Shadrach caught up with the rest of the group returning from his pilgrimage with a pair of newly formed semi-functional wings . Theo declared this to be a miracle , Shadrach’s reward for his unflinching opposition to enemies of Menoth’s good works . Shadrach delivered a message from Lantona that Theo was to report back for Officer Candidate Training School . He eagerly drove off , glad to leave the band of heretics and monsters he was forced to work with behind . Shortly thereafter they were approached by Hathor and Jak , old acquaintances of Crow’s. They joined the party without comment . That night when Hathor awoke to relieve Ace from watch Ace was nowhere to be seen . Hathor and Crow started looking for tracks while Shadrach found Renwald lying in a pool of blood , the victim of multiple stab wounds to the chest . Max healed Renwald but he was also suffering from the same kind of poison that had effected Shadrach in Homlet when he was attacked by Furnock . Hathor found a hatless Ace sleeping in a ditch a short distance away . After being awakened Ace told them he had seen someone sneaking into the camp and tried to sneak up on them but was taken down by a sleep spell . Crow and Hathor tracked the intruder for a while , finding a spot where it seems he met up with another party and they both rode off . Returning to meet with the giant eagle and the hippogriffs the party asked if they would help them search the area before proceeding on to the dwarven weaponsmithing operation .
A few hours later one of the hippogriffs returned and the crew mounted and flew to a small stream where a riderless horse was drinking . Presuming it to be mounted by an invisible personage Shadrach launched himself off his mount and unfurling his new wings executed a devastating diving attack that sliced the horse in two . The rest of the party landed and Ace looked around with his magic , seeing no invisible corpses laying around . Crow and Hathor picked up some tracks – their theory was that someone had dismounted , walked a short ways and then was bushwhacked . Only one set of tracks lead away from the site of the scuffle and they were quickly lost . It was determined that whomever had left the tracks had initiated some fairly sophisticated counter-tracking measures .
The eagle suggested that they continue on to the dwarf-hold and some of the hippogriffs would search the area in the meantime . Upon hearing that the only known entrance to the operation was a smelting chimney guarded by two manticores abandoning the mission was discussed . Ace took charge and outlined a plan . Shadrach would attack from above then retreat to a spot where Ace was set to spring an ambush . They would briefly engage and then retreat again , leading into a killzone where Crow and Hathor would rain down arrows . Shadrach mounted up again and then executed a HALO jump , catching the manticores completely by surprise and gravely wounding one with a channeled Shocking Grasp/Blade of Blood attack . He then Expeditiously Retreated with one manticore in hot pursuit while the wounded one fled . Ace sprang his ambush but missed and was pounced upon by the manticore and mauled badly . Hathor began firing as Shadrach and Crow rushed to save their precious leader . They battered the beast to bits and Ace commandeered all Max’s healing for the day – because without the leader, all is lost .
Searching the area they found (and shot and beat up) a slave that had escaped with the help of a elf-maid who was pretending to be charmed by the overseer and doing what little she could to help the other slaves . He had a Censor of Sweet Air that helped him climb up the chimney without succumbing to the fumes . It was seized and he was offered a ride on one of the hippogriffs down the mountain . He accepted and immediately fell to his death . While Ace discussed his plan to climb down the chimney and scout, Jak climbed down the chimney and scouted .
Ace formulated a plan that he and Jak would use their stealth to assassinate the dwarf overseer . This plan was changed several times which necessitated climbing back up and down the chimney several times . Eventually Ace lost his grip was about to plunge into the molten metal below but was saved by Max’s Levitate spell . Shadrach contemplated jumping down on top of him but ultimately was dissuaded . Ace told his compatriots to block the chimney with the manticore corpse and they would use the distraction to make their move . While Jak and Ace were studying in area in preparation for the assassination they could not resist pushing a careless bugbear into the smelter . No one seemed to notice so they did it again, but this time Ace was seized . He was taken into a shack and shortly thereafter came out and climbed back up the chimney , telling them to remove the corpse because they had “won” . Hathor chopped the body up enough to the point where it slid down into the molten ore . Seeing that Ace was assisting the dwarves and bugbears, Jak stealthy flicked some of the molten metal into the pocket of one of the dwarves . Ace found this hilarious and was dragged into the shack again .
Jak took his opportunity to climb back out the chimney . Negotiations were attempted but quickly reached an impasse . Max contacted Lady Mytara and they said backup could be there in a few days but no one wanted to wait so it was decided that the best thing to do was to block up the chimney and kill everyone with poisonous vapors . They tried boulders but they were transmuted to mud . They tried cloth and it was burned . Then they just started throwing crap down there, hoping to splash the slaves with molten metal for some reason . In the meantime Jak had found a crevasse that lead into one of the slave-pens . It was decided they would rest and recover and then attempt an assault in the morning . In the night Hathor’s dog started barking its head off and while everyone else ignored it Hathor fired blindly into the night . It was a bugbear night-raid . After a furious battle the bugbears were defeated and one taken captive . He told them about a secret entrance into the cavern . He promised that he would get all the other bugbears to leave before they attacked . He also promised to feed the slaves an elixir that would break the magic binding them . He further promised he would arm and free the slaves to coincide with the attack . Shadrack killed him .
The next morning ready for the attack the party saw the slaves making their way down the mountain lead by an elf-maid . Asking them what happened the former slaves said that the bugbears had broken the spells on them , set them free and armed them . They rose in revolt and the dwarves bugged out . Strangely no one seemed to wonder how this plan was enacted since the bugbear who proposed it was slaughtered . A few of the former slaves offered their magic items to the group in gratitude but they were refused . The party continued on to the smelting operation and freed Ace . They tossed the few Massog blades that had been left behind in the smelter to destroy them . In thanks the eagle granted them the fabled Spear of Phractos known sometimes as the Red Mist . The hippogriffs returned them to their campsite and they continued on their way to Bogsbridge . In the Forest of Trolls they encountered a wizard from Sundown who wanted to make sure that a wand of stone to flesh that he had purchased worked before it tried it on the petrified villagers in his home but was afraid to face a troll . A troll was buried headdown and Hathor prepared a bonfire and torch in case . The wand worked but the troll could not struggle its way out and suffocated . They continued on to Sundown prepared to face the fury of the basilisk that Arim the wizard said was there .
Ace scouted the area and saw no basilisk . The party sent Arim forward to use his wand while they kept watch . Arim used the wand and the statue turned out to be a petrified Vrock . Arim took off running and turned invisible . Using his magic Ace pursued and Crow followed . Hathor hid while Shadrach prepared to face the demon alone . Ace shot at the fleeing invisible mage and said that he killed him so Crow turned back to aid Hathor . The demon smashed some of the other statues while Crow and Shadrach assailed it . Once injured the demon teleported away . Shadrach searched the area and found a giant constrictor snake . He was about to kill it but it spoke to him in Draconic and there was a parley instead . The snake lead them to Arim’s body (whom he had killed) and then to the villagers hiding in the woods . Father Nolo said if they were willing to face the demon again he would aid them with this magic . He anointed them with holy oil to protect them from the Vrock’s deadly spores , enchanted their weapons to overcome its physical resistance , and went with them . The demon had smashed most of the rest of the statues when Shadrach came swooping down to attack . Nolo prevented it from teleporting away while Crow and Shadrach battered it . Ultimately it was brought low by Hathor’s arrows . The last three statues were turned back to flesh and Nolo told them the demon had attacked them and his acolytes had performed a ritual that would turn the demon (and themselves) to stone to protect the village . Shadrach recovered a Chalice of Blood from the demon corpse and Nolo said that he would work on turning it into a Chalice of Blessings that they could have if they ever returned .
Continuing on to Dramshae they stopped to see if they could pick up the long cold trail of Vacra . The only person in town was a old one legged man who was mending clothes while everyone else was out working in the fields . Max talked to him while Crow , Shadrach and Hathor went to work with the villagers (and terrify them with their nudity) . The old man told them that someone they assumed to be Vacra had come into town about the right time looking for a magic sword . Said sword has been wielded by a wicked elf who ran afoul of Old Scorchbark , the treeman who lives in Hollow’s Heart . They headed into the hollow and Shadrach was prepared to fight the treant but Hathor was able to speak with him instead . An irda did come into this area looking for the sword and Scorchbark pounded him into the ground like a nail . The body was exhumed and his stuff looted . The mayor/priestess of Dramshae agreed to cure Renwald but in return he had to stay and work off his debt . And so it was . The party continued on towards Bogsbridge without him .