After greeting each other and exchanging tales of the recent past, the Motley Crew assessed the situation with the hobbits. Already many halflings had been eaten by these creatures that burrow underground, creating tunnels in the earth as they travel. The crops had been destroyed. If not for their proximity to Lake Pern, the village would have starved weeks ago.
The mayor seemed grateful, but there were a few who resented the group's presence. One belligerant halfling expressed disbelief that such a small band of people could possibly do anything for them and advocated moving the townsfolk to the Ruins of Pern, abandoning the fields to the land sharks. Alana tactfully pointed out the group's greater stature as compared to the halflings, as well as extolling their recent success at defeating the Red Bull - modestly, of course.
A priest of Yondalla eyed Josy with disapproval. She had travelled on the holy day, something forbidden by their faith. Josy defended herself, saying travelling in order to help in such a cause could only be approved by Yondalla, but the priest did not approve of this liberal interpretation of the religion. Flerm, his usual protective self over Josy, stepped in and quietly encouraged the priest to take his insults and glares elsewhere.
Having once again used diplomacy to smooth ruffled feathers, the party ignored the naysayers and worked on a plan. The land sharks seemed to be attracted to surface vibrations and they stayed away from rocky areas. They also seemed fairly intelligent, able to avoid an attempt by the halflings to lure the land shark onto a rocky outcropping. It was unclear how many the group would have to deal with. And that wasn't all. The tunnels created by the land sharks had also attracted many other creatures - giant insects and worms.
Brecaryn's only knowledge regarding these creatures was that they were extremely protective of their young. Endless miles of underground tunnel populated by giant insects and worms and some unknown number of land sharks plus possible offspring - no problem!
Flerm suggested flooding the tunnels using the water from Lake Pern. The problem was such an undertaking would undoubtedly attrack the land sharks. So, first a way to get rid of these creatures. Snow outlined a plan that involved luring and capturing a land shark into a net, handicapping it and thus making it easier to injure it in its one vulnerable location - its eyes.
Gathering netting from the halflings, the party was boated across the lake to a wooded area in the west. Just outside of the woods the net was laid down on the ground. The party held ropes attached to the ends of the netting while standing in the trees so they could get the necessary height. Brecaryn summoned a group of hapless gremlin-like creatures called Jermlaines to use as bait for the land shark.
When the land shark came after the Jermlaines, Brecaryn ordered them to run towards the woods, over the net. As the land shark stepped on the net, Flerm and Snow quickly pulled on their ropes, raising one end up while Malouf, Lieralyn, Alana, and Oliver pulled on their ropes, rolling the land shark up like a sausage.
Brecaryn hit it with lightning while Josy walked to the now trussed up land shark and hit it with her mace. The land shark sailed into the air, landing with a great splash into the lake, and sank like a stone. Unfortunately, none of the gremlins Brecaryn summoned survived.
The party sailed back to Pern Hobbiton to report on their success. While they had been gone, a group of halflings, led by Marroc Bulge, who had been advocating abondoning their homes because of the land sharks had left for the Ruins of Pern to see if that might be a place where the halflings could re-locate. Their families were worried for their safety and begged Josy and the rest to find them. They agreed to do so but only after they had finished here.
The next step was to attempt flooding the tunnels. It would take care of any offspring and the other inhabitants without requiring the group to enter the tunnels and clear each one. It was decided that the next day the halflings would dig the trenches from the lake to one of the holes while the group acted as a guard against anything exiting from the tunnels.
They set out the next morning. As the tunnels started to fill with water, creatures began coming out of the holes, as expected. They fought them off as the worms came in waves, protecting the halflings at their work. At one point, Malouf, Flerm, and Snow had to rush to defend the town from an onslaught of bugs and worms. The remainder of the party stayed behind to continue guarding.
Finally, 2 land sharks emerged, one clearly smaller and younger than the other. The halflings quickly abandoned their digging to seek refuge on the boats. Lieralyn, Alana, Brecaryn, Josy, and Oliver defended themselves. Alana was able to get off several incredible shots, hitting the land sharks in the eyes and mouths. Brecaryn's lightning weakened them further.
The adult land shark veered to the left, charging at Josy. As it approached her, it triggered her Wyvern Watch spell and was instantly put to sleep. The adolescent land shark was felled by a particularly impressive shot by Alana, entering its mouth and flying up to pierce the brain. The fight was over just as Malouf, Flerm, and Snow were able to rush to their companions' sides.
Josy finished the adult land shark off by sending it to join its mate in the lake. The tunnels now surging with water were cleared of any unwanted inhabitants. The trenches were filled back in and everyone returned to Pern Hobbiton. The success of the day was tempered by the mourning of those who had been killed by the bugs and worms that day.
The next morning, the group stayed for part of the services given for the dead before heading to the Ruins to find the missing halflings. Lieralyn was apprehensive about returning after her experience earlier. Snow cautioned her to speak up as soon as she started to feel strangely instead of waiting til she fainted. Malouf was able to find the tracks left by the halflings. They did indeed lead directly to the Ruins. The group cautiously entered, climbing over rubble.
Their presence was detected immediately. Preceeded by cackling, day turned to night, 2 hags appeared on top of one of the towers, and suddenly werewolves were everywhere. The beasts attacked the group while the hags rained lightning down on them. Oliver was quickly knocked unconscious. The others sustained significant damage.
Snow immediately moved to neutralize the hags. Alana switched to silver arrows. And Flerm, with what appeared to be glee, attacked the first werewolf he could get to. The rest stood ready to deflect the onslaught of attacks. Vain did nothing.
Before she could even reach the hags, Snow was thrown back by an explosion on the tower wall and then hit with a barrage of lightning. Instead of trying a second time with a direct attack, she downed an invisibility potion and approached the tower from the rear. Meanwhile, Malouf and Flerm had their hands full with werewolves. As soon as they killed one, another would tackle them, biting and clawing. Brecaryn kept up the magickal attacks with lightning, fireballs, and magick missiles. Lieralyn's sword and Alana's arrows kept the rest away from the unconscious Oliver. And Josy alternated between blessing her comrades to augment their abilities and healing what wounds she could. With each werewolf that went down, they stabbed it in the heart with silver, transforming the corpses back into men.
It seemed like the group would never succeed. Even as they killed werewolves, the hags kept summoning more. The party members continued to sustain injuries, tiring, weakening, while new werewolves would appear. Suddenly, one of the hags flew back. Snow became visible again as she attacked the second hag with a paralyzing pain touch. The first hag got knocked off the tower and exploded when she came into contact with the side of the wall. The second, under a barrage of swift attacks from Snow, melted into a puddle of goo.
But the fight wasn't over yet. There were still more werewolves. Before anyone could make a move, there was a roar followed by a yelp and a giant werebear came lumbering out of the ruins and with it were the missing halflings. The bear grabbed a werewolf and tossed it aside, taking another and smashing its body on the ground, the wolf's bones shattering. Suddenly, the group realized they could hear sounds of a fierce battle coming from further within the ruins.
The bear said, "Go! Leave now!". Snow offered to assist them in their fight, but the bear only responded, "Go!". So the party gathered the halflings and their wounded and limped away as quickly as possible. Though some in the group were reluctant to leave and felt they should have stayed to help, given their injuries, they would not have lasted much longer if they had stayed.
When they reached a safe distance, they stopped to rest. Snow was concerned that the injuries sustained from wolf bites might result in the spread of lycanthropy. A concoction of belladonna could prevent it. Flerm smugly produced his belladonna, reminding his companions that they had taunted him for his purchase but now should be thankful for it. Unfortunately, with so many injured, one bunch of belladonna would be insufficient. Snow asked Brecaryn to cast her enlarge spell on it so there would be enough. Once everyone was treated, hey continued back to Pern Hobbiton.
The townsfolk were happy for their safe return and reported no incidences regarding worms, bugs, or land sharks had occurred while they had been away. After resting for a day or two, the party was ready to move on, but where to next?