It started with the flooding river continuing to inconvenience the party. None of them were in actual danger, except for the horse, who was still harnessed to the wagon and struggling to keep his head above water. Phoof saw to him while Ash directed the others in building makeshift pontoons to keep the wagon from sinking.
Once they had a 'boat', they strapped some shields to pole-arms and paddled it downriver until they got to what was left of Turtleback Ferry. Half the town was underwater -- the church had a bunch of refugees in it, and many others were huddling on boats that were being slammed up against the general store by the current, threatening to capsize at any moment.
The party ran for the general store and started trying to -- AHH A SNAKE! Okay, the party killed the giant water snake, and then started to rescue the civilians by pulling them up to the -- what... what is that thing?
A massive dragon-like creature with tentacles loomed over the church, threatening the town. June fireballed it, barely managing to overcome its SR, while Altei use his ninja water-walking to run across the surface in its direction, and Kaito climbed into one of the huddling boats and took command of the strongest refugees.
Kaito: "Row me closer! I want to hit it with my sword!"
June: *casts fly on Kaito*
Kaito: "Oh. Thanks. Now I can actually reach it. Yay."
As Altei and Kaito got close, they were hit by a fear aura that threatened to send them running in terror. Unfortunately, both of them made their saves -- Kaito because Phoof gave him a reroll using her bardic powers.
Kaito: "Everyone is so helpful. Whatever would I do without you all?"
What he ended up doing was trying to free Altei from the tentacle that had grabbed him and was threatening to squeeze the life out of him... only to find that even the tentacles were too resistant for his sword to do more than scratch them. Luckily, Altei managed to wriggle free, and the two of them were mostly beneath the monster's notice.
It breathed a cloud of wisdom-draining confusion gas on them, confusing them both and then moving on past. After a round where they gibbered uselessly, though, its tentacles grabbed them in passing and triggered Confusion's auto-retaliation, so they got to attempt to attack it, without much effect.
Meanwhile, Phoof was overseeing the evacuation of the remaining refugees, and Ash and June were staying back and occasionally lobbing a spell in the creature's direction -- Dispel Magic did nothing, but a Lightning Bolt got through and slightly scorched it.
Whether from accumulated damage (ha) or just because it felt like it had done enough, the monster eventually backed off, flinging Altei high into the air (but he had wings, fortunately) and leaving Kaito, momentarily sane, to go find a place to hide until the confusion wore off.
In the aftermath, they were approached by the mayor, who wanted them to go check on the dam which was usually overseen by a tribe of trolls, the Skulltakers.
Kaito: "So they're helpful, friendly trolls?"
Mayor: "Oh god no."
The party had a couple of things they wanted to do first. The first priority was to find the marked villagers -- since several of the people who'd died in the flood and monster assault had 'glowed blue', which they figured was the Lord of Greed claiming their marked souls -- and get rid of their marks somehow. Ash's tattoo skills were good enough to deface the mark enough for it to stop working, but it took her about an hour for each person so there was no way they were going to be able to get everyone.
The second thing to do was to search the marsh for the nymph and his lover, the commander of the Black Arrow rangers, so that he could help secure the fort. They originally planned to sleep the night first, just in case, but Phoof was approached by a panicked pixie who convinced her to get them to leave immediately.
So they reached the haunted marsh at sundown -- which turned out not to matter, since the canopy of blackened, twisted trees was thick enough that it would have completely obscured the sun even in the light of day. The pixie led them down the path, where they ran into a series of hazards and temptations.
A pool of clear water, cursed of course.
A laughing figure trying to lure them off the path.
A dance of the ghosts of woodland creatures, attempting to get them to join the dance, FOREVER.
A wrecked ship, miles from the ocean... whose only inhabitant was an inanimate skeleton sitting next to a magically playing harpsicord. Ash and Kaito were lured in by that temptation, and recovered a bit of treasure without any obvious harm coming to them -- a jewel-encrusted silver goblet, some maps of an unknown archipelago, and an ancient book of musical notation which they gave to Phoof.
Phoof was amazed -- it was a book of masterpieces! If she could learn to play these, the effects would be powerful indeed...
As she claimed the book and announced her intent to learn and play the pieces, a mysterious dog that she'd found somewhere and was petting smiled widely, and then disappeared -- along with the ship.
Eventually, they reached the center of the wood, where the nymph made her home. She emerged from the water suddenly, before they could avert their gaze, and everyone (except Phoof) was blinded by her 'beauty' (somehow, even though she was undead and corrupted and really not very beautiful at all). She wailed in agony... her lover had been betrayed, and taken from her, and her attempts to resurrect him had failed, and why shouldn't she just murder them all?
"We didn't betray him! It was... that other guy. Kalen or Valen or something!" did not do much to appease her.
"We'll bring him back to you!" worked a lot better. The ogres had taken him, and if they went to the tribe and retrieved him, or his body, or even just a *piece* of his body, she would be at peace.
Nymph: "And if you don't, my forest will march across the land and rip your civilization to bones!"
Phoof led the blinded party members back to town, where the priest agreed to cure them if they went to check out the dam trolls next.
It was a little early, but we cut it there.
prev | next