The wolf-like howls of worgs signaling each other over long distances grew closer and the team abandoned any thought of destroying their log-bridge over the river ravine.
Seeking to re-unite with their companions below, the team tied off another rope to a tree and tried to climb down the 50 foot drop to the moderate water below.
Unfortunately, in their rush, and exhaustion from the fighting, the most of the team failed to properly grip the rope whilst descending and fell part of the way to the ground.
Elgeiros fell badly and a rocky blow to the head knocked him out cold.
The banged up adventurers did their best to float downstream, having managed to locate both the still-breathing Grum and Boots the mule that had managed to survive the fall as well.
Minutes passed as they tried to gain distance from their pursuers.
Then a great howl blasted through the ravine. The worgs and their goblin companions had caught up to their trail. As doglike screech of pain followed as their still-distant enemies climbed or jumped down to the river from above.
The companions scrambled down stream, towing their unconscious colleagues. The sounds of the approaching enemies indicated they were nearly upon them. The group split in half by the river let arrows fly at a bloodied worg and its uninjured companion. They four-legged canines quickly closed the gap. Surprising the group, the new comer stood in the front line on the north side of the river and let loose a bone snapping punch into the nose of one of the beasts. As it blinked the tears from its eyes and blood gushed from its nose, it continued to snap and attempt to tear at that group. A similar struggle on the south side of the river ensued with the injured beast.
The battle lasted only seconds, and the group was successful in defeating the monstrous wolves, but not without fresh injuries.
A fresh peal of angry howls in the distance shattered any thought of being able to rest. As the group began moving westward down stream again, the human woman urged them to climb the north side and escape the funnel they were trapped in.
Reluctantly, the group went along with the woman’s words and they used ropes to scale the cliff wall to the north side. Struggling to lift the massive orc, their mule and an unconscious elf, the team was able to do so before sighting any more worg and goblin scouting teams.
Fleeing from the hunting parties of the orcs and goblins though the trees and fog was neither easy, not pleasant. Injuries and unconscious companions slowing the team, they spotted an iridescent wall of fog in the distance.
As they approached, the team realized they were looking at a ley line, a natural mystic phenomena, a vein of magical energy. As they stepped into the ley line, a hair-raising tingle was felt on each party member’s skin. And for the druid, the surge of power poured into her, filling her drained reservoir or magic. She quickly began to use the re-invigoration, seemingly limitless to bring her healing magic to bear on the group. As Mula’s cure spells fixed their bodies, Mardis noticed that the ley energy, like a road through the forest, weaved downward into a high-walled grotto.
Deciding to investigate, and appreciating a chance for cover from hunting parties, the group descended a curving path between rocky walls to a circular clearing. At the far end of the clearing was an enormous stone carved to resemble a massive toad.
Before the great statue was an ancient slab of stone with holes in it. To one side of that was a pile of skulls, and on the other was a large pit. Several ancient pillars would have once added a temple like semblance had age and the elements not reduced them broken remnants. A second ley line flowed down one canyon wall and up and out the other forming a ley line nexus right above the frog statue and the altar.
The group looked around at the ancient scene, going as far as to touch the statue and Grum even lay down on the altar to see if something would happen. Peering into the hole, but deciding not to descend toward the bone littered bottom, the group pondered their next move.
The human woman approached Xylia and introduced herself as Galina Relgurd.
She spoke briefly about her experience before running into their group. She described being part of a caravan taking wagons of spirits and ales from Crux, her home city to Kalis for their annual Festival of the Light. They had camped for the night, when suddenly their camp was assaulted by orcs, goblins and worgs. Their wizard was able to cast a firey explosive spell, before being taken down by a squad of axe wielding orcs.
She’d had no choice in the face of the ambush but to dash for the trees and try to hide from the foul creatures as they cut down those fighting or fleeing.
It was then that she witnessed a strange scene. A figure in a hooded cloak was speaking to a very large orc clad in plate. The figure did not seem to be an orc, an elf or a human perhaps. The figured was carrying a glaive and gestured with it pointing toward the wood. She could not quite make out what the figure said. The figure climbed to the back of the stone horse statue. As motes of golden light seemed to appear around the horse surrounding the figure, the figure suddenly turned to look right at her. It barked an order at the orcs, pointing the glaive directly at her just before the figure disappeared along with the horse statue.
The orcs however growled in anger, or glee, she could not say, but the started running directly toward her hiding spot. She took off running as fast as she could. Shortly after she ran into the your group Galina explained.
The group seemed largely preoccupied with examining the ruin and did not ask her any questions.
After a few minutes, the more alert members of the team spotted another goblin on worg-back. The blood thirsty beast howeled, then foolishly charged into the clearing with the now refreshed adventurers. They were rapidly cut down by the group. More distant howls echoed the now slain beast and the team knew it was time to resume their flight.
Leaving behind the grotto, they could not help but feel they had missed something, however they put it behind them for the time being. As they left the ley line behind, they lost the replenishment of energy into their bodies and they wondered if they were making a mistake leaving behind the defensible position, but Galina urged them onward. She had seen the force that assaulted her caravan and if they were hunting them, the mystic energy would be unlikely to save them from that force.
Hours passed as the group pressed on, fleeing the ever-present hunting barks of more worgs. Suddenly Mula held up a hand and the group slowed their pace. She looked at a low-hanging tree branch where spider webbing had captured a particular set of leaves from some herbal plants.
“There is a grove near-by, a big one,” she muttered. Gesturing for the group to follow her, she began to follow signs obvious only to one who has followed the path of the druid for years.
Soon the group saw a peculiar sight, a tree with a face on its trunk. The eyes of the face opened and watched the group approach. In fact the whole tree seemed to shudder and shift. Mula spoke to it in a secret tongue, her voice some how sounding like wind, then rain, and a bird eating seeds. The great tree responded in kind. A path between trees opened from no where as the branches of the tree and dozens, if not hundreds of other trees parted to allow the party passage into the sacred natural grove ahead.
The path lead to a lightly forested meadow where a small water fall fed a bubbling brook and a serene pond. What grabbed the group’s immediate attention however were the two giant elk drinking from the pond in the moonlight. First one, then the other lifted its head to regard the visitors. The first had a great, many-pointed rack of horns that was simply put, awesome. It walked around the edge of the pool curious about the party.
The group was some what awed by the scene. Mula lead the team to follow the great sacred elk toward a lone standing tree. The tree was huge, and a face seemed to be appearing on it’s trunk. Mula recognized this as different from the earlier guardian awakened tree earlier however. With the greatest of respect and awe, she realized she was looking at a Treant in the process of being born. The time line for such a birthing was in the decades or even hundreds of years, but it was one of the most sacred events in nature to a druid.
The elk, they came to realize were guardians of this grove and this sacred birthing. The group also came to realize that the elk seemed to be able to understand elven, but could not speak themselves.
The group spent the night in the grove. As they fumbled about trying to ask for words to communicated with the elk, they eventually convinced it that it should help them escape their pursuing orcs.
Base voices, shouting in anger an surprise confirmed that the orcs had found their trail that lead them to the grove. As they were suddenly being battered by the defending trees, they started to bring fire as a weapon.
The entire, group mounted on the male Elk’s great back strode out of the grove and then charged through a near by group of orcs, including a particularly large beast wearing plate mail. As they trampled though, it appeared the recent damp weather was preventing them from torching the trees effectively and their large group was spread out in an effort to surround the grove. The group easily galloped on elk back out of the trap, the awakened trees bending branches out of their path.
The beast lead them away from their pursuers. With unbelievable endurance, it galloped to the edge of the north wood in hours, letting the group down within sight of the road to Kalis.
Nodding its head with respect toward Mula and the group, the beast turned back into the wood to return to its charge.
The group, jostled but feeling refreshed began their journey down the road to Kalis.