Early one morning, six weeks after the Fugitives' battle at Red-Jaw Camp, a drunken halfling wondered into camp. Quentin Lojack, a retired sailor, wandered into camp quite accidentally, as he came to from a six-day binge. Quentin had wondered off from a fey revelry, after having some spirits from the Never-Never. He had little to say for himself to the surprised camp scouts, mentioned being at a "Fort Whiskey, or Risky, or some-such." He was asked how he found his way here, and he said only, "I'd like to know, myself." It seems he wandered into Hemlock Grove out of sheer, dumb luck.
The guards were understandably cautious, given recent Multhuni spy activity and the loss the camp suffered at his hands. Dravin was alerted directly, and rumor buzzed about camp immediately at the stranger's arrival. Dravin met with Quentin, and decided he meant no harm to the camp. Quentin was offered shelter and respite, on the promise of good conduct and a better explanation of himself once awake. A guard was posted.
When Quentin awoke that evening, he joined Dravin, Jaxx, and Smitty for supper. The four of them got to know each other somewhat, though Smitty was on his guard and very pointed about it! He didn't trust Quentin's convenient arrival and information on a Chernasardo Ranger fortress. Even Quentin's easy-going nature was considered suspicious: When Smitty started to open up about himself, he suspected sorcery! Smitty's suspicion went so far as to use his psionic energy to remain awake and alert the whole night through, better to keep a sharp eye on the halfling.
Jaxx subtly probed Quentin's thoughts while they were all talking: Jaxx detected Quentin's thoughts lingered on a joke or a lymric! He figured the halfling must be a good fellow, to be thinking of good humor among new friends.
Jaxx also caught a glimpse of someone else among Quentin's thoughts: A strange-looking elf wearing a powdered wig. Alarmingly, when Jaxx tried to probe deeper into the thought, the elf looked right at Jaxx's mind's-eye and shunted him out of Quentin's head!
While Quentin was describing the revelry and fortress, Dravin and Abby decided he must be talking about Fort Ristan: A permanent fortress and diplomatic site for the Chernasardo Rangers. The Fugitives agreed to set out that very next morning to search for survivors and information: Where were the Rangers? Who was occupying the fort? It sounded like fey had invaded and driven everyone out.
The next morning, on the way to the Fort, they encountered two owlbears who had a Grove forager trapped in a rabbit-burrow! They rescued the forager and he was able to learn enough from the battle to earn a Promotion into Warrior!
Secondly, they survived an ambush from Ironfang Legion bounty-hunters! Three hunters in a tree-blind fired expertly placed shots into Quentin! He was nearly downed from the initial wave, but managed to keep his feet. Quentin was badly wounded, but inspired greatness from the Fugitives, who fought off the Ironfang hunters with tenacity and ferocity. Smitty took to the air with psionic power and drove the hunters from the trees! Jaxx fought their captain one-on-one! Dravin provided concentrated fire into hunters and captain, alike!
During the fighting, Quentin revealed a sorcerous side: He sent beams of energy from his fingertips against his enemies. After the fight, Smitty decided he trusted the charismatic halfling: He didn't think the hits he took were feigned, and the Ironfang Legion had been out for blood. He was suspicious of his sorcerous origin, but trusted that his loyalty was not to enemies of the Phaendar Fugitives.
Immediately after the ambush, a tree'd Elven lumberjack named Vardalel "Dale" Prender called out for help. He had almost been victim of an Ironfang patrol himself, several days before. He climbed up and narrowly escaped them. He was wounded and exhausted from being up the tree for several days. In his haste to climb, he had injured his wrist severely. Smitty flew up to save the elf, who was briefly smitten with the dwarf. After a sharp rebuff, Dale thanked him anyway and was considering his next move. The tree he had been sheltering in collapsed halfway up and nearly crushed him! He was once again saved by Smitty!
Dale saw where a Chernasardo Ranger party had been ambushed by Ironfang bounty hunters. He lead the party there, so they could provide a clean burial and find out more of the Ironfang's behavior of late: They were scouring the forest for holdouts and Rangers especially. They used lures and ambushes to counter the Rangers at their own game. The party better understands the hunter's tactics, now.
Their last encounter before the revelry was with a young treant. The treant couldn't tell them apart from hobgoblin invaders, however, so was not keen to parlay. They did attempt to negotiate (without Dale the lumberjack's presence!) but were asked to leave the area. They agreed to do so and left in peace.
As Fort Ristan came into view, it was obvious the Rangers were not in control anymore. Quentin reported that a fey revelry was going on: The Red Rock Revel. The primary decorations were the hanging hobgoblin soldiers, necks cut, staining the rocks below. The fey feasted on game, humanoids, and drank generously of the former Rangers wine stores! Their first order was the get into the party in the first place. Quentin approached the Revelry's doorman, a Basidirond!
While Quentin was content to negotiate with the semi-intelligent guardian creature, Smitty was concered Q was under control of the plant's spores he breathed in! He lept into action, as Quentin's blood offering/door charge was being accepted! This put the party into action, felling the beast after a few rounds of intense combat.
While the Fugitives fought, Quentin snuck around to the side entrance and started negotiating his way into the courtyard. His way was blocked by degenerate revelers, the korreds! They were drinking, dicing, playing music, telling tale tales, and fighting!
The korreds are also fond of riddles, several of which they asked, when faced with a choice they weren't ready to make. Quentin managed to get the entire group invited to the Revelry, despite them bringing no women. The group began taking in the Revelry, assessing the area, and searching for survivors or comrades.
They stumbled upon a skin-stitched creature: it was a golem with a wasp-hive sewn into its chest! Once defeated, they earned the ire of many Revelers, as the creature was the property of a boss korred.
In the courtyard after the fight, a satyr band began playing…
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The party drank and brawled with the Revelers. Some were the butt of cruel jokes, jabs, and japes. Dravin had a drink too strong to handle, and woke only to crawl out to camp for some peace and quiet. Smitty ended up exploring some of the keep himself, where he found a Chernasardo Ranger still alive, even though he was badly wounded: Ciscero, a halfling ranger with gallow's humor and a fierce desire to escape after having been left for dead in the dungeon.
With Ciscero's advice, the party was able to learn of a dragon that works with Ironfang! The dragon used acid to burn walls, and Rangers, during the attack of Fort Ristin. Ciscero's leg was taken above the knee by the dragon! Ciscero told the party of a second fort, which may contain cached weapons of the Rangers, including dragon-hunting weapons from the Ranger's last battles with dragons in the Chernasardo Forest.
To help Ciscero, Jaxx spent some time wood-working a prosthetic leg. He crafted one of exceptional quality, in fact: A nearby sprite had come to Ristin, but found the Revelry too crude for her taste. She sprinkled pixie dust on the leg, and it graphed to Ciscero like a true leg! While it is still wood, he doesn't suffer a loss of mobility or balance. While he was of diehard loyalty to the Rangers already, his loyalty to Jaxx and the Phaendar Fugitives is unwaivering, after his rescue and recovery were so surely secured!
As a token of his appreciation, and "to have someone to outrank," Ciscero promoted both Jaxx and Dravin to full Chernasardo Rangers. While the ranking system is based primarily on experience, he feels that any Ranger would respect the field promotion given the circumstances and the feats the group has accomplished.
Their final bit of business was to secure a belt and a box that Quentin wanted to acquire while there. He received a whispered message in a dream from The Gentleman to provide these items before they left.
With that done, the party felt no further interference at the Revelry was warranted: The fortress was compromised and fighting the fractious fey seemed a waste of resources.
They'll soon set out to Fort Nunder, in search of needed equipment and reinforcements. The group wants to assess the fighting condition and numbers of the Rangers. Abby reminds everyone that a more permanent home for the Hemlock Grove residents will be necessary, as they would be easily overrun in their current home, if found. Secrecy is their only true defense, and more Ironfang could be patrolling the forest even now!
The party advanced to Level 5 and 6 during this adventure. You may assign 4 additional promotions to the NPCs of the party. These can be used:
- 1 Promotion starts a Commoner into an NPC class: Expert, Warrior, or Adept.
- 2 Promotions converts an NPC level into a PC level. An NPC cannot be more than half the PC's level (level 3 is current max NPC level in PC classes)
- 1 promotion to give a +1 to an NPC's stat. Max NPC stat will be 18, unless their race has a bonus in a stat. An NPC elf, for example, could have up to a 20 Dex.