Evening, the 21st of Vor, 1331 Avard.
Liffey Rossin, being child-sized and the picture of innocence, touched off the paternal or protective instincts in Dolon Uther and Sunalor, and particularly in the 70-year old Eladrin Hadarai Jelenneth. Liffey's loneliness was obvious to them all, Hadarai managed to draw out as much of her past as she knew.
Hadarai and Dolon spoke to one another in elven, to keep Sunalor from hearing their discussions. They eventually decided that returning to Kambator's manor would be suicidal. Their memories were still patchy, but Cephus, Draelien Bloodbanner, and Garet Fellhaft were missing – and whatever had torn into them up the cliff in the manner had defeated a warlord, a warlock, a wizard, and two armed men. Hadarai and Dolon could only hope that the others had returned to the Sholin village of Immedhya – returning to Kambator's manor would be suicide, especially with the innocent Liffey.
On the morn, they worked their way back towards the coast through worsening weather. The rain was torrential at times, slowing their progress, but let up in patches. At the coast, Dolon took one of the sahuagin heads on a pike as a walking stick, foul-smelling as it was. They stayed close to the water where the traveling was easiest – and were ambushed by four sahuagin.
Sunalor rushed out to meet them, keeping them away from the rest of the group. Hadarai let loose with blue-white balls of force in the rain. Liffey showed that she was not without her own defenses, as her bow spun one of the sahuagin round like a child's top. Dolon's sling was a formidable weapon, as well. Two of the reptile-like fish-men were killed, and the other two fled back into the surf.
The group began to push on, force-marching, making straight for Immedhya and traveling through the night.
The next day in the mid-morning light, they rounded the bend to see the Dellistar moored in the bay, the village of Immedhya, and Sholin villagers welcoming their return. A longboat from the Dellistar was ashore, and First Mate Corbitt, along with the young shaman Yeyekoheyo and many warriors of the village greeted the group and made them welcome. After Sunalor's horse, nick-named 'Bastard', had bitten one of the villagers and Sunalor had warned everyone through Dolon that the horse would kill people – even children – the warriors of the village outlined a guard rotation for the warhorse to keep people away and keep it from harming anyone else.
Draelien, Cephus, and Garet had not returned to the village. Dolon and Hadarai worried that the other three had died at the hands of whatever creature of wood had attacked them – but they knew returning would be suicidal… without help.
The Sholin villagers had a legend. They had told them of the legend the last time they had been in the village; there was a large-breasted woman of the woods that would come by perhaps once a decade and seduce some warrior from the village. She traded with the villagers now and again, and helped them with their harvests, but they had no name for her. And she had been visiting the village and seducing young men since long before the eldest of the villagers had been born.
Dolon and Hadarai felt she had to be a druidess of some sort. They were able to pull out one more bit of information, upon questioning Yeyekoheyo – that her ears, were like Hadarai's – pointed, like and elf's.
After staying the rest of the day and resting and relaxing, they decided to strike out for the valley of the druidess and seek out her help. Whenever the village men went looking for her, they found nothing; she would find them when she chose to. Dolon and Hadarai knew it was likely a wild goose chase, but they knew it was a better idea than returning to Kamatoree, the mountain of Kambator's manor.
The Dellistar's crew was having trouble in terms of young men and naked-breasted Sholin women, and so Captain Nallya was taking her crew west. The Dellistar would return once a week for the next month, until they were ready to leave. Horbe had paid Captain Nallya and the crew well, and so they would wait that month if need be.
The next morning, their horses were offloaded from the Dellistar, along with extra grain and feed that Bastard would carry. Mounted, the group figured to cover ground quickly, and so they moved out at a rapid pace towards the south, following the villager's river. They made rapid time, the slowest among them being Bastard. Lorcan, Liffey's wolf mount, held up to the pace quite easily. Half-way through the day, they avoided some stirges without too much trouble, and continued on.
The group ran into trouble near sunset, when they needed to cross the river, in order to follow a main tributary on the other side. Bastard and Lorcan had trouble going across, and the group decided to go ahead and just rest that evening, and try again in the morning. In the morning, they tried again to cross, and had better luck. Once across, they set out at a good pace again, Bastard breaking the pace on that side of the river.
They were ambushed by a giant constrictor snake, forty feet long and weighing more than Bastard. Sunalor was pinned to his warhorse as the giant snake began to squeeze down. Its head, though, was free to respond and attack as the party attacked the great snake. The battle was fast and fierce, and within moments, the snake was dead, its spine severed just below the skull.
They each took some of its dagger-length fangs, the snake being non-poisoness. And then they continued on, none of them the worse for wear.
That evening, they found a small hillock to rest on. As they began to make camp, Sunalor confronted Hadarai about his arcane powers. The young paladin knew that Hadarai was not a true Inquisitor – that he was using arcane powers of some sort. That the paladin was from Kur Maeth and a member of the Inquisition had not been lost on Hadarai, and the two had been skirting around one another for several days. Sunalor forced the issue, and Hadarai found himself surprised at how the paladin was handling the truth. The two realized they had more in common in Kur Maeth than they realized.
And that was when the twig men attacked. They were no taller than a foot, made of small twigs and bits of branches. There were five of them out in the darkness, one of them throwing sap-coated splinters that burned with poison. Their little claws had poison, as well – and there was no light with which to see.
The battle was chaotic and desperate – and Hadarai went down, poison burning through him and two of the little beasties on him. Sunalor's armor proved virtually immune to the twig men, and he dropped a sunrod to give them light before moving to help Hadarai. Things looked grim for a moment, until the group finally got the upper hand and wiped out the twig men, Dolon killing the last one.
They kept a close watch out, the rest of the night, fire light keeping them somewhat more comfortable.
In the morning, they moved into the idyllic valley that the Sholin said belonged to the druidess. The valley was filled with large nut trees and herbs, many flowing streams and small meadows. Dolon, knowing that the druidess would come to them in her own time, took all his weapons off and set back to relax.
The next day, the sun did not rise. It was the time of the Freeze – the first of the two days of each month in which the sun was occluded by the gas giant Maroth. Day and night creatures were confused, each thinking it was more one than the other. Bats and birds were out at the same time. Insects were out in force – including day and night and twilight creatures. Though, there were no biting insects out.
Hadarai kept most of the watch. He went to wake Dolon so that he and Dolon could talk together for a moment, near midnight. It was then, in the darkest of night, that she came to them. Hadarai and Dolon saw her bare arms and face and feet, her skin nearly luminescent in the darkness, her dress a dark that could have been of any color. She was a dark-haired elf with a massive bosom, and a voice low and full of authority. She said that an evil was within the two of them – an evil that was a desecration of all that was natural.
She bid the two of them follow her into the darkness to cleanse them of that evil – naked. Hadarai woke Sunalor, and found Liffey already awake. Dolon and Hadarai shed their clothes, and followed her into the darkness.
In a pool that did not exist, they submerged themselves, and watched as bits of arcane power flowed out of them.
She knew not what it was, but listened as they returned to the rest of the group, and told her of their venture to the mountain of Kamatoree, where something much bigger than the twig men had attacked them, and perhaps killed the other three. She listened, and was sympathetic – and was willing to offer them some help.
They rested throughout the next day. And when the sun rose on the 1st of Davor, she came to them dressed as a Sholin woman – a leather skirt, necklaces, sandals – and nothing else. Her bare breasts held the focus of the men, though they managed to fight past it to pay attention to her gift: a sword wrapped in cloth. She asked that they not unwrap it there in the valley, for it was anathema to nature. She wanted it never to be seen again in her valley, and wished them luck. Her name, she gave them, was Ilinaranee.
A hawk alighted on a branch, and Ilinaranee pointed to what was within its claws: one of the twig men, still alive. The druidess said that the twisted evil that had been within Dolon and Hadarai had led the twig men to her valley. They had been followed by evil.
They all looked at one another, and had much the same thought at the same time: the evil might have followed them to the village. Hadarai took as little time as possible to use some of Ilinaranee's animals to send messages to Captain Nallya, and to Chief Iyakehwali.
Mounting up, they fled the valley as quickly as they could, seeking to make the Sholin village as quickly as possible. Pushing themselves and their mounts, they rested only as necessary, resting the mounts more than themselves, and made it into the village just hours after dawn on the next day.
The village was in ruins. A giant olive tree stood in the middle of the village, near the stone obelisk. Freshly-killed bodies were all about. The wounded were being killed by the tiny twig men. Children and the elderly hid where they could. More twig men were on the tree.
Sunalor rushed forward, unwrapping the blade from its cloth coverings. It was a longsword made of all black metal, its pommel a black rose bud, its crossguards briars, and a theme of dark briars and roses and jagged metal soaking up the sunlight. Sunalor found himself under attack from hurled splinters. He struck at the tree with the sword, and caused it to shudder – and the tree attacked, knocking him senseless in only two blows. Leaving him for dead, the tree began to lurch forward to attack the rest of the party.
Dolon and Liffey rushed around the tree to attack from behind while Hadarai used his mage fire to keep the creature's focused on him. Staying mounted, the three managed to stay faster than the tree, leading it away from the village while picking off the twig men as best they could.
Dolon used a jug of the alcohol that was a gift from the Sholin to lay a line of fire in the soil, keeping the twig men to another path. Liffey picked off twig men where they could, and together she and Dolon managed to make it to Sunalor. Liffey was able to get the paladin on his feet, to get him conscious enough to heal himself with Arpelos' light. Taking up the black sword again, he moved forward, using it as a focus for his faith.
Hadarai set one of the Sholin homes afire, using it to help burn the shambling olive tree – and hurt the twig men on it, as well. Many of the twig men, some half afire, fled from the big tree. Liffey leapt off of Lorcan, leaving the wolf to attack more of the twig men, as she used her bow again and again to attack the beasties.
And, somehow, Dolon tapped into something deep, maneuvering the giant tree closer to the fire, not away; forcing the shambling olive tree to stay closer to the heat, and not move further away.
And then Sunalor called upon Arpelos' wrath, using the sword not as a weapon, but as a focus. Though the sky was clear and blue, a beam of sunlight brighter than any other burst through the air and burned at the tree. Limbs and bows and branches broke off, and then the giant toppled over, defeated.
Nearly 100 of the Sholin were dead. The chief Iyakehwali and the shaman Yeyekoheyo were dead. Many were still out fishing, but upon seeing the smoke from the village, they came in. The survivors told the story of how the group had rode in to save them against the forest gone wild and evil.
The group felt guilt, though, for leading that evil to the village. They had nearly fled, rather than face the big tree and all the twig men. But, they had stayed the course, and fought the tree, and defeated it. They had come to appreciate one another more, and yet the guilt wracked them all as they helped the survivors.
The Dellistar appeared not long after, the tomanth Killik leading the way. The crew of the ship was able to help the survivors, Hadarai guilting them into erecting guard towers and posting a watch to help.
Evening, the 3rd of Davor, 1331 Avard.
Each player received 350 experience points for role-play. Hadarai and Dolon now have 1095 experience points each, and Sunalor and Liffey have 650 apiece.
The following notes represent the 'behind the scenes' and 'post op' actions of the players and the Dungeon Master.
We met on January the 31st, 2009, at my place. Game times are for around 1pm, so the guys can have lunch and then meet over here, dinner on me. Fred cooked, this time, making hella sghetti (hell of a spaghetti).
I'm working on a gaming board for use with the miniatures, and it should be ready or mostly ready by the next game session. I'll include pictures with the next recap, if I remember. Would do us some good to include a few pics of the players, too, assuming they don't have a heart attack when I whip out a camera at the gaming table. :)
So far I've really enjoyed playing and I am still learning, so I would like to say thank you to the players for helping me out during the game. And of course I have to say thank you to our WONDERFUL DM, and no this is not “ass kissing”, I have the right to do that else where ;) But I am very thankful that he asked me to play, because I have now joined the elite group of D&D players and I understand why this is the best freaking game EVER!
This group is oh so lively, and I enjoy how all of our personalities manage to get along. Poor Danny has to put up with me, cause I tend to ask him the most questions. But depending on how many beers I've had, EVERYONE has to put up with a giggly girl who hugs and kisses on the DM during “smokey treat” breaks. Oh wait, I do that regardless of the alcohol I've consumed!
ANYWAYS, after our first encounters with the “skeksis” (as I call them), the snake, twigs and that damned olive tree, I got a feel for how well we can work together. My heart was racing during every attack, and I was so nervous. The die were in my favor this night, and Liffey impressed the hell out of everyone. Now we must wait and see how well she, and the rest of the group, does next week, and the weeks to come.
BTW, Fred did make amazing spaghetti, and I made an amazing pecan pie that NOBODY, I repeat, that NOBODY ate. *sniff* That makes me so sad :(
The fire from the jug of liquor was wholly Fred's idea and I take no credit. And Tif, I told you I didnt like pecan pie. ANY pie without nuts is infinitely better.
Addendum: after fighting with making a gaming table for a bit, I've decided to back off from that project for a moment. I'd intended to make a 24“x36” custom folding table with 10“ legs, and a plexiglass top over a white mat with 1” squares. I was using 1/2“ oak plywood with 1”x2“ runners and legs. The problem I've run into is the use of brass fixtures; they're so soft that the brass screws break off in oak, leaving me rather frustrated with the tiny lil things. I may have to switch over to nails for the overall construction, rather than screws. Wunner if anyone around here does custom wood work…