Sunday, the other group actually did something, although not really all that much. We got started late because everyone else showed up early to watch some comedy show and didn't notice me coming in and screaming "Hello?" and then going downstairs to wait for them. I didn't see them either (well, I saw that there were people there but Tom's got a pretty big family and I'm not an expert at recognizing the backs of heads).
Anyway, they eventually gave up on me showing up and went downstairs to play board games and found me waiting for them.
When the last few days of Liliana's week of being level-drained had passed, they headed north to Crossroads to get the at-cost Restoration the priest there had offered her (since they were sort of heroes in Crossroads for stopping the mephit invasion). Dawnfire was too embarassed by the fiasco in the sewers to continue with the party (or something) but introduced them to a friend of hers, Talon the ranger, who went everywhere with his pet hawk, which he'd trained to look out for danger.
As they approached Crossroads, the hawk cried out to warn him that danger was afoot, but the town looked normal so they decided to just continue on in, although Lily cast 'Detect Thoughts' to read the surface thoughts of the people on the street. What she found out was that the people there were glad to see them, since there had been a rash of mysterious disappearances.
Well, okay, three. But three disappearances in two days was a lot for a small town like Crossroads.
Lily talked to the priest as she got Restored, and he told her that he was sure they'd run off to join a cult. The others asked around in the inn and the story there was that the blacksmith's apprentice and one of 'the girls' had gone missing one night, but it looked like they'd decided to leave their homes on purpose (although not for any extended period of time) so while people were worried, it wasn't until the next night when one of the town guards vanished in the same way that they began to suspect something evil was afoot.
Two days was too long for Lily's fox to track a scent, but Talon knew other forms of tracking and while circling the town outside the walls, he found a suspicious set of tracks leading off into the wilderness northeast of town. They didn't have to go far before the fox detected the scent of undead. Lily wanted to memorize some anti-undead spells in her open slots, so they sat down with Talon on patrol... but unfortunately the enemies already knew they were there.
Talon and Hef spotted a leucrotta stealthily approaching the party over a scrubby rise, and raised the alarm and attacked it -- but they didn't spot the other leucrotta, and both began to sing, hypnotizing most of the party, including both of them. They started to follow the creatures towards some unknown ambush site...
But Lily and Calvin were not hypnotized, and decided to try to save their friends. Lily tried to get at Sam's stash of protection from Evil spells, while Calvin dismissed his hypnotized eidolon and started running after them. Running like that made it really obvious that he wasn't hypnotized, though, and the other undead attacked him.
One of them was an archer, and got a lucky shot right off the bat that could have killed a lesser man; the rest were a swarm of level-draining wights. Well, okay, three wights. Calvin defended himself by summoning a series of alligators (which were mostly just a distraction, but at least they got the archer's attention), while Lily tried to save her friends (who were moving off too quickly for her to cast protection from evil on them) by glitterdusting the leucrotta to blind them.
And somehow, it worked! One of the leucrotta not only stayed blind for several rounds, but kept failing to successfully move while blind. Worse (for the undead) it was the one most of the party was following, and when they caught up and he didn't move away, the suggestion was complete and they came to their senses. Talon shot up one of the wights trying to eat Calvin, while Lily cast Control Undead on another and the third was taken out by alligators. Hef and Sam handled the leucrotta -- the blind one mostly just kept trying to do total defense hoping to eventually make a save, and while that made it damn hard to hit, it didn't last long enough to ever actually be able to see. The one that had made its save tried to eat Talon, but he was a pretty tough meal. Sam ended up finishing off both of them simultaneously with his new fireball spell, after the party maneuvered them into position for him to do that without frying himself.
The archer, seeing her minions defeated, ran away. Sam used a metamagic rod of reach to cast a web in her general direction, and *almost* hit her. Going around the mass of web delayed her long enough for the alligator on her tail to catch up, and dealing with *that* delayed her long enough for the party to catch up, and then she was screwed. Talon sank his long, hard shaft into her again and again until -- that is, he used arrows to kill her.
They recognized her as the elf that had tried to ambush them just after the adventurer test, now a wight. The leucrotta were probably the leucrotta they'd fought, now also wights. The other wights were the missing townsfolk. Lily wanted to keep her charmed wight, and eventually got the party to allow it, even though wights were somewhat... contagious -- anything killed by a wight turned into another wight. Still, any cannon fodder is good cannon fodder, wight?
They had one of the priest's apprentices use speak with dead to find out why the elf had attacked them earlier ("they wouldn't let me take the adventurer's test because I wasn't invited") and whether she'd been the head wight or if there were more out there ("I remember murdering and converting people to help get my revenge, but I don't understand -- why would I do that sort of thing?"). And also whether she had any more treasure ("My family back in Silver Wind [the elven capitol] is wealthy..."). Figuring that there was no more to the story, they had the priest bind her soul so she wouldn't come back again, and moved on.
Another day of travel took them to another crossroads, on the edge of the salt flats on the way to Black Run mine, although this one only had an inn. And a refugee camp full of dwarves. The dwarves told stories of their mines infested by undead, and evil butterflies, and horrifically dangerous caterpillars. Lily recognized the description -- well, aside from the undead. It sounded like an infestation of Gloomwings, extraplanar creatures that could confuse and weaken people to lay their eggs inside which would hatch into caterpillars that eventually turned into more gloomwings.
This didn't exactly refute the dwarven claims that the elves were at fault, since elves were known to domesticate Gloomwings as riding mounts. Well, in the past -- it was mostly out of fashion in modern times.
On the other hand, they *had* been mining under the forest and ignoring elven warnings that they were going to disturb sacred elven holy sites. "It's a vein of COAL. It's more ancient than even the damn elves."
The party decided to go talk to the elves, if they could -- the most likely way of finding them being to ride north and hope that the inevitable bandit ambush didn't end in a fight.
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