Vadran Rescue

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It is late afternoon. Half an hour ago, a messenger from Vadran village arrived at the Adventurer's Guild, sweaty and out of breath, indicating the need for help in the village.

He didn't have much information other than "talk to Maoud" and "hurry!"

You agreed to head to Vadran and investigate.

Vadran is not far from Alexandria, so before too long you are approaching the village.

From a distance, at least, the village seems normal. It is surrounded by a log wall on which young children are playing. The surrounding area is mostly farmland, and farmers can be seen in the distance with plows and work-horses.

A black cloaked and hooded warrior carrying a greatsword raises an eyebrow as he looks around at the village. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong, nothing at least that would cause a messenger to beat horses to death to get to the Guild that is. Darius looks to his companions and says, "Huh... looks safe enough, doesn't it?"

Walking toward the village Daechir takes a moment to surveil the group that is with him. Most of them are unfamiliar faces to him, so he offers a brief nod that echoes with a twinkling sound. The mul'niessa is dressed in fine clothing which is perhaps a little out of sorts out here, but the rapier on one hip and the way he walks with it suggests that he knows what he is doing. His crimson eyes light upon Darius for a moment and a small smile crawls across his lips. "What appears calm is not always. Like a duck on the surface of a pond."

Braith trudges along. She has been humming to herself, some dwarven chant of some kind. She is decked out in her armor with a warhammer hanging from each hip. She cocks her head to the side, "Well looks like a place someone would think is ripe for mischief too." she shakes her head, "Who we are we ta talk to?"

The scrawny, green-skinned, barefoot guy in rags mostly lurks on the outside of the group, walking in the dirt rather than the road when possible. At the exchange of observations he says, "Maoud."

The village could be the largest collection of buildings and people that one syl has approached in many decades. It may show, as Jaen emerges from the eastern treeline in a low, almost crouching gait, as if he might drop to all fours when needed. Eyes and ears are focused ahead as he moves, with a pause to sniff at the air.

With varying levels of caution, the party enters the village.

Inside Vadran seems normal enough... mostly empty, which is to be expected during the afternoon, with almost everyone working the fields. An large, emerald-skinned oruch man in a leather apron sits despondantly in the village square, his head in his hands.

The oruch starts hobbling towards you the moment he sees you. "Did the Guild send you?" he demands, clearly desperate for help. "Can you find Ali?"

He is primarily talking to Kruulvog, whom he seems to assume is leading the party.

Braith doesn't mind letting someone else do the talking, less chance of eating her boots that way. She nods her head and glances towards Kruulvog as well, waiting.

Darius raises an eyebrow again and replies, "Maoud I presume?" He glances at the man, "Why don't you tell us about what happened?"

Daechir seems about to speak, but Darius's input keeps him silent. Perhaps for the best as he already sticks out quite badly in this company. Something which is saying something for a man who is quite notable anywhere.

Kruulvog reaches out toward the oruch. As he does, a green-scaled viper slithers out from under the green man's sleeve, wrapping its sinewy body around his forearm. Kruulvog says, "Guild... yes. Find Ali... perhaps." He pulls his arm back against his open shirt and pets the snake.

Jaen doesn't know the older smith from any of the other villagers, or even those speaking with the smith. Maybe it's best that others are speaking, though Jaen looks able to listen well enough. He squats in a deeper crouch near the gathering, attention mostly upon the smith as he listens.

"Yes, yes, I'm Maoud," the Oruch explains impatiently. He seems startled by Darius' intervention, but nods agreement with the suggestion. He takes several deep breaths to calm himself down while staring at Kruulvog's snake, fascinated.

"Ali forages for herbs and roots and things every morning, in the woods near here. She's the village herbalist," he explains. "And my wife. And she's missing!"

He gets excited again, then calms down again, with effort.

"She leaves before dawn, when I open the forge," he continues, "and she returns a little after noon, after I've done the heavy work... she says the heat is too oppressive to forage past then. We eat together and work together through the afternoon... you know, lighter work." The memory clearly soothes him, and he almost smiles, before becoming anxious again.

"But look!" He tries to grab Kruulvog's arm.... the one without the snake... and points to the sun in the sky. "The day is two-thirds gone and no sign of her! I TOLD her it was too dangerous, what with the Corruption loose in the woods! But she insisted that her medicines were needed even more, to fight sickness in the village, and..." he seems to run out of words.

"Please find her?" he finally says. "Were I a younger man and whole, I would go myself, but... well, I'm not too proud to admit it's a task for younger folk."

Darius nods and then says, "Where was she last seen?" He shakes his head, and reaches out to gently untangle Maoud from from Kruulvog and says, "We need to know so that we can start a proper search. Where was she intending to go, did she have any enemies, have there been any threats recently towards her or the village?"

Darius nods and then says, "Where was she last seen?" He shakes his head, and reaches out to gently untangle Maoud from from Kruulvog and says, "We need to know so that we can start a proper search. Where was she intending to go, did she have any enemies, have there been any threats recently towards her or the village?"

Braith nods as she listens, nothing really to add, the question she would have asked, has been already.

The warrior's actions make Daed reach out, touching Darius on the shoulder. "If you listen he told us already. She forages in the woods near here for herbs. All we need do is search for her there." He shakes his head and looks pointedly at the hand that is touching the worried oruch. "Come, we will likely find her or some sign of her where she normally gathers herbs." To put action to word he starts walking toward the woods slowly.

"No, no enemies," Maoud replies. "Everyone likes Ali... she takes care of everyone. And... well, as far as I know I was the last one to see her, when she left this morning. As for threats to the village... well, the woods have been crazy lately, ever since that fight we all heard about with the undead... but nothing special. And... oh yes, I almost forgot! She keeps this," Maoud adds hastily, pulling a large folded document out of his apron. "I don't know what it is, but she checks it every morning, and updates it when she comes back, so I guess it's important?" The document is full of markings and symbols.

Darius nods to Daechir, "Yes, but we need to know for certain, there are a lot of woods around here, a direction to narrow the search would be useful. I am not a tracker, are you?" He asks the group. He then listens to Maoud and nods, "We will do our best to find her, it would be a good idea to keep an eye out in case she returns on her own while we search. Also, I further suggest that you keep your villagers close to the village and if they must go out, to go in groups so that if this happens again, it will be easier to search." He then looks at the document, "I can't make heads or tails out of this, can anyone else?"

Kruulvog raises his eyebrow at the mention of Ali's daily vocation, but when the smith takes his arm in hand, he blanches and recoils. He says, "We will look."

Jaen's passive watching and listening ends when the folded paper is held out. He darts forward and stands fully upright to peer at the thing, and the marks on it. He also leans down to sniff at it, for good measure.

GAME: Jaen rolls knowledge/nature-5: (12)+5+-5: 12

Daechir pauses when the paper is offered up, but the markings mean nothing to him. Red eyes flash upwards to look at the man who holds the paper, but as before he says nothing. He simply stands there on the furthest edge of the group toward the woods.

Braith nods and moves to trudge along with the others when they are ready.

Jaen looks up from the paper and over his shoulder over the wall to a ridge in the near distance, then back to the paper. Then up again in another direction. Back. He then snatches up the paper, quickly but carefully. Holding it out flat again, he rotates it, then stops. A finger points at a mark, then towards a spot at the village wall, or beyond. Jaen holds the paper out maybe long enough for the smith or someone to take it before he starts off out of the village and into the wilds.

Kruulvog watches the elves, then traipses along following their lead. He gives the dwarf an appraising look.

The mul'niessa man neither waits nor hesitates, following Jaen though he knows nothing of the man. He at least seems to know where he is going and towards the wilds was where he was headed in any case. As Jane passes him, Daed allows for some brief distance between them, but stays just that small distance behind the other elf.

With Jaen's guidance and the map, following directions is relatively easy, although does involve a few wrong turns before you get to the general vicinity of your destination. The path you are on leads up a small hill.

GAME: Darius rolls perception: (2)+-1: 1
GAME: Daechir rolls perception: (13)+3: 16
GAME: Kruulvog rolls Perception: (15)+3: 18
GAME: Jaen rolls perception: (8)+9: 17
GAME: Braith rolls perception: (16)+8: 24

Braith cocks her head to the side as she reaches the top of the hill and blinks a bit, "Eh." she notices some things, "Well, this mae be the reason." she mutters a bit. She looks at how the undergrowth has been cleared out, and apparently something has been grazing here and clearing it out. She gestures at the tunnel that opens up in the ground, "Well something came up here." she mutters.

Looking at the destruction, and the hole in the ground Daechir makes a small displeased sound and touches the hilt of his rapier. Draws it in fact, soundlessly and moves toward it. "I really hope this is not more ants." There is disgust in his voice and he shudders, his free hand touching his side briefly.

Kruulvog seems to observe perhaps more than he gives out. He follows the others to this point, but then, after looking at the stripping of the wilderness, he simply walks straight into the tunnel.

Darius is blundering around, unable to find anything at all, his assertion that he is not a tracker is definitely true. He's probably alerting anything that's alertable for miles.

Jaen looks to the stripped undergrowth and even moves to touch some of the defoliated branches of a tree. Only then does he note the tunnel, and turns to point to it... even as others are already walking to or into it. He moves to join them.

Darius can follow the party as it enters the tunnel. Just past the tunnel entrance there is a large dug-out cavern. Within it is a strange structure, about six feet high, made out of something vaguely resembling paper-mache, except green... those of you with some experience with the wild, like Jaen, think it's probably made out of chewed up leaves. The tunnel continues past it.

A fair distance from the entrance... about 50' or so away, you'd estimate... you can hear the sounds of about a dozen pairs of feet coming closer.

There's enough light to see near the tunnel entrance, but it gets dark quickly past that. You can hear many legs clattering down the tunnel towards you out of the darkness.

Those with enhanced vision can see five inhuman creatures approaching. They look like ants, except the size of ponies. They each look different, however: one is significantly larger than the others, another moves substantially faster, a third has two heads, a fourth has a massively distended thorax, and the fifth has a massively oversized skull.

As soon as they enter the tunnel, Darius lights up his Everburning Torch so that those without darkvision or low light vision can see what's coming, plus it'll be a good weapon to use as a backup.

GAME: Daechir casts Mage Armor. Caster Level: 2 DC: 15

The two-headed ant charges into the cavern, but is not quite close enough to reach anyone! Dumb ant.

Daechir curses loudly and touches his chest with the words of a spell on his lips. He feels the comforting weight of it wrap around his shoulders. "/Mutant ants/." The words are irritated.

The oversized one is no brighter than its two-headed friend.

Kruulvog, recognizing the sudden danger, backs off and invokes his defensive witchcraft.

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d100: (14): 14
GAME: Darius rolls weapon1: (18)+8: 26
GAME: Darius rolls damage1: aliased to 2D6+6: (2)+6: 8
GAME: Darius rolls weapon1: (9)+8: 17
GAME: Darius rolls damage1: aliased to 2D6+6: (8)+6: 14

Darius seeing through the torchlight that the ants are all bunched up together, moves up and takes a very large swing, catching one on the leg and the other through the thorax, drawing ichor from both.

The fast-moving ant is perhaps no smarter than the others, but it _is_ faster and therefore moves further. It charges in and bites at the ant-slicing human!

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+5: (11)+5: 16
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+5: (8)+5: 13

The quick ant bites at Darius and stabs at him with a stinger that drips a viscous liquid. Both attacks glance harmlessly off his armor.

The fourth ant joins the crowd, standing a little further away than the other three.

GAME: Jaen RAGES!, gaining +2 to melee attack/damage/Will saves and 4 temporary HP
GAME: Jaen rolls finesse+2: (8)+6+2: 16
GAME: Jaen rolls finesse+2: (12)+6+2: 20
GAME: Jaen rolls 1d6+strength+2: (2)+2+2: 6
GAME: Jaen rolls 1d6+strength+2: (6)+2+2: 10

Jaen bares his teeth at the ant that rushes up to attack. The ends of his fingers become claws as he growls and then slashes quickly at the ant's carapace.

GAME: Braith RAGES!, gaining +2 to melee attack/damage/Will saves and 8 temporary HP
GAME: Braith rolls 1d20+11: (4)+11: 15

Braith growls as she sees the creatures and calls on the rage within her. The skin of her hands starts to darken till it turns black and looks like scales, her fingernails lengthen into sharp wicked looking claws. As she pulls her pair of warhammers from her waist, her body seems to swell. She grows, and grows, until the dwarfess stands almost nine feet in height. Her warhammers grow with her till they almost look as big as earthbreakers. She moves forward and one of her warhammers comes down to smash at one of the ants, but she misses.

GAME: Daechir rolls weapon1: (1)+3: 4 (EPIC FAIL)

Daechir moves forward again, angling to get closer to Jaen and trying to attack the ant at the same time. His weapon goes very wide, ending up in the dirt floor and he curses for the second time.

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+3: (19)+3: 22
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+3: (11)+3: 14
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+3: (10)+3: 13
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d6+2: (2)+2: 4
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+7: (17)+7: 24

The two-headed ant bites Darius' shoulder and grabs on to it.

GAME: Kruulvog casts Produce Flame. Caster Level: 1 DC: 14
GAME: Kruulvog rolls ranged: (9)+2: 11
GAME: Kruulvog rolls 1d6+1 fire: (5)+1 fire: 6
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+6: (20)+6: 26
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d4: (1): 1

Kruulvog speaks a few obscure words, then when a flame erupts in the palm of his hand. He hurls it and strikes the brainy ant.

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+3: (5)+3: 8
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+3: (5)+3: 8
GAME: Darius rolls weapon1: (1)+8: 9 (EPIC FAIL)
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d4: (2): 2

Braith narrowly avoids getting bitten and stung, isn't as easy with her being bigger, but she manages.

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+5: (16)+5: 21 GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+5: (11)+5: 16

Darius roars in pain when two-head bites down hard on his shoulder, the pain and the awkwardness of it makes him be unable to swing properly and completely misses his target and is stopped short of slashing the ant next to him

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d6+2: (5)+2: 7
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+7: (1)+7: 8 (EPIC FAIL)

Once again Daed finds himself half-gored by an ant, blood quickly running down his side from the garish wound.

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+3: (15)+3: 18
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+3: (10)+3: 13
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d6+2: (2)+2: 4
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+7: (6)+7: 13
GAME: Braith rolls 1d20+11: (13)+11: 24
GAME: Braith rolls 2d6+6: (5)+6: 11

Braith gets attacked and bitten by one of the ants, though as it came close she is able to use her reach to get a free swing of her warhammer, smacking into it solidly.

GAME: Jaen rolls finesse+2: (6)+6+2: 14
GAME: Jaen rolls finesse+2: (2)+6+2: 10

Jaen must have hit Twitch's weak points the first time, as now his claws skitter off of its chitinous exoskeleton to no effect.

GAME: Braith rolls 1d20+7: (16)+7: 23
GAME: Braith rolls 1d20+7: (9)+7: 16
GAME: Braith rolls 2d6+6: (6)+6: 12
GAME: Braith rolls 2d6+4: (8)+4: 12
GAME: Darius rolls reflex: (20)+2: 22 (CRITICAL SUCCESS)
GAME: Daechir rolls reflex: (16)+3: 19
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20: (16): 16
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20: (9): 9
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20: (11): 11
GAME: Braith rolls reflex: (17)+4: 21
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d4: (1): 1
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d4: (1): 1

Braith didn't like being attack and so growls a bit in fury and wielding a massive warhammer in each blackened claw brings first one and then the other down on the ant thing that attacked her, both of them hitting soundly, and causing it to explode.

GAME: Jaen rolls reflex: (14)+4: 18

Brain tries to flatten itself against the tunnel wall. Not terribly effectively.

GAME: Daechir casts Mage Armor. Caster Level: 2 DC: 15
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+3: (16)+3: 19
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+3: (6)+3: 9
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+3: (20)+3: 23

Still bleeding heavily Daed steps back, his words arcane as he touches one stained hand to Jaen's shoulder. He'd gotten close for this purpose, and the spell settles on Jaen like it did on him a few seconds ago.

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+3: (1)+3: 4 (EPIC FAIL)
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d6+2: (3)+2: 5
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d4+2: (1)+2: 3
GAME: Kruulvog rolls 1d3: (2): 2
GAME: Kruulvog casts Cure Light Wounds. Caster Level: 1 DC: 14
GAME: Kruulvog rolls 1d8+1: (6)+1: 7
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+3: (1)+3: 4 (EPIC FAIL)
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+3: (18)+3: 21
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d4+2: (2)+2: 4

Kruulvog, seeing the wounded shadow elf move to touch the wild elf, pads forward himself to touch the shadow elf. As he mutters words, the elf's wounds heal.

GAME: Daechir rolls fortitude: (5)+1: 6
GAME: Darius rolls weapon1: (13)+8: 21
GAME: Darius rolls damage1: aliased to 2D6+6: (10)+6: 16
GAME: Darius rolls weapon1: (2)+8: 10
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d5: (1): 1

Darius argghs as he gets bit and stung by the two-head and this time, manages to get close enough to swing and finish it off but not enough momentum to slash the ant next to him.

GAME: Jaen rolls finesse+2: (18)+6+2: 26 GAME: Jaen rolls finesse+2: (2)+6+2: 10 GAME: Jaen rolls 1d6+strength+2: (6)+2+2: 10

So many bugs, so little space. Jaen continues to slash at the one mostly in front of him (or it was) with his claws. One slides off, while the other manages to dig in and break through to pull much softer insides to the outside. The giant insect doesn't like this, and complains by flailing and collapsing.

GAME: Braith rolls 1d20+7: (13)+7: 20 GAME: Braith rolls 1d20+7: (15)+7: 22 GAME: Braith rolls 2d6+6: (4)+6: 10 GAME: Braith rolls 2d6+4: (4)+4: 8

Brain remains flattened against the wall.

Braith exploded one last time and turns to fight the large ant, smacking it soundly twice. It seems to hurt the thing pretty good.

GAME: Daechir rolls 1d20+4: (9)+4: 13
GAME: Daechir used a Alchemist's Fire.
GAME: Daechir rolls 1d6: (2): 2

Daechir has little choice in the fight, and pulls a green bottle free. He throws it at the ant, hitting it and sending green flames scorching in every direction.

GAME: Darius rolls weapon1+2: (8)+8+2: 18 GAME: Darius rolls damage1+2: aliased to 2D6+6+2: (5)+6+2: 13

Darius shrugging himself from the dead two-head's pincer and moves up to flank giant thanks to Kruulvog's adept maneuvering and slashes downwards, severing it's head.

GAME: Kruulvog casts Ear-Piercing Scream. Caster Level: 1 DC: 14
GAME: Kruulvog rolls 1d6: (3): 3
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+6: (11)+6: 17
GAME: Jaen rolls sense motive: (20)+4: 24
GAME: Daechir rolls 1d6: (1): 1

The remaining ant rolls on the ground, trying to extinguish the flames, but fails.

Daechir elects this time to stay far back from the ant lest it attack him like the last one did.

GAME: Kruulvog rolls Weapon1: (14)+3: 17
GAME: Kruulvog rolls 1d4+1: (4)+1: 5

Jaen runs for the remaining ant, which has wisely kept its distance. He then stares at it, head tilting, even before it begins to roll around to try and smother the flames. His head tilts the other way before he holds up a clawed hand, back behind him towards the others. His head then turns past the brain bug to further down the tunnel.

All out of useful spells, the half-orc resorts to a weapon attack. He slings a bullet at the beast and pelts it good.

GAME: Darius rolls animal handling: (11)+animal handling: 11

Jaen points down the tunnel and moves around the brain ant in that direction, though he gives it as wide a berth as the tunnel allows.

GAME: Kruulvog rolls Weapon1: (18)+3: 21
GAME: Kruulvog rolls 1d4+1: (1)+1: 2

Kruulvog stays behind to keep pelting the and with bullets until it drops.

GAME: Daechir rolls reflex: (2)+3: 5
GAME: Jaen rolls reflex: (10)+4: 14
GAME: Darius rolls reflex: (10)+2: 12

As the party moves down the tunnel, they reach the entrance to a large limestone cavern. A web drops down on them.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a couple of large spiders pop up to say hi. With their fangs.

GAME: Daechir rolls concentration: (17)+concentration: 17
GAME: Daechir casts Prestidigitation. Caster Level: 2 DC: 14

As difficult as it is to cast covered in webbing Daed is just as stubborn, eyes focused on the spiders as he lifts the webbing with his spell. Not the usual use of it, but one that works in this particular instance.

GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+10: (9)+10: 19
GAME: Jaen rolls cmb: (1)+4: 5 (EPIC FAIL)

Jaen may now know more of why Daechir dislikes tunnels. Bugs, bugs, more bugs... and now sticky bug webs. He growls and wildly tries to tear and pull apart the strands, but only succeeds in tangling himself further in them.

GAME: Braith rolls cmb: (20)+6: 26
GAME: Yelrona rolls 1d20+4: (14)+4: 18

Note: We ended the RP here cuz of time constraints and handwaved the rest. The hostile spiders are killed, and the party finds a couple of dozen web-cocoons. Five are torn open -- presumably had contained the ants -- and one contains a paralyzed but living Ali. The others contain other giant insects, some of which have spider eggs implanted in them, some of which clearly did once, and it hatched and devoured its way out. These aren't ordinary giant insects, but rather normal insects variously mutated by the sparkly black water that signals the Taint, the Corruption, or whatever you want to call it.