The party returned back to Farshore, bringing the prostitutes with them. Manthalay grumbled that they better prove some use, and seemed ready to pin the blame on Lavinina should anything go wrong. The winds were against them sailing back, and so they had to moor up in the southern bay overnight. Stefanie hit on the idea of keeping an eye out for island where the mysterious red-robed followers of Loki were based; the earlier interrogations had led them to believe this was somewhere off the southern coast of the isle of Dread. Between them, the party managed to spot torchlight on one of the islands about 20 miles south of their position. They made note to consider approaching the strange monks as potential allies.
On returning to the settlement, the party set about on preparations for defence from the pirates. Jardek worked in the smithy, improving armour and weapons. Mendel worked to create a makeshift ballista, and oversaw selection of look out posts on the cliffs to site the siege weaponry. Krunk went out with one of the workforces to help clear the tress and source lumber for the various other activities. Dacien spent time with Prof. Aldwattle on spell research and documentation. Stephanie worked in the infirmary to imrpove the general health of the community. And Zhedd worked on the pallisade and cliff walls to strengthen their defence. This took a further week of hard toil. And in all that time, there had been no word from the Jade Ravens that had ventured out to hunt the troglodytes in the centre of the island.
The decision was made to track down the Jade Ravens. Zhedd stayed in town to work on the walls and Antony stayed behind to do some digging on whether there was a Crimson Fleet spy in the village. The rest left with the local miners to head as far as the local emerald and diamond mine, and then set off for the sunken banana grove and the troglodyte lair. Jardek soon found the trail cut by the Jade Ravens and they followed that to the grove - until they stumbled upon a tripwire that unleashed shell-covered vines from the branches overhead with a loud clatter. Voices could be heard from up ahead, and so Jardek and Krunk decided to rush in and press the element of surprise. Krunk stumbled into a spear trap, covered in a sticky black substance, as Jardek and Mendel advanced. Suddenly,the banana trees around them sprung into life, and battered the party. Dacien's fireball quickly dispatched the troglodytes that were clustered in the cave entrance, and the rest hurried to the wait there. Another tree, later identified as a treant, uprooted itself, and barrelled through the party, trampling them into the rock, until it was hacked to pieces by Jardek.
Two tunnels led from the entrance, one into a webbed cave, and the other clear, which the party took. Jardek managed to find the pit trap full of poisoned spike by stumbling into it. The next cave had a small troglodyte hunting party that was no match for Dacien's second fireball. SOme of the creatures poisons were beginning to have a telling effect on the party, and Krunk was left hallucinating and trussed up while they explored further. In the next cave, the troglodytes were waiting for them - shepherding 4 glowing blue lizards that crackled with energy towards the party. Behind them, a large muscular troglodyte, strangely misshapen with a grotesque upturned mouth, raged and led his warriors forth. Electricity sparked between the lizards, catching Jardek and Krunk unawares. A brutal exchange of blows was had between Krunk and the lead troglodyte, as Mendel picked off the lizard pets. Stefanie tried to aid but was overcome by the nauseating stench. Dacien saw Krunk start to flag, and quickly trapped the boss in an impenetrable sphere of energy. This allowed the party to dispatch the others, and wait to face the muscled brute. Stefanie prepared by animating the corpses of the dead troglodytes to surround their captive. However, due to some bad luck, when Dacien dismissed the barrier, it got the drop on them and charged through to get revenge on the cleric that had desecrated his tribe. He was eventually slain but not before catching Stefanie with a vicious bite. As it died, its body changed to that of a normal troglodyte, leading the party worry what it really was.
Groans could be heard in another cavern; a flooded cave with a small island, littered with bones and shark jaws, in the middle. There, Mendel found Tolin of the Jade Ravens, delirious and covered in bites. The party brought him back and decided to rest before continuing. Clean, and his sanity restored, Tolin confirm that the other Jade Ravens had been killed,a s far as he could remember, and that he had been plagued with strange visions of swimming and violence. Mendel ate a banana and fell into a coma.
The next day the party cleared out the rest of the cavern, facing giant spiders, but with no sign of any further troglodytes. The spiders had webbed cocoons of several bodies, including the other Jade Ravens, a kopru, some natives, and a kna. The party recovered the bodies, although Tolin was a little wary of their intentions towards the gear of his fallen companions. A club over the head reminded the party they should think about exploring the lake, where they found a chest, containing much coin, and an underwater passage that led north, seemingly towards the sea. Back in the grove, the party found spider eggs amongst the bananas, and realised that something was being done to sustain the plantlife here beyond the natural environment.
The party returned to Lavinia and reported their findings. They requested Vesselin contact his church in Sasserine to ask for information (note: he can't actually cast sending; sorry!). Between them, the party determined that Stefanie and Tolin had succumbed to lycanthropy, and at the next moon would become weresharks. Stefanie was concerned about the possible link to Vanthus, Lavinia's brother, and used her new found magic to scry for him. She got lucky, but what they saw bore little resemblance to Lavinia's description or the fleeting glimpse they got of him before on Parrot Island. He seemed changed, twisted, and wore a red steel amulet with a vial of red liquid - the same they had seen with the Crimson Fleet before...
Why the City?
11 hours ago