The party learned that after they left Lest, Elentaria’s power in the south was broken, and she retreated to Shrel Kain with her sole remaining palantiri. Many of her followers followed, because the Syndicate began to clean house in Lest and elsewhere, killing many. The old leaders used mages who turned the victims’ legs to stone and then tossed them in the water to drown. Feldenaeth was less traditional and more bloody in his quest to establish a power base, slaughtering even more people, but with more prosaic means. He hid his identity beneath a number of alter egos, including Gelfablaeth, Smirkalato, and Trevor but his methods pointed to a single source.
Pallando’s mission to Demetrios was a failure. Demetrios declined the wizard’s offer to talk and also remarked in his note that the souls that Pallando sent were not hardy enough and didn’t last very long.
The other piece of news came from Elgaer at the east side of the Rhunaer. A woman in a town there said she knew how to get to Tol Sulereb. The Rangers were sent but the town was burned down by a mad elf (the party immediately thought of Delcaran). One young ranger, Goektig, sent a message that he knew the way. He could say no more but asked them to send help. “Only send those whom you trust,” he wrote.
Pallando decided to go north to treat with Demetrios himself. He sent the party east to Elgaer, led by Tanuukkodol. When the others had left and they were alone, Tanuukkodol asked about the palantir, worried that it might be lost if Pallando did not return. Pallando told him that he was going to hide it in the Nabal Mazry. That didn’t reassure Tanuukkodol, as Drogo had already disappeared and the only other place he could think of was with the dead Balrog. It would be safe there, for a time, but irretrievable if needed by the Rangers.
The party traveled to the port of Kelepar in Elgaer. There they visited the Slippery Fish, where they learned that the town of Nash was the one that burned. The innkeeper Fiorn had little respect for the people that lived there, saying that they were “low rent.” Tanuukkodol bristled at the injustice, and silently said to himself, “that’s one.”
Nash lay just 4 miles east. The DM had meant to say 4 days, but he was tired. Much sport was made of this for the rest of the evening.
No more than 20-30 families had lived in Nash, and all was burned now. The trees gathered in anger until Tanuukkodol told them (Plant Mastery) that the party sought the one who burned the town, to make him pay, to make him suffer. Then the trees revealed the path to be taken to the northwest.
Ughthug was the only one to see the people tracking them in the forest. With great anger (and more that a little joy), he charged the small skinny people who shot him with puny arrows. Tanuukkodol drew his bow and exclaimed, “You have my bow!” Grafarlig readied her weapon and said, “And my axe!” and the stereotypical battle was joined.
The party discovered that Ughthugh was fighting two preteen boys, and doing a pretty poor job of it at that. One of the boys started crying and crawled away after Ughthug smashed him with his mace. The other continued to fight, so the orc tried to punch him. Ughthug missed and the kid backflipped away (crit). Then Ughthug lost all patience and pushes him down, hard. Tanuukkodol and Grafarlig got the orc calmed down a bit, and the plainsman put away the arrow he had been ready to put into the orc.
Tanuukkodol then talked to the children, who took them to a little hamlet. There were two families, 7 people in all, and inbred. Definitely “low rent.” The large father said they get a due which goes to mama.
Mama calls herself Tia Barlen (the party learns later she is not) and is a big woman. She comes in just as her husband Florigel is explaining that a tall skinny woman (Lomeilinde) used to give them their due, and now a little guy (Jacklesprat) came back and was supposed to do the same, but didn’t (he found out she wasn’t Tia).
It emerged as the evening went on that Taleric Hammrammr had gone to Torumen with Jacklesprat and Lomeilinde and Jory Barlen. Jory died in Torumen, and made the others promise to give Tia Barlen (his wife) her “due.” They promised. Taleric stole Demetrios’s eye, his daughter, and his gold, and was rightfully pursued by an army. He then went to Tol Sulereb, where he was supposed to have died 50 years ago. Jacklesprat and Lomeilinde were with him and got away. It turns out now that Taleric also survived, which Jacklesprat learned just recently. Lomeilinde began giving the fake Tia her “due” as a joke, and after her death, Jacklesprat kept doing it, until he figured out the joke. Over 50 years, they gave “Tia” 120 gp. Each year, which amounted to 6,000 gp. Which is why the kin were so worried about someone getting their “due.” Additionally, it was Mama who suggested that she knew the way to Tol Solureb (she doesn’t), and that’s why Nash was burnt by Delcaren, and why the rangers and elves and Syndicate came looking.
While Mama and Ughthug and Grafarlig were drinking poor mead and sharing tales, Tanuukkodol went out back to take a leak, and also to search for the gold. He found 40 gp. In the back (he did not yet know about the 6,000) and gave Mama 1 gp to draw a map about where she sent the little man (Jacklesprat).
The party left the house and went deeper into the forest. Tanuukkodol could tell that the trees were moving, and guided the party safely through them. The party came to a “vast small waterfall” (remember, the DM was tired) that led to a cave. At the back of the cave was Jacklesprat, claiming he got lost. Jacklesprat told the party that Taleric is alive and visited him in Dilgul. Jacklesprat offers to guide the party to him.
They all head back to the shack where there are howls and screams and fire. There are two young elves (both women with oak staves and black rigid leather) burning things with fire. Over in the corner a massive dwarf rushes out with two axes and smashes things down. Jack and Grafarlig recognize him as Gribble Rockhammer.
The party didn’t recognize any of them as rangers, so they assumed that either Pallando’s mission to Demetrios had been ensorcelled, or that these bandits had killed the rangers and taken their armor. Regardless, the bandits were attacking the family and the children, so the party had to take action.
Tanuukkodol shot one elf in the lungs and she dropped, gurgling and drowning in her blood over the next 3 rounds. The other elf shot a fire burst back at the party and hit Ughthug, who feels a little heat but little damage (14 hp). Tanuukkodol then shot the second elf, who was hit through the neck and gurgled, near death. Tanuukkodol shot Gribble but did very little damage to the dwarf in field plate.
A mystery archer from the woods shot Tanuukodol for 3 hp, and he replied with 21 hp to the archer’s head, stunning him for 2 rounds. Then he put down the mystery archer with another arrow to the head. Tanuukkodol rushed to the downed archer to be sure he is down. He was.
Ughthug struck Gribble but did little damage. Grafarlig attacked for 5 hp to the torso. Gribble hit her for 4 hp in the head. He tried to hit again, but Grafarlig dodged out of the way. Meanwhile, Tanuukkodol took the arrows, bow, and black rigid leather off the archer.
Ughthug hit Gribble again, doing 4 hp to the torso. Gribble struck Ughthug’s head, doing 5 hp. damage and stunning him for a round.
Another elf emerged from the burning house, speaking about the great Delcarnen and casting Fear. He took 21 hp to the chest from an arrow. Once again, he had black armor on. Tanuukkodol hit him a second and put him down for good.
Gribble, Ughthug, and Grafarlig fought on. Ughthug took 18 hp to the head and turned back into Bertram, screamed, and ran away. Grafarlig hit Gribble in the left arm for 15 hp. A book then fell out the sky (Bertram’s curse at work) and hit Gribble in the head for 27 hp.
Tanuukodol had little doubt of the result of the melee, so gathered up 40 gp. from another pile and stashed it. Grafarlig cut off Gribble’s head.
The party searched the bodies. Gribble had boots of steadiness, and rigid black leather. The three elves had rigid black leather, a harp (+20 calming), a Rageroot salve, 3 oak staves (one of which is +10), and 101 s. Grafarlig took the boots of steadiness and the Rageroot salve, Tanuukkodol took the +10 magic stave, and Bertram took the harp (+20 calming). They piled up the rest of the material on the horses, and caught a ship back to Dilgul.
As they left the port, they saw Delcaren watching them, surrounded by his cultists. The cult of Elgaer now worships Delcaren. It was the cultists who attacked the rangers and took their armor. Delcaren seeks Tol Sulereb, so he is looking for Taleric as well.
When the party returned to Dilgul, Pallando was not back. Taleric did not show up where Jacklesprat said he would. Jacklesprat mentioned he might have told Delcaren about Taleric before he realized the insanity of the elf. The mad hobbit then told the party that Taleric would meet at a Second Age Temple in the Plains near Mistrand.
Oldahr arrived at Dilgul with Avalas, Lintario, Elias, and Sentalos, the rangers. The party gave them the five recovered suits of black armor. No-one seemed terribly worried that they never found Goektig.
And there the tale must end, for now.