Myself and James started to feel a little off, may be with over did it yesterday. [the players are absent] However Thorn and Gnoman told me later any parts I missed, the two of them full of energy thought about the odd message meant. They had some ideas, but decided in the end to just keep it in mind as they went into the dark woods. After a while with Thorn in the lead, using his very big shield to push through undergrowth we moved off. After Thorn came Gnoman, then me with instructions to mark the trail we took, then James at the rear with the mule and his dog. Thorn wondered why we where bothering trying to get the mule into the woods but remembered that it was a James thing and he likes to get his way.
With Thorn using his dodgy navigation skill, helped and inspired by me it must be said, we entered the dark thick woods. Distance was hard to keep track of as we ziged and zaged around trees, pools, fallen branches and trees and thick thorn bushes. However after a hour or so of walking slowly through the woods there was a sudden yelping from the rear of our column. Looking round Thorn and Gnoman see around six yellowish brown dog like creatures annoying the mule. They appear to be Blink Dogs, after something. Gnoman mumbles away while waving his arms around and poof a Displacer Cat appears down wind from the mule in the forest. The dogs see it and with a howl blink after it, as they reach it the cat disappears and the dogs go in search as we get a move on before they come back.. Gnoman used his illusion magic to confuse them, well done him.
Many hours later we appear to have reached the sacred grove, it has been a hard trek but we did not come across any more large animals even if my nightjar spotted many, they must have been scared off by our numbers. The grove is a strange, after the deep dark woods, 100 feet wide clearing with a granite menhir rising from the centre. The menhir is 10 feet tall and carved with strange pictograms on it. Thorn casts detect magic onto the are and the menhir resisters as divine magic, Gnoman casts read magic onto the pictograms and says that they pay homage to the Oak King and mention a “sacred rise” to the north. It also mentions that those of a balanced soul can touch and receive. Maybe touching it will help on our mission! Anyway James wants to go first in case its dangerous and anyway he is an elf. Gnoman overrules him saying ‘I am the local here and after me it should be the druid.
So Gnoman touches the stone, nothing seems to happen but he tells of feeling more at ease with himself. I go next and have the same feeling, followed by James who also says he feels quite at peace. Thorn is the last to go, but pulls up just before touching. I do not know why, maybe it is because he follows Hombel. God’s can be jealous. I look around and soon see tracks made by hard-soled boots leading north and the skeletal remains of a large deer killed by a black arrow. Thorn remembers that the half Orc guards had black fletched arrows so maybe this is there path and kill, we wonder what happened to them and they still around lost or dead?
With tracks to follow we head northish, wondering what we will find next. A little later Thorn at the front hears the sound of water falling over rocks. Shortly after he spots two deer by a stream with a small water fall, as he sees them they hear us and run away into the trees. We take the opportunity to fill up on water and eat a little. This has not turned out such a dangerous place so far. A few hours later we come across what must be Black Thorn Hill. It seems to covers an area 100 feet in circumference gorse and scree cover the slopes of the rise on all sides. We walk around it and find it is surrounded by ponds which will make the air thick with midges come the evening and morning. However they is no very obvious entrance, hardly a surprise I suppose. With a careful look around again James and I find what might be a way into the rise, one of the advantages of elves and half elf’s I suppose. I sing to inspire James and Thorn as they try to move the small circular rock which appears to be the door. It grates and groans as they but their strength into it, but soon we can see a gloomy passageway leading to some stairs down into the dark. With the door open we put a rock to stop in shutting and Gnoman uses his skill at traps to but a trip trap and some thorns around the doorway to alert us if anything comes out. We then build a smoky fire to keep insects away and decide to rest overnight so I in particular can regain my magical powers. The others take the watch as we rest and sleep for nine hours, the only things to disturb us is the local wildlife like owls, bats snakes who come up to have a look and other small creatures.
Morning, after a good breakfast we tie the mule inside the passageway with enough rope for it to move around but not far, James then casts Calm onhimself as he does not like being underground. We head along the corridor. Gnoman goes first with Thorn behind carrying the lantern to show the way, as our infravision is not to good in old areas underground. Thorn is followed by James and myself. at the rear. Gnoman moves slowly checking his path carefully, while James and I follow not being able to see much. We go along and then down steps leading into the depths of the earth, where will it lead us?
We stop when Gnoman comes to a room, it turns out to be a large room with two pillars in it as well as two side corridors. There is also a bas relief on the far wall of the Oak King of the Old Ways. Gnoman checks for any traps while Thorn fails to cast his detect magic spell, all seems safe, even if the remains of several skeletons of what turns out to be Gnol’s holding battle axes worry us a little. So Gnoman shines the lantern up the two side passages one seem to end in a room the other goes into darkness. When James and I enter James quickly sees a secret door, although we can find no way of opening it. Thorn does get his Detect Magic to work this time and the sun in the Kings hand shows up. Gnoman thinks the door needs some magic to open, who knows. WE head down the dark passage, slowly moving along as Gnoman checks the way. We go about 50′ and the passage turns, it is at this point we notice that it curves as has all edges there are no angles here.
Another 50′ and we come to another room, this appears to be some sort of eating hall as it has a long table and chairs along with other odd items. More boar motifs adorn the decaying carpet and the table, the room has two large fireplaces and a haunting whistling sound in it. Gnoman goes and stands in one fireplace showing how big it is. The only way out is through a archway with a circle of petrified oak branches forming a sunburst over it. Gnoman looks around with James following him while Thorn again fails with his detect magic spell. However the room seems safe. With only one way to go Gnoman takes us that way. Ahead is a circular door, Gnoman checks it and says it is trap free but stuck. Thorn supported by James slowly forces it very nosily open. Gnoman then looks through.
He quickly pulls back as two rusty axes crash down where his head had been. He then slides back to me while the others take over. Thorn had seen skeletal hands holding the axes so try’s to command undead. James draws his massive two handed sword, which takes a lot of space in this 5′ wide passage, lucky the passage is 10’ high so he has the room for it. Thorn passes the lantern back to me and draws his holy mace.
I start to cast Barkskin on myself, best to be safe, as Thorn steps through the door. As he does he is attacked by two Gnoll skeletons with battleaxes, he parries the only one which is likely to hit him.
The Gnill’s attack again Thorn parrying one and his helmet turning the other.
James trusts his sword at a gnoll, which parries but can not stop his mighty blow which takes off the skeletons right leg. The skeleton manages to keep on its one leg much to James surprise. The two skeletons strike back one at James and one at Thorn, James blokes his attacker and Thorn disarms his.
James thrusts with his sword again and again the skeleton fails to stop the blow and this time loses his left leg leaving it on the ground. The other skeleton uses its shield trying to push away from Thorn but fails as Thorn smashes his shield away as well. Thorn follow that parry up with a blow to its head destroying it as James finishes off the other skeleton.
At this point James sees two more of the about to attack having climbed the stairs to the landing they have been fighting on. So he moves beside Thorn. One skeleton attacks Thorn with a spear but misses while James parries the other spear attack. Thorn with his mace out distanced by the spears draws his warhammer.
James attacks with his sword but misses as does the skeleton when it try’s to parry. Thorn parries a spear thrust while James disarms and trips down the stairs the other attacking skeleton. The skeleton is broken by the fall. It does not take long to finish off the other one.
I wonder what is down the stairs and if there are more undead around.