The party began the day of the Spider early, resuming their tracking on the roadway. The road began to fork quite frequently, splitting to various villages and hamlets, until the main road began to curve to the West, and the hoof prints continued on a smaller trail to the north, barely wide enough to accommodate the wagon.
Three hours into the trail, the path widens into a small clearing, but continues out the other side. At the far edge of the clearing lies a small, partially collapsed hut on the banks of a gurgling stream.
The hut itself seems to have been made from a combination of fallen limbs and standing tree trunks, with a roof of wide leaves and strips of rotten bark. The front door to the hut hangs partially ajar. Dozens of bones and skulls — quite obviously of human origin — decorate the hut and the surrounding area, each bearing numerous nicks and scratches.
After a cursory inspection of the bones and surroundings, Greg pushes his way inside to discover a skeletal form dressed in tattered clothing, and seated on a wooden stump. Other fragments of cloth and rusted bits of metal also lay about the room. On closer inspection, Greg finds a tattered leather bound journal, which misses several pages, and has some text completely lost to damp and mold. The excerpts the party can read follow:
…many survived, but the Thrune’s Fang will never ride again. Sargava’s assimilation must proceed without…
…fine hunting, but the bugs are a constant distraction. Nylithati’s skills at healing help fight the sickness, but I fear she has…
…founded. Nylithati has seized control of my crew. They are hers now. And so I have abandoned…
…fine home. Fresh water nearby and I need not endure Nylithati’s ceaseless raving about…
…will not be returning to that gray, silent tower again. There is nothing there but horror…
…crew lurking about the area. They seem strange, almost feral. It has been almost a decade since the battle. I wonder what strange beliefs Nylithati has…
…changed. There was no sign of Nylithati in the camp, but the focus of their ceremony was a cauldron they must have salvaged at the base of the ruined tower. It was into this they threw the half-eaten body of the still screaming man…
…all around. I can hear them chanting in the green even now. They call Nylithati “Mother Thrunefang” now, and promise me immortality if I lay down my arms and submit. I know what their immortality consists of, and I’ll have no part of that corrupt life after…
With nothing really more to see, the party continues on, but quickly realizes the trail is becoming far too narrow for the cart. With some effort it’s taken back to the clearing, and one of the cart horses cobbled and left to graze, while Al rides the other, and Greg his horse.
After running into several snare traps made of vines and wooden spikes, the party passes a crumbing tower in the distance to the east, but doesn’t investigate, continuing down the trail.
As night falls again, the party has reached an area in the woods that is fairly thinned out, and slightly more hilly. A suitable campsite is located, and watches and preparations completed.
As the second watch ends, Colin wakes Derek, who calls his attention to a large fire, set upon the crest of a hill several hundred yards away, but clearly quite large to be visible from this distance.
Waking the party, and advancing through the deep mist fallen in the night, Colin steps ahead to listen closely. After some mishaps with a pair of cursed boots, he is able to close and notices a cluster of man-shapes huddled about the leaping fire at the center of a set of stone columns, cloaks hunched up at their shoulders. Something about them seemed stiff and uneasy, as though they waited on something expected but not necessarily desired.
They appear to be five in number, and a long, dark chest lies at their feet, matching the description of the object of the quest.
A thin night-wind sprang up, setting the high flames whipping. The cloaked and hooded men turned their heads in unison, slowly and almost reluctantly, gazing out into the darkness at the hill’s northern rim.
After a moment, Colin heard it too, a faint sound growing ever so gradually louder: the aching creak of wooden cart wheels. A bulky shape was climbing upward out of the obscurity of the north edge. The men moved away from the approach, circling the fire to cluster together on the side nearest Colin; no word had yet been uttered by any of them.
Dropping back just a bit, Colin circled to the east, trying to get a better view of the approach. Emory, seeing Colin move, began to make his way up the hill as well, benefited by a Pass without Trace spell.
Dim, pale shapes that slowly became horses appeared at the fringe of the fireglow; following behind, growing distinct from the night, was a black wagon.
Blackhooded figures walked on either side, four in all, matching the wagon’s stately, funeral pace. The flickering light revealed a fifth atop the wagon, hunched over the team of ice white stallions. This last figure was somehow larger than the others, and darker, as if it wore some cloak of obscurity; its very stillness seemed to speak of a hidden, brooding power.
The men beside the fire still did not move, but stood rigidly watching. Only the thin mewing of the wagon wheels punctured the silence.
The black cart and its attendants drew to a halt just within the circle of firelight. One of the four standing figures raised an arm, the black sleeve falling away to reveal a wrist and hand as thin and white as bone.
It spoke, voice silvery-cold, toneless as ice cracking.
“We are here to fulfill the covenant.”
Emory turned over his shoulder, and beckoned the party forward, turning back to the view ahead.
Without a word, one of the waiting men reached down, and lifted one end of the black chest, and began approaching the cart, circling wide past the fire. At the same time, a black cloaked attendant opened the cart door, and pulled forth a small woman, bound in chains, with a simple dirty shift on, despite the night’s chill. She cried out pitifully, and then sobbed gently.
Dragging her forward, the black cloaked attendant also circled the fire to meet the other.
Deciding that urgent action was needed, the party struck from surprise. A pair of Dust Devils from Al and Derek threw embers from the fire around the circle, and battered the cloaked figure on the cart.
Taking advantage of the chaos, Colin stepped up, and snatched away the young woman, surprising the cloaked figure.
Greg began firing, putting two arrows into the men in the circle.
Following that, Al hit the large figure on the cart with a Silence, and Derek began battering him with magic stones.
The men in the circle closed on the party, and began attacking with long swords. Al kep several at bay with repeated Commands, while Emory and Greg did sword work on the others. Derek kept a constant barrage of stones and daggers on the cart driver, who, after discovering he was silenced, turned the cart, and prepared to flee. The other cloaked figures joined him, except the one fighting Colin over the girl.
As the cart finished it’s turn, and started to lurch away, Derek landed a final blow, and saw the figure slump to the bench. With a hasty order, the Dust Devil attempted to knock him free, but failed.
As the last swordsman fell, Greg whistled for his war horse, and mounted a pursuit, Derek mounted behind.
A quick ranged battled commenced, with arrows and daggers from Greg and Derek aimed at the cart’s occupants, and a series of wizards spells slung in response. A Melf’s acid arrow missed, a wizard fell to an arrow as his magic missile was a segment away from casting.
A sleep spell felled Greg’s horse, though the impact with the roadway re-awakened it. After a few more arrows, the two remounted, and ran down the cart again, felling the final occupant.
The party hit the road early in the morning, trying to maximize the light for tracking instead of heading out over the previous evening.
After a fairly uneventful ride, the party approaches the location of the ambush site they were warned about from the Klelg Nar Thieves Guild. Whistling the code tune, the party rounded the corner to the bluff, but no sign was called out.
As they slowly continued around the curve, a body came into view in the middle of the road, covered in fresh blood.
Further inspection while stopped showed some dried blood on the face of the bluff to the left.
Colin took to the woods to the left, and scaled the bluff some 50 feet from the roadway, to investigate while in cover, and Greg took to the woods on the right.
There atop the bluff, Colin looks towards the road, and can see the slumped over bodies of two thieves, who even from this distance, seems to have been dead for some time.
In the roadway itself, the other party members aboard the cart approached the body, only to see it twitch, and croak out a plea for help.
Al threw down a concealment spell to protect in case of any direct ambush, and Derek darted from the fog to the body, with a quick Cure Light Wounds. The damage appeared to be mostly from a disemboweling claw swipe across the lower torso, with some scratches to the face as well. It was quite shocking that the man was still alive.
Derek then helped him to his feet, and back to the cart. His clothing was also in tatters, and his hair and beard were unkempt, and matted with leaves and debris.
Greg was unsuccessful in noting anything of interest on the right side of the woods, and began making his way back to the cart.
Colin tried to work his way towards the wood border on the west of the bluff when a dark shape slipped from the woods, staring directly at him. It appeared to be a very large cat, but with six legs, and lashing tendrils upon it’s shoulders. It hissed, and Colin turned to run.
It quickly began to eat up the distance, and was only a few paces behind when he leapt off the bluff, shouting to the party for assistance.
The party, including the still wounded stranger, turned to fight the beast, and with effort, were able to slay it. To their surprise, as it fell, the body disappeared into thin air. After verifying that it wasn’t simply invisible, they determined that they wouldn’t learn more here, and instead went to check on the older bodies on the bluff.
With some skill, Colin determined that they were deceased for at least a day, perhaps even longer. Each were killed with a single arrow.
Foraging ahead farther, he found the trailway off to the camp, and 2 more corpses at it’s head. They were also killed with a single arrow.
Greg was able to determine that the hoof prints they’d been following didn’t seem to slow at all through this pass, and continued on the road.
With a quick reconnoiter down the trail to the camp, the party headed off again. The new ally, who stated his name as Emory Ninefingers, admitted to being a member of the thieves guild of Klelg Nar, and lost from his party some 3 months now, wandering though the woods, lost and starving due to his lack of woods lore and direction sense.
As night fell, the party camped in a clearing to the road’s side, uneventfully.
After multiple days of exploration, rest, pursuit of stolen horses, and ultimately, a deal struck with Arch Druid Magni Halfear, the party has completed their exploration of Porbell’s coastal keep, and returns to Klelg Nar to resupply, rest, and regroup.
The party quickly verifies Halfear’s rumor that the dwarves did indeed attempt the assassination of another deity, the venerable Lindisfarne (god of mysteries, hospitality, and wandering) but were repelled, and slain.
From there, the party split, with Derek’s return to Lord Pak, to share the details of the exploration and his share of the property.
Al hit the streets of the gods, then the university, talking up the rumors about Lindisfarne, as well as learning the general feelings regarding the Orc and Dwarven animosity. He was also able to share some details of the god war not known to the general intelligentsia, scoring some good favor.
Greg arranged with a local carpenter and his apprentice to begin repairs to the keep’s main door. They were paid in advance for the lumber, and their expected labor costs.
Colin is awakened by a soft yet insistent knocking at his door in the wee hours of the night. He’s then contracted by 3 minor thieves of the Klelg Nar guild who botched a recovery job, and ended up killing their client. They’re asking him, as an “external” to help cover their tracks, and dispose of the body while they are publicly visible in the bar below, to overcome any suspicions about their involvement.
After learning that his new night lit eyes, and general “aura” seems to frighten the horses, he enlists Greg’s help to take the cart to the client’s address, remove the corpse, and deliver it to the Sage’s residence, for a quick disposal via man eating plants. Additional conversation with Herbifarge reveals that he’s interested in the Keep’s mushroom colony, and would love to pay a visit when possible.
The next afternoon leads to a scheduled meeting with Colin’s local guild contact, who helps connect the party with Lord Beesan, who has reported that a family heirloom was stolen the night before last by a gang of highwaymen, who reportedly fled the city in the night via the North Gate.
The heirloom is a large wooden chest, almost 5 feet in length, made of very dark wood, found in the forests to the north. It’s marked with a family seal, and contains a blade, some campaign banners, and various memorabilia from his grandfather’s military career.
The party verifies with the night guard who saw the escape, and gather additional details with some coin. The men fled on 6 strong coursers, through the door quite rapidly before the guard could even call out to them. He did clearly note the chest on the horse without a rider, and couldn’t give much description of the men, except that they appeared to be average build, and darkly cloaked.
Colin also took the opportunity to learn of a band of allied thieves that prey the northern roads about a half days ride, as well as a challenge/response pair for the group.
With that additional detail, the party mounts up to leave the city…
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,600 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 43 trips to carry that many people.
After spending the last few days wooing Lord Almos Pak of Klelg Nar ( as well as communing with an Archdruid), the party awakens on the day of the Leech to the assembled band of blackguard mercenaries sent by Pak to assume control of the tower, and to make certain that Porbell is unable to remove any hidden treasures.
The short approach to the tower is rather uneventful, beyond the party, and the blackguard leader (Sgt. Brimley) disagreeing somewhat on their approach to the situation. Brimley asks them to let him handle it, relying on his long experience as a city guardsman.
He calls to the tower where a sentry stands visible. The Orc calls out to another, and a small band deploys in front of the tower, only one of which seems to understand common. The conversation heats up, with Brimley repeatedly displaying his warrant, and the Orcs talking in their own tongue, barely replying to him at all.
As both sides appear to be growing more hostile, the party fans out, encircling the orcs a little broader. Suddenly Brimley strikes out with his baton, and the melee is on.
There is some damage each way, the largest orc especially causing some significant damage with his axe until he’s sent away with a command. But the party’s numbers win over, and the orcs are captured or slain. Two of the four guardsmen are down as well.
During the battle, the party notices a large murder of black crows watching from the next tower, probably numbering over thirty birds, with wingspans in excess of 4-5 feet. They are clearly following the action, and sit silently, not even a caw from their midst.
Peeking into the tower the Orcs emerged from, the party notes that there are 12 distinct sleeping pallets that show signs of use. The orcs in the combat only numbered 5.
The party also attempted some communication with the crows, and while not hostile directly, they are not very friendly. They do indicate that they are at the service of their master, who resides in the keep. They do mention that they have run a bunch of messages for him, and other errands.
To most other questions, they just ask the party to step closer, so they can taste their eyes…
While this dialog, and initial investigation was underway, Brimley headed into the keep to serve his warrant to the Lord. After securing the orc captives to the cart, and arranging the bodies of their fallen associates as well, the two other guards set into the keep as well.
Greg also boldly entered the keep through the sagging weak main doors, while Colin took advantage of some low buildings to access the curtain wall, the wall of the keep itself, and then the keep’s roof.
Al and Derek then followed after Greg.
The two guards called out after Brimley, who was not responding, or immediately visible within. The main tower floor was mostly open, with a balcony overhead for half the main hall.
The walls are hung with tattered tapestries and ripped paintings, and smashed sculptures litter the floor. Water pools in small puddles, and leaves blow through the room.
Stairs head up and down.
The guards head up, and after looking around shortly, the party follows. The second floor is mostly occupied with the balcony overlooking the floors below. The other two rooms appear to be a once nice bedchamber, now weather damaged and looted. The second room appears to have been some kind of ceremonial chamber or chapel, with a large etched design in the stone floor.
Even with some dedicated digging around, it’s clear these rooms have been ransacked thoroughly over the years, and hold nothing of any remaining value.
On the stairs leading up to the third floor, the party and guards discover why Sgt. Brimley was not responding. He’s laid out near the top of the stairwell, blood pooling down the steps. At the top of the stairs stands a large Orc, wielding a bloody scimitar.
The two guards engage, and are both cut down cleanly as Greg and Derek step up to assist. During the engagement, he does pause and heal his wounds, so the party knows he has some clerical skills in addition to his fighting prowess.
Eventually the party’s combined efforts bring him down, and they ascend to the third and top floor of the tower, where Colin’s been exploring.
Colin landed through a large hole in the roof to a library, shelves stacked with swollen and rotting books. While poking around he also discovered a small illusionary panel in the wall, which held a small study, in much better shape.
The walls in here hold detailed maps of the surroundings, marked with paths and orcish runes.
The shelf contains 10 very nicely bound black tomes, pages edged in silver. The text is clearly magical, and Colin cannot read more into their contents.
On the table lies a scrap of paper, scrawled in common in charcoal are the words:
Down Deep, Deep down,
Treasure will be found.
Past the beasts and near the pools
Wealth greets the wise, Death welcomes fools!
Also in this room is a secret stair (actually discovered by the party later) that leads to the first basement’s bedroom.
The Third floor also contains an observatory, with a wonderful telescope on a tripod within, currently pointed to the approach road. A chair, and the signs of recent meals indicates that this was a lookout point for the Orcs.
A nicely appointed Lord’s Chambers, and adjacent servant’s quarters complete the floor. The clothes that Lord Porbell was seen wearing in town three days past are hung here in the closet.
With no further way up, the party descends to the main floor, to begin looking into the basement. Stopping to peek outside, the crows have swarmed the cart, and killed the captured orcs and mutilated the deceased guards.
Greg takes the moment to move the warhorse and the cart horses farther away from the cart, as the crows appear more openly hostile.
The basement stairs lead to a small hallway around a very large space, set up as an arena. In the center, chained to a bolt in the floor is a brown bear, looking angry, and underfed. scattered within the arena are thousands of coins, probably thrown there by the orcs as part of a game, involving the bear.
Colin carefully befriends the animal, and is able to pick the lock and remove the collar, and lead it up, and out to the bordering woods, as well as healing some of it’s wounds.
Extensive searching of the remainder of the floor reveal the secret bedroom, and it’s staircase up. The chest at the foot contains a bevy of treasures, including magical chainmail in gold, 10 red magical arrows, and a larger black magical arrow in a quiver, a pair of magical boots, books, charms, and jewelry, a magical dagger, a separate arrow in gold, also magical, and 2 potions (clear w gold flakes, and translucent blue).
The large wall of weapons along the East wall also provide a bevy of treasures, including the following magical items:
2 broadswords, one morning star, one javelin, 3 arrows, a battle axe.
The party awakens on the day of the rat, having spent the last two weeks circling the coast, approaching Klelg Nar in expectation of examining the site mentioned in a cryptic note located in the paperwork of Lord Porbell of Lankhmar. They stand at a small crossroads, with a small branch leading to the watchtower mentioned in the document, and the main trail, leading on into the city itself.
The party debates as to their direction as they break their fast. Suddenly, a large shadow flies across the sky, fully eclipsing the sun in just seconds. Full darkness fills the land for almost 10 minutes, before disappearing off into the west as quickly as it arrived.
The clerics and wizards of the party all confirm that they knew of no solar event or eclipse expected today, and certainly not one as dramatic as that.
While discussing, a large raptor strikes in the nearby field, cleanly catching a rabbit, and snapping it’s spine.
Strangely, the rabbit’s front legs kick on, flailing and twisting to get away, even as a lethal amount of blood escapes it’s wounds. The falcon continues to peck at the body as it fights back, tearing chunks of flesh away, until the rabbit has lost it’s ability to flail. The rabbit’s eyes continue to jerk from side to side, and the mouth bubbles silently until the party turns away.
Planning to scout the watchtower mentioned in Lord Porbell’s note, the party heads down that small coastal lane, disturbed by the morning’s strangeness. While still a few hundred yards from the tower, they spy the Lightning Split Oak, clearly described in the directions. Using them as a guide, and the direction and wilderness knowledge of the ranger and druid, the party follows the directions to a small glade of sassafras, which seems almost “too green”, like it glows with an inner energy.
Tangled within the branches of the central tree lies a green pendant, glowing with an inner light. It’s casing is wrought to look like branches encasing the crystal, carved so well it’s hard to tell if it’s a living branch.
Greg carefully slips the crystal free, and the glade seems more normal, still quite healthy, but not as vibrant as before.
In thanks, Colin casts a create water spell, to enrich the soil in the glade.
With the objective in hand, the party decides that investigating the full watchtower might need to wait just a little longer, until they have some more answers about this morning’s oddity. Repeated prayers to their various deities have not only gone unanswered, but it feels to the clerics like there is nobody there, listening.
With the expectation that the big city might have some answers, they cut across the fields there.
Approaching from the east, the party first enters Klelg Nar’s land facing spur, before crossing to the city proper. This spur, originally an outlying village named Orde is full of warehouses, granaries, and other storage facilities for resources brought to the capital from the surrounding villages and duchies.
It still has several taverns and inns, somewhat on the lower class side.
Citizens are all out in force, talking in the streets. There is palpable tension in the air, and a kind of frantic pace to their discussions. Selecting an appropriate bunch, the party approaches, and asks what’s happened. After some incredulous surprise that the party hadn’t heard any of the talk from the last two weeks, the huddle dissolved into the nearest tavern to discuss the full tale over mead.
It turns out that Gahdhak, King and High Vizer of Ool Hrusp lost his first wife, and favored mother to his children about three weeks past. He raged against his god,Tharmekhûl, for
denying life return to her, despite any promises that Gahdhak would make. Death’s absolute grip on denying the return to life was too much for the other gods to fight.
Gahdhak refocused his energy then, and gathered his most powerful vizers and warriors, and mounted an expedition to overthrow death itself. They passed through Klelg Nar two weeks ago, heading to the fortress of death.
The common feeling here on the street is that Gahdhak must have succeeded. People and creatures that were killed this morning cling to life, their souls still tethered to their bodies, living on in agony. The gallows are a large draw this morning, as the hanged still twich, even hours after the platforms have dropped. Rats live on in alleys, maimed and mauled by cats, and so on.
The party also established that the priests seem as directionless as others, though the temple district here is quite active this morning, in the city proper.
Deciding to split and focus their energies, the party first journeyed across the bridge to the main part of the city, and got rooms, board, and tack in a slightly nicer inn. Greg split for the gallows (island east of 12), to see the dead trapped in life first hand. Al headed to the University (2), to see what the scholars thought of this strange day. Colin headed to the temple district to try and get some answers (east of 3).
Greg discovered quite a crowd watching the gallows, with guards pushing back the mobs, and scowling at those who threw debris at the twitching bodies. Some has clearly broken their necks at the drop, and only their eyes and mouths twitched, and cried. The others flailed in various ineffective motions.
With the large crowds, and the guards keeping the populace at bay, Greg decided to re-route to a quieter place to inspect the dead, and found directions to a mausoleum within the city.
Al finds a very active community on the University Campus, with various professors and lecturers huddled in groups, loudly discussing stellar bodies, diety-cosmology bonds, and the the historical records of Death’s absence from the world in times past (blending folklore and history). Each group is surrounded by their gaggle of students and hangers on, pouring through scrolls and texts to support their case.
Al quickly learns that the astronomy staffers are locked within the observatory, and have been since this morning’s event started, and that they’ve not let anybody know what they observed or predicted from the morning.
Al engages in some good conversation, and learns more about potential historical and pantheon precedents for this kind of event, as well as some interesting theories about it’s duration, speed of travel, and the like.
Colin finds many citizens of the city out in the streets of the temples, with various priests and deacons administering prayers and speeches to their assembled worshipers. The temple to Tharmekhûl is barred, though many citizens are gathered out front, banging on the massive brass doors and demanding answers. Up in the ramparts, the eternal fires are still burning, but no dwarf or gnome is visible.
Circling around, Colin spies some second story windows in the back alley of the temple that seem unwatched. With a skillful climb, he’s up and into the halls. He appears to be in some kind of dormitory, with lots of small, cell like rooms. sneaking into one, he finds a dwarf, laid out like in slumber, but with eyes open, locked in place. He detects no heart beat or other sign of life, but nor does the drwaf appear dead.
A few other cells return the same results.
Meanwhile, Greg has found the mausoleum, and approaches a silent back aisle, and removes the memorial stone capping the crypt. Reaching in, he finds the feet of the deceased, still swaddled in their death shroud. He feels around for a minute, to see if there is any reaction. The corpse doesn’t show any signs of movement.
As each character is involved in their search, the sun reaches it’s zenith. With an overwhelming feel of presence, the priests and druids feel the aspects of their gods return. On the streets of the gods, the priests begin to bring parishioners within, and ceremonies begin.
Colin hears movement behind some of the cell doors as he feels his god’s return. He quickly races to a side window, and escapes before he is discovered.
Greg quickly walks away from the mausoleum before his work is noticed.
Colin also checked in at the dock that afternoon, and learned two pieces of gossip from the Orc caravels docked near the Dwarf vessels.
- The rumor is that to kill Death, Gahdhak drained the lifeforce of a full third of the dwarven race.
- news from Lankhmar includes the fact that a killer has been stalking the streets for about 2 weeks, killing prostitutes almost nightly, leaving heartless corpses, profaned with dark icons.
The party meets up back at the rented inn, and the common room is packed, as people come to celebrate the return of the gods. The priests are in agreement that Death has perished, and that various gods will be seeing to the deaths in their own bailiwick or realm, without the overarching presence of a avatar of death.
The news from the palace is that the Duke is meeting with representatives from Ool Hrusp, including the Vizer of the local temple, and that the ducal proclamation will be made in the morning regarding the meeting.
The air is charged again. this time with nervous energy and relief, and certainly people are drinking and eating heartily.
After enjoying themselves for a short while, the party decides to be active while the city is starting to wind up, and Colin reaches out to a member of the local theives guild, who accepts their help checking in on some merchants and townsfolk who have paid protection to the guild.
He sends the party to check on their potion maker, a master sage of great renown.
Once everybody is in the room and the door closed, the mushroom inhales, lowers his head, exhaling a cloud of spores over the party. Before they’ve even fully settled, the characters hear a high pitched voice speaking very quickly, already in mid sentence.
After slowing him down, the party learns he’s Bhulb, the housekeeper for Sage Herbifarge, and that a few hours ago, a large crate was delivered to his master’s workshop, and Bhulb was told to stay out of the room while it was opened.
There followed a very loud commotion, with shattering sounds, crashes, and other thumps, and Bhulb has been terrified to investigate, due to his earlier instruction, but certain his master was in danger.
The party quickly assures Bhulb that they’ll look into the matter, and he promises to escort them to the shop or courtyard, but can’t venture into the greenhouses (he’s too small, and it’s too dangerous for a little spore).
The workroom is in shambles, with shattered wood around, glassware knocked off the counters, and marks of something dragged out into the courtyard. There are no signs of blood though, or an indication of what weapon(s) caused all this damage.
After some investigation, the party follows the signs of dragging into the courtyard, and to the greenhouse beyond. Bhulb dances nervously from spongy foot to foot.
The first greenhouse room is hot, steamy, and filled with sub tropical plants. The party recognizes some the samples, but clearly the sage has a masterful collection, and all brought from such far climates. There are exits into neighboring green house rooms to the east and west.
While checking for signs of the scuffle, a Giant Sundew strikes out with it’s tendrils, attempting to ensnare the party. It’s sticky pods fail to grasp the characters however, and they quickly back off, giving it a very wide berth as they circle the room.
Al notices some damage to the frame of the door to the East, and the party heads into that room.
Colin surveys the room carefully from the doorway, and warns the others to hold their breath as he spots a scent poisoning Mantrap.
Despite his warning, half the party stumbles mindlessly toward the large pods, drawn by the entrancing odors.
Thinking quickly, he covers his moth and nose, and pushes the party members past to a southern door, getting momentum up before they can turn back.
The next room opens into a very small, completely dark corner of the greenhouse, where fungal blooms coat the walls.
Still being careful not to breathe deeply, Colin inspects that nothing appears to be directly dangerous here, and revives the party members to make sure the effects of the mantrap have faded.
Regrouped, and even more cautions, the party continues West into a larger, more deciduous regional room, filled with trees and ferns. There is a large area of visibly disturbed earth just a dozen feet into the room, with torn up earth and plants all round.
Warily, and fully expecting some kind of trap, the party approaches slowly. As they near, four short creatures burst from the underbrush, camouflaged in the plants around. Not at all surprised, the party battles them, heavily challenged by the four creatures.
Derek drops early, as the savage creature impales him on a spear. One falls in return, before Colin falls as well. The creature that stabbed Colin falls over him as he drops, appearing wilted or drained in some way.
Al and Greg fight on, though both are wounded. They both outlast the two combatants, and bandage their friends, before investigating the disturbed earth.
They quickly find a crate, and inside the thankful sage, Adarian Herbifarge. He’s relived to be rescued from a suffocating death, but also amazed at the vegepygmie’s resourcefulness, burying him alive when they realized they couldn’t breach his protective ring’s power.
After a moment, he realizes the party has been hurt, and that a russet mold is already creeping out of the wounds. He quickly cures the disease, and lavishes the party with gifts, including gems, and a couple of potions of plant control. He also helps the party out of the greenhouses without further attack.