Our three living characters, Elyx the necromancer, Matthonwy the bard, and Pudgit the pock-faced fun folk (halfling) thief, traveling along with their adoring, wide-eyed kobold hanger-on, popularly known as Lil' Pudgit, need to move on from Castle Karn, and leave behind the corpse of their newfound friend, the dead druid D'wynn, mauled to death by a deer-headed flesh golem. They scour the ruins of the castle before they leave.
Pudgit in particular, alone, uncovers several jugs of a strange fun folk firewine, and peels the labels off two. On the back of the labels is some strange unreadable text, the only decipherable bits being "A Day in the Life", and a name, "Hugo Fun". Pudgit also discovers a secret tunnel leading underground, and a dagger lying just within. He declines to inform the party about any of this.
The troupe moves on eastward toward the druid grove, meeting on the road a soaking wet man from a foreign land. He is Riyadh, of Zakhara, a seaman driven to shipwreck by the predations of the navies of non-humans scouring the coastlines and trade routes on slaving expeditions. Riyadh's shipmates were taken into captivity and his ship scuttled, but he survived by clinging to flotsam, and rode it up the river to where he hopped off and met our cast of characters. He appears to be traveling with a small genie-ling of some sort.
The party arrives at the druid grove shortly thereafter. The druid is absent, obviously, having been possessed by the animating spirit Moksha Jehannum, and the position of forest oracle appears vacant. Too bad the party druid just died. As they ascend into the tree circle, the party encounters another druid, apparently also on a quest to replace the Forest Oracle, and undo the violence being done against nature in this region.
This druid, D'ann (another D druid!), takes the party to the inner sanctum, where a corrupted wooden throne sits a simple stone basin on an altar, full of water, which, on closer inspection, turns out to have some pretty magical, druidy properties. After a good deal of hemming and hawwing on how to proceed, the party drains the basin into a vessel and through some magical argle-bargle renders D'ann the new Forest Oracle, though since they have drained the basin entirely, they've broken the line of the Forest Oracle, and D'ann will be the last.
They leave, taking the water with them, with the understanding that there's some magical sprinkler system it must be fed into to resolve the cursed nature. And the wizard who is most knowledgable about this process? Why, none than Delon, of course. Back to the castle. Riyadh stays behind to discuss something very important with the new forest oracle.
But lo! What is that noise in the forest! The party spies some sort of caravan traveling through the woods, heading toward Castle Karn. They can't see what is traveling, precisely, but it's large. The trees bend and quiver with its passing, and the sound of broken branches travels on the wind. They hurry to intercept, or to at least figure out what is kicking up that ruckus. They hop in their trusty horse-drawn cart and set off down the road. Matthonwy, inadvisably, takes a drink of the weird druid water they've brought with them. Predictably, his whole body sprouts roots, and merges with the cart and becomes the tallest tree in the forest, creating a sort of new, pop-up druid grove, while retaining his senses, but losing his ability to participate in the campaign at all. Everyone is quite disturbed, and seeing people turned into vegetation is becoming a theme here. The trees crowd around and bow down, laden with dramatically swelling fruits that grow to supernatural proportions.
The cart is lost, as is all of the party's money, which was in a wooden chest in the cart, both of which are now inside Matthonwy's tree trunk.
Elyx begins to question why she is even traveling with these people, but concludes her alternatives are few and she is alone in a dangerous world. She starts freaking out a little maybe. But also starts trying to figure out how to fix or save Matthonwy, now that he's turned into a handsome tree. Pudgit brings the wine labels to her attention, and Elyx realizes they are actually spell scrolls, though the precise purpose of which is strangely obfuscated. She copies the spell into her spell repertoire, and then uses the other scroll to cast it immediately, thinking it must, in this context, have something to do with helping Matthonwy. In fact it's a rather fanciful bit of enchantment. "A Day in the Life", as the wine was labeled, it turns out, is a spell that polymorphs everyone in the vicinity into a fun folk. Pudgit is, obviously, unchanged, but Elyx, Lil Pudgit (now calling himself D'wynn after the latter's death), and Elyx's familiar Riffin are all turned into fun folk. Lil D'wynn -- or just D'wynn, thank you very much -- fails his system shock rather horribly and is knocked unconscious. The dramatically swollen fruits finally reach critical mass and explode, showering the party in some kind of peach juice.
Either ticked off or tickled (depending on whom you ask) the party tries to plot out their next move, when crashing through the underbrush (as they've blocked off the one and only road with this new druid grove) is a man in full armor, carrying a lance. His name is Quentin Marshall, fighter at large, and he was on his way to Castle Karn when he discovered its devastation, and sought out the necromancer Elyx, fiance of his liege lord, Bartholomew, the last known survivor of the castle (according to Delon, who is apparently still camping out in the castle's grounds). After some convincing, Quentin does come to believe that the weird halfling with her weird tiny halfling familiar actually *is* the human necromancer Elyx, and resolves to travel with them back to the castle on their question.
Pudgit carves a hole in Matthonwy's trunk, sees the sap running down the bark, and puts some in his mouth. He is instantly afflicted with what look like blood blisters, but as these swell and swell, and form into weird clusters, he realizes he's actually bearing fruit. Berries to be specific. Pretty good berries, if you ask. They fall off him like little purple droplets and he tries them, and they're good, and he packs them up to take with him.
Half a day's travel and they're at Castle Karn, again. However it's been ransacked, again. The remains of Delon's bivouac are evident, but he is nowhere to be seen. The courtyard, in addition to the bodies previously littering it, is now also littered with the bodies of a bunch of shattered wererats. One lively one confides in Quentin that a caravan of giants stormed into the ruins, took Delon and moved on. The wererats had come there to find the people responsible for stealing their treasure and burning down the hotel they were using as a hideout (wonder who that could have been). The giants stomped them into jelly, but, lacking silver weapons or the desire to invest effort in beheading the were-creatures, were unable to kill them. The were creatures are all half-alive and slowly healing. In exchange for not killing them while they are so vulnerable, the lead wererat asks Quentin's name, and promises a boon, which Quentin accepts.
Meanwhile, Quentin names the horse the party has been traveling with since the beginning of the campaign, and begins to treat it for the neglect it's suffered at the party's hands thus far.
Pudgit shows Elyx, still a fun folk, the secret tunnel he discovered -- especially in light of how they know Moksha Jehannum to have disappeared somewhere *below* the castle when he vanished -- and Elyx has her familiar use its detect good/evil ability. Riffin detects a generalized, pervasive, and vast evil wherever that tunnel leads. Elyx and Pudgit close the door back up and idly talk of barricading it, but don't actually do that.
The party moves on, following the giants' tracks. After several hours they eventually come to an overlook above a large, newish lodge of timber, with 36' ceilings. The steading of the giants. They observe a trio of ogres approach, knock at the front gates, and receive no answer. Around this time, 24 hours have passed and Elyx and Riffin change back into their normal forms. D'wynn, however, does not, and remains a fun folk, with a much less kobold-inflected diction, and a seeming newfound sense of self worth.
After the ogres leave, Pudgit skulks around, into a doggie door of sorts, and into a kennel inside the kitchen of the abode. He manages to unlock the kennel and gain admittance to the dwelling proper, managing to not wake the sleeping kitchen slaves. After some preliminary investigation, with no immediate sign of Delon, Pudgit retreats to the overlook to outline a more comprehensive plan with his compatriots: Pudgit is stealthy, so he's going to sneak around the lodge, while Quentin stays outside, ready to rush in with sword drawn, while Elyx follows along with her gross necromancer magic, piggy-backing on Pudgit's senses, and seeing what he sees.