Two more days have passed, and in that time 40 people in Falcon’s Hollow have died.
Bonejaw,Ryunoske, and Bluebeard found an experienced woodsman at the lumbermill camp. He seemed confused at first, finally asking if they had forgotten the directions he’d already given them. It became clear that Laurel must have hired two groups of adventurers to find the ingredients for her cure.
It was the work of a few hours for Bonejaw to follow the heavy tracks of their unwitting competitors. Dressed in finery more appropriate for the city streets than the interior, Landon Grogan turned out to be a dwarf of some years. His presence even in this part of the world was an oddity, and his traveling with Olo was even stranger.
Still the five agreed to travel together, with Ryonoske silently pledging to collect both rewards from the double-dealing Laurel.
Their goal the center of the forest, the band found a clearing at the river’s bank where unskilled hands had built a pit trap. It turned out to be a blind for a goblinish creature and his band of trained razorcrows. The creature, though he fired on and on from his perch in a low tree, was little trouble to five heroes, and his crows departed as soon as was dealt with.
One crow, though, seen out of the corner of Landon’s eye, was seen as it flew away to not be a bird at all, but something else entirely that was choosing for that moment to look like a crow.
Olo discovered a Fennec Fox at the bottom of the goblin’s pit trap, and Bluebeard healed it. It follows the party at a good distance, seemingly unwilling to be left behind or leave those who were so kind to it.
At last the great tree. Walking carefully, Olo saw that one branch held the heavy body of a thick snake or dragonkin. Ryunoske tried to walk silently and steal a bit of moss without waking the wyrm, but inches from his goal, his hand almost upon the moss, a creature appeared from within the tree: an animate shadow, the shade of a once-living thing, that warned the wyrm and attacked Ryunoske, sapping his strength till he could barely lift his arms.
As they battled, the shade whispered this rhyme to Rynoske as it tried to turn him into a thing of darkness:
Three hundred years, the shape of man,
And now the Shadow comes again
~ ~~~ ~ ~~~~~~~~ ~ ~~~ ~~~
~ ~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ ~ ~ ~~
The debt collecter’s open hands
On prison world, on throne of sin
(Lines 3 and 4 were lost, as the shade spoke them to Olo’s crocodile)
Alive, but with Ryunoske mortally weak, the band had a choice to make: rest for the whole day and night to let Rynoske recover his strength, rest for just a few hours and explore the interior in darkness, or hurry on now, one ally weakened, others with slight injuries, knowing that their haste would save the lives of some score of the sick in Falcon’s hollow