bridge ‘anchor stones’. The boars snuff around the grass and ground and soon after locate the trail of Finna’s companions. Dalrir points north east and is able to communicate through charades that the party are most likely a day ahead. Dalrir knows they can catch up to the party by nightfall if they push themselves but in doing so they will most likely arrive strung out and exhausted, putting them at a disadvantage should they fall under attack. No member of clan Vyruul has come that close to the cult and returned, he is unsure what awaits in those hills.
FINNAMAP.jpg

Looking around, Dalrir assesses the group. After a full sun and moon cycle, they were beginning to look tired. Finna seemed to be the worst of the group, moving very stiffly and slightly hunched over. After finding the trail of her companions, Dalrir spends a few moments ‘communicating’ to her that they were about a day behind. He gathers his squad to give some directions.

“Okay. So, it looks like we may be a day behind. They are heading towards the demon men, curse them. We could ride on and catch up to them. We would be too tired if gnolls attacked us. We need our mounts and our strength. We stop here, make camp. The river area is the best place on our journey for our mounts to find food. Brachix, Zii, Koleno, you three scout out a secure place for camp. Flang, get some fresh water from the river.”

Once a secure camp place is found and set up, he turns his thoughts to Strachnix. He begins to communicate but feels a wall up. Curious, he turns and sees Finna talking to his mount again. He walks over to them and arrives as she apparently finishes up, turns, then nods to Dalrir.

~Did you stop me from talking to you?
~~Strachnix busy.
~Busy?
~~Talk with ugly Vyruul.
~She is not ugly. What did she say?
~~She thank Strachnix.
~Why thank?
~~Strachnix strong. Two Vyruul ride full sun, full moon. She thank.
~I thank you as well. You..
~~I go eat. Go rest. You could to.
~Ah.. yes, I was going to tell you to eat.
~~Back later.
~Fine. Keep your nose and eyes open for enemies. We are closer to them than before.

Strachnix grunts then wanders off. Dalrir shakes his head and turns to the rest of the group. He waves them together. Making sure Finna’s attention is on him, he points to each warrior and says their name aloud. She nods then repeats each name. He goes to his pack and pulls out some food. He motions to Finna to eat and instructs his men to do so as well.

Sliding off the dire boar sends a fresh wave of pain to each body part. Trying to stretch out the stiffened muscles by walking takes great effort. Oh merciful Freya! Please take this pain out of me! (Cast Orison:Alleviate)

She straightens up, the pain dissolving and relief filling in. She watches Dalrir as he speaks to the squad. Their language intrigues her and she tries to pick out any words that could be similar to elvish or common. Three riders quickly break from the huddle and ride in different directions, a fourth heads back towards the river with a couple of water skins. Dalrir moves over and begins to inspect his mount, apparently looking for any injuries, removing the occassional twig or leaves tangled in the hair.

As the halflings are setting up camp, Finna sets down her pack, begins to remove some items then halts. With a tilt of her head, she considers something. She walks to Strachnix, praying for the blessing to Speak with Animals again. She notes the mount focuses on her when it hears the elvish language.

Great Strachnix, may I speak with thee?
~What speak?
I just wish to apologize to you.
~What?
I doubted your strength. You were very strong.
~Yes. Strachnix is very strong. You wrong.
I see that I was wrong. Only a great animal such as you could have carried two Vyruul
~Yes. I great. I… Wait.
What is it?
~Little rider want speak. He wait.
Oh. I did not know you could do that.
~Strachnix do what Strachnix do.
I see. Well, allow me to thank you for carrying me for so long.
~Little rider mad if Strachnix no carry. Better to do. No crying by him.
Really? He would cry?
~No cry…. more yell. Strachnix no work with yell. He come now.
Thank you again. Can I find you any food?
~No, Strachnix smell food near. I go eat after little one say something.

Watching as a silent conversation passes between rider and mount, Finna watches the great beast move off. Dalrir tugs on her sleeve then calls out to the other warriors. Once assembled in a group, she watches him point to the first man and speaks “Brachix”. Nodding comprehension, she repeats the word and looks at the indicated man, trying to impress his likeness and name together. She does the same with the other three, their names of Zii, Koleno, and Flang. When Dalrir motions for them to eat, She gladly digs into her pack for some of the fresh rations supplied by the clan.

Once they have eaten, she motions for them to gather close and pay attention. She grabs the helm with the skull face and places it at a high level to be seen from 20 yards or more. Turning and making sure that no one is taking aim at the helm, she returns to the group. She mations for them to watch. She points to her eyes then the helm. She says the elvish words for No Light. She repeats the words, points to Dalrir then, overly dramatically, runs and hides behind some brush. She returns to the group with a look of intent on her face. She points to the helm, says No Light, points to the group with both hands, then throws them outwards with fingers spread. She claps her hands twice, points to the helm, repeats No Light, then points to the warriors and waits.

Watching Finna as she makes the weird motions and speaks some strange words, Dalrir tries not to laugh. He was worried when she pulled out the demon man’s helm and placed it a short distance away. A quick motion to the squad stopped them from pulling out their weapons, the concern very evident on their faces. Now, their faces are a mixture of confusion and mirth watching their tallest clanmate.

Finna says the strange words again, points towards the squad, then spreads her arms outwards with fingers splayed. They all look at her, trying to understand what she is communicating. “Eeyyyyy… I’ve got it.” Dalrir turns to look at Zii, “You do? What is she trying to say, Zii? Zii stands up and looks to the squad. “Yeah, it’s obvious now. She points to the demon man head and says those weird words. She then went and ran behind some rocks, acting like she was trying to hide, and not very well. I mean, there are babies who would do better than that. She wants us hide! If someone sees another demon man, say those words and she wants us to find a place to hide.”

Comprehension dawns on Dalrir. “Okay, everyone run and find a quick hiding spot, do better than she did.” A quick jog and he slips behind a small outcropping. He stays put until he hears Finna call out. He walks back with the others to her. She holds up one finger and says the weird words again. The group scatters again to a hiding spot and return when called. The squad then spends the next short while learning how to say “No Light” in elvish until Finna is satisfied.

Dalrir lets his mind reach out to touch Strachnix and senses peace and a lessening hunger. He instructs the squad to set up a general watch and to allow Finna to rest, otherwise she can’t do any magic stuff later. He finds some shade and settles in. “We follow the trail when sun touches the earth. Keep watch with your mounts, their nose is better than ours.”

The group will head out in the same manner as they traveled in. Knowing that the party they are looking for could have traveled through the day that he slept through, he will push the squad to keep a pace that would leave them no more than a few hours behind. If enemies are sensed, they will immediately halt progress and assess the best way to avoid confrontation as possible.

Alvyra awakes to the sound of screaming. Then there is a hot spray of mist on her face.
Shouts and sounds of combat ensue, wet crunching of what can only be bone and flesh.
Metal tearing, wood splintering and smashing, muffled cursing, then heavy footsteps that fade away into the distance.

The paladin realizes she is lying face down on stone. The room is filled with a sickly green light. She’s underground and the air is stale, cold, and filled with the smell of blood.
She’s alone in a cave and she hurts all over. She lifts herself up. Her weapons and pack, the golem, and her companions are nowhere in sight.
Luckily, she’s still in her plate.

The cave is in shambles. Most likely, up until recently, it must’ve been a sort of common room.
There’s several dark smears of what looks to be blood over the walls and floor but appears black under the green light.
Several pieces of wooden furniture litter the room. Tables, couches, chairs, are scattered, smashed and some sprayed with blood.
The walls are decorated with elaborate life sized bas relief sculptures depicting hellish skull faced knights leading armies of snarling, twisted undead, conquering and enslaving cities. The knights look to be led by a demonic high priest who holds a skull aloft. The skull is depicted emitting rays of death upon the innocent populace below.

There are three bodies in the room. One is dressed in dull black plate armor with a helm in the shape of a skull. The figure looks to have had both arms torn off, one of which still clutches a rather nasty footman’s war hammer. The second body nearby lays on its side. It is dressed in black leather armor, wears a black cloak and lifeless fingers clutch a mace. The body looks to have had its head smashed by some great force.

There are a total of 7 exits from the room.
Two of the tunnels on the west look to have had iron gates torn from the entrances.
6 of the tunnels look to disappear into an unnatural darkness.

Shouting, screaming and sounds of alarm and combat echo from several of the tunnels to the south and southwest.
Ahead the third body lies broken and splattered against the bend of the mouth of the east tunnel.

alvyra1.jpg

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