So first mixed party -- Tavros (Paladin), Ruin (Horizon Walker), Azrael (Wizard), and Marshal (Cleric) -- is walking towards the cave when we notice some striped beasts the size of carriages in the bushes. We have a lot of extra food from Heroes’ Feast, so we throw a bunch their way and try to make friends with them. One of them grabs Azrael and starts licking his hand. He squeaks in a somewhat undignified fashion. “Ruin? Help me? I don’t want to use any spells yet.”
It’s big enough to devour him in about two bites.
Tavros: “Don’t move! They can’t see you if you don’t move!”
Azrael: “That’s Tyrannosauruses!”
Tavros: “Oh! Right! Sorry!”
Azrael tells us to let the tigers into the Nine Halls (his conjured Magnificent Mansion). We have successfully bypassed the tigers. Azrael prestidigitates his robes clean. Tavros calls into the cave, and a couple of wolves approach through the water on the cave floor. Azrael drops Cloudkill, and takes the wolves out.
We hear some more sloshing as other people approach. Someone yells, “What the hell is going on up there?” Tavros is yelling, and Marshall is banging on his armor.
Second voice: “It’s some sort of gas!” Alarums and Excursions ensue.
The cloud drifts through the entrance and across the larger cavern. The werewolves start sneaking forward through the water, mostly in wolf form. They’re very quiet, but Ruin hears very well. There are seven, and one of them sounds much bigger than the others.
Azrael decides that this is the time to drop an Incendiary Cloud, since he already used his Cloudkill. A flame-shot cloud fills the entrance, engulfing the approaching wolves. The sneaking is suddenly replaced by sharp yipping and snarling sounds. Tavros smacks one as it runs by; Azrael swing at another, but misses. There’s cursing from inside the cavern. “You cowards! You will pay for harming animals!” someone shouts.
Tavros: “We’re just, um, here for your annual flea dip!”
Azrael moves the Incendiary Cloud again, taking it further back and from the sound of things scorching a few more wolves. Two large wolves break out of the cloud and come charging forward. Marshall hears someone casting inside, but he has no idea what it is. Ruin decides to wait until the wolves reach them, then attack; Tavros is still waiting. Somebody casts another spell, which Azrael identifies as Mass Bull’s Strength.
Marshall silvers his weapon. There’s a blood-curdling scream of rage, and a figure comes charging through the Incendiary Cloud. It’s in hybrid form, massive and furry and carrying a very big axe. Azrael hits him with an Empowered Scorching Ray, which does a huge amount of damage that he just completely shrugs off, then follows up with a quickened scorching ray for almost as much damage again. He is now focused completely on Azrael.
The two guys in wolf form attack Ruin and Tavros, missing.
Someone else is casting a spell: divine favor. Some cleric is buffing himself and the others. Ruin attacks three times, hitting twice and doing some damage. Somewhere back in the cave, the priest casts Shield Other. Marshall steps forward and uses Harm on one of the wolves, leaving it almost dead.
The big barbarian guy charges, shoves past the wolves, and attacks Marshall. Azrael shifts the Incendiary Cloud closer to us, and two more wolves run through it. The evil cleric, who appears to be Malwind, attempts to dispel the Incendiary Cloud. He fails.
Ruin lays into the giant werewolf barbarian, and the barbarian goes down.
Marshall casts Anti-life shell and uses it to plug the hallway. Tavros takes this opportunity to deliver a coup-de-grace against the fallen barbarian. Azrael shifts the Incendiary Cloud back down the hall, and then drops a Fireball on the two wolves. The cloud is now sitting on Malwind and two other wolves.
The two nearer wolves push forward, but can’t get past Marshall’s barrier. The two rear wolves and Malwind move forward out of the Incendiary Cloud, but can’t get through the Anti-Life shell; they’re kind of stuck.
Ruin switches to bow and fires off a perfectly placed arrow at the nearest wolf, then follows it up with another couple of arrows, and finishes it. The cleric tries Greater Dispel Magic and still fails to get rid of the Incendiary Cloud. Marshall holds his ground and casts Searing Light at Malwind.
Tavros is basically just guarding Azrael, who tries Finger of Death on Malwind -- but Malwind tragically fails to die, though he still takes some damage. He follows up with quickened Ennervation, then rolls the Incendiary Cloud up to Malwind and the two wolves, burning them a bit more.
Malwind: “Wait! Wait! What do you want!”
Ruin nocks an arrow: “This.” He starts firing arrows at Malwind, hitting twice and the firing back at one of the wolves as well.
Back in the cave, someone casts Cure Critical Wolves -- probably the cleric who’s been absorbing half the damage done to Malwind, and wondering why in the hell this was so painful. Marshall summons a Noble Fire Salamander just behind the incendiary cloud.
Azrael hits Malwind with an Empowered Scorching Ray. The two wolves in the fire try to retreat but run into the salamander, who spears one of them with a flaming spear. The wolves manage to push past and retreat into the main cavern. Malwind runs back through the fire, and Ruin shoots the one remaining wolf and kills him.
We advance, keeping Marshall positioned to block the entrance while Azrael directs the Incendiary Cloud onto the building where two of them have tried to take shelter. The house is up on beams, so Azrael disintegrates the nearest beam, causing the burning house to collapse spill towards us.
Malwind: “We yield! We yield!” The random werewolf flees for the far side of the cavern. Malwind crawls awkwardly out the back window.
Ruin takes Tavros and Dimension Doors them back to where Malwind is trying to get out the window. The Cleric heals Malwind, while the building is burning around him. Marshall tries Hold Person on the priest, but fails. Tavros tags Malwind, and the priest flinches as well; a bit of blood trickles down his cheek.
The Incendiary Cloud has finally run out. Malwind stands up, and Tavros and Ruin both hit him again. The priest groans again. Malwind tries to hit Ruin, but misses. Ruin attacks Malwind, hitting him twice. Malwind groans; the priest dies from secondhand damage. Another leg on the building collapses, sending everybody to the ground. Marshall moves around to where he can see Malwind, and tags him with Searing Light.
Tavros stands back up, and Malwind tries to stab him in the ankles but misses. Tavros swings at him but misses. Azrael comes flying over the burning house and tries to disintegrate Malwind; Malwind doesn’t turn to dust, but he does take some damage.
Malwind lays hands on himself, then calls for mercy. Ruin finishes him. There are two werewolves left as we stand there laughing at the carnage; they venture out of the trees within the cavern and surrender.
Us: “Fine. Run away.”
We start searching the cave. It’s a large strange cavern, with natural light and grass and trees growing throughout as if they were out in the open. There are strange crystals in the corners.
The house we burned down didn’t have much in it. Another house, probably Malwinds, has the scales we wanted and some papers including a letter calling for Malwind to bring the Duchy of Vrist to heel in the name of Urgroth. He’s supposed to use his unique gift to create a unique army to raze the northern duchy. He will meet up with their operative, then sack Lydell; he shouldn’t have any trouble tracking and killing scouts. Turn the Elder over to our torturers; Fenrir will lead the assault. It’s signed by Richlieu.
In addition to the letter, we find a ledger detailing prisoners that they’ve taken off merchant vessels and what was done with them: killed, initiated, weak stock, failed transformation, etc.
We move over to the priest’s house. He has a lovely little altar which we immediately ruin by consecrating it. We move over to the adjoining building and break down the locked door. This one mostly seems to have supplies: rations, clothing, etc. There’s another door. We beat that one down and find their treasury.
3000 gp in gems
11000 gems in art
Spider climb, shocking grasp, darkness, Endure Elements, oil of Bless Weapon, potions of cure moderate, endure elements, shield of faith +2, a restorative ointment worth 400 gp, a 44 charge wand of burning hands worth 660 gp.
We break down another door, and discover that the Cloudkill has cleared out all the captives. Azrael: “Oops.”
We returnt to the Elf’s cabin and put the scales on the stone; the oldest elf we’ve ever seen appears in the middle of the room. He’s bent, wrinkled, has a beard down to his waist; but his eyes speak of wisdom that speaks awe into all of us.
Ever since the Sundering, he feared that the whole of his people had fallen into the sea. This is Zilf -- or it was, anyway. He’s 1,557 years old -- older than the oldest of dragons. He remembers the dark ages of Povos. He remembers Mad King Rowland in Eon 666; he remembers Waltian Syrial, who united the content and ended the dark ages. He remembers the slaughter of Marjorie; he was the hierophant of Duendewood at the time.
Ruin explains that Povos is still where he left it; mentions the current High Druid, Saladhel. He has dreamed of the place that is the end of all things, the great void. “You, Ruin, must make that choice, world traveler. You see, there can only be one Hierophant. So it must be either me, or Saladhel.” He’s aware of the separation of Fanaxia. And there are no other True Elves here, so he cannot be hierophant of Fanaxia. To choose Saladhel is to choose a general, one who will face the dark forces in Povos unflinching; to choose Zilf is to choose the wisdom of an old man, who might be able to liberate this land.
Ruin, after much consideration: “You are older and wiser; I fear it must be you.”
Zilf: “This will make you fight harder in Povos.”
Ruin: “So be it.”
Zilf: “Then the first thing you must do is stop this invasion of Vrist; then you must visit castle Fanax, and choose between the powers of the dark one and the powers of Asmodeus. I will meditate and learn how to heal the weather of this world.”
Tavros: “Could you see if you could find a good high priest of Amun?”
Zilf: “Perhaps you should try Vrist; it was the birthplace of the dark one, it could be the birthplace of the worship of Amun. I recommend that you spend some time in contemplation. You have received words of wisdom; you should examine them very closely. Not mine, but another’s. Also, Marshall is a poor choice.”
Marshall: “It’s the elfbane scythe that’s throwing you off.”
Zilf: “I have had many allies over the years; I can endure this.”
So our plan is to stop the invasion and return here to the druid, then deal with Castle Fanax and the invasion of Lord Crowe’s castle.
Next session we’ll pick up with the other party, and visiting the noble families of Vrist.