Episode 13: 3/7/09
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-3
Haroldur, human cleric/5
Nineve Floret, human knight/5
Sarek, human wizard/5
Zolara interprets our reading:
Sarek: the Midwife
Haroldur: the Owl
Nineve: the Mute Hag
Ashe: the Queen Mother
The Foreign Trader….......The Dance….....The Unicorn
The Eclipse…..............The Forge….....The Keep
The Joke….................The Midwife…...The Winged Serpent
Past: The Eclipse shows a loss of purpose driving you forward in hopes of finding direction. Misaligned as it is, The Joke shows us that you have been tricked by someone – but even they cannot foresee the consequences.
Present: The Dance represents the intricate balance of life and death – it represents your group – as you enter The Forge. Dangerous events surround you taht you must overcome together. The Midwife tells of new arrivals – though they may not be welcome.
Future: The Unicorn grants that which you seek. However, The Briars represent a considerable barrier that must be overcome. The Keep symbolizes quiet strength – but so close to the Unicorn it should be perhaps taken literally instead – as the keep you currently seek. The Winged Serpent represents prudence. But misaligned as it is, the coatl warns of the dangers unforeseen.
We’ve made camp. Sitting around the fire, our conversation drifts to Tamclar’s wavering faith. Despite a slight misstep by Nineve, we manage to have a stimulating religious conversation, which gives everyone plenty of food for thought as we head off to bed.
Dawn breaks and we head out, but unfortunately I find it impossible to lead the group through the wilderness effectively while also preventing my party and our convicts from actively killing themselves. I spend all day saying things like, “No! Don’t eat that!” and “Wait! That’s poison ivy!” and we end up wasting a day wandering through the wilderness. At the end of the day I’m frustrated with our lack of progress, but fortunately I have little time for self-chastising as we spend another evening chatting with Tamclar around the fire. We talk late into the night, and in the end, he announces that he has resolved his issues and decided to stay with the church of Wee Jas. This is great news! Buoyed by our success, the next day I’m feeling very confident in my woodsmanship and we make terrific progress!
Unfortunately, on day three of our journey I am struggling to make headway with our group through the dense forest. We’re lost, and we’re running low on food. Preoccupied with putting us back on the right track, I neglect to pay attention to the signs of danger around us. Suddenly, we find ourselves at the entrance to a wyvern’s cave!
The criminals run from the clearing into the cover of the forest, but our group has been spotted. We get a few shots off at the wyvern, and suddenly it dives at me, attempting to snatch me into the air! I manage to twist out of its grasp at the last second, and it flies past us, just as it’s mate emerges from the cave!
Nineve charges the wyvern on the ground, but stumbles and misses. Nineve is taking a beating from the wyvern at the cave entrance, so I charge forward and deliver a telling blow, wounding it gravely. Sarek summons a hellhound, which joins the fray at the cave entrance. Working together, we manage to finish it off.
While Nineve and I are fighting the grounded wyvern, the airborne one continues to menace the rest of the group. Sarek blasts it with a bolt of lightning, but then it swoops down and snatches up Haroldur. The cleric struggles, but the wyvern is making off with him. Out of nowhere, Tamclar shoots the beast down with an expertly-placed crossbow bolt, saving Haroldur and the day! We loot the Wyvern’s cave and find:
Sandals of Sprinting
some valuable cleric’s vestments
a jade pendant
a Lesser Crystal of Life-Keeping
a magic Crystal of Glancing Blows
a CLW potion
a scroll of Invisibility (arcane)
a scroll of Remove Paralysis (divine)
Panpipes of Sounding
In all, it turned out to be a profitable excursion. As an added bonus, I finally orient myself and recognize this cave as one marked on our map! I feel like I’ve gotten us back on track, and as evening starts to fall, I know we’re nearing our goal – the hunting lodge, where we will rendez-vous with some of the rangers affiliated with Blackwall Keep. We decide to camp in the shelter of the cave. Near dusk, we hear the baying of hounds and oafish, inhuman laughter mixed with cries for help. It sounds close. We leave the convicts at the cave and investigate the nearby commotion. In a short distance, we come upon another clearing.
Two ogres and their pack of hunting dogs have treed a naked human and are making obscene taunts at him. They don’t seem to notice our approach. Sarek pounces on the opportunity and nukes the clearing with a fireball, laughing maniacally. The charred corpse of the naked man falls from the tree. Several of the dogs also go down, and the ogres are singed and angry. Before the rest of us can react, the ogres and their remaining dogs are upon us. We fight valiantly and eventually put them down.
Looking over the bodies, it’s clear the naked human died violently in a fire… Puzzlingly, the ogres are clearly not equipped for travel, meaning that they must not be far from their camp. This doesn’t make sense, because Blackwall Keep is stated goal to prevent ogres and their ilk from settling this area…
We respectfully bury the human and head back to trail, but I can’t shake my growing sense of foreboding. Suddenly, everything in the woods looks suspicious. As we hike along in the gathering dusk, I spot another naked figure sprinting through the woods some distance away. I call out to the person, who cries for help and dashes towards us headlong. At the sound of my voice, another naked person emerges at about the same distance, and flees towards us, recklessly tripping and scrambling through the brush.
Suddenly, the source of the nudists’ fear becomes evident as goblins on wolves appear over a small rise. One of them, clearly the leader, calmly levels his crossbow at the first fleeing human and shoots him in the back – the man collapses about 20 yards in front of us. The image of the midwife appears to Sarek, and he feels more resilient (gaining DR = his WIS modifier for this encounter). The mounted goblins seem surprised to see us and charge forward, warning us away from their kill. We notice the leader is riding a hellhound. They fire on us and the battle is joined. Incensed, we rush in and slaughter them.
After the panic of battle dies down, I hear something in the woods, just the slightest quivering. Silently closing in on the sound, I find a naked female elf crouching under a bush, shaking. Speaking softly in Elven, I coax her out of her hiding spot. I suppress a gasp as she crawls cautiously into view. She has been badly tortured, recently – her eyes are gone.
I wrap her in my cloak and we heal her as best we can; we can’t restore her sight, but at least her other injuries will no longer trouble her. She can hardly speak as she’s still quite in shock, but we manage to make out that the hunting lodge has been overrun. We try to reassure her as much as possible, and bring her back with us to our wyvern-cave camp. Nineve tends to the girl, who mutely allows herself to be fed, clothed, and put to bed. She moves like a frightened animal. The rest of us explain the situation to the convicts. Surprisingly, they seem to pity the girl and appreciate the gravity of the current circumstances. They give us no trouble, and we all pass an uneasy but mercifully uneventful night in the wyvern cave.
Morning comes and the girl seems to have recovered a bit. She tells us that her name is Astrid. A few nights ago, orcs, goblins, and ogres attacked the lodge, and captured and tortured the residents. She was taken to an old ranger shrine in the woods, blinded, and released to be hunted. She suggests we check out this shrine for clues to the attacks, or perhaps even survivors.
The shrine isn’t included on my maps of the area, but following her rough directions we eventually discover it. At the shrine, we find orcs and goblins milling around, desecrating the shrine and exhuming the graves of the rangers buried here. A building to the side of the shrine is a smoking ruin. As we approach, the goblins spot us and shout, “Kill the pinkies!” Thinking quickly, Sarek casts Wind Wall to protect us from the hail of projectiles that soon follow. Nineve receives a vision of the Mute Hag (and gains DR = her WIS modifier for this encounter), and the battle is joined.
The orcs and goblins try to pick us off from a distance, but their attempts are thwarted by Sarek’s Wind Wall. They soon become frustrated and charge our position. We make quick work of them.
After the battle, a search of the granite shrine in the center of the area reveals a concealed mechanism. Everyone stands well back as I activate it – and a hidden stairwell descends into the earth under the shrine! We move down the stairs and enter an ancient burial chamber, obviously for some sort of barbarian lord. Centered on the back wall is an altar. The chamber seems to be guarded by immobile skeletons, keeping mute vigil over the tomb. As we approach the altar, the dust-shrouded skeletons move to an uncanny semblance of life!
We dispatch the undead guardians and find:
2 MW scimitars
a suit of +1 half-plate
a +1 helm of defense
an ornate short spear (+1 Orc-Bane)