After a night’s questioning and rest, the party set out into the snow covered wilderness to track down more clues, they already had several leads and things to muse upon as it seemed the village was indeed split into two factions, those who worshipped ancient pagan spirits and those who adhered to the new faith.
An ambush occurred upon the forest track of Rowanswood as the party were out searching for ingredients which were said to break the spell of, and make vulnerable a malicious Fey creature known as Kerrol the wood witch, otherwise known as the Bramble queen. The party fought off an attack by thorn demons, and had been able to find two pieces of the puzzle, mistletoe berries and holly branches, but no rowan wood was to be found, even in the forest of that name. It seemed as if someone, or something was destroying all examples of the wood.
Returning to the village to rest, after the battle, the party gathered the villagers and offered a bounty for anyone who could supply them with good stout rowan wood, from the handles of tools or implements. Although some of the villagers attempted to block this from happening, the call was answered and the adventurers were succesful in gathering a stout rowan broom handle, which they sharpened into two staves.
Arming themselves with the knowledge gained from speaking to the wise man and woman of the village, the adventurers went to the Lake, which was found to be frozen almost solid, although a somewhat careful crossing was needed, Brion, the druid found a way across and scouted the area on the isle at the centre of the lake, reporting back that there were pagan standing stones, some tents and several thorn demons, which seemed lifeless and unmoving at that time.
The whole party made their way across the frozen lake by hauling themselves across on a rope, in a borrowed boat, and readied themselves with spell, weapon and items of ritual. A hermit, or druid of the locale appeared and warned the group off, but after careful spell use showed him to be of evil intent, he was struck down by Logen with a mighty blow from his two handed battle axe. The blood from the corpse spattered across the nearby altar and the pagan tree spirits with Kerrol at their head, were awoken with thoughts of violence and retribution in mind.
A massive battle occurred in the clearing at the centre of the lake, between the standing stones, as the party attempted to enact the ritual, of crowning the wood witch with holly and smiting her with rowan wood, while holding mistletoe about their bodies as protective wards. The thorn demons at her command, and even the earth, with jaggged roots and bristling thorns smote and tore at the party, causing grievous wounds.
Sir Ronin the Knight was felled, not once, but twice, attempting to hold back the rending, scratching, clawing tide as his companion Friar Marcus blessed weapons and healed his comrades, holding his shield aloft to protect himself from blow after blow from the demons viscious claws.
This brought time for Logen the barbarian and Gothryd the warlock to attack Kerrol, with blade and magic, forcing her back and back, and beginning to cut away at her defences. Just when all seemed lost, and the battle was in the very balance, with one of their number down and bleeding to death, and another one wound away from unconsciousness and coup de grace, Brion the Druid stepped forth, and raised his magic mace on high, and brought it down to crush the last strand of life force within the malicious witches transformed wooden body.
The party returned to the village with some small loot, and recounted their exploits to the grateful (for the most part) villagers, and their comrades Sir Grisso and Lord Almeric, who had been dispatched with some able bodied miners and farmers from the village to search the Ironstone mine.
Success assured, and safety for the village, the adventurers rested for two nights as the snows cleared from the high mountain pass and their wounds healed before returning on the 6 day journey south, back to Ravensbrook castle to meet the returning Baron Aldred at the head of his army.
It should be noted, that a mighty artifact The Dark Blade lay in the unexplored depths of Smithees mound, there it had lain for scores and scores of years, at the bottom of an icy cold pool of underground water. How long shall it there abide, unknown of, and untouched?