Our adventure continues with Brother Bindle philosophizing about the strange gaps in time that randomly afflict the party, causing them to blankly stare at an objective, yet powerless to do anything about it. Brother Bindle arrives at the opinion that the world only seems to turn when the gods are actually watching. That, or his sacrament is a lot more sacred than he thought, and maybe he should roll slightly less per prayer parchment. Suddenly, Brother Bindle feels the watchful gaze of fate upon him, and he hastens to get the party up and ready, back to paying attention to the Temple of the Elk. They’ve been staring at it for what felt like a week, but really no time had passed at all.
So, our party ventured into the temple, and found a large pool, and saw that there was a large cave entrance to the temple itself, everything else was fairly quiet. Clearly, the first point of business was for Dolosse to determine if the pool was suitable for a bath, which it was not. The water in the pool is foul and stagnant, and being of the OCD clean variety, Herleif stayed far away, prompting Dolosse that bathing in the muck probably wasn’t a good call. As the party crept closer to the cave, they began to hear the sound of what seemed to be a large animal sleeping. The feeling of something disturbing his territory caused the bear to wake up, and groggily move towards the cave entrance.
There the bear saw shapes moving, and blinking off the sleep, they formed into the shape of humans. This …this will not stand. An intense hatred that the bear could no longer understand where it came from welled up within him, and he charged the party. Even worse, while engaging the bear in combat, the party started speaking. This sounded like a swarm of angry bees within the agitated bear’s head, setting him into an absolute rage. In the party’s defense though, the words spoken were an attempt to calm the bear, and prevent harming it. When Brother Bindle realized that the intelligence residing in the bear’s body wasn’t that of an animal, the party decided to try and merely knock it unconscious, believing it to be the spirit of the temple itself. Having succeeded in knocking it unconscious, the party then attempted to discuss its fate, which was interrupted by the bear waking up, and attempting to attack them again. Again, the bear was rendered unconscious, and it was decided to search the temple for clues about the identity or origin of the bear. Meanwhile, the Law was left alone with the bear outside the cave entrance. Lucius decided that the best course of action would to actually put the bear down, as it clearly can’t be expected to stop attacking them on site. So with that, Lucius plunged his sword into the bears skull, ending its poor tortured life. As it died, the bear made an almost 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. At this moment, the entire shrine seemed to grow more vibrant and colorful. The water in the pool becomes crystal clear, and the entire area felt instantly more welcoming. The previous feeling that Erastil was not pleased with this temple had completely lifted.
Searching through the interior of the temple the party found some destroyed bits of paper that appeared to be a journal, probably of a cleric that used to live there. The journal inferred that there used to be a large number of Taldan colonists in the area, but they were being preyed upon by the tribes of trolls, savage humanoids, and other monters that called the land home. The cleric was clearly lamenting the fact that these attacks could not be stopped, and seemed to believe that Erastil had abandoned the people to their fate. The last entry indicated that he had trapped a large bear, and that he was going to sacrifice it at the temple to “any god that would answer the call”, and rescue him and the colonists. The party surmised that the bear outside was more than likely the cleric, having been cursed by Erastil for his lack of faith. Going back outside Dolosse was quite please to find the pool was now wonderful, and proceeded to have a bath, and get a good drink of the pool. The water was very fresh, and tasted great, additionally he noticed the wounds he had suffered from the bear were healed quite nicely. Bottling some of the water, the party then decided to make their way back to Oleg’s.
On the way, the party ran into another set of friendly fey, tig and dragon. They had a pleasant discussion with the party, and enjoyed some of their radishes. The party was even able to gather some information about the local area from them. To the north was an area of forest heavily trapped, by a bad man that hated the fey. When pressed, the pair admitted to killing the bad man accidentally when they sprung one of his own traps on him. More importantly, they had seen the missing party. After obtaining directions to the dead trapper and the missing party, the team set out to collect them all. Arriving at the location of the dead trapper, they found that he was setting a log trap designed to crush the trapped prey, but the trapper himself had been smashed instead when the trip line had been cut.
Arriving at the scene of the missing party, was a strange sight. The group of them appeared to be sitting, as if at an invisible table, picking up invisible food and drink, and having a gibberish discussion amongst themselves. The group were all speaking in common, but the words were broken, and seemed to be strung together at random. “toasting mountain darkness horse? Pickled goat flying grass. Thingamabob!” Nothing they said made any sense, and nothing the party did to interact with them seemed effective. At this point Lucius felt it would be a good idea to detect the overwhelming, heavy, stomach turning evil, and quickly felt a bit light headed and nauseous. Knowing that the group was somehow effected by evil, Brother Bindle attempted to protect one of them from evil, which quickly caused the “ninja” to fall on her butt, and be very confused about what was going on. More confused was Brother Bindle, whose educated opinion was that his dispelling evil didn’t actually have any effect here. It was then, that a bright and happy whistle came from the edge of the forest, and out strolled a dapper gent in a full suit, a top hat, and a fancy diamond topped cane.
As the man approached, some of the party began to act oddly, starting with Dolosse, who suddenly felt that this was a great guy, an old friend even. Oh right! This was Jerry! Seeing that the closer “Jerry” got to the party, the more members started acting strangely, Lucius attempted to detect the alignment of “Jerry”, which prompted a voice inside his head “you don’t see me asking about your moral values, why are you asking about mine?”. Watching his compatriots slowly all turn strange, and address this clear stranger as an old friend began to strongly disturb Herleif, who found the presence of this man to be very wrong. Something was not as it seemed. It was like when you see something in a dream, and you think that it’s there, but can’t properly see the details, and know at that it’s not real. Despite this unfortunate meeting, it did turn out to be useful. Kerr inquired if their good buddy Jerry could assist with the missing party, that seemed to be locked within their own reality. Happy to oblige, jerry tapped his staff on the ground twice, and presto! The missing party was freed immediately, and again, very confused. With that, Jerry wished them all well, and good luck with improving the lands. As he faded away into nothingness, Herleif was fairly sure he heard Jerry say he’d be watching their progress.
Arriving at Oleg’s the team was pleased to sell their growing pile of loot, and have a good hot meal. They introduced Mikmek to Oleg, and advised that there would be incoming trade from the kobolds to the south. This was an unexpected turn of events, but it definitely seemed to solve the request to investigate the trouble with kobolds. In fact, this seemed like a unique opportunity, and Oleg wasn’t about to pass it up. Oleg was even more pleased when the party presented him with a dirty sack filled with coin, and a pair of matching wedding rings. Oleg explained that the rings belonged to his wife and himself, and had been stolen along with a large payment for a trade to Restov by bandits some weeks ago. When the party gave it all back to him without hesitation, he was overwhelmed by their kindness and generosity, and instead gave the party back all the money they had retrieved. After this, the party shared with Jhod Kavken, that they had found the Temple of the Elk, and had removed the bear, lifted the curse from the area, and cleaned up the temple itself a bit. Jhod was ecstatic at the news, and offered the party free spell casting services (or anything else he could do) for the remainder of his life, then he set out to the location described by the party.
Now there were still several things to do, but first Kerr wanted to obtain some alchemical components. Oleg advised that there was a hermit named Bokken that lived just to the east of the trading post. After having a good night’s sleep, the party left and arrived at a small hut in the middle of nowhere, with some smoke coming from a small chimney. Kerr and Bindle decided to go inside, and there they found Bokken, and old dwarf smoking a long, fine pipe. Sensing the Mowie Wowie in the air, Bindle knew he had just met a kindred spirit. The room itself was filled with books, vials, an elaborate alchemy station, and pots of various five leafed plants. After discussing life, herbal remedies, and purchasing a fairly large supply of alchemical needs, the party inquired if there was anything they could do for Bokken. Bokken advised that he’d really like some moon radishes if the party came across them. They grow in the forest and are hard to find. So hard to find that the party presented him with three full baskets of them. After doing some alchemy work involving boiling the radishes with some of the “herbs” in the room, the party was presented with 5 “Moon juice” potions. These were guaranteed to make the imbiber feel like life has blessed him.
Moving on, the party headed south, and ran into a large trapdoor spider, and her children. The party made quick work of eliminating the pest, and destroying it’s nest and eggs. Moving further south to other unexplored areas, the party arrived at a bridge crossing the Shrike river, with a sign that read “Nettles Crosssing”, “5 cp to cross, ring bell for service”. Obviously, this meant that Dolosse needed to ring the bell. This prompted a ravaged looking undead creature to rise from the rubble in the river. “Service coming”, he slurred as he walked toward the party. Stopping a distance away, the creature stopped, and looked at the party like he was trying to improve his vision. “You are not my tormentor! ….Bring me the body of the Stag Lord! Throw the Stag Lord’s body into the river that I may look upon his death, or join me instead.” With this statement, he turned and walked away, but not before Dolosse threw 5cp at him, which he managed to snatch out of the air with cat like reflexes “you may cross” he slurred as he sank back into the river.
After dealing with that oddity, the party decided it would be good to do something more normal while on the search for Tuskgutter and the tatzlwyrm. What could be more normal that spending the night with a tribe of Kobolds? Stopping in on the Sootscale tribe, the party found that they were doing well for themselves, and they were preparing for their first trip to Oleg’s with a fairly large stock of items for trade. Wishing the kobold’s well, the party moved on, entering the forest where they believed they would find their prey. First though, they found some berries, which they gathered plenty of, then they located some large pig tracks. They followed the tracks northeast, where they found a large boar rooting about in the brush. As they had the element of surprise, Dolosse first threw out some dancing lights in the pigs face. The confused the absolute hell out of the poor boar, and successfully hid the initial onslaught that ensued. Tuskgutter was quickly turned into BBQ ribs, and the party ate well that night.
Unsure where to search for the tatzlwyrm, the party decided to follow the river south west. This turned out to be a good decision, as they found a set of small islets on the river, one of which had thick piles of rubble, branches, leaves, and dead bodies that partially block the river’s flow. Clearly this was a nest, and papa tatzlwyrm was spotted sunbathing on the nearby islet. After dispatching dad, big momma and the kids emerged from the nest to see what all the noise was about. They assumed that dad had some form of takeout meal waiting that was so fresh it was still kicking. Unfortunately for them, all they had for dinner that day was steel and knuckle sammiches. After beheading the creatures, Brother Bindle once again felt the gaze of fate lift from the party, and he wondered what would be in store for his intrepid band next.