The party resumed attempting to follow the trail of the kidnapped pilgrims south towards the Redwood. With no sign of the pilgrims or their captors, the party agreed to set off to Kuiper’s farm. A bird’s caw caught the party’s attention. Kirein spotted a raven with a message tube attached to its leg. The message was from Shiraz the Ranger, asking the party to meet her at the junction of the Oldscutt and Churnett Rivers.
The party rested their mounts, then headed to Kuiper’s for the night. The party enlisted Kuiper’s aid in tracking the kidnapped pilgrims. That night it rained and made tracking harder. Kuiper attempted speaking with animals, but to no avail; the pilgrims’ trail was cold. The party and Kuiper went their separate ways, with the party returning to Lord Parlfray’s keep to report the news. Kirein noted that Lord Parlfray seemed nervous at the mention of the prisoners last being seen heading south.
Lord Parlfray later privately confided in Kirein that this troubled him because the Parlfray family had once held another keep in the Thornwood (south of the kidnapping) that had been wiped out by unknown forces many years past, and feared that someone may be using the old keep as a staging area for evil deeds. Parlfray told Kirein that if the party went there, anything found that may besmirch his family name was to be kept secret, to which Kirein agreed. Parlfray then urged the party to answer Shiraz’s summons while Parlfray sent a scouting party out to ascertain whether or not the old keep was being used as he suspected.
Lord Parlfray entertained the party with a feast and a local bard. No other news was gathered. Pytherion sparred with some of Parlfray’s guards, and caught the attention (and affection) of a female guard. Jianna caught the attention and affection of Parlfray ‘s son, Lyntern. After the feast, the party rested and left the next day, heading west to the river junction. Two days’ travel was made with no encounters, and the party met with Shiraz.
Shiraz told the party that a family of Aarakocra, living near where the Patchwork Hills met the Thornwood, were being harassed by a group of Gnolls, and Shiraz feared for the lives of the Aarakocra. She wished to enlist the party to put an end to the Gnoll attacks. The party agreed and set out for Millborne to rest for the trip the next day. The party ordered supplies while in town, then set off to Harlaton then along the Terraces to the edge of the Thornwood. They followed the Thornwood’s border to the Patchwork Hills and traveled until late afternoon and set up camp.
That night, the party was attacked by a Gnoll hunting party during the second watch. Four Gnolls and two hyenas attacked and were defeated. Pytherion nearly lost his life in the encounter. A human prisoner was discovered shortly after, named Lentl. He claimed that the Gnolls had a camp nearby and could show us where it was, as well as described the layout and that there were approximately 9 Gnolls there, including some kind of leader who was much larger than the rest, and 4 other prisoners, consisting of 3 Humans and an Orc. The prisoner urged us to hurry, but the party was in a much weakened state with the critical injury of Pytherion.