The Starhunters continue down the Foghand road and encounter crude, gruesome effigies erected along the roadside. At the first one, they see a make-shift cross displaying a torso and head that is being picked apart by carrion birds. Aelish uses her Thaumaturgy to scare the animals away. She blesses the remains and Fendrys works hastily to burn the sorry corpse on a pyre. As more effigies and human remains are discovered further down the road, Aelish blesses them still, but the others agree that no time can be spent on commuting them—either to the grave or the torch. The effigies have everyone on guard, and speculation abounds as to who or what might be responsible for what clearly seems like a warning.
The following day, Fendrys spots mistletoe—which he needs for his woodland folk-magic—and on his way to collect it, a gnoll spy looking on from the underbrush clumsily reveals itself. Cursing, it makes a getaway. Fendrys looses two arrows at the creature but misses his mark. Given the cunning new magic Fendrys can work with his plant ingredient, the gnoll spy is left to its devices. However, rather than allow the gnoll to lead others of its kind back to this spot to ambush them, they decide to press on late into the evening, this time keeping off the road. Fendry’s folk-magic removes any trace of their passage and keeps them all quiet (so long as they follow the ranger’s lead). Deep into the evening, the tables have turned as it is now the Starhunters who spy on the gnolls (who have gathered at a bridge crossing). There are at least a dozen of them, they are armed and look to have dragged a large boulder for some reason to this spot as well.
Hoping to avoid confrontation with the gnolls, they move north upstream to cross by swimming. It is agreed they will cross in the morning when there is daylight. A’Kelah of course has no difficulty swimming the river, and her compatriots do well enough also, however the bantam Aodh fights with his heavy gold and other valuables looted from Mytha Petraea, ultimately losing this satchel to the river’s current.
On the other side of the river, despite having entered a forest wilderness here, Fendrys’ guidance keeps everyone at a good pace. In two days time, they come to a second river; this one shallower but with a faster current. Again it is Aodh who falters, swept away this time and almost drowning before A’Kelah deftly rescues him from the cold rushing waters.
Further south, having moved through the woods parallel to the Foghand road, they reach the Undgarhat road which runs east-west between the titular dwarven hall in the eastern mountains and an inn the dwarves maintain at a crossroads to the west. Upon seeing this road, Leonidas, best knowing the surroundings, remembers the inn’s location and suggests they make way for it to gather news, rest in warm cots, and find good food. This idea is put down by the others who are too concerned over the seeming fugitive status they all share.
Crossing over the road, the forest thickens. The trees get an older, more primal look to them. They are robed in moss and huddle closer together, blocking even more sunlight. Several days pass without a sign of civilization until they spot a strange light through the trees as twilight comes on. Fendrys and Aodh volunteer to investigate, finding an ancient graveyard atop a hillock. The graveyard is a desolation of simple tombstones ravaged by time, however among a collection of several stone lanterns, they find one is curiously lit. Fendrys senses the presence of undeath and thinks it wise to return without disturbing the scene.
They make camp and post watches. Leonidas’ watch, the last of the evening, is plagued by the sounds of a phantasm rustling outside their shelter. The haunting movements of heavy boots and rustling chains become so dreadfully loud and close that he is forced to wake his companions. Outside in the darkness, something is trying to bind their shelter in chains. An invisible force tries to slam A’Kelah into a tree, but she fights off the attack. She instead flies straight up to avoid being hectored any further. Terrified, the rest of the Starhunters charge out into the blackness of the forest at night. They return at daybreak and find the ghostly presence has gone, but has left behind an old key (which A’Kelah takes).
Happy the sun has returned, they leave the haunted place and press on until the sounds of a carriage moving through the forest on a narrow trail can be heard. Scouting ahead, Aodh reports the sight of a carriage with Eladric markings on it. The carriage travels with a well armed escort. Aelish is eager to hail the fellow traveler but her companions insist the potential for danger is too great. No wiser to the presence of the Starhunters nearby, the carriage is allowed to pass without incident.
Although a steady pace has been kept, in a few more days time, the next star falls—still dozens of miles away as predicted by A’Kelah. Even at this distance, Aodh can somehow sense its presence after it makes landfall. Very soon after the flash in the sky announces the fallen star, a tree next to Leonidas cracks open and explodes. A Fracture has opened; an angry fire elemental rises up and begins torching everything it can. It looks down upon the Starhunters with ‘eyes’ of black smoke and whirling embers.