Letting the kobolds go for the moment, our heroes turn their attention back to the dig and looking for any information regarding the Hand of Agaman. Not long after, Ell arrives from town, being lead by Taluana, Perrin’s elven assistant.
They’re both quite shocked to find everyone looking rather haggard and most covered in a sticky, white glue. Taluana goes straight for the campsite, making sure that her precious findings haven’t been lost. Ell, on the other hand, takes the times to laugh at her comrades (though I’m sure she would say she was laughing with them).
After explanations had been handed out, Perrin began showing the others around the dig whilst our resident rogue tried to work off the less than clear head she’d acquired from the previous nights lamenting. It was about now that she started hearing the voice. Something vague and far off, but it was definitely saying her name! The others paid little attention to her as she tried to find the source. The voice disappeared before coming through even louder than before! It was now that Ell realized how she knew the voice – it was Nic, her now deceased old friend.
Half a minute later and he stood before her, calling her name, though he couldn’t quite see her, it seems. She probed the space he occupied with her dagger; he locked onto her then (perhaps recognizing, intimately, the feeling of being stabbed by his friend, even beyond death). He pleaded with the tiefling, “Ell! Thank the great bard I found you! You have to help me! Get me out of here!” A few questions later and the group surmised that Nic was trapped inside the orbs on the kobolds leader’s staff. More importantly, Nic was able to get a little more information to our heroes – that same kobold apparently possessed the Hand of Agaman! Guessing that he needed the souls to power the Hand, the Stormseye Insurgents and Dragon decided to follow the beasties. Ell was first in the cave, and she managed to see the last kobold slip down a narrow tunnel and escape into the sunlight. Calitris followed that same passageway, donning the shape of a snake to do so, and found that it opened nearby the dig site. He also saw that the kobolds were running into a nearby wood.
Ell, meanwhile, explored a little bit of the cave, finding it got hotter as she went in. When she couldn’t see any more, she came back to join the group who decided to chase the kobolds down!
Keridwen trekked back to Winterhaven to pick up Oranna, while the rest fleet footed it into the tree line. Calitris and Ell did their best to discern where their quarry was headed, and did a pretty good job of it as well. Ell used her commonsense and knowledge of fleeing the scene of crimes, whereas Calitris gauged the forest, asking of it questions and receiving answers in turn. Thoradin and Dragon pushed the group forward, powering through the wilderness.
Thoradin in particular did a good job of finding everything that was dangerous along the way, but unfortunately didn’t do a good job of avoiding it. First there came a bramblethorn, roaring and stinging; then the hungry spiders as our heroes traversed the cliff face, and finally the trio of apparitions wandering lost deep in the forest, mistaking the dwarf (and eventually his allies) for an enemy of ‘the crown’. Ell tried to convince them otherwise, but came up short of an explanation.
By the time they’d managed to best those sword-wielding souls, the group were tired and worn. Furthermore, the forest had become a dark, desolate place and each step forward brought them deeper into a fetid swamp. Boots became lodged in the muck and there were no bird calls, no distant growls – nothing to give any impression of life. The weariness, combined with the ever-present gloom, eventually served to separate our heroes. They wandered lost in the fog for some time before it lifted. The good news was that they had found the kobolds! The bad news was that they were standing, seperated, right in the middle of their camp…
A few dozen of the critters turned to see the new arrivals, while their staff-wielding leader finished cutting the throat of one of his willing subjects before pushing him into the marsh. This was some party to crash.