PREVIOUSLY: The heroes race into the forest near Morrie’s Farm in an attempt to track down the remaining orcs and their possible leader, a young mage named Aroth Mentinjek. It is not long that they discover the camp and set about to attack. After a harrowing battle, the orc leader, Zulgha Bloodbone lay dead at Sam‘s feat, while Evarl grappled the young mage to the ground to answer for his crimes. As the dust settled, the mage explained the misunderstanding, all caused by him using a charm spell on the unsuspecting orc leader. This lead to a chain of events whereby the orc leader thought the young mage wanted the owner of Morrie’s Farm’s daughter, Jessika as his bride. The heroes soon after returned to the farm, and after a short rest over-night, continued their journey down the river towards their final destination of Tamran…
The heroes arrive in Three Pines Ford. Captain Walren advises them to follow his lead as he introduces them to harbour master Braffolk Gysby. The talk slender gentleman is quick to explain the need for calm in the town and although stern is pleasant to the heroes, encouraging them to stay.
As dusk was well underway, Sam was the first to mention his thirst and asked the others where the closest pub was. Evarl, who had formerly travelled the area, mentioned the Sly Harlequin, an inn nearby to the docks which, although somewhat unsavoury, could be a good place to learn more information and gain an ale. Before leaving, Kal asks the harbourmaster whom should the heroes should tell about an orc attack they witnessed recently. The harbourmaster thanks them for the information, but states it would be better delivered to Lieutenant Boarhelm in The Keep. Eve volunteers to do that, after she guides the heroes to the inn.
Whilst making their way there, Evarl explains that he plans to introduce the rest of the party to the elven proprietor named La’Slaan, whom he explains is a retired assassin, and then afterwards will go to the keep to offer information about the orcs that attacked Morrie’s Farm. The others agree, and they soon arrive.
The Inn is in full swing, with many of the dock workers and proprietors finished for the day. It is not long after the heroes enter that they greeted by the softly spoken and far from talkative La’Slaan. Evarl explains to La’Slaan about what had happened in Kassen, and why they were in Three Pines Ford. It is not long before Evarl realises that without speaking a word, he had perhaps revealed too much. La’Slaan thanks them for stopping by, and offers them a free ale, after which she disappears to mingle with the crowd. As the drinks arrived, Evarl checks to ensure the drinks were not poisoned, to which they were not.
Whilst drinking the somewhat putrid brew, Sam spots a sign asking for assistance. The signs was completed by a local druid, who is offering a substantial amount of gold for further assistance. Knowing that any leads at the inn may have dried up, the heroes grab the flyer and make their was to the Herbalist’s shop called Wolfmourne’s Elixirs & Herbs.
Upon arrival they are greeted by it proprietor, a middle-aged half-elven woman named An’lau Wolfmourne. An’lau explained that she had recently discovered that one of the ancient Dryad trees was dying and that she could not explain why. She states that she was in the middle of concocting an Elixir to use on the trees, but would like assistance with identifying the cause. The heroes accept her call for assistance, to which she then offers the guide of her employee Voldar Riffolk.
Voldar looked clearly out of place pruning flowers and the like for An’lau. En-route to the Dryad Grove, he explained that he had lost a couple of gambling debts and was faced with having to sell his precious swords to make ends meet. Voldar explained that An’lau was nice enough to take him on, but it was the swing of his sword that he missed most.
As the heroes arrived, they examined the area. Sam took to making an attempt to talk to the trees, at one stage stabbing the ground beneath the tree. This action produced a thick foul smelling oil like substance coming from the ground, like the ground was somehow bleeding. Kal and Nell examined the magic properties of the area and the trees, establishing that the trees had somehow been magically affected with some type of necromantic effect and also poisoned. Nell suggested that it was cursed perhaps similar to the trees in Southern Fangwood, but could not back up her theory. The two also learned that the trees were free from disease, proving that it was not a naturally occurring effect. Evarl and Voldar looked around the area and found a depression in the ground approximately 50 feet from the tree itself. A closer examination showed that it was perhaps a sinkhole of some kind, caused by something burying under the ground.
The heroes moved to examine Evarl‘s find. Sam searched the area for a fallen branch in order to prod the hole to see if it would collapse. Soon after, the hole collapsed revealing a sink-hole leading some 20 feet beneath the surface. One by one, the heroes disappeared down the hole, with Sam lowing each down, before lowering himself.
Inside the tunnel, the heroes discovered that its creation was only recent but was completed by unknown means. Evarl identified that was last used only recently. Upon moving down further, Kal and Evarl discovered that at the end of a tunnel lead directly towards the tree, and ended in what appeared to be a small room. The tunnel and room were somewhat cramped, but Evarl spotted tiny footprints similar to that of a small humanoid such as a halfling, goblin or gnome. It was Voldar who correctly identified the tracks as that belonging to a gnome.
Kal meanwhile discovered what appeared to be a makeshift alter standing close the the tree root system. The alter appeared to have been recently used and had remnants of a red powder and a purple wax.
As the heroes examine the room, five creatures emerge from the brambles. Having been under the employ of An’lau, Voldar had learned a thing or two about Fey creatures and quickly identified the larger creatures as a Debased Dryad and the smaller ones as Twig Blights.
The fey creatures caught all by Evarl by surprise, the Debased Dryad ensnaring them all in an entangle spell. The heroes fought valiantly, and eventually eliminated the threat. At the end of the battle, Kal was the worst for ware, having been poisoned by the scratches from the Twig Blights.
Upon closer examination of the area, Evarl discovered that the red powder and wax were placed specifically in a pattern of some sort. Kal identified its placement as some type of religious ritual. The exact purpose remained a mystery to the heroes, and after taking some sample, they returned to report their findings to the the druid An’lau.
The heroes arrived back at the town at night and took up with An’lau in her shop as she was packing up for the night. The heroes provided An’lau with the samples they had found, and she identified them as being spell components of a type of ritual. She would examine what the heroes had found later the following morning, but stated that the only place items like the powder and wax could only be sold at Ageng and Elyelen’s Vault, a magic shop in the middle of town.
An’lau explained that the store was named after Ageng and Elyelen Dankwater, after two elderly dwarves, one of which, the dwarven man named Elyelen, had died some years back, but that Ageng his female companion, had continued on at the shop. The heroes agree that they would follow that lead and report back to her in the morning. An’lau thanked them against for their assistance, and soon after the heroes made their way back towards the harbour…