When we last left our intrepid heroes, Araphor and Bo were sneaking behind the dark elvish lines to see what they could learn. As they approach the Huregoths’ camp, Araphor goes full Disney princess by using Rider Within and Mammal Control to bend the forest mice to his will and scout the camp through them.
Through the rodent’s eyes, the well-hidden camp is revealed. While the mice cannot count, there are clearly tents enough for a hundred or so elves. There appear to be just over half that number present, mostly at rest.
In one of the bigger tents, the mice discover the Blue Wizard, poring over some tome by candlelight.
His control waning, Araphor sends the mice into the food tent, releasing them to gorge themselves on the elves’ supplies. He and Bo were able to sneak back to the others without incident.
Plans are discussed, some ludicrous, some with a chance of success. It is decided that Silenced Nwalme will sneak up on the most forward elf scout and capture him, with Bo and Araphor backing him up. It isn’t a complex plan, but it should work.
Of course, our heroes have trouble with communication when they can’t hear one another, and aren’t quite as stealthy as they’d like to be, as a result. The scout notices something amiss and leaps into action, but Bo is able to shoot him in the leg, crippling him for a moment so that Nwalme can Death-Touch™️ the hell out of him. Araphor and Bo bind the unconscious scout and carry him back to the rest of the party for interrogation. Araphor and Nwalme rest a bit, Araphor using Lend Strength to prepare Nwalme for his questioning. The rest of the party stands guard, eyes and ears peeled for Huregoths.
It becomes apparent during the interrogation that this elvish scout is the Huregoth equivalent of an Empress Guard, and elite bodyguard whose presence has been trusted within pretty high circles of power. As such, he is a veritable fountain of information, despite his being a “true believer” in the dark elves’ cause. Over the last few centuries, too many elves were lost – or worse yet, returned in pieces – when they explored westward to find their way to the Undying Lands, for him to believe anything but the worst.
The scout relates how the Huregoths and other elven clans had come to this camp because of its proximity to the castle and its key location in the Empire’s eastern supply routes, with an intent to disrupt the reinforcements heading to the front from the heart of the Empire. However, the explosion of their teleportation system left them with only slightly over half of the fifteen hundred elves they’d planned to deploy here.
On top of that, serious rifts developed within the clans, as an unknown assassin, presumed to be an agent of the Empress, claimed the life of one of the senior clan leaders. The appearance of the Blue Wizard with fifty of his own allies caused further disruptions. Finally, the defeat of their forces at the castle moat was for many the last straw. With so many promised successes ending in failure (and, apparently, the mind control magics fading), the doubtful and the faithful quarreled, and many of the former abandoned the war effort. Whole regiments deserted, disappearing into the countryside in varying directions, most back toward the east. The several dozen elves that remain at this camp are all that are left of the forces they’d sent to this location.
Even so, the camp still holds a senior leader of the dark elves. The reigning prince of Huregoths is present, deputy commander of the enemy forces and head of their special operations. And as for magic, there is the Blue Wizard, as well as half a dozen Huregoth mages and a couple others within the other clans’ stragglers. The Supreme Leader is on the other side of the river, leaving his son in charge of this camp.
While questioning the captive, Nwalme realizes that there is some sort of racial magic that could be related to the Huregoths’ eerie similarity to each other. With the help of Analyze Magic, Nwalme discerns that ritual magic has been used on this clan for centuries. It has made them something different, something like living artifacts. Using History , he also discovers that there is something in the camp, a device of some sort that would allow a small magic ritual group to energize these living artifacts.