Alluvian and Phandria led the way, discovering the remnants of a watchtower, and a mysterious mist that obscured the ground completely after sunset. They used magics to avoid touching the mist and eventually discovered a ruined and abandoned encampment. As they examined the ruins, the mist pored from the surrounding woodland, despite the fact that the sun was still up. The mist had a magic disrupting ability and concealed some form of tentacled horror, that proceeded to attempt to pummel the group until driven away.
Pressing on, the guiding magics lead the group to a strange sight, an elegant yet disturbing looking bridge that arched off into the mist, the forest floor giving way to what appeared to be some form of crater. As they examined the bridge, they discovered a mounted figure watching them in turn from the forest. After a brief misunderstanding, they discovered the figure to be Vandora Dawnborn, a Beloved of Elenestra and her Unicorn companion, Thandir. Vandora told a tale of how her and her sisters had discovered this strange crater several months ago, and the oddities that emerged from it. Ved’Rail concluded that the timing between the this crater’s appearance was perhaps only a few days after the initial volcanic eruption near Skyscar Peak.
The elven ranger invited Alluvian and her friends back to the Beloved’s encampment to rest before they proceeded over the bridge the next day. She told them how a group of three of her sisters had crossed the bridge three weeks ago, never to be seen again. Two more descended down the side of the crater a week later, but no word has come of them. With five Beloved missing, their leader, Talenestra Swiftblade, forbade any more from entering, instead charging the remaining six to patrol the outer edge of the crater, doing their best to dispatch any of the strange beasts that emerged.
The companions crossed the bridge, Vandora swearing to watch over the bridge as long as she could, regretting that she could not join them. By the time they reached the far side, they could no longer see her.
The other side of the bridge was an outcropping of rock surrounded by water. On the far side of the pond could be see a number of eerie lights that revealed a shoreline, or forest of oddly thin limbed trees and a path that cut between them. Alluvian led them across the pond, the depth of which never reached above her knees, pausing when the elves noticed numerous birds silently watching from the sharp angled limbs of the trees. The birds had the tell-tale sign of the familiar bronze like helms the birds that scouted for “The Hat” wore.
Mid way across the pond, the water suddenly exploded upwards, bathing everyone in water and a strange black, sap like substance. Everyone choked as the black sap invaded their throats. Ragnork and Ved’Rail were briefly overcome, and had to be roused by their friends before the drown in the shallow water. They pulled themselves to the shore. There they discovered that the eerie lights were produced by oddly twisted stick-like plants that glowed, torch like, on the top end. These lights led the way deeper into this odd forest.
The group was ambushed by several dire bears, that attacked them without any concern for their own safety. They saw what they thought was an elven woman amongst the trees, but she vanished before they could investigate further. Ved’Rail and Phandria examined the trees, learning that they were likely an alteration of the Singing Tree, a tree commonly used as a defensive measure by druids in other areas, but here who knows the true nature of their purpose now.
They pressed on, discovering a 80 foot tall tower-like structure that was perhaps stone or petrified wood. A figure called down, then descended as a flock of large ravens, reforming at the base. Disturbingly, this was a dark purple skinned elf, bald, clan in the style of a druid, but with a disturbing dark air about him. When asked, he did not deny that he was a Drow, the exiled race of traitorous Elvenkind.