Brief session description: two of the PCs talked with the mad hermit, now locked up in a makeshift prison room, but failed to get anything out of him beyond his usual rambling about birdies and hatching and saving people - excepting a willing confession to the murder of that local two nights ago. The party made a short foray into the Bitter Brambles to harvest some plants that could be sold, but they got more pain they bargained for in the form of sharp crystals protruding from the ground and injuring their feet while crystalline butterflies attacked with tiny papercuts.
They returned and rested for the night, only to be woken up by the sound of breaking wood. They were quickly set upon by the mad hermit and over half a dozen weird warriors in glowing blue armour. Caught unprepared, they surrendered the black stone they took from the hermit, and the latter disappeared into the village with his cohorts as shouts and news of the prison break rose through the night.
They decided it wasn't their problem and ordered Qabar's Pnakognomatic Artisan to start digging and escape tunnel under the fiery moat around the village, while the villagers started combing through the area for the fugitive. While the work was underway, they were approached by the fat, gloomy Rayyashid who has accused them of the murder earlier. Still unfriendly, but he offered a decent sum if the party joins the search and brings the hermit back alive. Following his lead, they made their way to a quite little enclosure near the edge of the village, to an abandoned storehouse whose door was unbarred with the hermit and his mysterious warriors hiding inside.
Half the party charged, while the others tried to offer ranged support through a hole in the wall dug by the Pnakognomatic Artisan - and the fight didn't go well. The beastwoman Echidna fell on the ground unconscious, while the bushi Tui Chi suffered some serious wounds before defeating the mystic swordsmen. The hermit made a run for it with Qabar in pursuit. Up the tall spire in the main square went the pursuit, then, thanks to some grappling on the extremely rickety logs serving as steps, down on the ground, the fall knocking the wind out of both while a crowd of villagers arrived and surrounded them.
A strange gleam appeared in the hermit's eye, and his voice suddenly became less insane: "Get ready to pick me up, then run. One, two... three!" - he brandished the green-glowing black rock from under his cloak. Qabar, however, refused to listen to him and just grabbed the stone from the man's hand, stepping forward and extending it towards the villagers. Those stopped, shook their heads and broken into an unnatural quivering. Hard, long, pointy things emerged from their obscenely stretched mouths, great beaks which were followed by black, beady-eyed avian heads as the green light forced the Cuckoos to hatch in their human hosts. Qabar quickly went down under the assault of the zombiesque horde.
Meanwhile, Cassandra and Tui Chi were dragging Echidna's unconscious body out of the storehouse and towards the main square... running into the hatching mob. Tui Chi made a noble and pointless charge into the monsters, then Cassandra abandoned Echidna to her fate and made a run for her life. Luckily for her, the Artisan's escape tunnel under the fire moat was finished, and she made it out, panting, bleeding, nearly dead - but alive. In the dead of night she dragged herself through the outskirts of the Bitter Brambles and hid in the hermit's cave - where the hermit was already waiting, dejected. Seemingly having regained some of his sanity, he explained that he wanted to visit the village at nights, ferreting out the Cuckoos with the power of the stone and hunting them down one by one while they slept - but the party has ruined everything. Now the few people who might have been still uninfected were left prey to the mass of simultaneously hatched Cuckoos. Stepstone Ford was no more.
And here's how the hermit suddenly had the blue-glowing alien warriors at his service:
Opening the Ether Gate unto the Eternal War
The Ether Gate is brought into physical existence and opened, causing a number of Etherial Warriors to step through it. They have their own will and are not subservient to the caster, but will approach him on friendly terms. At the same time, another, hostile group twice the strength will also arrive to another place in the summoner's world. Repeated use will manifest the hostile groups closer and closer.
Ethereal Warriors are hard to hit* and wield Moon Blades that are powerful against magical creatures.
Total HD of summoned warriors:
Level 1 1d6-1 HD total
Level 2 2d6-2 HD
Level 3 3d6-3 HD
Level 4 4d6-4 HD
Level 5 5d6-5 HD
*And these ones happened to be gimped, because I forgot they were meant to be hard to hit.