Following the battle with the undead wyverns that the band had on the afternoon of Starday, the 1st day of Flocktime, in the Common Year of 580, the Righteous Vanguard, all except Nicholas, were forced to rest near the burned area where the confrontation had taken place. Sometime later, while Nicholas stood on watch, he heard an explosion perhaps a hundred yards off in the forest. When he snuck over to investigate, he was surprised to find a valley elf apparently engrossed in mixing together some kind of concoction from various other substances. Nearby was a smoldering burned spot in the foliage where the recent explosion had obviously occurred.
Nicholas readied his bow, approached the unsuspecting elf, and asked him who he was and what he was doing there. The surprised elf whirled and, after regaining his composure, asked Nicholas the same questions. Eventually the elf explained that his name was Ael’Voniatreth Shanis and that he was an alchemist who had recently been persuaded to leave his village because his research into alchemy was deemed too dangerous for the safety of his fellow villagers. Nicholas likewise explained that he was a member of a group that was now aiding the First Protector in hunting down a group of necromancers, though he did not go into much detail. Realizing that the elf might prove to be helpful in guiding the band through the forest and that the elf apparently had no where else to go, he invited the elf to join him at their camp. The elf, whom the band later nicknamed Ael for short, accepted the invitation and a short while later the two struck up a conversation back at the camp.
While they were talking, Nicholas took note of a female figure that periodically emerged from a nearby tree. Believing this female to be a dryad, Nicholas approached her and greeted her. The dryad, for indeed this is what she appeared to be, introduced herself as Dryana and began asking questions about who they were and what they were doing there. At times she seemed to be rather naïve about the ways of man and, as one would expect for a dryad, very concerned about the safety of the forest and those who lived in it, and yet very curious about the necromancers that Nicholas told her about. But Nicholas answered her questions as best he could, understanding that the dryad would not likely fully comprehend all that he said. When the dryad seemed satisfied with Nicholas’ answers, she wished him good luck and disappeared back into a tree.
For the remainder of the day nothing else noteworthy occurred. So at about midnight, when his companions awoke from their rest, Nicholas introduced them to the new friend he had made, the valley elf Ael. Then it was Nicholas’ turn to rest while his friends stayed on watch throughout the night.
Despite the very real possibility that the Six Necromancers might attack the group once again or that any number of forest monsters might happen upon them, the band somehow got through the entire night with only one encounter. And that one encounter actually appeared to be a benefit to the band. It was shortly after midnight when they were approached by someone who recognized their voices. This someone greeted them, and the band, in turn, recognized him as being Dravos Eliskar, the half-elf rogue inquisitor whom they had met eight months before in the tunnels near Greyhawk. It seemed a very odd coincidence that they should meet again so far away in the Valley of the Mage. But Dravos assured the band that he was there in search of a human named Broud whom he expected to find in the tree people village of Ebonwood – though he would not elaborate any further. As it just so happened, the band was also headed in the direction of Ebonwood, another seemingly bizarre coincidence. So the band invited Dravos to accompany them. They then explained to him the nature of their business in the valley.
The next morning, Sunday, the 2nd day of Flocktime, the group resumed their travels. Following the advice given to them by the First Protector, the group decided to take a trail that headed to the northwest to a gnome village called Woodsdeep. Woodsdeep, the largest of the gnome communities, was home to about 500 gnomes and also happened to be the home of Endoble Mistikmore, the Chief of Woodsdeep, and leader of all the gnomes in the valley. The First Protector had told the gnomes to expect the band’s arrival. So after identifying themselves to the gnomes who greeted them at the edge of the village, they were escorted to the center of the village where they entered a large underground audience chamber – large by gnome standards anyway. There they were introduced to Endoble Mistikmore, who sat in a throne at the far end of the chamber with a stern look on his face.
Once the band had explained to the venerable old gnome the purpose of their mission, he looked at the group with an incredulous glare and asked them why they had not summoned “The Great Dondar”. The band however, had never heard of anyone by the name of Dondar and stared back at him with blank expressions, but eventually told him that they did not know of a Great Dondar. The gnome leader then huffed in exasperation as though he could not believe they had never heard of the Great Dondar. Already the gnomes, obviously influenced by the only contact they had with humans – the tree people, did not think very highly of the humans in the band and assumed Gildor was the band’s leader. Endoble told the band that since they had not thought to summon the Great Dondar, he would do it for them. The gnome then got off his throne, walked around behind it and began mumbling an incantation. A moment later a portal appeared at the side of the audience chamber and out stepped a tall humanoid in a dark hooded robe. His eyes flashed with crimson light and as he waved his hands in the air, fire shot out and a wave of vivid colors and lights swirled around him. Then in an ominous and commanding voice he spoke, “Who has dared to summon the Great Dondar?” He then turned in the direction of the band with an accusing stare.
All the while, the band looked on with a mixture of confusion and disbelief. Some members of the band became quite alarmed and were on the verge of drawing their weapons in the expectation of having to defend themselves against what appeared to be a powerful spellcaster of some kind. Then they heard the sound of the gnome leader, still crouched behind the throne, as he began to giggle. The expressions on the other gnome guards in the hall changed from that of obvious concern to that of amusement as they seemed to suddenly become aware of an inside joke. Just then, the mysterious figure vanished in a puff of smoke as the gnome leader stepped out from behind the throne, still giggling. “Did I scare you?” he asked the band.
Now realizing that the mysterious figure was only an illusion made by Endoble, who apparently had a twisted sense of humor and, like most gnomes, loved to play practical jokes, the band would not admit to having been at all frightened by the mysterious figure and instead warned the gnome that his little joke almost provoked them to attack. Not even Gildor seemed to be particularly amused by the joke. But this was understandable since Gildor was not like most gnomes. Having been the butt of many jokes as a child, Gildor had always acted more like a dwarf than a gnome, being more dour and serious minded than typical gnomes.
Upon seeing the unamused reactions of the Righteous Vanguard, the other gnomes in the hall appeared to grow concerned that their leader might become offended. But the gnome leader did not seem to take any notice of the band’s response, apparently being more preoccupied with his own bizarre sense of humor and still giggling. Eventually though, the gnome leader turned more serious and offered to aid the band however they could. He told the band they could sell them a few potions and what ever supplies they might need. So the band made a few deals with the gnomes and soon afterwards set back out on a trail headed to the southwest.
A short while later, the group was suddenly attacked by a band of unseen assailants who cast web spells at them. These assailants would momentarily become visible as they attacked, but would soon after turn invisible again. Most members of the band were not seriously hampered by the webs and quickly counter-attacked. As they did so, their attackers began to appear and squawk at them in some unknown bird-like language. The band then realized they were being attacked by a band of eight bird-like humanoids called kenku. But they did not know why. So Nero cast a tongues spell and told them to back-off. The kenku responded by demanding the group to surrender their valuables. The group of course, had no intention of complying with the kenku’s request and stepped up their counter-attack against them. After several of the kenku had fallen, it became clear to them that they were badly outmatched. So the remainder turned and fled. When the fight was over, the band examined the fallen kenku and realized that most of them were still alive. So they healed them up a bit and began to question them. Eventually the kenku were persuaded to provide some answers.
The kenku told the band they had come to the valley in search the treasures that were rumored to be found there. Instead, they lost many of their numbers fighting off the numerous monsters that inhabited the valley. They had attacked the group because they were determined to return to their homes in the mountains with something to show for their efforts. Obviously they had chosen the wrong group to attack and they did not appear to know anything else that would be useful to the group. So, believing that the kenku had learned a lesson here and feeling they had no reason to be concerned about any further interference from them, the band let the surviving kenku go and continued on their way.
Later in the afternoon, they came upon another gnome village by the name of Fernwalk, which was home to about 70 gnomes. They too had been informed by the First Protector to expect them, and the band had no difficulties there. In fact, they stopped for only a few minutes before continuing on their way.
A few hours later, as the evening approached, the band arrived at the village of Earthwood, home to about 50 gnomes. Here again the gnomes were expecting the band’s arrival. So they had no difficulty in convincing the gnomes to let them stay the night in their village. This proved to be very helpful as it meant that the band would not have to keep watch for the night and they could be relatively certain that the necromancers would not attack them during the night. Whether or not the gnome village actually provided the band any real protection, they did make it through the night with no problems.
So, the following morning, on Moonday, the 3rd day of Flocktime, the group set out once again. A couple of hours later though, they were suddenly greeted by a huge iron golem that emerged from behind a tree and blocked the narrow trail they were traveling. It spoke one word, “Intruder”, and stepped forward to attack. The group could have probably retreated a bit and skirted around the slow moving construct. But they chose instead to attack it. It did not take long however for them to realize how difficult this fight would be as nothing they did had any great effect on it and it attacked with poisonous clouds of gas and powerful hammering blows. More than one member of the group tried to persuade the others to retreat. But most members of the group continued to battle on, and as they ganged up on it, eventually they began to wear down the animated monstrosity of iron.
As the iron golem was about to go down, Nero, who had come up with a rather questionable plan of placing his portable hole next to the golem and knocking the golem into it, was determined to see his plan through despite the fact that it was clearly unnecessary by this point. After placing his portable hole next to the golem and opening it, he could not convince any of his companions to follow through with the plan. So he cast a spell on himself that would greatly increase his chance of success at performing what would otherwise be next to impossible for him. Then he flew up above the golem with the aid of a fly spell and came charging down into it. In the process, the golem struck Nero, who then further injured himself when he slammed into the golem. But essentially his plan worked and the golem fell into the hole. It was then easily destroyed by his companions.