Spoiler alert: if you plan to play The Evils of Illmire, don’t read this!
Arriving in at the logger camp south west of Illmire, our heroes see a huge lodge in the centre of a massive clearing full of work gangs of lumberjacks cutting, preparing and moving logs. What grabs their attention most is the huge figure standing near the lodge. Wilfret tells them this is Rigdorf, a lumberjack of great renown who, rumours say, has been working this clearing for decades yet shows no sign of ageing. Introductions are made and the party tell Rigdorf of their plight; they need the help of his lumberjacks in dealing with the problem at Illmire. Behind the booming voice and strapping frame Rigdorf is a considerate man, having had good relations with Illmire in the past (he has had many dealings with Lord Crellmont over the decades, from when the Mayor was yet a young chap), and while he would like to help the party, but the lumberjacks have problems of their own.
To the northwest is Misty Lake, and beneath the lake dwell Fishmen who frequently harass and have killed some of the lumberjacks. Rigdorf can’t help with the Illmire problem until the Fishmen problem goes away. Learning that the Fishmen lurk beneath the waters of the Misty Lake to the northwest, our adventurers offer to rid the lumberjacks of them, but they need a way to breath underwater. Rigdorf’s well of knowledge is deep and he knows that beyond the lake is a colony of Froglings that, he believes, have air-sac helmets that would allow a person to breathe underwater. There is yet another problem though; the Froglings are extremely wary of strangers as they are hunted by both Mantismen and Geckos in nearby areas (hexes) and with such predators about are very cautious. If the adventurers were to win their trust, perhaps by presenting a Mantisman trophy, they might offer to help. The lumberjack has heard rumours the Mantismen have devastated the forest north of the Frogling village and have a lair there.
Oak Staff uses his druidic abilities to summon an owl that explores much of the area to the northwest and reports back on the lake, but there is little useful information. The next day, well rested, the PCs set off to the Misty Lake. They can see small boats out there and kelp and reeds lining the waters edge, but otherwise stick to the trees and skirt the huge expanse of water. By early afternoon they are on the other side of the lake in the Frogling forest and after travelling through the dense woodland for the rest of the afternoon decide to camp on it’s northern border before heading into Mantisman land. They sleep up in the trees, tied to sturdy branches for safety and manage to get some rest. The next day they head into edge of the forest, another bird summoned to scout ahead, but again it can tell them little; there are many mounds and a much larger one a few miles away.
The hope is that a Mantisman patrol will come this way and they can ambush it – surely all they need is a Mantisman head to win favour with the Froglings? But there is no such luck and they have no choice but to proceed cautiously into the open space beyond the forest. Here trees and bushes have been hacked down and the party can see for miles. An abandoned trapper camp allows them to catch their breath and plan; ultimately our heroes decide to press on to the main mound.
Once nearer to the giant mound they can see dark holes in it’s side and realising these are entrances Kristos sneaks over to one. Inside he sees three Mantisman guards, but the place gives him the creeps and he returns to the party. A plan is formed; Kristos and Evalore can sneak to the entrance of the lair where the magic-user can enchant the insectoid creatures so they enter a magical slumber. Once asleep they can snip a few heads to take to the Froglings. All that is needed is for Evalore to get close enough to cast her spell. Kristos guides the magic-user closer to the mound, but maybe because they are both spooked by the place, they stumble and make a noise. An agitated chittering is heard from inside the mound, they have been heard…