After using Artificer Razi's plentiful, perishable, potions to tend to their wounds, the party continued south along the banks of Brambles. Soon the razorvine disappeared entirely and the trees grew further apart—though the forest was still dense enough to limit their pace and visibility somewhat.
After a thorough exploration of the surrounding area, their guide, Dixn, and the bard Carrion discovered a strange sight: What appeared to be the remains of a very large, iridescent wasp's nest at the base of a large tree.
Upon investigating, Dixn realized it was in fact a pixie nest. Bespelled against wind and rain, something clearly must have knocked it out of the tree intentionally. Finding no sign of angry, newly homeless pixies in the area, Artificer Razi set about trying to harvest pixie dust from the broken, rain-soaked husk. Though hardly fresh, he did manage to collect a small amount from the papery nest before Carrion placed the pieces gently back in the boughs of the tree.
Recalling that pixies are shy, tiny fey creatures that love pranks and abhor violence, the party wondered if the adventurers they sought might be responsible for destroying the nest, and wondered what might befall those who earned a pixie's ire. A short time later, Razi discovered another Wolf's Head marker carved into a tree beside the creek, and the party followed both to the south.
As the daylight began to fade, they made camp for the night—with Razi setting up his strange alarm device and Dixn offering to take the first watch, since she didn't require as much sleep as the others. After four hours, the taciturn ranger turned the watch over to her leopard companion, Ser'Racha, only to be nudged out of her elven rest-trance by the large cat shortly after midnight. Following the perceptive feline's gaze, Dixn heard the rustle and snuffle of a large animal foraging through the underbrush a short ways from the camp. Stalking after the source with her bow at the ready, she soon identified it as a bear, and proceeded to watch carefully from the shadows until it ambled off to the southeast.
In the morning, the party picked up camp and continued their journey south, only to discover a veritable maze of Wolf's Head marks pointing in all directions. Artificer Razi immediately checked for magical traps, but found only a faint aura of ambient magic suffusing the forest—too weak to be an actual spell effect or enchantment. Other than the remains of a campfire circle that Dixn found half-buried in the mud—presumably exposed by a recent rainstorm—there was no other signs of the Order of the Wolf or which way they had gone. After some discussion, the party speculated that angry pixies might have used illusions to lead the mercenary company in circles, and decided to begin a systematic search of the surrounding area.
Starting their search to the north east, near the region where they had found the broken pixie nest, they discovered another creek—this one surrounded by dying plants and a faint odor of decay. Further investigation revealed that it was slightly brackish—a mixture of salt and fresh water—and wound from the east to the north instead of flowing due south like the Brambles. Intrigued, the group resolved to follow it upstream.
Soon the light began to fade, and as the party stopped to set up camp they heard a curious sound coming from nearby. Someone was singing. Badly.
Leaving Knight Treize and Cleric Eanlail to guard the camp and finish setting up for the night, Cade, Razi, Dixn, and Carrion went off the investigate the odd singing. A short distance to the north the found the source—an ugly little green creature with a frog on his head, an eye-smarting pink floral curtain draped over his shoulders like a cloak, and a huge, jangling pack strapped strapped to his back.
Recognizing it as a goblin, they were surprised when—instead of attacking them or trying to flee—the creature gleefully introduced himself as "Sir Pomp Adillious Izzir Nic Nak the 4th (but call me 'Iz')," and asked if they wanted to buy any of his wares. At the group's cautious assent, the little goblin merchant began excitedly producing an odd assortment of items, ranging from small bits of jewelry to strange potions and the prize of his collection (according to Iz, anyway)—a jar of dirt.
Scanning the items with his goggles, Artificer Razi determined that many of them were actually magical, prompting him to ask if they could inspect the items more closely. Carrion convinced Iz to agree to this, and Razi proceeded to identify their properties over the course of the next hour. Although some were decidedly unconventional—such as the potion of Ooze Breathing—it seemed there were also a few genuinely useful items being offered at a significant discount.
Among the non-magical trinkets was a small silver pendant shaped like the face of a laughing satyr. Razi was able to determine that it was a divine focus of some kind, though no one in the group could tell what religion it was associated with. Carrion, however, realized that he'd seen it before—worn by a cleric who'd almost beaten him in a late night drinking contest about a month ago. In fact, he now remembered that the cleric had belonged to the Order of the Wolf—the same mercenary company they were trying to find!
Questioning Iz about the pendant, the goblin merchant told them that he'd found it the other day hanging up in the boughs of a tree. "Too high for even elfies to climb," according to him. When asked about the location, he told them it had been about six miles to the south.
With this information in mind, the group finished selecting their purchases:
- Bronze Ring, notched on one side like a key (1 gp)
- Jar of Dirt (25 gp)
- Potion of Storytelling (10 sp)
- Rope of Climbing (5 gp)
- Wand of Friends (10 sp)
Carrion fronted the coin for the purchases, with the agreement that the party would sort it out after returning to Lairwood. (When, presumably, everyone would have a good deal more gold.)
Dixn also purchased a small packet of flowers and herbs from the goblin. This was apparently part of some prior arrangement, though she didn't offer any explanation to the group, and they didn't ask.
With business concluded, the party invited Iz to come eat with them back at their camp, which he happily agreed to. The experience was generally amiable, though Cade and Iz differed somewhat in their opinions of the proper preparation and palatability of poultry. Carrion seemed to get on particularly well with the strange little merchant, even taking some of the dry, ashy dirt that he had purchased and rubbing it over his incisors at the goblin's assurance that it was "good for teeth."
Session XP: 100
Note: Now that the site's back up and you can check your character sheets again, just leave a message if there's anything else you want to buy from Izzir Nic's inventory. Ditto for those of you who missed this session. Since we left off where we did, I figure there's time for some after-dinner trading before people turn in.
Also, I'm going to try and be better about remembering to hand out inspiration in the future. There's been some really great roleplaying so far, and I want to make sure to properly reward and encourage that!