Our heroes did their best to control the the location of the parlay with the dark elvish chieftains who have been moving west into the heart of the Empire. Araphor is designated as spokesman, so that we have a single person speaking for all of us to better project a position of strength to the renegade elves.
As the elves approach, we note that they’ve sent nine instead of five. But five appear to be adjutants, and they hang back as four chieftains approach the party and begin the parley.
The chieftains want land of their own to the west. Araphor informs them that he cannot arrange this today, as we are at war. But he does allow that they can camp here for a few days as he tries to arrange something. He will have them escorted to the western lands after the war is over.
A hawk called from above us and circled, before flying off. It wasn’t immediately obvious what this meant.
As we watched, the five walk off and we hear them arguing. They soon abruptly stop in mid-argument, most of them standing “frozen” in place. One of their aides is then possessed by Sauron’s Shadow, who steps up and tells us that he’s doing his part and trying to prove himself. So he’ll make sure they agree to wait here.
Once that aside ended, the aide realized that he’d been controlled, and became oddly talkative. He relates that he’s experienced this twice before. The first time it happened, it saved his life. The second time it happened, his captain was railing about the army’s leadership. When he came to himself again, his captain was thanking him for his advice.
As he gets over the surprise of his possession, he relays his captain’s offer: the dark elvish cavalry will step out of combat and desert should a certain signal protocol be met:
- The cavalry will be sporting a specific cavalry flag that signify someone from their ‘clan’ that may be open to deserting.
- Our signal is to dip our flag three times
- They should dip theirs three times in return to acknowledge our signal.
- Soon after, they’ll charge at us – and through us without attacking, to desert.
Guthwyn tried to convince him that the same mind control magic that was used against us and the army could be being used against them. He doesn’t believe, as he states it’s common wisdom among his folk that mind control magic doesn’t work on elves.
Once the elvish diplomatic contingent heads off, our heroes assess what they’ve gotten themselves into. They get advice from the closest elvish expert: Nwalme. He doesn’t think there are enough boats nearby to transport all of these wandering elves. Guthwyn comes up with the idea of asking the Greenwood elves if there are any of their folk that may be interested in being escorts to these 800-odd members of the dark elvish army.
Our heroes contact the Empress, but she hands the ball back to us. She wants these enemy elvish troops to stay put, and especially to stay out of the areas where she doesn’t have sufficient military strength.
We keep an eye on their camps for a few days, talking with them occasionally, and observing what details we can of their behavior and equipment.
- The two chieftains that are friendly are both farmers from villages disparate enough to have no opportunity to become enemies.
- The two chieftains that are most competent with the Rider Within spells — fisherman folks for the inland sea. There is a lot of magic from them, though mostly at the cantrip and journeyman levels.
- There are also bows and knives traditional elf types.
- There are also the horseman. The adjutant is the best horseman we’d ever seen — until we saw the captain; the captain is truly spectacular. Even the plow horses and what not that they could find were almost at Arod’s level when the captain was riding them.
We eventually find out that the hawk that cried out during the parley was a sign to show the troops that we hadn’t prepared an ambush.
The more our heroes communicate with the renegade elves, the more it’s clear that they’re supremely lost. They’ve been lost for a long long time. They hadn’t even realized how lost they’ve been. They had something to believe in, but that’s gone now. And on some levels, they wish they had it back, so that they’d have a purpose again.
Where they came from has become hell on earth and they’re profoundly misinformed about thousands of years of history.
We told them that their escorts are a week out. Some of the elves are okay with this news. Many aren’t, and just want to get moving.
Our heroes soon notice that the dark elves must have a hidden camp in the woods. Some of the elves walk into the woods and different elves come back. Bo spotted it once, but not enough to be sure of any pattern. They were heading off just after dark, traveling in ones or twos. Others came back around dawn. There seemed to be six or so the first night, and a dozen the second.
Realizing that tracking elves in the woods is a recipe for disaster, Guthwyn pushes to just ask if they need extra provisions for the elves in the woods. The cavalry captain that has been the most friendly to us does his best to cover, but Araphor is sure that he’s lying. Araphor then asked to inspect the camp.
We get access to inspect the followers. We travel with the adjutant and another horseman, along with two other elves. Nwalme casts Sense Foes and is pretty sure that our two guides are hostile to us.