The Clutch of Verthandi

Gnolls, Gnolls, Gnolls

The adventurers track the gnolls back to their base camp where, with little more than a few well-placed arrows and spells, they efficiently dispose of the six gnolls gathered around the fire and the gnolls sleeping companions. Determined to find some answers, the party explores the camp, stumbling upon a talking blue bird in a cage. The travelers heed the bird’s plea of “help” and release it from the cage, whereupon the bird beckons the travelers to follow. The blue bird leads them to a cave-like opening hidden behind some brush, inside of which is a young Halfling, unconscious and clinging to life. It takes the effort of the entire group and several days worth of rations to heal and revive the girl. The girl, Sialia Springborn, tells her tale to the travelers, recounting how her family, tired of being mistreated by the Elves in their homeland, ventured out only to be caught by gnolls. Sialia’s grandmother ensured that Sialia was able to evade capture, and ever since Sialia had been struggling to survive on her own. She had made the mistake of eating some numbing berries, which had been the major cause behind the deterioration in her health. It doesn’t take long before the adventurers realize that the blue bird, whom Sialia has named Babbles after her strange (and somewhat estranged) aunt, is actually her familiar. Unsure of whether or not Sialia knows this information herself, Eoleo approaches the subject tactfully, ensuring the somewhat tentative Sialia that witches are not always deserving of their bad reputation. Sialia shares with the group that her aunt was, in fact, a witch, and that she (Sialia) possesses clairaudience/clairvoyance. She also tells them that her family is being held captive not far from where they are, in a gnoll slave trader encampment. The party agrees to help Sialia by rescuing her family from the gnolls. While the party rests, Sialia and Eoleo trade spells. The next day the group splits up for reconnaissance missions to gather information about the Hackjaw Tribe encampment. They learn that Sialia’s family is being kept, along with many other slaves, in a pit in the center of the camp. The leader of the encampment is missing, but the second-in-command, Kithnil, and a dire-hyena-riding gnoll warrior remain at the camp. Most surprising to the group is that a dwarf by the name of Dilek also resides in the camp. Rognar Olep remembers Dilek from his days with the Sure Axes, and immediately the group becomes wary. Knowing that the gnolls and Dilek are, for whatever reason, attempting to capture 50 slaves, the group begins to brainstorm an attack strategy. After much deliberation, they decide attack at the moment the gnoll guard switches, and to set off several different diversions around the camp in the hopes that the prisoners can be freed in the time it takes for the gnolls to deal with the diversions and assemble. After a little persuasion, Sialia agrees to get caught by the gnolls in order to inform the prisoners as to the plans. Once inside, Eoleo and Sialia send messages to one another, and Sialia informs them of a dwarf prisoner by the name of Unther who has agreed to help them fight the gnolls. Using alchemist’s fire, a fire elemental, Eoleo’s obscuring mist, and strange noises conjured by Raleria, the group begins the assault. With Niamh shooting at the gnolls from the high ground astride Owen, and Rognar busy removing the wooden spikes around the slave pit, Eoleo and Raleria take on those in command. It doesn’t take long for Raleria to fry both the dire hyena and his rider, and Kithnil is felled not long after. With the help of the fire elemental, the group kills the remaining gnolls, and Eoleo discovers Dilek hiding, invisible, in his tent. Once certain the prisoners are free and safe, the group questions the dwarf and learns that Tog Bjorn, the captain of the Sure Axes, wants to use the slaves to mine treasures from the mountains in Scoria… treasures to be given to a red dragon.

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