014 - Making "Friends"
The Voice in the Clearing
The group follow the compass, heading southwest along an overgrown trail. The path bends towards the south as the forest becomes denser and more hilly. Elgin is still weak from his captivity, but he is able to stay with the group with effort. The path seems like it has stopped looping.
Everyone hears in their mind a soft female voice calling the group forward. It sings, "Travelers come to me; I have rest. Do not stray from the path, or peril will test."
After chatting it over, they decide that it's either a trap to be destroyed, or a genuine warning. Either way they should follow. They stride forward, following the path.
As they enter a clearing, an owlbear charges across towards them. Initiative!
- Tegan casts bless.
- The owlbear runs up to Wazo and bites at her, then slashes her with its claws.
- Aaron uses eldritch blast, and one beam of the two hits lightly.
- Wazo rages, then chops into the owlbear with her glaive. She swings again but misses. The owlbear calls out and a second owlbear appears.
- Tegan creates a spiritual weapon which hits, then steps up to owlbear 1 and stabs it with the evil dagger.
- Owlbear 2 charges towards the group.
- Owlbear 1 tears at Tegan with its beak, but he reacts with shield. It claws him hard through the magical shield. Tegan maintains his concentration.
- Aaron hits owlbear 1 with both bolts of an eldritch blast.
- Wazo makes a vicious hit with her glaive at owlbear 1, stabbing its chest and nearly killing it. Her second attack misses.
- Tegan finishes off owlbear 1 with the spiritual weapon, then moves it towards owlbear 2. He crits with chill touch on owlbear 2, for very good damage.
- Owlbear 2 bites Tegan with its beak, then lays in with its claws, knocking him unconscious.
- Aaron hits it with two blasts of eldritch power.
- Wazo jabs her glaive into its head, killing it.
Wazo and Aaron, worried about Tegan, quickly revive him with a health potion from his shirt pocket. He uses two prayers of healing to get himself and the group back on their feet.
The clearing has exits in multiple directions. Elgin says the compass is pointing all around, aimlessly. Wazo flies up to scout, but can't see the path clearly. She divebombs back down through the trees, limbs smacking her on the way, and says there's a fog rolling in.
There is a brief discussion of paths, since the clearing has exits in each cardinal direction.
Lost in the Fog
They pick the south path, where the owlbears came from (and where they were headed before the compass stopped working).
They see a clearing with thousands of seedlings, and black mushrooms growing on a fallen log. Exits are S and W. The compass is still wandering, even for Wazo. Fog has set in more seriously now. Tegan sees the paths are equally worn, and recommends continuing south. Wazo recognizes the black mushrooms as poisons to Aarakocra. They go south.
They hear the voice again: "Travelers, come to me. I have rest. Do not stray from the path", etc. They see the dead owlbears. They are back in the main clearing!
Trial and Error
They decide to go east this time. Tegan marks the trees along the way with prestidigitation. They see a small clearing, with a little firepit. Near it is a humanoid skeleton with a tattered cloak. There are exits N, W, S, and back E.
On the body, Wazo finds a scrap of paper, a scroll. Elgin wants to read it, grabbing at it, but Wazo is insulted by his impulsive gesture and has Tegan read it. It says in common, "I keep trying to escape this forest, but it keeps pulling me back in. I am losing strength."
Elgin suggests going south or west. They go south, but end up back in the main clearing.
Tegan looks north and sees the trees he had marked on the way. They follow the trail north, but they just end up back in the clearing, somehow having turned completely around without noticing. Tegan tries to think it out and realizes logic doesn't really apply here. He carves some bark off a tree and starts making a diagram to keep track of which paths lead back to the clearing.
From the clearing they go west. They run into a tightly knit wall of trees. Dead end. They turn around and go back to the clearing. Every time they get back they hear that song, taunting and warning. It's wearing on the group's nerves.
From the clearing they go south to the seedlings, then west. Growling fills the air, but everyone shrugs it off. There is one more westerly path. They take it, and hear the song and are back at the clearing.
They go east, past the firepit, then continue east. They find a small clearing of wildflowers, alternating purple and red in a circle. Two paths lead away to the east and south. The path to the south goes up to a tree. Elgin and Tegan realize the tree is an illusion. On the other side the path continues, blanketed in ferns. In another small clearing there are two paths out, an overgrown one to the south, and a well worn one to the east.
They head south into a small four way clearing. The voice sings, "May your path be of bewilderment. Driving you off the path. Your sins... danger.. yet." (I missed part of this)
Gregory is hungry. He and tegan split some rations. He complains about the flavor so Tegan makes it taste like soup.
Tegan tries the wind fan to disperse the fog, but it's too dense. The group heads south. The path ends at a small torn tent. There is the body of a halfling, wearing a shimmery black cloak. Tegan thinks it might have some protective properties. Wazo takes the cloak and tries to wear it. It's small on her. Elgin closes the halfling's eyes. They backtrack to the small clearing. Tegan flips a copper coin, and they head east... back to the main clearing.
Tegan, frustrated, throws the coin into the woods. Wazo runs after it, and somehow finds it. She comes back to the clearing. Tegain re-casts the mage armor on himself and Aaron since it's been eight hours since morning.
They all retrace the longest path back to the riverstone clearing. Heading (west?), the mist intensifies. They see a huge squat hawthorn tree, with moss cascading off of it. There are paths in all four cardinal directions.
To drive back the fog, Tegan burns the moss. The flames are very hot but also brief, and it drives away the fog for a bit. Wazo, holding the compass, sees it pointing southwest. She tries to hand it back to Elgin but by the time he has collected himself the fog is seeping back in, and the compass is useless again. Wazo takes a moment to reorganize her weapons, stashing the morningstar and a dagger in the bag of holding.
Tegan flips another coin to pick between south and west. West. After a short walk they enter a clearing, with four haphazardly placed statues, also four exits: N, S, W, and back E. One statue is a halfling, ruggedly dressed. Two of them are humans, a man and woman embracing, scared. The fourth is an exhausted-looking dwarf with a pickaxe. Staring at the statues, Aaron thinks they are petrified travelers.
The group goes south. The path passes under a small archway engraved with strange writing. Flit reads it. Aaron says it's sylvan, a sylvan name of a temple.
Stone Cold Killer
As they enter the glen, Aaron spots a small movement, something like an animal. A creature with eight legs, glowing eyes, and a back covered with spikes, pops out of the underbrush.
- Wazo brings down her greataxe on the creature. It crashes down on one of the thing's legs. She swings again but misses.
- The thing bites Wazo, doing piercing and poison damage. It circles around between Wazo and the others.
- Tegan passes a con save. Chill touch misses, even with Favored by the Gods. Tegan creates a spiritual weapon and hits the creature with it.
- Aaron passes a con save. Hits it with an eldritch blast, then backs away.
- Wazo passes a con save. She frenzies! She hits it with the greataxe, splashing green blood. A miss, then hit again, even harder. The creature is hurting.
- The creature bites wazo again and then runs toward Tegan.
- Tegan hits it with chill touch, then the spiritual weapon impales it.
Studying the creature, Wazo recognizes it as a basilisk. Elgin says the fangs have venom if you know how to extract it. He coaches Wazo on how to extract a fang without breaking it. She is making good progress, but at one point her axe slips and the tooth breaks. Some poison splashes her and it burns for a moment.
Tegan suggests making camp. Aaron takes first watch. The group makes a campfire, although it's not enough to drive back the fog. Aaron is very perceptive on his watch.
Tegan and Gregory take the next watch. Unfortunately, they get to absorbed in stories of adventures and interesting places. They are interrupted by the voice, calling out faintly with its song. Gregory's eyes glow golden. He gets up and walks west out of the clearing. Tegan says his name, but he ignores it. As he chases Gregory he shouts out to the others, and Wazo and Aaron wake up. Wazo flies after Gregory and grabs him. Tegan takes the acorn away from him, but as he holds it he is affected instead, and he starts walking to the west. Aaron runs up and with Mage Hand, takes the acorn.
The fog lifts and they see an overgrown cathedral, and in it is a beautiful dryad, with long hair and a woody green body, covered in leaves and vines. She talks about how she is so happy to see everyone, and how nice it is to make new friends. Flit, invisible, touches her and uses Heart Sight. Aaron learns that she feels excited. She keeps saying she likes making "friends", and it starts to seem like she doesn't mean it in the usual way. She talks about her basilisk helper Spiro. Aaron comments that her pet basilisk can't "help" travelers any more. Anger flashes over her face. Wazo has had enough. She sprints towards her, raging and yelling. Initiative!
- Tegan uses chill touch, but the dryad swats it away, so he conjures a spiritual weapon and moves it as close to her as he can.
- Wazo runs towards her, then throws a javelin which hits.
- The dryad's eyes glow golden, and with fae magic she charms Wazo, whose eyes also glow gold. She asks Wazo to please attack "those men".
- Aaron casts Hunger of Hadar. The otherworldly black hemisphere envelops the dryad and blocks Wazo's line of sight. After casting, he takes cover behind a column.
- Tegan's spiritual weapon swishes around in the darkness, but misses. His blind attempt at a chill touch also misses. He moves along the side of the cathedral and takes cover behind a different pillar.
- Wazo flies up to see where Tegan and Aaron went.
- The dryad takes damage from Hunger of Hadar. She strides out of the darkness, uses shillelagh and yells to Wazo, "Find them!"
- Aaron makes Flit appear a little distance away and fires eldritch blasts from it.
- Tegan hits the dryad with a chill touch.
- Wazo, still charmed, flies over towards Tegan. She rages and and chops at him with her greataxe. She misses twice.
- The dryad creates vines from the ground around Tegan. The area is difficult terrain, and Tegan fails the save and is restrained. She floats towards him.
- Aaron tries to use Suggestion to charm Wazo but she resists.
- Tegan struggles against the restraints, but can't get free. He moves the spiritual weapon closer.
- Wazo chops at Tegan again, this time hitting twice. He's badly hurt.
- The dryad swings at Tegan with her staff but misses, despite his restraints.
- Aaron fires more eldritch blasts through flit, but both miss.
- Tegan keeps struggling against the vines, unsuccessfully. He moves the spiritual weapon closer.
- Wazo chops at Tegan twice: one hit, one miss. He is almost dead.
- The dryad tries to bash Tegan with her staff, but somehow misses (at the worst moment!)
- Aaron hits the Dryad with both bolts from Flit, and she explodes in a sappy flurry of leaves and wood.
As the charm fades, Wazo comes back to herself, then hugs Tegan, apologizing. He leans against the wall to recover from the fight.
Looking over the body, Wazo and Aaron find on the dryad:
- an emerald ring just like the one from Kraz's safe
- a small purse containing 312gp, 45sp, 12cp
- small copper band engraved with animals
Gregory picks up the golden acorn and asks, "Is this thing safe to touch?" Wazo glares at him but Aaron sees that its magic has faded. They tell him it's fine.
The group decides it's time for a long rest.