Our heroes managed to recover from the rough entrance into the alchemist’s, and convinced the shop maiden to let them seek out her master. He explained some of the local custom’s of Valder,such as the mother-dog idol that many folk believe is the region’s protector. He even sold Boomah some alchemical components before they quit his establishment.
They decided their next goal should be take a look at the environment around the small village. Allowing their elven hireling Borealis to lead, they set off into the country. It was soon apparent that the landscape was more than natural, as the ancient stone walls and hedgerows seem to shift and move as they moved through them. A strange mist clung in the low places, and many members of the group felt stronger and had difficulty remembering which direction they had come to last.
The afternoon lingered long in pale sunlight. They were moving down a steep decline in the path, when suddenly a large bush in the center of the clearing unfurled a carpet of foliage and surrounded them. The fronds were writhing and thorny, and the group had difficulty moving through them. The central mass of the horrid plant seemed capable of rising up from any point within the mass ad striking out with its viny tentacles.
To complicate matters, the thrashing drew a swarm of bloated strikes that nested nearby. The bloodsucking monsters were little danger by themselves, but distracted our heroes and harassed Boomah, who had taken to the sky.
The group suffered scrapes and minor bloodletting, but prevailed in the end. Kallius detected for magical auras within the creatures mass, and discovered a trio of bodies half-buried in the roots. Two were armored, and one carried a flashing longsword with a plea gem in its hilt. Delving deeper into its magic, he learned that the sword itself could store spells within the gem. The third body seemed to be a wizard, and carried a wand and several scrolls. Two of them also wore the the mother dog idol around their necks.
The magus gathered up their goods, and offered to take the weight of their treasure off the goblin. Boomah, with his magically enhanced carry power, assured the elf that it would be no burden. Kallius also suggested that they return the bodies to Vader, as it may endear the locals to their presence.
The day was fading, and there concerns about the shifting landscape led them to decide to wait out the night in the wild, rather than trying to get back to the village. They found a covered spot at the top of a ridge, and settled in to make camp.
The early evening passed without incident, with Boomah and the elf Borealis exchanging tales. Although the elf gave little in return. The deepest part of the night passed as well, but the group became aware of strange rapid growth of the plants around the top of the ridge.
As dawn started making tentative moves across the sky, Kallius heard a snuffling sound down the ridge on his watch. Moving downhill in the darkness ho could see movement below, and noticed that several sapling-sized flowers growing around the edge of a copse. Getting closer, he sees that two huge bears are shaking a flower stalk, releasing a cloud of pollen. Then he notices one of them stop and start sniffing the air in his direction.
He fired an arrow beyond the bears into the brush, and one lumber off to investigate. The other was not duped, and continues to growl and snuffle, searching the air for signs of the elf.
Kallius decides to get back to camp, and retreats. Unfortunately, two more of the massive, shadowy bears had arrived and follow him back into the group. Battle was taken up, and it was soon apparent that shadows that clung to the bears disguised their locations, and blows did not always strike true. But blows were struck, and the bear were finding our heroes to be a difficult morsel to swallow.
One of the bears went down under the group’s attack, but three stood. And while the battle raged, a rising hum was heard on the wind, and was growing in intensity. Like a the drone of bees, but deeper. And getting closer.