We have left the ice temple and all its madness behind us, striking out for the eastern pass through the Spine of the World. The druid Nathaniel was eager to join Oswald on his newly-mended airship, and he is welcome to it - I much prefer to have my feet planted firmly on the ground.
After Nathaniel cleared a path through the Aurilites' wall of ice, we spied several groups of soldiers moving through it; a group of Neverwinter soldiers and, surprisingly, a group of Luskanites. I look forward to reporting back to Denham Fisher on the receipt of his letters - Captain Mariner of the Neverwinter forces was most surprised! Although with the doppleganger-Mariner exposed, I cant help but wonder about the nature of our enemies.
Alia Shield-Maiden, the Annals of Halgren
Your characters with Wilderness Lore will note, amidst the varied human and wolf tracks, that there are signs of a village to the east. But as you start up the trail towards the smell of cooking fires, your are stopped by a Priestess of Auril named Thvara Baelm. She is accompanied by three barbarian warriors, and a giant named Brogrob. Cathin sent her to gather reinforcements, but the glacier fell while she was away. Naturally, she attacks you, but it's not too tough a fight. If you have a high Intimidate skill, you might be able to induce Brogrob to flee before the battle begins.
Carry on to the east, watching out for the dire wolves and ferocious dire wolves that will stalk you across this map, until you find a group of five hunters. They are standing in front of the entrance to the Wandering Village, and ask that you speak with their Elder, Suoma, who is north-east of here. You will also meet a foundling girl named Pairi in the vicinity of the gates. If one of your characters is a relatively level sorcerer, have them speak with Pairi. She'll tell them that she's a budding sorceress herself, and is looking for some advice. Give her some tips for a nice experience point bonus (1575 xp).
Enter the camp and head for Suoma in the upper north-west. Before you can reach her, you will be approached by a drow merchant named Nym. He wants you to tell him about the military expedition from Neverwinter. If you tell him you planned to take the Eastern pass, he will tell you it is impassable because of the Legion of the Chimera troops stationed there. Even you you don't mention your ultimate goal, he can figure it out. He suggests that you take another path, through the Underdark, and informs you that you'll need rope to attempt it. You might want to peruse his wares - he has some pretty decent, although expensive, items. When you've finished speaking with Nym and looking at his wares, continue towards Suoma.
Suoma is willing to tell you the way through the Cold Marshes, but needs your help with a few things first. The first quest she gives you is to investigate the disappearance of several village children; Suoma sends you to Venla the Healer for more information. Suoma has a small selection of spells for sale, so your wizard might want to take a look. You may also wish to speak with Tahvo the huntmaster to buy and sell equipment. Tahvo is in the upper east of the village. Do buy rope from him, for as Nym suggested, you will indeed need it soon. Some lamp oil will also be useful. Tahvo can give you some advance warning of the types of enemies you'll be meeting later in the chapter.
Between Suoma and Tahvo, you may encounter a young man named Jari who needs a winter wolf pelt to win a hunting competition for which the prize is the woman he wants to marry. If you have a pelt, you can give it to him (he'll reward you with a necklace) or sell it to him for 200 gp (1575 xp). If not, come back when you've found one.
Venla is the stout redheaded lady you may have noticed to the right of the gates as you entered the village. She sells potions and offers healing services; she will also watch over you while you rest. If you talk to her about her potions, she will give you a quest to fetch some frostrose from the Cold Marshes. She doesn't have much to tell you about the missing children, except that she thinks they were lost in the Fell Wood to the east, and that a dryad or nymph might have taken them.The Missing Children
Exit the Wandering Village map from the south-east corner to reach the edges of the Fell Wood. This area is infested with a variety of snow trolls, so rest up before venturing in and be wary. A character with a high enough Wilderness Lore skill will note that most of the tracks are from humans, large wolves, and trolls. She may also note tracks left by small children, as well as a woman wearing moccasins and a very large man. There is an odd clove smell coming from the east, so head in that direction first.
On the south-east path, you'll encounter four well-spoken barbarian warriors in search of their brothers - the henchmen of Thvara, whom you killed. Oops. If you tell them that their brothers are dead, they will attack you - you can find the sword Wroth on one of them. Otherwise, you can lie to them and they'll keep looking and leave you in peace.
Just north of where you met the barbarians, you will find the source of that clove smell: a strange hide tent. Inside it are a huge man named Agog and an oily-voiced woman named Limha. Limha sells spell scrolls and has a limited selection of other items, but has no help to offer you on the subject of missing children. Don't buy any spells from her at this point but you may want to buy some other items or have her watch over you while you rest.
If you have a paladin in your party, this quest will be over quickly. When he speaks with Limha, he will be overwhelmed by the reek of evil under her "mask of flesh" and ask what type of fiend she is. At this point, little Hanna appears and tells you that Limha is indeed the kidnapper and that the children have been morphed into minks. Unmasked, Limha flees the tent, leaving you to fight Agog. Before she leaves, she rather unwisely tells your party that the children will revert to their normal forms as soon as she is dead. As you note in your journal, very probably her last thought was to regret telling you this. Agog is highly damage resistant but not particularly tough to fight. When you leave the tent, Limha will be waiting outside along with all the creatures she has managed to summon by that point. Take Limha out before attacking the summoned creatures. She can summon faster than you can kill so until she's gone, trying to eliminate them is a futile labour. Lihma might manage to teleport herself further away from you on the map, leaving you to deal with the summoned creatures. If so, you'll find her in the a short ways to the east. When you've killed her, you will find her entire spell inventory in a scroll case on her body, along with some other minor treasure items. Once you have slain Limha, head back to the Wandering Village to report the good news to Suoma and get your next quest (2100 xp).
If you do not have a paladin, go back to the village and ask around about Limha. Venla and Kurttu will tell you a few small details that should make you more suspicious about her, but none of them has any concrete information. Based on your initial information from Venal, head back east towards the Fell Wood and continue to look for 'clues' to the children's disappearance. You won't be able to gather enough information to complete this quest until after you have spoken with Carynara the Dryad deep in the Fell Wood. Speak with Tahvo and Pairi before you head into the Fell Wood. Tahvo can give you some advice about the wood in general. Pairi, a foundling who made her way through the woods as a small child, knows some more about the woods. When you're reading, head east from the Wandering Village, passed Lihma's tent to the Fell Wood.The Barrow Wight
When you report back to Suoma that you have solved the problem of the missing children, she sends you to speak with Tahvo the Huntmaster about an additional problem. Tahvo will tell you about a barrow wight that is haunting the hunting grounds near the village. He has been repeatedly "slain" but always returns the next evening. Tahvo wants you to get rid of the wight.
You'll find Sordirskin the Tusked in the south-west corner of the map, standing in front of a barbarian tribal leaders' barrow. As it turns out, poor Sordirskin has lost his memory. First he thinks he's fought you in the past, then that you are a thief after the chief's treasure from his grave. He has lost his golden drinking horn and believes it has been stolen. Don't bother trying to steal from Sordirskin's barrow - it won't open without his assistance, and if you try it several wights will spawn around the barrow and attack you. Tell Sordirskin that you'll help him find the horn. If you go back to the village to ask around, you'll find most of the villagers are quite indignant at the suggestion that anyone they know could be a grave-robber. The only one with any useful information is Pairi. She will report that men who claimed to be explorers - but looked like bandits - passed by just before the angry ghost appeared. They went into the Fell Wood to the east and never returned. Return to the Fell Wood to try and find the stolen drinking horn.
After you return the drinking horn to Sordirskin, he will vanish, leaving the barrow mound open for you to loot (but taking his drinking horn!). The barrow contains some gold, a ring, chainmail armour, and the Wight's Blade. When you return to the village, Nym tells you that he is leaving and warns you that the Legion of the Chimera is going to take steps to stop your meddling. Then he vanishes. Report to Tahvo and Suoma that the Barrow Wight will trouble them no more (2100 xp).Kyosti's Ghost
There's just one more thing Suoma wants you to help with before she'll tell you how to get through to the Eastern pass. This time, she sends you to talk with Kurttu. Kurttu tells you that the spirit of Kyosti, the husband of Kurttu's stepdaughter Carita, has been appearing between the village and the woods. She would like you to help the spirit find rest. You can speak with Carita and her companion Leevi if you like, but they won't tell you anything useful and Carita seems downright hostile. Go back to the woods and speak with Hunter's Ghost again. Before he'll tell you about Kyosti's ghost, he asks you to you extinguish the Ghost Lights in the Fell Wood and thereby put the Restless Dead at ease.
When you've solved the problem of the Ghost Lights, find Kyosti's grave just north-west of Limha's tent; his ghost hovers silently over it. When you convince him he can speak, he tells you that his wife Carita killed him and made her lover Leevi hide the body. Leevi cut out Kyosti's tongue to prevent him from accusing Carita. For setting his spirit to rest he'll give you his hunting spear: Kyosti's Spear (2100 xp).
Go back to the Wandering Village and tell Kurttu and Suoma what happened and claim your reward - also note that Carita and Leevi have feld the village (3150xp). Before Suoma can take the hunters' remains for burial, however, you are interrupted by a disturbance at the village gates. Isair and Madae, the twin leaders of the Legion of the Chimera, have come to the village in search of you. Apparently Nym sold the information about your whereabouts to them. They don't want to kill you, just frighten you off. Still, they will kill the hunters gathered in front of the gate, turning them into Possessed Dead. These creatures are basically tough zombies that have some pretty good damage resistance.
When this little episode is over, go and speak to Suoma again - don't forget to give her the remains from the Fell Wood (1575 xp). She will finally give you the information that you need to leave through the Fell Wood. But, of course, it's not all that straight forward. The evil spirits of the Fell Wood, called Dark Treants, are the reason it is so hard to navigate the woods. She advises you to go to the woods, where they will find you. Once you have slain the treants, you will be able to pass through the woods to the Cold Marshes. You don't need to return to this map, so stock up from Venla's unlimited supply of healing potions before setting out on the next stage of your journey. It will be a while before you have a chance to buy healing potions - and don't forget your rope!