The NPCs came up with a plan -- they'd take the best warriors they could get from Crossroads and the dwarven refugee camp, with most of their highest level clerics as backup, and go destroy the ghouls. Meanwhile, the necromancer promised he'd take care of the gloomwings without hurting them and irretrievably pissing off Shabra.
Talon: "Do we have to come?"
Priest: "We can probably win without your assistance, but any backup we can get would be nice in case something unexpected happens."
After some discussion, they agreed to come along, although they weren't going to be on the front line. Well, except for Hef, who they didn't think they'd be able to hold back, and Hobbes, who was not only disposable but almost indestructable.
So the clerics buffed up their forces, formed them into a line of battle, and marched on the stand of trees where Sam's invisible cat Max had seen the ghouls and gloomwings. As they got near, the ghouls charged!
Nearly the entire font line of militia was paralyzed in the initial exchange, but the priests were able to remove their paralysis and keep them fighting. They had to do this several times, which kept them from turning undead until late in the fight.
Lots of ghouls went down too, though -- to the militia, to Hef and Hobbes and Talon, and to Sam's fireballs. But more kept coming! There were hundreds in the dense little copse, and it took the ones near the back time to make their way through the whole mess of trees.
Meanwhile, the necromancer was taking care of the gloomwings as promised. He'd blindfolded himself to avoid being confused, and instructed his zombie drake to point him at the largest concentration of gloomwings each round, at which point he'd fire off a cone fear. This did eventually get rid of all the gloomwings (although near the end he needed to use some Symbol of Pain spells, which had friendly fire issues because he didn't know everyone well enough to exclude them) but not before they were able to confuse many of the militia and even some of the party and priests a few times.
Neither the endless waves of ghouls (which Sam was eventually able to get under control with Web spells, channeling them into a few corridors which Hef and Hobbes could block) or the gloomwings confusion aura was the worst threat, though -- as the fight went on, several Tenebrous Worms emerged from the forest, devouring the militia in a single bite! Hef and Talon had better luck against them, though -- Hef was invisible, and Talon was ranged, and the head priest threw in a few Flame Strike spells for good measure. Sam also contributed a scorching ray or two. They managed to take them down almost as fast as they appeared, and when the last one hatched from a dead ghoul twenty feet from Lilia and Hadriel (her underling), Hadriel bathed the area in daylight, which weakened it enough for him to withstand its assault until the party could focus on it and take it out as well.
After mopping up the ghouls, the militia dug a huge pit and they burned and buried all the bodies six feet under. Important, since incorporeal undead (which victims whose bodies were destroyed sometimes came back as) could only phase through 5 feet of dirt. Actually, it was more like 15 feet, just to be sure.
Then they went back and rested and/or partied all night, while the necromancer headed north to negotiate with Shabra without further delay. There wasn't any monetary reward for helping with the battle, but the priests acknowledged that they owed the party a favor since the tenebrous worms would have slaughtered everyone if they hadn't been there. So, free clerical services in the future, probably.
They made their way north without incident, the next day, and spent the next night at the deserted inn, also without incident. The night after that, they finally arrived at the pass, only to find the first of the forts suspiciously quiet. Max and Talon scouted it out and found it deserted, but after letting the party inside (the door was heavily locked, but Talon could open it by taking 20) they discovered that everyone had left as if on patrol, and NEVER CAME BACK. Eventally they discovered some notes, that they'd simply been called to the next fort up the line as reinforcements.
So as far as they knew, no horrible disasters yet.
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