This AP report covers everything that had happened in the game up to this report. The cast of characters are as follows (the character with a single asterisk are the main PCs; those with a double asterisk are retainers):
Evil Jeff's Characters
*Velsind Flere- Warlock 6
**Barbat Rauta - Ironskin 3
**Amagar Cacar- Scout 3
*Nerhgui - Fighter 6
**Kalan - Cleric 3
**Safa - Destrier 2
**Blodwyn - Bard 2
**Vygr Bloodtooth - Gnoll Sorcerer 1
*Ciaran - Magic-User 6
**Ruarc - Assassin 3
**Slainte - ''Cerves'' Brave 3
Orpheus - Assassin, Level 6
** Vallistra - Godborn (Eladrin) Level 4
Jon G's Character
*Sir Keyan Telva - Knight 6
**Blix - Goblin 3
**Ugla - Goblin Mage 4
Adventurers gather together in Liwil. The group begins with Velsind, Nerhgui, Farad, each with their henchmen. They meet with the Basilisk Knights to learn about the situation in the area. They meet with the commander, Balcar, and Anven, second in command. Information is learned about the abandoned keep north of Liwil that is currently occupied by a large contingent of troglodytes. They also learn of a manticore and a dragon that is also found somewhere to the north of Liwil and a village of orcs to the northwest. Information about reopening the road that goes north to the town of Junction and a village along the way is given with some weight. The rumors of a cursed plateau west of Liwil and a village named Sin in the haunted forest of the Darkwoods to the east are shared. Finally, the Knights are looking for an artifact, a medallion, that was stolen from them and they are eager for its return but know not where the thief went to. After some discussion, the group decides that dealing with the troglodytes would be their first move.
The next morning, the group heads north and locates the keep. They send forth three of their stealthiest members to scout of the keep. They note a number of trogs around the keep and see two items that are significant to them: a set of trogs guarding a small building on the left side of the keep and that a tree on the back right side of the keep seems to being avoided by the trogs. They also sneak into the keep to try and observe how many and where they are inside. The stench is enough that they realize they need something to help them face their foes in close quarters.
Returning to town, they visit the local alchemist. Here they encounter Selah Raz, an owfolk. They learn that she has a concoction that can allow the user to block the smell of the trogs for a short time. She only has two doses but could make four more doses but will take at least three days. In order to get a lower price on the salve, she asks them to obtain a special fungus that grows in the forests to the east. It is that this point that Farad leaves the group for other adventures.
The group heads to the east towards the town of the Owlfolks, Highglade. Along the way, they surprise some goblins fishing in a stream in the forest. They run before the party can make contact. They arrive in the owlfolk village, built into, on, and under a huge set of trees, and is found welcoming. The group meet with Zindar, a resident who helps them navigate the unusual town. They meet with Renald Reney, their leader, who agrees to send a guide, Zindar, to help find the fungus that grows on the carcasses of dead giant spiders. The next morning, they wake to find that one of the mercs had succumbed to a special drug that the owlfolk use for "dream walking". They left the merc there to be tended by a special dream walking priest, Dalshal, with hopes that his mind can be returned to his body.
The group heads into the woods east of the town and searches several areas that had spider activity. They luck out and find enough of the fungus and head back to town. Along the way, they encounter a strange building that gives off a bad vibe. They are told that some creature lives in this thing and comes out at night to roam around, killing whatever it happens to find. An investigation around the building turns up tracks that go in and out of the building, with no set path leading away. The party decides to mark this place for future investigation and probably elimination of whatever creature it may be.
Return to the town brings good news as the merc was able to have his mind rejoin his body. The party agree that no party member will take the drug again. Learning what trade items the owlfolk want, they return to Lewil. It is at this point that Babulaala leaves the party and new members, Ciaran, Orpheus, and Sir Keyan, plus all their retainers, join. They are brought up to speed with the plan to oust the trogs. Another day of scouting occurs to verify that the assault plan will work and the next day it is put into motion.
The trogs are beaten and eight or so are left alive. One trog, named Maduruk, is given the leader's club and instructed to head west and never come back on forfeit of life. They leave, somewhat gratefully. Cleaning out the keep is a smelly task but reveals some money and a few magical items and a ring that bears the symbol of the Basilisk Knights. The group investigates both the tree and the small building on the left side of the keep. The tree is found to be a dead dryad tree, now only useful for creating magic items. The small building is found to have a deep pit with what they believe is a black pudding (they have never encountered one but have heard of it) that seems to be staying inside the pit. Information from the trogs before their forced departure informed them that the trogs had given it food every few days which seemed to placate it. The group decides to leave it in there and feed it a little less occasionally.
Cleanup of all outlying buildings is done first then the main keep. Mercs are rotated with this job for the time being. The party heads back to Liwil and meets with the Basilisk Knights and returns the ring. This brings them good favor with the Knights and this is exploited by having their mage Huten begin to identify a ring and dagger found in the keep. Exploration of the town allows them to meet with the horse trainer used by the Knights and with the alchemist again. The labor force to repair the keep is not present in Liwil so henchmen are dispatched to head to Dry Gulch to hire workers.
The main party begins the process of clearing out the area surrounding the keep. It is decided that they start in the south then go in a clockwise fashion. This allows them time to clear things and not face the manticore in the southeast part of the area or possibly encounter the dragon that is said to be in the woods that start to the east of the keep. During the process of exploring and clearing the area, the group encounters a mountain lion and cubs sleeping in their den. The mother is dispatched and the cubs taken back to the keep to be raised as potential pets/familiars.
In the northwest area from the keep, the main group finds what appears to be an old slate mine. They adventure in and are quickly confronted with two paths to follow. The right path seems to have a colder feel to it which leads the group to feeling that it descends into the earth further. They go to the left to explore. They encounter and kill some crab spiders then harvest useful parts from them. Encountering the end of the mine, they turn back and head down the right path. After a few moments, they find some interesting shells growing on the walls of the tunnel. Some experimentation lets them determine that these creatures (some weird shellfish possibly) spit acid then close up. The team uses this to their advantage to make them use this attack to no avail then kill them. It is only after destroying all of them that they realize leaving them alive might have allowed them to harvest the acid or other items. A few pearls are found in their shells.
Reaching a steep incline, the cold has increased a significant amount. The incline has timbers every five feet which allows the group easier access down than first thought. They still use a good amount of rope to help get down and to allow for a quicker exit. At the bottom, the cold seems unnatural. The party moves forward a bit and is able to see a figure sitting against the far wall with a small mound of stacked slate rocks a short way over to one side. Talking and movement near it does not cause the figure to stir. The group readies itself as the mound of stone is touched. A form rises up from the body and begins to tell the group to leave his belongings.
The ghost causes a couple of party members to flee. With the thought that the ghost came up from the corpse, Kalan threw holy water onto it. The ghost shrieked and the party began striking at the ghost. Amazingly, the party was able to damage and destroy the ghost without the use of magical weapons. The pile of slate was found to cover up a large amount of platinum plus a few magic items. The adventurers also collect some bones from the corpse, reasoning that such objects could be turned into potent magical items.
At the same time the main party was in the mine, the remaining mercs at the keep with Barbat and Vygr noted some movement to the west of the keep. A small force rode out to meet what happened to be a party of orcs waving a white flag. The orcs introduce themselves as members of the Gangrenous Orc tribe, with Drero, a warlock, speaking for them. They also see that the troglodyte Maduruk is with the orcs. The orcs make it know that they are not looking for a conflict but warn the keep not to come west, but the undertone of a future conflict is apparent. A subtle warning is given to the trog before the two sides break off.
The main party continues their clearing of the land around the keep, finishing up in the north and coming down to the eastern side. They find some evidence of the rumored dragon in the forest to the east as they are heading back to the keep. Then, in the distance to the south, they see the manticore flying about. They watch as long as they can and mark roughly where the manticore finally drops towards the ground. The party then plans to head and scout the area where they feel the manticore is lairing. They decide to keep inside the trees to provide cover from the manticore as they head southeast.
About two thirds of the way to where they saw the manticore, they encounter the dragon. The green, sinewy wyrm coils up and the two sides stare at each other. That is, until Sir Keyan charges the dragon on horseback. The knight and dragon clash, doing damage to each other, then the rest of the party begin their attack. Forturnately for them, the knight is able to deal another blow along with some other attacks and takes the young dragon down before it can attack again. They harvest parts from the dragon then begin to track where the dragon came from.
After half a day, they arrive at a mound in the forest. It takes a little time but they find an entrance into the hill behind some bushes. They wind their way into the hillside, snaking back and forth through the tunnel. In the center of the mound, they find the dragon's horde. They also note two tunnels that lead away from the central chamber. Noting that both other routes have not been used recently, they explore them one at a time. Dispatching some shrews at one entrance and crisping up a black widow at another, they decided that they were safe enough inside. They then turned to figuring out how to get the massive amount of coinage back to civilization.
The second party began their journey towards Dry Gulch. It was a two day trip for them and they took care to look for signs of the bandits that were said to be roaming in this area. Early on the second day, the party noted some tracks and got an idea of the area that the bandits operated in. It was decided that they would take care in this area when returning.
They make it to Dry Gulch as night begins to fall and camp for the night. The next day they split up into separate tasks. Laborers, carpenters, and masons are secured for service at the keep. They learn more about horses and what it might take to hire a competent horse trainer. They also visit a sage who gives them some good history of the area around Dry Gulch. They also learn of the town's leadership structure but fail to meet any of the leaders that first day.
The group makes contact with Joferth, leader of a caravan that is heading towards Lewil in the next few days. He is so impressed with the group and the new possibility of trading and extending their reach towards the owlfolk town that he gives them another wagon and six more steeds. The party agrees to lend their strength to guarding the caravan which overjoys Joferth. The party does meet with Wilsea, the leader of the Merchant guild, and learns of some of the items that they are interested in.
Feeling that there might be some sort of spy that watches the actions in Dry Gulch and informs the Red Foot gang, the party makes plans to watch for anyone leaving early. When the day comes, they ride out with the caravan and stop for the night at a spot that seems to be a regular stopping spot along the route to Liwil.