With Oleg’s under the watchful guard of troops Loudwater, the heroes found themselves free to continue their mission of exploring and charting the reaches of Southwood and the plains to the east…
After some debate, the heroes decided to delay a direct assault against the Stag Lord’s hold until they agreed they would be a match for the bandit lord and his allies. Having spotted several locations of interest during their initial frantic ride south, the companions elected to retrace their steps first and fully explore the route.
While several days past without seeing anything beyond plains elk and ground squirrels, the keen hunting skills of Oewyn soon detected the group was being followed by wolves. Under the cover of darkness, the wolves pressed their advantage and attacked the adventures from all sides. The heroes were left stunned as Naram struggled to his feet only to have a black wolf the size of a small pony leap out of shadows and tear the cleric’s throat. The cleric’s lifeless body collapsed to the ground and blood began to spread through the trampled grass.
Rallying to defend his fallen comrade, Hassan charged through the pack of snapping jaws and struck a blow at the giant wolf. While the wolf’s fangs were often turned back by the fighter’s colossal shield, the few times it jaws connected left the Hassan with deep wounds. With Naram’s blood saturating the ground, Serrka and Oewyn fought on, using axe, bow and lightning to slay the smaller wolves. Finally, when it looked as though the creature might over power Hassan’s defenses, Oewyn and leapt behind the wolf and managed to deal it a killing blow with his axe.
Moving quickly to their comrade’s fallen body, Serrka was able to stabilize the dying healer and bring him back to consciousness with a vial of healing liquid recovered from the bandit camp. Exhausted, depleted of spells and with a new found respect for the dangers of the open plains, the heroes waited out the remaining ours of darkness until the warming rays of dawn broke across the plains.
Having healed the wounds of the previous night, the heroes traveled west again. About mid day the party came upon a small copse of trees that glittered with layers of silvery web. The copse stretched approximately 200 yards across and scattered about its perimeter the heroes noted the bones of dead plains animals. Unable to spot movement from the outside, but suspecting some type of arachnid, Oewyn crept into the web covered grove in search of its occupants. He did not need to wait long. Soon after a host of giant plains spiders slipped from their hidden subterranean doors and attacked the party. A pitched battle ensued with several of the party members being poisoned by the deadly eight legged assailants. The beasts however were no match for the heroes and eventually all of the spiders were slain.
A search of the grove turned up one spider nest that included the dried husk of an unlucky mage whose body was drained of blood. Amongst his belonging the heroes managed to find a tattered spellbook, a wand (later determined to be of burning hands) and a silver amulet – emblazoned with the symbol of the Stag Lord.