Party: Exandra, Rufus, Hilniflit, Finial, Callehalahath, Clonk
Day 0: Taxes in town settled up, 510 GP added to the Guild Kitty, running total: 935 GP No additional supplies purchased.
Day 1: The party sets out to figure out what is happening in the forests of Westmarch and only has vague rumors about a wizard in the East corrupting the fey. They make camp outside the forest edge – as has become habit.
Day 2: They return to the grove of bone white trees early in the morning. This is the grove they came across in the first mission months before. They find the ground black and slimy, covered in a festering rot. The bone white trees are still budding mysteriously.
They hear some rustling and Calle sends her tiger, Sasha, ahead to see what it might be. Sasha roars for help and the party finds her being attacked by three small humanoid creatures made of rotting leaves. They seem resistant to stabbing, but can be hurt with magic, fire and blunt force. As the party scraps with the small creatures, they are ambushed by a taller, female humanoid. She is pale-skinned with dead leaves for hair and seems to be able to step into trees and teleport instantly between them.
After the battle, once they have killed the creatures, the green buds that were growing on the bone white trees wither to black and fall. The party searches the creatures and finds 25 GP. While searching, some forest sprites appear. Hil speaks with them in fey and learns the female creature was once a dryad, but had been corrupted by the wizard with the harelip and became undead and evil. She was oppressing the normal forest denizens and they thank the party for saving them from her.
The sprites say the wizard had come from the East and they no longer felt safe in the forest and were going to move on to safer territory. Hil marks a leaf and gives it to the sprites in case they need to reach the party in Westmarch with more news.
The party continues East and comes across an old, red, cloth strip tied to a tree. Another is close by and the trail of red markers lead to an abandoned and messy camp with the remains of a bramble wall crumbling in disrepair. The camp seems to have been abandoned for a while and the party can't seem to determine who may have left it.
Finial searches the fire pit and finds a fishhook and pockets it. The party marks the camp on their map and collects a scrap of cloth so they can ask around about it and then decide to move on.
Further East, the party finds a grove of maple trees and a small cottage with smoke coming from the chimney. Hilniflit sneaks up to the cottage to get a peek through the windows. The cottage seems cozy and lived in with a table set for two people, but she can't see anyone inside. Moving around the building, she finds an open window leading to a messy kitchen with a burning stove. Hil messages back to the group that she's found an open window and is going to climb in. Finial joins her. The rest go through the front door.
The group that goes through the front are suddenly attacked by magical objects, including a book that flies through the air and an enchanted fire poker. After a quick struggle, Exandra destroys the book and Rufus bends the poker, but it refuses to be disenchanted, so they tie it to a cord to restrain it. The poker continues to whip around, trying to attack them as they search the room.
Meanwhile, Hilniflit and Finial open the stove in the kitchen and are attacked by a small fire elemental. Finial summons water in midair over it and douses it immediately. They notice a chair leaning against a door, wedging it closed. Hil removes the chair to find a stairway leading to a basement or cellar. She heads downstairs out of curiosity with Finial close behind.
The rest of the party searches the rest of the cottage and find a hallway leading to a closed door. Sasha, the tiger, sniffs at the door and growls – but the group suddenly hears Hil and Finial cry out from downstairs and they rush to investigate. Calle leaves Sasha guarding the door.
They find Hil and Finial in a sunken pantry tangling with a creature made of molten pastry that spatters them with flaming pizza gobs when they hit it. Nothing seems to stop its rampage until Calle summons a water elemental that finally defeats it. The quickly search the pantry and find nothing important. They decide to go back upstairs and see what's behind the door in the hallway.
When they enter the room, they find a small winged creature tearing up books and a bloodied man tied to the bed. The creature attacks them with its stinging tail. The party kills the creature, Clonk learns it is an imp in the process. (A minor devil that can sometimes be an evil wizard's familiar.)
The party unties and revives the imp's prisoner. His name is Gendrew and he seems to be an accomplished cook that dabbles in magic (the pizza golem in the pantry may have been his own accidental creation and the enchanted objects in the front room were his security system). His passion is creating new dishes and he occasionally sells them to wandering travelers in the woods. He was approached by the wizard with the harelip and Gendrew sold him a dish that displeased the wizard.
The wizard sent the imp to punish him for the substandard fare. Gendrew thanks the party by gifting them a batch of powerful potions (Bull's strength; Exandra, Cat's Grace; Hil, Cure Moderate Wounds; Exandra, Jump; Rufus, Vision; Hil, Endure Elements (fire); Hil). Gendrew tells the party that the wizard was looking for something in his cottage – an arcane lore book that would give the reader a bonus to arcana knowledge when checking for elemental knowledge. He gives the book to the party for safe keeping. He also tells the party that the wizard lives in Mistmere Castle to the East and shows them where it is on the map. The party decides to spend the night in the cottage before setting out in the morning. The night passes uneventfully.
Day 3: The party sets out Southeast in the general direction of Mistmere Castle. The day is windy and a little cold. On the trail, they find themselves in the path of a swarm of velvet ants (wasps without wings, actually). Hilniflit is able to set many of them on fire, but not before they barrel through the party, stinging them and being a general nuisance.
That night, watch is interrupted by a giant, tree-sized spear landing in the middle of camp. Nobody was hit by it, nor could anyone tell where it came from. Exandra scrambles up a tree and thinks she might see a giant off in the distance, but can't tell for sure. The rest of the night passes uneventfully after the party decides to move camp away from the spear.
Day 4: The party comes across a massive bear carcass in a clearing. The forest is turning darker and more ominous. When they make camp that night, they can see a large hill to the South with a ring of standing stones that glow a pale blue at night. They decide to investigate in the morning.
Day 5: On their way to the standing stones, the party finds a massive, petrified tree in a clearing, but can't find anything to explain it or anything of further interest. They keep moving.
The ring of standing stones at the top of the hill are weathered and ancient, covered in old runes. A patch of blue flowers grow in the middle of the ring. The party examines the runes and finds they are strikingly similar to the runes on their waystones, but seem to indicate these stones are not for travel, but for seeing visions.
The party tries to meditate as if they were using their waystones and they are shown a detailed vision of Westmarch from above. The circle of stones are shiny and new, the forest is younger and greener. Eastmarch is still a standing city that rivals the current prosperity of Westmarch. Two massive armies fight a bloody war and Eastmarch seems to be making its last stand. The Eastmarch army is made up of goblins and hobgoblins and even orks – which have not been seen for hundreds and thousands of years. The Eastmarch army of goblins and orks are scattered by the army of Westmarch and just before the party is woken from their vision, they see Mistmere Castle, a solid and imposing structure built against the face of a cliff.
While Hil transcribes the runes for future study, the party searches the stones for any further evidence that might tell who left them. They find a hidden tunnel near the stones that leads to a large chamber under the hill. It is filled with glow worms that illuminate another waypoint marker like the one found in the Shadowed keep tower. They are excited to find a marker so close to Mistmere Castle! They make camp and plan their assault on Mistmere the next day. The night is uneventful.
Day 6: The closer to Mistmere the party gets, the more creepy and dead the forest becomes. Decay and leafless trees are everywhere. The land becomes barren, lifeless and hazy.
The party finds four, 20' tall obsidian pillars covered in runes, and entangled by trees in a loose circle. Between them is a giant, fallen tree and they hear movement inside. Hill sneaks up to the end of the tree to find it hollowed out. It contains two giant boring beetles with green/gray carapace. Knowing this would probably be an epic and dangerous battle that would properly cap off what was already a long and satisfying week of adventuring out in the forest, the party decides to leave the beetles alone and push on to the castle that they likely won't have much time to explore in the waning hour… I mean day… before, like… everyone gets tired. (Nice try, Dungeon Master!!!)
Mistmere is a tumbled and worn down castle that stands against a sheer cliff wall. Its face opens out to a courtyard surrounded by a wall with a gate that's still standing, but a portion of the wall has a large hole in it. Sneaking up to the hole, Hil peers through to see a giant caterpillar/centipede looking monstrosity roaming the courtyard. Near the castle entrance is a group of kobold guards.
The party regroups and makes a plan to lure the guards outside the walls using Hil's ghost sound spell to pretend like it's a group of kobolds in distress. Then Calle will cast entangle outside the castle walls so the party can pick off the kobolds easily. Everyone readies their spells and positions and Hil fakes her distress call.
A small party of kobolds come through the gate at first and they are slaughtered fairly quickly, but not before one is able to raise a signal with its whistle, the rest of the kobolds and the multi-legged creature begin pouring from the walls.
Fortunately, kobolds aren't very sturdy foes, so they die quickly and the caterpillar thing doesn't prove to be much of an obstacle without its kobold support. Searching the bodies, the party finds 30 CP and Calle finds a small iron box that contains 100 GP and a black onyx gem.
The party goes through the front entrance and finds a room with a door across the way (not shown on map) and entrances into other rooms to the left and right. They explore to the left to find a room with a table and some chairs. The room is guarded by a large dire bat that the party kills. Searching the room, the party finds 3 SP worth of teaspoons and a small bag of dried peas.
Another entrance leads to a room full of crates containing nothing of interest, but there's a crate that speaks to the group. The party pretends to be kobolds and the crate asks for a name they don't recognize. Hil tries to pick the lock and fails terribly, so Rufus smashes the box open. It's empty and doesn't speak to them any longer.
The next entry leads to a closet with a hatbox that contains a musty red woman's hat. The box is tied with a bit of string coated in sasson poison leaf and Exandra gets poisoned by it. (She'll be fine.) The hat has a platinum hairpin that the party keeps.
The party then pushes into a moldy bedroom. The bed appears to be enchanted, so the party avoids it, finding nothing else worthwhile. They then find a small hallway with a set of stairs and everyone decides they have seen enough. They decide to return to Westmarch to report on their progress and regroup…
125 GP, 30 CP, 3 SP
Bull Strength, Cats Grace, Cure Mod Wounds, Jump, Vision, Endure Elements (fire)
Arcane lore book (+1 arcana checks for elementals)
Black onyx gem
Masterwork longbow (from the dryad – Rufus?)
Red cloth of unknown origin