Trouble on the Road

Summary

The party leaves Aldbridge, heading west to Lyonya to carry a message to the main temple of Tyr in Dalruan. They leave Akadi and travel through southern Tsaia and come to the town of Brewersbridge. There is a druid's grove outside of town, and once the party is settled at the inn, Raidne stops by to make an offering and pray at the altar. When she stands up, the druid is watching her and speaks to her. When he recognizes her, he invites her in. He tells her he knows of the events in the North, and that she has been mistreated by other druids. He asks her if she has stopped worshipping the First Tree and if the Tree has withdrawn its blessings from her. She says no, and he says then the Tree does not blame her for what has happened. He realizes she has a seed from the desecrated holy tree from the valley and tells her the First Tree has given her a chance to make things right. She finally asks his name as she is leaving, he is Master Oakhallow. Raidne recognizes him as one of the High Druids, and that this grove is one of the oldest. He tells her she can return whenever she needs his advice.
The party buys supplies and Giovane buys some excellent ale from the local brewer. They get back on the road and hit a late Spring snow before passing into Lyonya. Approaching the town of Falenshire, they spot two riders fleeing down the road towards them. As the riders pass them, one them yells out "They're all dead!" and they keep riding away. They decide to scout out the town. Hudora will sneak ahead while Pancho follows with an Invisibility spell. When they approach the town, they see carrion birds circling and there's no movement. In the town square, they find a few dead people, mostly elderly or a few able-bodied men with weapons like hunting bows or spears. The locals appear to have been killed by crushing blows from blunt objects, maybe tree limbs or clubs. Perhaps they were attacked by giants! There are tracks of the townspeople being marched away, surrounded by large footprints, the people have been kidnapped. They hear eating noises and investigate and find a pair of very large green humanoids; trolls! Pancho bangs into a building and the trolls seem to smell them. Hudora uses a spell to make a false scream behind them to try to distract them and to call the party for help. Pancho casts Crown of Madness and makes one troll attack the other. hudora jumps on the back of one to stab it, but it grabs her and throws her against a building. The party charges in and attacks the trolls. Harper smites one with Guiding Bolt, Raidne strikes with a Moonbeam spell, Anna throws Firebolts while Giovane goes in with axe and sword. The first troll goes down just as the Crown spell ends. Pancho drives it back with Dissonant Whispers, but it retreats close to Hudora and attacks her. Harper rushes in to help, but the troll savages her. Then the first troll gets up and rips into Pancho with its claws. Trolls regenerate! Hudora realizes fire hurts them and yells a warning to the party. Pancho uses the Wand of Scorching Rays and Giovane heals people with a prayer. Harper gets back into battle and they finish the two trolls and set them on fire.
The party is concerned more trolls may have taken the townspeople, but the locals' wounds don't match the attacks the trolls made. And their footprints are different too. It may have been some kind of giants and the trolls were just scavenging. They want to follow, but they are wounded and tired, they will rest tonight and follow on horseback, hopefully the townspeople haven't been taken far.

(Nick and Brittany couldn't make part two and Sam had to leave after the ogre battle)
The party takes shelter in the inn and helps themselves to food. Anna leaves some gold in case the innkeeper is saved. In the morning, they encounter a pair of merchant wagons coming into town. They explain what happened and the merchants bolt at the mention of trolls. They search around and find the tracks of the townspeople and their captors leaving town, the tracks guarding the townspeople are big and blunt, not clawed like the trolls. Raidne shapeshifts into a wolf and starts following the trail using her wolf sense of smell and she takes off at a run as the party follows. Late in the afternoon, they come to a rise and Hudora climbs a tree to use her spyglass. She sees hills in the distance and smoke from a campfire. As the party follows on, they find a dead villager, a middle aged woman. Her neck has been broken, it looks like her head was grabbed by a giant hand and her neck broken. The party approaches the area where the smoke is coming from and finds the villagers and their guards, a group of crude giant humanoids in a little side valley. It's a half dozen ogres and the townspeople are tied to rope leash. They climb up the hill to spy on the ogres and Giovane stumbles, but Hudora uses Minor Illusion to make a sound of distant thunder to cover his noise. As they watch the ogres and try to come up with a plan, the ogres begin putting out the fires and getting the townspeople up. With no time, they move to attack. Giovane casts Call Lightning and blasts two ogres with lightning. Hudora fades into the bushes toi start sniping with arrows. Pancho sets Crown of Madness on one ogre and it smashes another over the head from behind. Harper blesses Giovane, Anna and herself. Raidne strikes an ogre with Moonbeam and Anna casts a Firebolt. Some of the ogres charge forward and Giovane goes down the hill to meet them. Others climb the hill and attack the rest of the party. Two ogres gang up on Giovane and knock him out. Harper casts Sanctuary on him and his two attackers climb the hill to attack the rest of the party. Someone needs to get down to Giovane, but the ogres are in their way. Raidne shapeshifts into a bear and attacks an ogre, letting Harper slide by and get to Giovane and heal him. The party's spell attacks are taking their toll and ogre after ogre start to drop from accumulated wounds. Finally the tide turns and the last ogre is killed. They release the twonspeople, expecting to take them home, but some of the people say the ogres were led by a witch! The witch charmed the mayor and made him call the townspeople together so the ogres could capture them. The witch left with some of the teenagers from the village.
The party takes an hour to rest and recover from the battle. Raidne shifts into a wolf again and starts following the tracks, but stops in surprise. Unable to communicate directly, she paws at a set of tracks. Accompanying the missing teens from the village are the tracks of a large cat, at least the size of a mountain lion. They set off and follow the tracks to an abandoned farm house, a couple of windows are lit by candles or lanterns. They sneak up, but Harper slips and falls on her shield. They peak through the windows and Pancho hears a women's voice somewhere inside, maybe the basement? They enter the house and cross the common room heading for the basement stairs and Harper puts her foot through a weak floorboard. Downstaoirs, the basement is lit by torches, there are a couple of small storerooms. Two of the missing teens are chained to the wall, they have been tortured and bitten by some kind of animal. Pancho warns them the witch is at the end of the hall, she's behind some kind of illusion of a blank wall. The witch drops the illusion, she a beautiful, dark haired elf and is surrounded by a circle of glowing symbols on the floor. She casts a spell and a black tentacles burst from the floor to grapple the party, grabbing at Giovane, Harper and Pancho. Harper and Pancho slip through, Giovane is caught but pulls free. Raidne, Anna and Hudora are behind the field of tentacles. Giovane charges her, but hits a magic wall along the symbols and get get closer. Unable to reach her, the party hurls spells and missiles at her but she hits them back with spells. Anna uses Magic Missile and the witch counters with Shield. The witch returns a Magic Missile at Harper, who blocks it with Illesen's Shield. Anna Misty Steps past the tentacles and uses Agannazar's Scorcher, the witch replies with a circular shield of cold, blue flames. Raidne shapeshifts into a bear, tears through the tentacles and returns to human form. She casts Thorn Whip, grabs the witch and drags her out of the protective circle and they attack and finally kill her. But when she dies, she becomes a monster; a strange centaur like creature, but with a woman's torso on top of a lion's body. Pancho says she was a half-demon known as a lamia. They take her treasure, mostly jewelry, but including a magic dagger, wooden shield and an armband. Two of the missing teens are alive, but the third is dead, half-eaten by the lamia. They return the survivors to the village and the townspeople thank them. They have no money to give the party, but one of them has a map he got when he was a mercenary in the South, it's supposed to lead to treasure of some kind.

Silly Quotes and Smart Remarks
Meeting the master druid
Stacy "Their favorite class is chemis-tree"

Discussing the various kinds of giants and their relative power and intelligence, Stone Giants are slightly smarter than the very dumb Hill Giants
Brittany "They're dumber than a bag of rocks"
Jim takes away a chip just as Nick gives her one

Examining the dead townswoman and trying to figure out exactly how she was killed
Jim "This isn't CSI: Lyonya"

Stacy is having trouble making Perception checks spying on the ogres
Jim "The giant you are standing behind is obscuring your vision"

Stacy "I have a theory"
Jim "About the brontosaurus? Never mind, none of you will get that"

There was a great discussion of the idea to have people ride on each others' shoulders and cover up with a blanket and pretend to be ogres, since they're so dumb.