Having cleared the inn, the party decided to head to Silver Sails -- if they left immediately, they'd still be able to get there the same day, albeit a little after dark. The crowd seemed strangely... expectant, though, so they accosted one of the onlookers and mind-raped him to find out what was going on. Apparently, it was common for newly-tested Adventurers to be jumped by idiots who thought that they could steal their ID and use it to cause trouble, and half the reason the town was so crowded was that it was usually a 'good show'.
Sam (and most everyone else) spotted a mephit watching them from a rooftop, and magic missiled it. That failed to keep it from making its escape.
Having been forwarned, the party headed out the gate to the city talking about how they'd prepare for an ambush on the road, and were immediately ambushed right there, at the gate. Or at least, were blocked by an ogre who clumsily accused them of theft of... "something shiny... a thing. Shiny thing."
The mephit-attended elf in back put her face in her hands. Liliana was just about to try to negotiate when Dawnfire got bored and cast a spiritual weapon spell to open the attack. Once again, Hef was immediately heat-metalled and searing rayed by the mephits, and shot by an elven arrow. He *was* the biggest target. At this point, the party realized that they hadn't actually gotten around to healing him from the last fight... [despite GM prompting and a short discussion on the subject]
Regardless, it was a fight. Sam tried to web the ogre, but there were only a few bushes to set up webbing between and he could only get the ogre caught in the very edge of the web -- and somehow it nimbly avoided getting tangled, despite being a freaking ogre. He did trap the elf's crocodile companion, at least. And after Argos' eidolon tried to bite the ogre and got nearly flattened by a giant club for his pains, Sam color sprayed it and stunned it for the rest of the fight, although it still took three people focusing on it for several rounds to actually kill it.
Meanwhile, Liliana was dealing with the elf. Liliana glitterdusted her, blinding her and her horse and one of her mephits, and then used a Blindness spell to keep her blind permanently. She tried to run off at that point, since archery generally requires being able to see your targets, but on a blind horse she kept stumbling into bushes and trees and Sam managed to catch up and web her again. She called for her mephits to save her, and they used their fire breath to burn her out of the web (incidentally waking her up from Liliana's sleep spell), but that left her badly hurt, and Hef charged her and finished her off. Then finished off her horse for good measure, which fell on her crushing her further.
Then, he tried to fight off the swarm of enraged mephits trying to claw off his face. Normally, this wouldn't be a big problem, but between not being healed before the fight, and multiple heat metal and searing ray spells, he was almost dead. With the rest of the party helping, though, and some healing from Dawnfire, they managed to kill all the mephits and keep him from dropping. By one point.
They made sure to heal up this time -- with some help from the noon sermon at the temple -- and then headed for the damn city already, where they spent several days selling (using their adventuring credentials to allow the sale of what would otherwise be obviously stolen merchandise) and buying. Hef got his armor enchanted, and Sam bought a metamagic rod to make his webs and color-spray more effective; Dawnfire and Liliana got bags of holding so that they could more easily carry loot.
Blip visited them at some point to tell them about the cults that the adventurer's guild (loose translation) wanted them to take care of, and mentioned that the representative at the city's mage guild would be willing to take the mephit off their hands. They handed over the mephit and Liliana threw in the book, and sweet talked them into giving them a substantial finder's fee, as well as revealing where the book had come from -- apparently, there was some great magic being worked in the capitol that involved contact with the plane of Smoke, and the outsiders from the plane had given them the knowledge of rituals to make opening portals more convenient. The book was NOT supposed to be in civilian hands, however!
Since the main opportunities were not interesting to them -- Liliana refused to consider a dwarven contract to assassinate a Unicorn that was supposedly leading a group of bandits, and didn't want to fight the swarm of undead boiling out of the underdark, since she wouldn't be able to charm them; and the rest of the party didn't want to go up against the pirates and slavers that were plaguing the city because it was their home base and they didn't want assassination attempts at home -- they decided to go after one of the cults. While there was no official bounty on the cults, most cults had magical or otherwise valuable paraphrenalia and adventurers were allowed to keep them if they wiped the cult out.
The cult they chose to investigate was set up in the canyon to the east, part of the Black Run river, which separated the orcish and gnollish territory. There used to be a bridge over the canyon, but it had been destroyed by the orcs nearly a decade ago for mysterious reasons -- at least, mysterious to the people they talked to in Silver Sails. There were trails down into the canyon and up the other side, but the canyon itself was very dangerous, so really no one ever traded with the gnolls anymore. Not that the gnolls had been friendly anyway.
The cult was rumored to be set up in the southern end of the canyon, and marked by an increased amount of aggression from the local monsters -- it was suspected of being a nature cult of some sort. That was basically all they knew.
So they headed up and spent a night in Crossroads, then took the old east road towards the canyon. That night, they found a secluded campsite that wasn't visible from the road, and worked up a watch rotation. And on Samuel's watch, they were attacked.
After hearing a snapping branch and looking to see a doglike creature trying to hide in the bushes, Sam managed to shake off a mental effect, and screamed at the top of his lungs that they were being attacked. Liliana woke up and spotted the same badly-hidden monster, and zapped it with a glitterdust spell, revealing it as a Leucrotta. It wasn't blinded, though, and with terrifying speed managed to snake through the bushes and leap for the offending wizard, tearing out her throat with a single lucky bite.
Then the rest of the party pounced on it and beat it to death. Except for Samuel, who was attacked from behind by another monster. He webbed it, but even with his new rod it managed to work its way free and chase him down, howling in rage as its mate was killed, and taking Sam down to join Liliana. But then, with the ogre and eidolon and everyone focusing on it, it thought better of revenge and fled back to its lair.
Dawnfire immediately switched to healing the fallen, but while Samuel could be stabilized and healed, Liliana was dead. Her fox familiar perched sullenly on her body while the rest of the party tracked down the surviving leucrotta for revenge, and also treasure, since the one they'd killed had been carrying several potions in a pouch.
They sent the eidolon in first since it was most expendable, and it easily spotted the hidden pit trap and jumped over. It wasn't able to warn Hef about the pit, though, and he wasn't smart enough to figure out why it had jumped, but luckily he spotted the pit as well before falling in. Dawnfire brought up the rear, while Sam and Argos waited outside on guard in case the thing tried to escape.
When they did corner the leucrotta, it did indeed expend the eidolon, which vanished in a puff of fur as its throat was removed from its body. Dawnfire used a fear spell to send it running, though, and Hef managed to take it out with an attack of opportunity when it turned its back to dig through to a secret exit tunnel in the back of its lair.
Combining what they found in the lair with what was on the bodies of the leucrotta themselves, they managed to scrape together a couple thousand gold, which would probably be enough to pay for raising Liliana from the dead and the additional spells they'd need to remove the resulting negative levels. It meant going back to Crossroads AGAIN though, and they'd need to wait an entire week if they wanted to get her fully back in action.
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Tom was not amused at being taken out from full hit points by a lucky critical hit, and said I should have fudged the dice. Well, hinted. Repeatedly. I really don't like doing that, though. MAYBE to save the party, but not one character, especially when they can be easily raised.