- Goezen, a local that can lead them to the ruins of Zindafar where the artefact is buried, must be located
- the companions are ambushed by lizard folk in a small clearing
- Goezen is found and happy to lead the group to Zindafar
- the companions seek shelter from a negative energy storm in a cave behind a massive waterfall
- resident centipedes are overcome
The companions discuss the offer and come to the conclusion that they have no choice – the proposal is accepted. Ganyelt advises that the cultists have a head start. There is a more direct path that would cut the lead time significantly, but a guide would be required to traverse the challenging route. He recommends that the companions locate Goezen, a local denizen with superior knowledge of the island’s geography.
Although it is pitch black, the companions set off immediately to trudge through the night. As the first light of the early dawn crests the horizon, the woodland trail they are following passes by a large bog, the tangled vines of mangroves and inky black swamp water press almost to the path itself. From a clearing ahead, a flock of birds is disturbed into the air, movement can be seen among many glinting rocks or logs that line the forest floor.
As they near the clearing, the scene before them transforms into that of a battle. Lifeless forms in cultist robes are strewn about haphazardly, blood pools on the forest floor. Black candles frame the small clearings borders, incense lingers with dust in the air. A scraggly hunched over form scrambles away from the carnage and attempts to climb a steep gravely slope. The unkempt creature, dressed sparsely in rags, is unsuccessful in its escape and instead turns a shocked face towards the companions. Leaves and detritus mix with tangled hair, vines encircle the creature’s chest, and a terrible smell, almost visible, wafts forward on unseen currents.
“Identify yourself.” The dishevelled man again attempts to ascend the steep slope on his hands and knees in a crab like crawl. A scared but excited look crosses his features, “I found you!” Confused by the response and appalled by the man’s appearance, Maydrane begins a charge towards the slope.
Splashing sounds draw the companions attention to the bog where reptilian creatures slosh their way from the dark water. The massive lizard folk, who bear signs of recent battle, brandish huge trident-grafted morningstars as they quickly engage the companions in close combat. The creatures deal out heave damage to Freight before the her allies can come to her aid. As Maydrane joins the melee, the tide of battle is turned and several of the reptilian creatures are felled. From the slopes, the dirt smeared man screams “Stop!” to no avail. The lizard folk are whipped into a frenzy and continue their assault, falling one by one until they are no more.
The creatures vanquished, the companions dress their wounds and refocus on the scruffy man. Although he still appears shocked, he is more forthcoming this time, “Venture Captain Treeroot sent us here. We swam for days and days, we swam like fish, we swam with the fish. And then we found the island. We went inside to the very heart, the dark heart, where blackness consumes. We were consumed. We died, but we didn’t die. I was dead, then I was alive. I am alive. And now I found you.” When asked his name, the untidy man confirms himself as Goezen. Visibly excited, he advises that he can lead the group to the city of golden death, “Oh yes, I can take you there. Where the robes are going, where they go through the many doors in the river. Past Linderwall Swamp, over the Basalt Falls, around Whispering Lake, through the mountains, to Zindafar.” Most other questions are met with frantic flipping through a tangled pad of paper and a look of confusion. Freight notes an arrow sticking out of his calf, but decides against it given that the man shows no indication that it is bothering him.
Skirting the swamp, the group regains the woodland trail on their way to Basalt Falls. With another large black cloud looming on the horizon, the companions pick up the pace understanding that a cave resides beneath the falls. The roar of the waterfall can be heard well before they sight the majestic feat of nature – black water falls from an incredible height before crashing into a small lake that has formed at the bottom of the structure. A dark mist hangs in the air around the pool.
Large inky rain drops begin to fall as the storm clouds arrive overhead. The companions enter the misty haze, which clings to their skin and is accompanied by a burning sensation. Lando is able to transport the majority of the group magically into the interior of the cave while Maydrane is forced to gallop through the dark mist. The sounds of thunder claps can be heard from outside.
Regrouping at the mouth of the cave, the companions affix lights to their weapons and step into the cavern. They are not alone, the walls of the cave are covered with thousands of milling centipedes. The creatures are attracted to the light and begin to move en masse towards the companions. With little time to plan, Magus Mike sends a fireball into the cavern ahead, scouring the walls clean of the tiny creatures. The companions hold their weapons before them in an attempt to push back the darkness as they take a moment to catch their breath. Alone for the time being, the group beds down to wait out the storm.