Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Forest of Wyrd Session #64 & 65 - Fall of the Hidden One, and Return of the Prince Who Would Be

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

Ranza (Changeling 5)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 6)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 6) and Wattles the Giant Swan 
Thrax (Fighter 5)
Vegarious (Changeling 4) 
Jonesomon (Specialist 5) 
neo-Baihu Cerritulus (Magic User ?) [NPC]



The minotaur charged into the party, and specifically into Hobbs who stepped forth to face the monster. Hobbs was viciously gored and pushed aside. But the hedgefey stood firm, and he and the rest of the party turned their full focus on their not so jolly green foe. The creature did inflict much damage. And the party noted,  was healing of its own hurts, the vine and growth of the hedge and floor climbing up it's body to close it's wounds. So Ranza used a fear spell to drive it away. The minotaur turned and melded back into the hedge. But it was not gone long, and before the party could even lick their wounds, it was back for more. This time Gnarl used entangle to slow it down, but the beast did not seem to be held as tightly as most victims. Guessing it would take more than hacking and slashing to end this threat, the party used all their supply of oil and torches, and Ranza the last charge of her wand of bees, to finally turn the minotaur into the remnants of a  smoldering  brush fire. 

Pausing to bind wounds, the party then moved on. The only exit out of the chamber went north, and was there blocked by a wall of thorns. Which proved no impediment to the party as they simply deployed the folding bridge over it. There were a few side passages, but just past the wall of thorns there was a another large space. In one corner stood a collection of vines and growth in the form of trees; in another was what looked to be a large mirror with a strange purple glow held in the frame. Poking around in the 'forest', the party came across a strange tree. It had the face of a wood gnome trapped in it's 'trunk'. And upon sensing the party, the face spoke. His name was Fnyrous, father of Silnor and creator of the Verdant Maze. From him, they learned the maze was to be but one of the three refuges for the Prince Who Would Be. In addition to the island temple and the maze, the Faerie were to build a place for the Prince in their realm. Alas they betrayed all, and instead the Prince was kidnapped by his faerie grandfather, Crindis the Hidden One and whisked away to Faeire as a prisoner instead. Crindis also cursed the Maze and Fnyrous, turning him into a tree and the maze into a deadly trap. When asked why the Prince was kidnapped, Fynrous explained Crindis hoped to use his grandson's connection to the mortal realm as a way to return in strength and conquer the Forest of Wyrd. 

The party professed their desire to prevent that from happening, and explained their quest to rescue the Prince and bring him back to rule the Forest. Which made Fynrous happy, and he explained what they had to do. The purple mirror was the gate to the pocket realm of Faerie where the Prince was held. To open the gate, they had to cover the purple flame held by the statue of the Prince Who Would Be (which he explained where to find) with the purple cup from the pillar. That would open the gate, which could only be closed again by removing the cup from the flame. He explained that once in Faerie, they must move fast. As they might be lucky enough to  get the Prince before Crindis even knew they were there. And the gate should not be left open too long, as no doubt someone on the other side would eventually notice and make use of it to come through to the mortal realm. 

Having learned all they could, the party headed back to the minotaur chamber and the statue there. They quickly figured out that the stature of the King in Yellow was activated like the other two teleport statues, but in this case by placing a burning ember and a green leaf in his hands. This brought them back to the first half of the maze, and they made their way to the cup and pillar. More brut forces was tried, and in the end Vegarious was able to pull the cup free of whatever held in tight. Then back thorough the teleporter they went. They found the statue of the Prince, and tested the gate opening to confirm Fynrous was telling them the truth. Closing it again, they settled down in the gate chamber to rest and sleep before passing through to Faerie

Once refreshed, the party activated the gate and passed through. And found themselves back on the mountainside, looking down on the island with the temple. Or were they? A second look showed some clear differences. First, everything was bathed under fey twilight. And in place of the temple, there was and odd tower of coloured crystal with a large bulge off to one side at the top. And there was a bridge leading to the island from the base of the cliff on which they were perched. Seeing that, Hobbs convinced Wattle to fly the party down one by one and they then rushed to cross the bridge.

But there they were stopped by what looked like Polduk the giant. But they quickly learned it was his twin brother, Oengus. Who has been geas by Crindis to guard the bridge against intruders. Only those who answered a riddle, beat him in a wrestling match, or paid a blood or gold price could pass. Most of the party opted for riddles, and were successful in answering them. Vegarious was not so lucky, and was forced to pay the blood price; a hard blow to the head from Oegus' club. Bit he then let them all pass, and once more the party rushed forward to the tower, determined to waste as little time as possible.

Once there, they found four ramps of polished white stone, leading into a tower built of giant multi-colored opaque crystals.  Heading up one ramp, they entered a round chamber. It was largely devoid of content, except for four pillars . These were near the walls of the tower, and connected to the wall by a colored and shimmering sheet of light; one red, one green, one blue and one yellow. And right in the center sat a monstrous creature, with the face of a man, body of a lion, bat wings and a long spiked tail. In the ceiling above Jonesomon noted a trapdoor, there being no other exit from the room. The creature sat grinning at them, and the party tried to parley and negotiate. Anything to avoid a fight at this point. But the gatekeeper would have nothing to do with it, so Ganrl used his ring of the stone to reshape the stone and clamp the beasts butt to the floor, while Ranza deployed the folding bridge to reach the trapdoor. That of course made the gatekeeper angry, and though he could not move, he could still fight. And promptly fired a volley of tail spikes, most of which hit Vegarious. He also summoned a band of hobs through the red shimmering light. While most of the party rushed up the bridge, Thrax and Hobbs stayed below and finished off their foes, not wanting to leave enemies behind them. 

Climbing through the trap door, the party found themselves in an even emptier room. There was nothing to see except a door to the south. Jonesomon, noting that the weird multicolored glow of the crystal walls was disorienting, focused on the plain white floor for a bit. And then curiously noticed he could now see indistinct objects out of the corner of his eye. He reached for one, hoping it might be a healing poultice. Which to his great surprise and relief it was! Hobbs and Thrax tried the same, and likewise hoped for and got a healing poultice. But unfortunately for the badly battered Vegarious, when she tried it there were no more objects to be seen. 

Done with parlor tricks, they party opend to door, discovering a set of stairs going up. This lead to another simple room, this time making up just one half the tower. A set of stairs continued up further, and the wall that divided the tower in half had two doors in it. Each guarded by a fey knight. As Jonesomon carefully went to check the stairs, Hobbs walked over to the closest knight. The figure didn't move or speak until Hobbs attempted to approach the door, as the hedgefey had noted a barred window. The knight then turned and growled "Do not approach the door" and took a swing at Hobbs with his sword. This opened a general melee as the party and the other guard got stuck in, and after an exchange of blows the guards were slain. Going over the the door, Hobbs called out. And from just out of sight a figure appeared. He was young and fair, with  blue tinge to hair and skin, and carried a large book under one arm. And they immediately recognized him as the Prince Who Would Be. Hobbs started to explain who they were, but the Prince stopped him. Patting the book under his arm, he said he knew all about them and what they had done (which caused a few uncomfortable winces as they realized they killed his mother) as could could read history as it happened. Knowing they were there to free him, he told them the doors could only by opened by a special key.  It could be found on the next level up, but they may also run into Crindis the Hidden One there. 

Opting for speed once again, the party rushed the stairs and entered what must have been the large bulge at the side of the tower. In that cavernous space there were three flat platforms hovering above the floor; one at 5', one at 15; and one at 25'. Barring the entrance were another pair of fey knights, and on the highest platform they could see what could only be Crindis the Hidden One; a tall slim figure mounted on a Faerie nightmare, dressed in robes of indigo and black, flickering and shimmering in the weird tower light. The knights turned to attack, and the party responded in kind. Thrax summoned his own nightmare, and with Gnarl riding in front of him, charged into the air at Crindis. Meanwhile the rest of the party fought the two knights who barred their passage, as well as others the Hidden One summoned onto the lower platform. Ranza and Jonesomon were blinded by their opponents, while Thrax/Gnarl/nightmare traded blows with Crindis and his mount. The fey lord also tried several times to enspell the fighter, but the big dumb fighters luck shook it all off. Except at last, just after Crindis' own mount was slain, the fey lord succeeded in geas the fighter the leave the tower and never return. But by this time it was too late for the Hidden One. Gnarl had jumped free as Thrax rode away, landing on the highest platform. There he was joined by more of the party, they having extended the folding bridge to reach fighting height. And with a few more blows, they party brought down their foe.

The party quickly looted the body of magical bracers, sword and a strange shimmering key. With this they returned to the lower level and freed the Prince. Fleeing the tower, they encountered Oengus coming their way, bellowing that his curse was lifted and he was now ruler once more. And as they passed back through the mountainside  gate, they encountered the giant Polduk coming through yelling the same as the two brothers were reunited in their realm. 

Once back through the gate and maze, the party with the Prince ended up back on the isle and the temple. Taking a breather, they spoke to the Prince. They learned he was ready to start on the path toward rulership of the Forest. But his didn't want to do it through force of arms and in haste if it could be avoided, He would bide time and slowly build support among all in the Forest, taking the long path to his inheritance. He asked if they would support and help him by becoming part of his court. On this the party split; both Jonesomon and Ranza opted to turn away, But the specialist, before walking away passed Starblade to the Prince, as he claimed is by right of his father.  Those who remained he appointed to his court. Hobbs as the first knight of the Order of the Swan. Thrax as his shield and standard bearer should it come to battle. Gnarl as his Warden of the Forest. And Vegarious as his close Consul,  as one who like him stood in both the fey and the mortal realm. 

AND HERE ENDS THE FOREST OF WYRD (FOR NOW) 

TOTAL XP
56875 

GAINS
Bracers of Defense AC20
Sword +3, Cold Flame
The Prince Who Would Be
 
KILLS/VICTORIES
Verdant Minotaur
The Gatekeeper
3 Hobs
6 Fey Knights
Crindis the Hidden One 

LOSSES
none 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Forest of Wyrd Session # 63 - The Verdant Maze

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

Ranza (Changeling 5)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 6)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 6) and Wattles the Giant Swan 
Thrax (Fighter 5)
Vegarious (Changeling 4) 
Jonesomon (Specialist 5) 
neo-Baihu Cerritulus (Magic User ?) [NPC]




After binding their wounds and burying what remained of Slugs, the party looked up at the opening in the rock face and tired to figure out how to climb up 300' in the pouring rain. In the end Hobbs was able to convince Wattles to fly everyone up there one by one and deposit them on the narrow ledge. Peering in, they could see a rough tunnel through the rock, the end of which opened into a larger lighted space. The party headed in that direction, including Wattles who had to be coaxed along with some treats and the promise that the light ahead lead to a much less confined space. 

Which it did. The party emerged into a large space walled in by hedges, ground covered with a matt of vegetation, and open to a blue sunny sky overhead. A very strange thing to find inside a mountain. Hobbs took Wattles up for a flap, and learned that he could not actually fly up above the hedge walls to look around. Ranza cast detect illusion and discovered the sun and sky were not real, and the sense of wide open space was an illusion. Though the hedge itself was real. 

At the end of the space was a fountain, with water splashing down over a statue depicting a quartet of nymphs frolicking in the water. Careful search around them and the fountain uncovered nothing of note, so the party formed up once more to head deeper into the maze through one of two exits. After a short distance they came to a side passage,  it's length filled with tall grass waving in the non-existent wind. Gnarl moved forward and poked at it with his spear; in response the grass grabbed on tight and would not let it go. Even with Thrax's help the wood gnome could not free the spear, and it only came loose when Vegarious and Ranza put their muscle and brain to the job.  A little irritated, Thrax tossed the party lantern in the middle of the grass, catching a 5' patch alit. But then from the hedges on the far side, four humanoid creatures made of brambles and leaves emerged. These unleased a fusillade of thorns, forcing the party to retreat behind a gust of wind as Jonesomon fell dangerous close to death. He was patched up with a few healing poultices and bandages, and surprisingly a potion of healing from Baihu!

When there was no pursuit, the party decided to just bypass the grass corridor. Exploring the twisting hedge maze they discovered multiple side passages, some filled with grab grass and spike growth. And the fact that poison-spike lined pit traps were an issue in random places. They also came across an alter and a stone plinth. The alter, at the end of a passage blocked by spike growth, seemed uninteresting from a distance and was left for now. The plinth, on the other hand, held a small golden cup encrusted in strange purple gems, inside which flickered upside-down purple flames. After filling the cup with several items and substances (thinking it may be related to the cups in the temple) and getting no response, the party decided to just grab it and go. But try as they might, even Ranza and Vegarious couldn't move it. The cup was being held to the plinth by some unnatural force. 

Leaving the cup behind, the party next entered a large chamber bisected by a large patch of spike growth. Before they could look around however, another creature emerged from the wall of the hedge. This was a huge green minitour, who charged at them horns lowered and thorn club swinging. A short combat followed, ended when Jonesomon dropped falling stars on the minotaur's head, at which point the creature melded back into the hedge and disappeared. Searching the room (using Wattles to fly over the spike growth) they found two short dead end passages with statues. One was of the Green  Man, and the other the Black Mother. Each held in their out stretched hands a green leaf and a small burring brand. They were able to take the brand from the Green Man and the leaf from the Black Mother, but not vice versa. Wondering what to do with the two objects, they went back to the purple cup to drop them in the see what happened. Which was nothing. They then decided to look closer at the alter. Ranza with her spyglass could see some carvings on the front of the alter, half hidden by vines. Gnarl grabbed the hedge wall and tried to climb past the spike growth to investigate, unfortunately falling into those natural caltrops just before the end. Standing up and pulling out the thorns, he approached the vine covered alter. There was nothing on top, but clearing away the growth be uncovered images of a faerie queen having her hair done by a gaggle of nixies. Which curiously animated when touched. He found nothing else of interest on the alter, but hidden behind was a bundle of short boards. Gnarl hauled this out and untied the rope, at which point it unfolded down the passage into 30' long arched bridge. He was able to use this folding bridge to get safely across the spike growth, and then rolled it up again for future use. 

At this point, Ranza had the brilliant idea to take the burning brand and place it in the space vacated by the green leaf on the statue of the Black Mother. When she did so, the whole party was teleported into another large hedge lined chamber, standing in front of a statue of the Prince in Yellow. The Prince held his hands crossed and open in front of him. But there was no time to contemplate this last representation of the great gods of the wood, as the verdant minotaur was also in the chamber waiting for them ... 


TOTAL XP 
2500

GAINS
Folding Bridge [2500xp] 

KILLS/VICTORIES
none

LOSSES
none

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Forest of Wyrd # 62 - Three Cups Full

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

Ranza (Changeling 5)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 6)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 6) and Wattles the Giant Swan 
Thrax (Fighter 5)
Vegarious (Changeling 4) 
Jonesomon (Specialist 5) 
Slugs Mackenzie (Hedgefey 3) [Henchman]
neo-Baihu Cerritulus (Magic User ?) [NPC]
Bagfeed and Cart 



After resting for the night, the party awoke to the sound of pouring rain outside. But before venturing forth, they put their minds to work trying to determine what to put in the cups to 'activate' whatever power the party assumed they had. First was to pour some of the black oily material from the vanquished Form of Darkness in the jet cup. And lo, it glowed with  a black light. They then tried several forms of water, and brows were furrowed over the question of 'fire which is not fire'. Several attempts were made to get the black flames from the catacombs below into the red cup, but to no avail. While there they also tried bringing 'back' the ruined book from the temple using the black flames (after first burning it thoroughly.) Alas, they got nothing back but the tatters they'd started with. Still thinking the substances they needed were someone in this building, they had Gnarl use the greenstone to perform a thorough search of both temple and catacomb. But this revealed no hidden spaces.  They likewise tried turning more pillars, hoping that may unlock some secret, but again gained nothing for their trouble. 

Thinking now of wider horizons, the party left the small building to search the rest of the island. Hobbs led them to a smaller clearing he'd observed during his aerial survey. Here they found a small pool of water, next to which was a large pile of moss covered boulders. Gnarl, looking in the pool, was surprised to see the weeds that grew within swirled about even though the water of the pool was still. As he watched, the weeds and grasses formed the face of a pouting young girl, who demanded to know who he was. The wood gnome fumbled out some answers, but thought it best to pull back as he feared being drawn into the pool by some fey magic. So they instead turned to Ranza, with her silver tongue and ring of water breathing. She too was greeted by the green girl, who remarked she wished to be as beautiful as the changeling. Which apparently meant gifts of jewelry and a mirror were required before the girl would say much more. Placated with a ruby circlet, the girl answered their questions as best she could. She was rather fuzzy on things like time and details of anything that did not interest her. But the party did learn that the Prince Who Would Be had been taken away long ago to a secret place in Faerie. By whom she wasn't sure, but she didn't think the Prince went willingly or happily. She also told them of a giant that once walked the island, indicating vaguely towards the face on the cliff above when asked about where he'd gone. She also told them of some other watery woman who dwelt among the cluster of rocks in the river. And before they left, she graciously allowed the party to take a sample of water from her pool, as they though it might be the water they needed for the cup. 

Taking leave of the girl in the pool, the party returned to the temple, fighting another group of wood woad guardians as they crossed the clearing. There they learned the pool water was not what they needed for the blue cup. So now they prepared to go even further afield. Returning to the raft, they headed towards the cluster of rocks upstream of the island. When they got there, they noticed the pool at the centre of the cluster of rocks was calm and still, very much unlike the flowing current outside. Ranza called out, and from the pool emerged three lithe female shapes, seemingly formed of water. These greeted the party politely. And immediately one was drawn to Thrax, beckoning the big fighter to come closer and give her a kiss. He was prevented only by calm words and a firm grip from Gnarl, and Hobbs jumped up on a rock and started bad mouthing the woman. This raised their anger, and the three spat in hedgefey's face, nearly blinding him. In the ensuing tussle, the party was able to 'scoop' up some of the creatures watery form, thinking it may be what they needed for the blue cup.

The fight broke up with no one on either side slain, and the trio of women merged back into the water. The party backed the raft away, and headed for the opposite shore where they'd seen  a pillar on their first survey of the site. Once ashore and looking closer, they could see it marked the remnants of a bridge that once crossed the river  to the island. It now leaned crookedly to one side in a small flooded and boggy area. Atop it was a translucent black ball, which Hobbs flew up to examine more closely. Inside it, he could see a dancing flame. Could this be the 'fire which is not fire'? He easily plucked it up. At which point, something stirred at the base of the pillar. Two massive shapes, formed of weeds and mud, appeared before them. But the party opted to not stand and fight, easily running ahead of the things back to the raft.

They paddled back to the island once more, and headed to the temple to try their luck with the remaining cups. The water from the sirens made the blue cup glow, as did the fire from the ball once Gnarl had freed it with a stone shape. When all there containers were aglow, a loud cracking and rumbling sounds could be heard outside. Stepping out into the clearing, they looked up and saw that the face carved into the cliff now looked almost life like (though still quite grotesque). As as they watched, pair of hands appeared alongside the face, and out of the cliff face emerged a huge giant with a grossly oversized and grotesque head.  The giant descended the cliff, wadded the river to the island, and ended up in front of the party. Thankfully he did not flatten them with the tree he now wielded as a club, and the party was able to talk to him. The giant was confused, saying over and over this looks like his home but wasn't. After some time, they figured out his home was a small secret part of Faerie, where he and his brother once ruled before being overthrown by a fey lord. The giant had been cursed to block the passage back to Faerie with his body, and was likewise cursed to never return. 

The party, seeing a likely connection between the giants' conundrum and their own quest, agreed to go to Faerie and try to remove the curve. The giant settled down in the clearing and then 'encouraged them' on their way. The party went back to the raft and then sized up the cliff. Unfortunately, it dropped straight into the water, and they could  see no where to land but the flat space by the pillar where the two shambling mounds still waited at waters edge. So they headed straight ashore and charged at the pair. In a hard fight, first Thrax and then Jonesomon were engulphed by the things and started to suffocate. Thrax escaped where the rest of the party slew the one that entrapped him; and the fighter then rescued Jonesomon by using his swords wind walk to pull the now airy specialist out of it's grip. However, Slugs was felled by a mighty blow just before the party finished off the second creature.


TOTAL XP 
2250

GAINS
none

KILLS/VICTORIES
5 Wood Woad
2 Shambling Mounds

LOSSES
Slugs Mackenzie 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Forest of Wyrd Session #61 - Into the Temple

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

Ranza (Changeling 5)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 6)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 6) and Wattles the Giant Swan 
Thrax (Fighter 5)
Vegarious (Changeling 4) 
Jonesomon (Specialist 5) 
Slugs MacKenzie (Hedgefey 3) [Henchman]
neo-Baihu Cerritulus (Magic User ?) [NPC]
Bagfeed and Cart 



Knowing they could not step into the clearing without attracting the wood woads attention, the party decided to line the edge of the trees and shoot them down with arrows. And hopefully they would not retaliate. Unfortunately for the party, the creatures were not dumb enough to sit there like fish in a barrel, and they advanced in a skirmish line.  Thrax gulped a potion of growth and then battle was joined. The party was able to slay quite a number of the woad before the last few fled back into the woods. The party suffered little damage. That said, Vegarious did end up wracked with pain and agony as her muscles twisted and knotted after one hit from a wood woad.  

Once the clearing was empty, Hobbs flew up onto the roof of the building to keep watch while the rest of the party crossed the field. They first climbed up the raised columnar platform  to an opening at the east end of the temple. Inside they found a pair of statues. One of a rustic looking young woman, obviously human; the second of  lord of Faerie. Jonesomon sized them up for a bit, and declared them to be Crindis the Hidden one and Liadan, daughter of the last High King of the D'war. These, he explained, were the parents of the Half Blood King and thence the grandparents of the Prince Who Would Be. Ranza and Gnarl joined the specialist in a search around and behind the statues, but found nothing of interest.  The still double sized Thrax then proceeded to rip them from their bases, but again nothing was found. 

The party now moved around the colonnade to the front where the main doors were found. These were of some untarnished silver metal, decorated with a carving of three trees with intertwined branches; one red, one black and one green.  After a search for traps, mega-Thrax tapped the doors open. Beyond it was a long narrow chamber, also surround by a raised colonnade. At the end was a black alter or stone overlooked by a tall statue. Details could not be seen in the low interior light. 

But before the party could enter, Hobbs called out a warning from above. Something or someone was rooting about their raft, so the hedgefey launched Wattles into the air to investigate. There he found a wood gnome poking about their supplies. When challenged, the fellow seemed unperturbed and likewise  appeared to know Hobbs. He was in fact Silnor, the wood gone they'd rescued while following the Twilight Path. He agreed to follow Hobbs back to the rest of the party to explain his presence. Silnor it seemed was carved by his father many years before to watch over this refuge of the Prince Who Would Be. He explained that when the Prince was taken away to safety after his fathers death, the three peoples of the wood agreed to each build a refuge for him. The temple was that built by his human followers. Silnor's father was to lead the construction of another refugee from the wood spirits, but something went wrong with both it and the one to be built by Faerie. And somehow through all this, the Prince disappeared. Pushed  for more info, Silnor would tell them little more, even when they professed their goal to bring the Prince back to rule the wood. The wood gnome said only they would need to prove themselves capable and worthy of that quest without further help from him; it was not for him to deliver the Prince into the hands of those who were not able to protect the Prince on their own. He did leave them with a hint to set them in the right direction, reciting a short rhyme:

·         "The Prince burns with the inner fire that drives man. His blood flows as the water that isn't, of which his mother is born. And his soul holds a hint of darkness made real from beyond the veil."


With that cryptic word, the wood gnome turned and headed back into the trees.

Better informed but still confused, the party once more turned back to the temple. Sparking up a light source, they entered the narrow hall and headed toward the stone and statue at the end. The stature was of the Half Blood King  and She Who Wore the Crown of Stars, holding a baby in their arms, presumably the Prince Who Would Be. The black stone on the other hand held a large bronze book stand, on which was the remnants of a large book. In fact just the covers and a few scarps of parchment. Ranza and Jonesomon had big-Thrax lift them up on the inside colonnade to search around the statue. First thing they saw was a trio of small bowls in front of the statue. They were carved of three large gems: blue lapis lazuli, red fire opal and black jet. And carved in the base of the statue was a single line: 

"Fire which is not fire; water which is not water; darkness which has form"

They guessed these bowls had to be filled (with what they didn't know) to let them find the Prince. But for now they turned to their search around the statue. They found nothing, but when Gnarl pulled out his greenstone to search he was able to direct them to a secret door behind the statue.  He could see it lead into a small room with another statue -like object and stairs going down. But before they could get in there, it took some searching to find the way to open the secret door; by twisting the two closest pillars on the inside colonnade. 

Passing into the secret room, they saw that the statute was actually an armorers dummy. Which was surround in the ghostly blue form of armor and a sword. Closer examination gave no other information, so down the stairs they went. Lead by Jonesomon looking for traps, the party shortly found themselves in a chamber lined with black slate. The stones seemed to emit a thin oily mist that drifted about their ankles.  They started to explore, first finding a patch of broken flagstones behind which was a mass of tiny tunnels just a few inches high. But they didn't get a chance to examine them any closer, for at this point a hideous creature of darkness, claws and tentacles emerged out of the wall behind them. It attacked in lashing of claws and tails, as well as a mental blast that alternately caused fear, confusion or paralysis. Luckily most of the party was able to shake off these feeling, although neo-Baihu did succumb and turned in confusion on the party, webbing several of them in place as the monster attacked.  Both she and Jonesomon were later driven into flight from fear as well. 

In the end, the party prevailed, destroying the creature by their combined efforts. With the final blow, the  monster disappeared into mist, which then coalesced into the form of a large black  pearl sitting in  pool of thick oily black liquid. They recovered the pearl, and Gnarl also scooped some of the oily liquid into an empty vial, thinking it may be the darkness to which the rhyme on the alter was referring. He also grabbed a small chip of black stone for the same reason. 

The party then moved on to explore the rest of the greasy maze. They survived an attack by massed rats thanks to Thrax's gust of wind, and were distressed after passing though an area that dispelled all their magic (but thankfully only temporarily.) They then spent some time examining a trio of odd forges. These had no flue or chimney, but burned with a cold black flame. By trial and error they discovered when ashes or burned material was placed in the flame, it would 'burn' it back to into original form. Not sure what that meant in the bigger picture, the party opted to head back to the temple above. It now being late in the evening, there they prepared to set up camp to rest the night. 

TOTAL XP 
5750

GAINS
Giant Black "Pearl" [2000sp]

KILLS/VICTORIES
7 Wood Woad
The Form of Darkness 

LOSSES
none

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Forest of Wyrd Session #60 - Rest, Resupply and Ranging North

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

Ranza (Changeling 5)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 6)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 6) and Wattles the Giant Swan 
Thrax (Fighter 5)
Vegarious (Changeling 4) 
Jonesomon (Specialist 5) 
Slugs MacKenzie (Hedgefey 3) [Henchman]
neo-Baihu Cerritulus (Magic User ?) [NPC]
Bagfeed and Cart 


The party settled into the Moon and Mastiff Inn for a couple weeks recovery under the hands of Dafwyn, the matronly healer they'd hired to tend their wounds. Upon recovery, they set to work resupplying basic gear, food and healing potions. For they later they made a trip to the Monastery of the Seven Saints of Wisdom and were fortunate enough to catch them once more at a time when they were willing to speak with those outside their cloister.  They were about to abtain 3 potions of healing

Before heading north in search of the Prince Who Would Be, however, they had to take care of two more issues: Ranza's blindness and Thrax's inexplicable love for his crappy missile attracting shield. Asking about town and spending some silver in the taverns gave theme a few leads. There was always the seelie court of King Thorbus and Queen Botsum, where in spite of faerie fickleness they'd had good luck before. Another option they learned of was a manse west of town [02.05], home to the mercurial magician Maltros the Maleficent. And somewhat to their surprise, their old friend/foe neo-Baihu was in town. As a prisoner of the Thayn awaiting judgement on her brigandage. There were also rumors of the witch Luzza who wandered the wilderness north of town. And finally they recalled the Wych of the High Moor, another of the seven daughters of the Green Man, one who was renowned as a great healer and who dwelt relatively nearby in the forested hills to the east [06.06].  Ranza made it abundantly clear she would have nothing to do with any witches. And having just slaughtered her sister, they were not sure of the welcome they'd receive from the Wych of the High Moor. While the magician seemed hopeful as a 'one stop shop', he did constitute an unknown. So they decided to start with Queen Botsum, then move on to Baihu if necessary. 

As evening fell, the party crossed the great white bridge leading to the faerie shee on the north bank of the stream. No one was there to meet them, but a very long and elaborate scroll informed them the toll today was a loaf of fresh baked bread. Backtracking to the Moon and Mastiff, they returned with a steaming loaf and set it on the stone at the end of the bridge. Suddenly a half dozen pixies appeared, flittering about and riding the thermals rising from the bread. They then picked up the bread between them, and made to fly off before Hobbs interrupted and asked for an audience with the King and Queen. This required some convincing, and in the process the pixies managed to trick them out of the strand of Queen Botsum's hair they'd received as a gift. But in they end they were presented to the Seelie Court and once more made their case for help. This proved harder to get this time, and it took a few gifts of jewelry and a large goblet of strawberry cordial from Thrax's robes to convince the Queen to dispel Ranza's blindness.

Opting to not to push their luck and have Thrax's shield-love addressed by the Queen, the party withdrew and instead presented themselves before Thayn Godwin. There they made a case for the recalcitrant magic user neo-Baihu to be released into their custody. After some negations with her victims to determine an appropriate wergild, the Thayn agreed to release  her in return for 1500sp and a promise to keep her from further mischief. Ranza and Jonesomon then headed into the cells below the keep to present the chance at freedom to the magic user. neo-Baihu was quite happy to see Jonesomon again, thinking he was 'her' neo-Jonesomon. The specialist had to make up some story about a blow to the head and memory loss to make sure he didn't give away his true identify, but in the end neo-Baihu joined the party in return for a half share of treasure and the spell book the party had been logging about for ages (bit only at the end of their expedition to free the Prince Who Would Be). They learned quickly however, that  apart from Jonesomon,  she was not about to get too close or too cooperative with any of the party. And she gave Gnarl a wide berth, for in her eyes he ought to be dead. But she did follow through on the bargain, and a successful dispel magic separated Thrax from his shield, which Gnarl then encased in a rock with his ring of the stone to prevent anyone else from being tempted by it.

Now ready to travel once more, the party struck out north under a leaden sky, headed for the banks of the River of Sorrows and the location Eya had given them to find the Prince Who Would Be. The four days they travelled were wet and miserable, but they reached an open bluff high above the river. Below them was a large forested island with several clearings. They could see a building in one, a pool or pond in the other, and at the southern end a small beach protected by a small clutter of rocks. Another cluster of rocks lay upstream, white water raging around them. On the opposite bank a shear cliff rose up from the water, on which there appeared to be large bulbous face. Though whether it was a natural trick of the rock or a poorly carved sculpture they could not tell. And finally, at the base of that cliff where a small stream entered the river, there stood what appeared to be a single pillar or buttress leaning over drunkenly in a patch of boggy ground.  Meanwhile the clearing in which they stood showed signs of a campsite. An old fire ring, a lean too, and so on. Gnarl searched about and figured just a single person had camped here sometime in the the last day or so, but could find no sign of who it was or where he or she had gone. 

Deciding to head straight for the island, the party started to descend the slope to the river's edge to build a raft. About halfway down, Vegarious noted movement to their right. As the party turned, a mixed band of wicked faeire emerged from the trees: buggleburr, hobs and bush imps. A flurry of spells stopped the attackers cold, and after slitting throats the party moved on. It took most of the day to build the raft, and as the sun started to dip low in the west, they had Hobbs' giant swan tow them across the swift current to the island. There they pulled the raft out of the water, tied Bagfeed the mule to a tree and left him there with their cart of worldly goods before headed a few dozen yards into the forest to the building clearing. 

The clearing contained a columned temple-like structure, hemmed in by the forest. The building itself was in perfect condition. But as the party stepped into the clearing to approach, there was a strange quivering of a dozen gnarled oaks around the permitter. From them emerged humanoid figures composed of twisted and burled wood, who raised knotted clubs and advanced on the party. The party retreated, and the figures stopped. They learned by trial and error that the figures would move towards anyone in the clearing, splitting up if necessary to deal with separate parties. So how could they approach the building safely ... ? 

TOTAL XP 
200

GAINS
none

KILLS/VICTORIES
5 Bush Imps
1 Hob
3 Buggleburr

LOSSES
none

Friday, February 25, 2022

Forest of Wyrd Session # 59 - Murder and Mayhem

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

Ranza (Changeling 5)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 5)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 6) 
Thrax (Fighter 5)
[Slugs MacKenzie (Hedgefey 1)]


Still thinking the 'real' crown was somewhere in the garden, the party searched some more around the stone block. Using the nightmare to move the petrified guardian, they further searched under and all around where he'd been sitting. But found nothing. They even had Gnarl use his ring to turn the stone guardian inside-out with stone shape, thinking the Crown might be inside the creature. But no luck.  Finally giving up, the party settled in to rest for the remainder of the day and through the night, to be in a better position to face She Who Wore the Crown of Stars. Hobbs (with Slugs in tow) decided to go check the glowing green pool once more. The hedgefey played with the water, drank some, splashed it on his head, and finally reached down as far as possible with Slugs' spear to plumb the depths. He did not reach bottom, but as the spear was being pulled out, something grabbed onto it. And out of the fountain emerged one of the green men, a Jack-in-the-Green, who turned on the pair in a vicious attack. A short and bloody fight ensued, ended by the timely arrival of Gnarl and the insertion of his spear through the creatures back. 

Two other surprises arrived as the party settled back into the garden to rest. The first was an attack by 5 ranine, the frog-creatures crawling out of the depths of the pool. A well timed entangle caught three of them, while the other two splashed back into the pool once they realized the odds were against them. The second surprise came once night fell. The overhead dome, until now dark, opaque and impenetrable, faded away as darkness fell outside.  Hobbs hopped aboard the nightmare to fly up and investigate, finding the passage free and emerging under starlit skies for the first time in days. Quite a few days more than he thought it should be, for his giant swan mount and the donkey, left behind on the raft, were is terrible shape from near starvation. He brought the swan into the garden to feed and looked after the donkey, making sure the swan returned outside before sunrise before the dome (presumably) would reform. Which it did. This then was what the old man on the island was trying to tell them; that the dome disappeared in the dark. 

All that done, the rest of the night passed without incident, and the party arose to gird their loins before facing She Who Ware the Crown of Stars.  Their first plan was non-violent trickery. While the rest of the party waited nearby in support, Gnarl (under the cover of invisibility) would use the stone shape  power of his ring to pin her to the stone bench on which the Half Blood King lay, then swipe the true Crown. This unfortunately didn't work, as somehow the daughter of the Green Man sensed his presence and turned on the wood gnome. She raised her hand, and banished him to the distance space between the stars. The rest of the party moved in then, trying still to subdue her with a range of spells. But She shrugged it all off and fought back. Several more attempts at banishment failed, but she kept pulled star-stuff from her hair which animated and attacked the party, sticking on and draining their life-force. Eventually, out of non-violent options, Thrax lead the party in the old fashioned solution; swinging swords. But he also used the gust from his sword to hold her back, allowing Hobbs to sneak in and grab the Crown and Sword, thinking there might still be a way to trap her and escape with their loot. As the battle raged, Slugs fell with a near-mortal wound, saved only by quick ministrations from his employer. But after a hard fought battle, in the end She was cut down and now lay at rest near her husband. Curiously though, when Hobbs checked the body, he certainly got the impression She was not 'fully' dead, though he was uncertain what that boded. 

Gnarl returned from his sojourn among the stars just as the battle ended, and the party stared at the Crown in Hobbs hands. With a sudden impetuous movement, the hedgefey popped the artifact onto his head. And was immediately filled with rage, turning on Thrax and seeking to kill him and drink his blood. This battle royale proved to be bloodier than the fight against She Who Wore the Crown of Stars, with the rest of the party siding with Thrax and trying to either immobilize Hobbs or knock the Crown from his head. In the end, Gnarl was able to thrust his spear under the band of the crown and rip it (along with a significant portion of fur) from Hobbs head. At which point the murderous rage passed, and Gnarl pointedly wrapped the Crown in a burlap sack and his it away from Hobbs. 

After a last check throughout the upper tomb using the greenstone, the party waited for nightfall and exited through the once more open garden.  And then with little ceremony, made their way back towards Twitten's Hollow to rest, recover and plan the next stage of their quest: presenting the Crown of the Forest to The Prince Who Would Be. And probably explaining to him why they killed his mother. 

TOTAL XP 
14250

GAINS
Crown of the Forest [8000xp]
Starblade (Longsword +3, summon starfall 3x day, teleport 1/day)  [2000xp]
Golden Scale Armor of the Half Blood King (Chainmail +3) [2000xp]
Dagger of the Night (Dagger +1, blindness) [600xp]

KILLS/VICTORIES
1 Jack-in-the-Green
2 Ranine
She Who Wore the Crown of Stars 

LOSSES
Slugs MacKenzie (almost) 

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Forest of Wyrd #58 - The Grieving Lady and the Gruesome Guardian

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

Jonesomon (Specialist 5)
Ranza (Changeling 4)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 5)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 6) 
Thrax (Fighter 5)
[Slugs MacKenzie (Hedgefey 1)]


The three fey warriors advanced, swords raised, and the party deployed to meet them. There was immediate surprise when their opponents stated casting spells, and while Thrax and Hobbs shrugged off a number of magical attacks,  Ranza was blinded. In the end the trio were defeated, but it was a long drawn out fight. Taking just a few moments to loot the bodies of a bit of treasure, the party then moved on.   

They didn't get far before noticing an alcove to their right, and opted to investigate. Turning the corner, they observed an unexpected sight; a woman draped over a body lying on a raised stone bench. And the two looked just like the false pair the party had encountered in the room on the first level. Could this be the true Half Blood King and She Who Wore the Crown of Stars? The woman stirred to confront them, demanding to know why they were there. Hobbs tried to explain their quest, to gain the Crown of the Forest for her son, The Prince Who Would Be, so he could rule the Forest. She, however, would hear none of it. After much vigorous discussion, they learned she did not want to burden of kingship placed on her son. She cared nothing for the plight of the Forest or anything else but that her husband lay in peace and her son remain safe. Even trying to convince her that the decision should belong to the Prince didn't sway her, nor did suggestions that the Prince might be in danger or imprisoned against his will. Asked if bringing her husband back to life would change her mind, she replied that it was impossible. The Half Blood King lay under a powerful curse such that while the Green Man lived, the King could not. 

Unsure of how to proceed and still unsure if they'd found the 'true' King, She and Crown, the party took their leave and with She's permission, moved on down the corridor to find a place to rest and recuperate. They discovered the  chamber looped back around to another door where three more fey warriors lay in repose. These they did not disturb, retreating back to a chamber with three curious columns to set up camp. After settling in, they examined the three. Each was carved in a dense mass of images, each depicting a different age of the Forest. Jonesomon drew on his knowledge of history to examine them closely,  looking for clues to their current dilemma. He found hints that the Prince never took up the Crown when his father died due to interference from his mother. No surprise there. He also founds hints that the Prince was being held against his will, rather than safely under guard. Hobbs meanwhile poked around at all the fancy images of knights and Imperator on  the third column, and made a curious discovery. He found hints, when combined with what he already knew about to fall of the Imperator Vilorian II, that suggested the location of the Imperators long lost tomb in the Mountains of Twilight. 

After resting, the party decided to go back and try reasoning with She Who Wore the Crown of Stars once more; and so Ranza could cast detect illusion and detect magic to try confirming they were the 'real' thing. Reasoning didn't work, and She threatened them with the Guardian, whatever or whoever that might be. But Ranza's magic did confirm She and the Half Blood King were real, not illusions again, and the Crown itself radiated magic.  But the party still took their leave, moving back to the north end of the tomb and the great bronze doors that seemed to lead into the central garden. They still weren't convinced they'd found the true King and Crown, having expected to find his royal self laying in repose in a much nicer place than  a half finished alcove. 

Taking a drink from the healing fountain first (which unfortunately did not bring back Ranza's sight), the party threw open the doors. They passed down a wide series of steps into a garden lit dimly by glowing faerie bulbs. A few groves of trees surrounded a large pool, in the centre of which was a small island. And on that island  sat a grotesque figure; a huge. bloated and sickly pale batrachian beast. As the party descended the stairs, it turned and started to sniff the air. It appeared blind, but was able to identify them by smell. And challenged their presence. This they learned was the guardian of which She spoke; although it seemed a curious place for a tomb guardian. While not immediately hostile, the party knew they'd have to fight the grotesque creature eventually, and opted for a preemptive strike. Gnarl used a charge from his new ring of the stone  to successfully turn the creature to stone. Confident in their quick victory, the party moved forward, only to be surprised by a half dozen of the smaller but similar ranine that leap out of the tree cover and into their midst. Very quickly Jonesomon was paralyzed and the others were torn by claw and jaw.  They retreated up the stairs, and Thrax tossed his obsidian steed to Ranza so she and Jonesomon could fly safely above the fray. Meanwhile the changeling also used her wand of bees to summon help, while Slugs hauled out the pipe and magical tobacco to cast a hypnotic cloud about the creatures heads. All this turned the tide, and the remaining creatures were soon cut down. 

After taking a few minutes for first aid, they party spread out to search. Little was found, except a small hollow under the moss covered stone in the lake. From there Thrax hauled a velvet bag with a few gems, jewelry and coin, as well as a curious timepiece, the hourglass of fairy time. But there was no sign of a crown, or another king. 

TOTAL XP 
5237

GAINS
17 shell coins
169sp
Jeweled sword hilt [300sp]
4 gems (100sp, 10sp, 10sp, 50sp)
Bracelet (600sp)
Hourglass of Faerie Time [1500xp] 

KILLS/VICTORIES
3 Dark Fey Warriors
5 Ranine
Dumaris the Vigilant 

LOSSES
Ranza's Sight
Jonesomon's Mobility