On August 24th, Year 5, rumors of phantom singing up near Cria Basin prompt another visit to the place where Bart the Soon-to-be-Bard died. Randall, the one who was with him and retrieved his body, leads the way:
- Randall (HuS): Level 6 Human Druid
- Rowan (MiM): Level 4 Elf Magic-user (Life and Death)
- Ragnvaldr (TrS): Level 3 Human Fighter
- Stephen (EnS): Level 2 Human Thief
With fair weather, a good road, and well-walked wilderness between them and Rathad Oidhche, they make good time, starting up the mountain road in the late afternoon and arriving at the tree Randall chose for Bart’s headstone near sundown. They had expected the tree to be the source of the faint, sad song they hear, but the song still seems all around them. Randall recognizes that the tree has changed in the year since he last saw it, having grown quickly and its leaves now shaped like tear drops.
He connects to it, finding its memories confused with a perplexing discontinuity. When he speaks to the tree, it knows his voice and the confused memories become more substantial, it remembers travelling with Randall, but can’t walk anymore, not anymore. When asked if it is Bart, it says it does not know its name, but accepts the name. Randall also learns from the tree that gnomes have passed by, seemingly on their way to and from the summit of the mountain above the basin.
They make camp by the tree, Randall taking the first watch and using all his Speak with Plants uses to casually converse with it. Their watches all pass uneventfully and in the morning they awake to happy music across the mountain ridge, the birds joining joyously in the song. They decide to set out up the mountain themselves in search of where these gnomes might have been going.
They make their way along the South side of the fog-filled basin and start up the slope, pressing through thick scrub oak that greatly slows their progress. They soon notice, just a little way up the slope, a shack like a large hunter’s blind off to the their left, directly overlooking the basin. They decide to investigate it, Randall and Ragnvaldr going ahead while Rowan and Stephen conceal themselves in the brush nearby.
Randall knocks on the door and hears a startled scuffle inside and hurried whispers in gnomish. Soon a gruff gnome speaks through the cracked door, inquiring what they’re doing up on the mountain. After a brief exchange, he steps away and they hear more gnomish muttering inside and some movement.
A different gnome opens the door, inviting them in. There is no sign of the other gnomes, but a door to a small room and stairs down to a lower floor. He has them sit and offers them tea. Randall, very attentive, notices the gnome (Laidir Buidseach) poisoning their tea. After various excuses to delay drinking the tea, Ragnvaldr finally attacks Laidir from behind, bringing him down in a single heavy blow. Randall catches him without a sound and while Ragnvaldr throws the gnome over his shoulder, Randall ignites his bundle of sweetleaf (a hallucinogenic he regularly gathers in the forest along the North Road for alchemy purposes) and throws it down the stairs to where the guards are. He and Ragnvaldr run out, warning Stephen and Rowan that they are probably Ar-a-mach.
They ambush the pursuing guards at the door, forcing the them back inside where Rowan fills the blind with a death burst through the door (after Ragnvaldr falls and is shot opening and closing it). They rush in, soon dealing with the two remaining guards, though Rowan, going to check the stairs) falls prey to the hallucinations and hurts himself fleeing a ravenous beast only he can see.
After tending to the enemy’s wounds, binding them, and waiting for the fire to stop, they interrogate Laidir using a thought projection potion Stephen has. They learn that where the Ar-a-mach are keeping their keys to the seals on Luath Draoidh and that they are about to move on another seal. They also learn that the Ar-a-mach know that Vale has the poultice key and the map, but that the Ar-a-mach are searching a mountain they call “Thunder God” for the entrance to Luath Draoidh’s prison.
On looting the blind they obtain a good deal of money, some alchemical products and tools, and letters which they get translated in Citadel, one to Laidir Buidseach reading:
Cuirm Liadir Buidseach,
You are charged with keeping a watch on Rathad Oidhche and Cria Basin. From that vantage you will be able to spot any Valefolk again visiting the basin or making their way toward Slighe Domhainn and that dwarf-toad Dargos. If you see any sign of them, warn me by means the prism stone at eighteen degrees North of East. The distance is enough that the message may require dark to receive. My receiver will be in place dusk to dawn.
Valefolk travelling abroad can be very dangerous, engage them with great caution. Use your cunning to take advantage of their brashness and folly. Your priority is not to stop them, but to warn us of their movements.
Cuirm-Cogaidh Laidir Lorgoir
The others are brief notes, apparently to Laidir Lorgoir, reporting on Valefolk activity near Rathad Oidhche. They turn the guards over to the mayor of Rathad Oidhche to hold on to while they return to Citadel, but take Laidir Lorgoir with them to have Rovert wipe his memory of their interrogation before releasing him.
This session of the Haven campaign was fairly impromptu, with (TrS) wanting to track down a rumor from a couple of months ago that singing could be heard near Cria Basin. As a result, they have encountered information about Ar-a-mach activities long before Dargos was going to learn about them.