Into the Mouth of Madness, Part I

First thing in the morning, the Heroes of Hope tell the large group of people following them to gather beside the carts, because they need to make an announcement.

The plan was to get everyone together and cast a Zone of Truth, then ask everyone if they were the ones who stole the mushrooms.

At the last second, the Heroes of Hope decide this wouldn’t be the best course of action, seeing as how they got arrested, tried, thrown in jail, and were generally AWOL for the past few days, leaving their followers to essentially fend for themselves. The last thing they needed was for them to start accusing their friends of stealing.

Perrin stands on one of the carts, and gives a speech about how everyone needs to be more careful when they are keeping watch, and although they trust them, that they should be more vigilant when they are on duty.

Richard unknowingly, interrupts Perrin in the middle of his speech and declares that he wasn’t the one who stole the items.

Perrin scolds him, and tells Richard that this wasn’t exactly the time to rudely interrupt and say that. Richard apologizes.

Nina asks if people still believe in throwing around accusations about who stole their stupid poison mushrooms.

Sara gets pissed off, and retorts considering the present company they are keeping, their guess is as good as hers.

Nina challenges Sara to come and say it to her face, and moves towards Sara.

Hernandez and Perrin get in her way, Jimmi holds back Sara, and the two almost begin to fight. Perrin gets angry and tells them both to back off. The two angry women are seperated.

Animal says, “Hold on guys! This is getting out of hand! Why don’t we make it a rule that only the person who casts the spell gets to ask the questions? And they bring in people one at a time into the zone of truth?”

Brudder replies, “Hey, that’s actually a good idea!” Jimmi also replies, “Good idea Animal!” The rest of the group agree with Animal, and they begin to chant his name.

Animal! Animal Animal!

Perrin suggests that that is not what they are about, and they don’t feel like being the referee to every little arguement that breaks out among the group.

Nina goes over and talks to Saru about how she is not going to stand there and be falsely accused by anyone. Saru agrees with her.

Barthos the scholar and Archibald both approach the Heroes of Hope and ask Perrin which quest they have decided to do. Perrin being cross at the situation first thing in the morning, is annoyed, and snaps at both of them, saying he told them they would go to their houses when they were ready. Meldox and Moginhedin tell Perrin that he has it wrong, and they were told to meet at the city gate first thing in the morning. Perrin admits he was mistaken, and to ignore what he just said.

Out from the now bustling crowd on Merchant Alley, a blue haired elf, who is dressed like a Sarab bandit, approaches Saru, and says he recognizes her. But upon closer inspection, he realizes he is wrong, and the girl he was looking for is not her. He decides to introduce himself, and asks Saru out to lunch or dinner anyways. Saru and the elf talk, and she finds out his name is Alistar, and he’s working for the Scarab bandits who are siding with Stagg. Saru asks why he decided to side with Stagg, and he seems to be going along with Stagg’s side because all his friends are, and it’s convenient.

Saru tells him she agrees to go out with him, but will be busy at the moment, and she will meet him back at the entance to the gate in a few hours. He agrees and says he’ll be waiting anxiously.

The group gets ready to leave for the first cave with Archibald, Hammerfist, and Florica. They decide to bring Pink along for some extra fighting prowess.

Headin out into the desert, they see swiftcows, and moving mounds in the sand, which they know are the ever present and dangerous sandstriders.

About 3 miles into the journey, they come upon a woman and a man out in the middle of the Acridian Expanse. The man is lying next to an unconscious Meownix, while the woman cries for help. The group approaches carefully.

The woman pleads with the Heroes of Hope, and a quick Cure Light Wounds strengthens the man.

The group asks the couple what they are up to, and they tell them they are out here trying to hunt swiftcows, but have not had any luck. The group does not want to leave them out there alone, and invites them to follow them to the cave, and then back to the city. The couple, who are husband and wife, introduce themselves as Rayna and Josh.

Continuing their journey, they notice that there are a group of three people, who look like they could be either Black Dragon or Scarab bandits, seem to have been following them the whole time. They decie to ignore them for now. The move on further to the cave.

They do battle with a terrorbeak, and looking back, the three peole are still following them, seemingly biding their time, but to what end, they don’t know.

Saru then devises a plan. Asking the group to hide her from view, she turns herself invisible, and asks the group to continue walking. Saru stays where she is as the group moves on. The three stalkers get closer to Saru, and when they are 20 or so ft. close, Saru pops out of her invisibility and charms one of the bandits. The two remaining people begin to draw their weapons, while the first one is pleasantly surprised, and greets Saru as Angelina. This confuses the other two, giving Saru an opening to cast charm on the second stalker. The second stalker believes Saru to also be a friend, and greets her happily. They introduce themselves. The girl with the spear is named Aliyah, and the guy is named Sebastian. The third stalker, a blond woman with a broadsword tells her companions they are being mind controlled. Saru argues with them, as Meldox approaches them, followed closely by the rest of the group. Saru tells the two charmed people to hold them down, as Meldox comes closer. They obey Saru and the blond girl is held down. The three stalkers argue, and in the heat of the arguement, she tells reminds them they need to kill the Heroes of Hope. Meldox, approaching the group, feigns surprise at being threatened, and with a swoop of his Dwarven Waraxe, splits the rib cage of the blond girl. The other two are horrified as her blood and innards explode from her chest and her blood is quickly licked up by the hot, desert sand.

Saru tells them she could’ve allowed Meldox to do the same to them, and they should settle down, or they might meet the same fate. The two cry out for mercy, and tell Saru there was no justification for what the dwarf just did. Saru tells them plainly that that’s he’s a fighter, and that’s just how he rolls.

As the whole group decides what to do about the situation, The two bandits tell the Heroes of Hope that they just can’t leave their friend out there, and want to give Donna a proper burial. They ask if they can escort them back to town. Lucy takes out a bedroll, and tell the bandits to wrap their friend’s remains up and carry them with the group as they head to the cave. The two bandit do as they are told, and the bedroll, once white, begins to turn into a dull red color as the remains of Donna soak the fabric.

They eventually get to the cave, and it’s suggested that they should leave the body outside the cave. The group disagrees, and tells the bandits there are a lot of hungry meownix’s roaming around, who would not hesitate to make a meal of the remains of their friend. Saru tells them to carry their friend into the cave, following closely from the flank, and asks Pink to keep an eye on them.

Upon entering the nearly pitch black cave, they see skeletons and blood grubs. Using their ranged attacks, with arrows ablaze using some of the oil in their inventory, the blood grubs are quickly killed. The skeletons are handled very easily by Moginhedin, being turned to virtually nothing using his turn undead ability. As the group gets further in, Josh says he can’t go any further, because he has a very bad fear of skeletons. His wife Rayna coddles him and encourages him to be courageous. Moginhedin points out that he just saw how easy it was for him to eliminate the skeletons, and he really has nothing to fear. After much convincing, Josh summons enough bravery to venture further into the cave with the rest of the group, so long as he can stay right in the middle.



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