Saturday, November 28, 2020

Forest of Wyrd #28 - Black Dog & Twilight Path


Vegarious (Changeling 3)
Ranza (Changeling 3)
Jonesomon (Specialist 4)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 4)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 4) 
Thrax [NPC] (Fighter 3)

Though slowed by Gnarl's intervention, Ranza's arm continued to swell, so Vegarious offered up her potion of neutralize poison to clear it up once and for all. That done, the party settled down to rest for the night, but opted for the edges of the clearing instead the tumbled down and (until moments before) haunted cabin. Next morning dawned dull and misty, and Gnarl went looking for another feathered guide, this time to lead them to the standing stone that marked the start of the Twilight Path. Once more using speak with animals, Gnarl had to bribe a lark with a steady stream of juicy worms and grubs before it would  cooperate. But by late in the day, the bird led them to a clearing some distance to the east, almost at the forest edge. Here, standing 50' tall  was the stone. Jet black, slightly tapered at the top and inscribed with the symbol of the new moon. Waiting until nightfall and moonrise, Gnarl entered the clearing and called out. In answer, a black dog emerged from the north west edge of the trees; oddly they had not seen this animal while earlier scouting the perimeter. The dog walked to within 10 yards of the wood gnome, looked at him a moment and then turned to head back to the northwest. Before entering the trees, it stopped and turned to look at Gnarl, as if expecting him the follow. He complied, and with the rest of the party in tow, headed into the dark woods. 

They followed the dog all night as it led them down familiar paths and past familiar sights, until by  the next morning they were once more at the edge of the swamp where they'd slain the Frog King just a few days before. Here the party paused to rest. The dog, first seeming impatient to continuing, eventually settled down for a rest itself some distance from the camp.  After resting most of the day, the party moved out again in late afternoon, slogging behind the dog through the swamp, always heading north west. Just as it was getting dark, they were ambushed by a group of giant frogs. Judicious use of a colour spray neutralized two, which frightened off the rest. Gnarl and Ranza  turned to kill the two stunned amphibians, but Hobbs stopped before they could finish off the last. The hedgefey  grabbed his saddle of domestication of the mule and, when the frog regained consciousness, he plunked it on the creatures back and had himself a compliant, hoppy mount. 

After a cold and damp day at rest in the swamp, they headed out once more following the dog, reaching the River of Sorrows just a few miles south of Wickerwood by about midnight. Gnarl and the black dog swan across, the wood gnome hauling along a rope to build a rope and pulley system to transport all their stuff (and the heavily laden characters) across the deep, flowing river. As Ranza was making her way across, she was surprised to see a small collection of candles in reed floats move past her on the water surface. While a little distracted by this, she also noted that just beyond the lights on the opposite side of the river came a reed fence festooned with thorns, likewise floating downriver. Behind it came tall heron-like creatures. They did not see the changeling, for she was travelling invisible, but they did see Vegarious, Jonesomon and Feedbag on the left bank. The four heron-men turned to attack them, attempted to haul them away into the water with their long clawed hands. But another lucky colour spray and some fancy sword work killed them all. Danger thus past, the party continued their crossing and made their way into Wickerwood itself early in the morning. While Jonesomon headed off to resupply their food and drop cold iron bolts off for Vora, everyone else followed Gnarl and the black dog to the next waypoint, the standing stone at the edge of town. There they watched Gnarl go over to the stone and touch it. At that point, the dog started to writhe and  fade in and out of existence, eventually settling back into existence solid as ever, but now twice as large as before. And once more it headed off to the northwast, and once more the party followed. 

Rejoined by Jonesomon (and the long absent Thrax), the party was soon once more traversing the paths and trails around the hive of the Queen of All Bees. Leaving that area behind, they climbed further into the hills that dominates the central Forest of Wyrd, spending two mostly uneventful nights and days being led onward by the black dog. They continued to travel mostly at night, thinking thee was a need to do so given the circumstances of their quest.  By evening of the third day out of Wickerwood, they climbed a trail up the side of a tall and bare hill, thinking the next standing stone must be close by. Passing under a large pine, they were somewhat surprised and disturbed to see red ribbons and severed rooster's heads tied to the branches. Now wary, they luckily were alert when the sound of a cock crowing was heard from the hill above them. Four figures climbed into view at the crest of the hill; three men covered in red ochre and a fourth dressed in the accoutrements of a shaman. The three ochre-men prepared to roll boulders down on the hapless party below them, but Gnarl was quicker and entangled the trio. The shaman attempted to cast a spell, but was foiled by the magic absorbing properties of the wood gnomes ioun stone. Before the party could get to complacent however, they were surprised by another trio of ochre-men. These succeeded in loosing their boulders, one of which hit Jonesomon hard. They then rushed down the hill with nets, turning on Vegarious and attempting to capture her. The shaman also fired a magic missile at the unfortunate Jonesomon. However, Gnarl skewered the spell caster with his spear and it's shocking grasp, while Hobbs followed up by hurling a boulder using Stonethorn. That splattered the shaman across the rocky hillside, and the rest of the party was able to handle the remaining ochre-men. Searching the bodies recovered only a silver circlet from the shaman. 

Hobbs climbed the hill and picked up the ochre-man trail. The party decided to investigate, but Gnarl insisted he would continue on, following the dog. The rest of the party, after lashing Feedbag and the frog to a tree, headed off into the growing darkness behind Hobbs.  The trail led along a low ridge to a large cave opening at the base of the next hill. The party took cover and watched a few ochre-men come and go from the entrance. Watching longer, they later observed a band of armed and organized men emerge and head in their direction. Likely off to search for the missing ambushers. This band, however, was itself ambushed. A pair of colour spray and several sword points later, all ten were dead and the party moved over close to the cave entrance. After killing another pair of ochre-men who had the misfortune to exit the cave as the party arrived, Ranza glanced in, using her infravison to perform a quick survey.  Inside the huge cave she could see quite a few more orchre-men, perhaps 30 or more, as well as other uncertain shapes in the shadows at the back.  Pulling back, the party had a whispered conversation to decide what to do next ...


Silver circlet with yellow gem [300sp]

1 Giant Frog
4 Heron-men
18 Ochre-men
Ochre-man Shaman 


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