Player Characters:Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 436 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 433 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 424 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High Elf Wizard, 440 points
Soras, Centaur Leader
Grisby, Faerie Dragon
Stagheart Tearny, Human Druid
Crazy Half-Elven Druid
8 Goblin Warriors
2 Goblin Wizards
Vulgaris, Minyad Druid
Hugin, Human Mercenary
The PCs woke up early, the day after defeating Trag. The plan was for them to clear the Crazy Druid off his bridge to clear the way for the centaur forces, then find and destroy the Gate to the Scourgelands, while the centaurs attacked the main part of the goblin army. A goblin prisoner had told Soras that the gate was in a fissure in the rock, which was covered on top to hide it.
Elias stayed behind to heal the centaurs. Grisby came out of the pavillion with his dog Arrel carrying Garreth's katana, which had had its Penetrating Weapon enchantment renewed. Polly asked Stagheart to say a prayer.
Seépravir cast Flight and Invisibility on the whole group. They flew east. At one point they spotted a squat of goblins below, but decided to bypass them and continue to the bridge. As they approached the bridge, they saw the crazy druid standing on it. Garreth suggested letting Polly handle him. Polly decided to fly within 5 yards and then start loosing arrows. The first arrow hit him in the skull and knocked him unconscious. Polly fired a few more arrows at his head to make sure he was dead. While doing so, she noticed a large clump of plant life crawling toward her, not very quickly. She grabbed the druid's corpse and flew back to the vicinity of her allies. The pile of vegetation followed her across the bridge, apparently angry.
Zaber stripped the body, and threw the druid's underwear at the plant creature as it approached. He missed. Polly fired three arrows at the plant; it dodged one but the others hit, and slowed it down. Seépravir Great Hasted Polly, who put another arrow in the pile of vegetation, which stopped moving. Garreth carefully sliced up the plant creature, finishing it off, while looking for treasure inside. Polly recovered some of her arrows, while Zaber looked for tracks. Polly looked under the bridge, and didn't see anything, but she did notice that the bridge was a bit slimy and slippery. So she wrote a note "Bridge is Slippy" on the ground in Elven, to warn the approaching centaurs.
As they rested after fighting, the group heard the sound of approaching hooves from the west. A small group of centaurs had arrived. They asked if the bridge was clear and safe, and Polly told them that there were no trolls, but it was slippery. The centaur scouts said that the rest of the centaurs were a bit behind them, and continued across the bridge.
Seépravir made Polly and Garreth Invisible again, and the group flew east across the river. They reached the burned-out palace formerly used by Trag, and continued east. Seépravir cast Seek Magic and found a strong source of magic about 2 miles to the southeast. As they continued toward the magic, they saw fewer trees, and a lot of burn damage. Eventually they found a box canyon, but not the gate. Seépravir cast See Secrets on Zaber, who then noticed a small hole in the ground. He looked for a second hole, but didn't find another one. He suggested starting a fire and killing whoever was under there with smoke inhalation, but that plan did not prevail. It looked dark down there, so Seépravir cast Dark Vision on the others (she had the Staff of the Beetle that gave her Dark Vision when held).
Polly stuck her head in the hole, and thought she saw something huge moving around in the distance. She got a little closer, and it appeared to be a huge beetle, standing guard in front of a gate. There were also a bunch of goblins arrayed roughly in a semicircle around the beetle. As they watched, they saw one of the guards go away to the south, come back with a waterskin, then bring some water to each of the other goblins. After nothing more exciting happened, Polly and Zaber each flew into position to ambush some goblins. Garreth activated the pearly spear's Great Haste ability.
Zaber snuck up behind a goblin that he suspected was a wizard, but somehow the goblin detected him and spun around. (The goblin rolled a 4 on his hearing roll, a critical success.) Zaber tried backstabbing the goblin anyway, but it retreated and dodged and yelled a warning to the others. Polly shot a goblin in the skull, stunning it. Then shot it again, knocking it out. Then shot another goblin in the vitals, who rolled a 17 on his Dodge, falling down, then missed his stun check by enough to be knocked out.
Garreth fast-drew his katana and flew up to a goblin who didn't hear him coming, and did an All-Out Attack (Double). The first attack knocked the goblin out, so he didn't need the second one. For his second maneuver, he flew up to another goblin. Seépravir yelled tactical advice to Polly: "shoot them in the back." The giant beetle saw Polly, ran up to her, tried to bite her, missed, and tried to trample her. She acrobatically dodged. A goblin tried stabbing Garreth in the side with a scimitar, but he parried. A stunned goblin recovered, as the rest of the goblins advanced toward the intruders.
Zaber flew up and put on his Ring of Invisibility. Polly tried shooting past the huge beetle at a goblin (softer target), but rolled a critical miss, which she averted with Luck. After the reroll, the goblin took an arrow to the back and was stunned. She shot him twice more, but somehow didn't kill him or knock him out, despite a lot of damage. Garreth flew down at a goblin and deceptively attacked it, but it rolled a 5 and managed to parry. He went for two more attacks on it with a rapid strike. It dodged the first, but failed to dodge the second, and was slowed. Seépravir yelled tactical advice to Zaber.
The giant beetle attacked Polly again, rolling a critical hit on a trample, but poor damage, only 15 points of crushing. It then tried to bite her, but she retreated and dodged. A previously injured goblin passed out. The three goblin warriors near Zaber, who just saw him disappear, attacked the air a lot with spears, but failed to find him, while Zaber flew away from them to above the beetle, and landed on its back. (There wasn't much room between the beetle and the ceiling but he fit, in prone flying position.)
Polly shot a badly wounded goblin, doing enough damage to take it to -5 * HP and just kill it with no more dice rolls needed. She then tried shooting the huge beetle, which somehow dodged. The arrow missed a goblin behind the beetle. She shot the beetle again, which dodged again, but this time the arrow "accidentally" hit a goblin, and crippled his leg. Garreth flew up to the beetle and chopped it deceptively twice, hitting once and being dodged once. Seépravir gave more tactical advice to Zaber.
The beetle decided it didn't like Zaber on its back, and jumped up, trying to slam him against the ceiling. It rolled a 3 for a critical hit, so Zaber used Luck to make it reroll, then managed to dodge and retreat out of the way, as the 3 goblins to the south continued running around looking for him. Zaber flew away from the beetle a bit and All-Out Defended. Polly decided to switch to her rapier, fast-drew it, and stabbed the beetle 3 times, causing some purple stuff to ooze out. Garreth also slashed the beetle 3 times, causing enough damage to slow it, though it was still fighting.
The big bug went after Garreth, first trampling him (acrobatically dodged), then biting him (dodged), then stabbing him with its horn (dodged critically). The critical defense caused the beetle to stub its horn into the ground, taking some damage. Meanwhile, the goblins that had been hunting for Zaber decided to go after visible enemies. One threw a javelin at Garreth, who failed to Parry Missile Weapons and took a direct hit to his armor, which bounced right off. The goblin with a crippled leg also threw a javelin at Garreth, also hit, and also failed to penetrate his armor.
Polly went around the beetle's side and landed 3 more hits and a death check, which the beetle passed. Garreth also landed 3 hits, causing some orange goo to come out, and more importantly causing a second death check, which the beetle also passed. Seépravir moved closer. The beetle did not pass out, and decided to trample/bite/stab Polly. It rolled another critical hit on the trample, causing her to drop her weapon, and also inflicting 23 crushing damage. After her armor absorbed a lot of it, this was not enough to trigger her Bless, but it was enough to slow her. The bite also hit, but rolled terrible damage, only 10 points crushing. Polly rolled a 17 on her stun check, resulting in a knockout, which caused her Bless to retroactively decide that this attack was worth averting, and the beetle missed. The beetle's last attack, a horn impale, also rolled a critical hit, for double shock penalty due to extreme pain. But damage was lousy again, only 12 points impaling, and Polly survived and wasn't even stunned.
Zaber grappled a goblin from behind, using him as a goblin shield. Polly stayed conscious, then tried shooting an arrow at a goblin but failed due to the shock penalty. Garreth landed 3 more cuts on the beetle as Seépravir shouted tactical advice. The beetle stayed up after the attacks, while leaking purple and orange ichor profusely, but then when its turn came, it failed its consciousness check and fell down, not landing on anyone. The few surviving goblins were not thrilled with the beetle's defeat. Two of them ran through the gate and escaped to wherever was on the other side. Another one tried for the gate, but Polly shot it before it got there. The one that Zaber was grappling tried to surrender, but Garreth refused to accept its surrender and killed it, then threw the wineskin of healing potions to the severely wounded Polly. She drank a few doses.
Meanwhile, Garreth sized up the gate. He used autohypnosis, then power blow, then kicked the keystone rock. This caused the other rocks to fall; Garreth managed to get out of the way. He kept the keystone, wanting to hide it somewhere so the gate could not be reassembled. Zaber starting stripping goblins of their slightly valuable mail, while Garreth removed a huge mandible from the beetle. Garreth flew out of the hole, looking for more goblins, and found that the centaurs had won the battle.
Soras asked that each of his squad leaders be given one stone from the gate, to bury in a separate secret place, so that it could not be reassembled. He then asked the PCs to go back through the other gate, and then destroy it similarly from the other side, to prevent future invasions of the Far Garden. He handed Zaber a bracelet, and said to use it if they needed to see him again.
After a bit of rest, the group flew back to the other gate and flew through it. When they came out the other side, in Vulgaris's mushroom farm under Castle Whiterock, they saw a stone giant, carrying a barrel, who yelled "Intruders!" in Common, and called Vulgaris. She said that she was surprised they were still alive, after being gone so long. Apparently their trip into the Far Garden had taken about a year in Cillamar time. She said that Hugin was back in town, but came back periodically to check.
Garreth announced that he was done with faerie gates, and that they needed to destroy this one now. Vulgaris agreed that she wanted it gone. Vulgaris asked them to carry a barrel of mushroom beer back to Chauntessa for her. Both Garreth and Zaber said they'd be happy to do so, though Garreth was highly suspicious that Zaber would do none of the carrying after they were out of the beautiful minyad's sight. On the way out, they grabbed a few gate stones to destroy and scatter outside.
The battle against the crazy druid on the bridge was totally anticlimactic, basically a one-shot assassination. That's what happens when you get total surprise on someone without a lot of DR or HP and with a vulnerable brain hit location. His pet shambling mound lasted a little longer, but wasn't fast enough to chase anyone down and couldn't fly, so really had no chance to hurt anyone.
The giant beetle, on the other hand, stayed up a while and potentially did massive damage. It rolled quite well to hit Polly, but not so great on the damage side, and was too dumb to go for her less-armored body parts. Even so, it managed to knock her Bless off and get her to -10 HP. Sadly for the bad guys, the beetle's goblin allies were pretty useless. Trag should have had some tougher bugbears help guard the gate.
Next time, we'll find out what's happened in the past year while the PCs were off in forest-land.