Thanks to Trindon‘s iron constitution, the village of Gloym finally accepts our help which we oh so graciously provide, and they tell us their goddess, Istria’s dolmen is at the top of a waterfall to the Northeast of the village. The pepper challengers regroup with Isolda and Graeme and set out to find Istria’s dolmen.
Upon reaching the dolmen at top of the waterfall, the party is attacked by a strange emotional malaise that threatens to overwhelm them with a suicidal depression. Next to a cliff. Convenient. Probably also not coincidentally, we are attacked at that moment by an undead raven. We managed to dispatch the raven, but not before Elean and Laurence flung themselves off the cliff. Thinking quickly, Graeme grabbed his bonded amulet and cast an unprepared Featherfall upon the leapers as well as himself, Handel, and Thrash. All of the enspelled folks drifted slowly to the lake below, leaving Isolda to take the long way around and bring the party’s remaining mounts.
In the lake below we quickly ascertain that there is a small island, and upon it appears to be the body of a woman, but before we can investigate further we are attacked by a stromkarl, a fish-tailed male water-spirit. The party quickly ascertained that something strange… er… even stranger was afoot, because this clearly male-torsoed water spirit was shouting, “leave a mother alone in her grief.” Fey don’t always conform to gender norms, but this still somehow struck the party as a little odd, and we eventually figured out that the spirit of the woman on the island was possessing the stromkarl. Counter to our usual frontal assault methods, we managed to end the fight and engage the spirit in conversation.
Long story short (too late!), the poor woman’s daughter died from some sort of illness, and she came to Istria seeking answers to why her family was taken away from her. A raven attacked the body of her dead daughter at the dolmen above, and in her fight with the raven both she and the body of her daughter eventually plunged into the lake below. Since that time she has been possessing Istria’s lover, the stromkarl. Some combination of the woman’s spirt and the stromkarl were able to tell us that Istria resides in her mountain home just south of Lake Silverstep, and the stromkarl was able to open the way but unwilling to impart that knowledge while still possessed.
After much deliberation and agreement that Graeme was the least threatening party member (if he doesn’t have his spells), Graeme very reluctantly agrees to allow the woman’s spirit to possess him in order to visit Istria and, perhaps, find some closure. Upon the spirit’s migration, the stromkarl gifts the party with a braided ring of his hair which will open the way to Istria’s mountain home.
The route to Istria’s home is a steep mountain climb. This was, as is our usual luck, interrupted by an avalanche. Elean and Handel quickly skirted to the side of the avalanche while Graeme cast levitate and lifted himself with Isolda and Thrash clinging to him into the sky above the tumble. The floating adventurers unfortunately caught the attention of a Giant Owl. They waved and hoped it wouldn’t attack. Thankfully, it did not, but it was very scary.
Finally, the party reaches their objective, an audience with Istria. It turns out that she is a mercurial and powerful fey spirit, and not a goddess at all. She is mystified why the village worships her, but she is not entirely without pity. Despite not actually being a goddess, Istria is moved by the woman’s story and apologizes that she could not save the child. Finally finding resolution and some marginal sense of peace, woman’s spirit leaves Graeme’s body and moves on to the next world. Istria goes on to explain to the party that upset over a perceived slight by her companion stromkarl, Byard, she created the wiitikowan, a bestial force that began ravaging the Ughur people. (See “mercurial” above.) Unfortunately, she does not have the ability to unmake the creature.
Istria does, however, know how to defeat the creature. She’s just uninterested in doing so herself, so she tells the party that they must find an ancient weapon of the peoples who used to occupy this region from burial mounds nearby-ish as well as discover elven magics to contain the ethereal creature in order to defeat the wiitikowan. She then gives the party a crystal flower that the village will recognize as coming from their “goddess,” and helpfully teleports them back to their steeds, whereupon they travel back to the village.
Stunned at the party’s possession of direct evidence of their “goddess,” the village welcomes the party, the entire party, with open arms. However, the party informs them that their plight has not yet ended, and seeks the village’s aid in finding nearby burial mounds and elves in order to defeat the wiitikowan. The party deigned to shake the entire village’s worldview and decided not to disillusion them as to the true nature of their “goddess.”
It turns out that the burial mounds as well as rumored elven ruins are relatively near Staghelm, so after overthinking and discussing things thoroughly, our party decides to return home while exploring uncharted terrain along the way.