The cast of heroes
Bardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard
NPC (Human) - the guide
The second day (planar time)
After a quick repast and breaking camp, the party continued to follow the tracks they were pursuing the day before. After an hour of walking through the trees, the tracks they were following made an abrupt turn to the right. These tracks continued in a semi-circular path and seemed to rejoin what would have been the original path if it had continued in a straight line. Something was clearly being circumvented by the creature being tracked.
Knil the ranger and Korum the thief proceeded to the middle of the diversionary area and found a large clearing. It was decided neither would enter the clearing unless help was at hand, so Knil returned to the party to bring them hither. Korum stayed behind to keep watch on the glade. A few minutes later the party arrived, but there was no sign of Korum. Fearing the worst the party spread out to look for him, but he had only wandered off looking for clues. He had found carvings on some of the trees which he showed to Rioja, the resident mage. Rioja recalled that these were sigils to warn of a place protected by unicorns. Everyone was a little uneasy about entering the glade, except Arken, who strode straight in and started to set up camp. The others tried to follow one-by-one, but were overcome by feelings of paranoia and fear. They decided to make camp outside the glade.
Whilst camp was being made, Korum tried to work a few things out. He asked Arken to pull up a blade of grass; it stayed in his hand. Korum then cut an overhanging branch from a tree. The part within the area of the glade fell to the ground but the part still in the forest disappeared as expected: there was something different about the glade. Korum and Knil decided to find out how far the tracks they were originally following went, so decided to spend sometime pursuing this further. They travelled for about forty five minutes before a hill started to rise before them. As they approached the hill, they noticed that there was a crudely made entrance dug into the hill-side. The ranger scouted ahead, and climber a tree for a better view of the environs, whilst Korum checked out the entrance to the lair. Korum did not see much except that the entrance led into a short tunnel, which opened out into a small chamber and then continued on opposite for some distance. There was no sign of the creatures they were tracking. Knil, meanwhile, had climbed the tree and observed that the plane they were on consisted of concentric circles of mountains in the distance, hills and plains in the middle distance and forest right down to the central glade. It was most definitely an artificial construct. Suddenly, a bright light shone from the camp. Not knowing what it was, the duo sped back to the camp to find out what was going on. Just before Korum turned off the track, he took time to set a trip wire across the path. It turned out that the cleric had been casting spells to attract the attention of unicorns, but nothing seemed to have worked so far. A watch was set but the only event of note was a cry of pain on second watch. Korum noted that this came from the direction in which he had set his trap.
The third day (planar time)
The next morning, the party decided to investigate what may have happened to cause the cry in the night. Propped up against a tree, one of the creatures that had attacked them previously was nursing a broken leg. It was quickly bound and carried back to camp by Bardan. Rioja suggested the creature be thrown into the clearing to attract the attention of the unicorns. After waiting about ten minutes, a couple of loud cracks were heard and a unicorn appeared in the glade. It noticed the critter, skewered it with its horn and wandered off to the opposite side of the glade from the party to eat the grass there. The creature’s corpse disappeared.
Arken approached the unicorn and began telling it of the party’s quest. He withdrew the dragon orb from his cloak pocket, and it proceeded to shine very brightly. After a short while, the unicorn gestured to the party to get to the centre of the clearing and sit down. The party gathered their belongings and did as they were bid. The unicorn galloped around the party in ever decreasing circles until all of a sudden the party were transported back to the tunnel from which they entered the realm. Feeling that they may have been duped, Arken attempted to climb the ladder again, but it was noticed that there was a horn beneath the cloak he had been sitting on.
The first part of their quest had been completed.
Back in the real world (5th day continued)
The torches which had been left at the bottom of the shaft when they entered the realm of the unicorn were still burning, so the party deduced they had not been gone for long. Korum took one and made his way to the other end of the tunnel complex. He made his way up the ladder and into the study without any problems, but upon going up into the house and looking outside, the sky was pitch black. Fearing the worst, he returned to the party and set his last few torches at the bottom of the shaft, then the ones he carried were set at the other end of the tunnel and, finally, the lantern was lit and placed amongst the party. They decided to wait a few hours before venturing out again, so that the magic users could regain their spells and everyone could rest. There were no incidents on any of the watches set.
Return to civilisation (days 6-10)
Upon returning to the barn outside, they sought out their guide, who was no worse for wear. He explained that nothing untoward had happened whilst they were gone, but couldn’t help thinking why they would want to spend a whole day in a tunnel.
The following three days were spent travelling back to the fishing village on the lake, retracing the steps that brought them to their last adventure.
Upon their return to the fishing village, the adventurers decided to sell their boat and re-provision themselves for the trip into troll country. They found a merchant who may have a contact who would buy the boat from them but the price would not be what they expected. They agreed to wait for the merchant to arrange a deal with his compatriot. The merchant returned and the haggling started. Arken was interested in buying some magical items, if available, and the haggling turned round to how much the party were willing to pay for a set of magical darts; the boat being part of the exchange price. A deal could not be agreed upon, even with Bardan growling about legs being broken and towns being burned down, so Arken took payment for the boat and let the merchant go on his way. Realising that they would need all the magic they could get their hands on, it was agreed that Korum and Knil would try to gain access to these treasures another way.
Seeing as the fishing village was a small settlement, it was easy to find out where the merchant lived. The party waited until after dark, cast charm, silence and darkness onto the little thief and sent him on his way. He made it to the merchant’s house where he snuck inside. There was nothing of note to be found downstairs, so he headed up into the chamber above to find the merchant fast asleep. After taking precautions of oiling door hinges and checking for traps, Korum headed to the trunk at the foot of the bed. It was too heavy to carry, so he checked it over for traps and attempted to open it. The locks wouldn’t budge but a high pitched screaming greeted his ears. Panicked into thinking that the merchant may now be awoken from his slumber he made to exit quickly, but remembered that the silence spell protected him. The merchant still lay abed undisturbed. Being that the lock had defeated him, Korum used a hammer and spike to force open the chest. Inside was a wealth of goodies; the darts, a set of arrows, a sword, some clothing and furs, a few pouches of coins and gems. He left the sword and clothing but secreted the rest across his person. Backing slowly out of the room, aware that the spells could end at any moment, he spiked shut the bedroom door and made his getaway. Upon returning to the party, he told them of his adventure and handed over the darts and arrows – there was no need to let them know about the gems and coins!
The carts were ready to go, so the adventurers saddled up and left straight away.
Journey into Troll Country (days 11-17)
The journey westwards was quite uneventful. Tall stories and scary facts were told of what trolls were and what they could do. They knew they would have a fight on their hands to capture or kill such a creature.
After travelling for about a week down the main caravan route, the trees and shrubbery they were travelling through suddenly appeared dead. Everything one side of a line was living and fruitful, and on the other side the trees were dead and dry. As night was approaching, the party decided to make camp for the night. Watch fires were set and a rota for sentry duty arranged. Knil the ranger took first watch, and no sooner had he settled into his routine than he espied a slightly larger than goblin sized silvery apparition appear on the edge of his vision. This non-corporeal apparition approached slowly, but deliberately to wards the camp and started to moan. Knil woke the two magic users, who in turn awoke the fighter and thief. Weapons were readied, but Arken raised his holy symbol aloft and strode towards the silvery being crying “Oi, you, begone from here*”. The apparition promptly disappeared. The Halfling commented that that was the most unusual turning of dead he had ever heard in his life.
(* - as this is a family rated site, the actual words could not be repeated but the first word began with F and the last word ended with F).
The Tower (day 18)
The following morning, the party set out again along the caravan route towards troll country. The blasted trees were still in abundance and no animals or birds could be seen or heard. After a few hours travelling, Rioja the mage spotted the top of a tower hidden amongst the trees. The party approached with due caution and tied off the cart and horses a short distance from it. The ranger and thief approached with trepidation but could only find a single large door at the base, and a few arrow slits higher up the tall, cylindrical building. After walking around the tower they realised it was very quiet, and no challenge had been shouted out. The Halfling decided to try the door. A booming voice asked who they were. Unusually stumped for words, the Halfling could only mumble under his breath. The loud voice brought the rest of the party to the door. The door was tried again, only for the same message to relay itself. Bardan was not impressed, so he struck the door with his axe. He was hit in the foot by a bolt of lightning, making him howl in pain and the same voice boomed for the party to go away. His temper got the better of him, so he tried again, hoping that he could withstand the damage until he had caved in the door. He was hit by another bolt and dragged from the vicinity to be healed by Arken.
Plan B was called into action. Rioja cast Spider Climb onto Korum, who then shimmied up the walls of the tower and lowered his rope. It was a fifty foot rope, but as the tower was sixty feet high it didn’t reach all the way to the ground. Bardan boosted Arken up onto the rope and he climbed to the top of the tower too – in case the Halfling got himself into trouble. A few loose window panes were deftly removed and the Halfling climbed in through the window. He dropped silently to the floor and took a look around. There was a tall wardrobe to one side and a large carpet on the floor. The carpet was swiftly dragged aside to reveal a trap door. Korum tested it for traps and heaved it open. Below him he saw what looked like a study; a desk to one side, several large bookcases filled with books, papers all over the desk, a stairwell leading down, a painted sigil on the floor and lying across the middle of the sigil, a dead body that looked like it had been there a while. He called for Arken to follow him into the upper room and explained what he had seen. As soon as Arken’s feet hit the stone work he proceeded to be violently ill. He crawled to the side of the room to recover his dignity.
Not wanting to land on the sigil below Korum cooked up a plan to drop down the rope ladder and swing to land on the desk. However, before he could do that, the cleric had summoned a small elemental to scour the room for traps and so on. This had the undesired affect of disrupting all of the paper work on the desk. Once the commotion had dissipated, Korum dropped down into the room as planned and held the ladder for Arken, who was feeling a little better now.
Korum descended the stairwell to the bottom of the tower (there was nothing of note on the way down) and proceeded to the front door. He made to pull it open but was, again, greeted with the booming voice demanding “Who goes there?” “Friend” squeaked the little thief in reply and the door opened to his touch. The rest of the party quickly entered and strode up to the study room.
Rioja made directly for the books and rapidly found the one that was open on the desk before the air elemental disturbed it. He let the book fall open naturally to the page that would have been open when the magic was being cast and discovered quickly that the sigil painted on the floor had a few mistakes in it that would have led to this magician’s untimely demise. The calligraphy within the book showed that this was a magical growth spell; the upshot of the poor drawing on the floor being the death of the mage casting it and the reversal of the effect on the surrounding countryside. Rioja realised that this was, in fact, the magician’s spell book, so stole off to a quiet area to study it.
Korum and Bardan decided to investigate the desk, and upon turning out the drawers one-by-one found a hoard of gold coins (which Bardan divided up rather unevenly because he could not count), a few piles of old papers which were delivered directly to Rioja and a small case of six phials containing a muddy brown liquid. Arken opened one and sipped at it. After feeling no ill effects decided to down the rest. Barda and the ranger followed suit, but Korum, who was thirsty, chugged down two. He felt a bit sick afterwards but somehow, when he recovered, he felt a bit healthier than he had ever done (Con raised by 1 point). The other adventurers felt the same way, except Rioja who didn’t touch his; he was saving it for later.