The next morning found the group stirring late. Not all remained from the previous night. Ameiko appeared to have had enough of erupting volcanos and decided to creep away before the rest awoke rather than confront them about his cowardice. More importantly to most (and especially to Vadania), Kendle had also gone missing, though she had left a crudely scratched, pictographic message. Aust and Vadania puzzled over it for some time before deciding that Kendle apparently believed the cat Alexi had told her to follow alone to look for some sort of shiny sword. There was a picture of Aust (assumably) holding the sword and stepping on the severed head of some monster. When the kender apparently protested and wanted to bring Vadania, there was an image of a head on a spike….
While they were worried about the Kender going solo, they also trusted in her ability to take care of herself. Meanwhile, Gidgit had been fiddling with his latest invention, and Ajakall has been making his morning prayers to a pile of stones. Just then, a rock clattered from above, and Aust drew his weapon, ready for trouble. A trio approached, two elves, one of the wild Quel-Rahsios and the other a cultured and well armed warrior-mage. The third was an angelounian wearing a porcelain mask resembling that of an androgynous doll and who was constantly weaving together the threads that hang from his sleeves
When challenged about their intentions, Tiron, the Silvanesti, told the party that he had been sent by Vadania’s mother to retrieve her home. Vadania immediately remarks that he must be with Okela and that they should kill him. The rest hope that she is jesting, though they know better. The Quel-Rahsios was called Cyril, and he had been looking for his brother, who he had heard the party met. Ael’ahr was the Angelounian, a diviner who had used his magic to track the party for the other two.
Since they seemed to have honorable intentions, Aust lowered his weapons and welcomed them to travel back toward West Burkana along with the rest of the party, for safety. Vadania made it clear that she was not going back to New Silvanesti, and Gidgit remarked that there probably wasn’t much to go back to anyway. He’d been there doing a dissertation on Elven military Tactics when the place had been overwhelmed by hordes of deformed, demonic creatures. Neither silvanesti would believe their homeland destroyed however, and the subject was dropped.
They began the day’s march southward, but it was not long until they were ambushed while passing through a canyon by a tribe of lesser ogres intent on taking their heads as trophies. The small demons dropped boulders from the cliff in an effort to crush them, but Ael’ahr’s magic made most fall as though they were made of no more than down. Unfortunately, Ajakall had been ranging ahead, and the spell did not affect the boulders that fell and crushed him.
Constantly peppered with javelins and facing an unknown (but obviously large) enemy force, Ael’ahr divined the nearest safe place before rendering himself invisible and leading the rest there via his voice. Worried about the elderly boulmaukan, Vadania called out to Chislev and was blessed for the first time with the ability to become the beast within. Taking the form of a dire badger, she tunneled into the soft earth and then back to the crush of rocks. Surfacing, she could not find the old ranger’s remains, and so turned around. Most of the rest had reached a crack in the canyon wall, probably opened by the last night’s quakes. The interior was no natural cave, but expertly cut and fitted stone.
Gidgit guarded the entrance, prepared to roast the first goblin he saw with his flamethrower. When Badger-Vadania emerged from the ground he instinctively pulled the trigger, but the item’s igniter fortunately jammed, spraying alchemical promethium all over a very upset (though comically unable to speak) elf turned animal.
Interestingly, the lesser ogres had not pursued the party, instead setting up camp outside but within sight, seemingly content to wait the party out. Ael’ahr theorized that they considered this holy ground and would not dare enter.
As they ventured farther in, they found that the place was an ogrish tomb, filled with burial goods, magical traps, and odd, broken tubes. They faced off against a pair of mummified guards, and a swarm of gold and silver army miniatures (which sadly claimed the life of poor Nibbler, Vadania’s faithful animal companion). Guarding the final hallway to the sarcophagus room were a pair of faceless, snake-like beings that entwined around Aust and began to suck his life-force into themselves. As they consumed him, their blank faces slowly took on the elf’s features, but they were destroyed before they could finish the transformation.
This last chamber had been wrecked by something or someone that had burrowed up from below and made camp inside. There was the skeleton of some gigantic, oddly shaped, serpentine creature and three sarcophagi, though only 2 were untrapped. Hearing them break open the stone, a strange, spider like humanoid emerged and attacked, but was easily defeated. Vadania recognized a particular type of fungus near the campfire that only grows at the mouthes of caves, guessing that there must be an exit somewhere at the other end of the down sloping tunnel. After looting the two un-trapped burial structures, the party travelled deeper underground.
Vadania’s keen nature senses detected the movement of fresh air, and followed it to an exit some miles away. Hoping they were now safe from both goblins and whatever else may be lurking deeper in the ground, they set up watches in both directions and went to sleep for the day.