With the bandits taken care of, the group planned to set out into the Stolen Lands. That night, however, an ice storm came in and forced them to wait.
The next day, everyone was surprised by a banging on the main gate. A group of armed men, sent from Restov, had arrived. When they were let in, Oleg was less than pleased. His guard reinforcements had arrived, but there were only four of them. They had no food or supplies, and were led by Kesten Garess, a noble of the Garess family. With them was Nikolai Medvyed, who was tasked with going along with the expedition. Oleg was furious, both at the fact that there were more nobles and that there was still no food. There was some tension that night, but the situation was made clear to Garess, who assured the group he really was there to help.
The next morning, the group made their plans to leave, while the guards began to plan how to best defend the trading post.
The group set off, exploring the land just south of the trading post. They saw the edges of the Narlmarches, and were able to accurately map and measure the area.
In their travel, they came across a small cave that Vas identified as the den of a tatzlwyrm. As they were speaking, the dragon rushed out of the cave to attack the intruders. It was quickly put down and skinned.
The next day, the group found the hut of Bokken, a hermit that Oleg told them about. They spoke for a bit, and the group bought some of his potions. He seemed impressed with Nikolai, who, aside from being a hunter and woodsman, was apparently an alchemist. The group offered him some deer they had caught earlier in the day, and the six of them shared a meal. Bokken offered them a special mead he made, later informing them that is was brewed with strange mushrooms.
During their meal, Bokken told them of his brother, whom he described as “mad” and “feral,” living in the woods somewhere in the south. He also told them of a strange, ruined tower. He had found a cache of books in it, but was startled by something rustling around. He said that if they are able to retrieve the books, he may trade for them.
The next day, the group found the tower. The area surrounding it was littered with corpses, mostly animal. Their heads were battered in, their sides were slashed, and they all had their hearts torn from their chests. Vas and Korjun thought that they looked to victims of a peryton, a dangerous beast. The group began to explore the ruins, and were startled to hear a horse scream. When they ran out, they saw Vas‘s horse was dead, and the peryton was circling in the sky. Ram and Nikolai began to shoot at it, and Vas sent one of his fiendish eagles to fight it. The beast ignored the arrows and bolts, dispatched the eagle, and flew over the group. It flew directly over Denea, and, bizarrely, stole her shadow. It they then wheeled around and began to attack another horse. The group surrounded it and began to attack, apparently unable to wound it. Korjun screamed and charged it with his flaming earthbreaker, and seemed to break the beast’s leg. It roared in pain and attacked Korjun, badly injuring him. Vas said something in a fiendish tongue, and took on the appearance of a strange, horrifying creature. Wounded, the beast flew away, heading for a high point on the tower.