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W01: Wilderness Pointe

It's Kesenday, Callem 24 12:33:34 1020. The full moon is up. The tide is high and rising. A light rain falls from a grey sky. It's warm and there's a slight wind from the southeast.

There is a seemingly endless demand for wood from the lumber and paper mills closer to the City, and it comes chiefly from villages like Wilderness Pointe, where companies of lumberjacks live at the edges of the forest.

Rich are the superstitions held by these lumberjacks and their kin regarding the forests. Today, the groups of lumberjacks had set out as usual in the pre-dawn hours to head into the woods to ply their trade, but whereas they usually don't return until after sunset, even now, barely a half hour past midday, the youngest and quickest of them are running into the village raising the hue and cry of discovered horrors.

Ga'Elian, astride his mighty griffon, happens to be riding along the same dirt road heading toward those very woods. He calls out loudly, "Ho, there. What news?"

Yelrona had come out to Wilderness Pointe chasing rumors of an alchemist who had some brews for sale she might have use for. Those rumors turned out to be unfounded, or at least she arrived too late to follow them up, but as she was preparing to return to the city she heard the cries of distressed lumberjacks. She was heading to investigate when she heard Elian's voice, and joined the ranger... no sense in making them explain twice.

"What he said," she nods agreement.

One of the lads stops by the elves and says, panting from the exertion of hard running, "We were heading out to the felling site this morning, and some of us thought we caught glimpses of bald wild elves watching us from the branches of the trees. They made no sound and weren't there when we tried to make contact, but still, enough of us had thought we'd seen them that we didn't dismiss it.

"Once we got to the place we were heading for, and had selected the trees that we were going to fell, and had started the usual peace offerings, when we were attacked. At first, they dropped nets of vine upon some of us from the branches above. Then three of these elf things dropped down on top of the net and started slashing at the men that were struggling to escape the net. At the same time, other vines, I heard one of the older men call them Assassin Vines, came along the forest floor and entangling a few of the others. By now, the elf things had killed the guys in the net and were looking at the rest of us with wicked, toothy grins and murder in their eyes. Some of the men stayed and fought; a few of us ran."

Ga'Elian asks the young lumberjack, "These elf things... you say they were bald? Can you describe what they were wearing? You said they slashed at the men in the net. With what weapons? Do you remember anything more about their appearance?"

Yelrona regards the young man carefully, nods approvingly of Elian's questions, and adds two more: "Were the others still alive when you left? And, this is important: were the Sylvanori -- the wild elves, were they actually displaying emotion, as you describe, or was that just you embellishing a story?" She is already climbing aboard Erithamiel, behind Elian, without waiting for an invitation... they will cover more distance faster that way.

By now, the lad is breathing a bit more normally, but still clearly upset. He stops for a moment at the questions and thinks, then says, scratching his head, "Yeah. No hair, which struck me as odd. I mean, who's ever heard of a bald elf? But they were about the same as the both of you for stature, near as I can remember, but it looked like their clothes were made by sewing leaves together. And they didn't seem to use weapons. They used their own long sharp claws to attack the men." Then looking more directly at Rona, he adds, "Yeah, they were still fighting. The foreman yelled at us newer crew to flee back and raise the village. And maybe I am reading my own impression into the looks those monsters gave, but I'm not embellishing when I say that they seemed to be enjoying their violence, and looking for more."

Ga'Elian listens, nodding as if the details are painting a clearer picture for him. Once the young man finishes his reply, he says, "Banaan. If I'm not mistaken, these poor souls had the misfortune to run afoul of Grimstalkers." He looks back at the youth and says, "Tell the villagers to stand ready to defend themselves, but to not venture into the woods until we shall bring word again. I don't believe the village is in danger, but when the rest of your company return from the site, those who survive will likely need the ministrations of your healers, and you've already told that not all will have survived. The three of us will go and deal with these evil fairies."

Yelrona nods. "All right. That's helpful, thank you," she tells the boy. To Elian she is about to ask further questions when he volunteers the answers. She simply nods.

The lad seems reassured by the stated plan and runs off to follow the ranger's directions.

Ga'Elian draws his bow and dismounts. He tells Yelrona, "Erithamiel can move us quickly, but until I know where we're going, it isn't worth flying off. I propose to follow the tracks of these loggers. I think it will be faster than trying to get them to tell me where the place is. I mean they've been gone for several hours. It may take us an hour to get to the place, but feel free to ride. Erithamiel is as stealthy as I am when we're together, and I can follow these tracks while moving swiftly."

Yelrona nods, and does what she can to help him track.

Following the tracks is no challenge at all, especially when about 20 minutes in, they encounter a half dozen burly men, looking stressed and weary in both physical and emotional ways trudging through the forest carrying two badly mangled corpses.

As the lead man notices the elves, he is about to say something when Ga'Elian holds up a hand and cuts him off. He says, "We heard. One of the lads you sent back told us and we told him to tell the village to prepare for your return, but to not venture into the woods."

The man seems satisfied with this then says, "Well, somebody's got to do something about those sneaky devils. Are the two of you up to it?"

Ga'Elian says, "Oh, I think we're reasonably suited to at least determine the extent of the threat if it's bigger than I suspect, but more likely, we can take them down alright. How much further is it?"

Looking a touch relieved, the man says, "About two more leagues. Gods be with you. We wounded a few of 'em, but they ran off."

Yelrona waits until the humans are out of earshot before saying in Sildanyari, "It's strange that they killed only two. What do you know of these Grimstalkers?"

Ga'Elian resumes following the trail, and says, "Oh, they're fae, and they're about as malevolent as any ordinary demon. They tend to be solitary or at least few in number, but sometimes they work for brief periods in alliance with other evil fairies like redcaps. They seem to like to mark their territory with the skulls of those they kill. They're sneaky, graceful, and like to use plant creatures to fight with or for them. The tactics described by that kid back in the village are classic Grimstalker combat tactics. I'm just surprised that they attacked such a large group of men. Of course, lumberjacks by their very trade would irritate Grimstalkers, quite possibly enough to overcome any trepidation about being outmatched."

Yelrona thinks about it, then pulls out a handful of cold iron arrows and sets them aside in her quiver. "All right. Sounds like we would do best coming at them from above, then." She regards Elian's bow carefully, seeming almost meditative.

Ga'Elian nods. "Well, that might be the most defensible attack posture. It would certainly be harder for them to drop a net on us if we're above them. Still, they might elude us entirely. They have a bark-brown complexion and do, indeed, wear tree leaves for clothing. They can be tricky to spot when they want to be."

After a while longer, the elves and griffon arrive at what must be the site of the attack.

"Point," Rona agrees. "This may be my chance to try out the (sildanyari) <elven accuracy feat> in practice." When they arrive she scans the area carefully for threats, both animal and vegetable.

GAME: Yelrona rolls perception: (16)+21: 37

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls 26: (10)+26: 36 (for the Grimstalkers' stealth)

GAME: Yelrona rolls survival+4: (18)+14+4: 36

Ga'Elian does similarly, examining the area. As he does, both he and the griffon seem to disappear.

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls Track/forest+2: aliased to Survival+4+9+5+4+8+6+2: (5)+30+4+9+5+4+8+6+2: 73

The trail leads off toward the northwest, but soon rises into the trees rather than along the ground. Ga'Elian signs to Yelrona, "They've gone aloft, but we can still follow them. It looks like there are five in total, and some are wounded." Then he climbs a tree along with the griffon and continues to move along going from tree to tree as the branches meet.

Soon enough, there are the five bald wood-elf looking fae. The wounded ones are resting, while the other two are jabbering away in frustrated tones and Sylvan words. Ga'Elian reaches into his quiver and extracts a rod. Holding in his bowstring hand he silently casts a spell then puts the rod away and nocks a pair of arrows. <handspeech>

GAME: Ga'Elian casts Gravity Bow. Caster Level: 19 DC: 14

Yelrona has absolutely no idea what the ranger's finger-wiggling means, although she vaguely remembers a time when she understood the silent speech of mercenaries and thieves, before the shrine-spirit's blessing was removed from her. She doesn't worry about it. If Elian is travelling the tree-road, then she will take the low road, and perhaps distract their enemies if she can't sneak up on them. Which she tries her best to do... successfully enough.

That said, she lacks his ability to prepare in stealth, so she invokes Tarien's power clearly.

Yelrona expends ONE use of BANE

GAME: Yelrona casts Flames of the Faithful. Caster Level: 8 DC: 15

GAME: Yelrona rolls init: (1)+6: 7 (EPIC FAIL)

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls init+forest: aliased to init+8: (10)+12+8: 30

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+9: (16)+9: 25 (for the Grimstalkers' initiative)

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls Weapon13+1-DA-RapidShot: aliased to Weapon13+1-5-2: (9)+37+1+-5+-2: 40

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls Weapon13+1-DA-RapidShot-5: aliased to Weapon13+1-5-2-5: (13)+37+1+-5+-2+-5: 39

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls Weapon13+1-DA-RapidShot-10: aliased to Weapon13+1-5-2-10: (10)+37+1+-5+-2+-10: 31

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls Weapon13+1-DA-RapidShot-15: aliased to Weapon13+1-5-2-15: (18)+37+1+-5+-2+-15: 34

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls Weapon13+1-DA-RapidShot: aliased to Weapon13+1-5-2: (9)+37+1+-5+-2: 40

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls Weapon13+1-DA-RapidShot: aliased to Weapon13+1-5-2: (10)+37+1+-5+-2: 41

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls 2d6+2+3+2d6+DAdmg: aliased to 2d6+2+3+2d6+10: (5)+2+3+(12)+10: 32

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls 2d6+2+3+2d6+DAdmg: aliased to 2d6+2+3+2d6+10: (2)+2+3+(3)+10: 20

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls 2d6+2+3+2d6+DAdmg: aliased to 2d6+2+3+2d6+10: (6)+2+3+(5)+10: 26

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls 2d6+2+3+2d6+DAdmg: aliased to 2d6+2+3+2d6+10: (6)+2+3+(7)+10: 28

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls 2d6+2+3+2d6+DAdmg: aliased to 2d6+2+3+2d6+10: (6)+2+3+(9)+10: 30

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls 2d6+2+3+2d6+DAdmg: aliased to 2d6+2+3+2d6+10: (8)+2+3+(12)+10: 35

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls 2d6+2+3+2d6+DAdmg: aliased to 2d6+2+3+2d6+10: (5)+2+3+(3)+10: 23

Just as the sound of Yelrona's spellcasting perks the ears of the grimstalkers, a hail of arrows pincushions the two who hadn't been previously wounded, dropping them immediately.

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+9+2: (17)+9+2: 28 (for the 1st Grimstalker's 1st claw attack)

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+9+2: (20)+9+2: 31 (for the 1st Grimstalker’s 2nd claw attack)

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+9+2: (20)+9+2: 31 (for the 2nd Grimstalker's 1st claw attack)

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+9+2: (1)+9+2: 12 (EPIC FAIL) (for the 2nd Grimstalker's 2nd claw attack)

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+9+2: (5)+9+2: 16 (for the 3rd Grimstalker's 1st claw attack)

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+9+2: (16)+9+2: 27 (for the 3rd Grimstalker’s 2nd claw attack)

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+9+2: (16)+9+2: 27 (for Crit Confirm on 1st Grimstalker's 2nd attack)

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+9+2: (12)+9+2: 23 (for Crit Confirm on 2nd Grimstalker's 1st attack)

The three survivors, unable to see any attackers except Rona, descend on her savagely, ripping into her with their claws...

GAME: Yelrona rolls fortitude: (14)+8: 22

GAME: Yelrona rolls fortitude: (15)+8: 23

GAME: Yelrona rolls fortitude: (10)+8: 18

GAME: Yelrona rolls fortitude: (8)+8: 16

...which are tipped with a foul-smelling substance that fortunately does not actually get in her wounds.

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+10: (16)+10: 26

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+10: (20)+10: 30

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+10-5: (1)+10+-5: 6 (EPIC FAIL)

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+10: (19)+10: 29

GAME: Yelrona rolls 12+2d6+1d6+1d8: 12+(7)+(2)+(7): 28

GAME: Yelrona rolls 24+2d6+2d8+2d10: 24+(7)+(10)+(11): 52

Yelrona takes a step away from her attackers and fires one flaming arrow at each. One arrow misses, the second kills its target, and the third pierces the fae's chest and literally explodes, turning the crature into ash.

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls CompanionMelee: (18)+17: 35

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls CompanionMelee: (1)+17: 18 (EPIC FAIL)

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls CompanionMelee: (15)+17: 32

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls 1d6+5: (5)+5: 10

GAME: Ga'Elian rolls 1d4+5: (4)+5: 9

Just then, the armored griffon springs out of the tree onto the last surviving fae. With a bite and the one claw slash that didn't miss, he ends the Grimstalker bloodily.

Yelrona rushes to Erithamiel, urgently indicating he should release the one he bit. "Spit it out boy!"

Ga'Elian hops down afterward, and whistles to indicate his being impressed. He says, "Good hits, especially that one." He points to the demolished one. Then after Rona jumps to Erithamiel's warning, he asks, "Are you alright? If your own healing magic isn't sufficient, I can add mine, too."

GAME: Yelrona casts Cure Moderate Wounds. Caster Level: 8 DC: 15

GAME: Yelrona rolls 2d8+8: (13)+8: 21

Yelrona has a brief earnest consultation with Tarien that results in her wounds being healed.

Yelrona seems rather pleased with herself. "It was, wasn't it? They told me that could happen sometimes with that spell, but I've never seen it before."

Ga'Elian smiles and says, "Yeah, well you seem to be alright with that. This was kind of fun, if I'm being totally honest, but I don't like the appearance of so many Grimstalkers so close to a settlement. Anyway, let's head back to the village and tell folks what we did."