Salamander wanders off into the woods in the minute it took for the group to discuss whether they'd be searching the woods or the village. Surge declares that he doesn't care for the disappearance as a new adventurer approaches the group. With a fishing net slumped across his shoulder, he begins talking about his fishing trip, then rattling on about his deep connection with nature and affinity for making raw fish dishes with rice. Bojangles makes a comment about an old friend, Sue Shi from Waterdeep, how they should meet up to discuss this meal medley.
As the group was about to shut him up, he began talking about his battle with a lobster, in which he won at the grave cost of his own death. The group begins questioning the validity of these claims, to which Douglas expresses that he will only assist the group for a price. Bojangles offers the silver bell under the pretense of it coming from a fae creature. Douglas accepts, and the new group continues onward.
Douglas and Surge race ahead, Surge beelining to the market without a second glance and Douglas spotting ravens dotting the empty branches of the woods around them, the wind whispering and whistling in a tongue he could not understand. Bojangles catches up as Surge stops to find the "strangest man" in the market. There, the group meets a silver tabaxi vendor offering "soul food" so they won't "fade away."
Skeptical of whatever this soul food was, Bojangles purchases two bushels of grapes and some bread, but quickly comes around after eating a grape and feeling slightly refreshed. The tabaxi explains the importance of soul food, that spirits will literally fade from existence if they don't eat enough (in a way, similar to life). Douglas then attempts to "haggle" with the tabaxi, complaining about workers rights and equality (Bojangles recalls a word during this ordeal, Communism). Eventually, Douglas holds up the silver bell he was given before, the tabaxi's pupils go wide and agrees to give up their vegetable stock in exchange for it. The tabaxi is briefly disappointed when the bell doesn't jingle, but Bojangles conjures a minor illusion to their delight as the group walks away with their heads of cabbage and bushels of broccoli.
The party, finally taking a moment to look around the tiny village, consider using the strange, red campfire to cook a meal with their new goods. Bojangles hesitates, not wanting to waste resources, before the group hears sobbing nearby.
Near a torch by the maw of the forest, the second, dimmer light the group saw in the distance, a tiefling mother begs on her knees for a guard to help find a lost child, Dorlia. The group questions her, finding out that her name is Nacyra, that she took Dorlia under her wing when she found her all alone in this strange, new world, and that she likes exploring the woods but has never been gone longer than a day. The guard smiles thankfully as the group agrees to help out, offering that they may be able to find a map in the inn.
As the group is about to leave, Salamander bursts out of the nearby woods, barely getting the word "Bear!" out. The party returns to the fire at the center of town, to allow Salamander to recover, and to discuss what next. Douglas shares a story about saving a bunny in the middle of the ocean, and as the group questions him, Salamander pulls a dead raven out of his pockets. Surge tries to take the raven, to which Salamander rips the thing in half and offers the tail-end to him.
Bojangles senses the corpse has a connection to some higher power, different from the gondolier. He briefly goes mad, magic crackling at his fingertips as he aims to destroy the thing. Douglas senses this, and grabs the human's wrist, interrupting the spellcasting. Surge finally tosses his half into the flames, watching it explode into a burst of feathers and dark smoke. Salamander just eats his half whole.
The group eventually decides to head to the inn right next to them, chatting with the town's innkeeper, a half-elf named Lorril. Bojangles inspects the trophies on the walls: canine teeth and spider legs. Surge talks to Lorril about soul food and why the flame outside is red, learning about soul flame and its restorative properties, and more importantly, that this land siphons the sanity of its denizens. Douglas unsuccessfully attempts to flirt with Lorril. Surge rolls his eyes and orders some pea soup, all while Salamander sneaks into the back to help make it. Bojangles experiments with the fire outside, learning that his staff won't catch fire when placed inside of it. Douglas is kicked out by Lorril after his flirting attempts, to which he and Bojangles agree to search the area for any starting points to find Dorlia.
The party eventually regroups and receives a report from Bojangles and Douglas regarding bear and wolf tracks in the area. They follow the wolf tracks, when Douglas starts to give a speech about fighting bears unarmed. Bojangles casts Tasha's Hideous Laughter on Douglas to shut him up. In the ruckus, a wolf appears, and the party enters combat.
After a tense battle, the wolf is defeated, Bojangles dealing the final blow. His magic is wrong, it morphed the wolf's corpse into something sickly and nigh-unrecognizable, leaving the party puzzled. Douglas is disturbed by what happened to the wolf, as he interrogates the wizard Surge finds 20 CP inside its open stomach. Surge gives the coins to Salamander, ignoring Douglas's request for them. Douglas then buries the wolf along with a salmon he caught earlier as a gift to take beyond.
Next Recap 🠞