The party’s path take them to the central spire of the old Thorn Kingdom, the seat of Elvish government, which, for this clan, is a saucer-shaped, upside down plate level stacked on a three-prong stand, above all of which emerges a shooting sharp spire.
Of course, getting to that location has a few bumps and side treks along the way, including an ambush at the hedge-gate surrounding the edifice. Ichor-covered “used-to-be-elves” fire arrows from trees, augmented by a big ol’ foresty giant thingys (also sap clad). To complicate matters, Artur the Bard spots a woman trapped in the ooze-dripping hedge. Being the heroic type (or maybe just damned helpful), he attempts to pull her out of her viney bondage, only to be attacked by ichor tendrils, emerging from the hedge itself.
Feats of athleticism and martial prowess abound as Esma, actually running toward the battle, shimmies up a tree, dispatching the undead-controlled-whatever it was Elvish marksman. But there are six, all told, situated at three different points in the trees, setting up a nice, little firebox.
It is not enough to stop our group, however. The archers take tumbles — two of them all the way down to the ground below. The forest giant is dispatched, the woman pulled to safety. There is nothing they can do, however once the woman is removed from the ichor-sludged plant. The half-elven adventurer (judging by her gear) expires, while shoving a splotchy note into Artur’s hands.
But, of course, the note requires some deciphering, as it is splotched with black poo, blodd, what have you. The group combines their resources to discern something about the woman’s brother ruining their “glorious justice/revenge/something or other.” Looks like this entire situation is a get-back gone awry. Whatever the case, their answers await within the Thorn Clan’s fortress walls, where, once the gates are opened, a whole buncha dead Elves are revealed. Naturally, the party does some pilfering. It’s not like these guys needed their money anymore, anyway?
Eventually, our gang makes its way up staircases mounted in the curved legs of the archways, where they find the Thorn Throne Room (say that 3 times fast). Here, they tackle a pair of imps in the employ of a formidable looking elf who enjoys tossing acid and energy spheres. Through hurling explanations, warnings, questions and catchphrases, combined with Artur’s knowledge of legends and lore (plus Esma’s memory of actually being at this place once before), the group determines that, whatever it is throwing this stuff at them is making use of the well-preserved body of the dead king. Further, the shade, whom the group identifies as disgraced captain of the guard Azhentur Schraan, is the source of all the bad stuff going on here, having been summoned for revenge (and doing a pretty bang up job of it, since everyone is dead).
So, there we are, slugging it out, when Uchder the barbarian-turned anti-paladin, turned somber mentalist engages in what turns out to be a second bout of communing with the ether, where she is somehow transported to the past, to discover Azhentur’s lady love, mourning the death of the captain. Seems the woman, Melphalell by name, and wife of the queen, had been carrying on pretty hot and heavy with El-Capitano. Azh himself died in the wilderness, however, and his disgraced body was left unburied.
Uncharacteristically inspired (especially for a Temisian knight), Uchder brings Melphalell back through the barrier, where she stands before Azhentur, assuages his rage, and invites him to share eternity with her. The meany does so, taking the body of the dead king with him (because, well, why not?). The good news is, this action breaks the curse spilling out all that ichor, turning the forest normal again (but not resurrecting any of the dead).
This is fine with the party, as they’re planning to pilfer everything of worth, anyway. Leaving the dead alone, entombed in their sarcophagai beneath the thorn throne itself (okay, two times fast), they busy themselves with taking stuff. As they do so, they realize someone has beat them to it, selecting specific items from a rune-ensorcelled chest, leaving behind the obviously valuable wealth, maps and tomes the party greedily snatches up (hey, they have to get paid sometime, eh?).
In the end, Donkey Hotay is laden down with stuff, Grimbold has some maps, Artur nabs some important tomes, and everyone makes their way back down the tree stairs and into civilization, where Esma cashes in on her mission, and a piece of rare purple gear is dropped from the contact… (okay, kidding). The party repairs to Drasno for some rest and recuperation, as well as some unanswered questions (aka “story hooks!”):
For Mort: The mystery of Silver Lake beckons. He wants to investigate the tale of Azhentur a it more. Was the a disgraced Captain of the guard? Or was he a lover, killed unjustly by the King?
For Esma: Accumulated riches invite investment (mo’ money, mo’ problems). The Drasnovian council sends a messenger asking her to meet with them about a “golden opportunity” involving trade with the dwarves.
Grimbold’s Tomes reveal a deed/directions to a keep. He can now be a knight with a castle! If he can find the keep and stuff.
Artur’s tomes are many and varied, and one of them is just impossible for him to translate. Thankfully, he finds a contact who might be able to help. A half-dwarf named Tangovar.
Ucher’s return as a more contemplative non-knight/paladin doesn’t bring a great deal of rest, as “old friends” Darius Ruuk and Semplence are still in the area.
Meanwhile, Rypen’s return to the Druid Council reveals some unwanted information about the possible return of the Praetordessen.
*ADVENTURE END DATE: 14 APR
Time passage of approximately three weeks. The Date is now: MAY 08*