Deep in the Gnarley Forest
A clear, cold and frigid winter day.
Within an hour after leaving Tricaster:
Steven suddenly turns to Nivek and begins to insult him. Gustav then turns to Baroque and does the same. Heavy arguing quickly turns to actions as Gustav and Steven suddenly sheath their weapons and physically attack Nivek and Baroque.
More than a turn goes by before the spell is broken while the PCs do their best to subdue Steven and Gustav while not harming then.
Nivek Nala notices footprints in the snow. They lead into the forest.
Steven Grayson follows the tracks into the wood with Gustav and Nivek Nala nearby. Gustav and Nivek quickly discover something is wrong as they watch Steven stop dead in his tracks. Nivek can hear the voice of an elf explaining to Steven the party is threspassing on elf grounds. The party moves on without incident. Afterwards, Steven describes a 1/2 dozen elfs, or more, pointing arrows in his face that seemed to almost be invisible amongst the trees and heavy brush. They, so far, have been a familiar site to the PCs since entering the forest.
Late that afternoon:
Nivek notices many large humanoid tracks coming from the south side of the forest. After taking a closer look he verifys they are bugbear tracks. The 1/2 elf can hear them nearby. They are close.
Within moments the party is rushed by a dozen bugbears coming from the south side of the forest. They 1st throw spears before entering melee with the PCs.
While all of this is happening, Steven and Baroque were having a brawling spar match, which ended with the large man putting Steven unconcious in a hold. There really was no fight.
The clerics are forced to get involved as Pholemius Brightmantle is seen using some kind of mace that seems to explode upon impact.
After a hard fought encounter with the bugebears, Gustav lets Steven and Baroque know he is less than satisfied with them. Beramane reminds them they are in the service of Pholtus and their behavior is unacceptable.
Within and hour the party comes across 7 rangers, consistent with the same type they have encountered day after day. 3 are human: 2 male, 1 female. 2 1/2 elf males and 2 wood elfs. They are armed with long bows and spears.
They nervously stand over a barely coherent woman. She is filthy and decrepit, and can do little more than mutter, drool, and periodically scream
One of the human rangers, Roger Eibert of the Wood, claims she appeared from the forest and attacked them. She was babbling nonsense and acting delusional. He looks fearful and says she was driven mad by the evil freed by another ranger being watched not to far away.
The rangers’ spokesman explains that a warrior from a far away land lies close to death nearby, and he has brought some terrible evil force into the Gnarley.
He says evil magic has been witnessed by all the rangers, some folk have been driven insane, and the warrior himself slew several woodsmen with insane ferocity before he could be subdued. The rangers wish for him simply to die, believing the evil will go away with his death.
The rangers fear the PCs (who obviously look powerful) who have come to meddle in the affair, and the rangers will not allow this.
It takes Bornthien a several rounnds to convince them the party is here to help. Pholemius Brightmantle and Beramane remain silent even though it is obvious this is the ranger they are looking for.
Roger Eibert of the Wood agrees to escort the PCs to a small hut just 1 mile away.
Ashult once again claims the events that will take place within the next few moments have already happened and things did not go so well for the party. The clerics pay him no attention as Pholemius and his acolyte are drawn to the destination. The “blinding light” can almost be seen shining on the 2 clerics.
The party arrives at a hut where 2 other young rangers are looking after a barely-concious ranger. Ashult is able to at least convince the PCs to tie up the rangers hands.
The ranger looks dreadful; his lips and face are swollen, his skin grey, his breath comes in gasps.
Pholemius draws from a pouch a silver flask of wine, a plug of preserved meat, and a hard ryebread roll. He places the meat and bread on the man’s chest, then mutters some prayerful words. Finally, he lifts the flask to his lips and drains it
The next few seconds:
Thr ranger attempts to sit upright
He begins to vomit blood
The hut grows very cold, and the two young rangers flee, affected by fear, any rangers outside are too fearful to enter.
The air is chill, a smell of acrid acid burns the back of the throat
The ranger coughs horribly and shakes, the Sin Eater prays to Pholtus for guidance
A wind seems to be whipping up about the hut, its timbers creak
Suddenly the ranger is able to break the ropes that bind his hands.
Pholemius is lifted like a feather as he is thrown against one of the hut walls.
And so it begins…
More than turn goes by as the PCs continue their attempt to safely bind the ranger as The Sin Eater performs The Final Absolution.
During the struggle Bornthien dissapears, anyone holding steel is forced to drop their weapon(s) as they turn red hot, Baroque is suddenly weakened and then attempts to remove Gustav from the hut, the mage begins to slowly walk out and away from the hut.
Gustav states that if need be, the party will have to kill the ranger to save their own lifes.
Luckily, and with a little help from Pholtus, the remaining PCs are able to subdue the ranger long enough (6 rounds in a row) as Pholemius Brightmantle continues The Final Absolution.
The ranger begins to calm, his breath slows down to a crawl, he passes into the blinding light….
It takes more than an hour for the clerics to get the ranger ready. Afterwards Beramane pays each of the PCs 550 gp ea and Pholemius offers up to 2 full heals to anyone that needs them.
Ashult re-enters the hut and casts detect magic. He notices something or someone on the floor. A small insect trys to communicate with him. Could it be?? Borthien was polymorphed into an ant.
The rangers, along with the the female “mad” ranger, have fled into the forest.
The clerics and party decide to rest for the night.