Liliana was able to get the orcs to dispose of the dead priest's body for her after they'd stripped him of all his valuables, but they didn't want to stay the night in the tower, so they collected the halfling from the front room and headed back through the forest. The maze of pathways was much easier to negotiate on the way back, since it was designed to confuse people heading for the tower, but there was still the ravine.
They hadn't killed all the elementals or the swarms at the easy crossing, so they didn't want to go back there. Hef thought that he could lift Dawnfire's pony up the slope, so they tied ropes to it and got it across that way, with the halfling still tied to it because they forgot about him. Sam had some skill with animals, and used it to tie the pony properly (Hef wanted to tie the rope around its neck) and keep him calm. But that left him alone at the bottom of the ravine when the elemental attacked. Luckily, it went for the pony first since the pony was making the most noise.
Luckily for the pony, it missed.
Afterwards, it dueled with Hef for roughly six seconds before it decided that this was not a fight it was going to win, and sank back underground to head for Sam instead. Lilia and Argos heard it moving underground, though, so Hef was able to run over to defend him, and when it reappeared it got shot full of arrows and pounded into a pulp.
Embedded in its body, they found an admantium longsword with a skeletal hand attached. "You know, I bet there are other bodies buried in this mud." So they decided to do a quick search. And quickly found that, yes, there were bodies. A more thorough search found some mithril armor (which Hef claimed) and some masterwork weapons on some of the bodies, and gold. Lots of gold, a bit here and there in every pouch, but it added up. Sure, one of the skeletons got up and tried to claw off Liliana's face, but it was smacked down easily enough.
So they kept searching... and broke into a small cave, with more undead. They were able to take those undead out too, although one of them bit Sam and left a nasty, festering wound. The cave made further searching more convenient, so they all gathered inside and collected some more loot until they noticed that the opening was now blocked by a pack of zombies. Oops.
The close quarters really sort of worked in the party's favor, though -- Dawnfire was able to scorch a bunch of them while they were piled up, and they had trouble getting to people to bite them. They did manage to punch Dawnfire twice, though, and their attacks *hurt*!
At this point, the party realized that they were being stupid -- it was after dark, and undead kept showing up to attack them while they were still drained from the adventuring test. But... loot...
At least the next time a pack of zombies wandered up, they heard them coming in time to vacate the ravine. The zombies had a hard time climbing the side, and they were able to take most of them out without they even getting to attack. Then they finally headed for Crossroads to sleep.
There was only one room left at the only inn in town (it was a pretty small town) which Samuel claimed instantly, despite the inflated price. Argos and Dawnfire set up tents in the field behind the inn (where lots of other people had tents set up; it was free) and Liliana found someone who was willing to share their room in return for some company. She tried to get Hef set up in the basement, but the barkeep/owner said that it was off limits, and she couldn't charm him into making an exception -- which would have made her suspicious even if his tone of voice hadn't struck her as suspicious.
So she charmed him, and asked again. He took her aside and explained that an elven woman (who looked like a wizard, "she had books and stuff") had paid him a lot to let her use his basement for a few days and to keep everyone else out, and her presence secret. "Don't tell anyone -- it's a secret!" Liliana promised to keep his secret safe, and promptly told the rest of the party. They decided that it wasn't worth pissing off a wizard while they were all poorly rested, and that they should just let sleeping elves lie.
In the morning, they gathered back at the inn for breakfast (except for Hef, who'd eaten a chicken he found running loose in the street, who was there to give Liliana the feathers). Argos and Dawnfire mentioned to the others that they'd seen the elf woman leaving through the inn's back door a bit furtively, although they hadn't seen where she went from there. They talked a bit about their plans -- probably, to go back to Silver Sails for some shopping before looking for Adventurer type trouble -- and then a couple of them noticed that they were being watched, by a mephit hiding in the fireplace. Several of them cast detect magic...
The mephit wasn't magic, but there was a strong source coming from the basement. The inn's floor wasn't thick enough to hide it.
Hef and the others created a distraction -- an arm wrestling contest, with good odds for people who wanted to place small bets -- letting Liliana slip away. She charmed the owner again, and he agreed to go with her to investigate this magic -- after all, it might be a threat to the inn. What she found was pretty threatening -- a portal to the plane of fire burning away in the basement floor, and a dozen fire mephits perching on flammable-looking boxes and other goods around the basement. They weren't hostile, though -- a couple of them saw her, but just looked curious.
The owner offered to pay them 400 gold (the gold the elf had paid him) to take care of the problem. "The inn's fireproofed, but I don't think it's THAT fireproof!" They agreed to handle the situation. But... how? Fighting twelve mephits straight up would be suicide.
Liliana decided to try to talk to the mephits, but she couldn't understand what they were saying until she used a comprehend language spell, at which point she discovered that they thought she might be the elf, since all non-elementals looked alike. One of them spoke common, and she was able to negotiate with it. The mephits weren't really being very reasonable, though -- the three who were willing to hire out had already been hired and were working for the elf (two as lookouts, one had agreed to fight) and these had decided that the basement was their lair now.
She was able to move around the basement to investigate while she was talking, though, and found the ritual book that had been used to open the portal. It looked like blowing out the candles would close the portal, so she warned the mephits that they'd better leave or else they'd be trapped, and blew out one. The portal flickered.
"Nooo! Stop!" complained the mephits, but she blew out a second. Most of them fled through the portal at that point, not wanting to be trapped on a plane without fire, but three hesitated too long and were trapped. And angry. As they prepared to attack, Liliana high-tailed it out of there, and warned the rest of the party that a fight was coming.
Hef and the eidolon were the main front-line combatants, not that there was really a line, since the mephits hated to fight hand to hand and preferred to use fire spells from a distance, using the boxes as cover. Sam and Dawnfire supported with spells. A Cause Fear made one of the mephits flee upstairs, and it survived all the attacks of opportunity to get dazed by Liliana playing 'goalie' and trapped in a pot. Dawnfire and Liliana held the pot closed, wrapped it up in twine, and poured water over it to keep the twine from burning after the trapped mephit cast heat metal on the pot.
Down below, Hef was taking a lot of damage from another heat metal on his armor and some searing rays and flame breaths, and the eidolon was having trouble hitting the mephits hiding in the boxes. But the mephits only had so many spells to fling, and soon were trapped and killed.
They searched the basement and found the elf's possessions that she hadn't taken with her -- lots of gold, and some very good quality camping gear -- then told the barkeep that his mephit problem was solved. Lilia charmed him into giving them the whole amount promised without deducting for damages; Hef failed to convince him to offer them free room and board from then on. He also kept bizarrely insisting that he owned the inn now; no one was sure where he'd gotten that idea, since it had never been on the table.
They had the town blacksmith turn the pot into a more permanently welded shut mephit carrying case, and prepated to head out for Silver Sails.
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