May 31st: Early Summer
Location: Sea Gate & Oran Rief Forest, Continent of Tazeem
10 am to 12 pm
The party, minus Damar, sets out for the Oran Rief forest. It takes them about two hours to get to the edge of the forest. Piper finds a blazed trail that the Freemen had left while they were fleeing, and the party is easily able to follow it. However, they feel a strange energy in the forest that they can't quite put their finger on.
12 pm to 4 pm
The party travels through the forest until they reach a large 100 foot tall cliff. There are the remnants of a rope hanging 25 feet down it. Piper and Kiodo begin to scale the cliff, with Kiodo making excellent time because of his magical gloves. As Kiodo nears the top, three drakes emerge from the forest and attack the party. A pitched battle ensues, with Sheon and Mardak being dive-bombed on the ground, Piper being attacked while clinging to the side of the cliff, and Kiodo fighting atop the cliff. Eventually, the party wins out. As Piper nears the top of the cliff, he loses his grip and almost plummets to his death.
4 pm to 4:30 pm
The entire party reaches the top of the cliff and regroups after the battle. They decide to continue on.
4:30 pm to 8:30 pm
The party reaches a strangely quiet portion of the forest; there are no animal or bird noises. They soon find the source of the danger: a giant spider! After defeating it, the party finds a number of bodies suspended in webs. It looks like there were once more giant spiders here, but they have left for some reason. The party spends an hour cutting down and searching the bodies. They acquire some gems and potions from them.
The party decides to rest for the remainder of the day.
8 am to 10 am
The party sets out for the day, fully rested.
While continuing deeper into the forest, the party discovers another set of tracks that split off from the path they are following. Piper identifies these as belonging to a group of 7 seven vampires that passed this way about a week and a half ago. After some heated debate, they continue to follow the path of the Freemen.
The party arrives at the clearing with the ruined caravan. The wagons are there, but they have been trashed and pierced with many needles. Three needle blights are the cause of the destruction. The party destroys the needle blights, again noting that it looks like there were more of the creatures at one point, but several others have left.
Inspecting a broken crate, Sheon finds a paper-wrapped package tucked in with the rest of the textiles. The package contains mushroom powder, a powerful hallucinogenic drug. Sheon re-wraps the package, and the party begins loading up the crates. There are 24 crates total.
After they have loaded several crates, a beautiful woman accompanied by a hell-hound appears at the edge of the clearing. Proclaiming her name to be Astira, she threatens the party, claiming the crates by right of force. The party parleys with her for a while, and she reveals that she just wants the packages of mushroom powder, not the textiles. Sheon is glad to hand them over, but the rest of the party refuses. The woman sics her hell-hound on the party, who bounds across the clearing and drops Mardak and Sheon with a single breath of fire.
The party stabilizes them and acquiesces to Astira's request. Once the mushroom powder has been turned over, Astira and her hell-hound leave. The party gathers up the rest of the crates and begins to head back to Sea Gate. Sheon seals the crates so it looks like nothing has happened to them. On the way back, Piper splits from the party to explore the temple.
At the temple, Piper discovers a number of things. There are a number of humanoid corpses in ritual circles. The temple is dominated by a huge statue of a strange, multi-armed creature with no face. There is also a black sword and black plate mail of vampire make laying in front of the statue. Piper takes those, and rushes to catch up with the rest of the party. The entire party heads back to the temple to explore further. Mardark discovers a hidden area behind the statue, but the entire party is not strong enough to move it.
The party travels the 8 hours back to Sea Gate, arriving at 1 am. They rest for the night, preparing for their meeting with Varat to bring him the bad news about the lost mushroom powder.
In the meantime….
After having spent a number of years learning the basics of magic and alchemy at the Lighthouse, as well as honing his skills outside with his adventuring companions, Damar has finally been selected to take the test to become a Wizard of the first rank. While the test itself is simple, it takes place over a grueling 24 period, designed to test his intellect and focus to their utmost. Damar is asked to create and maintain an illusion with both visible AND audible components, then has to sustain it for 2 hours while being distracted by the test proctors. He also has to prepare two spell scrolls from scratch.
After the intense test, Damar emerged from the testing chamber to face the scrutiny of the arch wizards. An even more intense two hours passed while the arch wizards critiqued and commented on Damar's work, forcing him to defend the choices that he made during the test. Due to Damar's "outside training" (adventuring) and the fact that he had previously left the Lighthouse, there was opposition from some of the arch wizards. However, to his great pleasure, it was determined that the young wizard would be allowed to learn more advanced spells at the Lighthouse.