Synopsis for July 13th session
The party began in the room with the dead Malarites, where Raven’s obscuring mist and Ptolemy’s inspiration were keys to the victory. The final living warrior told the PCs to ask for Durn in the next room, that there they would find the way down to Belak in his twisted grove. The circular room contained four goblins, the corpse of a human and the man Durn. The party bluffed there way past Durn and descended the vines into Belak’s lair.
Having been the first to descend (despite his HP total of 9), Lugdush lept the final few feet to land in the middle of a large square chamber. Filled with vines and other growth, Lugdush spotted only two doors, a cave in to the north, and two gaunt humanoid figures in the south east corner. As his comrades continued to descend, Lugdush questioned the figures about Belak’s location, but he received only red-eyed silence. He turned in disgust to find that plant creatures had emerged from the vines near each door.
Raven and Amras quickly perceived the plant-nature of these beings, warning the others that no mind-affecting spells and no piercing weapons would be effective. Amras blasted the foes with missiles of magical energy, Nalak hacked mercilessly at the plant creatures with the flaming blade Flamesinger, while Lugdush charged ineffectiveley, his piercing blow with Midnight passing harmlessly through one of the guant figures, which was now identified as a skeleton. As the fight continued, noise to the north indicated that danger lurked there as well. Raven moved off to a corner to prepare an entangle spell. When the last plant creature fell, a massive bugbear in metal armour with a horned-helm stood in the cave in gap, sniffing the air cautiously. Beside him were two massive, evil-looking rats. Nalak, in keeping with the nature of dwarves, charged the creature, slashing him visciously with his axe. Raven backed away, saving his Entangle spell for another time, and Lugdush charged in, connecting but dealing only a glancing blow with his sword (snake-eyes rolled). Before Balsag the Hunter could even react, he was defeated. After a brief parlay in goblin, the party allowed Balsag to leave by a tunnel leading to the Underdark.
Amras carefully searched the doors, finding no danger. The party entered a columned hallway with many doors, sounds of sleep, argument and screams of pain coming from them. The PCs left a room of weapons unexplored, choosing instead to head south through a rift that had been torn into the complex when it fell from the land above. Far to the south, a stuck door halted the party until Nalak tore it open. Inside lay an untouched shrine to Nobanion. The party decided to investigate later.
Back to the columned hallway, for Amras to spot a secret door in the eastern wall. After this, the party, dressed in Malarite garb, bluffed its way past three bugbears before a fourth armed with a Scythe and accompanied by Malarite druids, as well as a strange creature made of gems, attacked. Lugdush, still in a heavily wounded state, fell to the creature’s scythe, while Raven filled the room with his entangle spell. After a fairly routine skirmish the enemies were defeated, but the party was in no shape to continue. Out of healing and spells, as well as other daily resources, the party reluctantly retreated to the Nobanion shrine to rest.
After a well-needed rest, the party made its final assault on Belak’s hideout. Fighting their way past a shadowy undead creature that sucked the strength from Amras, the party discovered a vast underground garden. The first batch of sentinels was easily dispatched, Nalak and Lugdush hacking away with waraxe and silver dagger respectively, Ptolemy launching arrows into the plant beasts, Raven smashing away with his staff and Amras blasting more magic missiles into all enemies.
One-hundred feet later, the cavern opened into a scene from a nightmare. A vast tree of evil, its massive black trunk filled with the broken bodies of its victims, their petrified faces contorted into visages of profound pain, rose before the party. Raven felt like wretching as he took in the abomination, while the others focussed on the figures beneath: a beast, part man part lion wielding a spear; a human man clad in shining armour, wielding a longsword; a woman with cat-like features; and Belak, an evil-looking man dressed in the garb of a druid, wielding a sickle, a bloated toad seated at this feet. Along with an exchange of insults, Belak explained his terrible plan. After using the healing fruit to cure people of various ailments, he would give them seeds of another fruit, seeds that would grow another tree of evil, an abomination that would cause chaos and destruction wherever it roamed, as roam it could.
The fight began with Raven stepping forward and crying “Here is a gift from Silvanus!” He muttered a few magical words and spit toward Belak’s face; unfortuantely, the enchanted spittle flew harmlessly past Belak’s head. Nalak squared off against the Wemic as the beast lept toward him with its spear. The woman attacked Raven with a glowing hand, but he veered away from her touch. Ptolemy started his song of inspiration to aid his allies, as Amras blasted a ray of fire at Belak, missing him by inches. Lugdush cursed Belak, who wilted under the hexblade’s incantation, and then set his spear, taunting Sir Bradford the charge him. The knight accepted the challenge, lunging toward the half-orc. Lugdush smiled as he brought up his trident to impale the charging knight, but he slipped so badly that he actually ended up behind the confused knight. Sir Bradford turned on the half-orc, and brought his sword Shatterspike down on the trident, shattering it into pieces. Belak, despite his predicament, began raining balls of fire down on the party.
Raven, uninterested in the woman threatening him, charged his nemesis, smashing Belak a mightly blow with his enchanted staff. Nalak cut down the Wemic. Ptolemy threw a pie into Sir Bradford’s face, sending the knight into gales of hideous laughter. Lugdush took the opportunity to slash Shatterspike out of the knight’s hands, picking it up himself. Amras tried to blast Belak again, this time he connected, burning the druid terribly and even lighting him on fire.
The outcome seemed to hang in the balance. Sir Bradford regained his feet, transforming at the same time into a half-man, half-lion beast, delivering viscious blows with his claws and fangs, nearly killing Lugdush yet again. Belak began casting a spell that would douse the flames on his body. The cat-woman cast a spell that could have been horrible: pulling a wand from her belt, she enchanted the plants around the party, attempting to render them useless, wrapped in vines.
Fortunately for the party the god’s were with them and they avoided the nefarious flora. After this, the defeat of Belak and his allies became inevitable. As the malevolent Malarite tried to cast his spell, Raven delivered a mightly blow, injuring Belak and causing him to lose his spell. The evil druid then fell to a combination of rays from Amras and blows from Raven. Sir Bradford, who seemed to be taking over the battle, was knocked back into the writhing plants by a charging Lugdush; after that, the knight was subdued by Lugdush and Ptolemy. Nalak, after some flirting that took the form of groping and biting, managed to subdue the cat-woman.
The only survivor was Belak’s frog, which avoided Raven’s attempts at empathy and grappling to escape up the tree of evil.
The party stood victorious, but what would they do about the tree of evil?