on Oct 4, 2005
The party entered Joland village and learned that a couple of children had been kidnapped. They found some clues in the woods and followed the trail to the remains of an abandoned church. The building was gone, but the basement remained, and was being used as a base by a wizard who seemed to be preparing to sacrifice the children. The wizard seemed to care about the people of the town in a strange way. He suggested that the children would suffer less if he sacrificed them than if they went on living as slaves of the Alidians. The wizard then actually tried to persuade the party to bring him another kid so he could complete the ceremony.
They were, of course, not interested in kidnapping kids for him. They fought, and killed him. They looted his hideout and gathered a pretty good haul of magic items and valuables. The children were safe, but trapped in a dreamless slumber.
They found a couple of potions to wake the kids, but didn’t use them yet…
It is early morning. The group is ready to leave the dungeon and is debating whether to wake the kids now or in town. Eomer doesn’t want to carry the children, but Skeeve doesn’t want to deal with frightened, crying children. They decide to take them back to town first, then wake them. Thordek considers taking the powder in a skull then decides against it.
But Joe was convinced this was something of value. Once the others persuaded him to leave it behind, I revealed what it was, just to dispel the mystery. This was hallucinogenic powder, and would not be of any use or value to them.
There is probably no way the characters could have known, but the wizard planned to use this powder himself when it came time to do the evil human sacrifices. He was a corrupt bastard, but killing three children at once was pretty evil even for him. His plan was to do some of the powder so he’d be able to go through with it. He really did believe this was the only way to save his people: To engage in human sacrifices and other evil rituals until he gained enough magic to beat the Alidians.
I don’t even want to think about how the conversation would go if Thodek had brought a bleached human skull to a shop owner and tried to sell it.
They head back to town, with Beck and Thordek carrying the kids.
As they go they are especially careful of the traps on the way back. There is discussion on the way back about how everyone dealt with the situation. Skeeve is irritated that so much valuable stuff was broken, especially by Eomer. Skeeve thinks they should have let the wizard live long enough to gather more information from him. They also discuss the disorganized mayhem of the last battle, and agree they need to use more teamwork in the future. The walk only takes about a half hour, meaning they enter town just as the sun is rising.
They enter town with the kids. One of the mothers, who runs the inn and thus is bustling about preparing for the day, panics about her son being limp. Skeeve quickly explains and give the kids the potions to wake them. The children are given back to their mothers and Polan comes over to talk to them. He thanks them for saving the kids. Skeeve explains about Vormoth being the one who took them. Polan seems to recognize the name, but says nothing.
Eomer presses him on this point, trying to find out more about Vormoth. Polan eventually confides that Vormoth was their mayor before the invasion. When the town was conquered, he disappeared, and they assumed he’d been killed or taken prisoner. He asks the party to keep this quiet. He doesn’t want the other villagers to know their former mayor was the one behind the kidnappings.
Thu’fir asks more about the sacrifice, and mentions that Vormoth said this was part of the “old ways”. He wants to know if this is true, and if Polan’s people really did practice this sort of thing.
Polan hangs his head, “Yes, we used to practice human sacrifice. Well, the wizards did, to make themselves powerful. It hasn’t been done in my lifetime though. Of course, back then the goal was to sacrifice the enemies children, not your own.” The group is appalled at the idea that it was all right as long as those being sacrificed were the enemies.
Polan gives them food, ropes, and free meals at the tavern. Thu’fir asks around but there are no grappling hooks for sale. They lost their climbing gear in the shipwreck, and the trouble with the trap doors in Vormoth’s lair reminded him that they needed to get some.
They check the map and plan their route south. The goal is to reach the city of Crossway, where they hope to find their friend Endo, or at least acquire some travel papers so that they may travel the country freely.
They must avoid the road, since it will be patrolled by Alidian soldiers. They don’t have traveling papers, which means the soldiers will try to arrest or kill them if they are caught. They know the Weather Hills are infested with vicious goblins, so they decide to head west, cross the river, and then head south through the woods.
They march west for two hours and come to a river. The river is pretty rough and about 30 feet wide. Enoch walks across the water, helping all but Skeeve across. (His magic can grant water walking to only 5 people at a time) Skeeve flies across using his own magic.
They see a hint of a town to the far west. They decide to head south, up out of the valley which they had been traveling in. They start heading more or less south but heading a bit east due to the landscape. They make excellent time as they get out of the valley.
They are not really sure where they are. From here they can climb a large steep hill directly south, or they can continue southeast and go around the hill. It is nearly 5 pm. Eomer requests that Skeeve fly up in order to look ahead and see which direction they should go. Skeeve levitates and can now see where they are. They have covered less than half the distance through Lower Bolwood. Their detour around the weather hills cost them most of the day.
They discuss which direction to go. They consider whether to head towards the road and stay just off it or try going through the woods. They decide to head due south, straight up the hill. The climb is long and wearisome, but at the top they are all treated to a good view of the surrounding country.
They now have a choice between heading southeast or straight south.
To the southeast they see a gap in the trees, hinting that there might be a river that way. They head for the river. As they draw near, the underbrush becomes more thick and tangled. It is getting dark. At last they run into the stream. The stream runs straight north, so they are able to go south along the bank. They need to rest for the night, but don’t want to make camp in this thick, unyielding growth. They go south about half an hour and find a spot with less sticks and brambles.
Thu’fir stays awake to keep watch.