As the party returns to Oleg’s Trading Post, they are introduced to Jhod Kavken, a wandering hunter and cleric of Erastil. He tells the party that he has come because he has heard about their charter to explore the Narlmarches and that he has had a vision that there is a lost shrine to Erastil hidden somewhere within them. He asks the party to find the shrine, and to beware of an ursine guardian that was also present in his vision.
The party also interacts with Kesten Garess who makes it clear that he is uninterested in interfering in their exploration and is only concerned with protecting the trading post through garrison duty and patrols through areas that have already been explored.
After resting a bit, the party plans out their next expedition in the form of a loop around the territory previously explored. They plan for it to take a little over two weeks and provision themselves appropriately.
Soon after setting off the group finds itself subjected to a series of pranks that they deduce are probably of fey origin. They correctly discern that leaving gifts for the prankster is likely the most effective way to deal with the problem and are mostly successful in doing so over the next few days, except for Sandor Kovach, who fails to mollify the fey and continues to be subject to their pranks.
In the meantime, the party discovers the shrine that Jhod Kavken had told them of, and are able to deal with the guardian with some difficulty. They then move on and encounter the dreaded Tuskgutter, a large boar that they had been tasked with killing by one of the wanted posters back at Oleg’s. Although it proves an even more difficult opponent than the guardian of the shrine, they emerge victorious and continue on with their explorations.
They discover a rickety bridge over the Thorn River, but as it’s unable to carry the weight of their horses they have to look elsewhere to cross, except for Valerian Orlovsky who temporarily splits from the party in order to take advantage of the bridge.
Having crossed the river the party spots a huge old sycamore tree and hidden in its roots discover an entrance to the lair of mites, presumably the ones that stole Svetlana Leveton‘s ring from the bandits. The group enters, and despite Valerian’s panic attacks from being in such an enclosed space, they deal relatively easily with the mites and giant centipedes that they encounter until they run into a group of mites with a giant tunnel tick the size of a bugbear.
They finally prevail over the tick and its master, but only after using up a great deal of their magical resources, and with half the party having taken damage to their attributes that will take some time to heal. The party stops to heal its less serious wounds and decide whether to push forward or to fall back and regroup.