Ara, Nim, and Nabi disembarked from the boat and parted from their mostly dragon friends and new druid comrades and headed to the Cloakwood at it’s most Northeastern point. The area was unfamiliar to them, so they headed towards the general area of the forest that they had traveled through before.
They eventually found a path, though the area of the forest was still new to the crew. The party wandered a ways down the path before finding three owlbears, meandering through the forest but sick with the same madness that the overall party had seen when first entering the forest.
While laying a trap for one of the creatures, Gnoll Inc. witnessed a tree appear to come to life and capture one of the owlbears, and a ranger sliding down to tend to the now captured owlbear. The party trapped another one of the three, and a second tree captured the third owlbear.
The owlbears were mostly cured of their madness by both Nabi and the ranger Tavos, but the seeds of the madness remained in the creatures eyes. The party befriended Tavos and asked him to take them to Zeftina, to which he agreed, leaving the treants to herd to owlbears back to a more diseased area of the forest to prevent them from spreading whatever it was that affects them.
The party met with Zeftina in the same clearing that they had originally seen her in, although it had now been converted to what looked like a base of operations for the halfling “queen”. Zeftina told them more of the mission she has charged them with: Gardifax has a suit of armor that is hers, and that she needs it back in order to defeat the evil that is threatening her forest. The party sensed that this was only partially the truth; the armor, heavy plated but halfling sized, did belong to Zeftina. She stole a powerful item from Gardifax and incorporated it into the armor permanently, so he acquired the entire set of armor in retaliation. She was truthful about feeling that the armor was necessary to save the forest, however.
The party took some time to deliberate over whether or not to retrieve the armor for the queen. During this time, Tavos entered the clearing and paid tribute to Zeftina, giving her a status report of what had happened that day. The party asked to speak with him, and left the clearing to do so.
Ara took some time to commune with the forest, and she learned that the forest was being affected by a bleeding through of one of the nine hells, and that the most powerful creature within three miles was…Zeftina. The party devised that given her attitudes and ability to rule over thieves and despots so well, that she was likely of Fey origin. Ara was too far away to devise more about the source of the blight in the forest, and Tavos suggested mounting an incursion deep into the heart of the blight to allow Ara to learn more about their enemy. The party agreed and returned with Tavos to his company of rangers for the night. Ara reluctantly sent Cole the mouse to speak to Salna and update her concerning Zeftina and the armor, and to wait for them to return before acting.
The next day, the party headed to a tower a little to the north that Ara had discovered by communing with the forest again. After a few incidents involving Nim and various traps, Gnoll Inc. arrived at the top of the tower.
They discovered a floating orb capable of locating objects and people at a great distance. They were able to see Mostly Dragon Friend’s location, Ash-hearth’s location, and the Earl of Gardifax’s manner, as well as learn that there were six other towers lining the perimeter of the forest. After seeing the Ash-hearth had returned to the city, Ara instructed a sparrow to inform Kava. The orb failed to locate Ara’s mother, as it turned black and exploded when it was asked. It reformed shortly after. The orb also appeared to be less powerful than Bhaal’s daggers, as it began to glow red and affect the party as soon as it was asked about the daggers location. Resolving to return to the tower after their foray into the blighted area of the forest, Gnoll Inc. returned to the rangers.
The incursion into blighted territory was successful but costly. Two rangers and three treants were killed, but the party learned that the source of the blight was a rift between one of the nine hells and the material plane, and that a Balor was responsible for spreading the madness that was spreading through the forest. However, this was not some invasion by devils, rather just the Balor acting on it’s own. After escaping the blighted area, Ara again communed with nature and learned that another entity was here with the Balor; a Cambion, the Balor’s child.
The party decided to seek retrieve their comrades, possibly the armor, and seek help from Baldar’s Gate’s standing army. They returned to the party and attempted to locate Bhaal’s dagger, and to see if there were any more. The attempt forced Nabi to kick Ara off the roof of the tower, which she was able to fly back to using her new beast shaping abilities. Nabi, ashamed of his actions, headed back down and shut the trapdoor to allow Ara to try again.
She succeeded, and discovered that dagger(s) were located at Gardifax’s estate, the Broken Bow, and underneath the city. Unfortunately, when locating one of the daggers, the dagger overwhelmed her through the orb and she killed the sparrow she had sent to Kava as it returned. She took the the sparrow to the bottom of the tower and buried it, and Gnoll Inc. set off for Baldar’s Gate to rejoin their friends.