Fresh from dispatching the infernal hounds, and convinced they had scoured the Erarohn form the ‘dragon’ threat, our heroes chose to rest in the upper chambers of the ruined hunting lodge. The night passed without incident and they set off toward Bar Omaro at first light.
They trudged through the wetlands all morning, and rested as the baking sun reached its peak. As they walked, they had seen old goblin territorial signs showing that the Shadow Claw clan had been in the area in the past couple months.
After the worst of the heat of the day passed, they continued their march. They saw more goblin signs, but no goblins.
Boomah and Saerin were on point when the ground around them began bubbling and gurgling. Several humanoid shapes that seem to be composed of roots lurched out of the earth and attacked. The sap that oozed form the creatures weekend and disoriented our heroes. One rooty abomination let out a howl that further confounded the group.
Celeste summoned a hound archon to hold the center, and Luix stood fast, while the others fell back to shake off the ill effects. It became obvious that all of the enemies were connected together by thick vines, and may have been communicating through them.
The tide was shifting as one-by-one the man-like tubers fell, when the fetid swamp water stated flowing into a hole in the clearing ahead. The mandragora snapped their tethers and fled as long spindly legs appeared from the depths of the sinking hole. It was a spider that rivaled the size of an elephant.
It bounded forward, lithe for its size, and closed with the archon. Its bite was viciously poisonous, but the celestial withstood its initial assault. Luix joined it, and the two faced off against the monster. The rest of the party threw everything they had at it — fireballs, bombs, arrows and more. The archon teleported behind the beast to set up flanking possibilities, and the ranger landed a mighty blow that brought the beast down.
Looking around for further danger, they spotted a small creature hiding in a dead tree at the edge of the clearing. Celeste sent the hound to investigate, and when it teleported to the tree, they all saw the small creature drop to the ground.
Boomah flew over to see more, and found Rokkemuk, chief of the shadow claw clan, lying in the muck.
Undaunted, the chieftain demanded tribute for the party’s trespass upon his land. They did so, offering food and repairing his gear. He told them that he was all that was left of the Shadow Claws,m as his ‘beautiful bride’ had betrayed them and enslaved them all to a dark maiden and their draconic master. The maid met the description of their old comrade Phaed, whom they had not seen for several months.
He added that his tribe had been given over to undeath, as had, Stormseeker, and they had joined Phaed to free a dragon from bondage under the castle.
This reinforced their commitment to find out what was happening at the castle. Rokkemuk refused to join their quest, as he needed to stay and defend his tribal lands. They spent the night in the many hollows of his tree, and set out in the morning toward Celeste’s family estate. They hoped to make it to the crumbling watch tower that overlooked the keep before the sun fell again.