This week introduces the party to some interesting dynamics and new challenges.
The rest of the journey to Moonbrooke goes smoothly and, on the way there, the party is introduced to Varak — a young, half-orc urban ranger who has been tasked with leading a small and competent strike team — who asserts his control over the group, by order of Lady Seriah Dwin’ania. Seeing little room for disagreement, the party agrees to his invitation — if it could be called such.
Upon arrival to Moonbrooke, the party notices Elves on the battlements waving the army away. The party calls for a full stop and their word is heeded by the caravan.
They are informed, shortly thereafter, that he is too ill to assist them in any challenges they may face that day — he entrusts them to do what they must to ensure the survival of the army.
The party, determined to discover why they are being waved away, journey forward on their own towards the front wall of the keep. As they draw closer, they are surprised to see a disturbance in the ground outside of the front gate. As they are inspecting the strange mass of moving earth, their attention is drawn to a raven flying overhead, directly for the camp.
The group waits for a messenger to bring word, while they ponder what may be under the earth. Thrace grows bored, however, and volunteers to make the run herself. She returns a few minutes later with the information contained within the letter from the Keep.
The party is informed that there are monsters under the ground, that the Elven boats are being destroyed by lightning, and that the Drow are camped in the forest to the west and that they had taken prisoners.
The group asks the Elves five questions in a return response. The response comes quickly, but as the raven is flying back a dark figure emerges from the tree line to the west and shoots the raven down with a perfectly executed longbow shot. The raven, and the message attached to its leg, falls into the disturbed area.
Thoradron and Cadrel make plan to ride Cadrel’s horse into the area, as fast as possible, and retrieve the message. As their journey begins, however, the monsters emerge from the earth — every twenty to twenty-five feet — to attack the horse as it gallops across the area.
Alana attempts to shoot the monsters, but is unsuccessful, and — with an impressive feat of riding — Thoradron is able to retrieve the message and the two return relatively unscathed. Cadrel’s mount, however, is worse for wear and Thrace assists by healing the steed.
The returning message informs the party that the Elves have been unsuccessful in killing any of the monsters and that they emerge from the ground and eat anyone that tramples on their ground for too long — they also learn that the Drow force is of an unknown number, but that they are capturing and torturing Elven prisoners; the lighting seems to be coming out of the water in order to destroy their ships, and that each night there is a strange Darkness that consumes the center of each of the disturbed areas.
This leaves the group with numerous options — figure out a way to defeat the monsters, investigate the Drow force in the forest, and to discover where the lighting is coming from in the water.
The party decides to investigate the Western Gate together. As they arrive there, they find that three Elves have been tortured — severely — and put on display. Alana explains that they cannot leave them there to hang and suffer, so the group travels to them.
Upon arriving, Thrace leaves the contents of her stomach on the ground a few feet away while Alana begins the process of figuring out how to remove them from where they are secured. As they are removing the Elves, two Drow emerge from the forest with another three Evles. Once the first of the three are removed from display, they begin to torture the first Elf.
Thrace, upon realizing what is occurring, attempts to dissuade Alana from continuing — Alana rejects the idea and continues what she is doing. For each removed Elf, another elf is tortured to take their place. Thrace, sickened by the display, runs from the scene to return to camp.
The party follows after her momentarily and upon arriving to the camp Thrace informs them that if Alana insisted on returning barely living souls to the camp at the direct expense of untortured Elves, she would be remaining in camp to tend to them — effectively severing herself from the group.
As the group fractures once more, Thoradron and Cadrel decide to investigate the water while Alana examines the disturbed area in order to figure out a way to disperse them.
Thoradron and Cadrel, while investigating the water, are distracted by the magic that the Keep’s walls contain. They spend a majority of their time investigating the magic of Moonbrooke — fighting through the keep’s illusions to discover something quite impressive.
They also speak to some of the Elves within the keep and discover that they only have around 200 remaining forces — the rest has been marched south towards the Elven capital, but they never heard from the force of 600 men. They assume that they had been ambushed and destroyed by the Drow forces.
Alana attempts numerous plans in order to dispatch the monsters under the earth. Arrows appear to be ineffective and she retreats to the camp to ask Seriah about the possibility of amassing a group of spell casters to damage the creatures. Alana is informed that they only surviving spell casters, from the ambush near the mountains, are her, a human wizard (Thoradron) and the single Dwarf that remained.
Alana stops to speak with Thrace, asking if she had any spells that may assist in destroying the monsters. Thrace, at first, ignores Alana — obviously still angered by her actions earlier in the day — but then informs her of the knowledge she has of the monsters.
The monsters are called Grick and they are, usually, deep dwelling creatures that the Dwarves discover while digging their tunnels. They rip apart their prey and the Dwarves often dispatched groups of well-trained soldiers to deal with them. Those at the gates are behaving strangely, from the information that Thrace has on them, and it is her personal belief that they best way to deal with them would be to discover why they are acting strangely and find a way to send them back under ground.
Alana accepts that there is no physical way to damage the Grick and, instead, focuses her efforts on the Drow forces.
Alana returns to the western gates with a small following of twenty-five soldiers. She discovers that a new group of three elves are in the process of being hung out for display. Her and the soldiers charge across the ground and attempt to kill those responsible for hanging the elves there — their journey takes too long, however, and they are left with three Elves nailed to boards.
As they attempt to remove the elves, Drow come from the forest carrying repeating crossbows. As Alana attempts to remove the elves, the Drow begin to fire into her following and people begin to drop, unconscious, to the ground. Alana attempts to rally elves from behind the wall as she fires back against the Drow.
She barely manages to escape and a majority of her men are left unconscious on the ground. Luckily, for her and her reputation, most of the men return to the camp after recovering from the poison tipped arrows of the Drow.
As night approaches, the group decides to set up a small watch — consisting of themselves — in order to watch what occurs during the night.
Alana, with an impressive display of diplomacy, manages to convince another twenty-five men to follow her to set up a secondary drow watch.