Merrick was traveling to Silverymoon to meet with elves there who worship Sehanine. Unfortunately, his traveling party was waylaid by bandits, and other unsavory types. The constant interruptions and threats took its toll on his party. In its weakened state, the party was lost in a bog in the Evermoors. A thick fog enshrouded them, and trolls emerged to attack. As a troll came upon Merrick, a sinkhole collapsed under your combined weight and you tumbled deep into the earth. Merrick felt a familiar presence – an otherworldly entity who had saved him previously and granted him power. Whatever its nature and intentions, it must have intervened, because after blacking out from the fall, Merrick awoke to find strange fungal creatures surrounding him. Looking about, he found the troll was slain as well as one of their number.
The myconid were intrigued by Merrick, for they knew of no surface dweller who could communicate telepathically as they. Merrick immediately became aware of a place called Neverlight Grove, and was invited to seek haven there. Traveling with the myconid was a strange experience, even stranger was sharing his thoughts with them. Together they formed a strong bond. Tryllam, Araphan, and Murph became Merrick’s allies in the Underdark, and they traveled together making way toward Neverlight Grove.
Soon they came upon some svirfneblin and camped with them. Beran Scrivmark, who was somewhat of an historian, told Merrick of Blingdenstone, where a camp of svirfneblin were attempting to rebuild the fallen settlement. While moderately successful, they still had large portions of the caves sealed off. The historian also told him of a danger lurking in one of the tunnels – a drow who had gone mad and been corrupted by some extra-planar malevolence. Neheedra is now a medusa and she haunts the caverns. He instructed Sark Axebarrel, a deep gnome guard, to offer a bounty on the medusa.
Thus it was that Merrick was escorted by svirfneblin back to Blingdenstone, and that is where he met with Reece and Elias.
The heroes determined to help the svirfneblin of Blingdenstone as best they could, and decided their first mission would be to restore the ancient temple to the svirfneblin god Callarduran Smoothhands.
Reece came up with a genius plan to re-enlist Prince Derendil in their efforts. Together with Elias, they promised the prince a crown forged of whatever precious materials they could find in Blingdenstone. The promise was accepted, and Derendil signed up for action.
Together, Reece, Elias, Prince Derendil, and their new friend Merrick ventured into the Rockblight in search of the menhir that marked the site of the svirfneblin temple.
They passed through some abandoned residences and encountered the ghost of Udhask. Udhask attacked the invaders with a horrific visage. While Elias steeled himself against the terrifying sight, Merrick and Reece were struck with such dread that their hair began to whiten. Reece was particularly struck, his bones weakening to the point of osteoporosis. Much of his hair fell out and his skin slackened on his flesh. The feeble old man who was once Reece was overcome with the effect, and his own cure became his first priority.
Merrick slashed the ghost who fled at the first opportunity, shouting “They are here! Everyone hide!”
The heroes pursued the ghost back to its hovel and found the remains of Udhask. Searching the apartment, they found a hidden compartment with 6 gems worth a good sum of gold.
They decided to press on and search for the temple. But in the next chamber they found a population of large crystals. A petrified gnome was holding one up close to his face. Having been warned of the presence of a medusa in the caverns, Elias surmised the crystals might help protect from a petrifying gaze somehow. They claimed some crystals for later use and moved on toward the former temple.
Once they found the menhir, they were ready for anything. Reece placed the spell gem in the standing stone and immediately a malevolent earth elemental emerged from the cavern wall. The spell gem began to glow faintly, but it required time to complete. The heroes made a valiant effort to hold the earth elemental back, but it was simply too powerful for them. Its attacks were overwhelming, and it resisted much of the damage they dealt. In the face of this opposition, the heroes decided to retreat. Wounded, aged, and demoralized, they returned to Inner Blingdenstone.
Faced with the aged Reece, the heroes immediately sought out a greater restoration spell. They returned to Gurnik Tapfinger, the highest level priest currently within Blingdenstone. He was at first incredulous at the failure of the heroes to stop the earth elementals and dismayed at the possibility of a ruined temple. However, he agreed to cast the spell from a scroll with the aid of some other acolytes and a hefty fee. The only items of value the heroes had were the six gems they had found. Not knowing their exact worth, they offered them to Gurnik, who accepted them as payment for the spell.
The ritual began and Reece and Merrick lay within a circle of candles. The earth softened and swallowed them. A couple tense minutes passed as Elias looked on. Then the two were lifted from the earth by some divine means. They limply floated through the air and were deposited outside the circle, fully restored to their proper ages. Reece also found that the madness he had experienced in the previous weeks was cured.
And the heroes decided to rest and formulate a new plan . . .