Elllu'kha and her group had killed the three goblin leaders and were now trying to find the safest route out of the ruins so they could at last find Halsin and get the hell out of here.
Alas, all the goblins in camp were now hostile towards them and they couldn't just leave the old-fashioned way, and so, they explored the ruins and found an ancient part of the temple deep beneath the earth.
They hoped that there would be a way out down this way.
While exploring this deep part of the ruins, however, Ellu'kha found waypoint runes! Of course! They could use the runes to escape. And, since there were runes here, they could easily return and continue their exploration if they felt adventurous.
Ellu'kha had promised to find Halsin though. She didn't really feel any major need to remove the parasite now that she had a great protector looking out for her, but they needed to find Halsin all the same. When she made a promise, she kept it.
They used the waypoint and appeared in the outside world, breathing in the beautiful fresh air, had a quick rest, and then strolled back towards the goblin camp, ready to take down each and every goblin that would be waiting for them.
Crossing the bridge, they slowly and methodically took down the goblins and their ogre of a bodyguard and investigated the camp in relative peace.
There was no sign of Halsin though. No druid corpses either, so perhaps he had gotten out of here by himself. Either way, finding no corpse was a relief and they would return to the tieflings to let them know the way was now safer.
Before returning to the tieflings in the druid grove, they settled down for the night and once more dreamed about the strange woman who was protecting them from the parasitic transformation.
Apparently the woman also had a parasite in her head, and sought to remove it just as they, but gained a power over it. Now she was using the power to protect Ellu'kha and her companions, but someone else was trying to take the power away from her.
She told Ellu'kha to keep using the parasitic power and gain strength from it, and use it to infiltrate the inner circle of the Absolute so they could be destroyed.
Everyone had the same dream and each had their own interpretation of the dream. Shadowheart and Lae'zel still seemed disgusted at the idea of using the power, but Wyll had come around.
As they headed back to the tiefling camp, Shadowheart told Ellu'kha about one of the few memories she actually had, since she had undertaken voluntary forgetfulness in service to her goddess. She had been a child, running through the forest, lost and alone, when people of the goddess Shar had found her and brought her to safety. She shared this memory via the parasite's telepathy and from what Ellu'kha could tell, it appeared as though when Shadowheart had been a child she had actually been a follower of the goddess Selune.
Shadowheart didn't want to hear of it and turned away.
Then Gale desired another magical item to consume. This time Ellu'kha had stashed an item in her pack that was magical but would be of no use to them and allowed Gale to absorb it into himself.
Only this time, it appeared the magic did nothing for him. He still felt discomforted. He was most dismayed by this and said that he needed to think about what was happening.
Finally they returned to the tiefling camp and found them packing their belongings — they were preparing to leave the druid's grove. They were grateful that the goblin leaders had been eradicated and with the goblins now in a state of disarray they could flee in safety.
First, though, they offered to host a celebration party that night at Ellu'kha's camp if that would be acceptable. That would be very acceptable indeed!
The leader of the tieflings also mentioned that Halsin had escaped as the goblin camp fell into chaos and was speaking with the other druids. He would likely want to thank her.
Ellu'kha and her group proceeded to the druid grove and soon heard raised voices. As they turned the corner and followed the stairs downwards, they saw Kagha, the bitchy druid, being reprimanded by a great muscular beast of a man. Ellu'kha guessed that this was Halsin.
He reprimanded Kagha for her horrible acts in driving away the tiefling refugees, for invoking such a powerful ritual unnecessarily, and told her that she was no longer in charge. She was now relegated to but a novice and was lucky that he didn't simply exile her forevermore.
Kagha bowed her head, chastened by Halsin's remarks, and walked away.
Halsin then introduced himself to Ellu'kha and thanked her for the actions she undertook eradicating the nearby goblin menace. He had been at the goblin encampment seeking answers as to the True Souls and the Absolute and had escaped during the chaos she had caused.
Ellu'kha asked him — somewhat hesitantly as she thought of the woman in her dreams — if he knew a method of removing these parasites. But he did not. Not these particular ones at any rate.
He then encouraged her to relax this day, celebrate with the tieflings that night, and they would speak on the morrow.
That sounded like a good plan.
While the tieflings were packing their belongings, Ellu'kha and her companions explored the region... and found their way to the locked door they had first discovered when they were lost and confused on the beach.
Ellu'kha nodded at Gale who waved his arms and used his Knocking spell to unlock the door, and inside they went.
Inside was a long forgotten crypt filled with traps. Thankfully Ellu'kha was high on alert and noticed each and every pressure plate that could've otherwise led them to their doom.
Investigating a few chambers, they came across a group of looters who didn't stop to talk and instead attacked on sight. Ellu'kha and her people had no choice but to defend themselves and soon the looters lay dead amongst the dead of the ancients.
Further into the ancient tomb lay a secret crypt. When activated, skeletons sprung into life and tried in vain to stop Ellu'kha and her companions from reaching a long-abandoned treasure.
The skeletons were soon turned into rubbles of bone upon the cold floors and the treasure was ripe for the taking. A strange coin sat amongst the loot. A coin that Ellu'kha pocketed, hoping to find answers for. Perhaps she could find a scholar or something who knew more about this mysterious thing.
Shadowheart complained of being tired after their excursion through the temple so they had a brief rest then continued onwards.
Just outside of the goblin encampment was a broken village with goblins inside — Ell'kha had spoken with the goblins here previously and gained safe entry to the village, and it seemed as though they were yet unaware of the fates of their fellow goblins.
That was no bother to her. It would be nice to stop fighting for just a moment and do some proper exploring. Indeed, there was a cave just outside of the village... Ellu'kha noted it on her map and would return to check it out at some point.
A small ways up the path past the cave, a beautiful white dog forlornly sniffed at a corpse. Ellu'kha slowly approached the animal and asked it what had happened.
He was cautious of this group at first, but Ellu'kha soon gained its trust. His name was Scratch and he was waiting for his master to wake up. Ellu'kha tried to tell him that his master wasn't going to be waking up, but Scratch wouldn't listen.
Finally, Ellu'kha told him that if his master never woke up, he had her scent and could find her camp. Then said farewell to the pup, hoping it would be alright.
Back in the village, hoping to find something of interest the goblins may have taken, a loud thumping suddenly caught the group unawares.
The sound was positively shaking a building nearby, shuddering the ground, it was like an earthquake but centralised... Ellu'kha couldn't help herself. She was curious, and crept over to the shaking building and opened the door...
...only to be greeted by a bugbear pounding an ogre from behind.
Ellu'kha was stunned. Her group was stunned. The bugbear leapt out of the ogre and covered his nether region and bellowed at the horrified group — why the hell would they just barge in like that?
Ellu'kha didn't know what to say. Stunned, she tried to slowly back out and away from the couple.
The ogre was having none of it. Leaping to her feet, she roared with anger at Ellu'kha's group for the audacity in which they ruined her pleasure and attacked.
The attackers, though naked and unprepared, were still formidable foes but Ellu'kha and her people were soon victorious...
As the floes of battle ebbed away, Ellu'kha muttered to herself, "Never thought I'd ever walk in on a bugbear and an ogre."
Lae'zel then replied, "I'll refrain from relaying the details of my conquests..."
Ellu'kha didn't want to know. She really did not.
Until next time! 😊