Chapter 4. Troubles in Vulkwood
A few days after embarking on their journey to Hammerforge, the party found themselves at a crossroad. They decided to take a shortcut through the Vulkurn Forest to shave off some days from their long journey ahead.
While traveling through the forest, the party came across a seemingly quaint village. Deciding to stop and rest for the night, the party entered the village and were greeted by a few children asking if the party had seen "their friend." Not knowing who the kids were talking about, Meeara started to question the children in regards to their lost friend. Learning that their friend, Johanne, had gone missing and that the "grown ups" kept dodging the kids' questions, the party started to realize that this village had some issues of its own.
During their stay at the inn, Meeara had a vision in her sleep, where Fehena spoke to her. Fehena informed Meeara that there was something evil at work in this village and that things weren't what they seemed. She asked that Meeara and her companions help this village overcome its plight.
The next morning, the players began to question the residents of the town. Eventually, they concluded that something weird was going on at the village's Temple of Fehena and that villagers were being sacrificed for some reason. They decided to stake out the temple that night and see if they saw anyone suspicious come or go. Doing so, they eventually decided to just break in and investigate the temple's interior. After finding a hidden door into the temple, they searched around for any suspicious activity. Eventually they found a trap door in the rear corner of the temple, with a ladder that lead to an underground cavern system.
Following the caverns, the party was attacked by a couple of ettercaps that had made their nest there at some point. Continuing onward, they found that the caverns eventually exited into a clearing in the forest, where there was the ruins of some shrine. At the center of the ruins was a spirit naga, who the party assumed was the guardian of the forest that some of the villagers spoke of. The spirit naga had a large, orange crystal embedded in its neck that Davlamin realized was embued with some sort of controlling magic. When the naga attacked the party, they destroyed the crystal on the naga's neck, returning the naga to its senses. Thanking the players for their deeds, the naga explained that a bald man with a disfigured face and a crimson robe implanted that crystal and then tricked the villagers into thinking that the guardian was mad at them and only human sacrifice would appease him. The naga didn't know who the man was or what he was after, but gifted Meeara with a Brooch of Shielding in return for her aid. The naga pleaded to the party to not tell the villagers that it was the thing that was eating the children and that the temple clergy were primarily responsible. The party decided to accept the naga's plea and did not mention anything to the villagers.
The next morning, the party set off to continue their march to Hammerforge.