Kurama - Half-Elf (no longer cursed) / Circle of the Moon Druid
Glib - Kenku / Arcane Trickster Rogue
Boljek - Hobgoblin / Samurai Fighter
Torrent - Tiefling / Tempest Cleric
Eld - Half-Elf / Archfey Warlock
Atavan - Human / Mastermind Rogue
Arha - Half-Orc / Oath of Vengeance Paladin
Party Level: 4
Beaches and Mushrooms
Coming ashore onto the white sands of Pulaka beach on the eastern side of Iliya, the group sets to work looking like merchants and scouts (as a ruse to lure whatever might be ambushing the scouting parties), a few picking up the curiously smooth rocks that litter the landscape. Constructing a cart of empty boxes and barrels, Boljek begins hauling the wagon into the dense jungle, with Kurama pushing his senses out ahead.
After a few hours of travel, Kurama hears the distant bubbling and popping ahead. Slinking ahead with Glib, the group discovers a bubbling purple river running between several batches of giant mushrooms. While investigating them, Kurama takes notice of a pair of yellow-rimmed eyes staring at them in the bushes. He summons an apple, and tosses it into the bushes, glimpsing the beak of a young owlbear as it flashes out and grabs the apple. The druid communicates with the creature while the rest of the party catches up, and learns that the river of bubbling purple is dangerous to walk in, but creates these tasty mushrooms. Clearly an adolescent, they learn that it was separated from its mother, who ran west further into the forest, where bones hang from the trees.
While they talk, the creature, using its claws like a pair of shears, clips one of the mushroom tops from the mildly acidic water, chomping down on it...and feeling euphoric. It then wanders to the east into a dense and dark sub-canopy. After a little deliberation, the party follows it.
The Fungal Forest
The river spirals under the foliage ahead and the group passes under the dusk canopy, emerging into a sprawling, tight forest of gigantic mushrooms and fungus. Arha hears something big fall in water ahead, and rushes toward the sound...only to find the Owlbear, still enjoying its high, rolling around in a small pool of crystal clear water. While the others look for a way back out and around the river, Kurama and Eld notice the mushroom tops that loom overhead periodically exhale hallucinogenic spores...which Torrent promptly inhales, and joins the Owlbear in thoroughly enjoying life.
All is not safe, however, as Glib notices movement in the dark, and he and Atavan sneak forward to discover a large Minotaur slinking through the stalks. With a spray of smoke from its nostrils, its golden eyes settle on Atavan, and it begins ripping through the mushrooms and stalks, readying a net for the rogue. Arha tries to communicate to the Minotaur that they mean no harm, but it seems bent on doing harm to Atavan. The group, with Kurama using his broach of telepathy to confirm, ready themselves to avoid capture...while Torrent struggles with euphoria.
The Minotaur did not realize what it was getting into, and even with its superior defenses, it is quickly overwhelmed, two arrows from Glib and Atavan transfixing its face, and its form falls limp into another pile of mushrooms. And as the body falls, another puff of euphoric spores fall down from the canopy. Boljek quickly loots the body, as the group realizes the longer they stay here, the harder it will be to resist the spores (Eld grabs some mushrooms on the way), so they make their way back out on the other side of the river.
Torrent, using her battleaxe to bushwhack, cuts through the brush and foliage to form a space for the group to set up camp and rest a bit. A storm rolls overhead, and Kurama notices the sound of crunching leaves, like footsteps getting closer. He addresses the figure, which hesitates and begins staking out the camp. The fire flashes blue, then green, then goes out. Kurama druid crafts the flames back and there, maybe 3 feet from him, is a figure.
Adorned in rags that obscure worn and rusted plate mail, twigs and leaves that stick out between the rivets, and a helm that totally obscures the face, this thing stands stoic in the center of the camp. A wooden and steel shield is slung over one shoulder, with a great sword lazily sheathed over the other. Kurama asks if they have trespassed on its territory, and in response, another heavy impact resounds behind the camp, deep within the woods; a fair of enormous yellow eyes glare out from the trees, a low growl shaking the ground. "Trespass. Judgement." Bigger than any bear they've seen, the fires flicker once more and both are gone.
Recovered, the group cuts their way to the minotaur camp, discovering numerous totems of bones, trappings, maps, axes, and several bodies nailed to trees (they resemble the soldiers in Gotha). Also there, they discover, interrogate, then liberate the little Kobold servant named Scruff. He explains that the THREE minotaurs serve a recent master named Ursano, and Boljek cites the reference as a primal spirit. After capturing the mama Owlbear, Scruff sent the child away, which endears him to the group.
With his help, he guides them toward Ursano's ruins, where the minotaurs will undoubtedly stop by. As they approach, however, a cyclone of terrible wind and intense rain begins to sap their strength, and the sonic damage knocks out Scruff more than once. Finally, they emerge upon the ruins; an ancient temple amidst a broken stone city. And as they cross the threshold, time slows...
The Bear Knight
Lightning streaks in slow motion and the rain falls as if time were slowed to an inch. And there, at the end of the cobblestone path, stands the Knight. It demands a duel, single combat or dynamic together. At first, Boljek offers himself, but the others quickly turn over to the idea that they are always stronger together. The decision made, the Knight calls his TWO minotaurs, and lightning strikes the temple's peak behind him, calling forth an enormous bear, a wreath of emerald shards and hardened stone adorning its neck and shoulders. The fight begins.
One very tough fight later, the Knight is defeated, Glib takes out a minotaur himself, and Boljek attempts to go toe-to-toe with the primal spirit of Ursano himself...this was a poor choice, but with single targets falling, the group finally begins to out-maneuver the Knight and his warden. The emerald pieces now free, and the spirit banished, the Knight is finally killed.
But at the peak of the temple, a sarcophagus sits, tendrils of incense floating lazily from within. Tearing off the cover, the gang discovers the remains of something odd, twisted and layered into some sort of summoning ritual. The remains are that of a young Wendigo, the group believes, and they finally destroy it.
They retrieve the baby Owlbear, giving him a home on their boat, and dispose of its mother's remains, found in the stone circlet of Ursano.
Just as they leave, though, Boljek spies a set of eyes watching them. Across a deep lake beyond the ruined temple, perched on a slab of a grander ruin, sits a wolf adorned in matted leaves, a strange pair of antlers on its head. Their eyes meet, and it bounds into the broken castles beyond...