2/25/11: Sam was in Cancun so Matt jumped in and it worked out really well.
Carric Cendoria - Elf Seeker
Heron - Half-elf Fighter
Jurod/Jolene - Changeling Mage
* NPC Hirelings: Elmo the pandaman, Samira the cleric, Mardix the man-at-arms and later, Spugnoir the Mage.
Rolthar had been defeated, but Fayte had been turned to stone. Reinforcements came from Holmaren - Heron the half-elf. He wielded a simple staff and wore armor with intricate vine and leaf designs.
Heron helped the heroes figure out how to transport Fayte and the Nocticula statue back to Holmaren. They went into the bandit room and used the wood from the skiffs to make a sort of sled. Elmo and Carric pulled the sled, which had the Nocticula statue. Fayte was placed on her skeletal steed, SkullStrider.
The adventurers began making their way home through the dead of night. A campestri hopped up to them. It shook it's head sadly. The heroes questioned it, and discerned that danger was ahead. A herd of flying cats swooped down and landed in a tree, watching the heroes closely.
Carric scanned the road ahead and spotted scummy humans hiding behind boulders. An ambush was awaiting them! Heron crept through some trees, while Jolene and Mardix crept on the other side of the roads.By each of them was one of the two bandit leaders - Turuko the monk and Kobort the fighter!
Carric remembered eavesdropping on them a few days back at the Inn of the Welcome Wench. They had been talking about their dire money situation.
Heron quietly stalked Kobort, who was munching on a dead campestri. Heron struck the fighter with his staff to avenge the poor mushroom man. Carric covered him, firing arrows into Kobort from the road.Heron continued to pummel him with his staff. Kobort shouted to Turuko for aid, but Turuko seemed happy to let him die. Heron beat him to death in no time at all.
Mardix charged the monk. Turuko charged up his fist with lightning, and gave Mardix a massive lightning punch. Mardix shouted at Jolene to stay back. She did so, and scorched and killed a number of the bandits. Samira flanked the monk with Mardix.
Mardix twitched his bristly moustache and called over one of the flying cats. The cat ended up playing with Turuko's topknot (effectively dazing him). Jolene hit him with a lightning spell. The heroes decided to subdue him. Carric put an arrow in his leg, which dropped the monk.
The heroes tied him to the Nocticula statue on the sled.The heroes tried to befriend the flying cats, but they were pretty vicious. One took a liking to Carric, and landed on his shoulder. It hissed and swiped at anyone else who came close. Once the heroes reached Holmaren it flew off.
It was early morning when the heroes got to the village. They slept at the Inn of the Welcome Wench. Jolene remained Jolene when she awoke. She had tried to get Mardix to stay with her, but he resisted.
As they ate breakfast, a wizard named Spugnoir approached them. He asked the heroes to go o Emridel Meadows with him. He'd been there a week ago, but had been chased off by illusions and maybe a hill giant. He explained that a symbol of Nocticula might lay there in the haunted battlefield.
Elmo liked the idea (as part of his secret investigation for the city of Olwynn). The heroes agreed to do it. They headed out into the village to take care of some business.
Baryx studied Fayte, and discerned that she was infected with a strain of the curse of stone. She could be restored, but it could take days. He also had Turuko imprisoned.
Canon Terjon of the church of Clarissa was an unpleasant individual. He set up the Speak with Dead rituals. the heroes first questioned Cynthia Lesion, the wererat assassin, but only learned that she worked for the Temple. They questioned Zert, and learned that he worked for a man called Wat, who lived in Nulth. He ran a hostel. Wat was linked to the temple.
Terjon told the heroes he'd fought at Emridel Meadows, and that he'd lost a copper stardust pendant of Clarissa. He asked the heroes to bring it back if they could.
The heroes had a lead. Elmo was excited to report this all to Olwynn. He quietly informed the heroes that his brother, Otis, was also an agent of Olwynn and had last been seen in Nulth.
The adventurers dragged the statue of Nocticula to the Trading Post. Ramnos glared at them, but eventually agreed to buy the statue from them for 500 gold.
They then went to the cart-maker's house. Samira seemed to be attracted to Carter Cirnak's son, Chezil, but kept her cool. The heroes bought a mule and a wagon.
Carric met up with the "busty" woman in bright clothes at his room in the inn and made basic love to her. Jolene tried to get Mardix to do the same, but her attempts at seduction failed. She became jealous and went into the inn to find out more about Carric's woman. It turned out that her name was Segma, and she was married to Shardvan the stonemason!
Once Carric was done, Jolene informed him of what she'd learned. Carric was chagrined. Innkeeper Gundigoot let the heroes search Zert the assassin's room and found treasure. He also had a medium warhorse and a lance in the stable.
The adventurers got in the wagon - pulled by a mule, a skeletal horse and a medium warhorse, and headed north up the King's Road. The road would take them to Gnome Hills and Emridel Meadows.
The heroes met a patrol from Olwynn along the way and told the patrol what they knew. The patrol asked about missing nobles - Lemunda the Lovely and Lord Thrommel. the heroes knew nothing of Thrommel, but surmised that Lemunda had been taken alive from the ruined tower (the only survivor of the trio of adventurers who braved the tower before our heroes).
The patrol thanked the heroes and rode on toward Holmaren. The heroes resumed their journey to Emridel. Gnome Hills was to the east. The heroes' horse bucked - it sensed an invisible gnome nearby and was terrified. Carric scanned the area and spotted footprints. The heroes called out to the gnome.
It appeared and stared at the heroes with its' big black eyes, never blinking. It turned its' apple, waiting for a worm inside to pop out so it could bite it. The gnome asked them if they had magic in the cart.The gnome's name was Rocutio.
The adventurers were creeped out by him, but realized they'd probably be able to find a gnome family to watch their cart and steeds. They traveled on and rode up a path to a gnome hill. Carric stared for a bit, and saw many hills beyond. They didn't look like homes until he squinted just right - and then, he saw a window in a nearby home with a pair of black eyes staring right at him.
They met a gnome family whose parents were skinny and kids were not. This was because "The children always eat first". The children spoke in unison and stood side-by-side in order of height. They agreed to watch the steeds and wagon in exchange for food.
The adventurers did so, and walked to the meadows, suitably weirded out.
The meadows were strewn with bones, cloth, and broken weapons. The sky above it was red. As the heroes walked deeper in, they could hear the sounds of war. A skeleton rose up from the earth - Carric shot it down with an arrow.
Spugnoir said he wasn't sure what was an illusion and what wasn't. He led them toward the crater. Off to the right, he spotted the hill giant. Its' back was to the heroes. It was sitting on a rock.
Jolene sent her eye over it, and saw that the giant was cooking something in a pot. A dire bear laid nearby. Carric realized that to try to fight the giant would be suicide (it was 13th level! the heroes were 2nd level!). They hid behind some nearby boulders (tossed by the giant not too long ago). they debated what to do.
Carric eventually realized that the giant's bear was sick, and the giant was trying to cook up a remedy. Spugnoir, Jolene and Mardix hid, while the others approached the giant. Heron spoke the language of the giants, and told it they came in peace. The giant was unsure whther the heroes were illusions or not. It tossed a boulder at Heron. The boulder hit the fighter and knocked him over (for 18 points!).
The giant, named Noldir, apologized. Samira realised that the giant's remedy was wrong. She helped prepare a proper remedy. Carric soothed the bear as she approached it. She applied the remedy and healed the bear. Noldir was overjoyed!
Jolene came out from behind her hiding place and tried to join in. Noldir, still unsure, hit When she fell over in pain, he laughed and apologized. He just needed to make sure she was real. Spugnoir stayed hidden. He'd shot the giant with a magic missile a week ago and didn't want to mess things up.
The giant offered to bring the heroes to the rainbow rock, the area Terjon said he'd lost his symbol of Clarissa at. The heroes rode on the dire bear across the meadows as the sky above roiled and they heard sounds of war, like arrows plunging into an armored victim, and hissed prayers to Lolth.
They got off of the bear and some of the heroes approached the big rainbow rock. Elmo and Heron rolled it aside, and found a small hole beneath it. In the hole was gold, magic items, the copper stardus pendant... and a necklace with a seven pointed star symbol on it. Evil Jurod, Jolene's othe rpersona, forced her to use mage hand to bring the symbol to her.
The symbol had the power to summon creatures of shadow, or creatures of the flesh. She felt it also had other powers.
Suddenly, enemies rose up! A blood elemental seeped up behind them. In front, the corpse-embedded earth rose up as a large humanoid known as a Pit of the Abandoned Regiment! Both necrotic elementals attacked!
Heron and MArdix atacked the Pit. The Pit swund a stone fist embedded with broken blades that injured MArdix badly (a critical).
Elmo closed in on the blood elemental and said "I don't know whether to fight this thing or drink it!"
Heron called back "Drink it? It's been on the ground!"
Jolene called forth four shadow demons, who were utterly subservient to her.
The Pit was surrounded by the shadow demons and injured badly. It released a torrent of souls who injured all of the heroes.They continue to chop at it, until a shadow demon tore out the last soul keeping it animate.
Elmo continued to battle the blood elemental alone while the rest finished the Pit. Samira kept herself near the pandaman, to use her magic to keep him alive. He fell just as the heroes destroyed the Pit. Carric grabbed the downed pandaman and pulled him to safety.
Samira stepped forward and struck the blood elemental with a radiant blast, splitting it into two smaller blood elementals. Heron destroyed one with his staff, while Samira destroyed the other.
The adventurers were hurt. Spugnoir was still hiding behind the boulder, firing off magic missiles at risen skeletons now and then. They decided to go get Spugnoir and head back to Holmaren to rest. Then they'd return and check out the crater...