The End of the Fourth Era

THE HELIORAN FOREST

Search for the map

The whole party did not venture into the forest – Az wanted to stay in town, bent upon the ideas of intoxication, tomfoolery, and social deviance. Crowback, however, convinces Az and Laderon to accompany to a dwarven stronghold so that he could send a report to the king.

At the same time, Crowback offers the party riches and fame for helping return the dwarven prince to his kingdom. Laderon and Az, essentially bodyguards for Crowback, accompany the warlord to ensure that he is willing to back up his promises. The others – Quentin, Dukha, Nylian, and a Halfling friend, Togo, enter the forest in search of a map. Nylian, who knows more of the world than his new friends, has arranged to have a guide lead them through the Helioran Forest, a frightening place with a dark and gloomy pallor hanging over it.

This guide is Ma’lagurra, a drow elf. Initially, the party (with the exception of Dukha) has some reservations about him; however, Nylian’s support for the drow assuages the party’s darkened opinions, and they venture on, somewhat relucantly.

Quentin not-so-warily searches the forest immediately upon entering, convinced that something evil is afoot in the forest, but he finds nothing but rustling leaves under his feet. Dukha searches a tree and finds someone’s lost gold, proclaiming himself the “luckiest warlock alive”. Togo, ever curious, stumbled upon crocodiles in a river the party needed to cross. These crocodiles, filled with malice, attack the party.

The first crocodile is felled by Dukha, who launched a hellish storm upon the fell creature. Shortly after Dukha vanquished the first, Ma’lagurra calls upon his drow magic and his lightning reflexes to kill a second crocodile. Nylian, suffering the brunt of the crocodilian attacks, holds off three of the vicious brutes until the party converges on his location in the forest. With all of the party members raining blow after blow upon the remaining crocodiles, the party quickly finishes them, ending with an incredible magical explosion from Dukha.

Nylian and Ma’lagurra advise the party to take advantage of the crocodiles’ bodies, skinning them to sell in town.

Walking into an opening, Quentin feels deep unease. The party searches around, and suddenly find a trio of crocodiles lying in wait for them. Still uneasy, sensing something more dangerous, they keep a cautious eye. Togo notices something behind a tree in the clearing, a dark shadow he sees in the corner of his vision. Ma’lagurra shoots a blue-flamed arrow at the tree, and a drow assassin, a member of the powerful and prestigious Bás, walks out from behind the tree. He introduces himself as Shaothrú, and says he is here to kill Ma’lagurra.

Ma’lagurra’s story comes out quickly as the confrontation begins. Shaothrú killed his mother, who had been exiled by a maiden of Lolth for her “mistakes”. Shaothrú and others had spend decades, more than a century, searching for her and her young son with whom she had escaped. It is common practice for drows to exile and then murder their adversaries if given the political weight to do so. When Ma’lagurra’s mother was killed, he knew his only true option was to escape – his mother, a rare sort of drow, emphasized that survival is important for all creatures and honor does not outweigh life. Ma’lagurra staged his own death to evade the assassins, but evidently, one has found him.

The party opt to help Ma’lagurra, mostly because the mysterious Nylian insists he is important; further, even though Quentin despises dark creatures, he thinks Ma’lagurra is to be pitied while Shaothrú is obviously a cutthroat. Togo is neverendingly curious, so he is fascinated by the drow; the tiefling is interested in a good fight and learning more about this interesting drow living aboveground.

Ma’lagurra unleashes one of the stronger abilities he learned from his mother, a concentrated lightning strike that charges the air around is target. Striking Shaothrú, Ma’lagurra implores the others to do everything to kill the drow, their strongest members attacking him. Shaothrú is assaulted repeatedly before he can even muster an offensive, but when he does, he does it impressively, nailing Quentin with a crossbow bolt. The crocodiles are nearly an afterthought, though Quentin and Nylian protected the group against the crocodilian onslaught early. A crocodile falls, and Shaothrú attacks the group repeatedly, but unable to get a hit in on his target until halfway through the battle. Meanwhile, Dukha strikes Shathrú with his warlock powers from a distance, chipping away at the evil drow’s hopes of killing Ma’lagurra and finishing his bounty quest.

The crocodiles keet the party’s attention, repeatedly attacking each of them. Togo, meanwhile, managed to catch the drow unawares, debilitating him with a spell that temporarily crushed his interest in fighting; the Halfling cleric, in the interesting way of most Halflings, called the attack the ray of peace. Eventually, Shaothrú shook it off and renewed his attack with vigor, streaking past and ignoring Togo to strike at Ma’lagurra, who he quickly overpowered and struck, poisoning the mostly good drow; Quentin came to Ma’lagurra’s aid, using his powers of healing, while Nylian used his archery to slow down Shaothrú from a distance, plugging an arrow into Shaothrú’s side. Quentin killed the remaining croc, and the party began to focus their collective attention on Shaothrú again. Shaothrú, knowing running away would be worse than death if the maidens of Lolth discovered his cowardice, went ahead for one last blistering attack on Ma’lagurra, but unable to finish the good drow, he was finally slain by Dukha, who literally wiped him from the earth with a blast of energy.

After the battle, they see a small structure dug into the earth across the river. Quentin, true to his character, throws Pogo across the narrow river without thinking. Thankfully, there is no danger to the Halfling, and he discovers the map, along with what appear to be the treasures of an ancient guardian.

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