If I have any of this wrong and I’m sure I do please correct it…
The party recovers after the stream crossing that almost cost Baba his life and loots the body of the troglodyte that was smote with a single mighty blow of I rogue’s didgeridoo.
When heads are counted there is one missing, one with a long nose and a very long tongue (with a three headed penis attached to its body too for all the scientists out there). Baba’s echidna familiar had not made it across and was there scratching around running backward and forward along the opposite bank looking for a way to get to his master without getting wet. I, rogue, realising that it was not the best idea to send Baba back across to get it took it upon himself to swim back, coax the little guy into a bag and then throw him across the 20m stream to the others. Great idea except the others didn’t catch him and only a very fortunate bounce saved the little monotreme from death. I, rogue made it back across the water and the party settled down for an afternoon of recovery.
The afternoon stretched into the night and the party camped on the stream bank. In the night a single white swan came into view. Initially like a strengthening white glow in the darkness, Isla was absorbed as the swan came into the glow of the firelight. The incongruity of the moment, a swan approaching a party of people in the late evening was lost on the monk and it took an arrow that flew through the light of the fire for her training to overcome her fascination. With that she awoke the party but not a moment too late. As Baba and I, Rogue were dragged into wakening they were set upon by a badger, a dire rat and a halforc hefting a naturally-spiked hardwood club. Two more arrows sailed through the melee but found no mark. The three, surprised and attacked from multiple directions quickly dealt with the dire rat and then the badger. The halforc fought well but called for a halt to the fight as his companion, the badger fell under a flurry of blows from Isla. The party relented and allowed the halforc to save the badger and dire rat before they died. The halforc could only speak orcish with I, rogue but gave his name, Ursus, and mentioned Cygnus in the aftermath of the battle, perhaps the name of the dire rat. The badger’s name was simply Badgie. He agreed to lead the party to his leader, Gulo and offer the party healing if they let him and his companion live.
The party loaded the unconscious dire rat on to Baba’s donkey and the halforc carried Badgie. They travelled with Ursus through the remainder of the night to a forest den, well hidden among the rocks, vegetation and a hillside in the forest. There they met Gulo, a strongly built common-speaking halfelven druid and leader of this circle of druids that included Ursus; Cygnus, a young gnome female; Microthene, a waif-like and graceful elf and himself. The circle spoke in their own tongue and dressed each in their own way but all with symbols of the forest – Gulo and Ursus in hides, bones, bark and leaves; Cygnus in white down and jewellery of shells and crustacean exoskeletons; and Microthene in leaves, brown feathers and bedecked in the beaks and claws of birds. Gulo told the party of his devotion to the forest, of his self-given role to protect the natural beings and the land that make up the forest from intruders and spoke of his druidic circle. When questioned by the party about the attack on the cultists he did not try to avoid it, the circle had attacked the cultists or whoever they were simply because they defiled the forest by being there, cutting down trees and shaping stone into unnatural forms. When questioned about the Bared Teeth he knew no difference between them and the cultists, all unnatural beasts that incur on the forest look the same and will be dealt with the same. He agreed to allow the party to go and see the temple for themselves and have Ursus guide them if they agreed to leave immediately after and take nothing that belongs to the forest. He made no guarantees if the party declined or broke the deal. He and Microthene healed the party members as much as they could and allowed them to sleep until day. The party were able to spend a morning recuperating before setting out. Baba especially benefitted while fishing with Gulo he learned how to cast and place a lure so a fish could not resist, what times of day different fish are active and in what part of the stream.
Ursus guided the party for a full day and shared with the party his skills. The party got to know Ursus better and found that he had a deep knowledge and care for the forest. When their day was done he showed them a little about finding and setting a camp. Isla took first watch then Baba. He awoke Ursus for third watch but all three in the party woke up in the cold still dawn – I, rogue realising he had missed his watch – without the big demihuman in his bed, Ursus had left in the night. The party knew which way they had to travel and decided to continue.
While making their way through the forest the party defeat a gang of three heavily armed dwarves who seemed to be on a pillaging mission. The party kill them and take possession of their axes and loot.
The party came to an ancient stone path rising across a slope and took it upward to a clearing where stood a group of buildings. A woodstore was overgrown and the remaining logs looked as though mould was setting in. The woodstore was set beside a much larger barn which clearly was still lived in by sheep but no human or demihuman had entered for a while. When searching the floor Baba found a trapdoor which I, rogue bashed open to reveal a cellar shrine to Nerull, a god Isla recognised, one devoted to death and evil magic. The party stole the idol left there. The party then searched a vandalised tannery, drying racks and a well without finding anything. They did pause to investigate a rock cairn nearby the tannery, raised of fist-sized rocks in a pyramid to chest high. Some of the rocks had identical markings or symbols that were clearly unnatural. After dropping something down the well they entered the main building – a house that likely, after all the previous signs, belonged to a trapper. The thatched roof had collapsed and brought down parts of the house with it. Isla discovered a little money and a sword with a symbol scratched into it, the same as the symbols on the rock cairn outside. While the others searched the house and loft, Baba searched under the stairs and was without warning attacked by a bloodthirsty (literally) ghoul who with a bite and claw attack sent Baba into unconsciousness. The others quickly came to Baba’s aid and killed (properly this time) the ghoul but could not save the life of the little wizard.
RIP BABA GNOME, SON OF HIS DAD AND MUM, WIZARD OF THE UNDERDARK, MASTER OF ECHIDNA AND DONKEY ALIKE, CONVERSER WITH BURROWING MAMMALS, FAST LEARNER BUT POOR SWIMMER, DEFENDER OF WHATEVER SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME, GATHERER OF EXPERIENCES AND ALL ROUND CLEVER DUDE…
congregation sings Bat out of hell (M. Loaf)