While Kholuk has sustained a bitter wound, he seems rather well. After looking the creature over, one of you recall the ranger, Milon Rhoddam, talking about something like this. Ryiad snaps his finger in recollection. “Tatzlwyrm! This is what he was talking about. His words were, "Slithering like a large snake, this creature has the head of a dragon and a pair of clawed arms to help it move along and grasp prey. A sickly green mist wafts from its open maw." He couldn't have been any more precise.”
Together, Ryiad and Locutus gather up more than what is needed of the Elderwood and Locutus secures the pouch to his hip again, cargo more precious than gold.
Once the moss is gathered, you all spread out and search about. Nothing interesting is found on the ground, but Ryiad sees something further up in the tree. “Look there! Up a third from the top! There's three figures up there.”
You all try looking at where Ryiad is pointing and soon you all can see them. Any motion you can see you soon realize is just from the swaying of the treetop in the breeze. Locutus and Collin begin the long climb up. After some near slips they finally make it to the three objects. Three dead hunters. They clearly became the prey instead of remaining the predator. You recall some of the stories told in town about men entering the woods and never being seen again. After all that you have seen today, you now know why. Although the bodies have been stripped of nearly all their flesh, the woodsmen’s equipment still dangles from their half-devoured carcasses. Together Collin and Locutus search the bodies and find two crossbows, two short swords, a suit of hide armor, a masterwork shortbow, a signet ring with the image of a flaming hawk , 9 gp, 12 sp, and eight days’ worth of rations.
You both cut the bodies free and work your way down with their gear that was still usable. On the way down, Locutus looks out clear over the top of the entire forest. When he looks to the west, he spies a clearing further out. Best judgment based on what was seen of the map, that must be the witch's place. He can just barely make out the tiny hut in the center. Further still, the great peaks of the mountains and where must be the Crucible.
Finally back on solid earth, Collin and Locutus show off what was found on the three bodies. The three bodies lie on the ground. You know that if you stop to bury them, you'll loose precious time. As it is now, if you make haste, you could reach the witch's hut before sun fall. Taking the time to bury the last man you found took more time than you could have afforded and now could very well cost lives of people back home. Ultimately you decide to leave the bodies, or at least what remains of the bodies, as is. What came from nature shall return to nature.
You divvy up the finding as best as able and press on. The sounds of the forest become suddenly distant as the trees part, opening into a small, almost perfectly circular glade. The nearest stands of pine, eyln, and darkwood—all typically sturdy woods—twist away from the clearing, as if bent by some impossibly strong wind or seemingly in an attempt to flee despite their paralyzed roots. At the glade’s center squats an ugly cottage, little more than a pile of twigs, shoots, and ivy stacked upon mud walls. From the thatched roof dangle bundles of gnarled roots, old dried beast carcasses, and knucklebone bangles, all clattering together like gruesome wind chimes. A dozen small thatched fetishes—each shaped like a tiny man, imp, or rearing serpent—stand propped in the yard, keeping guard before a rickety plank door.
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