The party, having obtained a map of Willowmaid Marsh, went to Merna’s to restock on supplies. While Faunra attempted to learn more about the surrounding area, Keventhrios and Zythix went back to the Sap Tap Tavern, where they played craps with an elven merchant. While they were playing, they were joined by Bijou the Bard, a kindred spirit with Keventhrios. Bijou was impressed by Keventhrios’s skill at “gambling,” and so offered to join the party in their adventures. Faunra was initially hostile to the arrangement, but grudgingly agreed to allow the gnome to tag along.
The party then journeyed south to the home of Emily Woodcroft. Upon their arrival they met Emily and her friend, Greznik Masondaughter. The party learned that some powerful and unknown force was corrupting the forest, and that the Willow Queen was the center of the disturbance. Emily told the party that the willowmaid trees were, in fact, a single living creature that grew new trees through a complicated root system, and that the Willow Queen was the heart of that system. She also warned them of the many dangers that the corrupted marsh presented, and told them that she would take shelter at the lighthouse while the party “riled up” the Willow Queen.
The party then travelled east to the Willow Queen, only to discover that the tree had been surrounded by an enormous thicket of thorns. They fought their way past a swarm of thornlings and discovered that the green-eyed menaces had been grown by the thicket, and nurtured upon the blood of one of the dead workers. They also found a marble bowl filled with golden coins given as an offering to the Willow Queen. Moving on, they skillfully destroyed a corrupted constrictor snake. and finally came to confront the Willow Queen herself. The Willow Queen spoke to them through the corrupted undead bodies of the other missing townsfolk. The Willow Queen blamed the town of Willowmaid for the pain of its corruption, viewing the people of the town as cruel slavers and wicked murderers. While Faunra tried to reason with the tree, Bijou and Keventhrios snuck behind the tree to discover a stone alter, choked and obscurred with corrupted vines. After carefully clearing off the vines, Keventhrios discovered that the alter was a place of worship, built by an ancient civilization to venerate the Willow Queen. He magically relayed the prayer written upon the altar to Bijou, who sang it to the Willow Queen in its original draconic. The prayer reminded the Willow Queen of ancient memories. It remembered the respect and worship that it had received from the people of the land, and in recalling the beautiful memories of the marsh and people that she loved was able to cast off the curse that had been inflicting it. It laid the corrupted dead to rest, offered its treasures to the party, and cast out the mysterious, foul influence that had been plaguing the marsh.
The party met Emily and Greznik back at the lighthouse, where they briefly discussed the events at the thicket of thorns. Emily, hesitant to believe that the problem had been solved so neatly, agreed to accompany the party when they returned to the Willow Queen in the morning. Greznik returned the party to Willowmaid by way of her dinghy just as the sun was beginning to set.
In the morning, the party escorted Hailey and Emily back to the Willow Queen to prove the truth of their account. Satisified, Hailey gave them their pay as well as the thanks of Willowmaid. After returning to Willowmaid, the party was once again approached by the Black Cardinal. The Cardinal, impressed with how the party handled the situation in Willowmaid, offered them a job as special agents for the Ravens. He also explained that he could not give the party any information as to who was threatening Ravenspire because he had been placed under a powerful geas. In order to learn more about the war effort, the party would have to go to Ravenspire and speak to the Ravens directly. To this end, the party has spent the better part of the day getting ready for the journey, and are about to set off…