While breaking up their camp along Triboar Trail, our party is greeted by a lone traveller, a Paladin named Elcares. He’s also been hunting orcs at Wyvern Tor but now that they’ve been taken care of, he expresses his gratitude to the party for killing the greenskin and offers to join the party back to Phandalin.
Arriving in town, the party is met by Sildar who introduces them to a middle-aged female Halfling named Quelline Alderleaf. She has no knowledge of where Cragmaw Castle can be found but she knows someone who might – a wandering Druid named Reidoth has extensive knowledge of the area surrounding Neverwinter and Quelline suspect he might know where to find the Castle. She provides the party with directions to the abandoned town of Thundertree, saying that Reidoth is known to wander that area.
Before heading out for Thundertree, the party receives their payment for dispersing with the orcs and the Redbrands.
After an uneventful couple of days travel the party finally reaches the town of Thundertree. It’s a small ruined town with no more than 10-12 buildings, half of which are collapsed and overgrown with plants. A small, hand-made sign bids our adventurers welcome: “DANGER! Plant monsters AND zombies! Turn back now!”
The party splits up with Rakman and Elcares going east and west, respectively, around the town, while Malien and Martyn takes the more direct route due north. Elcares discovers an old Tavern filled with zombies and some huge cobwebs while Rakman surprises a couple of zombies in an old smithy.
Rakman lures the zombies out of the building back towards Malien and Martyn but is attacked by some Twig Blights when climbing up some ruined walls. They quickly eliminate the threat but Martyn is struck by some ashes from the slaughtered zombies and feel very ill for a few minutes.
While planning their next move, suddently Malien hears something from one of the adjacent buildings. They enter and discovers an elderly man with a white beard; Reidoth the Druid.
After introducing each other, Reidoth willingly shares some information about the town of Thundertree with the adventurers: The town is overrun by zombies, plants and spiders but more worringly a young, green dragon has apparantly settled down in the abandoned tower at the top of the hill in the middle of town. Also, some folk in black masks and cloaks have been spotted skulking around.
He asks if the party would try and investigate the cloaked people and in return he’d show them the way to Cragmaw Castle. The party agrees and leaves most of their gear behind before heading out for the eastern part of town to investigate.
They quickly find a small farmhouse where all the doors are shut and windows shuttered – something they haven’t seen anywhere else in the ruins. They sneak up to the house and – somewhat surprisingly – knocks on the door. After some time the door is opened and a couple of cloaked humans appear in the doorway. Martyn tries to charm his way into the house by faking an interest and love for dragons and now the leader of the cloaked persons also appear. After a short discussion, Martyn casts a spell killing the leader of the Dragon Cultists in an instant!
The remaining cultists are scared, wanting to flee the house and the party lets them go without harming them further. Returning to Reidoth the Druid, the adventurers learn the location of Cragmaw Castle and head out, back south towards Phandalin.
On their way back, the weather is getting worse by the hour. Rain is pouring down and the marsh is getting more and more swamp-like. At one point the rain is so intense that it’s hard to see just a few feet ahead. After several hours, the rain suddently stops but instead a very dense fog lays over the lands. A few moments later the fog disappears but now it seems like the entire surroundings have changed… It looks like our adventurers are in the middle of a swamp!
The party discusses what might have happened but ultimately concludes that they simply cannot have entered the Mere of Dead Men – the only known swamp in the area – as it’s located way too far to the south. Meanwhile, Martyn realises that his Holy Symbol is constantly feeling hot…
After wandering the swamp in what seem like forever, night falls over the area. The dark, grey sky is turning even darker and ghastly mists rise from the water. Through the tree-tops the moon is looking larger than ever before but no real light is coming from it. Far, far away the adventurers can see smoke-black stormclouds gathering, a clear sign that a storm is coming.
The next morning, the party continues on and suddently they see a small raft tied to a tree in the middle of the swamp. They board the raft and continues exploring the misty swamp. It is now several days since the adventurers have seen any form of sunlight and at some point their minds begin to play tricks with them – seeing and hearing things that may or may not be real…
Then, suddently, they are attacked by 3 Giant Frogs! However, they pose no real threat to the party and are killed off quite quickly.
The black storm-clouds in the distance are looking more and more threatening but still no rain or thunder is to be heard or seen. The next day, after spending several more hours on the raft, the party suddently see something they haven’t seen in quite a few days: Light!
On a small piece of dry land, a fire in the middle of a small camp is visible. In the flickering light a colorful gypsywagon along with 2 horses, some small children and 3 adults are seen. Sitting by the fire, one of the adults, an elderly man, looks directly at the adventurers, smiles and waves them towards him and the small camp.