Eldrin and his band led the party deep into the woods toward their home village, Tir Ablach. Along the way, they taught Kyr some of the woodcraft and hidden signs the elves use in the forest to mark danger, caches of supplies, and paths to safety. Tir Ablach proved to be very well-hidden, as well as unexpectedly warmer than the rest of the forest. Foliage was more diverse, and of kinds that Adara had never seen in all her studies with Mogroith.
Upon entering the elven village, the heroes were taken to a guest house to wait and recuperate while Eldrin consulted with his own leaders about the events in the ruined keep. Fed delicious elven fare and served the finest honey wine, the heroes were left to their own devices for the evening, told only to remain on the side of Tir Ablach reserved for visitors. The next morning, Eldrin set out with the heroes to return them to Keflavik.
The heroes relayed their story of the trip up the river, the strange creatures they fought in the woods, and the hidden shrine beneath the ruined keep. After a brief conference, the elders of the village called upon Mogroith to convene a council of all the peoples of the northern realm. The old druid sent word to the dwarves, and runners were dispatched to Findon and Crimond. Eldrin immediately turned back to fetch representatives from Tir Ablach. The adventurers took a few days of much needed rest to await the council, suspecting that any course of action would likely have them trekking into the wilderness again.
It took five days for all the representatives to arrive. Eldrin returned with Rhovanor, leader of Tir Ablach. Biran and Brunhild accompanied Duareg, clan leader of Vorn Uhlum. Elders from Findon (including Tarmo’s father) and Crimond arrived with a small band of warriors. For two days, the elders discussed recent events and the troubling signs. The heroes were called upon to relate their experiences and answer questions from the assembled leaders. The leaders, sensing that the growing troubles will rapidly outstrip the north’s collective ability to meet them, decided to seek outside aid.
To that end, the village elders tasked the adventurers with traveling to the distant town of Ellowen, far to the south and west. The heroes discussed the best course of action with the elders, and determined that sailing far to the south and up the Nolt River would put them in Ellowen in just a couple of weeks, rather than trekking overland for a month. With winter coming on quickly, the sea would be difficult, and only Marsk was an experienced sailor, but the heroes felt the time could not be spared for the safer route. The council provided the heroes with four letters of introduction to leaders in Ellowen, including two council members, a wealthy merchant, and a sage. Duareg presented them with a pair of bars of silver, stamped with the mark of Vorn Uhlum, explaining that the metal would have value to the people of Ellowen and could be traded for goods or services, should they need them. Rhovanor presented two gifts from the elves — an enchanted rope that could tie its own knots, and a pure white feather that, if dropped into the sea from their boat, would anchor them securely against any gale.
The next morning, work began to rig one of the village’s fishing boats for the long voyage, as the heroes started assembling supplies for the trip. Marsk and Ulfberht put their talents to use repairing sails and patching up the boat. Two days of work, and the ship was ready to sail. With no time to lose, the heroes climbed aboard and began the long journey to the south, planning to put in at Findon and Crimond for safe harbor before the long stretch of rocky coast that would afford them no landing place.
Despite a few rough days of sailing, the next week passed without significant issues. As the mouth of the Nolt appeared to them in the fading light of their seventh day at sea, Marsk miscalculated the tide, and the ship ran aground on a sand bar. A quick inspection revealed there was little to be done except waiting for the tide to come in at dawn, so the crew set their watches and settled in for the night.
In the dead of night, Tarmo was alerted to a scraping sound along the hull of the boat. No sooner had he shouted a warning to rouse his fellows than a massive creature hauled itself over the side. Standing more than eight feet tall, the thing stood on two legs like a man, but the similarities ended there. Long, sinewy arms ended in vicious claws. The creature’s hideous fish-like face with spiny tentacles and needle-like teeth roared at them, as it hurled a crude harpoon to begin its attack. Despite inflicting a few injuries on the crew, the creature fell quickly beneath the arrows and axes of the heroes. Argvidr claimed one of the face tentacles and the harpoon as a souvenir, and the heroes hurled the creature’s body overboard.