When last we left our party, they were on the edge of the Fallow Forest, a blighted area of woods that has caused an immense deal of trouble for the shipwrights and loggers.
The blighted area felt unnatural, with the grass and plants turning to a foul slime when touched or trod upon. It made for slow, disgusting going. Antigus, the party's druid, sensed no links with animal life--until, two bears apparently infected/maddened with the blight attacked the party. The party dispatched them with relative ease (except Friar Charles kicked one in the face, and it responded by tearing him up), and soon disovered evidence that someone else had been in the area.
They snuck up on a large party of armed men and workers, apparently being directed by two wizard-looking fellows in dark robes. The workers were burying (without directly touching) two large rocks in the ground. The Nalgin (the cleric) sensed the rocks as pure evil (think Time Bandits). The party was pretty sure this is what was causing the blight.
Oh, and when our resident thief Llewellyn snuck up closer to observe, he noticed a pen holding a half-dozen undead. Lovely!
Vas, the Wild Mage of the group, wanted to try to bluff the people putting the stone in the ground. Didn't work, and the mage ordered his minions to kill him.
Antigus saw that the group was outnumbered about 14 to 6 (not counting zombies), and probably saved the group's bacon by casting Entangle, causing (healthy) plants to shoot out of the group and hold a majority of the enemy in place. However, the enemy still had 3 archers hiding behind wagons, who were doing some grievous damage early on. Vas cast light on the face of one of the horses pulling the wagons, and this spooked them. Even without cover, the archers did some nasty damage, with Vas getting dropped and Friar Charles using himself as a human shield until he could get him out of harm's way.
Elsewhere, Nalgin was up to his old tasks of throwing the fantasy equivalent of Molotov cocktails at baddies. Pretty effective when they have no choice but to stand and burn! He eventually was dropped by an enemy warrior, but survived. Leyton again proved his worth with a bow, pulling off some incredible cross-battlefield shots to put the hurt one of the mages quickly.
The mage had also barked an order to a solider that wasn't entangled to open the pen holding the zombies. Too bad for him Llewellyn, our thief, was there to backstab the living snot out of him.
Actually, Llewellyn has become quite adept at becoming our guy who always seems to get in the killing shot. You know when other people have done like 60 points of damage and the guy's still standing, then some comes along, does 3 points of damage and the guy drops? That's Llewellyn.
After the mage was destroyed, the few remaining opponents fled into the woods.
Well, how to get rid of these rocks? Friar Charles and the cleric Nalgin decided to try a blessing ceremony of sorts. Whatever malevolence was in the rocks resisted, and in the end, the rocks were destroyed! The blight began to recede as soon this happened.
At last, the group counted up their loot. A small ruby amulet had been found that seemed to radiate some minor magics. Leyton found an adept's spellbook, which he tucked away (in violation of the compact in place for sharing treasure! Let's see if it comes back to bite him). A goodly number of silver, gold, and one or two platinum coins were found, all with twin death's-heads stamped on them.
Perhaps the best discovery were the scrolls and letters (I actually rolled up paper for the scrolls, so they'd have to open them to find out what they were. Vas opened one that was warded by Explosive Runes, dropping him to negative HP for the 2nd time in the session. They found coded (and promptly magically deciphered) letters that seemed to indicate whoever was behind this had plans against not only Sidon, but Morsten, the City of the Tower (Mage Central). There was also some mention of places or things called the Witches' Stone and the Pools of Portation, and also about discovering access to something belonging to the Mad ArchMage (not the first time his name has popped up in their travels. Seriously, if they ever compare all their notes, they might see some running threads, eventually).
Apparently, the group the party had defeated had some friends. The party tried to rest in the woods that night on their way back to Sidon, but the baying of hounds and angry voices woke them up. An exhausting, on-edge struggle to flee through the forest took place. The group barely outran their pursuers, cleared the forest, and made it to a fortified farmstead, where they collapsed and slept until the next afternoon.
The next morning, their host noticed the insignia on the armor Friar Charles had obtained from one of the slain villians. The farmer paled, and excused himself. Upon further querying, and with evident fear in his voice, he asked if Charles was from Darrakis.
As to who or what Darrakis is, the party will find out more when we resume play after the New Year. They have the information somewhere--it'll just be a matter of finding it.
Great session, and as usual, I've probably left out a lot, but I had a blast yet again. I can only hope the group feels the same way!