Swords of Valor

Nineteenth Game Session

Wryde tended to the four elderly peasants transformed back from the twisted tree that had formed the harpy nest. They told him that their village Wisdom had led the young and stout members of the community to the valley to put an end to the foulness of the witches within. As Wryde’s divine magic faded, these four unfortunates returned to tree-form.

Meanwhile, the others had followed the fleeing harpy hag to an underground entrance where two streams joined and cascaded underground. They saw signs that the harpy had gone underground, as well as a footprint of an enormous manshaped barefoot creature. They estimated the giant at about twelve feet in height. Rejoined by Wryde and Brother Stephen, the group ventured underground.

Proceeding with well-founded caution, they expertly avoided several traps, from which Grom armed himself with a poison-tipped javelin. They found several sets of traps along with a warren of underground side-tunnels. In one of these warrens, they found some bushes underground which were wearing a suit of studded leather armor and a shield. Leaving these undisturbed, they sought another way towards their goal, from which they heard the occasional bull-like bellow.

Seeing firelight flickering in the distance, Grom slipped up the passageway, but a hidden trap dropped a gallon of oil upon the clever rogue’s head. Just then, they heard the giant approaching. Grom slipped into a darkened alcove as the others prepared to meet the giant’s attack. In the dim light of Warrick’s magic, Grom saw the giant approaching more cautiously, seemingly sniffing for him. Suddenly, the horned giant ignited a fire upon his axeblade and lunged towards Grom, who retreated into the narrow confines of the passage. Grom noted that the beast’s face was a mass of scars without eyes. The minotaur beast flung a sack of rattlesnakes into the entrance of the side tunnel and slowly advanced upon Sir Childris and Pastor Wryde, who awaited him with weapons at the ready. The minotaur advanced and attacked in the narrow passage, but was bested. It retreated and then fled past Grom, who had consumed a potion of levitation to float above the rattlesnakes. His flung javelin struck true as the minotaur retreated, leaving a trail of splashed blood. The minotaur dropped his fiery axe as it ran. Quickly dispatching the rattlesnakes, Warrick incited the crew to pursue the giant after removing the oil from Grom.

They did so, finding a large cavern into which many underground streams splashed. They saw the firelight coming from a ruined ancient temple on the far side of a large underground lake. Deep resonant humming and drumming was noted to be emanating from several thickets of twisty sickly shrubs on either side of the temple. As the crew descended and crossed the underground lake on a shallow causeway, the stunted bushes started to move. Drawing them into a trap, Warrick incinerated these malevolent plants with magic. Then the group approached the temple doors.

Within, they saw the minotaur, healed and hefting a stout club that had been torn from one of the bushes outside. They also saw the harpy hag, another shrouded woman and a cauldron atop the dais at the far end of the ruined temple. Baroness Alyson Warde was also seen next to the cauldron. Brother Stephen uttered a quick prayer through clenched teeth and then drew his sword to charge the unrighteous. Shrugging off Grom’s words of caution, he charged into the temple. The rest of the heroes followed suit. Wryde transformed himself into his celestial mountain lion form and sprang for the harpy hag. The others closed with the minotaur and gave battle. The witch next to the baroness called forth a cloud of smoky fog, where Wryde-lion skittered to a stop having torn out the throat of the harpy hag. The fog-calling witch was outlined by Wryde’s divine magic, but he wasn’t heard again in the fog. The witch retreated from Warrick’s magic. As the minotaur was being bested, Alyson Warde emerged from the fogbank and walked calmly up the temple. Turning to Warrick, she said “You pledged yourself to my cause. Is that still the case?” Something in her demeanor was unsettling to the young wizard, who demurred. “Then bring me Henry of Exeter!” she commanded. Uncomfortable with how the baroness was acting, the heroes moved to stop her, but when the mighty Sir Childris tried to grab her arm, foul sorcery flared and injured him. He recoiled and the baroness left the temple. Warrick, thinking quickly, dispatched Brother Stephen to follow her.

As the fog cloud dissipated, a twisted briar bush in the shape of a springing mountain lion was seen. The crew surmised this to be Wryde, and used much magical power to transform him back to his mountain lion form. Wryde told the others that the witch had separated Alyson’s good and evil halves, and imprisoned the good into her cat, which was thrown into the cauldron. This cauldron served as a gateway to some shadowy nether realm, where the baroness’ good side would be imprisoned forever. Determined to rescue her better nature, the crew prepared themselves and ventured into the shadowy witch realm.

In the witch realm, they encountered strange vistas, uncanny skies and gurgling rock formations. Things were real and unreal and the experience was unsettling even to the hardy adventurers. Ultimately they found a version of the baroness’ room from when she was a child, but found that they had been shrunk to the size of toys, or possibly cats. Emerging from the Closet of Childhood Monsters, they spoke with one enormous cat on Alyson’s bed. Bargaining for Alyson, the cat told Wryde that he would protect her from the closet monsters despite their claims to be acting in her interest. At his instruction, twelve other cats in the room sprang at the heroes. During the brief pitched battle, Grom approached Alyson’s good nature hiding under her pillow. Soothingly speaking to her, he quietly escorted her from the room and into the closet. Having not been alarmed, the large cat remained sitting quietly as the other twelve cats were dispatched into puffs of childish smoke. The crew then retreated through the closet and back through the witch realm to the cauldron. Emerging from the cauldron, they saw Alyson Warde’s good nature return to her just before she plunged a poisoned dagger into Henry of Exeter’s helpless back. Horrified by what she was almost did, Alyson dropped the dagger and released Henry from his ensorcellment.

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