Advance upon the Temple (14th May 2014)
Bow – Ranger
Cormac – Fighter
Gull – Thief (NPC)
Johan – Cleric
Vox – Magic User
Mother Screng's Herbshop - picture taken from T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil (copyright TSR/Wizards of the Coast)
Return to Nulb - Tirsday 16th Hextember (Day 77) – early morning
The white orb of the glorious sun hove above the horizon and slowly burnt off the shrouding mists that blanketed the Imeryds River on the day of Tir. The eddy of shimmering gossamer swirled and dissipated as the sturdy tramp of heavily shod boots from the small band of travellers passed through the dewy veil. It was to be another fine day in Vannin.
The party of adventurers, well-rested after two weeks of carousing in Castleford, had a spring in their step as they knew that this must be the final part of the fight against the Temple and all its followers. They had an idea where the Temple lay and were about to pin-point its exact location at the reinvigorated village of Nulb.
Blue smoke meandered into a miasma of fantastical shapes as it rose from the multitude of hearths and cooking fires within the hearts of the hovels within the village. The adventurers were clear on their objective and set to work as soon as they got to the clearing outside the motte and bailey castle. A few villagers about their daily chores and the brace of men-at-arms who stood guard behind the wooden palisade walls watched in wonder as Vox administered a magical dweomer upon his compatriot Bow, who very quickly ascended into the air and flew off in the direction of the lightning display of several weeks before.
Whilst the ranger was in the air, the rest of the party sauntered around in search of something to do with the hour or two at their disposal. The two inns had been completely destroyed by the conquering Thuringian army so they wondered what else the village offered in their absence.
Just as they were about to head off in search of somebody that they might know the party was approached by a wizened old crone. She asked them what they were doing and where they might be headed. Johan and Cormac spoke to the old woman and asked why she had such an interest in their movements. She replied that she might be able to help them with healing and such as she owned the local herb shop, as well as being a priestess of Sol Invictus. At mention of this name, Vox and Johan immediately left the vicinity and headed towards the river. Gull sauntered after them but Cormac humoured the old lady. He found out that she had been present the last time the Temple was razed and the demoness was imprisoned. She gave Cormac some useful information on how to get to the vicinity of the Temple and then gain entry if the main doors were still glyph-warded. She also mentioned that the main forest path was guarded by some fearsome beasts and that they had best be wary if they headed out that way. He thanked her for her advice and made to follow his comrades.
Bow returned from his flight about an hour after he left. From his vantage point in the sky he had spotted a place in the horizon spanning forest that seemed to be a clearing with perhaps a large building and associated tower completely covered with ill-looking vines within. He noted that the trees within the Gnarley Forest at that point seemed to change in character too, so he was quite sure he knew where the Temple lay. He compared notes with Cormac when he returned and the pair of them agreed that the information they had gathered corroborated.
An Encounter in the Gnarley Forest
The party grabbed a quick bite to eat from their supplies and headed out of the village in the direction depicted by Bow and Cormac. The dry dirt road that exited the south-east of the village took them part of the way until Cormac recognised the side track they were supposed to take if the old crone’s directions were to be believed.
The narrow path became an even narrower game trail, so the party had to advance in single file. The trees on either side loomed over the party and cut out much of the afternoon’s light, and the bushes and undergrowth to either side could have hidden a multitude of enemies waiting in ambush.
After they had been travelling for about an hour, a slight rustling from beside and to the rear of them brought the adventurers out of their reveries. Bow and Gull caught sight of movement but before they could call out, three monstrous beings erupted from the surrounding bushes. The huge grey-green mottled beasts that leapt from the bushes made for the centre and rear of the column. The ugly, noisome humanoids towered over their prey and the gnashing of their teeth made for a rude accompaniment to the dance of their ever moving limbs.
The teeth and claws of the monstrous beings rendered their way through the armour and protection of all of the party causing grievous wounds whenever they struck. The party fought back with all of their might but the enormous beasts proved powerful enough to withstand some of the best blows that Cormac and Bow could deliver. Johan stepped to the rear of the column to defend Vox and voiced the word that all dreaded to hear – Trolls! Upon hearing this Gull scarpered into the undergrowth, and Vox followed swiftly upon his heels.
Slowly but surely the fighters managed to grab the full attention of the first two trolls, whilst Johan was left to deal with the third but largest of the attacking trio. The fight went the way of the trolls to begin with but then the two fighters’ superior martial prowess began to tell.
Gull reappeared from the undergrowth but a twig snapped at the wrong moment and the troll he was about to back-stab caught sight of him. Vox let fly with his Magical Missiles to aid his comrades, but they only had a limited effect on the monsters.
Whilst Johan held his own at the rear of the column, Bow and Cormac hacked the other two trolls to pieces. One of the trolls fell to the ground, wounds agape, so the fighters’ attention turned to their remaining adversary. However, once their attention was drawn away from the fallen beast its wounds and severed limbs began to heal and knit together.
Vox, by this time, had become quite fearful of the outcome of the battle, especially since he saw the fallen troll get up from its hideous wounds and re-join the battle. He made his mind up to help Johan who was now in a terrible state and cast a Fireball in the direction of the largest of the attacking humanoids.
This had the desired effect. The monstrous beast fell from the damage it took from the magical fire but best of all, its wounds did not close up and heal. Johan also spotted this and advanced into the brush to grab a burning brand with which to help his fellow warriors when the next troll fell to their blades.
Cormac, Bow and Gull between them slew the two remaining trolls and kept hacking at their fallen bodies until Johan could join then with the flaming brand and cauterise the wounds, thus stopping them from reforming and healing.
With grim determination, the priest of Balder set to burning the foul smelling corpses so as to make sure that they never rose again whilst the rest of the party drew breath and took stock of their own wounds. Johan finished his grisly task and then administered to his companions’ hurts.
Bow suggested that they pressed on to the Temple but Cormac countered him by mentioning that there might in fact be a troll hoard at their lair. Bow easily found the trail that led to where the monstrous beasts had come from now that he could study the surroundings, so he led the party off in search of the trolls’ treasures.
A short fifteen minute walk down a small game trail went easily on them but the howling and snarling that soon approached them meant that the troll cave would be well-guarded. Five massive wolves loped into view, and when they caught sight of the party they redoubled their fury and charged at the ranger who stood point.
Bow took the brunt of the attack whilst his compatriots spread around him to aid him in his fight. However, these large wolves were no match for magical steel and they were all soon felled.
The party advanced upon the cave they could see ahead with a bit more caution but Gull motioned that the expected troll-wives and babies were not present within. The foul smelling cavern had plenty of room for the adventurers to rest up in but the rotten flesh stench that emanated from within meant that they had to stick to within a few feet of the entrance.
As the party were badly beaten up by their encounter with the trolls, Johan and Vox suggested that they stayed there the night to regain spells and heal up. Bow immediately lit a torch and began to investigate the interior of the cavern with Gull. There were no other entrances or exits within the cavern, secret or otherwise, but scattered throughout the rocky den were piles of gold and silver treasure that must have been looted from the many travellers and merchants that the trolls had attacked and eaten.
Johan made sure that they had a cooking fire going before he marked out a magical glyph upon the dirt floor entrance to the cave. He mentioned that no-one must cross the threshold of the Glyph of Warding lest they be affected by lightning.
The party slept well through the night; each watch passed without event. In the morning, the adventurers awoke and made their way to the front of the cave in turn. Johan told them the pass phrase was “I love clerics”. This rankled Vox but as he did not wish to bring down the wrath of Balder upon his head he muttered the pass phrase so he could exit the cave. Johan chuckled to himself as he had already dispelled the glyph before everyone had risen and wanted to see the magic user squirm as he spoke the words.
A Feast for Crows? - Wodensday 17th Hextember (Day 78) – early morning
The party, now fully restored, advanced towards the Temple along the main game trail they had left the day before. After a short walk they found that the trees began to change in nature. Gone were the oaks, elms and thorn bushes and in their place were twisted, gnarled abominations of nature. The fruit that hung from the branches was unlike anything that the party had seen before; great globes of blue that looked like a cross between a very large crab apple and a grape.
Bow plucked one of the fruit to smell it, and cut it open to survey its insides. It looked and smelled like a normal fruit but it was unlike anything he had eaten before. He held onto it for a while just in case he felt the need to try it later.
A few moments later the party rounded a bend in the path and saw through the thick, unnatural undergrowth the remains of a pair of towers. Bow investigated the remnant stone work and attempted to climb up for a better look over the surrounding area. Unfortunately for the ranger, the vines and creepers were just as rotten as the rest of the undergrowth and so could not hold his weight. He fell a short distance and twisted his ankle slightly in the process.
Johan took point and advanced between the two towers. He forced his way through the thick undergrowth and found himself between another two foreshortened towers that would have made up part of a gateway. He surged on ahead whilst his companions followed in the wake he created in the undergrowth, until he could just make out the roof of a huge building and a tower in the distance.
A loud cawing and crowing brought him back to his senses. The party members cast their eyes about and then saw, heading towards them from the north-east tower, a flock of ten or so giant ravens with murderous intent in their beady, intelligent eyes.