After your return to Highfort you were besieged by people seeking audience with you, not to mention all the mundane tasks that rulers are required to do. Being gone for a week allowed a lot to build up and you are exhausted by the monotony of it all.
One of the visitors seeking you is an elf maid who is a past neighbor of Asher; when she lived in Aniel. She comes seeking help to discover the mystery of what happened to Aniel’s inhabitants. While she was away visiting distant relatives the villagers completely disappeared. In the span of a few months Aniel Hanson from thriving hamlet to deserted ghost town. No sign of foul play or disruption, just abandonment.
You decide to investigate as your next endeavor. Heck, anything is better than the evils of town administration. A day out of town and you are beset by two horrid plant creatures. It is like a huge flesh eating bush has come to life. They are all tendrils and thorn-fanged maw and they are hungry. What seemed a quick dispatch of these plant creatures turns into a horrific battle as they devour Jarvin and Nadalee whole and then refuse to stay dead.
But you finally shred them and extract the two comrades but find Nadalee dead. Thank whatever god you take stock in because you have a scroll that may bring her back if Jahad is favored enough. You will see once back at Highfort.
Nadalee is fine after being resurrected, though what psychological trauma she has is anyone’s guess; was she really stable to begin with? So after a little rest, it is back to the road.
with Asher showing the way you climb to the plateau and find Aniel. It is deserted as expected but why? After Cainan casts a spell to see the invisible, humanoid shapes are seen around them for a brief moment. Jarvin and Cainan check out the temple only to find a hostile floating stick which beats on them mercilessly but doing no harm. They follow it up the stairs of the totem and finally Cainan sees the magical outline of a humanoid form.