- Surfacing from the water the commanders of the Outriders found that their wounds had been miraculously healed, and that they now stood in a lush and verdant grotto hidden away from the world.
- Within the grotto they discovered a community of Leaf Goblins, tiny creatures which had apparently evolved in isolation from any natural predators. The creatures were entirely benign, and the group spent a few days investigating and (somewhat haphazardly) influencing their proto-society.
- Infuriated by the relative inactivity of the group Redshank lashed out at one of the creatures in a moment of fury. Toothpick, who had developed an affection for the small creatures, grabbed his fellow Shael and attempted to beat some sense into him whilst Hawk took the dying goblin to the waters.
- The same water spirits that had apparently saved the team’s lives were seemingly displeased with the death of one of their people, and lashed out at Redshank in a torrential blast of water which shattered his body on the rocks.
- After bidding a slightly unwilling farewell to the tiny creatures the team managed to climb out onto the mountainside once more. In the bitter cold and howling winds they found their way to an abandoned farmhouse where they set up camp. They were all surprised to see their missing team member Miri making her way towards them, naked in the snow.
- With Hunter and Toothpick attempting to warm the almost frozen form of Miri Hawk channelled some of the tass he had collected into a bolt of fire to dry and ignite the damp, frozen firewood. Miri’s form immediately split open, revealing the horrendous monstrosity that had imitated their companion.
- Having destroyed the Miri-beast the team made their way to Greenleaf, a small farming village, and found lodgings at the inn. Toothpick spent an instructive night in the intimate company of a Northlander couple. Hunter and Hawk, meanwhile, received word via longrunner that the city of Baerlon was no longer safe, after they failed to complete the task set for them by the god-king Mardero.
- Whilst refitting at a local trader Hunter encountered one of the Black Suns mercenaries who had stolen 700 gold pieces from him back in Baerlon. He killed the treacherous individual in (reasonably) fair combat and the team managed to repair and refit. However Weir, their long-suffering companion, took this opportunity to leave their service and join the employ of the trader in place of the deceased Black Sun.
*The team learned that there was war in the North between a great red dragon and the god king. They also learned that the nobles of Tacansi’s Hold, an Ulsine border town were pushing for fresh recruits in the face of rising antagonism from Mardero’s forces.
- Before reaching the town the group encountered a group of slavers taking some Northlanders captive. The Outriders wisely chose to strike first and executed an attack that ended in the death or capture of the slavers, but only one of the three Northlanders survived. The survivor, a northlander named Yoth, was grateful and offered them the hospitality of his people.
*The group gained entry to Maergis, and despite Hunter’s almost catastrophic tactical miscalculation at the gates, were given the opportunity to prove their worthiness to join the slavers within in the service of the apparently supernatural lord Dactylos. To do this they were forced to fight a man that Toothpick knew they could not beat, but they were saved from their impossible fight by direct magical intervention, which may have come from Dactylos or from the enigmatic figure of Content Not Found: marius
*When the arcane smoke cleared the party had been transported from Maergis to the mountains once more, where they met and spoke with a being who called himself Content Not Found: marius. Marius made mention of himself as a Chronicler, the last of his race, and seemed most displeased with the fact that he was meeting the three commanders of the Outriders “too soon”. Apparently Marius had expected forces to have made contact with the three of them under different circumstances, and was extremely surprised to find them working as mercenaries.
- Marius told the commanders that they should go to Torin’s Reach, nestled in the mountains to the north of Longstride to receive guidance, and that they should leave the lands around Empyrrean as quickly as possible.
- Concerned for their comrades that they now knew to be held by the Maergis slavers, the commanders executed a daring ambush and managed to rescue Weir, Akara, Miri and Content Not Found: clem from being sent to Empyrrean as part of a tithe from Dactylos. Though wounded, their men were alive, and they sent them back towards Baerlon.
- Despite the magical concealment that Content Not Found: marius had placed on the Outriders, something within Empyrrean found Toothpick and ripped the knowledge of their rescued associate’s location from his mind. When the commanders caught up with the caravan, all those within were listless and uncommunicative.
- When medicine failed to bring them round Hunter turned to his newly acquired faith in the primal night god Ikanden, and attempted to use the old god’s will to drive the controlling force out of Akara. The war of wills tore the threads of Akara’s being asunder and killed her, cracking the Amulet of the Sightless Eye in the process.
- It was then that Hawk perceived the threads of brilliant light coming from their comrade’s heads, and linking into a vast black web in the sky. It was a web he had seen before in his dreams.
- Toothpick attempted to use his null ability to sever the link, but it became clear that this might kill them. In a strange moment of clarity he saw that the problem was above him, not within the minds of his associates. Tapping into knowledge he did not understand he projected his null into the sky, severing a thread of the web and freeing the minds of the comatose. Unfortunately the magical fallout began to level the terrain, toppling mountains like piles of leaves.
- It seemed that despite everything they would all be killed by the fallout, but Hunter spotted a cavern and drove the crazed horses towards it in a frenzy. Hawk, desperate enough to try anything, reached out and, to his surprise, caught a fistful of the black energy. Using his will to sculpt it he energised the horses, causing their bodies to decay at an alarming rate, but granting them the speed to take them into the cavern as the valley collapsed.