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Session 14 Edit
Early into the 24th day since the humans arrived on Daera, they found themselves emerging from a forest and overlooking a broad, slow-running river. They were on a bluff that dropped about 30 feet to the river below. Nearby, a crudely-constructed but sturdy wood and stone bridge spanned the cliffsides of the river. On the other side of the bridge, some two hundred feet away, lay a small town of rough wood and stone buildings.
Paul noticed a slight movement in the bushes off to the right of the path, and used a tiny bit of his magic to stir a reaction, sending arcane whispers off in the direction of the movement to startle what was there.
Latin Lizards Edit
Eventually, whatever was hiding got spooked enough to hurl a howling stone to hit the bridge - evidently a warning signal of some sort. On the far side of the bridge, four figures with spears appeared from a doorway and stood to block passage via the bridge.
Paul set out across the bridge, slowly, and without any obvious weapons. Eventually he could tell that the residents of this village were some sort of bipedal lizard creatures that looked a bit like Lizardman from Soul Calibur. The guards didn't make any threatening moves toward him, and on the edges of the far bluff, a number of lizard creatures gathered. There were clearly 2 kinds - one of them had what seemed like adults that were about six and a half feet tall with green-gray scales, and the others were about three feet talk with rusty-orange scales. Dave later surmised that they were dealing with Lizardfolk and Kobolds.
Once Paul was about fifty feet away from the far side, a new lizard man popped up over the wall. This one wore a leather hat topped with about a dozen bright red feathers. He snapped some orders to the guards at the bridge, and said a bunch of googly-moogly to Paul:
Quid, quid mirum creaturae ad villam nostram de pace? Maledictus es, aut aliquo modo transformentur inpink crus tam pelle et pilosus faciem? Id est hunc pontem transire theloneo et dolore recusantis et sibimortem in manibus tuis fortes bellatores. Maledicta ... non intelligentes quid tu hic agis? Mauris.
Paul responded by trying to communicate first in Arabic (unsuccessfully), and then in English (success!). The leader introduced himself as Coccineum Galeam Triumphi Signifer, which apparently translated to "Red Hat". Paul was cool with Red Hat, and quickly managed to negotiate passage across the river for himself and his friends and the horses, as well as two weeks rations in exchange for six longswords, a bunch of axe heads, and the group's best rusty mace. Red Hat proudly distributed four of the swords to his honor guard, and sent a bunch of kobolds to retrieve the rations for the humans and elf.
Soon they were on their way north of the odd village, again traveling through the dark and spooky forest. They never did learn the village's name, but didn't exactly plan to visit again.
The Haunted Forest Edit
The forest was increasingly unnerving - off in the distance to either side of the trail, the party could hear the screams of hunted beasts, and the calls of hunters. Ominous thrums and oddly-pitched warbles emanated from all directions, chiming in randomly just when the group had gotten used to silence again.
Getting on toward nightfall, Paul noticed two misshapen and gray heads peering over a man-sized bush at the side of the road a little way ahead. He decided to telekinetically slap one of them upside the back of the head and see what happened. There was an enraged shout, and up from the shrubbery rose an ettin - a two-headed brute of a giant, looming over the path and bringing a pair of ball-and-chain spiked flails up and across to block the path!
It shouted nonsense at the group of horse riders, and Paul tried to calm it down and negotiate. Eventually it yelled at them in broken English, "Gimme youse munnies! I take youse munnies and maybe not kill!"
Paul feigned to begin negotiation again, but then the three lead riders - Paul, Lazzier and Dave, burst into action. Paul zapped it with a weakening spell, Lazziar launched a quick trio of arrows into it, and Dave cut loose with a FIREBALL placed right between the thing's two ugly heads!
Charred hideously and roaring, the ettin spun its maces and began to lumber toward them, but the Dave's next spell was swifter - with words of power, he stretched out his hand and blasted a lightning bolt into the monster!
It's two ugly, burnt heads, jabbered and whined, and then the creature turned and fled into the bushes. They decided to let it go, as it clearly was no great threat despite its size.
The next eight days were surreal. The forest seemed ready to close in on them almost constantly, but they were never overtly attacked or even overtly threatened. Growls of predators and the shrieks of prey followed them wherever they went, but they and their horses were left alone. It was unnerving, and despite Dave's portable shell spell to camp under, everyone slept pretty terribly.
The Blasted Field Edit
Finally, on the eighth day they emerged from the forest, only to survey a blasted and barren landscape that stretched northward on to the horizon. The rocky ground allowed for only the barest vegetation, with scrappy, spindly little trees and shrubs eking out a pitiful existence. Oddest were the rickety, ancient wooden watch towers that loomed over the road as far as they could see. Each tower looked like it was about to fall over, and they were spaced about 600 feet apart. There were hundreds of them.
Paul sent his familiar raven, Zach de la Crocha, off to investigate the towers, but the raven came back with only a report of blood, a battered old helmet, and eventually, the thick bones of what was probably an orcish hand. Everything was very old and dry.
Dave conjured up an illusionary image of a warrior on horseback and sent it out ahead of the group to the maximum extent of his ability. Once the illusory knight was about 600 feet ahead of them and still hadn't been attacked, the group started moving with it. Dave maintained concentration on the illusion for several hours straight, a difficult and mentally exhausting task, but thanks to the persuasion of Erin and Lazzier, his horse kept on moving with the group, leaving Dave only to concern himself with the maintaining the spell and staying upright.
After traveling over ten miles through the blasted and lonely terrain, past dozens of abandoned guard towers, Lazzier and Paul noticed something odd in the road up ahead. There was a discolored square of road, that for all intents looked like the rest of the road, just a slight, consistently lighter, shade off. It was probably the hard edges of the discoloration that did it. Regardless, the group decided to leave the trail and go around that spot, picking their way through the rocky scrabble to the east of the path. As an afterthought, Paul used a telekinetic push to press down on the center of the discolored spot.
The discoloration turned out to be some sort of cloth or canvas covering a pit, and with a bit of pressure, the canvas fell into the pit. Moments later, something very large, black and slimy flashed ever so briefly across the surface of the hole.
Fireball FTW Edit
There was a noise to their right, and the group turned to see three fairly well-hidden cave entrances in the scree a short distance away. There was a shout from inside, and then about a dozen orcs came pouring out, howling a cacophonous battle cry!
Dave, his mind fully immersed in magic, managed to react first, negating his knight illusion and evoking up destructive energy instead. A red bead streaked from his outstretched hand, and suddenly an inferno exploded in the midst of the orcs! The fireball lasted just a moment - wasn't even that loud, but when the party blinked the afterglow from their eyes, the smoking remnants of the orcs were all that remained.
Everyone just sort of stood still for a moment, then looked at Dave in amazement.
"Holy...! I didn't think that'd get them all like that," Dave was just as surprised as the rest. Their awe was interrupted by a scream of anger from within the cavern and a rhythmic sound that they had begun to recognize as spellcasting. No sooner did they realize this than Dave's eye's rolled backwards, and he collapsed. Maggey caught him just as he started to fall of his horse, and with a grunt of effort, dragged him onto her own.
"Go!" Sam shouted, "Paul, Lazzier, hold whatever it is off. We'll get Dave to safety!"
Maggey and Erin, the best riders in the group, rode quickly away to a secure looking position, with Maggey worriedly holding tight to Dave and trying to keep him from biting his tongue, and Erin summoning up a pair of wolves to guard their flank. Sam readied his weapon and followed Erin and Maggey, watching briefly as Paul and Lassier dismounted and headed into the cave.
The Heroism of Paul and Laser Edit
Paul did something interesting with shadows that cloaked his form, while Lassiar drew his sword and stalked toward the weirdly laughing, twisted shape of a woman that was barely visible in the center of the cave.
Lassier charged in, while Paul moved through the shadows to put himself behind the withered form of a wild-haired old woman with clawed hands.
Lassier's sword struck home, but was mostly blocked by a crackling red-black energy that leapt to meet his blade. Sickly orange blood leaked from a thin wound that opened on the hag's abdomen. Paul launched a haymaker at the back of the creature's head, charging his strike with strength-draining energy. His knuckles hurt as if he had just punched a hot iron, but he could tell that his spell worked, even though the hag didn't seem bothered by his punch.
What followed was a terrific battle. The elf and the man were severely hurt by the hag's claws and shark-like teeth, but in they pressed on - Paul force-teleported the hag into her cauldron, and then delivered a series of electrical blasts. Lazzier pressed on with a series of terrific sword strikes, but the black energy protecting the monster kept her alive and continuing to try to lay hexes on the men, or just plain eat them outright. Finally, badly hurt, Lazzier pulled on the ancient elven mask he had recovered from the wizard's tower, and struck a one-handed blow with his wooden sword. Jade green energy coursed through Lazzier's body, with the energy brightly shining from his eyes, and then coursing through his sword arm as he struck. A shock of green power blasted into the hag, blowing her backward and tipping over the cauldron!
Paul got in one more electrical blast, electrocuting the puddle of water she fell in. The hag - now looking considerably worse for wear - began casting another spell and shrugged off Paul and Lazziar's desperate attempts to disrupt her casting. They were unsuccessful and suddenly the hag blinked out of existence. The puddle she had lain in rippled as the water moved to fill the void her passage had left. Lazziar and Paul searched around the cave, but could only find the three entrances and no way to go deeper into the ground. Inside the cave was only the tipped-over cauldron, a lof of old bones and rags, and an old black wooden box.
Lazziar and Paul dragged the box out of the cave, breathing heavily, and opened it. Inside was a scale mail shirt and a battle axe, both registering as magical to Paul's sight. The shirt was clearly of elven make, but neither of them recognized the strange design of the cold-iron axe.
Sam quickly rode up and hit them with a burst of healing energy, clapping both on the shoulder and helping them into their saddles. He, Maggey and Erin had been able to determine that Dave was in some sort of temporary magical coma but was in no immediate danger.
The North Shore Edit
They rode on toward nightfall through the frightening terrain, haunted by an ambient negative energy, and Dave's fitful sleep. He awoke some ten hours later, looking like he hadn't slept for three days. They camped as night fell, posting double guards through the night, but were unbothered by anything except their imaginations. Finally, halfway through the next day, the rocky, barren landscape gave way to sand and tall grass. The waves were rough, but there, a couple hundred yards off shore bobbed a three-masted caravel with sweeping lines and high sides.
"At last," breathed Lazzier, "The Sammumaton Aruingon."
A shout went up from the boat, and a small lifeboat dropped into the water with a single rower heading for shore.
Continue to Session 15