The battle with the the mad hermit is quickly over as Tamarie, Kaylee, Aether, and Sir Tierry rush to Xene‘s defense. Even the hermit’s puma is killed in the battle, as it tries to leap down and attack its master’s targets. The hermit flees and Sir Thierry follows. He captures the mad hermit and brings him back, but attempts at conversation are stymied as the hermit is truly mad. Whistling for his cat and speaking to voices only he can hear. Sir Thierry puts the hermit out of his misery quickly.
For once, Sir Thierry offers Sister Xene his aid with her injuries. It is an interesting change of pace.
After the battle, the mad hermit is dragged further into the woods, and Kaylee sets about skinning the puma. The tree in the center of the old road is huge. And it is hollowed out to make a comfortable home, although it stinks to high heaven. Everything seems home made. Quaker table and chairs, fire pit, hammock, and glass and clay pots – most of which are cracked and broken. He has a fair collection of herbs and the like. The interior walls are carved into an abstract map it contains stick people and odd representations as well as words in badly spelled Taldane.
Tamarie discerns the hermit has a make-shift alchemy kit, but nothing in the tree has an sense of magic about it. The hermit’s sword is in very bad shape; pitted and rusted and broken, but it was once nice and might be worth something. He had a wooden ring that has an enchantment on it. She also senses that something under the tree is magical.
The map on the walls shows the forest having a series of two-legged snakes, Taslewyrms. With much consultation with her own maps, Tamarie is able to roughly discern where the beasts might reside. It also makes reference to some sort of cairn to the north and an axe.
Tamarie digs up a chest from beneath the floor. He finds some potions and coins in the chest. 164 sp, 31gp and a tarnished silver locket. There is a rough family resemblance between the hermit and the woman depicted in the locket, and Bokkan.
We pack up and return to the road, trying to find the path. We find the shores of the Candlemere and follow the Myre river, camping for the night along its banks.
That night we notice that all our metal is rusting faster than normal. Xene spends some time carefully mending every metal item in the camp. It’s been rusting over the past few days, and we’ve been tending it, but we only just noticed the amount of rust is … just not normal.
We settle down. That night both Aether and the wolves are howling.
The horses are acting like colts, and as such they’re harder to handle. We travel through thicker and thicker woods.
Xene goes off, looking for a clearer path. She is attacked by a living tree with claws! A grim stalker, and runs back towards the group. They manage to chase it off, and follow it to the elven keep. There are five tumbling-down towers, one of which has collapsed. The wall is solid, but the main gain has rotted away. The wall is breached either side of the broken tower.
Kaylee and Caliber ride in. Kaylee gets thrown and pinned by the following Portcullis, and we fight a losing battle against something so fast we can’t tell what it is. It has either a poisonous bite or some kind of poisoned blade. Sir Thierry and Tamarie go in via the break in the wall to try and protect and free Kaylee. They manage both, but are attacked several times. Xene stays outside and eventually meets the group at the break in the wall.
We flee the tower in orderly fashion, intending to come back when we are better prepared.