Haggling Friends, abandoned
Mar the sea hag convinces the party to take off their metal armor and weapons and participate in a ludicrous arcane ritual (never underestimate the power of a hideous face). This does not go unchallenged; two air elementals come shrieking down out of the sky to put a stop to proceedings.
This does mean the elementals have to drop their latest victims - our missing wizard and bard! After several days of not hearing from their friends, the two ventured out to find them and were immediately snatched up by wandering elementals. Fortunately the elementals got distracted before they could carry out their plan of "drop two humans from 10,000 feet and see if the heavier one lands first."
Mar curses the elementals with her hideousness and then immediately jumps in the river. The party dashes back to their pile of weapons and begins to fight an exciting, danger-laden battle (the details of which I have forgotten since it was a month ago). A spell from the wizard blinds one of the elementals, which ultimately tilts the contest in favor of the party. The wizard also closes the portal to the elemental plane of air with an Arcane Lock spell, reasoning that it "holds portals."
When Mar returns she is upset that her portal is gone. She tries to convince the druid to sacrifice the two warriors for tael to re-open the portal. He considers the idea but ultimately rejects it. Instead, the party convinces Mar to wait until tomorrow, after they've healed and recharged their spells. The bard, true to form, strikes up a friendly conversation with the sea hag and accompanies her back to her underwater lair, where he entertains her until she falls asleep and then steals the Tome of Doors. She wakes up as he's sneaking out, but he placates her with another performance.
Meanwhile the party is attacked by a pack of rogue shadows. The cleric sends them packing easily enough. When the bard returns in the wee hours of the morning, the party has had enough. They immediately start hiking east to pick up the trail home. Along the way they are attacked by shadows every night, and eventually the cleric mispronounces one of the esoteric syllables of his protective chant. A brief battle ensues, only to end anticlimactically when the cleric properly invokes the power of his god and vaporizes most of the shadows. Heat rays from Rialto's rods finish off the last of them, but the rods are beginning to run out of charges.
This resolves the random attacks at night, but the area is still dangerous (and never mind they are trying to avoid Mar and her cousins). An air elemental shows up and is easy pickings after the wizard blinds it. Encouraged and greedy, the bard casts Summon Hostile Monster - a spell which consists of waving around a gold coin while shouting the mystical orcish phrase, "Meat's back on the menu, boys!" The spell works better than anticipated - three elementals descend from the sky in a fury. A tremendous battle ensues, with the cleric, barbarian, and ranger all going to negatives at one point or another. The ranger finally uncorks his mystic Dagger of Slaying and dissipates the last one, leaving the party severely depleted and out of spells. On the other hand they've managed to eliminate most of the wandering monsters in the area, earning enough tael to raise everyone to fourth level.
They pick up the golem's trail and evade every other potential encounter, making a beeline for home and their lost donkeys of gold. This journey is interrupted by a tower appearing out of nowhere in the middle of the plain (another random encounter provided by Sandbox World Generator). Five lamias in matching armor march out and the leader demands a toll for trespassing on their land - the party must choose one of their companions as a sacrifice. The party, however, is in no mood for this, and immediately attacks. An Entangle spell pins the foe in place, insect swarms reveal four of the lamia to be mere mirror images that are instantly destroyed, and barbarian and ranger swords put the lamia on the ground in record time (and it was supposed to be a CL 6 encounter!). The lamia begs for his life and the druid intervenes, sparing him. Unfortunately this is not due to some moral concern but rather due to the lamia's promise of hidden treasure.
The lamia almost makes it work, explaining that he knows where to acquire mass quantities of tael if only he had a few strong hands to help collect it, but the cleric thinks to ask if the collection of this treasure would be an evil act. "I guess," says the lamia, "but since you're in the business of wandering onto people's lands and beating them up, does it matter?" Realizing the moral hazard, the ranger puts an end to the lamia's tempting lies with his dagger. (Seriously, that thing should get a magical bonus by now.)
The very next day they cross the river from which they were originally kidnapped. Much to their dismay their horses and donkeys are long gone, and even the ranger can't find their tracks after the many weeks that have passed. The party decides to return to their original stomping grounds and finish exploring the dungeon under the lake, mostly because the wizard wants another skeleton to boss around.