Long Tom and Lucian appeared in the fortune telling parlor and Long Tom decided to draw two cards. He drew the thief like figure and he drew Ruin, meaning he lost all his material wealth. Literally tens of thousands of gold (and half his house) disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving the priest shocked and angry.
The fortune teller told them that something had changed in the house, the gate was open and the way was clear if they wished to walk it. Traveling back down to the gate room, they found the house eerily empty and still. They saw their friends on the other side of the gate and at first thought it was some kind of trick, but then tested it and saw it was magic and wasn’t a trap, so they went through.
Long Tom immediately suffered as had every divine caster, as he realized this was a world without joy or pleasure.
After everyone had caught up with what they knew of the world, the party made plans. They decided to try and fly over the mountains using Alren, a couple of fly spell, and the broom of flying. It was inefficient and continued to risk random monsters attacking the divided party. But they managed to cover two hexes in a few hours (instead of half a day). Dar, the explorer, proved worth his weight in gold as he helped them avoid an encounter in the dead forest with two twisted, bone white tree creatures (corrupted Treants) and then later, when they traveled in the desert, he helped them avoid a flying wing of manticores and the party suprirsed (and decided to avoid) a group of 4 large black skinned humanoids with massive claws and fangs (they never figured out what they were).
Due to their armor and the slow rate that Rage Claw moved, they could only make one hex and a half across the desert, moving towards the road they saw in the distance. ‘Night’ fell (the lamps in the sky dimmed and the green mist curled away, leaving a view of the baleful alien stars). The blistering heat of the desert boiled away to freezing cold. The characters made camp, but only had a few tents and not enough to provide for all of them. They knew they were maybe a few hours away from a walled village they’d seen perched on the horizon. So, it was decided that Lilith and Long Tom (with his helm of comprehending languages) would travel to the village on the broom and see if they could perhaps get supplies and mercy from the inhabitants.
They reached the village without incident and buzzed it. Below it was very dark, but they saw a few lights here and there and the occasional shadowy figure moving about in the dark down below. Long Tom approached the gate and knocked on it. He heard people moving on the walls above and they shouted down at him. A conversation followed in which Long Tom was basically told to piss off and come back later (he rolled a 2 on his reaction roll). Lilith tried, only to discover that the unseen speakers refused to speak to Long Tom’s slave. They tried again on the other city gate but had a similarly disastrous roll on reaction and returned to their camp, vengeance hot in their hearts.
Long Tom was already nursing a foul mood from the loss of all his worldly possessions and the separation from his god, and this village, with its rude guards, suddenly became an outlet for his wrath. Lilith agreed whole heartedly, these people needed to be destroyed. The other characters talked them down, but a night spent in the freezing desert without the right supplies left them more and more angry.
At first light, the party returned to the village, all 23 of them now. The guards were a bit surprised. The party quickly learned the copper bracelets translated the local language. Things got even worse when Lairn stepped forward and tried to speak and the villagers screamed “Valanorn” while their faces twisted in terror. Long Tom told his people to attack, but Lucian Charmed him and pulled him up short. The party tried to quickly figure out why the villagers were so terrified of elves, while simultaneously calming the situation down.
Fate would not have it. Another abysmal reaction roll saw a raw recruit fire an arrow at Lairn. Though the shot missed, the commander on the wall reacted and gave the order to fire on the party. Charmed or not, Long Tom ordered Anika to defend the party…with her wand of fireballs.
Lairn managed to put the the guards to sleep, but only a second before they were burned to a crisp in an explosion that tore the battlements off the top of the wall. Alren opened the gate with a wave of his hand, anger spilling out at the affront of these peasants. The villagers who had huddled close to the walls to hear what was happening screamed and ran, dodging falling stone and burning body parts.
The party swept into the village and essentially asserted their authority. They found the largest structure in town (the buildings were oddly shaped now that they could see them in daylight, they were all domes of rock). Soldiers stood outside the building, not running, and led by two grizzled men bearing better looking arms and armor than the rest (who mostly had leather and spears). The party demanded they surrender and no one else would be harmed. A well dressed man came out of the house and treated with the party. He introduced himself as Ythrac, the leader of the community. He asked why they attacked this village under the protection of the Ebon King and when the party said they were defending themselves, he slapped the nearest soldier, cursing them for attacking a ‘spell-worker’.
The party pointed out that the guilty soldiers was long since dead. They then tried to start negotiations with the headman. Jayna took off her bracelet and offered it up to others in the group, saying she was going to explore the village and wandered off.
Alren used his newfound ability to read minds to listen in on the thoughts of the mayor, while the party tried to soothe things over.
And we ended it there, the players now unwitting conquerors of a small outpost in the middle of a blasted hellscape.