Back on the road, the party (well, Korag and Malark) proceeded to exclaim and remark on the additions to their bodies. At one point, Malark called Korag’s a “boob chandelier” which brought laughter from Korag and Hahn and a slight chuckle from Kat, whereas Rissa seemed unimpressed with his analogy. While boob-chandeliers and dragon marks were a high topic of conversation, the group also used this time to question Booyah. “Tell us about this castle, Booyah”, Kat said. As Booyah described this “castle”, they learned it was more likely to be called “ruins” to those accustomed to what castles actually are. It was run by King Grohl, and heavily guarded by goblins and hobgoblins. “The gobs say Grohl has a wolf pet, too!” Booyah explained, “and probly lots of traps… King Grohl would have lots of traps.” Booyah continues to guide the party, back to Mawcrag cave, and onwards towards this “castle”.
Of course, the way there wasn’t going to be easy. There was no “direct route”, and the party had to travel through dense, thick woods. Along the way, the party was attacked by “nassy, nassy sturges” (Booyah’s description of course). These mosquito/bat-like creatures have long needle noses that they stick into their prey. Overall, the party killed eight of them and Booyah even helped take one down. “See?! Booyah good ranger!” he proclaimed for not the first, and certainly not the last time.
As they continue on, they come across an old town. A dilapidated area, for sure, the small city seems to be abandoned. They notice a sign: “DANGER: Plant Monsters and Zombies” and Kat starts to giggle at the thought of plant monsters. Another sign: “THUNDER LEAF”. The group has a discussion about whether to go around, just in case there is more trouble in this Thunder Leaf than they care to find. As they are standing outside the city, they notice a small, green-ish blur rise up from one of the buildings. The small blur opens its wings and starts to fly away… a small dragon. The group is more determined than ever to find a way around this Thunder Leaf, but Booyah tells the group that this is the only way, unless they want to travel for longer days and nights around the city. It is apparent that Booyah knows no other way to Mawcrag Castle, so the group urges on into Thunder Leaf. As they walk through the city, Hahn and Kat slightly ahead to stealthily check the buildings and corners, they notice an old tavern. Hahn looks inside and sees a body lying on a table. Malark checks down an old path, and tiny twig-like creatures start to walk up to him. Assuming these are part of the “plant monsters” that the sign had warned about, Malark alerts the group. While these small twig blights can do more damage than one would assume, Malark strongly cuts them down, along with the help of Rissa, Korag and Kat.
Hahn, however, stays close to the building with the dead body inside. And, sure enough, the body is no longer lying on the table, but coming towards Hahn through the now-open door. While Hahn holds his own, another zombie comes from across the room towards the doorway. Korag arrives in time to cast a shining light upon the zombies, and the one on the other side of the room turns and starts walking away. For some reason, the zombie in the doorway doesn’t seemed phased by Korag’s spell, and continues to attack Hahn and now Korag. Rissa helps in the fight, while Kat goes to a nearby window to see if she can find any other zombies to surprise. As she busts a window, she proclaims to the party that there are two more zombies walking around the room, one walking towards her at the window. Malark rushes over after defeating the twig blights, and emits a radiant burst, causing the zombie in the doorway to crumble into dust. While Rissa and Hahn are busy fighting one zombie, and Kat is busy distracting one through the window, Malark rushes into the building and kicks down the door between the front room and the room that the other two zombies were in, causing the attention of the zombie at the window to turn towards him. Rissa, frustrated that they are dealing with the undead in this moment, goes into a rage, cutting the zombie in front of her in half. Korag raises his shield, channeling his god, and a flame emits from it, with no results. Rissa joins Malark in the extra room, still in her rage, and hits one zombie so hard, all that remains are splotches of dead skin and guts splattered against a wall.
The party doesn’t even have a moment to rest before they hear a voice: “Follow me! What are you doing here?! It is very dangerous, follow me!” They turn and see an old man, motioning in his direction. Of course the group is on edge, but they determine if they can take out multiple twig blights and zombies in such a short time frame, they should be able to dispatch of this old man if they need to. He takes them to a house that appears to be in much better condition than the rest of the decaying town.
He tells them his name is Ridoth, a traveling druid who seeks to keep harmony between nature and civilization. He has been visiting Thunder Leaf for over six years, and each time he comes, the place is more overrun with zombies, twig blights, and spiders. “Why are you here?” he asks, “it is so dangerous, there are too many spiders, and twig blights, not to mention those retched zombies, and now there are people running around in black masks and cloaks. I don’t want to know what they’re up to! But that isn’t even the worst part! There’s a small dragon that has taken up in the watch tower. You can’t be seen by him, he will not give mercy!” The group acknowledges that they have seen the dragon, but luckily, it didn’t see them. Thankfully, Ridoth seems to have their best interest in mind, even though he’d rather they go back and not continue on through the city, he sees that they are set on their journey, and shows them the best way to get to Mawcrag castle. As Booyah had explained, they must continue on their path to avoid unnecessary terrain and territory. The party is thankful to Ridoth for his information and he allows them to rest for a short time before continuing on.
As the party walks down the decrepit streets, they come across large spider webs blocking their path. Hahn shoots a fiery arrow into the webs, and two large spiders come crawling out of one of the buildings. Kat kicks off of a building and jumps over the spiders, however, she is quickly pushed into the webs by one of the spiders’ back legs and is restrained in a web. Before the rest of the party can act, one spider bites Hahn, causing poison to run through his veins. Seeing the help his friends need, Korag again reaches out to his god and blesses Rissa, kat and Hahn. Booyah, keen to prove himself, shoots a spider with an arrow, and Hahn finishes the spider off with his rapier. Rissa decides to dispatch the final spider, and lays into him with her battle-axe, two handed. However, the spider doesn’t fall and attacks Rissa back so ferociously that she almost falls. Korag is quick to the scene, however, and heals Rissa so she can continue with her fight. So angry at the bite she received, she rears back to hit the spider with her axe, only to swing too far back and she nicks herself in her own buttocks. Hahn, almost following in Rissa’s footsteps, starts to fire another arrow at the remaining spider, but his bowstring snaps and the arrow swooshes by Rissa’s ear, barely missing. There must have been something in the air, because Korag again casts his sacred flame from his shield, and it nearly misses Booyah before flying off in the wrong direction. Finally, the party dispatches of the final spider, tired and ready to sleep for the night.
Kat sneaks into a building in search of a place to stay, and finds a cocoon the size of a human in the corner. The party follows, and Malark slices the cocoon open, only to find the armor of the being who had found their final resting place among the spiders. They also find a short sword, healing potion, and coins that they split amongst themselves.
Once deeming the place safe enough, the party takes the necessary precautions and rests for the evening, knowing they have a dragon to avoid the next day…