After a brief period of deliberation, the party decided to gather more information about the mysterious village. Kael scouted the perimeter of the settlement, searching for tracks leading away, while Jeryk infiltrated the buildings looking for clues to the whereabouts of the elven lumberjacks. Rejoining the group, they discussed what they had found; no tracks left the village, and Jeryk reported more strange findings such as people buying buckets to use as helmets and being unable to draw water from the well due to sheer stupidity. Concluding that further investigation was needed, the group decided to enter under the protection of Droverson’s Invisibility Sphere spell, while Jeryk continued searching house-to-house. Finding a building full of pots and pans, Jeryk attempted to make a distraction. Two of the villagers came to investigate, saying almost unintelligibly “I hear noises, I HEAR NOISES!”. Jeryk was undetected and the villagers went back to what they were doing, but Jeryk decided to further use the kitchenware as distractions. Tying several pots and pans together with twine from his pack, he disguised himself to appear as one of the villagers and started walking the clanking contraption as if it were a dog. Approaching a new set of villagers, he told them that it was their turn to walk the pets. The villagers looked at him with complete lack of comprehension, then one began to speak, saying “Pots and pans? Pots and pans. Pots and pans! POTS AND PANS!”, eventually rising to a scream. At the climax of his absurd reaction, the villager’s head burst from his body revealing the head was attached to an insect-like creature known as a Mockery Drone. While the rest of the group moved invisibly into the center of the settlement, Jeryk was forced into single combat, striking and darting into the shadows to avoid being hit. When he struck the creature, however, he was damaged by its chitinous barbs and was eventually caught out in the open. Seeing Jeryk’s situation, the group decided to intervene, and left the cover of the Invisibility Sphere as devestating spells were unleashed by Darius and Droverson. Glorim, casting a Righteous Might spell, grew to immense size and mercilessly smashed his way into another group of villagers, revealing that they too were Mockery Drones. During the combat, Kael was able to identify two of them as the elven lumberjacks they were sent to retrieve, but they too had been converted into the insect-creatures and attacked the party mindlessly, resulting in their deaths. Soon, all the visible drones were killed and the party stood in the center of the village, contemplating their next move.
After a short period of deliberation, the party decided to clear out the surrounding houses of further drones. After an abortive attempt at leading a trio of drones into an ambush, things became a bit chaotic and one of the houses was set aflame during a pitched battle on a stairwell. Drawn by the fires, two more drones emerged from another house and were defeated in the town square. Searching the buildings, the party recovered a few magical items, including a powerfully-enchanted bastard sword that Jeryk decided to keep for the time being.
Having cleared all the residential buildings, the party turned toward the town hall – Jeryk decided to perform some reconnaissance while the rest of the group covered the building’s two doors. However, after several minutes went by without any sign of his return, the group cast a few spells and entered the building to find an empty ground floor. However, an unnatural darkness was obscuring half of the building, which Droverson promptly eliminated with a Greater Dispel Magic. Glorim charged down the newly-revealed stairs and began smashing his way into several more drones, quickly spotting Jeryk locked in mortal combat with a Mockery Monarch, which was attempting to devour the dark elf from below. The group quickly moved to attack, and defeated the Monarch and its three drone guardians after a brief pitched battle. Gathering up the creature’s loot, the party teleported back to Quellen’dair.
After selling their loot, the group went back to Skywalker‘s mage tower and informed him of their success at their mission. After collecting their promised reward, the group spent a short while conversing with the elven archmage – agreeing that their goals seemed aligned, Skywalker promised to have his djinni minions search for the party’s hidden enemies. Droverson used his Alter Self spell to take the appearances of Taxx Murgen, Enshaddon, Soelma Nilaenish, and a living version of Edwin Tolstoff so that the djinni would know who to look for. Skywalker sent his minions out to look, and promised to get back to the party in a few days with another task. Satisfied, the group dispersed throughout the city to purchase items and do research…