After the bar brawl in Albridge, the team tied up the Iron Circle thugs and decided to do a little interrogation. With some assistance from the others, Lia was able to get one of the cut throats to talk, but it quickly became clear that the man had no really useful information. Apparently though the regulars of the Iron Circle were at least aware of the rumors of a leader above Redthorn. After the interrogation, the team left the thugs tied up south of the river along the road for passer-bys to see.
Before leaving town, the team updated Dar Gremath on the brawl and asked if he had any suggestion for their route to the Harden Forest to request the aid of the Woodsinger Clan. Dar told them that he had just gotten word that Marl had been destroyed just recently. That would be a safer and quicker route since the Iron Circle had moved on, and it would allow the team to drop off some much needed supplies to the survivors.
The team made quick progress on the road and found the decimation of the former town of Marl. A few minutes walk led them to the house of Kurmin, a survivor who was housing other survivors in cramped conditions. Kurwin said that the Iron Circle had come from the northeast and had left to the northwest a week ago, but had no other information of immediate value. The team left the supplies, and with nothing more to be done to help, continued on their way to the forest.
Just a few hours later, before dusk had set, they reached the forest edge. Lia looked around to see where the elves she knew would be waiting were. A voice called out from the trees telling the party to halt and identify themselves. Lia, speaking in elvish, answered for the group and told the hidden elf that they had come with aid and to speak with the leader of the nearby Woodsinger camp. She made clear her trust of the group, but said nothing to suggest that she trusted them with the secrets of the Woodsingers.
An elf finally appeared out the trees and identified himself as Eafwin. He did challenge Lia as he did not recognize her. Lia said she was of the Elm Band, led by Tyndwoor, which seemed to mollify Eafwin for the most part. Apparently Lia had come upon the Oaksong Band, which was good since, Arielle, the leader of the Woodsinger elves, spent most of her time with the Oaksong Band.
Eafwin agreed to bring Lia and her companions into the woods, though only once the others had been blindfolded, and Malagar stripped of his weapons and bound. At this numerous elves appeared out of the trees. Malagar did not look pleased, but neither did he argue. Lia put her hand out and promised him she would take good care of his bow and give it back to him as soon as possible. He accepted her offer and handed his bow and arrows over.
Half an hour later the elves and their “guests” arrived at a clearing. Lia made this out to be a temporary camp. The party’s blindfolds were removed and they were met by another elf who introduced himself as Israfin. Lia had not ever been formally introduced to Israfin before, but she recognized him at least as one of Arielle’s lieutenants. He made the party explain themselves again for added security. Once he was satisfied he turned and an older female elf with green and golden waves of hair stepped into the clearing.
This was Arielle, leader of the Woodsinger Clan. She was pleased to see Lia, though skeptical of any help that might come from strangers, and even more reticent to lend her people to aid those of Harkenwold as Lia and the others requested. She agreed that the Iron Circle may be a danger to the land, but that this was by no means certain yet, and she doubted those of Harkenwold would aid the elves if their positions were reversed. Certainly they had done little to combat the goblins, not that the elves would have wanted such help anyway, Lia thought to herself. Velos and Eldan both argued that any help provided by the elves would gain them honor and a debt of the people of Harkenwold. And all of the party made clear they were willing to aid in the fight against the goblins that Lia had spoke of on more than one occasion.
Arielle finally offered a deal. A new threat had arrived only recently in the woods. The lich Yisarn, an undead wizard, had set up a base of operations in Dal Nstaer, and old Eladrin village. The lich was allied with the Daggerburg goblins. Should the team successfully defeat this new threat, Arielle would have the Woodsinger Clan assist in driving out the Iron Circle from the land. It was agreed.
Malagar’s bindings were finally removed and the team settled in for the evening, discussing the day’s events and going over the details of the next day. They had been giving a vial of dragon’s blood which would enable them to activate the magic of the stones of Dal Nistaer to reach the underground fortress. Arielle did not part with it lightly, as dragon’s blood is quite expensive, but she believed the team would do what they promised, particularly with Lia to lead them.
The next day the party woke up to find one of its members missing. Jixin was nowhere to be found. Malagar tracked him for a short bit until his foot prints disappeared. Clearly he had taken some elven clothes and disguised himself. Where had he gone though? Had he betrayed them? There was no time to think on this for too long, as time was of the essence. The team made their way to Dal Nistaer in two hours, arriving at 10am. There they caught 3 goblins unawares on an abandoned wagon. Likely they had scared off the owner who had taken the horse and left the wagon. Right by the wagon were the stones that would teleport the team. However in the trees around the stones were some large spiders. The team rapidly dispatched the goblins, and made their way into the circle of stones. They were not quick enough to do so and activate the spell before the spiders had made their way into the circle and attacked. Malagar had hoped they would stay away so he would not have to fight them. They were creatures of Loth, who he worshipped. He took heart that it at least appeared that the others agreed not to harm the spiders unless they attacked, but his hopes were quickly dashed. The spiders were frightening and gave the group more of a battle than they’d anticipated by this point, but nonetheless the team was able to dispatch them with minimal damage. Lia poured the dragon blood on the pedestal, runes appeared on the stones around them, and then Lia spoke the words “Dol Nistaer” and they all found themselves underground.
Seeing several goblins the team wasted no time. Though they heard a voice from a loft at the top of the stairs, they could also see the drakes held in cages right by them which would be quite dangerous should they be released. The team reacted quickly and dispatched three of the 5 goblins in just seconds. A goblin emissary, the owner of the voice, came down the steps himself as he heard the death cries of his minions, and was met by Berend who struck him and blocked his path. The emissary tried to retreat, but Berend hounded him and was aided by Eldan. The other goblins were felled and it took little time to knock out the emissary as well.
Upon interrogation the emissary told the adventurers that his name was Snilvor, and he had come to trade some maps to Yisarn for gold and silver. These maps were of elven crypts which Yisarn, who he expected was next door, wished to exploit in some way. Lia asked where Snilvor had gotten the maps, but he said no more, spitting at her. Knowing that they’d extracted all they could from him, she struck him down. The team saw that the loft had glowing runes. Lia recognized the runes as symbols which would exact necrotic damage. The team used their weapons to reach the scrolls on the table and drag them to the stairs. They found the scrolls Snilvor had spoken of as well as an old tome written by an Eladrin wizard full of his arcane experiments. Lia would have to look over these later, though ultimately they would be worth more sold to the right person.
The team took a few minutes to recover from the fighting and prepare to face Yisarn and whatever magics and security he had with him. Hopefully it would be as easy as the other battles had gone, but none of the team expected that to be so.