Instead, they headed into the hills along the Rideline Trail, not much more than an animal track. They found a patch of blue whinnis, a moderately powerful poison and the druid Shade harvested some. He found goblin tracks nearby and tracked them into the hills, where he discovered a young goblin dead on the ground. Stuffed in his mouth was blue whinnis, with no signs of foul play.
The party returned to the trail and came across more goblins, but these were a bit different. These were shambling yellow musk zombies, according to the druid. Six of the creatures shambled down the hill and everyone hid. They spotted the summoner's eidolon and quickly bludgeoned it to death.
The group returned to town to follow up on some leads and returned two days later to find the source of the zombies. In the hills was the the yellow musk creeper living happily in a field of hot peppers, planted, it turned out, by the ranger's father. This was the pepper patch that he was hoping to find (the ranger was busy in town following up some leads). The party attacked the creeper. One of the guardsmen was slain instantly as he rushed in to attack, tendrils ripping into his brain, but the plant creature was quickly slain thereafter, due to the guardsmen sacrifice.
The party returned to town once again, paid a reward to the family of the slain guardsmen, and successfully recruited a young female cleric of Diancecht. With a cleric with them, they decided to finish off the zombies, and sure enough, her channeling of divine power fried them without much trouble.
While in town they had interrogated a smithy who had provided the bloomery for the bandits. He spoke of a shrine to The Horned One in the hills where he was recruited. The party made their way there and discovered the shrine, along with a secret entrance to chambers below.
The area below the shrine was made of a strange, gray crystalline structure that they determined was extraplanar in origin. Besides a staircase down to the structure, they had found a sinkhole that had claimed the life of a forlarren, an evil fey.
Exploring the chambers, they found a hot springs and a pool inhabited by a nereid who attempted unsuccessfully to charm the druid. They party struggled with it for a while, but they eventually brokered a peace.
Moving on, they found a chamber with frightening beetles that were repairing the floor where someone had carved a knot design. The beetles extruded the crystalline material that made up the structure. Beyond this room was a door with a Wall of Force and a Symbol of Sealing. The materials used to create these magical wards appeared to be from a variety of sources, including druidic, elven, divine and arcane. There had been a concerted group effort to seal off this area.
They explored the other side of the complex and found a strange snail like creature sucking out the insides of a chrysalis, a creature had been completely encased in the crystalline material (later discovered to be another Forlarren).
Fighting the snail, a specialized version of a flail snail with carrion crawler like tentacles, the party found their backs to the Nereid pool, and not surprisingly, she used the opportunity to break their pace, dragging the summoner, Maedock, into the water.
Despite the cleric having been sucked into the shell of the mollusk, Shade slammed the door on the snail to focus on the neireid. She was quickly defeated, once the party concentrated their efforts and the snail was turned to next. The Eidolon tore it apart and the slime covered cleric was rescued.
Various treasure was discovered in both the hot pool and the chrysalis with the forlarren, including a couple maps. The forlarren map included instructions to report on new defenses the town may have added and to avoid certain area, notably the area near where Blackthorn the druid lives and an unknown site in the forest. The second map was more of a treasure hunters map, which included this complexes location and the site of a cairn of a famous battle wizard. That is likely the next stop for the party.
The final room of the complex contained a number of strange chairs that grew out of the floor. Those who sat in the chairs could combine their thoughts to create a kind of "hive mind," while the lead chair could send suggestions to the lesser chairs. This was clearly extraplanar magic and the party decided they would need to come back to this later.Note in infernal: Scout the valley around the town and report back on any new defenses or any more of their nasty children skulking around. There is crude map of the valley showing the town, the hill trail and areas to avoid with a red “x” and a “do not go” (the druid Blackthorn and an area in the forest).
Unholy Symbol of Crom