We find our heroes back at the northern secondary camp, questioning captured dark elves. Around this time, reinforcing Empress Guards show up, including Dreorg, with whom the party had worked with in the past.
We welcome Dreorg back and we all catch up. We fill him in on how badly things are piled against us. So we don’t go with “Gus”, the friendlier dark elf, and then move on to one of the angrier elves that we talked with last time. The most highest ranking of the captured elf, that we’ll now call Grumpy.
Nwalme does telepathy and his normal ungodly high interrogation, detect lies, etc…
When asked about the Maia’s plan, Grumpy tries to hide things by thinking about simple math tables. Nwalme uses his favorite pain spell to try to distract him, but unfortunately that doesn’t work. Instead, he had to resort to Mind Reading to do a deep delve.
The elf’s mind is very very organized, which is helpful. The best thoughts are that the maia is heading toward the empress or heading back across the sea to regroup. We think the empress would be surrounded by enough people to be safe, which makes us think the other way. (The maia talked about going after the empress as her ultimate goal after this worked. Unfortunately, this didn’t work. Her other plan was working a large spell to empower the elf brethren that would empower them, but that would come perilously close to turning them into orcs – which was why that wasn’t done originally.)
Araphor had seen the maia head more or less due north across the Sea of Rhun.
Thaliondor’s squad will take Gus (if he wants to go) and Grumpy across the Anduin. Gus is perfectly willing to go, but he’s unsure. (This is one of the core tenets that they have taught their whole lives.)
While that’s going on, Araphor recommends checking the shore line. Guthwyn is thinking about yelling loudly. Happily, she was outvoted. We weren’t able to get anything from the maia which would help Nwalme with his tracking spells.
We don’t know much about the spell, but assume that a high mana area will make it more feasible. The big assault was thrown back when the river cut them off.
Grumpy is getting better at noticing and trying to avoid Nwalme’s mind probe. His real name starts with O, and he’s hiding it well within his mind.
Gus doesn’t know much, but he does know where the army’s headquarters are: East from the pointy part of the W, and then down a bit. Where Araphor was hoping to head anyway.
We figure that heading there directly, we might be able to either catch up with her there or find her trail.
If we wait a day, we can have boats from the west coast. They’re already on their way.
There are a couple of people we can trust to be in charge while Guthwyn is gone. The Count of the Eastern Marches or the hobster that we’ve been traveling with. Anyone in charge will be leaning on the Count anyway, as Guthwyn has.
We leave the two of them in charge, as the Empress is due to arrive soon anyway.
We head to the town where we’ll meet the boats that are en route. We get there around nightfall.
At the usual time, we contact the Empress and bring her up to date and warn her of the threat. She’s happy with our plan to head to the army’s headquarters and try to find the maia there. She’s OK with the Thaliondor side trip. She’ll arrive at the camp in three days.
About a mile before the party reaches the village, Bo and Araphor notice something quiet and stealthy in the woods paralleling us.
Dreorg likes the idea of splitting into two groups and have the group not followed fall back and try to catch the follower. Araphor and Bo are the stealthy types, who try to be in a second group.
Araphor uses his Plant Sense and tracking skills, learning that it is human-sized and bipedal. It had started moving away when we stopped, and is going fairly quickly. He thinks this is an elf, armed with steel and probably a bow.
Bo cocks his bow and Araphor readies his spear as they follow the elf through the forest.
Once he got to the stream, we would probably have lost him, except Araphor is still able to track thanks to his plant sense.
Meanwhile, five minutes out of town, Dreorg and Guthwyn have a loud argument to try to draw the tracker(s) to them. They head into town, and Nwalme contacts the two hunters. Guthwyn busily tries to find ways to get involved in the hunt and is being rebuffed by Nwalme and her bodyguards. Alas, nothing she can do but wait.
In the forest, the target is 400 yards off and getting more distant. Keeping up with an elf is difficult.
Araphore & Bo head after the stealthy elf for a couple of miles. Another mile in, Araphor is able to spot some of our scouts. The elf we’re tracking knows which way to go through to avoid notice. We follow the elf to the river, but still don’t see the elf. We can hear our scouts. And spot a glow.
150’ away, a 5’-25’-wide deep blue glow is on the river. Bo cocks an arrow and tries to spot the elf. At 100’ or so away, they see the glow better, 10-15’ wide, extending from the bank into the river as though it’s creating a bridge.)
Bo lets fly an arrow at the half-seen elf crouching in semi-cover by the glowing translucent bridge. He hits her in the vitals, causing a muttered accented elvish curse.
An arrow flies back, stricking Bo in his unhelmeted head..
Bow fires again, missing by inches. He reloads and aims. He pulls back his mighty arm and drills one into the elf’s knee. She falls on her face as her leg is crippled, sinking into the water.
As Bo is firing, Araphor gives chase to the elf, bounding onto the bridge himself. He soon notices, however, that the bridge isn’t a single span across the water, but a moving platform that is making its way across to the other side. He decides to jump off into the river before the moving “bridge” strands him on the far side of the river with an elf he can’t catch running anyway.
Meanwhile, the scouting parties nearby have lit up their signal fires, having noticed the commotion. This causes Nwalme to get in touch telepathically with Araphor again to get an update, and learns of the injured enemy scout being carried his way by the river. He, Guthwyn, and Dreog muster some troops to get a handful of the village’s fishing boats out onto the river to try and catch the elf.
Bo heads forward to try and help Araphor and look to see if their quarry is visible. Together they head down the river toward, keeping and eye on (and pace with) the elf.
Guthwyn considers lighting up the river to search for the elf, but realizes that would be bad with an army on the other side. They instead set up fishing nets between the boats.
The elf is treading water, near the center of the river about 300’ off of the bank.
Nwalme magically create a shark warrior to go after the elf. A shark appears, falls in the water and swims after the elf. He has the shark keep the elf away from the shore and herd the elf toward us.
Bo happily fires off another arrow, which catches her in the head.
Dreorg aims and fires, but misses.
Nwalme’s mage sense starts tingling and can tell that someone is telepathically talking to the elf. He attempts to listen in. He has a crappy connection and can get pieces: The elf is making her final report: a bunch of empress’ guards are coming here, one is the leader; she didn’t make contact with any of her squad mates. The other caster realized that someone was breaking into the telepathy and cut it off.
The elves on the other side were the ones that cast the blue bridge.
The boat is closing on the shark and the elf. The elf is fighting against the shark that’s trying to herd her toward them. Nwalme tried to tell the shark to drag her toward them. He ends up having to use telepathy and finds out that the elf had drowned herself. He lets the spell go, and the shark disappears.
Now the enemy elves know we’re coming.
Nwalme heals up Bo.
We set up guards, alert the Empress, scouts go around and look. They find a blue quartz that looks like sapphire where the bridge went up. They sent out scouts up and down the river to search for the elves.
Nwalme casts History on the stone to try to find out more about how it was used and what the elf had done with it. The stone didn’t do much in the last week, it’s primary user was a fussy dark elf that kept her in a bag with 15 more like it. Four days ago it was placed in that spot. Two days ago, it made a bridge, and then again today.
Nwalme uses the stone to cast Seeker to try to find the other stones. He can sense two more that he knows exactly where, one more that he can sense more vaguely, and can vaguely sense the other every quarter mile or so along the river.
He senses a little more about the spells on the stone. He can study a bit more and analyze magic to better understand the stone and how to use it himself or at least — maybe — trigger it.