After returning to the road to Crying Leaf, the group were quickly approached by a group of Velashu Horse Lords, inquiring about the current state of Riddleport. The nomadic tribesmen were leading a dozen horses, ready for sale in the port. The group bartered a trade for an item, in return for horses for each of them.
A short while later, the group entered the forest proper, mounted on their fine steeds. And were promptly attacked by a trio of Forest Drakes, intent on slaughtering them for fresh meat. Despite some early difficulties, the group quickly found their feet and fought back. After a pair of crackling lightning balls, and uncannily accurate bowfire, the drakes were felled.
A group of 5 elves then revealed themselves, stepping from the leafy shadows. Their leader quickly asked the group their business, and the human cleric over-rode the fetchling’s flippant reply, saying they were here to deliver important information to the Shin’Rakorath. The leader tersely introduced himself as Kaerishiel Neirenar, and confirmed they were expecting the party. He then commanded the group to follow, and left for the village.
Thinking quickly, the fetchling summoner cast Ant Haul on his horse, and himself, and loaded the Drake carcasses onto his steed for later butchering.
After a short, but silent, journey through the borders of the Mierani, the group arrived at the village of Crying Leaf. The village showed the signs of recent battle. Several buildings were scorched, and most citizens were armed with sword or bow.
Kaerishiel led the group to a low stone building, and then took his leave. The group cleaned themselves up, and refreshed themselves from the freshly harvested fruits and vegetables supplied to them. After an hour, Kaerishiel returned and led the group to see the leader of the village, Eviana Nirgassan.
Eviana, a strikingly beautiful Elven woman, dressed in a rich gown, introduced herself, and asked that the group give their word not to spread details of what happens in the Mierani beyond its borders. The group quickly assented. Eviana then asked to see the information they had brought, and the group presented the drow journals.
After a review of the contents, Eviana offers the group a pouch containing 200pp in payment, but the human cleric refused, asking if they could perhaps accept goods instead. A deal was made to provide the fetchling with fine elven chain.
Eviana then went into detail of the situation they face – how the drow have a strong presence in Celwynvian, yet are difficult to bring to battle. How each time the ruins are attacked in force, the drow disappear, only to return later in strength. Prior to this, Eviana and Kaerishiel believed the drow were somehow retreating to the Darklands, but the information contained in the journals revealed the truth. In fact, the drow were retreating to some extra-dimensional space known as the Armageddon Echo.
Eviana informed the group that she needed to confer with her contacts in Kyonin, but asked if they would wait until the matter had been decided. She felt that the group would be an asset in any battles to come, and that she would be willing to pay rates equal to those paid to the Shin’Rakorath. Both of the observant dwarves in the group noted at this point that Kaerishiel was angry over Eviana’s words, though concealing it.
The group returned to their accommodation, and spent the afternoon looking around the village. With not much to see, they enjoyed and evening meal of roasted vegetables, bread and wine, and retired.
The next day, Eviana again called the group to her conference room. Unlike the previous day, Eviana was dressed in shining elven mail, a blade at her hip. A number of other armoured elves were also present, poring over maps of the ruined city of Celwynvian. Greeting the group, Eviana informed them that the decision had been made to bring war to the drow, and to attempt to reclaim the ruined city for good. Eviana asked the group if they would join the efforts, and they quickly agreed, without even asking about a fee.
Kaerishiel escorted the group to their lodgings again, but stopped once the building was in sight, saying ‘I think you can find your way from here. I am done guiding you. You have no idea of the danger you have walked into.’
4 hours later, the armed forces of Crying Leaf were arrayed for battle. Leaving only a small contingent of elves to defend and maintain Crying Leaf, the main force moved out of the village, headed for the ruined city. Unlike a human or dwarven army, the elven force was not ranked or in columns. Instead, they marched in skirmish groups of 4-8, giving them better capability to navigate through the forest, and to give the enemy smaller targets should they be discovered.
The journey to the city took just over a day, with a camp roughly halfway. The journey was largely without event, the forest predators giving the elven host a wide berth. During the trip, Kaerishiel’s distrustful gaze was never far from the party.
The host arrived at the city, and camp was made. Tents were provided to the group. In the evening, a dinner was held for the army commanders. Early in the evening, Eviana refused to talk of the coming battles, and instead asked of the flora and fauna in this part of the forest. Whispers were heard of the great forest wyrm, Razorhorn, who had sided with the drow.
After dinner, a strategy and planning session was held. The leader of the scouts in this area, Shalelu Andosana, presented her report on the ruins, and outlined the way into the city. A basic plan for assaulting the city was quickly laid out, and then contingencies of all sorts were discussed. Eviana asked the group if they would assist with taking one of the drow watchposts, a ruined library. Kaerishiel vehemently disagreed, stating that his men should be entrusted with taking the library, while the party instead is used to guard the camp. The group, predictably, disagreed, and in fact they should be at the vanguard of the assault. In the end, Eviana decided to follow through with her original plan, and have the group assault the library. For the rest of the meeting, Kaerishiel throws cold glares at the group whenever no one else is watching him.
The next morning, the group assembled before the ruined library. After a quick check for enemies revealed a watch on the roof, preparatory spells were cast, and the group hastily attack. In the space of less than a minute, 6 drow foot soldiers, 3 giant spiders and 6 dretches are dispatched, and a female drow captain captured. Searching the library itself revealed a number of useful items of intelligence – an ancient globe containing the intellect of one of the original librarians, and a number of books on one of two subjects – astronomy and the Great Beyond. Of particular note, one bookmark denotes a page dealing with the properties of the ‘realm of shadows’, and how time can be ‘mutable in such a domain’.
Relieved by elven scouts, the party returned to the command post, and found Eviana. The human cleric presented her with the globe and books, and Eviana thanked him. She then gave them their next assignment – the Alchemical Workshop.