This was one of those meetings. And it gave the party the chance to take on some of the baddies they've been itching to kill. The 5 headed coldfire breathing hydra's were like whipped cream on their pudding.
At least that's how I was selling it.
Write up follows:
We picked up the game at Workmonth 12th, about noon, some 45 minutes from the center of the druidic grove and what should be Caer Dargan. To our estimation, we took care of most of the possible outside guards that would and should stand against us before we arrive at the center.
From what we are able to remember, based upon Detheron's flight and scouting overhead, the hill is some 500' tall, with fairly steep sides (perhaps 45 degrees). The majority of the trees have been cut down and a circle of standing stones surrounds the base of the hill. There is a sizeable keep 300' x 200' on top, and along the north side is an encampment of 20 odd or so tents and yurts. Finally, there is a near perfect circle of some sort of shimmering field surrounding the keep itself. At the encampment were two large 5-headed hydra monsters with a four count of wild elves, and on the other side was the centaur we had tangled with earlier. Plus there were some 15-20 odd birds that flew over the entire clearing and hill area that we had to avoid.
The party spent time going over plans and options and ideas, and had Evian break out her spell book and swap a few of her spells around. Eventually we felt as ready as we could and began hacking at the underbrush to move our way on to the grove’s center.
We veered far south, hoping to approach the hill from that side which would keep us out of the view of the wild-elf encampment for the longest period of time (and the hydras). Once there , we spied on the VERY large clearing for a while to familiarize ourselves with what we were looking at – and then Detheron cast Invisibility to Animals on our group – making the entire party (including the war-wolf and the bear) unseen to any animals in the area – which would include scouting birds in the air above. Nice going.
We then picked our way up the hill, dodging to the lone menhir, and then a few trees – and then it was across 300' odd feet of nothing except foot plus tall grasses. At least 4 birds flew overhead – but NONE of them reacted to our presence: no calls, no cries, no warnings. Just shy of the hilltop, we scouted the area and took stock of what we were looking at.
The outer wall of the keep was made of heavily weathered and ill maintained blocks of regular stone. Most of the mortar had fallen away leaving moss, rock dust, or open air between the joints. Battlements are 40' high and crenellated. From what we could see, the barbican looked like it had been smashed in. There was a shimmering field though encircling the keep at roughly 60' from the walls, a deep furrow in the hilltop with what seemed to be a circle of rune carved paving stones acting as the base. It gave off some latent energy reminding you of the sort of sensation you would get near a warm oven or a frightened dog.
The group had a hastily whispered conversation; avoiding touching the actual field. We could sort of see the two hydras and their handlers on the east side of the camp. Talk was made that Zoltan would circle around to the other side and cause a distraction. Fire (an old standby) was suggested and discarded (for a little while at least). Detheron informed us that we had spent 20 minutes so far into his spell – and the invisibility to birds above would only last another 30. Zoltan bid us all farewell and told us to wait for his signal.
He stayed low, picking his way along the grasses until he came to the western side of the camp – where the centaur was here going through some exercises with two lightly armored wild elves. They were sparring just off to the side of the nearest yurt and chatted continuously in their own language (elven). He watched the camp, counting maybe 6 other wild elves, most likely 4, through the tents. He thought about getting closer but could see no way to do so where the centaur or two closer wild elves wouldn't see him.
Minutes were ticking, it took Zoltan 5 minutes to get here and he had been hunched over of 12 or so waiting for a good opportunity – and if he was going to do anything, it needed to be soon. He went through his pack and drew out the lone whistle he had taken off Xinshalan and blew it.
A couple of camp wolfkins burst out of the encampment and ran towards him, Fodder jumped away from Detheron and raced across the ground towards where Zoltan had gone, and from inside the keep itself we heard more happy barking. Two wild elves came out and were gesturing for the dogs to return who were milling around where Zoltan was crouched low – unable to see him. They were wagging their tails and smiling and the centaur and other two elves were wondering what was going on.
The group then rose to their feet and charged the hydras who seemed to be mobilizing to go and see what the trouble was on the other side of camp – two wild elves climbing on their backs and armed with a pair of 9' ranseurs. Evian touched Karis and cast Enlarge on him – the half ogre swelling to just under 11' tall and close to 850 lbs. Party fanned out and readied weapons, poisons, and spellwork.
Zoltan touched one of the wolves and broke the invis on himself – suddenly all the birds in the air began cawing and screeching and diving in his direction. The bard/thief pointed to the centaur and yelled attack!, also whacking the centaur in the skull with a whipped ensorcelled bullet from his sling.
The rider of the blacker hydra said something to the bluer one and turned to engage the party, charging them. Detheron summoned the strength of the bull into Karis and Evian caused Smokey to swell in size. A wild elf slinger used his staff-sling to crack a stone against the druid. Kalarig fired one of his fairy-sleep poisoned arrows at the charging hydra hitting it full on and causing the lumbering beast to slow and low in pain, one of the heads dragging on the ground.
Fodder whizzed past Zoltan and leapt at the harried centaur who was struggling to kick the two camp wolfkins away, biting and clawing at him. One of the fighters ran towards Zoltan who caused a globe of light to appear in his hand, and whipped it at the elves shouting out fake words and yelling Fireball! At the end – making two of the wild elves break away. From the illusion.
Two of the hydra heads breathed a blast of blue tinged fire at Karis and Smokey while other heads began biting at the enlarged pair. More arrows were fired, more rocks slung. The other hydra began making a circuit around the nearby camp yurts in an effort to come back at the party. Kalarig got a second arrow ready to fire the last of the sleep poison and Detheron blew on his Avianstorm whistle. And the shit hit the fan.
Every bird nearby came swarming around the druid and most of the party AND the enemy – flapping in people's faces, getting in the way, making it difficult to see or sight along properly. This also included the other birds that were diving towards Zoltan – so this helped the bard out nicely. Only Detheron was free from the effects of the crazed avians – which didn't make the rest of the group thrilled.
Zoltan changed to his short sword and met the first wild elf in battle – the two of them trading blows. Another one ran towards him, while the centaur kicked one of the wolves badly and one of the elven fighters was able to get the equivalent of a man-catcher around Fodder's neck which hampered the war-wolf in battle against the centaur.
The party was beating at the hydra amidst the crazed birds, Karis using the ensorcelled blade Wyrmsteel Discordia (that we took from the locked cabinet in the Lycos Suns office a long time ago) – the Damascus blue colored blade seemingly better able to cut through the hydra's flesh. Smokey was able to gouge out one of the hydra's head set of eyes and Amal and Osgar were now close enough to add their axe play into the lizard-like flesh.
Now beset by two of the wild elves, Zoltan jumped straight up and flipped his cloak around himself – and disappeared! Third time (and limit for this day). The centaur ignored the two smaller wolf-kins assaulting him and instead grabbed the stick that held Fodder and lifted his straight up into the air and over his head, sending the poor animal to fly and land crashingly against the ground – the stick snapping and the metal spikes tearing into his fur and flesh. One of the wild elves had two of his fingers torn away by the crazed wolf-kin and the centaur was now bleeding from dozens of smaller wounds, bites, and scratches.
The party poured all they had against the weakening hydra, hoping to finish it off before the other one charging at them got too close. Kalarig shot his now readied poison arrow at the other hydra, even in the mess of avian-crazed birds, hitting it, but this time the poison failed to affect the mighty lizard like animal. Detheron called upon Frey and summoned a 6' tall ball of rolling flame to appear under the nearest hydra's back section, seriously harming the animal and causing it to fall over, just missing Amal in the process. Then the flaming ball streaked across the ground and slammed into one of the slingers setting him ablaze. The party readied their weapons and got set to receive the charge of the next hydra and its howling wild elf rider.
Zoltan appeared on top of the centaur, dropping onto the man-beast's back and plunging his short sword backstab style for a sizeable amount of hurt before leaping free and getting himself set next to one of the wolfkins and Fodder. The centaur was very bad off and the nearest wild elves cursed as they ran back, one of them finally finishing off one of the wolfkins. Zoltan ordered Fodder (badly hurt) to go back to Detheron and the animal took off throughout the camp.
The hydra slammed into the party with jaws and weight and bulk, Karis and Smokey getting hurt from that as well as the charging wild-elf's ranseur bursting through the cavalier's armor. Hitpoints fading. Elfsplitter came out and the group plied all they had to take down the hydra fast. Detheron caused the flaming ball to reverse direction and slam back into the hydra, hurting it there.
Zoltan and the last wolfkin held their own against the wild elves and the badly wounded centaur, the bard's bag of tricks finally exhausted. Nick by nick and cut by cut, Zoltan fought bravely on and struggled to take down the centaur while dodging the half-man's kicks and punches and the other wild elves knives and sickles.
Smokey nearly tore one of the heads off and a tail slap beat the heck out of Amal, just before one of the heads caught the orcish fighter and tore through most of his shoulder. Two of the heads turned back to its own back side and breathed a cone of cold-fire at itself, putting out the flames against its flesh. The orc backed away from the fight and staggered badly over to where Detheron was. Osgar tried to climb on the hydra's back, tying up the wild elf mounted up there and keeping him from ranseuring Karis again. The flaming sphere reversed direction one more time, and plowed through one of the slinger and another before stopping just shy of the original mounted elf rider who had made it to one of the yurts and was quaffing healing potions.
Zoltan was getting hurt and the centaur was down to its last 11 hit points. The last wolfkin was killed and the rest of the wild elves tried to beat the bard down.
Kalarig shot to death on of the last slingers and the hydra came down in a flash of fury and blades, burying Osgar beneath its bulk. The rider leapt free but Gwyn was there in a flash with Elfsplitter ahead of him and the wild elf was slain. Amal arrived at Detheron's side and Fodder ran into this camp area in pain and bleeding. We listened and heard the sounds of battle on the OTHER side of the encampment – and the party (except for Deth, Amal, and Fodder) all ran off immediately with a cry of, "Oh yeah, Zoltan!"
Zoltan struggled but it was 5 against him. He grimly held on and his hit points whittled away from 20's, to teens, to single digits. The centaur was down to the last half dozen and every wild elf around him was sporting either light or major wounds. We counted down the time it would take the party to arrive and help out, gathering 3 minutes…And Zoltan lived long enough to make that time!
Karis and Smokey, still enlarged and charging at full speed, broke out of the camp and assaulted the bodies around Zoltan with blade and claw. The centaur was killed, then the nearest wild elf. Others came closer and arrows flew – and then the last two dropped their knives and begged for surrender (in their own language).
Healing was pressed against Zoltan who needed it and some others were dispensed as well. The two elves did not speak common but Evian spoke elvish and we talked to them through her. We learned that Tehpaguar was behind the ward with at least 8 other wild elves (may or not have druids with them) and 3 more tree sprites, and a 4 count of wolves (we heard them during the fight). The ward is powered by Brynagga, the Day Maiden – which we then learned was a valkyrie (pissed off) that was somehow captured by either Vanir, Djohrgahd, or someone named Lyreth and used to help erect this field. Field goes up as sun rise and goes down at sun set. If on inside of ward – cannot get out until it drops. The girl Lavender is in there and she is "bled" to feed the land – and reverse the flow of time and corruption that occurred when man's feet first touched the earth.
Then Evian talked to the wild elves about someone she knew as Horace who had been a friend of hers taken two years earlier in a place called Kurtsville. Wild elves admitted knowing nothing and asked to be let go, also asking her why she associated with humans and especially the smelly bearded troll (Gwyn). The elven fighter-wizardress hacked into one of them slicing through his neck and the other tried to run – but Gwyn and Elfsplitter took him out.
We ransacked the camp and found lots of simple clothes, fare, personal belongings, and really foul rough iron rations. There were a few books:
Care and Training for Hydra's by Vuukian Fellmonster.
Care and Training for Wolves by Vuukian Fellmonster.
Grimfast's Treatsie on Herbology, Vol 1 and 4 of 4.
Heroic Tales of Asgard – Fenris
Heroic Tales of Asgard – Frey
and Poisonous Nightbane, the Deathflower by Yanach T'Norran.
We noted that there were people on the battlements of the keep and we catcalled at them and gave them rude signs and the fingers. We healed up a bit and talked about what would happen when the wards came down. Karis noted that his pack began to smell and when he looked in, it appeared that his food had spoiled rapidly and was now rancid and inedible. He tossed it aside.
Zoltan and Evian were looking around, their keen senses sharp as they sought to zero in on whatever it was that was suddenly getting their attention. Gwyn and Karis each took torches and started setting the yurts on fire – when a sudden shallow rain began to fall and put out one of the yurts! Zoltan went into one of the yurts near Karis to look around when a small monkey appeared out of nowhere on his back and began tossing crap out of his back everywhere. He sworded it and the summoned animal died before disappearing. A fairy had appeared swiftly and went invisible again and the bard missed getting it.
Then light appeared around Gwyn's head and the dwarf was blinded by a laughing sprite. He jumped up and whipped Elfsplitter around – hoping to strike the little critter – and rolled an 18! Nailing it! The sprite dropped out of the sky, one wing severed and bleeding bad. It tried to run away. Evian gave chase, the other sprite blinded her. It was missed. The wounded one was caught by Fodder and brought back to the party where Karis ripped it in half in front of the keep and tossed the parts aside.
We ended it here – about 4:30 on Workmonth the 12th. Sunset is around an hour and half or more and the party has that much time to take care of whatever they deem needed and necessary before the wards drop and a most likely pissed and furious Tehpaguar and his minions step out.