In the morning, Skögur decides that they should head toward the nearest clearing. He tells the party to meet him there and then heads off, leaving a trail for them. A couple hours later, the party strikes camp and heads after him.
Skögur arrives at the clearing. The trees surrounding it are much thicker than before. He sees nothing out of the ordinary, so he fades back into the forest to await his companions.
Along the party’s path toward the clearing, Asa notices that the blazes Skögur has been leaving on the trees have been getting smaller. As they near the clearing, they encounter snow on the ground. Suspicious, Asa chops some bark off a tree, and it immediately heals over. That would explain the small size of the blazes. Ulfric yells for Skögur, who is still hiding from the party, watching. Entering the clearing, Asa notices some human-sized shoe prints. He looks up and sees a snow-covered hump a couple feet in diameter. Ulfric and Kulgan investigate, and it turns out to be the remains of a campfire. Ulfric finds tracks of at least three people leading off in a northerly direction. Skögur now decides to emerge and join the party. After some discussion, they decide to follow the tracks, as they could be a threat.
Skögur follows the tracks even better after they emerge from the snow. He sees now five distinct sets of tracks. Eirlif notices that the plants to the left are a bit taller than the ones on the right side of the path. As they continue, the difference in plant size goes away. The tracks eventually start to fade after about an hour of walking and stop completely at a thick clump of two trees grown together. Searching around the clump, Skögur notices that the tracks begin again some distance beyond the trees, heading in the same northerly direction. Eirlif observes that the clump of trees doesn’t appear to be natural. Skögur scrapes off some bark, and it heals back. The other trees in the area exhibit the same behavior.
Kulgan attempts to communicate with the spirits of the forest, but no one responds. Eirlif tries to walk through the tree clump. It doesn’t work. They continue following the tracks.
About fifteen minutes later, they come to another group of trees, this time five in a row. A Detect Magic spell from Asa reveals nothing. Kulgan starts hacking down one of the trees. The wound immediately heals, and Asa detects a slight amount of necromancy.
They continue along, and five minutes later, they come to a veritable wall of 13 trees blocking their path. Skögur locates the tracks again on the other side of the trees, but looking off to the side he now sees three new trees that weren’t there before. Skögur decides to climb a nearby tree to get an aerial view. Up at the top, he sees a gigantic semicircle of trees along their path to the north.
They continue and reach the next wall o’ trees in two minutes. Skögur climbs again and now sees a circle of trees blocking their path in all directions! And there are additional trees popping up in the distance. He ties ropes in the trees to allow the party to climb up the trees and down the other side. However, he encounters a tree-like creature on the other side that speaks to him in a voice like crackling branches, demanding to know what it would take to get them to stop. He apologizes and talks with the creature. He leaves the conversation with the understanding that they need to pay their respects before being allowed to pass. They all offer some of their blood. The tree creatures tell them that is barely acceptable. They clear the path south for them, but the way north remains blocked until they learn how to show proper respect.
They decide to head back to the river. Along the way, they pass by another clearing. They decide to check it out. In it is a ring of standing stones with inscriptions. They decide to come back another time. They make it back to the Fossergrim, who joyfully bids them welcome. They tell the spirit about the tree creatures they encountered, but he doesn’t know much about them, much less what would appease them.
They stay with their spirit friend for the night. In the morning, he warns them that some trolls wandered nearby that night. They then head back to the logging party they left at the edge of the forest to check up on them. About halfway through their journey, they are attacked. Seven trolls—creatures that look like 3-foot tall ugly babies made of clay that have been stretched out of proportion—come at the party from three sides.
Kulgan casts Decomposition. Skögur climbs a tree to get a better vantage point from which to rain down arrows at them. The trolls are strong. One hits Ulfric with his bare fist and sends him flying 20 feet back! He then gets knocked unconscious, and another troll picks him up to start carrying him off. One troll climbs Skögur’s tree and attacks him. Eirlif casts Fiery Burst at the troll threatening Asa. Another troll grabs Asa and carries him off. Kulgan kills a troll with his Blade of Blood. Another Fiery Burst from Eirlif drops another troll. Kulgan kills a third troll, and Skögur kills the troll in the tree with him. Kulgan drops another troll, then runs after the troll carrying off Ulfric. The now-free Skögur takes aim at the fleeing troll and drops him with an arrow. Kulgan then retrieves Ulfric’s limp form and tends to his wounds until Asa can arrive to heal him.
They continue on their way back to the logging camp. They are just minutes away when they hear some rustling behind them. They prepare for another fight on a nearby hillock. Three trolls emerge from the forest. Skögur starts firing arrows. Kulgan casts Kelgore’s Firebolt. Asa casts Healer’s Vision to increase his combat abilities. As they rush in, Eirlif blasts one with Fiery Burst. Kulgan slashes one, which then impales itself on Ulfric’s spear. Kulgan casts Kelgore’s Firebolt at another incoming troll. Kulgan and Asa flank the troll and knock it unconscious. Ulfric drops the last one with his spear.
They continue the last few minutes and make it out of the forest to their countrymen, who inquire what happened to them. They tell them about the trolls. They’ve been logging for eight days and have quite a bit of lumber now. They tell the loggers to stop their activity for now and head back to the settlement. They camp overnight. During the night, two trolls approach the camp but flee when defenders charge them with weapons drawn.
It takes them two days to get back to the settlement, just in time to welcome back the ship they sent back two weeks prior.
Notable Quotes and Quotable Notes:
“My sister got run over by a reindeer . . . “ — the DM, about Skøgul’s death last session
Rick as Ulfric: “I knock on the tree.” Van: <eyebrow> “With your axe???”