[Previous chapter: Act 1]

Well, we don’t have a standard time yet, though late Saturday evenings are looking likely. A couple weeks back, I was not feeling to well at that point, and last week, Smudge was buried in exploring as Vue as a new computer animation platform for her. But we finally got a second session last night; onwards!

[Warning! Many module spoilers ahead! See the end to skip.]

The next morning, Erystelle cast Detect Magic and looked through the items looted from various hobgoblins, goblins and ogres the previous day. The swords and shields of the hobgoblin leader and his bodyguard all showed magical, and Erystelle decided to replace his normal shield with the hobgoblin leader’s. Also, so did the shortbow he got off the leader, but that was no surprise, as he recognized it as having been his mother’s shortbow +2. The 12 arrows in his mother’s quiver also glowed, but he’s not entirely sure what they are.

By the time that was done, Druinder had gotten supplies together for an expedition back to Doneryll with himself, and two of his gnome helpers riding the spare horses recovered yesterday. The remaining gnome and one of Erystelle’s dogs stayed to hold down Druinder’s home, and allow Tarcil to recover (the wardog, who had taken quite a beating in the fighting).

On the trip down, Druinder handed Erystelle his ring of protection +1, figuring that any fighting is going to have to rely on Erystelle anyway. Thinking things over, he also advised him that the best course of action was probably to see a human hermit who has been studying the lore of the area for many years. If anyone knows more about Gallanor Nightflame, it would be him. Also, the best route there would take him through a halfling village, Oakendale. With the destruction of the dwarf and human settlements, as well as Doneryll, they may be the next target—if they haven’t been attacked already.

Once back at Doneryll, the known dead were gathered, and Erystelle searched the rest of the area. The stables were a total loss, and there were two more corpses inside—his grandmother and grandfather. The trail the hobgoblins had cut to get to Doneryll was easy to follow, and started near the stables. Amongst the wolf and hobgoblin tracks were blood and signs of something being dragged, which ended with a pair of elven bodies… two of his brothers. All told, only two members of the entire household are missing, and Erystelle is steadfast in believing they must still be alive. The trail of the raiders soon after stopped at a tributary of the Greenflow.

After proper mourning and cremation of the dead, a very somber party made it’s way back to Druinder’s the next day.

The day after, Erystelle set out with his two war dogs for Oakendale, going over the bridge across the Greenflow near Druinder’s and heading east. During the morning, a raven was paying too much attention to Erystelle, who is all too aware of the normal role of ravens in folklore, and was not happy. He sent a warning shot near the raven who merely retreated to the next tree down the path. Erystelle warned him off, “Tell your master! If he is friend; I have questions. If he’s a foe I’m going to kick his ass!” The raven responded by telling him, “Seek the hooded one in the cave of blue,” and flew off.

Erystelle was nonplussed. He’s already headed to see the hermit.

Later on, the trail crossed a tributary of the Greenflow and turned north, when he another encounter. At a sudden thump on the rear of his horse, Erystelle turned around to find himself face-to-face with a small wild man, with a manic expression and twigs and leaves sticking out of his hair. He laughed and leaped away, disappearing into the trees. A quick search revealed that he’d taken Erystelle’s dagger +1. A search discovered nothing. The dogs found a scent leading to a tree, and nothing more. Offers from Erystelle for a gem (sparklies!) in return for the dagger got no response.

About an hour later, Erystelle arrived at Oakendale, a pleasant, sleepy (and intact!) halfling village on the bank of a tributary of the Greenflow. The proprietor of the inn (Bella) came out to greet him with food and ale as he rode into the village. Erystelle went in, and quieted the other patron’s questions about news by asking for the Mayor to come over so he could tell it once. Seeing the grim look on his face, one of the patrons rushed out, to return a few minutes later with the Mayor (still in his dressing gown with a vest thrown over it). Erystelle went over the entire story, including the destruction of the human and dwarven settlements in the area, and the fact that a red dragon is probably involved.

The Mayor was visibly shaking by the time he was done, and had filled his pipe two or three times without lighting it. He promised to lend what support he could, and to call out the militia.

After the crowd dispersed some, Erystelle asked Bella about the wild man. She called him the Sharugh—he’s considered the luck of the village, and occasionally repairs small items around the village. She leaves food and ale out for him every night. Directed back to the Mayor as someone more knowledgeable, he told Erystelle that he seemed to live on nearby Hookam Hill and suggested making an offering of food to him there.

The next day, Erystelle visited Hookam Hill, and set out some food. The Sharugh approached cautiously, but eventually gobbled down the food and then ran off and came back with the dagger and a brass lantern. Then his expression cleared, and he said:

So long, so long. The years pass swiftly but I go on. It was said that one would come looking for a way to other lands. Mark well these words:

‘Before me lies the silver moon
And stars encircle my brow,
Let the hidden way be open soon.
Galannor Nightflame hear me now!’

Forget not these words, lest your task go unfulfilled.

The lantern was odd. It has no oil, nor anyplace to put oil. Around the rim are a couple words in magical script.

Erystelle continued on north, following directions gotten earlier in Oakendale to the hermit’s cave. As he drew near in the late afternoon, he saw smoke curling up in the distance. After the last time, Erystelle immediately kicked Starbrow into a trot.

Sure enough, he arrived to find smoke pouring out of the entrance to the cave, what had been a tidy little garden trampled, and a dead hobgoblin at the entrance to the cave. A quick examination showed no other bodies, and much of the contents of the cave destroyed, with the bedding (and other things) burning. Among the scattered belongings, were a few damaged books. Only one seemed to be of immediate interest, but only the last page was partially intact. Of the two paragraphs there, the second one was obviously the verse the Sharugh had quoted. The first paragraph is nearly unreadable.

Investigation showed tracks leading further northeast. At the other end of the track was an encampment of hobgoblins, where an ogre—a very upset ogre was yelling at them about something. After killing one, he turned them out of camp and started herding them towards the cave, where they started beating the bushes desperately looking for something. Erystelle, observing all of this from cover has decided it’s time to capture one, and find out what’s going on.

With combat imminent, we called it there for the night.

Oh, and the hermit’s cave was not blue.

[End spoilerific section.]

DMs notes: Well, a couple of hours and a lot of role-playing, and hardly a die to be seen. We’re well and truly on our way with the plot, though the main ‘directed’ part is over, and now the more difficult part begins.

I was pretty relaxed this time. I’m more sure of myself on this part, and some of the anxiety last time was for the module not to come off as a pure combat fest. I didn’t play up the Sharugh as much I might like, but he’s not the sort that I have an easy time with, and really, he should speak in rhyme, which is well outside my abilities.

We talked some Friday night, and are hoping to get a small group together, maybe every other Saturday once this adventure is done. We’ve both got a couple ideas of what to run, and will see what people think of them.

Some of Smudge’s dice are missing, so we went dice shopping Sunday afternoon to find replacements. We managed to re-fill one set, and she got a new full set of some nice, if smaller, dice. I got myself a couple as well, since I haven’t needed anything but d6s and d% from early on, so my 4s, 8s, 12s and 20s are all crumbling early 80s TSR dice.