Volunteering for the first watch, Spooks sits against the low flame, allowing his Orcish eyes to adjust to the darkness. The winds are too calm, the stars are not in their right place, and save for the low, feline growl that suddenly eminates out of the darkness behind him, not a single animal can be heard.
In mid turn, and before he can sound an alarm, a monstrous, padded tendril whips out of the night sky and smashes Spooks in the face, sending him toppling back over his post and into the dirt. Following close behind emerges a dire creature – an eight foot long feline with ice blue eyes and a second tendril curling and shifting from its shoulder. The distinctive flicker of the foe in and out of sight, padding slightly in almost every direction at once confirms the worst – a displacer beast.
Scrambling from the ground, Spooks lets loose a blast of cold breath that hits the beast, causing it to slow just enough for him to step out of range of the flailing tendrils that miss him by mere inches.
Winnifred, closest to the battle, awakens and immediately lunges at the giant cat, only to be caught unprepared for its ability to phase in and out of this plane, her axes missing their target. Saena is next to launch an attack, her elemental lightning connecting with the creature and causing it to sizzle and burn, while out from the forest two large wolves menace the displacer beast from behind while Corrin tends to Boba with his healing belt. Boba, now healed, and Elias, now awake, lay into their foe with fist and iron.
The fierce but quick battle rages on in this manner for almost no time at all, but what seems like forever: Winnifred keeps it off balance with her axes and Elias with his longsword, while Saena and Spooks flank using their element might of lightning and flame, the only things seeming to do notable damage to the creature. After taking a few more hits, Spooks steadies himself and unleashes a final cone of fire breath that surrounds the massive cat, and when the smoke clears, nothing is left but charred bones.
The night returned to its eerie calm, hearts and minds beginning to settle, Winnifred takes the second watch while the group attempts more sleep, soon followed by Boba, both scouts reporting nothing of note throughout the night.
The next morning the heroes break camp and again head off towards the ruins. They do everything they can to quicken their pace, hoping to arrive by nightfall and beat the slavers from completing their evil purpose. By the time they lose the light and are forced to make camp, they are a mile out from the ruins, which glow dimly in the distance.
Saena sets herself for first watch, the group now more alert to the beasts and monsters so close to the ruins. Luckily, nothing eventful happens in the first few hours of the night, and soon Saena is relieved by Winnifred. After some time, her eyes adjusting to the odd darkness, Winnifred can make out a shape in the distance. She wakes Spooks, who has excellent night vision, and he informs her that it seems to be a cart and donkey, but the form is being greatly distorted by the odd magical resonance of the plains. They opt to sneak in for a closer look, and confirm that the figure is indeed a man with a cart and donkey, and they appear to be stuck in the mud. Spooks tells Winnifred that while there is some faint magic coming off the stranger, the cart is afire with hidden magic. Soon, they make their way back to the camp and alert the others.
After some discussion, Elias leads the group cautiously back to the old man. Corrin casts invisibility on himself and scouts ahead, returning with the knowledge that the entire cart is full of oddly shaped and coloured flowers. Saena and Elias both realize that the flowers are a local oddity, a medieval form of natural balloon, and upon conversing with the traveller (whose name is Earnest), the heroes help him and his cart out of the mud and leave him to his own stubborn, magic-grass eating mule.
Feeling that they should not delay any longer, and now weary of patrols thanks to Earnest’s cautionary tales of his once competition Piotr, the adventurers set out to the ruins before dawn. From even one hundred feet out, the old stones are lit up in the night sky: old stones hover and glow, warding spells dance across their faces, and the campfires of a mostly Orcish mercenary force guard the outer most perimeter, blocking their path to the open gates below.
Fearing that the slaves are already inside, the group inches closer to a ridge just beyond view and hatches a plan to gain access to the quarry…