Backdated to game time
On their way out of the Underdark, the party met more resistance from Inevitables. This time they faced two improved Zelekhut models, who were able to dispel the party’s magical defenses, resist Alithor’s blasts, and force the party to retreat to The Sky-ship. Once in the air, the party used the ship’s natural defenses and superior maneuverability – including a barrel roll that shook a Zelekhut off the ship – to slowly chip away at the hapless slow-flying constructs.
Once back at the mouth of the Underdark cave, the party found an illusion of a robed man, who quickly introduced himself as a follower of the Dark Prince. He offered to provide direct evidence that the party was in fact innocent; in exchange the party would simply cease to find pieces of the ritual. Graz’zt apparently preferred that an “end game” created by said ritual occurred later rather than sooner. The party politely refused, and told him to go away. He made some oblique comments about eating into various players’ hands and left.
The party made its way (kobolds in tow) to Hanuman’s point – a massive, magical tree. A powerful druid turned himself into a massive protected habitat with mini forest pods as branches. The tree hid something for Hanuman, and would give it back once Hanuman returned.
However, upon arrival the party realized that the tree had been plagued. It could not provide what Hanuman desired until the Druid’s spirit regained full control of The Great Tree, which meant removing the corruption from various parts of the tree. A local elven tribe informed the angels that the corruption was guarded by various plagued forces, along with an unstoppable sniper in the shadows. The party inferred that this was Halledrim the Shadow, Hanuman’s corrupted counterpart.
There were four points of corruption, each guarded by various beasts and supported by Halledrim. The party first encountered some hapless corrupted elves, along with giant Girallons and Hellwasp Swarms, and Halledrim providing sniping shots. The party could not find Halledrim as he sniped them, but once the Girallons and Swarms were taken care of, he seemed to leave.
The second point was guarded by a grove of dryads, an Oaken Defender, and of course more sniping from the shadows. Once again the party was able to drive away the defenders in spite of arrows piercing them from a distance. This time the tree itself lit up the area where Halledrim was sniping, forcing the gnome silmulacrum to retreat.
Dark monkeys, which had plagued the group in the jungles north of Ithaca, helped the group find that Halledrim had gone to a more corrupted part of the tree with massive boars. The party used the sky-ship to attack the boars from the air, but there was something else in the grove, as rain quickly turned into thunder strikes. Alithor was able to dodge the lightning, but the ship took serious damage.
The ship retreated from the lightning storm, picking off more boars around the periphery, then returned after the magical storm faded. Halledrim, again lit up by The Great Tree, decided to go all out, almost killing Alithor in one volley of arrows. Hanuman raced over to Halledrim, turning his nemesis to slush with a great volley of spines as he said witty one-liners. A Verdant Prince then turned Hanuman into a frightened squirrel, then defeated by removing his corruption shortly thereafter.
The final pool of corruption was unguarded, as the demons that were once there likely left after Halledrim’s simulacrum came undone. At last, the Messenger found The Totem of Hanuman, which brought forth some of his angelic spirit and contained another piece of the ritual.