The Nightmare Plague

Goblins and Wolves and Bears, Oh My!

When the adventurers set off from Ashenport, two of the party members were in a “Dream Trance,” a state similar to sleepwalking. Lucien spotted a torchlight in the forest to the east, but was unable to alert the party before a pair of wolves emerged snarling from the brush toward Stumble. The trancing party members awoke just in time for battle. The wolves’ claws swiped ineffectually at the cleric’s mighty armor, however, and after a flourish by Esmir and a crossbow bolt from Sable, the dwarf’s mighty warhammer bashed in the head of one of the wolves.

The party was about to turn their attention to the second wolf when a cry came from the woods to the east, “You killed Fang!” A shirtless and hideous goblin emerged, his hand blazing with magical fire, and he charged toward the hapless cleric, whose beard was set alight. “Ach!” Stumble shouted, and dove to the ground. We all know that Stumble does not douse easily, but Rabbit rushed forward and doused his friend while the rest of the party surrounded the overbold shaman. Gillian, who took advantage of her new skills with a sword, and Esmir made quick and bloody work of the goblin, with Stumble again providing the finishing blow. Hasingstoke made his usual attempt to prove his worth but missed, while Lucien curiously forgot momentarily that one must notch an arrow to the string for it to go anywhere when shooting. Fortunately, Sable was there to charge into battle, and he dispatched the wolf with little trouble.

Lucien went off on a quick scouting expedition while Rabbit and Esmir searched the body of the shaman and found a scroll (which Rabbit immediately read as Charm Animal, not much use but still, ooh shiney), a staff, a wand, and some gold. Stumble identified his holy symbols as those of a god worshiped by goblins, orcs, and such. Then the party set off into the woods, heedless of Lucien’s careful progress, and found an abandoned and ruined waystation.

The party searched the area but found nothing of interest, and being unwilling to waste more time, they simply made the waystation usable for the next travelers and continued on their way.

They set up camp in a small clearing (chosen by Lucien) at nightfall and chose watches. A fog rolled in as the air cooled and the evening deepened.

A few hours later, Gillian heard a sound that startled her, drew her sword, and set off into the woods. Lucien thought nothing of it for the first few minutes, but then she screamed and he heard from her footsteps that she had started running. The elf rolled his eyes and set off in her direction. Rabbit also sent along Corbie (who’s been with them the whole time) as a scout of sorts, though he was not exactly certain what good it would do. (He can almost, but not quite, “see” how to communicate with the bird . . .) Once Lucien sheparded Gillian back to the campsite, confusion abounded. Sable swore that he could also see a torchlight in the distance and hear a small child calling for help. The party argued for a while over the chance of it being a trap, but Sable insisted that he couldn’t stand idly by regardless of the danger, and Gillian agreed with him, but began having confusions as to what was real and what may not have been.

As the party set off in the direction of the torchlight (which only two or three members could see) and the sound of the child (which only two or three members could hear), Rabbit tried to make one final argument about the chance that it was just a halucination by casting Ghost Sounds near the party. Suddenly, there was the sound of a dozen people saying “don’t go, it’s a trap, it’s not real!” This only furthered the party’s confusion and made Gillian even more suspicious and she pleaded to go towards the sounds of the child. Sable, too, is now extremely suspicious of the gnome. Only Lucien and Esmir seemed to take the point, and although Stumble understood what was happening, he was also unwilling to take the chance that there really was someone in danger in the woods.

However, the party’s shouts had attracted a real danger: A bear came crashing through the fog toward the nearest party member, Gillian. Within moments, the bear had slashed her to pieces, picked her up in its jaws, and tossed her to the side like a rag doll.

But the party was undaunted. Spurred to revenge their friend, they charged into battle. Esmir snuck around the back of the beast and sunk his rapier deep into the bear’s (ahem) hindquarters. Lucien raised his sword and brought it down mightily, nearly severing the animal’s head.

The excitement of this quick but fierce battle behind them, the party reconsidered its plan of setting off into the fog-shrouded and bear-filled forest and decided rather that some fresh bahr meat might go down well. Rabbit prestidigitized a chef’s hat and cast summon black pepper while lucien and the others cut hunks of meat from the massive carcase. A spit was fashioned over the campfire, and the party dined better than they had for weeks.

With their stomachs full and the air saturated with the smell of freshly seared meat, the party settled in for a long restless night in the wilderness . . .

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