As the party leaves Trieste’s glade, they see someone walking ahead of them on the road a few miles out. They decide to head towards the old bandit camp first. The wind gets colder and it soon starts to rain. As they get closer to the figure walking, he steps aside to allow them to pass. They recognize him as Aron Gob, the ranger they had met in the Tenu Heath a while ago. He joins with them and rides in the cart for a while. He is hunting the coyotes: something is out of balance.
Sir Kjarri of Setara sees taint in the air; it’s diffuse, like mist or rain. There’s no source he can see.
As the group travels along, they smell fire. Sir Tirn of Selvos‘s crow and Tamarie discover a huge bonfire burning ahead; the party approaches, and Tirn discovers that it’s an illusion spell. Sir Kjarri of Setara is able to negate a part of the spell, and they can no longer smell the fire. After examining the area, Aron begins to laugh and pokes at a gopher hole. He tells the group that they’ve stumbled on a nest of faronay. They give Aron some meat and he attempts to draw them out. Nina puts some food down and it seems to disappear. She grabs and pulls up the food, with the critter dangling from the end: it looks like a marmot. The party gets it to lead them off the nest, and then it disappears down the hole with the food.
A large white faranay appears, and chitters at Tirn. Aron chats with her, the matron of the nest, and Tirn realizes that she isn’t really a faranay, but a mage under a spell. It explains why her gestures and attitudes seem very human. She informs the group through Aron that the thing chasing the coyotes is a “cursed man”, possibly a shapechanger. She mentions ghost horses in the area, a giant bug and “the gods’ resting place.” She shows the party the approximate location of these things on her map. The group travels on, leaving behind some food for her clan.
The party continues towards the bandit camp, and end up deep in a dell. They climb out and enter the camp, in the ruins of stone fortifications. Tirn climbs up to a high pont and looks around; the place is very spooky, scarred by old atrocities. After examining the area for a while, Tirn and Maketa Seenaë Dyren realize the place was destroyed by dwarves. Kjarri senses this was a magical place, and it was destroyed by magic. using psychometry, Tirn sees this fort was the birthplace of Balsha; it was utterly destroyed about a hundred years after Balsha’s death. They decide to proceed through the ruins and head to the pirate ship.
Off in the distance, a large group of wild dogs are running across their intended path. As Tirn sends out his crow to investigae, Kjarri and Seenaë catch a glimpse of something large in the ruins. They move about, trying to get a better look. Tamarie shoots at something, Nina hits something with a ball of mud. Kjarri prays for clarity. The group is suddenly able to see the shadowy creature: a chimera. They ask Aron if he can speak with it, and he manages to gain some information. They find out that it is a cursed creature; this may be the “cursed man” the faranay matron told them about. They decide not to fight, but to the nearby glade sacred to Siem. It follows them; Tirn and Kjarri use psychometry to find out how it was cursed, then Kjarri uses negation to turn the chimera back into a man, after a long and painful transformation.
He was an Ilvirian priest, the one who set up the fetishes on the trees they passed earlier. His divination spell went really wrong… He falls asleep in the glade as the party sets up camp. The ghost of the old keeper, Tom, appears to the group. he mentions that the coyotes are being chased, and are no longer coming to the glade for rest. The group does some work around the place that Tom can no longer perform. The man wakes after food is served, and Nina manages to coax him out from under the cart and bring him nearer the fire. He is almost feral, not speaking. Seenaë tries to speak calmly to him, and as they eat, they hear the coyotes howling.