On Monday, November 11th, a pair of adventurers respond to a call from the Nekolyns to look into a growing blight on the woods. They are:
- Lonir (MaC): Level 3 Elf Thief.
- Verdis the Prickly (HuS): Level 4 Human Fighter.
They are told that Branch President Daniel in Kite has more information, so packing 5 days of food each they make their way to Kite to see what he has to say. He fills them in that the blight is about 15 miles up the East Confluence tributary near the east bank. The Nekolyns cut it back once, were driven off a second time, and the third time the party never returned. They have been securing the blighted area, but soon it will reach the river and may spread more quickly.
With at least a location and a sense of urgency, Verdis and Lonir set out, eating a small lunch on their feet and making 12 miles before dark. Though they can see the dark clouds and lightning a few miles off, they make camp beside the river. With the nights growing longer, they each agree to take a 6 hour watch.
About an hour into Lonir’s watch, he perceives some movement in the trees. He wakes Verdis and starts to crawl toward the trees, making it to the treeline apparently undetected. The sound grows nearer before a voice (apparently Nekolyn) calls out greeting the camp. They receive a pair of Nekolyns (who had approached their fire expecting a party from the Vale) into the camp and they agree to take watches with them, cutting the watches to 3 hours.
During the third watch, one of the Nekolyns awakes the camp, losing arrows toward a crashing in the woods. An ogre with a massive cudgel emerges and their arrows seem to do little, even those that lodge in it.
Lonir’s are an exception as he takes both eyes, one with an arrow and the other with a throwing knife. The creature continues to swing at Verdis who throws himself to the ground twice. Blinded and wounded to madness, the ogre misswings, taking off its own leg and falling dead to the rocks.
The rest of the night passes uneventfully and they set out to join the two Nekolyns’ companions, another two more heavily armed. The Nekolyns fill them in that there is an elven bunker at the center of the blighted area that the Nekolyns have been to before. They are willing to accompany them into the blighted area if they have a real plan.
Despite the Nekolyns’ derision for the Satyrs and their artifacts, Lonir tries his horn, immediately reducing the movement in the mutated woods filling the valley beyond. Impressed, the Nekolyns offer to go with them to the center (through writing in the mud due to Lonir’s silence they accept), one of them taking the horn for use as they get closer.
They set off into the muddy vale at a steady pace with lightning strike mostly in front them. As they get into more dense lightning territory, they pick up the pace but about 300 feet from the obelisk in the distance lightning strikes 20 feet away deafening and scorching them. They take off at a sprint, reaching the obelisk unharmed. Lonir sees a hatch and opens it. He produces his glowing crystal and begins to climb down. Lightning strikes the obelisk, singeing them all. While the Nekolyns descend, the obelisk is struck twice more, singeing Verdis before he enters last, closing the hatch.
They rest 15 minutes from their mad sprint over marshy ground, but mostly for Lonir’s voice to return. The Nekolyns fill them in that the first Nekolyn investigators did not get beyond the first level and they set out to examine it. In the next room from where they entered they find an antiquated table and three shrines of Nekolyn bones, weapons, and armor. With two metal doors (one in each room) they first examine the wooden door in the second room.
It opens easily on a kitchen where a partially carved winged lizard creature hangs. The sink is full of freshly dirty dishes, but the stove has no place for a fire. They assume it functions by magic. The larger cabinet has no shelves and they suspect the back wall, finding a hidden door to a stair there.
They tell the Nekolyns where they are going and descend. The stair ends at the back of an armoire in a small apartment. They find a key and a mostly empty journal in the bedside table, indicating this room belonged to the chef. A door leads out into a hallway with other similar doors. Most of the doors are unlocked, though Lonir is only able to pick one of three locked ones. They find another (more complete) journal, a couple more keys, spools of thread, and other trinkets that they leave (all rolled on tables in Who Would Just Leave This Stuff).
Between the two wings of apartments there is a chamber behind double rows of bars that is full of arcing lightning. A pair of metal statues stand between the rows and warning signs hang completely unnecessary on either side of the door. Opposite the bars is a large pair of double doors. While they suspect that the room beyond the bars is causing the lightning, they take a look at the double doors finding no traditional lock, but what is obviously a puzzle.
The puzzle occupies them for 2 hours 40 minutes (20 minutes in real life, I think I’ll write a post about how I ran this puzzle, since it went really well). As they pull the last piece into place, a click inside indicates the door is unlocked. They push the door open, coming upon a massive room with huge, bronze statue of a globe surrounded with large elves
occupying its center. Three other similarly large doors to the one they came through are evenly spaced in the octagonal room, one of them mangled and broken. After a quick pass around the room, they duck through the mangled door and head down a flight of stairs to a large room.
The left wall is lined with cages (some broken) occupied by skeletons. A very large wolf-like, mostly-decayed body lies at the center of the large room. It is like the elf-eater defeated at the Satyr village, but lean with spines sprouting from it. The third key they found opens the cages, and the second opens large doors to a room dominated by a massive glowing crystal they suspect is the cause of their crawling skin. Cages in the room with the crystal are broken, and also unlocked by the key that opened the other cages.
Thick windows into adjacent rooms give them a dim view and they find their key opens these rooms as well. In the first, a pair of magical tablets flash red and a cage holds a hamster skeleton beside a potted plant much like those on the surface in the blighted area. It lashes out at them when they get close.
In the other, larger room, magical tablets present elven text Lonir is able to read. They speak to parameters of travel, stealth, survival, and aggression. They soon find that accompanying knobs influence numbers on the tablets and that one of the knobs stops the crystal glowing. They turn this one until the crystal is fully dark and return to the Nekolyns, reporting their discoveries.
The Nekolyns are satisfied that the crystal is the cause of the blight, but Lonir insists on returning below to deal with the lightning. After a conversation with one of the statues that quickly grows confrontational as they are not “authorized to make configuration changes or give orders,” they attempt to make changes to the switches by superior speed and having flipped one switch are chased from the room by one of the statues. Finding itself locked in behind the bars, the statue extends a hand, striking Verdis with a bolt of lightning for significant damage.
They retreat, camping for the night and returning to map the facility as explored so far while the Nekolyns make preparations to leave. When they return, the Nekolyns have packed up the bones and equipment of their fallen comrades, but offer the party their nature blessed equipment. Lonir immediately claims the armor that allows him to become a tree for six hours each day. Verdis is interested in the hedge creating spear and having little use for stretching sword, leaves that to Lonir as well.
Lonir blows his horn again and they depart, eluding any lightning as they hurry to the edge of the blighted area again. The Nekolyns plan to become more aggressive in cutting back the blight now that its growth has been ostensibly stopped.
Lonir and Verdis make it back to the Vale, proceeding to Citadel not too long after dark on Wednesday November 13th. Both level up.