November 14 and December 15, 2019
Sorry for the abbreviated and combined reports — I’ve been lazy and haven’t gotten around to writing these up until now!
The party continues on their journey. The weather is getting colder, although no deadly cold. A day or so after leaving the last village, they estimate that they are near the location on the map for the missing tiwstakn.
A short time later they find their path blocked by a steep gorge with a rapidly flowing river at the bottom. A rope and wood bridge, decaying and moldy, crosses the gorge.
There is much discussion about what to do. The bridge may be able to support the lightest of the group, but Grend has serious reservations about the ability of the bridge to support him. They discuss going around, but a quick scouting trip shows that the gorge extends as far as they can see in both directions.
They decide to try to cross. First they find a good hiding place for the ponies with enough grass for grazing for a day or two, and secure them. They return to the bridge and discuss at length what they will do.
Eventually they get Findlay to drop his backpack and cross cautiously, with rope tied to his belt and belayed by others in the party. He makes it across. They then send each person in order of weight (lightest to heaviest) across. They first drop their packs into Grend’s large net.
The ropes creak and begin to fray; various board splinter and crack under their weight, a few snapping in half and falling into the raging river below, but they all make it across, even Grend. Grend ties the belaying rope to the net before he crosses; when he gets to the other side, they pull the net across with their belongings. They put on their gear and continue.
There is a path that cuts through a wooded vale between two ridges of the mountain that rise on either side of them. It seems to be heading in the direction of a dimly seen tower on the mountainside ahead. They take the path.
At one point they find themselves in an open area between two hills on the path. As they reach the bottom and start up the hill on the other side, two huge figure pops up from behind the hill before them and throw 2 large rocks at them. They both miss. Grend recognize these as Thurs — a kind of faerie and troll-kin and fierce fighters.
The party maneuvers to try to get out of the line of fire — the rocks the Thurs are throwing are pretty large and dangerous. All but Arne, that is — he charges straight up the hill at the two Thurs. Findlay begins to sing the Song of Alarum, which gives the champions bonuses to strength and damage.
Björn fast-draws an arrow and waits for a Thurs to reappear. One pops up with rock in hand, but Björn lets fly his nocked arrow and nails the Thurs in the eye! The Thurs bellows in pain and drops the rock, retreating back behind the hill. Björn readies another arrow and waits for their next move.
Grend, Shae and Enok head towards the cover of some trees off the path, as they do so, another Thurs lunges out of cover of one of the trees and attacks with a huge club. Grend successfully dodges the blow, and he and Shae attack.
Meanwhile both Thurs on the hill pop up to throw more rocks — yes, even the one with an arrow sticking out of his eye. Björn calmly puts another bolt in his good eye, spoiling any attack it may have made. The other throws a rock at Arne, who is still resolutely charging up the hill. He misses.
Grend calls on the Mother to create a concealing fog to hopefully make it harder for the rock-throwing Thurs to hit Findlay, Björn, or Arne.
Shae attacks the Thurs she is battling and hits, doing a huge amount of damage. It is reeling.
The remaining rock thrower pops up and promptly takes an arrow in one of his eyes. It screams in rage and pain and drops back behind the hill.
Grend and Shae take down the Thurs they are dealing with, and Arne performs the coup de grace on the remaining rock thrower. The group manages to defeat all three Thurs without taking a single point of damage.
* * *
They continue down the path. A few hours later, they see a glen to the right of the path. Björn notices an odd shape in the dirt and grass of the open, tree-lined area. They stop to investigate. Digging through the soil, they uncover the skeleton of a human — probably a Man — with the rusted remains of armor and weapons. A somewhat preserved pouch is also visible. Grend opens it to find it contains a number of silver coins!
As they marvel at their luck, six of the trees surrounding the glen somehow come to life and charge the party.
The trees attack with a combination of charge-and-slam, and using their branches for grappling or striking.
Björn quickly realizes that arrows are likely to be useless against what appear to be (except for their animation) standard fir and aspen trees. He drops the bow and draws his sword.
Findlay again begins the Song of Alarum.
The trees are fast, have a tremendous reach, and are resistant to much of the damage that the champions can do. The battle is brutal and long. Shae’s axe does the most damage, but it is Enok’s Lightning Bolt spell that makes the difference. When the lightning hits, the trees have a tendency to catch fire. The trees react very badly to fire, most often breaking away from combat and fleeing. However, both Enok and Grend are heavily damaged; Enok runs into the surrounding woods and passes out. Grend is barely hanging onto consciousness and is pretty much out of the fight.
Arne is grappled fairly early in the combat and while being held, is attacked by another tree. He is quickly reduced to barely hanging onto consciousness. Helpless in the grip of one of the trees, he calls out loudly in prayer to Tyr. As he finishes praying, the clouds part and a beam of golden sunlight strikes his armor. The branches holding him immobile begin to smolder and burn. The tree releases him as the fire spreads quickly up the branches to the trunk. Summoning all his willpower, he manages to weakly strike on of the remaining trees with his glowing sword, setting it on fire and sending it in retreat. Between his efforts and Shae’s strength, they finally manage to defeat the walking trees. They are in fairly bad shape.
The party spends the rest of this day and night camped here. Both Arne and Grend call on their gods and their supply of healing potions to cure the wounds of the others and themselves. In the morning they are fully healed and move on.
* * *
Around midday, they reach the base of the tower in the cliff face. There are a pair of large metal gates blown off their hinges and lying on the ground. They enter.
The hall in the lower part of the tower is large — it extends into the darkness before them. The party can just make out walls to the left and right, with a couple of doorways in each. There is a sound, barely audible, that sounds like the flutter of wasp wings in the darkness.
Findlay casts Song of Echoes to try to penetrate the darkness. He picks up several small objects/creatures in the darkness moving towards them. Findlay warns the others and they prepare in case battle is called for.
“They are about 16 yards away,” Findlay works the words into his song. “A small group, maybe 3-4, to the left, and another equal group to the right. Moving directly towards us.”
The others unsuccessfully strain to see the approaching creatures.
“They’re now about 8 yards away. Six.” Findlay sings.
“That’s inside the torch light,” Shae says. “Are you sure?” None of the others can see anything.
“They’re two yards away. One!” Findlay shouts.
Several creatures appear out of nothing directly in front of the party as they leap to attack. There is a brief impression of large, 3 foot long centipede things on the floor that almost instantly flash into small flying demonic looking beings as they leap from the floor to attack.