DM Catch Up

Following the battle on the beach, the party may or may not have taken a long rest. Let’s assume they did.
They then row up the underground river and discover a cavern. A battle on a quayside ensues. A Dark Tide Knight riding a shark manages to knock Erky into the water while another baddy discovers that the short, hairy armoured thing can’t be pushed into the water. Erky uses Fly to escape the water and then goes for a tour of the complex. He meets some aquatic ghouls who are very pleased to see him, and nearly persuade him to join them.
The party take a short rest and then continue their exploration. North of the quay they are ambushed by a fairly concerted force of cultists, roused by the Dark Tide Knight who escaped the previous battle. Predictably, our heroes outwit and out-think their opposition. Further exploration suggests that they have now cleared the eastern portion of the temple and they can now move into the central part.
Stealthy exploration finds them a smelly door with crude carvings scratched on it. Passing by, they discover a large hall and kitchen/canteen. Much planning ensues and the death of water cultists follows. One is kept alive and pumped for information. The party learn the following:
– Gar Shatterkeel has gone down below to a place called ‘The Fane of the Eye’
– His deputies are Thuluna (thought to be a hag) and Morbeoth (One Eyed Shiver)
– Cultists identify each other with a hand signal
– The Water Cult serve Olhydra, the elemental Prince of Water. Without him they are nothing, and they seek to bring him from the Elemental Plane of Water to cleanse the world of the weak and unworthy.

Following the ‘interview’, the cultist was put to sleep and placed under the other dead bodies in a disused storeroom.
The party decide to head north to check out the Water Shrine which is just across a bridge. To either side of the bridge are culverts pouring water out into the canal. Erky sends Blinky the owl up one of the culverts to see what’s what.
Blinky telepathically communicates to Erky that the Water Shrine is here and that 5 Lizardfolk are on guard. Then communication ceases – Blinky is spotted by the guards and a hail of javelins sees him return to his own plane of existence…
Erky is cross and leads the party through the double doors….
A huge explosion is triggered by the doors and everyone is injured. With the noise of the explosion echoing through the halls, the party surge forward to engage with the lizardfolk, concerned that the noise will have alerted others in the complex.
A large, fearsome creature emerges from the water behind the lizardfolk, and suddenly the battle doesn’t look so simple.
Erky hangs back to attempt to distract any backup…
Spike Growth stalls the lizard folk for a moment, but they improvise by using a dead comrade as a stepping stone to leap out.
Meanwhile, Arielle and Thorg engage with the mighty beast – mighty blows are traded and in the end, Thorg’s persistence and powerful sword thrusts prove to be too much.
Feyabelle gets a shock mid-battle – she is hanging back on the bridge, firing arrows into combat. Suddenly a HUGE terrapin surfaces and attacks. HOLY SHIT!! IT’S A DRAGON TURTLE!!! Nursing her battered shoulder, she dived into the room and shuts the double doors.
Meanwhile, Erky sees a hideous female humanoid, a couple of ogres and more lizardfolk hurrying towards the market hall from the south. He scatters ball bearings and preps his pipe of Smoke Mephits..
Those in the shrine are now feeling bruised and scared. The party is separated and the temple is on full alert!

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Return to Riverguard

At Feathergale Spire, we had a dream in which Therek and Theogorm were in trouble, so decided to rush to Womford (by hippogriff) to see if this was a true premonition. We found Womford in considerable disarray, as it had been attacked by some cultists who had brought a globe into the centre of town that had caused a terrible rainstorm that had washed away part of the town. Therek told us that they had tried to establish a base at Riverguard keep, which the water cult had abandoned, but they had been driven out by returning cultists, including some riding crocodiles. They also told us that they had found a hidden dock under the keep, and a tunnel leading down into the earth. This was not unexpected to me, as each of the other cults had had such a tunnel. We decided therefore to return to Riverguard Keep and drive out the cult again, and establish a garrison there, and then descend into the depths of the earth.
The trip to Riverguard was uneventful. In order to give us the element of surprise, we decided to attack from the hidden dock, approaching it underwater. Aerisi Kalinoth’s spellbook had contained a spell that allow up to ten men to breathe underwater for up to 8 hours that I had recently learned, so I used that on all of us.
We proceeded into the dock and up the underwater stream. Where it opened out into a covern with a beach, we saw a group of half a dozen men sitting around a fire. We decided to attack while also blocking off the stairs up so they could not warn the rest of the keep. I prepared a web spell for the occasion, but in the event, Arielle shadow-jumped into the entrance-way to the stairs. We surged towards the men around the fire, but in turn were surprised ourselves by two men riding crocodiles who surfed down the stream and attacked us. The fight was hard, and the crocodiles attempted to swallow both Storm and Thorg at various points. A snake made of water also joined the cultists, but fortunately at one point, was lined up with a crocodile rider so I was able to unleash a lightning bolt that struck both of them. Spells and arrows flew through the air, and Thorg absorbed many mighty blows that would have slain a lesser dwarf, but in the end we were victorious.

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Not-so-skinny dipping

Leaving the ziggurat, we decided to have a quick look at the moat and see what was around the corners of the ziggurat in case we were missing something interesting. In retrospect, this was possibly a mistake because the chap on the wyvern perched on top of the ziggurat, who we has completely forgotten about, decided to come and check us out. He landed on one of the pillars on the bridge, which in retrospect was a mistake for him. Our attempts to talk our way out of trouble failed miserably (as normal), so we attacked him before he could attack up. I think the illusion of Windvane as a flagpole was particularly suspicious. Thorg used his Ring of the Ram to shove the wyvern off the pillar, which meant it was busy frantically flapping to maintain its balance as we started hacking at it. I almost came a cropper forgetting that the tail end of a wyvern is more dangerous than the teeth end, but had a lucky escape. The dying wyvern and rider toppled into the moat, so I used my Driftglobe to illuminate the depths. There was not much on their bodies, but quite a bit of stuff littering the bottom of the moat, which I started scooping out with a Mage Hand. We saw why this was when a giant dwarf golem came trundling around the corner, but fortunately it ignored our magical delvings. The real coup came on the far side, where we found a well preserved set of Dwarven plate mail, which Thorg immediately grabbed and started cleaning up. The clanking has gotten worse.
That finished, we returned to the courtyard with the fountain looking for Windharrow, but he was out. Proceeding around the temple compound, we found one room with several initiates whipping cultists into turning some huge shafts running from floor to ceiling. In a room next door, we found a group of prisoners being guarded by some Kenku, so we killed them (the Kenku) and released the prisoners. We didn’t try it the other way round – I don’t think it would have worked as well.
We now crossed back to the northern side of the moat, to find a plaza and some dwarven shops – long abandoned. One proved not to be abandoned though whne Thorg was attacked by a cloaker that dropped on him from the ceiling. We were now feeling pretty beaten up, so camped down for a long rest to recover in one of the cleared out shops. When we continued, we found a large dwarven tavern that showed signs of having been recently occupied by cultists, and swiftly and recently abandoned. We assume that unfortunately the rest of the air cultists have fled. We did find some more Kenku though, who tried to run away. I stopped the exit with a Web spell, and we killed them, although the fight proved to be a particularly long one, and we took a fair bit of damage. We explored the deserted ruins further, finding a temple of Moradin whose doors had been spiked shut from this side. Suspecting undead, we didn’t open them. Just beyond this, though, we encountered an Umber Hulk, which managed to bemuse all of us apart from Storm. We though we were goners, but managed to pull it back and play tag-team with it to avoid its gaze.
By now we were once again bruised and battered and our supplies were running low, so we decided to pull back to Feathergale Spire, and possibly enter the dwarven city from one of the other cult temples.

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All in a day’s work

We descended the stairs from the throne room into the main entrance hall, intending to ambush the unaware cultists who were levitating around the hole in the floor through which the wind was rushing.  We split up so that some of us came down one stair and some down the other.  As subtlety and stealth were called for, Alleria and I took the lead.  She jumped from shadow to shadow until she was behind a pillar near the hole in the ground, and then cast silence over the group centred on the high grade cultist of the grade that had lightning bolted us a the week before.  I then dashed forward and cast a web spell than trapped the same cultist and his nearest companions in a mess of sticky strands.  Feyabelle started up her normal hail of arrows, targetting the highest grade cultist first and working downwards.  Thorg rushed forwards and decapitated a low grade cultist with a single blow, and then proved unable to hit anything for the rest of the combat; so focused on the power of his blows that he forgot about accuracy.  The fight was mercifully relatively brief – the high level cultist never got free of the web and was killed by Feyabelle’s arrows before he could do any harm.  One cultist made a bolt for the far door, but Alleria caught him before he could escape.  My frost rays finished off a few of the cultists.  As usual for cultists though, they had no treasure on them at all.

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A message from our sponsor

Hej, Blinky here, filling in because Erky seems too busy to keep you all updated on his exploits. Not that he even mentions his exploits, just those of others that he attributes to himself. Just like that Theseus guy that I know. Very similar in many ways. Wouldn’t really call what either of them got up to exploits either. Degenerate is a word that springs to mind.
Anyway, not sure why he isn’t communicating because his friends do seem to be doing something quite impressive really, in killing Aerisi Kallinoth, who they will at some point found out is the prophet of Yan Cee Bin, the evil prince of elemental air.  Alleria takes her spear, which seems to be very powerful, but also quite evil we suspect. I can certainly see a dangerous aura around it. Actually she will take it soon, when Feyabelle has killed Aerisi with a volley of arrows, but this is the first chance she has to really examine it. As I said Feyabelle killed Aerisi with a volley of arrows, before poor old Thorg even has time to reach her across the room and attack her with his sword, although he does reach and destroy the magical horn, which releases the djinn from his bondage to her. Then Aerisi runs to the horn to try and blow it to summon her enslaved djinn.  After this Arielle teleports into the shadow behind her throne and seizes her spear off her, succeeding in wrestling it from her grasp. That is the point at which Feyabelle hits Aerisi with another volley of arrows. Erky casts a spell to try and entrap her in a grasping earthen hand he has summoned from the floor, but she escapes its grasp. Thorg now starts his run across the room, while Feyabelle shoots her first volley of arrows, surprising Aerisi. To cap the fight, Arielle teleports into the shadows at the sides of the chamber, behind the pillars (discovering a pile of drugged cultists in the process) and casts a silence spell centred on the throne that Aerisi sits on it order to stop her casting any spells. In order that we can all sneak into the throne room, Arielle uses her mental powers to hide our presence. And then we sneak back into the pyramid in order to try and take out Aerisi.
Talking to Windharrow, we start to question our resolve to kill Aerisi here and now, as he stresses how unpredictable she is and how angy if she sees us in her presence again. Leaving the djinn we return past the ziggurat to the court where Windoharrow prepares his minstrels. The djinn is disappointed that we have not killed Aerisi and released him, and questions our resolve, and wonders why we are going to deal with another faction instead, especially since we will disocover that Aerisi does not expect us to survive the attack. We leave the ziggurat and cross to the blue plaza where we will meet the djinn.
Waiting on the stairs of the ziggurat, I can hear what Aerisi and Windharrow are saying. She is castigating him for not having recognised us as her enemies, but thinks this is typical of Windharrow and shows her superiority to him. She is also pleased that she has managed to spot us and given us the mission to attack the earth cult, as she thinks they will easily wipe us out. As they are leaving, Erky summons me and asks me to listen on the stairs to see what Aerisi says to Windharrow.
The audience with Aerisi is obviously over so they leave.  They agree to Aerisi’s demand that they attack the Earth cult.  Aerisi says that in order to atone for their behaviour in attacking Feathergale Spire, the party need to attack the evil earth cultists, whose lair can be found at the bottom of the stairs leading down from the Sacred Stone monastery.   They attempt to bluster their way out, but this is seemingly making her more angry, so Erky admits their role in this.  However she then accuses them of being themselves, i.e. a band of ruffians out of Red Larch who attacked Feathergale Spire.  As they end their playing Aerisi congratulates them on the quality of their playing, which obviously makes Windharrow very relieved.  Somehow they manage to use repeated castings of minor illusion to keep up the pretense of excellent playing for long enough to exhaust Aerisi’s patience.  They start playing, using minor illusion cast by both Erky and Alleria to simulate decent flute playing, with the rest of the minstrels as a backing track (and a bad one at that).

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Towering effectiveness

Surveying the scene of carnage, we brushed ourselves down, checked that none of us were still on fire, and then decided to investigate the tower.  The main doors looked completely blocked by rubble, and it was obvious that the main point in ingress was a window on the first floor, accessed via the scaffolding.  Heroically, despite my heavy wounds and missing eyebrows, I sneaked up onto the scaffolding and peered in through the window, which had been enhanced with a set of wooden steps leading up to it, proving that the cultists were using this as their primary access route.  Within was a chamber lit by eight torches and filling the entire floor of the tower.  Although, actually there wasn’t much in the way of a floor – most of it was missing, leaving a large hole into the rubble cluttered interior of the tower.  There were three occupants – two more of the guards we had seen and a strange, red-haired dwarf.  There were also some stairs going up to the floor above.

I dispatched Blinky to go and look in at the windows of the two floors above.  The one immediately above us was a dormitory, with a number more sleeping guards.  Above that was a study, with a wizardy type studying tomes up there.  I returned to my companions and relayed this information to them, which lead to a particularly long, and sotto voce debate on the best thing to do.  Various options were examined and discarded – fighting everyone at the same time; climbing the tower and fighting the wizard first, then working our way down floor by floor, all sorts of crazy ideas.  In the end we decided to attack the three on the first floor, while I cast Fog Cloud on the floor above so that anyone who woke up hearing the fight below would find it difficult to find the stairs and come down to help their friends.

We executed the plan and dashed in.  The fight was fairly short – one of the guards tried to escape by jumping through the hole in the floor, but the strange dwarf and the other guard rapidly fell to our swords, and even the escaping guard was dispatched with arrows by Feyabelle.  There were some strange creatures clearing rubble in the foundations of the tower that ignored us, so we decided to ignore them in return.  That saw them, it did.

We ascended the stairs and I cleared my Fog Cloud, and Arielle and I then started dispatching the sleeping guards above.  This didn’t go entirely according to plan, and they started waking up, but we still finished them off, but not before alerting the wizard on the floor above.  The wizard, who turned out to be some sort of Archdruid (the beard made it obvious), came storming down the stairs and started casting spells at us, starting with Sorrel’s favourite – Spike Growth.  I slipped under the stairs and hid so that I could make a sneak attack as he came past, using my Dagger of Venom.  Next round he gave a puff on his pipe and the smoke that came out transformed into smoky imps that attacked Arielle.  I prepared myself to attack him, but the others came piling up the stairs though and ruined everything by killing him before I got a change.  I did nick his pipe though.

We are now having a ruffle through the papers on his desk in his study above, and looting the place.  Hey, its what we do best.

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Poetry in motion

After hearing my account of the situation at the top of the hill, Sorrell decided that we should go and introduce ourselves to the two druids up there, and maybe find out what was going on. We therefore climbed the final stretch of the hill and started through the gap in the wall. I kept myself partially hidden in the shadows however, so that if things went wrong I would be able to intervene from a more unexpected direction.
Things started going wrong pretty rapidly however. Sorrell started with a fairly innocuous greeting to the druids, and expressed a wish to know more about the Circle of the Scarlett Moon. The response from one of the druids was a fireball spell lobbed right into the centre of the party. I was blasted off my feet by it, and severely wounded, and I noticed that Sorrell was similarly hurt. The other three seemed to be in better shape. Instinct took over at this point, as we all leapt into action. Feyabelle had her bow drawn in a single action and had loosed two arrows into the priest who was chanting. Arielle stepped into the shadows behind the wall and stepped out of the shadows on the scaffolding behind one of the guards, striking him from behind with surprise. I used one of my spells to create an illusion of a water elemental coalescing out of the group and surging towards the wicker man, which served to distract the first priest. Sorrell cast her Thorngrowth spell under the feet of the two priests and Thorg then used his Ring of the Ram to hit the chanting priest with a mighty force-punch. The combination of damage from the ram and the thorns was enough to kill that priest, but the other one quickly took up the chanting in his place. Arielle stepped away from the guard who had struck at her, and out of the shadows on the far side of the tower, striking the guard on that side who was similarly bewildered and failed to strike her with his sword. Feyabelle shot now at the first guard, who was wondering where Arielle had disappeared to. I attempted to fire a Ray of Frost at the priest, but missed, and his chanting now took effect as a fire elemental surged forwards from the wicker man. That didn’t stop Thorg cutting him down with a couple of blows from his sword though. Almost immediately, another guard with two flame-breathing hounds appeared from behind the pile of rubble next to the tower, where Arielle was continuing her mad jumping from shadow to shadow, as the guards desperately slashed at thin air. Seeing the threat to Thorg, I used a Web spell to pin down the hounds and the new guard. Meanwhile, he unleashed a flurry of mighty blows on the fire elemental, which fortunately was distracted by the illusiory water elemental that it obviously perceived as a greater threat. The guards on the scaffolding having been dispatched, Feyabelle turned he arrows on the hell-hounds, and felled them both as they struggled to free themselves from the webbing. The guard did free himself just as Thorg dispatched the fire elemental, and proved to be the next item on his menu. Suddenly there were no foes left standing. The whole fight had probably only lasted half a minute or so, in a whirlwind of destruction and mayhem. We were bloodied, badly singed in many cases (although our new druid friends had performed miracles to get Sorrell and myself back on our feet), but victorious.

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I can’t remember much because I was there, man

Back in Red Larch, Sorrel had been hearing rumours of a new druidic circle, called the Circle of the Scarlet Moon, who were going to be holding a ritual in the Sumber Hills to end the unusual weather. We decided that this needed investigating so joined some of the other townspeople in journeying into the Sumber Hills to find the location of the ritual. We found a hill with a tower on top, and a great wicker man, and many people camped around it. Sorrel and Feyabelle investigated, accompanied by me invisibly, while Thorg and Arielle waited hidden at the base of the hill. The first camp had a group of druidic followers, Varigo, Mahoon, Iniri and Fariya,  who welcomed us and shared their mead and wine with us.  They seemed dangerously naive about the whole event – but then we have more experience of the dangers of the Sumber Hills and the restless evil that we now know sleeps below it.  We expressed a wish to see more of the encampment, and Varigo accompanied us as he said he would take us to hear a minstrel who was camped further up the hill.
The next campfire had two more men, with a chained bear. Sorrel was very disturbed by this, and asked the bear if it was OK and well looked after. The men objected to Sorrel talking to their bear, and one attacked him with a spell. We attacked back, and I untied the bear (while invisible), which ran off, along with one of the two men, the other one having been killed by Sorrel in bear shape.  The running off was rather disappointing, as I hoped that the bear would cause a bit more excitement before it left.  Varigo was rather disturbed by the sudden outbreak of violence, so we rapidly moved on, leaving the dead man, as we expected anyone finding it to blame it on his bear. We were on our guard now though, as we had found the symbol of the fire cult on the dead man’s body.
On the way up the hill we bypassed another fire that our new friend said was occupied by two hairy and unfriendly men. We passed through another camp, with a somewhat friendly lady druid, and three rather nervous looking ranger-types. Not wishing for further incident, we hurried on. We finally reached the campfire with the minstrel, Gariena, who was accompanied by sprites.  Gariena welcomed us and we watched the sprites dancing. She was impressed to hear our tales of derring-do against the elemental cults in the area and gave us magical scrolls to aid us.
After that, I continued to climb the hill alone, and invisible, and found the courtyard at the top, with broken walls around the old tower, and the wicker man.

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A revealing interlude

While enjoying ourselves back in Red Larch and availing ourselves of all the amenities on offer (and I mean all of them), we, or rather I, as the most charismatic member of the group, was approached by a young halfling who introduced himself as Watson. He explained that he was a member of a family that owned a ranch up to the north, and were suffering from the attentions of a fire witch. He had been dispatched by his father down to Red Larch to find someone to help them deal with this fire witch, who was apparently living in an old Urthgart barrow that adjoined their land. I told him that he had come to exactly the right place, as my friends and I were just the sort of heroes that he was looking for, having had much recent experience fighting off just the sort of problems that his family was dealing with. I still needed a day or two to copy spells into my spellbook however, so we agreed that we we would accompany him back home upon the morrow’s morrow.
On the designated day then we set out for the Nettlebee Ranch on our hippogriffs, with Watson riding pillion with me. The journey would rather have been uneventful, but that was not to be, for we were intercepted near the Sumber Hills by a knight of the Order of Feathergale Spire, accompanied by four cultists of the Howling Hatred. Obviously our efforts against the cult of the air had not been as devastating to us as we would have wished. Having met both Knights and Howling Hatred before, we were possibly over contemptuous of their abilities, as the fight that followed was hard indeed. All of the cultists of the Howling Hatred proved to be potent spell casters, throwing lightning bolt after lightning bolt at us, and forcing us to spread out in order to avoid them catching more than one of us at a time with their bolts. We decided that the best tactic was to target their mounts (for they were flying on giant vultures) and this did indeed prove the best strategy, if a little underhand. They were rapidly dispatched, and their riders then had to chose between attacking us and saving themselves, mainly choosing the former. The only rider to save himself from falling to his death was the knight, and we quickly hunted him down on the ground and dispatched him.
We thus arrived at Nettlebee Ranch in a rather battered state, but a night’s rest soon restored us. We questioned Bertram (the father) and Wiggan (the grandfather) about the fire-witch and they explained that she was preying on their cattle, who were marked with strange brands and drained of blood, while the area of grass around the barrow had been burned and scorched.  Armed with this information, but at the same time with a strange feeling about the family, we trekked our way across to the barrow on the far hill above the ranch. It was an hour’s walk to get there, and when we did we were surprised to see that the grass looked like it had been scorched much more recently than the ranchers had said. The entrance was obvious however, with the huge stone that had covered it split in two. We ventured down the long tunnel that led into the heart of the barrow. Once in there, we fund a trefoil chamber with an altar in each niche, and a great bier in the centre. As we entered, the chamber lit up with a blue light, and a spirit appeared before us, of a tall, powerfully built man with great antlers on his head. He accused us of having desecrated his tomb, to which we hastily replied that we had no such intent, but were here to punish any who had desecrated it. He told us that those who had desecrated it were waiting outside, and at that moment the tunnel to the exit collapsed and an earthen figure errupted from the floor. We leapt into action against the earthen figure and defeated after a hard struggle for many of our weapons seemed to cause it no damage at all. At the same time the spectral figure, who had named himself as Javor, was clearing the tunnel of earth and we rapidly emerged with him on the outside of the barrow. We proceeded cautiously for we feared an ambush by the desecrators, but there was no one there.
Javor then explained that his desecrators were in the ranch below, and that he had summoned some of his people, led by a fearsome chieftain called Fennor, to come and punish them for their outrage.  Thorg asked how many of the family had actually desecrated the barrow and on finding out that there were only two of them, bargained with Javor for the lives of the innocent members of the family.  He offered to bring out the two guilty parties if the rest of the family were spared.  The spirit was happy with that but said that Fennor and her barbarian followers were less likely to accept it.  When they arrived, Thorg faced down Fennor, who as anticipated preferred a more direct approach of destroying the ranch and all its inhabitants.  In the end he agreed with her that the innocent members of the family would be spared provided we delivered the two guilty parties to them, but that the barbarians could also take all the branded cattle was recompense for the injury done.
The deal concluded, Thorg, Alleria and I proceeded to the farmhouse.  Sorrel and Feyabelle stayed on the hill above for they felt that the lives or deaths of petty halflings were not something that they cared to risk themselves for.  Indeed I felt that Sorrel’s sympathies possibly lay more with the barbarians, and Feyabelle regarded their punishment as a repayment for the danger that they had put us in.  Thorg however was implacable in his belief that the innocent should not be punished for the crimes of the guilty, and I was unable to standby and see innocent children and babes slaughtered for crimes that they could have no part or knowledge of.  We entered the house, and found the family cowering in the cellar. We descended and told them what we now knew, and presented them with an ultimatum. Either they would surrender the two guilty parties and the rest of them, including the children could go free, or they would all die. The children looked terrified, while most of the adults looked scared but defiant, although Alleria spotted Jayne the mother looking at her husband and father-in-law with an accusing glance. Confident that she now knew who the two desecrators were, she told Thorg, who challenged them directly to come out and save their children.  They denied everything, and when Thorg pressed them, Wiggan suddenly attempted to cast a spell upon them. Realising that negotiation was now futile, we smacked their asses (helped by me, who had been lurking invisible in the corner of the cellar the entire time). Beating Wiggan and Bertram unconscious (despite Jayne’s pleadings to save them), we carried them upstairs, having persuaded Watson and Jayne that this was their only chance of survival. Watson accompanied us upstairs and told us that his father and grandfather had changed recently, and were under some sort of influence. He led us up to the study, where we found a pile of correspondence from various members of the evil elemental cults, including a directive to bring us here and deal with us on the pretext of dealing with a fire-witch. When he realised that this was all a set-up and that he was a pawn in his father’s plans, Watson become convinced that we needed to hand them over. Since Javor and Fennor were by this time demanding the desecrators and hammering on the doors, we threw them out through the door for Fennor and the barbarians to deal with.
Javor however still demanded that we must also return the treasures stolen from his tomb. We were unable to find them, but he led us inexorably to a hidden niche in the cellar wall where we found a locked box. We, being Thorg, Arielle and I, for Sorrel and Feyabelle were still determined not to get involved, carried it up to the barrow, passing the slaughtered corpses of Bertram and Wiggan, where I managed to open the lock. Within we found various statuettes from the tomb, which we returned, along with some money, which we returned to Watson and Jayne, and a rather handy bag of holding which I slipped into my pouch when Thorg was not looking.  Watson noticed it was missing when we returned the chest (with all the money still in it – I thought that they needed that to get themselves back on their feet again having lost so many of their cattle, and it’s not like I don’t already have more gold than I can drink), but I kept a straight face and told them that the spirit had taken it as part of his recompense.  A lie, certainly, but I felt that I deserved some small reward for the risk that we had taken in saving the lives of most of the Nettlebees.  I also felt that they had some culpability in tolerating the crimes of Wiggan and Bartram.
After all this, we, reunited now as a full group, left Watson and the remaining Nettlebees, having done the best we could for them in the circumstances.  We did at least make sure that the barbarians had left before we left to return to Red Larch, although I feel that Jayne certainly still held considerable ill-will towards us.

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Pro-Am Celebrity Greased Bear Wrestling

The door crashed open, and two stone-armoured men with clubs strode in, followed by another with a glaive.  I was expecting some sort of disturbance of this kind, although I had neglected to hide in the corner.  Nonetheless, I had a strategy, which consisted primarily of casting Grease on the area around the doorway, both within and without the room.  The spell was fairly effective however, as the bloke with the glaive at the back went sprawling.  This didn’t stop him casting a spell however, and both Arielle and Sorrel found themselves wading through metaphorical treacle.  Feyabelle started shooting at the men in stone armour and a general melee ensued.  The proceedings were enlivened however when Sorrel lumbered slowly across the room towards the prone glaive-wielding spellcaster who had slid into the room in order to cast another spell on us (this one caused a minor earthquake).  Sorrel, unable to attack normally because of the slippery floor, opted instead for a full-body lunge, hoping to pin the spell-caster to the floor.  He soon felt the full force of a large brown bear on him, but, greased up by the floor, instead of being trapped, pinged out to the side like a bar of soap.  We where then treated, while we finished off the two stone-armoured men, to the hilarious site of a large bear and a wizard wrestling with each other in the grease pit by the door.  The bear finally got the better of the encounter, as was probably always inevitable, but I feel that we may yet have invented a whole new form of entertainment.

As we were finishing off the wizard, the next wave arrived – four more of the monkish types.  They leaped gracefully over the greasy floor and even greasier bear, although one was caught a glancing blow by one of Sorrel’s claws and went sprawling into the corner.  The fight against these monks was rapid and fairly one sided, and they were soon dispatched.  We had a brief rest while we waited for the effects of the Grease spell to fade and then examined the rest of the rooms on this corridor.  We found more sleeping quarters, with various personal possessions, and then a deserted kitchen and bakery.  Beyond all of this, we found the large central temple, with stairs descending into the room with the strange captive.  We discovered that a lever behind the altar opened the cage that contained the creature and converted the steps into a steep slope.  Obviously a fiendish device to trap unwary adventurers with the creature below.  Fortunately we are not unwary.

A plan was rapidly hatched, whereby we would descend and kill the thing in its cage by attacking it with missile weapons and spells.  Arielle stayed topside to prevent anyone sneakily pulling the lever while we were down there.  Feyabelle’s first step was to cast Thorn Growth centered on the creature.  I then zapped it with a Magic Missile.  Its response to this was to smash open the door of the cage, which wasn’t something that had featured in our plans.  Thorg used his ring of the Ram to hit it with a spectral ram’s head and force it backwards through the thorns.  Feyabelle shot at it; I shot another magic missile and then scampered up the stairs, wisely it turned out as it then charged towards us through the field of thorns.  Despite it, it seemed to show no signs of having taken any damage, although only one of its attacks against Thorg actually hit.  Sorrel then retreated up the stairs as well, preparing to cast another Thorn Growth spell once Thorg had attacked and then retreated – the plan that had developed was that we would retire up to the temple and trigger the trap, since this creature was obviously as much as we could handle in our depleted state.  Thorg took a final swing, and decapitated the creature…

We rapidly examined the area, and discovered some stairs descending of obviously dwarven make – this must be the entrance to the dwarven city below.  Deciding that we were too fatigued to continue below, and remembering that we had a number of captives to rescue, we decided not to descend.  We gathered our captives and the corpse of the knight up, and returned to the hideout where we had left our two loyal retainers and hippogriffs.  Then we returned on foot to Red Larch, since 5 hippogriffs could not possibly convey so many.

Great was the merrymaking when we returned, epic the tales I told, pounding the head the morning after.  Despite this, I have started transcribing the cache of scrolls I discovered into my spellbook – they have given me fresh insights into the magical arts, and some of them that I had formerly not fully comprehended are now understandable to me.

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