Our adventure started off with whimsy, in the form of a paper crane sailing itself into the tavern and announcing that the base of the Gilgori Enclave, a rather problematic cult of Baphomet, had been discovered by the fey of the Forest of Thorns.
We answered the summons, setting out through the GQE portal, and making our way south to the northern tip of the Forest of Thorns.
A Druid's Charge
There, we met the dryad Treyvani, the head druid of the Forest, whose hair was being combed by a satyr named Filius. Fil the satyr. For some reason, that’s a familiar name to me. No matter. He hinted at a tragic past, and offered Jyn a brewing recipe – perhaps he has some form of expertise in the area.
She informed us of a troupe of blight druids escorting a shipment of lime mortar and clay (for brickmaking) en route to the Tum Tum Forest.
We, of course, set off in that direction.
The Patter of Shuffling Cards in the Night
A group of bandits, lead by an austere blond man in rather fancy armor and his tabaxi captain, approached us in the night. Their cargo contained sheep, wheat, and linen, and their captain Fowster was quite honest with us.
After performing some sort of reading with his cards, their leader, Hawkinns, declared that there was a 42% chance of survival if they attacked us. They informed us that they had pillaged various travelers and monsters, and were headed back to the base that they were building in the nearby village.
Said village had apparently been occupied by a devil that they slew (but only after it had already slain the residents) and was a replacement for the base that had been destroyed by gnolls.
Our brave, strong, steadfast leader Abel was characteristically assholeish to them, demanding that they find another line of work and shaming them for using quite legitimate magical means of divination to determine odds of success in a given encounter. I thought the cards were an interesting idea, and gladly took them off Abel’s hands when he (likely uselessly) demanded them from Hawkinns. Storms, that paladin is really something.
Regrettably, the cards hurt a bit when I attuned to them, but they are definitely a legitimate focus for divinations.
A Strange Duo
We met a tall firbolg named Bagrid, his blink dog Slang, and his earth genasi friend Stanmoore Longshire. Bagrid lived at and Stanmoore learned at the school of Hogforts.
They informed us of the direction that the druids went, and we followed some carriage tracks towards it.
Suggestions, Ignored. A Fool, Made.
We came across the base, being built, the cultists, the druids, and a hezrou standing guard.
I informed the group of the danger, and suggested a strategy involving focused fire on the real problem – the demon.
Our brave, strong, steadfast leader Abel ignored the strategy without considering it, said, and I quote, “I got the demon, take care of the rest.”
Spoiler alert, he did not “get” the demon.
He embarrased himself thoroughly.
While we prioritized the rest of the enemies on Abel’s orders, leaving the violently smelly hezrou to wreak havoc, Alessio is the one who ended up “getting” the demon.
We then looted the cultists, reaping a rather nice trident that gave me a beard and tying up a druid to interrogate.
Is He FLIRTING? Why Are Men Like This?
The druid introduced herself as a reborn Zenyanna Belladonna, whom Abel had slaughtered in a previous encounter.
He then proceeded to perform his “Holier-Than-Thou” routine, with the added spice of then proceeding to flirt with the woman he had killed mere weeks ago????? Men.
She and Abel had a positively disturbing conversation about rebirth that just, well. That’s not really how rebirth works, but whatever. Point is, she ended up deciding to reform and become a good person. Good for her.
Zenyanna led us into the enclave’s hideout, claiming that she could not harm Gahzel (their leader) due to a Geas, and warned us of the dangers ahead.
We ended up in a tunnel, with the cheerful proclamation that “Gahzel, the envoy of Baphomet, will bring fire and blood to civilisation with help of ally. Demons will swarm towns and be the hands that lets nature retake what once belonged to the wild” written on the walls. Lovely.
Zenyanna helped quite a bit in disengaging traps, and we made our way into the inner sanctum.
Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends
There, we met Gahzel and his pet shoosuva and vrock. We had a short conversation – he preached death and destruction, basically wanting the glory of burning settlements before gnolls got to them. I gave a cursory shot at getting him to fight the gnolls, but he chomped on the heart of a yochlol, claiming it gave him powers, and attacked us instead. Typical.
Again, spoiler alert: it did give him powers. Like, nasty powers. I saw some blight incantations thrown around that, if directed differently, could have caused us to limp home with less party members, or not at all.
It was me, back against a wall, shoosuva to the left of me, Gahzel to the right of me, and there I was, stuck in the middle with… well, myself. Alone. While the rest of the party took shots from afar or faced off against the vrock.
Luckily, Zenyanna came in clutch with a bit of extra healing, and ever so thankfully saved our brave, strong, steadfast leader Abel.
I was doing alright, managing to keep the combined efforts of the shoosuva and Gahzel off me for the most part, slicing and dicing with my shardblade, when all of the sudden Gahzel morphed into a horrifyingly gargantuan monstrosity. Far more beast than man. Ouch. An even bigger ouch came when Gahzel started taking bites out of his dog friend, healing as he did. What the hells, man?
Thankfully, with the help of my party members, Alessio finished the vrock, I managed to strike both Gahzel and the shoosuva down, the beastly man bidding farewell to one “Crommwell” as he died.
Zenyanna, freed from the Geas, cremated Gahzel, and informed us that Crommwell is an ancient elven mage of another cult, rumored to have talked with many different groups, whatever that means.
We made our way back to Treyvani, and found her with company. Firstly, Oakmesh. A rather sparky man, who was familiar to other members of the party. Secondly, a blindfolded man who didn’t look quite right. Apparently Oakmesh’s “turbulent” brother Stormwrath, he had consumed the flesh of a chasme to enhance his abilities to rule the Sori elves. Apparently Stormwrath and Oakmesh’s betrothed Fairgale are competing for rulership, and Stormwrath has turned to rather unsavory methods of empowerment.
We were informed that the Sori elves like to keep to themselves, but if this Stormwrath continues on his path, I see no dearth of trouble in the future regarding him.
Zenyanna introduced herself as Zenyanna Starflower Belladonna and was welcomed into the fold of the fey of Fantasmagoria.
Our brave, strong, steadfast leader made one more parting shot at flirting, and we (thankfully) went home.