Then waited an hour, since he'd told everyone but one person that we were starting at 4:30, and didn't want to start without that one person there. He arrived a little before the normal time of 5:30, thinking he was a little early.
We still had plenty of time to play, right?
The Creepy Elf Chick was officially dubbed 'TEG' for 'Tracker Elf Girl'. The party had just defeated the wolves and found an evil (but not technically cursed) amulet around one of their necks, and wanted to head back to the fort to report and ask for advice. "So, we just retrace our steps, right?"
No, TEG suggested they just head right for the fort, since that would be a little faster than following the stream to the road, then walking a few hours down the road. Trusting her, they marched to their DOOM!
Halfway there, they spotted some dragonlike creatures in the trees. The dragons didn't attack immediately, so the party tried to hide -- which didn't work -- and avoid them -- which didn't work, since the dragons followed them. After a while they lost track of them, but weren't confindent that they were actually gone. "They're waiting for us to be weak, then they'll strike."
A few hours after that, it looked like the tiny dragons would get their chance -- TEG, in the lead, stumbled into a nest of crested (red) drakes, who attacked! She was taken down instantly by the lead pair, so Malik and Rain rushed forwards to attack them... only to spot two more red drakes and three spitter (green) drakes, guarding a nest. Between them, they did a number on Malik, although Kalrea used an aoe that kept the extra two red drakes from joining the fight by knocking them prone when they left the aoe.
Loki tried to talk to the dragons, who Kalrea had spotted watching the fight, and asked them for help. They wouldn't talk to him in draconic, although they understood the language, but talked to Gennal in elvish and told him that they'd wandered into a dangerous part of the woods and that there was no safe route for them in the area, and that they'd gotten in over their heads and were going to die under the drakes' claws. Gennal begged them for help, and the dragons didn't say they'd help, but started distracting some of the spitters, relieving a little pressure on the front lines.
On the front lines, Rain busted out with the healing magic and brought Malik back to full health from single digits, healing TEG as a side effect -- she backed off a little and pulled out her bow, but inexplicably decided to attack one of the distracted spitters, un-distracting it and getting knocked down again. Not by the drake, no -- by Gennal's misfired arrow. Oops!
That idiocy was overshadowed by Loki's... dramatic tactics. After one of the red drakes had fallen, and another had been knocked back a ways by Rain, he decided to make use of his most powerful spells -- first, a close burst 2 that didn't discriminate between friends and enemies. He ran right into the middle of the enemies and knocked most of them around, into the trees and underbrush, then activated his Armor of Agathys to start doing automatic damage to any enemies that started next to him, after which he ran around making sure at least one (and usually two) drakes started next to him every turn.
This wouldn't have been survivable if Rain hadn't followed him around healing him until he was out of healing magic. As it was, though -- it did a LOT of damage to the enemies, and the automatic hits from the Armor of Agathys in particular took out two or three.
Unfortunately (perhaps), it also smashed the nest full of eggs that the drakes had been guarding. That instantly turned the fairy dragons against the party, and they stopped distracting the spitters (fortunately, they ran away instead of attacking, at least). It also focused all the drakes' attention on the lightly armored warlock, which is why Rain had to keep healing him so much.
But despite the cost, the tide of battle had been turned. Kalrea picked off one of the red drakes, Malik another, and Gennal systematically reduced the spitters, leaving one last spitter to get knocked back into the forest and slaughtered. They'd won! And even TEG had survived, thanks to Kalrea bandaging her wounds (Rain had been on his way back to do it, but the druid was closer).
They rested up, and then Rain decided to skin the drakes for their hides, which looked valuable. TEG was appalled, as was Gennal and Kalrea -- wasn't it enough of a tragedy that they'd killed the poor beasts, without desecrating their corpses? But the two shifter-born folks (Rain and Malik) were confused -- wouldn't it be an insult to hunt creatures and then just leave them to rot? Shouldn't they honor their deaths by making use of the corpse? TEG removed herself from the argument, so when Loki threw in with the skinners (out of pure greed), that tipped the vote in their favor.
So they tried to skin the drakes, and got three good skins out of seven attempts. Rain thought that he had a ritual that would let them try again (Make Whole on the ruined hides had a ritual cost of only 20% of the value of the hide) but rituals were slow and they were in a dangerous part of the woods, so they took what they'd gotten and moved on. While there was no law against skinning forest creatures, it was obvious that the elves wouldn't be happy about it, so they made sure to hide their skins -- Rain gave his to Loki to hide, since Loki seemed to be much better about that sort of sneaky thing.
Then they went back to the fort, passing through the wards only a few minutes after leaving the site of the battle -- if they'd known the wards were that close, they could have fled for cover from the drakes instead of fighting. Damn.
At the fort -- where TEG took her leave of the party, telling them that she didn't like fighting and the outside world was too dangerous -- the captain told them that no one in his force had the sort of knowledge they'd need to find the source of the not-technically-cursed amulet, and therefore the villain who'd incited the wolves to senseless violence (instead of their normal ravenous murder). He suggested they try to find a sage in one of the nearby elven towns... he had a contact, a human wizard he could call in an emergency, but everyone agreed this wasn't the sort of emergency to bring in the big guns. Yet.
They spent the morning in the barracks (since they were on a half-nocturnal schedule still), had a meal at the elven commissary, and woke up all agreed that they should set out on their journey. Half the party wanted to go back to the trade town to report to the Envoy and the other half wanted to continue on to the next lead immediately, though.
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Then Trailblazer was getting really really hungry, so we tried to order pizza but failed, and went to Red Robin instead. Afterwards we played a few games of Dominion, and I lost EVERY SINGLE ONE! Waah! I usually didn't lose by much, at least. :P