[DM: Joined by another player who has taken over playing “Jock”. Mysteriously, the wasp poison seems to have robbed him of his scottish accent :) ]
They moved on from the campsite where the giant wasps had swarmed at them, carrying Jock and set up camp further into the mushroom forest. After a few hours, Jock’s paralysis wore off and they could continue their journey.
Their presence in the forest has been noticed by the Orcs due to thunderwave spells, guiding bolt spells and the slaughter of the Myconids near the entrance. However, the caverns are vast and the forest dense and full of strange smells. By use of Clayton’s Pass Without Trace spells and his knowledge of the underdark, they manage to travel far and fast and avoid the hunting parties looking for them.
They know they are looking for a river of lava, and the jungle gets hotter as they go west, there are bubbling mud pools and streams of gently steaming water. Inside his plate mail, Gaston is slowly cooking in his own juices.
While hiding from a main path and a group of Orcs and Worgs, they approach a clearing that leads to a shallow ford. Jock and Clayton notice the ground is disturbed ahead so start looking for a way to circle round to the ford. Abraham spots some very bright mushrooms, red heads and yellow spots and pushes through the bushes to pluck them. They were mentioned in the Journal of Agraven and give off hallucinogenic spores. He plucks them, inhales the spores and becomes confused. His companions all look like giant cockroaches and seem to be speaking in clicks and growls. He panics and crosses the clearing, triggering the ambush of the Ankhegs (giant cockroaches who lie in wait beneath the ground).
The insects could have been dangerous, if they had managed to grapple and drag their victims into the tunnels below, but Davidian’s magic and the weapons of the others make short work of them. In his confusion, Abe attacks Davidian and Mulan with his sacred flames, but soon snaps out of the confusion. The two small shrooms are tucked away in his pouch.
Another day of travel brings them to the hottest part of the caverns and huge river of lava, flowing slowly left to right. They can just make out that there are creatures swimming about under the surface – visible only by the wakes they make. They speculate these may be some form of small elemental. There is the remains of a bridge, a pile of bricks left on either bank that once spanned the 100 feet or so of lava. It must have been destroyed 50 years before. Davidian starts to calculate how long it would take him to use a mending cantrip to re-attach one brick at a time to the broken bridge. Mulan starts to calculate the length of rope needed to swing over. The others continue to sneak down-stream and a couple of miles further on, find a second bridge, still standing. It arches up and over the lava in a single narrow span and there is a small stone hut on their side of it.
While they watch, two white orcs, mounted on dire wolves arrive at the far side. They stop and shout “Gorgamel!”. From the stone hut, a grizzled old hobgoblin warrior emerges (a “red orc”). He grumbles and mutters but eventually shouts back “You may pass”. His armour and greatsword are covered in painted symbols and he is heavily tattooed. He looks like a spellcaster, as well as a warrior.
They wait for the two riders to vanish into the forest and then ambush Gorgamel.
As usual, it is Gaston, in his heavy armour who makes some noise as they sneak forward, the face of Gorgamel appears at the window and the sizzling lighting of a witchfire spell engulfs him.
Clayton, Jock and Mulan all fire arrows through the hut window, but Gorgamel is heavily armoured, and though a few shots hit, he seems to be a Warcaster and easily retains his concentration on the lightning.
The veteran hobgoblin then calls for assistance “Gog and Magog! Kill these intruders” and two floating suits of red plate armour, filled with swirling flame, rise from beneath the bridge and fly across to the hut.
Despite the arrival of these fearsome-looking creatures, Gaston has to run to the hut to get out of line-of-sight of the red orc, in order for the Witchbolt spell to drop.
Davidian sends magic missiles and Abraham uses a powerful scroll to summon three Skeletal Warriors, who appear in the hut itself, hacking at Gorgamel. Abe shouts at them to kill the orc and they reply “WE OBEY, INQUISITOR!”
The red orc then raises a Spirit Guardians spell (the most powerful one the heroes have ever seen!). Despite the attacks of the three skeletal warriors and mighty blows from Gaston, he manages to retain concentration on it. It half-kills Gaston [GM: and should have half-killed the Skeletons too, but I forgot!]. The two Helmed Horrors fly over to hack at Gaston too as he is up there alone, and he goes down.
Because he is still in the area of the Spirit Guardians he will soon be dead if he gets no help. The red orc rushes outside to engulf Jock and Mulan in his spell too. He seems remarkably confident even considering his heavy armour.
Eventually enough hits get through that he should die, but a Death ward spell keeps him on his feet (and his warcaster feat keeps his concentration up. Davidian is knocked out by the Spirit Guardian, Mulan too. One of the Skeletal Warriors goes down.
Gaston gives a death rattle and is DEAD! Nobody managed to get to him with a healing spell (despite Jock, Davidian, Abraham and Clayton all having access to cure spells!).
The powerful red orc then managed to touch Jock and cast the Contagion spell. “Let’s see how good an archer you are now you are BLIND!”. His eyes go milky white and he can’t see.
Abraham resorts to hitting him with a stick but can’t get past the armour.
Finally Clayton, blind Jock and Mulan manage to kill him.
The two Helmed Horrors immediately disengage and fly back to hover over the centre of the bridge.
In the aftermath of the battle, they find a scroll of “Revivify” a spell that can return a person to life if cast within 1 minute of death. There is just time, Abraham casts it and Gaston gasps back to life.
[DM: the Contagion spell has some additional saving throws for Jock to see if it lasts for 7-days or not, we can do them at the start of the next session. If you had managed to sneak closer you would have heard Gorgamel muttering about how unfair it was that he – one of the inner circle of the red orcs, was forced to remain hear doing menial duty as a guard! There was a possibility you could have convinced him to let you pass – especially if he had been charmed by Mulan’s faerie circlet.]