Deciding that the mine was too infested for them to deal with, the party headed back to Silver Sails to spend a week shopping and crafting magic items. This mostly went off without incident. Lily recruited a cohort -- she met a cleric of her own race name Hadriel, who agreed to hire on as her bodyguard, since Hef (who'd previously had that job) was too impulsive to actually protect her.
They researched the elven fairy tales about Shabra, and discovered that there were a whole series of fairy tales that all shared some common elements -- something would threaten elven children, and after it was defeated it would be sealed away forever underground by a silver dragon named Silvanis. Silvanis was also the name given by the dreamer cult to the eponymous 'dreamer' -- of course, since all their prophets had seen in their visions was a sleeping dragon underground, it's possible that they just read the same fairy tales.
In addition, they hired a sage to research Gloomwings, and found some more information. For one thing, if they kept a group of Tenebrous Worms and Gloomwings away from any new victims for a month, all the worms would mature and they'd just have a swarm of the less dangerous Gloomwings to fight. There were also techniques that the elves had for withstanding the Gloomwings' confusion 'gaze' and weakness aura, although the sage couldn't get the details and the implication was that it was a form of *training* that Gloomwing-riders underwent, as opposed to some sort of spell or potion. For fighting Tenebrous Worms, what you needed was immunity to paralysis or poison (or the ability to fight at range) for their bristles, and heavy resistance to acid for their bite.
The mine still seemed beyond them, so they reported the situation to the authorities, warning them of the danger. The orcs told them that they'd send someone to negotiate with this 'Shabra' and see if they could convince him to stop rampaging at random and join the orcish horde; he wouldn't be their only necromancer, and with trouble from gnolls, the kobolds acting sketchy, and whatever classified situation was drawing troops back to the capitol, they could use more help keeping the area safe.
So the party checked around the city for more work. There was one outstanding bounty that seemed like it might be worth their while -- a deserter from the orcish army had a huge price on his head, and was thought to be hiding out on one of the islands in Silver Sails' (somewhat huge, pirate-infested) bay. There were still hordes of undead spreading out from the (possibly former) drow lands down south. There was a mission to clear the pass between Silver Sails and Rally of monsters, since the attacks had been stepping up dangerously, and possibly negotiate with the kobolds who controlled the caves in the area to make sure they didn't try anything. There was also an order out for harpy feathers, which might be found in either the mountains or on the islands.
The party decided to go for the pass, and got more information on that job. The expected monsters were Fire Drakes, which they'd fought before, and 'something invisible' -- there were harpies in the mountains, but a ways south of the pass since they didn't get along with the drakes.
Calvin: "Maybe we can kite the harpies into drake territory and let them take each other out?"
GM: "They're like a day's travel south. You'd have to make some fort saves to run that far with harpies chasing you."
On the way up towards the pass they went through Crossroads (you couldn't get very many places out of Silver Sails without going through Crossroads; that was kind of the point of that town's existance) and found that the dwarven refugees had fled south from the isolated inn because of nocturnal hit-and-run attacks by gloomwings and undead. Since they'd be passing the inn anyway, they promised to check it out. On the way up they were attacked by a pack of cinder wolves who surrounded the party with fire and charged in using the fire and smoke as cover -- yeah, that didn't work. Hadriel did get a chance to prove his worth, though, blocking three cinder wolves from getting to Lily and not taking a scratch himself.
Cinder wolf pelts were valuable enough to be worth skinning and heavy and stinky enough not to want to carry around with them -- oh, and there was this MASSIVE BRUSH FIRE -- so they went back to Crossroads to unload them, then (after a good night's rain took care of the fire) made a second attempt to head to the inn the next day. That time they made it, only to find the inn deserted.
There weren't any signs of a struggle, exactly, but the inn's doors were open and the innkeepers were missing. They found a young dwarf girl hiding under a staircase, though, and got the story from her -- monsters had come in the night, somehow lured her parents outside, and she'd never seen them again. Still, the inn seemed safer than camping in the open, so they barred all the doors, shuttered the windows so that no one could accidentally look out and see a gloomwing, and spent the night there.
A few hours before dawn, the monsters came, rattling the doors and smashing the windows, but not making any serious attempt to enter really. Hadriel risked a look out through the shutters and (5 will saves later) reported that it was a not-entirely-unexpected pack of ghouls and gloomwings. HUNDREDS of ghouls and at least a dozen gloomwings. They were gone by morning, though -- headed south.
So the party headed south to warn Crossroads, having Talon's hawk keep an eye out for the army of ghouls. It reported 'danger' from a small copse of trees a ways off from the main road, and Sam's familiar was able to scout it out and report that yes, the ghouls and gloomwings were sleeping the day there.
In Crossroads, they found a shouting match going on between a necromancer and the town cleric, about the proper treatment of undead. "Destroy them!" "No, enslave them!" They explained the situation, and that it was probably Shabra's army heading to... do... something to them. Maybe eat them. The necromancer explained that he had been sent to negotiate with Shabra, but finding just his army complicated things since he didn't want to piss him off, but letting his army rampage unopposed would send a message of weakness. They compared notes, and decided that killing the ghouls probably wouldn't bother Shabra too much (part of the reason to be a necromancer was to have disposable minions) but the gloomwings had to be left alive. Somehow. That satisfied the cleric as well.
last session | next session