After feeding and healing the liberated slaves and healing their own wounds, the party got everyone up and started to lead the way back down the ridge and on towards the direction that the people said their village was located. Again, the party used flying and levitating magic to get all the people down the ridge line safely, while some of the party members climbed down on their own quite easily (Blackwell, for instance) and others not so easily (Jobi and Kel). The trek was slow going due in part to the "roads" not being in great shape, the denseness of the forest and the former slaves weren't very fast movers to begin with. Asphodel and Zola did some flying in front of the group to help spot for danger and to see where the roads were leading them as well as trying to do some hunting to supplement their food stores. They were fortunate that they had no encounters for the three long days and nights they travelling while escorting this group of people.
But when they neared a fork in the road leading to the last short stretch of road heading into the people's village (not to be confused with the village people, mind you) they came upon a clearing that showed signs of violence and death. The party saw what looked like three human females dead and very bloody lying on the ground around a large boulder. the boulder was some fifteen feet high and easily just as wide. The party called for a halt and cautiously looked around everywhere, trying to discern if any threat was still around. That was when a couple of our heroes spotted a harpy in the nearby trees and sprang into action.
Shortly after the battle began, more harpies made their presence known by signing their charming songs. They were able to charm most of the villagers and Zerak - causing them to want to head directly for the harpy that snared them in her song. But the free villagers and Jobi along with some help from Kel tried to hold them back, with Zerak proving to be a bit slippery in the beginning. In all, six harpies were all around the area attacking the party and villagers, not only by singing but also by their fly-by attacks using claws and morning stars.
Asphodel decided that she needed an edge against these creatures and not only enlarged herself, but also used her greater invisibility spell to allow her to bull rush these damned creatures without them having any chance of seeing her. Zerak, once freed from the hapries songs, sent lightning bolt after lightning bolt after the filthly creatures - and this also had the effect of clearing away the cover they were using by hiding in the trees. Many a tree was singed and burned by his had that day.
Jobi, Zola, and Kel also used spells and weapons against the creatures and eventually they were all destroyed and the villagers were saved as well. The villagers immediately after the fight decided that since they knew the way home from here (and the fact that it was only a half mile away) that they would get home on their own as fast as they could and left the party standing in the former battlefield. Jobi was trying to stop them, but Zerak went to go and inspect the three female bodies near the boulder - and saw that they were gone! No trace of blood or dead bodies anywhere near the giant rock. So he creid ouot to the others to come and look while he tried to detect if something magical, or otherwise was going on here.
Meanwhile, Asphodel and Zola has chased the last remaining harpy into a particularly thick area of trees and brush and had fought it to the death and decided to search the interior of the thicket to see why the harpy had retreated here - thinking that maybe their nest was located inside. But they found no nest nor anything else of interest in the thicket. When they turned back to rejoin the others, they were stunned to see that no one was there, just an empty field - similar looking to where the battle had happened, but different. Maybe a bit more colorful, brighter, slightly rearranged - it was hard to nail down the exact differences. All the two of them knew was that the rest of their companions were nowhere to be found. Shouting for them did not return anything but silence.
the rest of the party had gathered around Zerak as his thoughts were forming and he told them that he thought he detected a weak spot in the planar boundaries here and it may be possible that the creatures had come through. He also thought he had detected where the boundary was and made sure no one went past it. They were now aware that their two lost party members were most likely on the other side of the boundary, if they had survived the crossing. So they started to do the only rational thing and started throwing things at the boundary. And sure enough, the items disappeared. Then they tried tying a rope to something and throwing it through to see if they could pull it back, but the rope was severed. After much trepidation, they finally made the decision to walk quickly through the boundary and let Fate decide where they may end up. And one by one the crossed the boundary and found themselves in the same place as Asphodel and Zola were.
Now that the party was back together, Zerak and Zola had both come to the conclusion that they must have crossed over to the Fey Realm - for this place looked very similar to their mortal realm but only more so. Knowing that not all Fey are friendly, they decided to move away from the boundary in search of some other means to get back home. They cautiously made their way down the road and about a mile from the planar boundary the party saw an Elven male who was obviously gravely wounded and weakly signaling for help further down the road. When the party reached him they saw he was nearly dead, with many strange looking wounds in him that were coated with some black substance. Immediately Zola used her healing abilities to help the the man, but it appeared that the strange substance may have been keeping him from healing correctly. The man looked up at the party and spoke with obvious pain...
He had a small leather bag with 100 platinum pieces in it with a small parchment map detailing where the Garden of Graves is at and where the Fey Court is located. It also contained a short message that says, “Please come to the Court when you have succeeded and we will get you back home.” This confirmed the party's thoughts that they must have crossed a weak spot in the planar boundaries and had wandered into the Fey Realm. And they knew that the way back no longer lead to the mortal world – the gate was closed.
So the most logical choice so far presented to them was to follow the map to the "Garden of Graves," pass through there and head to the "Fey Court" on the opposite side. After a couple of miles they came to a large ridge line. The road ended at the ridge line where a small cave opening was. From outside it was completely black in the cave. The ridge line was more than one hundred feet tall and stretched on for miles in either direction, so going around didn't appear to be a very good option. Asphodel flew to the top to see over it, but only saw plains above, nothing of the so-called Garden of Graves was up here. It must be through the cave entrance at the end of the path. So she rejoined the party at the cave entrance.
There was an engraved stone to the side of the cave entrance and our heroes determined that it was written in an ancient form of Elven. It was a poem that read as follows:
No one in the party cared for this at all. But they casted a light spell on a rock and tossed it into the cave to see what was in there. They saw the following:
Detecting magic the party had found that they sensed powerful magic within the cavern, coming both from beyond the carved figures, and from the statues themselves, which radiated arcane energy related to polymorphing. The party sat there a bit stumped on what to do next and while pondering the hidden meanings within the strange poem, Blackwell usggested that maybe they need to put a gold coin in one of the outstretched palms. So with some further discussion, they decided that Blackwell would put a coin into the hand of the young girl statue (since he was the quickest at getting away should anything untoward happen). Just as he placed the coin in the hand, the statues started to shift - but it was the old woman statue that moved away from the wall and turned into a large stone golem and attacked the party!
The first to get hit was Zola and the golem packed quite a punch. So Asphodel got up front after casting stoneskin on herself so she could start to absorb some of the attacks while the party tried to think of spells and attacks that could hurt this construct. In a couple rounds it quickly became apparent that stopping the construct would be a difficult feat without alll our heroes getting seriously pummeled. So the squishier ones ran for the outside of the cave while Asphodel kept blocking the way. Then Blackwell made a dash and grabbed the coin out of the statue's hand and ran out of the cave as well. Then, once everyone else was out, Asphodel rettreated as well. The golem continued to slowly advance, but when it got to the entrance and no on else was in the cave it stopped and in a flash of bright light disappeared and returned back to the other statues as the old crone once again.
So now the party focused their attention on the second stanza of the poem for it seemed the one that had something to with this situation...
Who beg another's gentle hand,
The fool delves heedless through the wild.
The wise are not so soon beguiled.
And soon Zerak blurted out that maybe they should have put the coin into the hand of the old crone instead. No one else seemed to have any better ideas, so once again Blackwell cautiously approached the statues and place a gold coin into the old crone's out stretched hand. The fist immediately closed upon the coin and all three statues started to move off to each side and revealed a narrow, lightless passageway behind them stretching off into the darkness.
Stay tuned for next week's exciting adventures...