As Chris finds Trixy’s letters, he screams, attracting the notice of the others. They leave the troops on guard and go investigate, finding Chris alone with a bag. He relays what’s happened, explaining GranGran disappeared. The group discuss in private what GranGran said about the village, with Chris insistent that they return to the village as soon as possible so that he can “scour it clean” – he’s the one who makes the realisation that maybe the taint she mentioned is the failing soil and lack of wildlife that they all noticed in the land surrounding the village prior to leaving. James is insistent that they can’t leave now: they’ll be labelled deserters and hunted down, and it’ll take months to get back. They need to find someone who can help them travel as fast as GranGran did. As Serra heads back to the troop to allay suspicions, Chris tries to see what’s in the bag. Upon noticing it’s empty he hands it to James who notices it’s magical. He then tries to open it. Badly. It explodes and scatters the contents across the floor. There’s a letter from GranGran:
_"No doubt Serra is looking for some proof of all this, so to Serra; Hello yes it’s me GranGran, calm down and stop overthinking things.
James if you have not searched the bag yet, then do so now…now heed these words. The power of these cards is not for the faint of heart, nor the weak minded. Be careful when using them.
Brody, my dear Brody, I am sorry for what I have done but it was unavoidable.
Tellon, aim true and you will find what you need.
And lastly Chris. I hope you are still being a good boy, please don’t forget to smile and make others laugh along the way, or you will never unlock your true potential.
Bless you all and farewell
Also in the bag is a deck of cards with the Fortune’s Rest (whose power is not for the faint hearted), James confirms they’re magical but is reluctant to use them after the bag. They carry the symbol of Lebellas Ennarath, god of the passage of time. Serra reminds him to keep them close when he shows her as they both realise they’re a relic.
Also in the bag is Brody’s hammerplow, James confirms to a magic-weary Brody that it’s absolutely not magical. Not at all. This follows a long discussion about the nature of magic, where Brody is leery of it on one side and James on the other thinks the way to guard against it being used against them is to learn to use it himself.
The small regiment press on. James is placed in command of one third of the troop, which by happy coincidence consists of the rest of the party and two other recruits. The next evening the group is guarding one side of the camp to find boars are attacking. Bigger and spikier boars than those they killed before. Dire boars.
In the fighting, Chris and Brody are badly injured, Chris incapacitated in fact, before one is killed and the other runs off to die in the woods. The troops decide to cook and eat the boar the next day, which manages to poison almost everyone except Serra and the injured Brody. The troop remain in place for a day to recover.
The watch during the day is uneventful save a large mixed flock of birds which seem to be migrating unseasonably early. This alarms Brody and James who think an attack may be imminent but on examination there seems to be nobody around. Chris and Serra think upon scouting that there may be taint creeping into the area.
The following day one of the officers wants to march his troop on (half have recovered), while the other wants to remain. James doesn’t want to let the troops be divided so convinces him to wait another day. This proves fruitful as the camp is attacked through the night by an owlbear. It sneaks into the camp and eviscerates one of the troopers before it is surrounded by the party. On the second application of grease it falls down and Chris and Brody hack it to pieces.
Next morning they decide to press on and continue to march for days to catch up to schedule. As it wanders in the woods GDBF is attacked by a wolf during Brodywatch. There’s a familiar soft cry of “Noooooo!!” as Brody intervenes. He turns to see everyone’s favourite flower girl Marabelle headed towards him.