After searching the surrounding hexes of Varnhold, little evidence of the villagers’ fate was to be found.
Though not her own subjects, the fate of a neighboring people wore on Willow’s psyche. Though her faith in Erastil was strong, she couldn’t ignore that the plight of Varnhold could replicate, if not investigated.
Plus, the humans were not necessarily evil, either, so an attempt to rescue them should be made, in her reasoning. But where in Heaven were they?
After reexamining the Ulfen ranger’s journal about a bracelet being found, and rereading Maestro Pendrod’s notes on “Vordekai’s isle”, the party goes further south. They reason that staying to the east side of the Tors of Levenies would allow villagers a more expeditious journey. Farther south they discover the Ghost Stone, and make a hesitant deal with an intelligent phase spider to kill “invaders” who took up there recently in her home. Somehow the Ghost Stone is connected to the Ethereal Plane.
Willow moves in with a plan to detect if those at the Stone are evil, thus ruling out them as Varnholders potentially. Sure enough, they are four-armed, red skinned otherworld demons known as Xill. Willow’s armor saves her from much of their attacks (claw, claw, claw, sword, bite).
Emmond lined them up for a lightning bolt (they were using the Stone for cover). The party battled, with some xill using two bows at once. Somehow noone suffered the poison effect of their bite.
Khumbu grappled two. Erastil’s blessed slashed quite a few, taking one down of the five. The party stood victorious, and the phase spider revealed an extra-planar chest of major magnifence. Inside were a wand and a spellbook.
Later, the party explores even further south, just a hex away from where the centaurs said a Valley of the Dead lay. There, they think they’ve discovered “Vordekai’s isle”, a 100’ tall fumarole in the middle of a deep wide pool in the river. It smokes menacingly.
Emmond casts flight on Sleestak and he takes a wide berth from the isle, flying over the waterfall, and looking for tracks on the other side, near what appears to be a trail. He finds evidence that humans, a larger humanoid, and unshod horse prints (centaur?) traveled there recently. It is impossible to tell where they were going or to follow them, even for Sleestak.
The party weighs its options. [See the map in the map section of this site for tactics and planning.]