Windsday, 8th of Nerth, Year 3033
Magnus, having scouted ahead of the party, comes upon a glade from where the strange sounds emanate. Peering ahead, he can see a large wagon which appears to have been chopped in half, its cargo destroyed and spilled all over the forest floor and across the dirt path. Pulling the wagon is a pair of giant badgers which sit looking very nonplussed at a large host of forest gnomes attempting to fix the wagon and gather up the contents of the wagon. They are obviously frustrated, as they argue and bicker loudly in gnomish and throw mushrooms at each other. There’s also a tall and muscular, surly looking man resting on a large battle axe standing nearby, looking annoyed. His face is scarred heavily, and one of his eyes is white and useless. Magnus thinks he looks like he could have half-orc blood in him.
Most surprising of all, Magnus can see a large wooden construct in the shape of a man, but with an arm wielding a circular saw, billowing steam and smoke. The mech is creating horrible sounds as it backfires, its limbs and upper body flailing wildly as a gnome pilot seated atop its torso attempts to gain control, cursing all the while. It’s obvious that this strange machine must’ve accidentally damaged the wagon, as well as chopped down a few nearby trees with its saw apparatus, putting a stop to the wagon’s journey.
Hardly able to believe his eyes, Magnus is surprised when an arrowhead is pointed a few inches from his face. He turns to see, to even greater surprise, an oddly familiar sight – an attractive female halfling with fiery red hair, brandishing a bow, arrow notched, directly at his face.
She whispers to him sharply, asking what he thinks he is doing, and asking if he is the one that’s been spooking her caravans lately. Magnus, trying to be smooth, asks what her name is and where she’s from. She ignores him, and presses him further, asking him to come with her or get shot. Magnus tries to persuade her to let him go grab his friends, and that they will explain everything. She is not swayed by this, and begins to threaten once again.
Magnus mentions the myconids, explaining that they are here to discuss peace terms. This changes the girl’s facial expression, turning from stern to wonder. She asks what he is talking about, but seemingly instantly, she presses her aggression again and directs him to enter the glade peacefully or she will shoot.
Magnus, sensing the danger he is in, produces his eversmoking bottle and pulls the stopper, unleashing a billowing cloud of dark smoke. The last thing he sees before slipping away is the look of growing confusion on the halfling’s face. As he escapes into the foliage, he can hear the sound of her voice shouting out in gnomish to her companions. He quickly scales a tree and keeps the smoking bottle open, letting the thick smoke fill the area and obscure his location even more.
The rest of the group, having heard the shouting and worrying about Magnus’s well-being, rushes toward the area and finds it filled with smoke. Kvothe summons a powerful gust of wind, sending a large section of the smoke blowing away, revealing Magnus perched on a low-hanging branch of a nearby tree. As they begin speaking to each other, they start to hear what sounds like the gnomes being attacked, as well as beastly roars and growls, much to their confusion.
Suddenly, a large, spiky tentacle-like appendage whips from the thick cloud of smoke, swiping about a foot away from the group, causing them to jump back instinctively. The party gets ready for a fight, brandishing weapons and charging spells, as the sounds of carnage ring out through the forest. Korag-Gora lifts his shield, mounting the head of the umber hulk on the front of the iron bands.
As they are preparing for an enemy to appear, a gnome comes screaming towards them, eyes wide. The sight of Korag-Gora’s umber helm causes him to freeze instantly, mouth agape. Alistair summons thorn whips from the earth, grabbing the gnome by the ankles and knocking it on it’s back. As it struggles to get up, another set of spiny tentacles whip out of the smoke and wrap around the gnome’s wrists. As Alistair tugs on the gnome, attempting to pull him closer to feast upon its soul, the black tentacles pull with force, and with a sickening crack, the gnomes arms are pulled from its torso as it screams in pain. Dying from blood loss, Alistair devours the departing soul of the unfortunate creature.
The group, moving towards the glade, rushing through the thick cloud of smoke, eventually find themselves surrounded by frightened gnomes, short swords at the ready, and see the broken-down wagon and mech nearby. The halfling archer stands atop the wagon, arrow notched, barking orders in gnomish and trying to regain control, and surly, scarred man stands amongst them with his large battle axe held high. Their heads swing back and forth, surveying their surroundings for signs of the assailants.
Seeing rustling in some nearby brush, Kvothe summons an entangling patch of plant growth, hoping to trap whatever is hiding there. Korag-Gora, holding his massive shield aloft, adorned with the umber hulk’s head, yells with vigor and approaches the host of strangers. As they turn to look, they are put under the spell of the umber hulk’s gaze. The gnomes begin fleeing in random directions, some dropping their swords and rushing into each other in confusion. The halfling is frozen where she stands. The badgers turn to each other and begin slashing at each other in a frenzy.
Alonwyn, having had no luck with her command in the past, commands the halfling to move towards them. Unfortunately, under the effect of the umber hulk’s eyes, she is unable to move, but the power of the commanding word is enough to make herself attempt to step forward, causing her to tumble face-forward off of the wagon and into the dirt.
Lilith, seeing the large mechanical failure flailing nearby, uses her shocking grasp on the mech, paralyzing it and causing the mechanical gears to seize up, as well as shocking the pilot quite badly. Kvothe, standing near the edge of the now-dissipating cloud of smoke, is suddenly bludgeoned by one of the spiky tentacle clubs across the back. At the same time, gnomes begin being slaughtered by tentacles reaching out around the edge of the glade.
Kvothe transforms into his dire wolf form, angry from having his blood spilled, and dives into the grass from where the tentacle emerged, finding a strange creature – a large, shadowy, purple-black feline with many legs and a pair of long, narrow tentacles whipping from its back. The ends of its tentacles are armed with large, sharp spikes. Stranger still, the creature seems to be flickering between two points, as if his eyes can’t focus on the creature or like it’s in two places at once. Kvothe, diving at the nearest “image”, bites into the creature’s neck, tearing into its flesh, eliciting a feral scream of pain. Alistair and Korag-Gora hear the sounds emanating from the grass and move to aid Kvothe.
Alonwyn, having seen the halfling fall from the wagon, paralyzed, rushes to her side and picks her up. She then spots a nearby mushroom, one that seemed similar to the springy toadstools found in the myconids’ nest, and sends them both flying back to safety by launching herself from atop the cap of the fungus and landing safely on her feet.
Lilith spots the “tentacle cat” that Kvothe has his jaws wrapped around, and fires a huge barrage of magic missiles at it, blasting its hide apart with powerful magic. Magnus bounces off of a toadstool, springing swiftly through the air in a corkscrew, but comes down hard, landing on the creature’s back and damaging himself by a bad fall. Landing right at the angry creature’s front paws, the thing begins slashing at him, tearing into his flesh and tearing him to shreds, sending blood splattering everywhere as he screams in terror and pain.
As this is happening, another tentacle cat emerges from the smokey forest, as well as a third, from behind where the seizing mech stands. The third beast, larger, and more grizzled in appearance, sets its eyes on the crowd of helpless gnomes and growls. Korag-Gora, seeing the large cat prowling towards the center of the glade, sees an opportunity. Bounding forward, he uses his massive legs to launch himself from one of the springy mushrooms, gaining extra momentum and slamming the mass of his goliath body into the useless mech, knocking it off balance and sending it teetering backwards. The incredibly heavy construct tumbles down with a huge thud, catching the beast off guard and bludgeoning it with incredible damage, as well as pinning it to the earth as it bellows in pain.
Alistair grabs the bloodied and incapacitated Magnus from the clutches of the tentacle cat, dragging him into the safety of a nearby brush, saving him from certain death. Alonwyn orders Barkley to defend Magnus while he is tended to. Lilith continues to focus on the first tentacle cat, sending an arctic ray of frost, freezing its already bloodied and damaged hide and slowing its movements. Nearby, the scar-faced man, trying to protect the confused gnomes, enters into melee with the second tentacle cat, slashing into it with his large axe.
The largest of the tentacle cats crawls from beneath the downed mech, blood dripping from its wounds, and, to everyone’s surprise, the displacer beast, already seemingly in two places at once, seems to duplicate itself three times, resulting in four identical creatures standing in a group. Korag-Gora slashes into one of the images of the creature, causing it to blink out of existence, and leaving three more.
Alistair kneels before Magnus, and uses an eldritch cantrip to spare the dying rogue, stabilizing his condition and keeping him from the brink of death. Lilith continues to volley magic at the displacer beast that downed Magnus. Alonwyn rushes over and uses a divine spell to heal his mortal wounds, allowing him to get up and re-enter the fray. He sees the largest of the beasts, and sees that it has two copies of itself, and lets fly an arrow into the cluster, just happening to hit the real one, causing the vision of the others to disappear.
The female halfling, having gotten control of herself, fires an arrow into the neck of the first beast, and causing it to flicker strangely and its whipping tentacles to cease waving – the tentacle cat had finally died.
The gnomes, finally having the effects of the umber helm wear off, begin to group up around the wagon again, holding their swords in front of them in an effort to protect themselves from the remaining displacer beasts. Some of them cast minor illusion spells to disguise themselves or create objects to hide behind.
Kvothe, still a dire wolf, jumps from a mushroom and lands in front of the largest of the cats, snapping at its great tentacles, but unable to catch them due to their great speed. Alistair launches an eldritch blast towards the other beast, but mistimes his attack and accidentally blasts the large, surly-looking man, causing him to scream in agony and drop to the ground in pain. Lilith, seeing this debacle and seeing the man in danger, launches more magic missiles at the beast.
The halfling, gritting her teeth and obviously hurt, tries to fire her bow again, but her bow breaks, possibly from damage sustained from her fall, and she collapses to the earth. Her companion, damaged greatly by Alistair’s attack, has his axe dragged and thrown by the advancing tentacle cat.
The largest of the beasts slinks quietly into the darkness of the edge of the forest, somehow seeming to become one with the shadows being cast by the setting sun. Korag-Gora tries to track its movement and, sensing its position, lobs a javelin into the hidden beast, hearing it hit its mark.
Alistair, seeing the female halfling down on the ground, as well as an abandoned sword on the ground, grabs it and helps her up, handing her the weapon and saying she will need it.
Alonwyn launches herself from a mushroom again, slashing her glaive down upon the cat that threatens the injured man, injuring it badly, and Magnus follows her attack up with an arrow to its side.
Korag-Gora, still tracking the movement of the beast beyond the edge of the glade, attempts to lob a hand axe its way, but overdoes the windup, losing his grip and sending it flying hundreds of feet backwards, causing it to disappear into the depths of the woods.
The red-haired halfling rushes to her companion’s side, producing a pouch of medicinal herbs, a poultice, and some bandages, attempting to stabilize him and fix his wounds. She slips a small berry-looking thing into his mouth, and the man regains consciousness. As she does this, the beast takes advantage and tries to attack her, but Kvothe leaps at it and tears its throat open, killing it.
Barkley, still waiting for orders from his masters near the edge of the glade, suddenly is attacked by the beast that had hidden itself in the shadows. Frozen in fear, the dog would surely have been killed if not for Lilith jumping in front of Barkley to take the full brunt of the bludgeoning tentacle, landing on the ground unconscious and bleeding out from the tearing spikes.
Korag-Gora throws another javelin into the brush where the tentacle emerged from which finds its home in the ribs of the flickering cat. Alistair runs to Lilith’s side and spares the dying tiefling using his eldritch powers. Magnus sends an arrow into the creature’s belly.
Suddenly, as if possessed by renewed courage, the band of gnomes frenziedly charge towards the final displacer beast, throwing their weapons at it, afraid to get too close. The swords have little effect on the monster, but cause some lacerations.
Enraged, the beast slashes out at Alistair who stands in defense of the vulnerable Lilith, slicing into his undead flesh. Korag-Gora, with a mighty roar, stabs his great sword directly into the underbelly of the beast, finally slaying the shadowy creature.
Kvothe turns to the fallen mech, its pilot unconscious at the helm, and holds Foxfire aloft, its magical toadstools glowing bright green, and a huge patch of mushrooms and fungus sprouts all over the ground and from the wooden pieces of the construct, covering it entirely with beautiful foliage.