Jonesomon (Specialist 5)
Ranza (Changeling 5)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 5)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 5)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 5)
Thrax (Fighter 4)
Vegarious (Changeling 3)
Finally catching their collective breath, the party was suddenly and unexpectedly joined by Jonesomon and Vegarious. Now full strength they were ready to keep moving towards their goal of finding the Autumn Maiden and turn over the orphan child to her care. They continued east along the trail through the woods, coming soon to a shallow ravine. At the bottom trickled a stream which disappeared into small cave. They descended the slope, and then moved towards the dark opening. Gnarl cast light into the entrance with his spear, then Thrax and Jonesomon headed in to investigate. They immediately observed a pair of squat figures, giant frogs, barring the way. Jonesomon slipped into the shadows to move behind the pair, while Thrax walked bolding towards them. And was attacked by the creatures sticky tongues. He avoided any real hurt, thanks to Jonesomon stabbing the creatures from behind and the rest of the party rushing in to help from the front.
With the frogs out of the way, Thrax and Jonesomon continued into the back of the cave, where the stream disappeared into a narrow cleft of the rock. Jammed there was a bright and shiny kite-shield, which Thrax immediately claimed; and immediately became very possessive of.
Done with the cave, the party moved further east down the ravine, which soon petered to an end. A trail climbed both east and north, and the party opted to go north in search of the 'Fountain of All Heal' the leprechauns had mentioned. Before doing so, Jonesomon checked the slope for any surprises. As he did so, he also noted a hidden cave entrance at the back of the ravine. Thickly overgrown with vine and brush, they'd walked within feet of it and not seen it. Going over to look closer, they were surprised to hear a tree, standing next to the opening, speak to them with a slow, sonorous voice. The tree, whose name they learned was Boomdulus, warned them off the cave, which he stated was his home. The party complied, and took the opportunity to question Boomdulus above the garden. He was amendable to the questioning, through his answers were a bit vague and focused more on the plants of the garden than anything else. But they did learn they needed to use the Maze to find the Autumn Maiden, who dwelled in a magnificent palace of white in some hidden location accessible only viay the Maze. He also made some some wavy comments about 'the gardener', comments on which the treant did not elaborate.
The party took their leave of Boomdulus, and climbed the north trail. It soon opened into a wide meadow of grass and flowers. The trial continued north, passing a pair of rose arbours, and a large square hedge to the east. To the west was a large pond, in the centre of which stood a white open-air building. In spite of all the options, first order of business was to trace the stream they could see flowing into said lake, hoping it would lead to the 'Fountain of All Heal'. Avoiding an unfriendly looking pair of unicorn, the party did indeed find the fountain at the source of the stream. The crystal clear water poured out of a crack in a rocky outcrop, gathering in a stone basin marked with the words "Fountain of All Heal", before spilling over the edge and forming the stream. Everyone (except Vegarious and Ranza) immediately slacked their thirst. And everyone felt their hurts and harms healed; while Hobbs suddenly felt a new appreciation for the garden. He felt this was a place he could stay and end his wandering, adventurous ways. Jonesomon experienced a similar feeling when he drank again from the fountain a little later. But both were dragged along to finish their current quest; bring the baby to the Autumn Maidan.
The party headed over the check the the large square hedge, which Boomdulus had told them was the maze that lead to the Autumn Maidan. They found it was just as the treant described, and plunged into the winding paths, leaving various means of tracking their way behind them. Which was good, as the path seemed shift and contract as they moved, and it took many hours to reach the centre. Here they found a sundial, strangely stuck on noon regardless of the position of the sun in the sky overhead. Around the edge of the sundial were carved recesses of four different leaves; a dog-rose, oak, mistletoe and shamrock. They quickly surmised that this was some sort of gate or teleporter which could be activated by bringing samples of those plants and placing them on the sundial. So they retraced their steps out of the maze again, ready to search. The dog-rose they recalled seeing at the fountain, and it was claimed quickly.
The others were not immediately obvious though, so the party decided to set up camp and rest, the sky increasingly getting dark. In the morning, they checked the two rose arbours to no effect, other than some strange weakness that overcame Jonesomon and Thrax. Unsure of what to do next, they headed for the lake. There they found a small punt tied to a neat little dock, and everyone climbed aboard to pole over the the building. But made it only halfway before they were accosted by a pair of giant otters, who splashed about the boat and did everything they could to stop the party from getting to the building. Gnarl cast speak with animals, and he and the wholly garden-enamored Hobbes questioned the two. The otters wouldn't tell them anything about the building, but offered to tell them where to find the missing leaves if they rowed back to shore. Which the party did, figuring they could come back latter. Once on dry land, the otters directed them to a hidden oak grove to the south to get mistletoe and oak, and back to the leprechauns for shamrock.
The party decided to loop north around the lake to get back to the leprechauns, taking care to avoid the satyrs. They found the little men just beyond the toadstool circle, still glum and grumpy from loosing the riddle contest to the party the day before. But they brightened up when Jonesomon flashed his dozen Imperium gold coins in their faces, and offered them in return for a shamrock. And he quickly made them fully cooperative by making sure the split of gold was uneven; neither leprechaun wanted any of the others to end up with more gold then he. So in short order the party had it shamrock, and learned the reason for the otters defensiveness as well. It seemed their young laired in the building, and they would risk none to enter and harm them.
Taking leave of the leprechauns again, the party looped back around to the location of the hidden grove. It was a dark hollow, dominated by twisted old oaks and hanging vines clustered with mistletoe. It looked downright unhealthy and unfriendly, so Hobbs was volunteered to enter under the cloak of an invisibility spell courtesy of Vegarious. The hedgefey was able to gather the leaf and mistletoe without harm, though several of the knurled burrs on the oaks seemed to 'eye' him warily.
Now with all the leaves in hand, the party returned to the centre of the maze and placed them on the sundial. Suddenly the view shifted, and they found themselves standing inside a short entrance tunnel. Behind them the way was blocked by a meshed, wrought iron gate, through which they could be the lake and garden they'd just left. Ahead could be seen a many spired palace, but which was much worst for wear. The walls were stained, shutters broken, moss and wild vines climbed the towers. Between them and the palace, the courtyard was choked with a wild overgrown garden ...
Shield -1, Missile Attractor
2 Giant Frogs