The aaracockra scouts returned with Myhrynn, having been attacked by some apemen in the service of Yakupinyage. More of the aaracockra had fallen and Myhrynn was sorely wounded by the accurate shooting of the apemen, who were guarding a caravan of some sort.
Wendeam and Ariel went ahead to try to use the portal to summon van Rijn, Andra, and Zell, avoiding a long mountain journey. The caravan was moving down a switchback in the road where it went down a steep slope, which seemed like an ideal ambush location. The apemen were riding bird mounts and seemed alert. The caravan itself had a massive wagon drawn by a grunting and straining ettin. A wizard riding a chestnut stallion and another human rider on a bird completed it.
Wendeam summoned the dust devil, preparing to send it across the stream. Zell tried climbing down the ravine to cross it, hoping to ambush the outrider across the stream. Unfortunately the githezerai rogue fell when a rock broke, and the ambush was broken.
The apemen reacted with coordinated ferocity, using whirring mechanical crossbows to pepper any target they could see with bolts. Ariel and Wendeam warded off their bolts while van Rijn and Andra used destructive magics. The wizard and the other human disappeared from view while the ettin advanced, throwing boulders. Unfortunately at this point the wizard rallied, throwing a fireball—-warded off by Andra’s sagacious Minor Globe of Invulnerability—-but the apemen seemed to draw bead and peppered Ariel with bolts. She retreated behind a boulder to avoid t hem. The wizard was clearly using Improved Invisibility because while he appeared after the spell, he rapidly disappeared again.
The other human proved to be a polymorphed ogre of some sort, dressed in outlandish clothes carrying a massive iron-bound club. Having Andra, Ariel, and Zell packed up with Wendeam in the way was a big temptation. The ogre breathed forth a massive cloud of cold, which Zell managed to avoid, Ariel being just out of the range. However, Andra and Wendeam took it, leaving both quite hurt. van Rijn was simply not nearby, having engaged in a magic and missile duel with one of the apemen.
At this point, Ariel used the fractal blades to bisect the obviously incredibly deadly ogre, killing the erin in the process. Zell chased after the invisible wizard, realizing that he was a threat that needed to be dealt with. However, with the rest of his troops dead he struck his colors and surrendered to Andra.
Theorodus proved to be a wizard and claimed to be a peer of the slain Gurwulf. He expressed surprise at the fact that Andra was a man and not dressed in the garb of the swamp, which seemed odd. His story proved to be this. He had been hired by Yakupinyage at a tavern—-the story was a bit bizarre, though strangely compelling to Andra—-to escort a caravan of goods. He indicated that Yakupinyage was “a fell master” and that he was not sorry to have been defeated so he could return to the tavern.. As he had been defeated, he surrendered the caravan contents, which proved to be a large collection of various mechanical and clockwork parts, including a mysterious gold tube and a strange black rod with a glass sphere on the end. These latter seemed ominously reminiscent of the mechanical parts that had been found in Trobirand’s laboratory and later incorporated into the God-Machine of Hest. Ariel shrunk the entire wagon down and van Rijn stored it in his Bag of Holding, along with the crossbows, the club of the ogre, and other items. Ariel also harvested the ettin and ogre for alchemical components, using a large syringe. The corpses of the apemen were left for the scavengers.
Theodorus indicated that Yakupinyage was building some kind of magical device in his castle and that the parts were for it. The clockwork parts had been purchased from a merchant named Kubetonn who was from a city known as Karadur. Kubetonn proved to be a goblin of some sort. He drew a picture of it, which proved to vaguely resemble a Master Gate, one that would allow entrance to the Vale of Aqaa. However, it seemed oddly malformed and containing other protuberances. Andra and van Rijn argued about negotiating with Yakupinyage, with van Rijn seeming to favor negotiating, but the tentative word was to attack him.
Andra accepted Theodorus’ parole and Theodorus indicated that he wanted to return to the tavern, which he said was only a few days away. van Rijn pondered going there but Andra thought that that would be… very dangerous to him in particular. As a battlefield seemed a poor place to camp, some searching turned up a better spot where one of Blaise Radlock’s sphere spells was employed to provide shelter.
Later on, the group came across a group of odd looking goblins wearing identical blue robes and bearing small blunderbusses. After some bizarre discussion they proved amenable to joining Andra. More travel ensued, and a war band of obviously chaotic gnolls was avoided. However, after more journeying and nearing the location of Yakupinyage’s castle a band of war trolls seemed to be wandering. Not sure whether they were working for the cloud giant, the group decided to ambush them.