The first Analyze Magic lets Nwalme know about the following features:
- it can detect all of the other stones from the stone (within a half a mile)
- it can connect to another stone and create a 35’ of ‘bridge’ between two stones (within 500 yards)
- the bridge section moves automatically from one end to the other (The bridge is enough to bring us 4 with our horses and 8 more. We have 5 guards for Guthwyn: 3 women/2 hobbits.)
- it can disconnect from the other stone
We have four stones total at the moment. We don’t really want to cross at pre-determined location where the enemy is likely to be listening/watching.
Bo recommends using Stormdancer (sans stones) to do a recon flight and check the area before we go over, just to be sure that there aren’t any elves. Araphor sends her out scouting and soon we’re able to find a good secluded area on the curvy river about five miles up. The closest elf is 500 yards or so away, behind a slight rise.
At first light, we head out. Araphor uses Beast Speech to instruct Stormdancer on placing the stone, and she successfully does. Nwalme uses the stone to detect others, but only finds the one we placed nearby. He then connects to the stone, creating the moving “bridge”. Bo aims in the general direction of the guard, as they cross.
We cross without incident. Araphor wants to figure out our direction, get some cover, and then we can try to find the enemy army’s northern headquarters, which Nwalme saw in his mental interrogation of one of the enemy elves. We decide against taking out the nearby guard, to avoid alerting anyone to our presence sooner than we’d like.
To our north is a base camp, with about 500 troops; patrols are scattered throughout the rest of the area. We head east-by-northeast toward the headquarters, with Stormdancer scouting from the air to help us avoid patrols and camps. Stormdancer can see mounted troops heading toward HQ and some of their encampments, moving along paths/tracks to get there. Some of the encampments are Easterlings, elves, etc.
Each patrol is 5-6 humans with one elf. They aren’t wearing uniforms, but have some standard leather armor, clothing, etc. In order to appear as a patrol (except up close), we decided to reduce our numbers to six, and leave behind the hobbits. They plan to stay near our entry point for an hour or two just in case we need to escape much sooner than planned. They take a bridge stone so that they can get back.
Within a couple of hours – pausing to cache our bridge stones along the way – we get about two miles outside the headquarters. The HQ has four camps similar to the forward base by the river, surrounding a small town in the center, with beaten tracks connecting them to it. Stormdancer can spot a 1000-foot diameter ring in the dirt, centered on the town square.
Araphor and Stormdancer watch troops march in and set up in the middle of the ring – then vanish. Nwalme recognizes it as similar to the teleportation circle near Mount Doom through which several nazgul escape from us, in a encounter some time ago.
Araphor and Stormdancer get a really good look at the ritual and the location. There are two inner circles at the town square. One is of four pillars, between each path, with a staff-wielding elf at each path. The very center of the square contains an inlaid tile circle, upon which stands the maia, triggering the spells. We note that groups of 100 troup queue up on one of the paths into town, and are carefully kept outside the outer circle until each group is teleported away from the center.
There’s not much cover between the outer circle and the town. It would be impossible to cross while troops move constantly around the area. So we wait and watch, learning the patterns and numbers.
Over three hours, she can send 800 troops (600 in the first two hours; 200 in the last); then 3 hour rest and then she goes again.
As we watch, we discuss various ways to disrupt the teleporter, hopefully in a lasting way. By midafternoon, Nwalme educates the party on magical circles and their weaknesses and strengths. When we realize we can probably disrupt things by crossing the spell circles/domes with any object, a plan becomes clear: Araphor can find and control some birds, sending them flying into the spell dome at a key moment.
The party bides their time, and Araphor chances on a gaggle of three geese resting nearby. He successfully controls them, and sends them flying generally, but not directly, toward town, waiting for the right moment.
The troops come into the inner circle and start to set up. The elves on the outer circle do their ritual. The outer circle powers up, visibly glowing a slight orange. Several minutes later the second circle comes up.
Some elves look up at the birds, and become visibly agitated. They try to cast bird control to move the birds, but they’re too far away. The birds turn in, which agitates the elves even further. Bows are brought out and wiser mages stop them from doing that. They then shout to try to get the attention at the elves nearer town.
One elf in town gets his bow out and hits a goose; it drops from the air fairly quickly, dead. Araphor immediately sends the remaining birds diving at the center of the circle. Moving fast, they manage to avoid more arrows. The inner circle comes up, and a minute or so later the birds dive through it. Heat lightning from the circle blinds Stormdancer, and through him, Araphor, and Araphor loses the Rider Within link. Five seconds later, we hear thunder.
We can see smoke from the center of town, and cries going up. Some of the elves quickly send out patrols to find the culprit.
We ride hell for leather.
Ten minutes later, Araphor is able to re-connect with Stormdancer. She’s awake, on the ground under a bush and her senses are reduced to human levels. She can see that they’re pulling elf pieces, bodies, etc… and being stacked. She can’t see the center, but she can see the results. Pits are quickly being dug.
The elves have to know something happened magically, they’re coming looking.
A prairie isn’t the best terrain to evade people looking for you…