The night before their departure, the adventurers gathered at the Hole to pour over their new map and gather intelligence. Most wanted to make for the strange circle on map, hoping it was the rumored Well of Souls. They were also fairly sure the "X" was not treasure, but the location of the infamous Bandit King. Gustav was obsessed with finding Lake Merr, but the others voted him down.
It was bitterly cold outside. No snow, but one of those nights where the air burns your skin it's so chilly. So it was no wonder many were packed in the warm, loud tavern. Bits of conversations could be heard.
"...they say the Underguard caught 5 gobbos in basement below warehouse district. Heard the little buggers put up quite a fight..."
"...torches, right out on the Old Trade Road in front of the gates. Whenever the Watch go to investigate, they're gone...."
Tancred, the aging veteran barkeep brought the party ale himself. This was odd, as he hardly ever left the sanctity of his bar. As he handed the group their refreshments, he spoke low and to no one in particular, "You folks watch yerselves out there tomorrah. Strangers been askin' bout cha. I was tight lipped bout yer comings and goins', but not everybody else has."
The party shot glances around the room to catch some one giving them a look, but no one seemed suspicious.
The next morning, the party gathered outside the gate. The cold kept most inside, but a few well-wishers and gawkers showed to see them off. The guards were making their usual side bets on who would return from the group. Gates opened, they were on their way.
The wind across the rolling hills was brutal. When they reached the small valley that held Newly's tree they stopped. It was a break from the cold, but a chance to gather information, if the dryad so chose.
"Newly!," Miss Adventure shouted.
A slumped, gray, shriveled old woman appeared. Her skin was the same shade as the great oak. Twigs and dead leaves were trapped in the tangled mess that was her white hair. Her eyes were a pupil-less black.
"It's us, Newly. Your friends," was Miss Adventure's answer. The dryad just stared.
After a long, uncomfortable pause she spoke. "Who's this one then?" Her arm, looking like an old tree branch, pointed at Gustav. The young cleric simply grunted and gave her a disdainful glare.
Newly spoke again, "I see much blood about this one. Much darkness, and much potential."
Each of the group gave Gustav a look. Newly had never been one for prophecy before. It was odd statement.
"Newly," Gruffydd began, "do you have any news for us? Has any one been by here? Men with torches?"
The old dryad started walking back to her tree. "The comings and goings of Men are no concern to me." With that she disappeared.
"A girl in the Spring," Laramine said. "An old hag in the Winter?"
"We really need to show up about Summer," Gruffydd laughed.
Those Who Quit the Game
45 minutes ago