We find our heroes walking into a certain trap in the outer foothills surrounding the castle, not far from the dark elves’ main encampment on the plain. They are set to meet with the elvish troops’ secondary group, accompanied by a possibly friendly renegade elf adjutant (guide) and two definitely hostile guards (escort).
Nwalme does his best to surreptitiously communicate to the rest of the party that the two guards were determined by his Sense Foes spell to be hostile. Unable to do so with gestures, he instead uses Telepathy to get the idea across.
The forest encampment contained 40-50 renegade elves. They moved around in a very martial manner that minimized their footprints, though still not obviously hiding. Even Strongwülf is impressed with their soldiering skills. None of them were wearing the insignia of the most hostile renegade elf chieftain, but their livery made it clear that they were all from a single clan.
From Nwalme’s perspective, they were all adolescent elves, and normally wouldn’t be out and about without parents. There were strong physical resemblances among them all, which our guide said was part of their custom.
The party makes their way to the large guarded tent in the middle of the camp, which clearly houses its leadership. Announcing their presence, that leadership emerges to greet them. They are three elves, all oddly identical in every respect – both physically and in clothing and equipment. Even more oddly, they each look very much like the late Eorcanstan, Third Prince of Rohan!
Muddled memories strike members of the party. Guthwyn recalls the prince being killed by René with his signature sword-through-the-eye maneuver, back in Carn Dum. Nwalme remembers killing Eorcanstan personally with a Death Touch that overloaded a magic torq and blew his head off. Araphor remembers both, and struggles to reconcile them. But there isn’t time to try to resolve this…
The three leaders speak alternately to answer questions: There were 25 in their group (though the party was sure that there was room for 35-40). The three of them were triplets and raised together (rather than be separated as was more typical for elves). They said that they were born leaders and their father — back at home — is the leader of their clan, they are just the war-leaders. The rest of their camp is off hunting.
The triplets offer the party food, which they decline. Araphor mentions that the party met with the other leaders and wanted to make sure that the triplets’ clan was on the same page in terms of the accord they’d at which they’d all arrived.
As they lead our heroes to the tables, the party talks about the Third Prince a bit more openly. The party excuses themselves, though the triplets, once again, offer food — saying that they’d prepared it especially for the group. As our heroes back away, demurring further, they notice that the adjutant not followed them into the center of camp. He had instead stopped nearer the camp’s edge, ready to draw his bow. in a stance that spoke to his readiness to fire quickly. He had clearly been guarding the party.
The adjutant diplomatically asks the party’s escort to stay and help with the food and the hunters. Our heroes then join the adjutant and head out, tension level plummeting with each step further from the tables.
Once out of earshot, the adjutant says that he expects an ambush ahead, despite the fact that the party is taking an alternate route back. He further notes that the triplets hadn’t been the leaders in charge the last time he’d been to the camp. In addition, he states that the elves that we didn’t see in camp were their magic users. He estimates that were 10-15, perhaps as many as 25.
Sure that they’re being flanked on both sides, the party hurries through the forest. They spot and lose sight of the elves on one side or another. From the overflight of Stormdancer, their best estimate is that they’ll be out of the woods in thirty minutes or so. If they can get to the forest’s edge, there are six horses waiting for them, led by Arod.
Bo spots the ambush from about thirty yards away, uphill on the other side of a large fallen log. He calls out to the others and draws his bow. The ambushers realize that they’ve been spotted, and attack before the party can move into a better position.
Strongwülf goes berserk and charges forward; the adjutant follows to try to provide cover. Guthwyn and her bodyguard charge along with them, only a step or two behind. Bo falls back to get to cover and fire at the attackers on their flank as a hail of arrows flies at them all from behind the log.
Nwalme teleports into the midst of the ambushing magic users, interrupting a ceremonial spell. He Tosses one of them, disrupting the spell, but unfortunately he’s shot point blank by one of their bodyguards.