The PC’s: Rhett (Scott – half fire giant paladin), Haromyre (Jim – Spirit Shaman outsider), Quizlan (Doug – Wizard Air Gensai)
The NPC’s: Azar (Rhett’s lammasu cohort), Lorful (hobgoblin paladin), Katya (newly resurrected healer), Abner (necromancer and former tender of the fruit grove prior to corruption)
The PC’s being played as NPC’s: Garub (John – dragon shaman)
A reminder of where we were:
While we were in Abner’s tree, Rhett asked if we could scry upon the Druid, teleport in on her and attack. Haromyre and Quiz had several reasons for not agreeing to the teleport/attack idea, most notably being if she was in the castle we might not be able to teleport back out. At this point, we assume that would be B-A-D.
At about that time, our casters got to make some spellcraft or knowledge arcane checks. They recognized WE were being scryed upon. This fact did not make Abner happy at all as his tree was supposedly hidden from all magical view. Haromyre quickly cast Screen which should have blocked the scry but didn’t. Screen having failed, Haromyre destroyed the spirit who was the scry.
The heroes spent the next few hours determining their next move as the session ended.
Haromyre and Quizlan came up with a plan. We would escort Katya back to the village Keats – her home village, also the village at which we had originally arrived. From there, she would begin to foment a rebellion against the King. Quizlan and Haromyre would then scry to find anyone who was corrupted and outside the castle. We would teleport in, grab that person and teleport with them back to Abner’s tree. Once we had someone, we would see what could be done about removing the corruption.
As they say, no good battle plan survives a minute on the battle field. As soon as we stepped outside Abner’s tree we realized our plan would need to change. We saw a massive smoke-filled sky coming from the general direction of Keats. As Keats was a few hours ride from where we were, we decided to teleport to our destination.
We arrived just outside town into what can only be described as a fire storm. It was literally raining fire on the village and the inhabitants were streaming out seeking safety in the woods beyond. Rhett, Azar, Katya and Lorful began helping the newly minted refugees, healing who we could, saving who we could. Quizlan and Haromyre spent their time trying to discern the spell that had been cast which caused this fire storm and the reason for its casting. Rhett, Azar, Lorful, Garub and Katya rejoined the casters once the remaining village folk were safely out of the spell’s wide radius.
After a few minutes, the casters found some townsfolk who told a brief but sad story. The King had ordered three of his knights and several men-at-arms to find Katya. The destruction we were witnessing was the result of their coercive methods and/or how they expressed their anger in failing to find her. We did not see a spell caster present and neither Haromyre nor Quizlan detected any spells being cast. The casters did receive a description of the knights. They were wearing red dragon scale armor. We knew that meant they were in the thrall of corruption. We adjusted our plan and decided to try and capture one of them alive.
Quizlan scryed (again!) and saw one of the knights described to him , named Trin, in a wooded area fighting weapon wielding small animals. Curiouser and couriouser we thought, to borrow a phrase.
We teleported (AGAIN!) into the woods Quizlan saw during his scry and were immediately in thrust into combat against the three knights and their several men-at-arms. The knights were still clad in their dragon armor meaning they were corrupted. We saw no signs of corruption in the men-at-arms.
The first knight attacked Lorful and scratched the hobgoblin, a would Katya quickly healed. Lorful returned the blow with his holy sword.
Haromyre cast Time Stop summoned an Air Monolith – a massive gust of air with arms, legs and an attitude reminiscent of the F5 mega tornado at the end of Twister. He also cast Shape Change (I am pretty sure it was during the Time Stop) became a Colossal Silver Dragon. In case you were curious, Shape Change is a 9th level spell which grants the caster ALL extraordinary and special abilities in this case dragon fear, breath weapon and the like. I’m trying to remember the other spells cast during Time Stop but I can’t – I’m sure Jim will post them in the comments.
Quizlan hit the knight fighting Lorful with Insanity which is basically Confusion without the benefit of a saving throw. The other two knights saw how badly the fight was going and used whatever teleportation means they had at their disposal and fled leaving their men-at-arms and the crazed knight to us. Rhett charged one of the men-at-arms and smashed him, a blow he survived but barely. Two more men-at-arms charged into 3-on-1 combat against the paladin. Garub, near the elemental monolith, turned on a bonus-to-damage dragon aura and using both of his weapons slashed one of the men-at-arms 8 times.
In the next round, Haromyre had his walking tornado grab one of the men-at-arms into a whirlwind. Haromyre himself took to the sky in dragon form to fly around and look menacing, using his frightful presence to instill fear in the men-at-arms. I don’t recall him doing anything else.
The knight fighting Lorful rolled on the Confusion table and got the “flee at top speed” result. Dave interpreted that to have the knight use his own teleportation device. The knight disappeared. We discussed it for a few minutes but there was nothing in the spell description that said the knight couldn’t use the item. Quizlan was not that upset by it. He repeatedly stated how funny it would be if the crazed knight began attacking his friends when he showed up at the teleportation location. Something tells me that will be played out in NPC world in some manner or another.
On his turn, and over the half-giant paladin’s “who said only the spell casters should have all the fun” objections, Quizlan unleashed an 80+ point chain lightning at the group of three men-at-arms attacking Rhett. None died but all were wounded. On his turn, Rhett killed all three, dealing 235 points in a single critical Greathammer blow to the third man-at-arms. The only surviving man-at-arms was the one held by Haromyre’s monolith. The monolith let the man-at-arms down and he was bound in place for questioning.
Before that questioning could take place, however, an intelligent, bow wielding otter came over to the party to thank us for saving them. He introduced himself as Kandru and described the animals in this area of the forest as the Daurkine. He said they were named after a ranger who had once protected this area and that a massive magical gem gave the local animals intelligence and, until today, had shielded their location from scrying eyes. We recognized that Abner had said the same thing to us about not being scryed upon earlier that morning. It became clear to us that areas previously deemed safe from scry were no longer so. The otter continued by describing how the gem was like an iceberg. Several feet of it was visible above ground but much more of it existed below. Haromyre thought perhaps the gem could be used to remove the corruption from the grove but both Quizlan and Rhett disagreed, thinking the gem itself would become corrupted.
The party turned its attention to the captured man-at-arms. Azar cast Discern Lies and Rhett attempted to intimidate the man and of course, the dice always know. Rhett the half-fire giant, rolled a 20 on the intimidation check which reminded me of this scene from the Princess Bride set in front of Prince Humperdink’s castle:
Inigo: Give us the gate key
Sherriff: What gate key?
Inigo: Fezzik, tear his arms off.
Sherriff (taking the gate key off his necklace): Oh you mean this gate key
Intimidating him into compliance, Rhett questioned the bound man about his knowledge of the castle defenses (there are somewhere between 100 and 150 defenders), the knights (he serves under Trin), how they teleported (he didn’t know) and how many wizards are in the castle (one, whose description did not come close to matching the description of the Druid’s friend).
Rhett then asked the man what other magical items he had other than his spear and armor. The man began to sputter and did not answer. Lorful drew the Sword of Truth and uttered his catch phrase “Kiss the blade and swear it so”. The man began to answer saying sputtering “Talis…talism….talisman….”. With that, his skin began getting black and splotchy. Rhett, thinking the man may be injuring or killing himself, prepared to heal him. That, however, was not what was happening. The man’s began shimmering away and was being replaced by a fat, disgusting, splotchy, bald headed being. Katya began to scream out of some combination of hatred, revulsion and fear.
Rhett recognized that the being matched the description given by Parnissa, the King’s Chief of Staff, of how people were transformed when she told the story of how Caligera was under the thrall of Orcus. The talisman had caused the man-at-arms to switch places with a minion of Orcus who was now held within the bonds and spewing vile epithets and hatred at the party!
We listened to it for a brief moment to see if any information could be gleaned from its ranting but everyone quickly agreed with Lorful that the only good minion of Orcus was a dead one. Lorful used the Sword of Truth to run the vile thing through. Rhett went to check on Katya who was beside herself in anger and fear.
We left off with Rhett comforting the newly resurrected Cleric while asking what kind of world we were in where joe-nobody men-at-arms wore talismans which allowed them to switch places with minions of Orcus????