After crossing the bridge the spanned the gorge near the lodge, the party found some ancient Qadiran soldiers awakened by Leopold’s magic. During the skirmish Fistanditilus appeared after visiting another reality where he spoke with The Magician. Soon after Mae found Dryden Keep’s journal and his dead body (having been ravaged by the giant white weasel he had been tracking).
The journal warned of the bear traps he set for the weasel and of a strange hut. Ten Penny was barely saved from stepping into a trap and was convinced to return to Leopold’s apothecary in Heldren. Shortly thereafter, the group came upon the hut which stood upon logs carved to look like chicken legs. Inside was a creepy doll that Gask beheaded.
As night fell, Izoze ambushed the group as they pushed further toward the heart of the forest. The doll’s body stood motionless in the middle of the snowy trail. Izoze was chased off and Mae stuffed the doll’s body into her pack.
At the center of the woods, stood a magical portal blowing sleet and snow in all directions. As Leopold and Gask ventured into it, Teb Knotten, having been in the shape of a tree, knocked Valentinos to the ground from behind. Mae ran from a cave the monster had been living in (where her father stood, turned to stone). She shouted a warning to the group and engaged the creature, valiantly sacrificing her life.
Through exceptional teamwork, the group took down Teb Knotten but before they caught their breath, the Black Rider appeared through the portal with the ominous greeting, “So we meet again”