Born and raised in Findon, Tarmo took the opportunity to visit family while passing through. The rest of the group gathered in the longhouse for temporary accomodation, though Argvidr spent much of his evening in the company of a local girl that had struck his fancy (presumably by being the first young woman of his age he’d met that he wasn’t related to).
Stocking up for a week-long trek up the river, the group set out in the morning. Days of travel through the trackless wilderness passed uneventfully. On their fourth night camped on the bank of The Wash, the group’s watch heard the sound of a crying infant in the woods nearby. Naturally suspicious, they roused the group and set out to investigate.
A hundred yards away from the camp, the heroes spotted a hideous creature. The beast, mewling in pitch-perfect imitation of a crying human infant, had the body of a stag and the head of a diseased badger…it’s teeth were solid bony plates with chisel points. The group fanned out into the trees and continued their cautious approach. As they drew within a few dozen yards, the beast caught their scent and sprang to the attack. As it did so, the archers spotted another, larger beast lurking in the shadows behind the first, and shouted warnings. Ulfberht suffered the brunt of the thing’s initial assault, but in just a handful of bloody moments, the battle was over. Mother and “child” were dispatched, and Adara studied the unusual creatures carefully, hoping to glean some notion of their origins. As she did so, the hunters found the creatures’ tracks, and the group followed them back to a filthy den full of bones and bits of forest animal, but nothing to shed any light on what the monsters were or where they had come from.
After another few days of travel upriver, the heroes found the collapsed remains of a stone pier on the riverfront. Scouting the immediate area, the group located a partially collapsed stone structure, overtaken by nature after ages of neglect. Cautiously entering the ruins and scouting atop its crumbling walls, they located a few distinct structures…some sort of animal pen or storage area, a crumbling well, and a larger structure. It was in this larger structure that they began their search for the missing elves.
Searching the few chambers that were still in any way intact, the group found signs of recent passage, but nothing of the elves themselves. Searching the remains of an old stone hearth, Marsk found a hidden catch that opened up the fireplace to expose a steep and narrow stone staircase. The group lined up and cautiously proceeded downwards, into a worked cave system. An early chamber contained a grisly find — an altar, though the armored woman depicted was unfamiliar to Tarmo or the others, had been desecrated with filth and what appeared to be dried blood. A heart was also on the altar, pierced with a pair of daggers as the group had seen before in the draugr caverns to the north.
Further investigation led them to Eldrin and his compatriots, chained up and beaten. No captors were in sight, but the remains a flayed elf were also in the cave. Once released, Eldrin indicated that the flayed elf was one of the scouts he was sent in search of, but could shed little light on their captors or what had happened. Rather than risk the rescue, the party withdrew with the elves away from the keep and made haste to return them to their homeland of Tir Ablach.