We started off this weeks DnD Encounter session with the same set of table mates (Tim, Tom, Zach, and Roger) and DM (Clyde) as last week. The players worked together very well last week so heading into this week and an encounter we are sure will be tougher than last week it is nice to have players that have worked out some basic tactics already. Well, "tactics" may be to strong a word - basically our two dwarven tanks go up front while the mage and the ranger provide the artillery support from the rear. It worked last week, I hope it works this week as well.
The encounter started where we left off last week, sitting in the inn in the town of Easting. The party had killed three demons, captured a demented dwarf, and still had a spate of sick townspeople sitting around us. Arven the knight and Evendur the elderly town priest had rejoined the party at the end of combat, Arven having insisted that the party not kill the dwarf.
As Arven tied up the dwarf the party surveyed the area and discussed next actions. Arven informed the party that the captured dwarf had moved to town a month ago and had quietly gone about setting up his tinkers business. The townspeople were pleased to have a new companion and were pleased with his work, but as to why he had unexpectedly attacked the party no reason could be discerned.
The party began to question the dwarf, and while some answers were forthcoming, his facial tics and wild answers had the party doubting his sanity. Two of the party left to investigate his house and work area but returned empty handed. All were convinced that despite his dementia he really did know something, so rather than beat or intimidate an answer out of him the party decided to make use of the tools at hand - we were in a bar after all - so it was decided to lubricate his jaws with copious amounts of alcohol.
The dwarf finally relented, but would only talk if one of the dwarves in the party would take a blood oath that he not be returned to his brothers and that he be given a trial for his crimes. The oath was taken, the promise administered, and the captured dwarf admitted his job had been to move into town and spy on the citizenry and to send back a warning if help was to arrive. It was also his task to poison the towns water supply that caused the outbreak of the plague in the town. He had been given his orders, the residuum, and the poison by his two brothers:
Zarnak - The meaner of the two, has the ability to control demons(?)
Azryg - The younger of the two, has the ability to control fire(?)
He also told the party that the brothers could be found at the Sunset Shrine, perhaps an hour south of Easting. Arven quickly confirmed the location of the Sunset Shrine, but Arven and Evendur still were at loggerheads over what to do with the remaining sick townspeople. The party did a check of the townspeople and determined that only four seemed to be at risk for morphing into one of the dangerous demons, while the rest of them seemed to have a lesser strain of the plague.
Evendur offered to help the less sick and to coax them back to health and Arwen promised to keep quarantined the more seriously ill. She also promised to not outright kill them, at least not right away. If the party could bring back more residuum in time perhaps they could be yet saved. Arwen also promised to uphold the oath and to ensure the demented dwarf would get a trial. With no more business in Easting the party was quickly on the road and headed toward the Sunset Shrine.
As the party approached a swampy area with a slow moving river running through it they were attacked by two Rock Elementals that sprang up directly in front of the party. They were supported by five other dwarves wielding crossbows and another mysterious dwarf dressed in black that stayed under cover in back of the other dwarves. The mysterious dwarf yelled to the party that he had been warned the party was coming, but whether the party died here or back in town made no difference to him.
The party's two dwarves took the brunt of the battle as both fell into unconsciousness at different times during the encounter. Both were revived by party members and they eventually took down the two elementals. The ranger took down most of the minion crossbowman while the mage kept the other crossbowman pinned down with magic missiles. The mysterious dwarf in hiding threw in his range attacks in as well, but despite some bleak moments the party was soon able to move across the river and were finally able take him out him with two big blows, one each from the mage and the dwarven fighter.
With the quiet now returned to the marsh the party looked around and found 25GP (per party member), a silver necklace, and a Belt of Vigor. The fighter claimed the belt and the mage inspected the necklace and determined it wasn't magical but the attached jewelry was really a holy symbol of Ghunadaur, one of the evil gods in the elemental pantheon.
This was a tough encounter but some unfortunate rolls by the DM kept it from turning into a rout. Next week the party will inspect the area more and perhaps we can determine who the mysterious dwarf in black was.