Ranza (Changeling 5)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 6)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 6) and Wattles the Giant Swan
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 ... ?
5 Bush Imps