After arriving in Gilded Falls on April 5th and finding it reeling from the aftermath of a full moon exposed to the Shattered Moon Staff (they assume), Malcom and Victor decide that the best way to continue their search for Deston is to go to Randall and recruit the help of his birds to broaden their search area.
- Malcom (HuS): Level 5 Human Cleric of the Empty Tomb
- Sparkle, Level 4 Skeleton
- Victor (TrS): Level 4 Elf Thief
On the 6th, they set out back up the Great Road toward Randall’s Grove. Along the way, they encounter few things of note, though they do notice slain giants and those living along the road indicate that the army as it passed through cleared many of the dangers along the road and even killed and enslaved a number of giants it happened to encounter. By the evening of the 8th, they arrive in Randall’s Grove where they stay the night, receiving reports of the army’s activity at the edge of Randall’s Grove before passing beyond the Union of Schek wall.
They decide that Deston most likely followed the army to cause their attack on the Dragon Empire to fall apart and damage not only the Union of Schek, but their Schek Viilka mercenaries. So, they send 2 of the 10 birds they recruited to Gilded Falls to look for a gnoll or a black bird there while they go to find the army with the remaining 8. The birds fly ahead and report that a significant force has gathered behind the wall across the road and it seems that sickness has stuck there.
They pass by the camp on the south side and steal over the wall in the wooded hill before continuing on the road. Soon, they don’t have much option but to walk on the road itself as it cuts through mountains with sheer cliffs on either side. They get lucky not encountering anything on the road until they have an option to duck into the wooded slope on the south when they see someone ahead. They watch from the brush as a cart full of the sick and pulled by apparently sickly ogres passes by them. They continue on and camp off the road a little ways, sending birds ahead to seek the army and leaving the undead and remaining birds on watch.
The undead wake Malcom as a Union of Schek patrol passes by, but the night is otherwise uneventful. In the morning. the birds report that the army has a camp at the opening of a canyon off the Great Road and that the main body of the army is in an old, ruined town in a valley at the back of the canyon. They move toward it and, still in the early morning, they see the camp at the mouth of the canyon. The find a crevice in the cliff on the north side where they can make a crowded camp and wait out the day while the birds search for a gnoll or a black bird in the area or any sign of a solitary camp.
By evening, the birds have searched a 2 mile radius around the Union of Schek camp without seeing any sign of Deston (Victor successfully hid their camp from patrols). The night yields the same results (though Victor is rudely awoken with Malcom casting spells at him to kill a venomous spider on his chest) and they start to doubt Deston is here. Malcom prays and receives the impression that Deston is not there, but that he has the opportunity to do much good in the Union of Schek camp.
The party decides to divide their efforts, Malcom entering the camp and spending the day healing orcs, goblins, and others of the plague that has spread through their camp. The orcs and goblins have tried their magic to cure it and when they see Malcom’s success, they confess that his god must be a god of life, a sort not known in their pantheon, and they express hope that he will join the other gods when they return. Malcom passes the night in their camp, hitting them all with a safety cure disease over breakfast. He learns that they believe this town they have occupied us near the secret entrance to the ancient dwarven capitol and so they intend to fortify a new forward position here , thinking this to be the farthest they can afford to advance this season after disease blunted their offensive.
Meanwhile, Victor makes his way with the birds back toward Gilded falls where they now believe Deston to be. Leaving Malcom on the 11th (a new moon) he reaches Mirseerdhet (the first elven way-city) by evening. On the 12th, he takes it slower, reaching Valalarte.
Malcom on the 12th makes his way to the Great Road wall where he finds most of the sick from the army have been moved. Between magic and the laying on of hands, he gets the worst of them cured before night, using the morning of the 13th to again hit the camp broadly with cure disease before leaving things to the Union healers. He sets off in haste to pursue Victor and by evening reaches Valalarte where he learns that Victor left that morning. Victor, meanwhile, arrives in Gjelber after an easy day.
On the 14th, Malcom starts out pre-dawn again and marches hard, catching Victor not far from Gilded Falls in the late afternoon. Victor has learned from the birds that they located a large, black bird coming and going from a cave under the the city’s western bridge. They make their way there immediately, hoping to surprise Deston by night.
The “cave” the birds saw Deston entering turns out to be an extensive tunnel network under the old city, but Victor is able to follow Deston’s tracks as they slay undead, giant rats, and particularly dangerous giant slugs. Eventually, the tunnels climbs a slimy stair into what Victor believes is the high city where most of the Schek population lives.
Victor spots a trap in the tunnel as they Deston’s tracks in many places but follow the newest and most frequent. He attempts to disarm it, but sets it off, getting hit with flaming oil. While Malcom heals him, Deston’s voice calls out in orcish to find out who it is.
In the ensuing conversation, Deston argues that while his course of action will certainly result in many orc and goblin lives being lost, it is far fewer than the lives that would be lost if the peoples of the land were again forced to unite and make war upon the Nefil if they return. They worry that he may actually be right, but their is still the question of him having stolen the Nekolyn artifact with which he hopes to achieve his mission. Though Deston argues that Time stole the artifact from the Nekolyns and that he merely stole it from Time in turn, he recognizes that he can’t possibly resist them, so he agrees to return the staff to the Nekolyns if they allow him only to use it three more weeks, one more full moon during which he hopes to break the Union of Schek (which is already strained with disease rampant in the city).
They reluctantly agree to this plan, warning him that they won’t hesitate to track him down again if they find he hasn’t returned the staff, which he doesn’t doubt. Emerging from the old sewers, they pay for beds and in the morning set out back toward the Vale. They take it slow, getting back to the Vale on the 18th.
They went a completely different direction at first. Some DMs might have had Deston be with the army or have steered them the right direction. More on that later. Good to see this arc wrapped up! The prep will be over on Patreon.