We met at Jarecki's place and played without Adrian, who was forced to withdraw due to conflicting obligations. As he was unable to send me a character sheet, I decided he assumed treant form.
Heroes crept up to gnolls' camp, briefly considering storming it but finally opted for returning to dungeon. While the were resting, their flying raft appeared, Avelon came to them as she promised. All aboard they got back to besieged city and met with vampire-queen. After brief discussion, the all decided it is time to read scroll and face mysterious overlord of an army.
Next day group gathered near gate and was about to to activate a scroll, when a noise exploded from gonlls' camp. Curious and intrigued, heroes summoned their raft and ascended. Quickly it became clear, that shamans of the army are constructing magical ramps of stone shaped earth, that will lead invaders over the walls. Xandos and Jarod fired volley of arrow, while Kyril smashed enemies with a fiery fireball. Gnolls' archers answered with their own missiles, hitting Avelon. Girl was pierced directly between breasts with an poisoned arrow. . Thanks to Connal's healing powers, she was saved and cured. Reluctantly she agreed to follow group with their quest.
Kyril read the scroll, noting that it's a beautiful script. When he finished spelling, a blue bubble of light appeared and heroes entered portal. On the opposite side they found forest and mountains. It was quite strange landscape, as it was more belonging to northern ecosphere, than tropical one the were accustomed on island. Xandos found some tracks leading either from lake (it could be seen between trees) to rocks or the opposite. Heroes chose to follow them a and went up to mountains. Soon their pat was blocked by rocks and trails were cut. Jarod climbed up and was able to take a look. Obviously portal lead them into mountains that circled swampy lake. Above it was hanging a heavy fog, obscuring sky and sun alike.
Heroes turned and went down this time, finally arriving at lake's shore. Surface was dotted with small grass patches, stones and in the middle of it there was an island visible with a few trees and mound. While they were poking around, something moved underwater and wave of acid goo hit some of them. Deciding it is best to get to an island, heroes began to jump from one patch to other, while Ren (still in treant form) entered the swamp. Just when he and Xandos and Connal on his branches got to an island, an enemy presented itself. With deafening roar of anger, covered in mud and filth, a monster apperaed. Instantly it was hit by Kyril's fireball but obviously his spell was not able to harm monster. Burned mud fell off, unveiling glossy black dragon! It was beast of nightmares with vicious horns, hooks, burning red eyes, even more terryfing than normal wyrm. Jarod and Avelon were scarred but managed to keep up and they did all they could but greatest burden fell on Xandos shoulders. He was fighting like true highlander, backed by Connal's healing powers, aided by Jarod's flanking maneuvers and Ren's treeman strength. Dragon turned out to be host of second part of Maggog's soul and driving force behind gnoll's invasion. Beast fought fierceand was tough opponent, but finally heroes managed to slay the beast and claim it's treasures.
On the wall in it's cave there were strange, unfinished carvings and magical mirror, While heroes searched lair for treasures, Xandos and Kyril skinned and butchered dragon's corpse.
Defeating gnolls' overlord was one thing but dealing with them was other. After activating it became obvious that gnolls were back at work, trying to reach city walls. Connal came wit an interesting idea: he cast "Wind Walk" spell on himself and passed through mirror with dragon's skull in hand. He shouted boldly "I'm your god, I slayed your master and now bow to me!" Effects of his statement hit gnolls directly and horde fell on the knees. At his orders and under influence of his rhetorics, they turned back instantly and marched into mountains. Connal chose one of shamans and ordered him to stay. At first he was trying to persuade him or got him replaced by plannar ally, but vampire queen got other idea. Using her mind-control powers she dominated him and sent back to join his people. And so new gnolls' culture were born.
Feast and celebration followed and after five days of festival heroes decided to go back to "Sky Mill". They were keen to go home as well as to find third and final piece of demon's soul. Back at ship they installed metal into ship body, while Mystra's priest finally cast spell that preserved microclimate on ship.
Behind the Courtain
Xandos advanced on 10th level of experience.
Jarod advanced on 9 th level of experience.
I was quite surprised with Jarecki's and Terentz cheers, when it turned out it was dragon they faced.
As usual, an unexpected idea appeared, this time in form of manipulating gnoll's army.
I was prepared for option, heroes will be willing to deal with siege first.