After clearing the dungeon and receiving information about the Lost City from the sand-orc gaurdian (who was definitely NOT a real dragon, or else the heroes would have been very dead), the group headed further south in to the great forest to seek out a village or some type of civilization to trade with. After a couple days travel through the woods, they happened upon a strange sight.
A lodge, built large but not especially sturdy, in the middle of the woods. It housed a ruckus group of goliaths, a race of 8 foot tall humanoids with rough gray skin (that none of the heroes had seen before). Only Bolo had heard legends about the goliaths and their extremely competitive nature.
But these goliaths took it to the extreme. After a couple awkward moments upon entering the lodge, the heroes ended up in drinking contests and one fire-making contest (in the building!) with the inebriated goliaths. A elf lady was clearly the one keeping a semblance of order in the establishment called The Wicked Chicken. She explained that the place is not the first with the name. The Wicked Chicken has been burned down or destroyed in many ways and many places in the South Forest by the boisterous band of goliaths. She did not explain why they were not in a civilized area with other goliaths.
The group woke up in the still-smoldering ruin of The Wicked Chicken. Something had destroyed it in the middle of the night. Rummaging among the rubble was a big dumb (and relatively weak) giant, who attacked the group as soon as they made any sound. They killed it, and looted some very strong ogre whiskey from his boot.
They also found a goliath under the rubble, bleeding and trapped. They did their best to free him and stabilize him, but were unable to save his life. Before he died, he provided them with some valuable information. The previous night, while they were sleeping, a dwarf male and gnome female had passed by, hot on the trail of a man wearing black clothes and a white head covering. The man also wore a symbol of the sun and moon around his neck. Coahtar recalled that this was the symbol of the Kamlekh religion. Kamlekh is a city-state on a peninsula far to the west, over the Hammerbelt mountain range. The city is ruled over by their sun-and-moon-worshipping religion. Why were the dwarf and gnome following this person? Why was the person on this side of the mountains, in a remote location of a wild forest? Were the dwarf and the gnome the missing companions, Durik and Ellywyn?
These questions were unanswered, and the group needed a plan. They decided to head straight north until they reached the city of Anu (where they were originally headed) in order to find some answers (and buy a repeating crossbow, which D’santos greatly desired). If they ran in to the elf clan on the way, they could maybe get their reward and some more info from Aeharel. But if not, so be it.
On the way to Anu, the group came across an old, dry, long-abandoned tree-house outpost. It was essentially a bunch of elven-style open-air buildings built into a massive old tree and connected by rope ladders and bridges, most of which had fallen to decay. At the top was a small lookout that housed a metallic object of some kind which shone brightly and stood out among the otherwise wood-and-rope structure. The guys decided to check it out.
After failing to climb up the outside of the buildings, the guys had made a bunch of noise and attracted the attention of some kobolds and monstrous bugs which had taken up residence in the old treehouse. Combat ensued, and the group dealt with the first few floors handily, not even stopping to rest. One of the fire beetles set the place on fire at one point, so the heroes pace had to quicken. They rushed toward the top level and found a beastly Tangler Beetle and some nasty stirges (bloodsucking bat-like monstrosities) and a few monster-sized scorpions as well.
After defeating the onslaught of nasty monsters, the guys finally got to the top, the levels below now in a full blaze. They found an armor rack plated entirely in solid gold and gems! On the armor rack was a nice set of magic leather armor, which D’santos claimed, and a cloak with healing properties, which Coahtar claimed. They also stripped the weapon stand of the gold and gems which they could use to barter with once they reached Anu.
They acrobatically made their way (with ropes!) to an adjacent tree and climbed their way down. At the bottom, they found two female scouts from Aeharel’s band. The scouts had come to clear the outpost of monsters and bring back whatever they found to Aeharel, but found the job already done for them by our heroes. After some interesting story-telling by D’santos and barely effective diplomacy by Coahtar (and a few subtle moves in to the shadows to avoid their new gear being seen), the guys convinced the elf ladies that there wasn’t much of value in the tree house and it was better off burning. The elder of the two elves seemed unconvinced, and wanted to take the guys back to Aeharel. The other, a younger elf, was intrigued by the adventurers and ended up joining them! Ananua, a versatile ranger, became a new companion for the group.
The group traveled for a few days and eventually reached the city of Anu, set against the cliffs of the Dwelvenbelt mountains, and home to the amazing TOWER OF ANU, the newest wonder of the world. They entered the market district and found a merchant named Frederick to supply them with their mundane adventuring needs, but were referred to more exclusive districts to buy mechanical or magical gear. A sketchy elf named Zev stopped them and suggested they stop by the Slippery Wench to buy some “real” weapons and gear.
With much of the day ahead of them, the guys decided to be tourists and check out the famous tower at the edge of town, built alongside the majestic cliffs. As they made their way around the exclusive Inner Market and toward the Tower District, the group encountered Melodie and Rainamel, who offered to join the group in their journey (these reasons will be explored more in our next session).
The group investigated the tower and its four main lobbies on the second floor. Listed here are what they found.
Red Stair: The Academy (Martial teachers/snobby professors/arcane and martial students)
Green Stair: Library of Lore and History (Noble’s records/Natural disasters and major events records)
White Stair: Warden’s Keep (Knight commander/dining hall full of well-armed guards/nurse’s station)
Blue Stair: Bureau of Merchants and Trade (pricing guidelines and trade records)
After checking out the tower, the group went through the slums where they scared the crap out of wannabe pick-pocket urchins. They made their way to the Traveler’s Ward, the most diverse place on the continent. There they found a lively tavern called the Slippery Wench. In the tavern they found Zev, who sold D’santos a repeating crossbow and some bolts. They also ran in to Ellywyn, who lured them in with her entrancing bard powers. They followed her outside to speak about their connected fates and the possibility of teaming up on their grand quest.
Once outside, they were ambushed! Ellywyn turned on them as Durik, the dwarf fighter, led Elly and a gang of swordsmen and archers against the heroes. Rainamel crushed Ellywyn with a powerful display of martial prowess, bloodying the gnome bard on the first turn of combat!
Shortly after the fight started, a figure stepped out of the shadows with a contingent of swordsmen. He was the black-robed and white-hooded figure the heroes had nicknamed “Apollo”. He wielded a mace and powerful destructive (and sometimes healing) divine magic. The group ended the session locked in combat, an ice storm brewing and an illusory psychic hole thwarting the enemies.
…There was also a man-sized penguin.