The podcast of this session can be found here.
The northern exploration group decides to camp for the night near the strange shrine. During the night, there is a slight disturbance as one of the guards feels like there is some spirits are passing through the area. They see nothing and no tracks or anything is found the following morning, the start of the 21st day for the group. (Random encounter was rolled for troglodytes but this encounter was eliminated by the actions of the PCs killing off most of the trogs and taking over the keep.)
On the morning of the 20th day, the group heading towards Highglade gathers in Liwil. Velsind and Amagar had spent the night in town with Joferth and they are awaiting the mercs plus Blodwyn, Ruarc, Orpheus, and Blix. Ugla and Ciaran also travel to town as they would be spending time studying and learning new magics with Hewtim, the mage for the Basilisk Knights. As they gather, they hear the buzz in the town of a crime having been committed. It seems that a tailor was found strangled in a back alley. The townsfolk feel that the culprit must come from the mining camp and are looking for some sort of justice.
There is a spirited discussion within the group on this news. Some feel like they should leave some of the mercs behind to help police the situation, having them report to Ciaran and Ugla with developments. Others argue that, at this time, there isn't enough of a real issue for the group to be concerned with. It is thought that the murder might be a crime of passion or opportunity and does not signal a greater issue. In the end, the group decides to all move on towards High Glade and not leave any mercs behind, noting that at least one party member still feels strongly about the situation.
The trip towards Highglade is uneventful. Going east, the group travels the remains of the road and encounters the large lake that seems to have overtaken the area the old road seems to head through. They travel a bit more east then south along the larger creek/river that drains this lake. Eventually they turn slightly back to the west and come upon High Glade. All of those who had not been here previously are in awe of the three massive trees that comprise the village, their height easily three times the height of the surrounding trees and even greater circumference. What really stands out about the village is how eerily quiet it is. There is very little noise save for wind that moves through the trees and any movement heard on the ladders and bridges above, not even any animal noises that one would think of hearing in the forest are heard.
The group is met by Zindar, their guide when they previously travelled her to gather velvet cap mushrooms. He welcomes the group and inquires what their business is. Upon learning that they have brought a trader from the west, some of the leadership is called forth. They are once again met by the seer, Dalshal, who gives guidance to when any trading and such can occur. Blix asks about the visions the seers have and expresses a little bit of doubt. Velsind asks to have any visions of their group or things that may affect them to be brought up to them. As it is the end of the day, the group is led to some guest quarters to rest. Velsind and Amagar are quick to inform the group to not drink any of the wine produced by the owlfolk, lest they get pulled into the Dream Land and possibly get trapped. The warning is heeded but with a little skepticism.
As the 21st day dawns, Joferth quickly sets up shop and begins selling his wares, mainly the metal items he brought. He also takes note of other items that the owlfolk may need. Since trading is a two-way road, he asks what the owlfolk have that he might purchase. The adventurers also take note of this since they did not really inquire about these things the last time they were in the village. They are presented with all manner of natural items that induce all sorts of effects. From tea leaves that allow the drinker to see far away locations to red liquids that boosts the imbiber with greater ability to take damage in fights to special dust that allows the user to be immune to fatigue for half a day. Not all the items spark interest but enough do to give a feeling that trade may be worthwhile. Some of the adventurers also buy the owlfolk items as well.
With the trading done, the group heads back north to the lake. A quick discussion is held with Joferth also chiming in about finding the old road on the opposite side of the lake. As they look out, they note an island just over two miles to the north and the shore where one would expect the road to be about five miles away, although traveling around the southern part of the lake will be a bit further to go. Remembering the goblins fishing in the lake from last time, Amagar is instructed to search around. It takes only a short moment for Amagar to find some tracks and follow them. They eventually lead away from the lake in a southeastern fashion.
Seeing that the shortest way to finding the old road on the other side of the lake is by going counterclockwise, the group heads east but stays a good 50+ yards away from the shoreline to prevent potential water denizens easy access in ambushing the group. As they travel along, they note that this lake seems to have come up in the recent past, remnants of rotting trees dot the lake. As the daylight begins to fade, the group come up a small rise and find the eastern side of the old road. It is definitely in rougher shape than the western side, but it is still there, which makes Joferth pleased.
As they begin to determine where they wish to set up camp, the sharp ears of a few are alerted to sounds coming from a small hollow slightly north of the road. The group moves up a little and spots three owlbears leaving their nest and beginning to stir, presumably to start hunting for the night. The adventurers quickly decide that taking the monsters out is best, so weapons are drawn. The mercs let loose a volley of arrows, several of which score decent hits on the owlbears. The monsters hoot and search around for what could have caused this sudden pain then break off and run away. The group gives chase and run the owlbears down to their demise.
Dragging the carcasses back, Amagar and Velsind begin cutting off the various parts usable for charms and such plus skinning the monsters. Others search out the owlbear nest and eventually find several gems, a few potions and the gnawed corpse of some human. A bit of surprise is felt when they spot the red dyed soles on the corpse's boots, reminding them that the red foot gang is still out there. Joferth inquires what is to be done with the owlbear skins and, before anyone else can discuss it, Velsind waves his hand and tells the merchant to take them as a gift.
This brings the adventurers together for a small talk away from the merchant. While some of them wish to give one and sell the others to the merchant, Velsind lets them in on his thoughts. They learn that Velsind took this opportunity to travel with the merchant to gauge if he could be trusted to do things for the group or, at least, be bribed to provide some service. By giving the owlbear pelts, Velsind hopes to engage the merchant with two tasks. One is to help them find a seneshal that could help take over running Black Pit Keep, freeing up the adventurers to continue questing about. The second is to have the leadership of Dry Gulch assist the group with determining a viable way to set up some government within Liwil so they could take over as the Basilisk Knights had asked. The group agrees that this may be a worthy thing. They move a short distance away from the owlbear corpses and set up camp for the night. In the morning of the 22nd day, they will return to Liwil.