So, after a short break, with the health of the party ably helped by Chiana, you proceeded to explore the last area of the dwarven keep.
The only passage to the lower level was via a huge, long climb down a vine encrusted wall. Elthuin tied a rope to himself and started the climb, making a minor slip that caused him to fall 20ft, then again which neatly ended him 2 inches from the floor, with the rest of the party holding him up.
Deciding that the vines were a bad idea, the party knotted the rope and climbed down, at the bottom encountering a pair of gardeners. Though they looked a bit thin and bony, they ignore the group until they approached the small area they were working, at which point the skeletons attacked. The most shocking thing was that the trees the skeletal gardeners were tending also began to attack!
Quickly turning the skeletons and the trees to splinters (both bone and wood), the party explored the rest of the area, encountering a hugely ornate gallery, with everything bar the artworks in place. Elthuin spotted a bed setup in one of the small rooms, and they followed the tracks through the dust, destroying a skeletal sweeper on their way outside.
Well, not outside, but into a huge chamber magically light up like a beautiful summer’s day. Near a massive, thorny, dark wood tree, the team spotted Esky’s former companions, Sir Braford and Sharwyn, along with a third figure wearing a cassock.
After using a spell to detect the minds of the nearby figures, Chiana discovered two things, one is that both Sir Braford and Sharwyn didn’t appear to be thinking, and that there were six fairly primitive minds about 10ft below the surface.
After hearing that his friends were ok, Esky ran forward to greet them, at which point Sharwyn let loose a magic missile spell that knock Esky down. The fight was on. Sir Braford came out to meet the party, the holy symbol on his shield all but obliterated as he let out a hideous roar, causing Elthuin, Chiana and Gurukaas to panic and flee, whilst Og, Raaxis and Jaunet held back the extremely difficult to effectively wound Sharwyn, and the simply hard to hit SIr Braford.
After a long, difficult fight, in which Og proved how tough a half-orc barbarian from the steppes can be, and Sir Braford showing how much a nuisance a fallen paladin can be, the party was victorious, even capturing the man in robes, who revealed his name to be Belak.
After some pointed questions, and learning the name of the tree that Jaunet had just completely burned to the ground, Gulthias, Belak turned himself into a weasel and tried to flee, however several arrows and thrown weapons made short work of him.
Gathering their things, and those of their fallen adversaries, including shatterspike, Sir Braford’s sword, the party had a brief rest, then ventured out back to Penthflower.
When they got near the village, the more eagle eyed of the group spotted a plume of smoke from the village, and when they got nearer, they passed the burnt out remains of the smithy, and found, near the village square, a patrol of the Inquisition, preparing to burn out old Gladys, for the crime of witchcraft.
Not liking this, or the hulking Captain that was leading the cookout, several of the party attacked, and got a bit of a shock when the patrol members acted quickly, throwing lit torches into the house, and turning to fire at them, with the greater shock coming from the unusual skill of the captain, using not just his greatsword proficiently, but also using several spells to protect himself and hinder the party.
However, once the Captain fell, the fight was effectively won, with a brief panic when Gurukaas and Raaxis fell in the attempt to rescue poor Gladys, but they were dragged clear by Chiana.
Disposing of the patrols bodies in the blazing building, and lamenting the loss of the captains valuable armor (melted by the over enthusiastic Chiana’s spell), the party fell back to the Inn, where Balun told them what had happened to all the young people of the village. All of the young from 2 years to around 20 were taken into wagons and left east the day before (after the destruction of the smithy). Using his familiar, Jaunet tracked them to a campsite 30 miles away from town, but his familiar came back with a crossbow bolt addition.
The party, (along with Gladys) are holed up in Balun’s basement, having a night’s rest before journeying onwards…