Deciding that fooling with ghosts is a bad idea, the group takes off on a new tangent. They travel to the southeast to try and make contact with the druid in exile. Along the way, Goldpiece frets over the possibility that the group is carrying an extra traveling companion in the guise of a party member, but is in actuality the ghost. The ghost denies this most vigorously of course and the party things the elf is a ‘bit teched in tha haid’.
While they do not make it to the druid himheritsself, they do meet with druidical followers, rangers and the like. They get further information on the depredations of the Rotting Man and the general attempt to seal off the old forest from interlopers. A keep near the forest’s edge has been seized, retaken, abandoned and then left alone by forces from both parties – at least so said the last intelligence report. More recent scouting has yielded a deficit of returning scouts.
The party goes to investigate and decides to traverse the forest from east to west, just to see what can be seen. While druid and magic user provide aerial scouting the rest of the group keep eyes and ears open to see what may be seen. Not much at first, then an attack by a zombie bear. Within a few days there is an encounter with a group – search party? patrol? picnickers? – composed of ogres with dogs, a mountain giant, an ungern troop and a small zombie horde. The group ambushes them and destroys the undead, ogres and dogs, but the rest melt into the forest.
The group pursues over the course of the next few days, tracking by air and by ranger (who identifies a possible 7 legged spider companion) and realizes that the giant and ungern are headed towards the keep in question, but that the spider is not in sight. The paranoid wizard scouts the group’s backtrail and spies a party of drider and a grell trailing them as they trail the giant. The wizard returns and shares the news that the group is too far away to see them directly but seems awfully well aware of the party’s disposition and general direction. Maybe there is a spy in the camp. ‘The ghost!’ exclaims Goldpiece. Maybe, or maybe a scrying device, invisible doo hicky or ethereal whatchamhoozit. However, after the magic user returns to the sky, no trace of the trailers can be found, Paranoia levels rise until the cleric suggests bold action. Retake the keep and at least not be trapped between keep and trailers.
Scouting is undertaken, precautions are discussed and a general plan is put forth. At the break of dawn, while mage and druid wing their way to high ground, the group steals round the side to the ruined gates. They sprint through – setting off several alarms – and are well on their way to the manor house before the guards have a real chance to respond. The cleric, clad in plate mail and unable to sprint, hangs back in the rubble near the gates and keeps watch on the party rear, guarding the only escape route. While the barracks troops spring into action the lead party member knocks the door off the hinges and they assault the manor house. When the guards form into a square and move to block their retreat, Malchor drops an ice storm that crushes them and the few survivors scatter in dismay. While the group continues its assault on the few guards inside the house, the cleric sees a small group of ungern forming up near the stables, A cloudkill spell from his staff does them in and it looks like the immediate threat is neutralized.
Inside the manor house, the group gains access to the room under guards, but finds only an empty bedroom, not used in some time – no sign of any recent occupation. Why guard an empty room? The group regroups and prepares to sally forth to meet the cleric.