Charting a path for the lower reaches of Southwood, the heroes stumbled across an ancient temple to Gwaeron Windstrom…
A deity of tracking and wilderness, the temple was constructed of a long reflecting pool before a giant cave mouth carved in the likeness of roaring bear. The reflecting pool was now choked with algae and weeds and from the depths of the ancient cave roared a massive grizzly bear. Serrka loosed a lightning bolt at the beast which responded with a feral charge and the frozen druid. She was struck several deadly blows by the creature’s powerful claws before it turned its attention to the strings being landed on it by Hassan and Oewyn. Even as their blades slashed into the hide of the giant beast, both Oewyn and Serrka could tell the creature was diseased or sickened.
With a final blow from Hassan, the bear issued a human-sounding sigh of relief, then collapsed in on itself, transforming first into an incredibly old human man with a look of peace in his eyes, and then a moment later crumbling into a skeleton and thence to dust. The algae choked water immediately turned crystal clear and the companions soon discovered that this purified liquid healed wounds as effectively as a channeled spell.
A search of the cave uncovered a jade ring carved in the likeness of an eel and frog locked in combat and an ornate stone bird cage that was etched with runes of ancient elven. Bringing the bird cage into the light of day for further investigation, the stone exterior immediately fell away and revealed a brilliant silver artifact. Naram was able to make out words for flight, war, darkness and song amongst the runes etched about its base. Serrka, recognizing the item as a relic related to her goddess, took possession of the item and planned to conduct further research about it when time permits.
As the druid took her turn at watch that evening, the faeries of the forest finally revealed themselves to her. Her earlier aid against the worg Nightbane had come from the faerie dragon Perlivash and the grig Tyg-Titter-Tut. While the faeries didn’t have much information about the Stag Lord, they did reveal that they were the source of the trapper’s death and felt he deserved the sentence for his various atrocities in the forest. With a measure of reluctance, the faeries also agreed to stop pranking Hassan and returned some of his missing belongings to him.
Hassan’s watch was also with its surprises as he discover the kobold Mimmek trying to make off with the statuary the group had recovered from the mite caverns. Mimmek seemed frantic when he was discovered trying to lift the item and begged the party to let him go so he could return it to his people. From his ramblings it seemed the statuary was somehow tied to a shaman that now controlled the clan, and Mimmek hope to return the item to his chieftain so balance could be restored. While of different minds about the result of releasing Mimmek with the statue, the adventurers all shared a general feeling of reluctance. Instead, the group decided to accompany Mimmek to his tribe’s warren to aid him in restoring the relic to his clan.
Upon reaching the Sootscale warrens, the heroes discovered that the kobolds were indeed “at war” with the mites and kobolds flaunted their latest prisoner of war in a cage outside their holds entrance. While the tiny sentry was startled by the appearance of pink skins at the door to their home, the presence of Mimmek and the offer of truce allowed the adventurers the opportunity to travel (with guards) to the heart of the warren to meet with Chief Sootscale. The chief was ecstatic about the return of Mimmek and after reclaiming the statuary, he promptly shattered it on the floor before the adventures – pronouncing the “The shaman’s curse is broken!” Gathering his warriors with him, he plunged into the back cavern to apparently confront the shaman.
As the heroes arrived, the chief and his warriors appeared to be locked in combat against the shaman. Alliances were broken however when Naram in haste to resolve the conflict, loosed a sonic blast of energy the shattered the skulls of several kobolds and left the chieftain and the shaman on the defensive. The situation continued to deteriorate as Oewyn waded into the fray alongside his clerical friend and Hassan was forced to drive Mimmek away before he too fell victim to the bloodshed. The kobold clan proved no match for the heroes however, and soon the only creatures left in the warren were females and pups that had fled deeper into the shadows. Mimmek, clanless and confused, had fled the warren and has not been seen since.
Having covered another expanse of territory and with several interesting magic items from the kobold warren, the heroes elected to fall back to Oleg’s to rest and regroup. Shortly after their arrival however, it became obvious that Naram’s condition had worsened. With the primary suspect being the wound he received from the undead creature at Nettle’s Crossing, the fading cleric elected to travel back to Loudwater to seek aid in curing his curse. Oewyn also took the opportunity to part paths with his friends, at least temporarily, as he enlisted the aid of clan Stoneshoulder in harvesting a gold mine discovered during their explorations east of the forest.