Tonight we resumed where we left off, with the party regaining its bearings in the aftermath of its battle against the kobolds. They set back out to the tunnels, following the nearest fork a short distance to a dead end, then backtracking to a crossing of two paths in an 'X' and taking a downsloping outlet marked at the top by a decades-old mine cart.
That tunnel led back in the direction of the village, and at its end, miles later, was an enormous chasm where a waterfall poured into an underground lake from one side (Alaric correctly deduced the waterfall's source to be the river cavern nearest the kobold lair). The tunnel itself opened to a 100-foot drop, ending in a rope ladder and a small iron barricade used to prevent mine carts from rolling over the ledge. Far below, smoke from a bonfire billowed up to the cavern's uppermost recesses; around it loitered a handful of man-sized humanoids.
A plan was devised to throw stones from the ledge and wait for a scout to ascend the ladder. It worked, though it took several minutes, and the orc that climbed up was assailed with arrows and fell to its doom. Thereafter, the party began its descent, covered by the readied bows of Ainsley and Rooks, and Leilana's spells.
The orcs below had taken to the shadows and fired crossbows from hiding as the companions climbed down. Kleigha was pierced in the back and plummeted to his end, soon followed by a second longswordman. Alaric, Nora, and two men-at-arms reached the bottom, and when finally the orcs charged in, bloodshed came quickly and fierce. The party's strikes proved far truer than those of their enemies, and even after a hulking ogre joined the fray, the band from Morningsong knew victory. The cavern was scoured for secrets and gold coins, and a final orc who fled from the melee was tracked down and slain. With that, the party made its way back to the cave's entrance, exiting to the moonlight.
After only a few hours of rest, they set out for home, trudging through fog as the early morning sun finally began to glow. As they closed in on the trails that led back to the village proper, the PCs inexplicably lost sight of Rooks, Ainsley, and the lone surviving longswordman. They searched and called out, but found nothing: the men seemingly had vanished into thin air.
A short time later, Alaric, Nora, and Leilana arrived back in Morningsong, and what their eyes beheld chilled them to their very core. The village was desolate and abandoned. And more than merely abandoned, it looked as if no inhabitant had graced it for years, even decades. The wells were dry, the farms barren, and the structures they remembered as homes and establishments were dilapidated and decrepit. Confusion turned to horror turned to fear.
The XP awards for the past three sessions are as follows:
- Avoiding the dire bear - 489 XP
- Kobolds slain - 83 XP
- Orcs slain - 132 XP
- Ogre slain - 180 XP
- Gems, coins, and items recovered - 232 XP
- Story award - 1,000 XP
In total, that's 2,116 points, though the allotment will be divided into five shares: one to each PC, one to Ainsley and Rooks, and one to all other allies. That makes 423 XP per character. Updated totals are:
- Alaric - 7,774
- Leilana - 7,724
- Nora - 7,303
Leilana hereby attains 4th level. I don't have any additional commentary, though players are welcome to add/post their own. Looking forward to hopefully having Jason back next time we play!