Dispensing with Jackals

The party hurries from Fallcrest to the Stonemarch Mountains, looking for the Dragon Teeth Peaks where they expect to find the home of Thorim’s father that was taken over by Jackals. At the edge of the mountains, they spend the night in Winterhaven, a rough mountain town with a significant dwarven population. There Wylael meets Brannon, a fellow ranger who seems to know something of the ancestral spirit world as Wylael does. The party spends an otherwise uneventful evening in the tavern. Eidolon discovers a small bag of jems in her room that evening.

The next morning they set out in the mountains and narrowly avoid a large and frightening ogre. Later they encounter a little imp devil named Zeeblek. Warily the party avoids dealing with him despite his boasts of knowing all that goes on in the mountains, and having information to provide those who work with him and curses to visit on those who defy him. Zeeblek taunts that his master Nezul is soon to come into the world.
Later that day the party locates the dwarven home and finds it guarded by the Jackals and their goblin slaves. With stealth, cunning, and deadly accuracy they dispatch with the intruders, tossing some jackals off ledges and over bridges into the water below. Afterwards, they find a secret door, containing the old dwarven man’s sizable stash of treasure, a tiny dryad trapped in a jar (!), and a strange, red-glowing rune carved into a stone. They also find this letter:

“There was nothing I could do, my children were growing increasingly sick and nothing could heal them. Kord did not hear my prayers. I sensed the growing presence of shadow over the last few months, and the imp showed me it was the growing presence of Nezul, soon to come into the world. I took the talisman of protection he offered me. My children were healed but it has been a curse to me ever since. I fear what will happen to me if Nezul comes as the imp says, for now I have been marked by the demon. I am ashamed to tell my family or anyone about it.”

After leaving the dwarven home empty, the party wastes no time in seeking the fabled lair of the Venom Queen, which by legend disappears and reappears in a new location at dusk each day. Guided by the trusty direction-finding toad they took from the evil assassins they had slain, they head east, out of the mountains, past lake wintermist, and into the nearby forest (not far from Cormanthor the elven home). Soon, right before their eyes, a large stone pavilion materializes before their eyes. It is covered in vines and ivy and there is a single entrance. They party boldy enters, despite a magical warning voice. A whirlwind of magically animated blades opposes their entrance, but they defeat the blades and make their way in. Soon, they find themselves in a maze of tight hedges, full of bizarre and deadly plants, and nasty creatures that lash out as they try to make their way through the maze. They hear the taunts and laughter of the venom queen resonate around them as they push onward…



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