The Fangs of the Forest, having traveled to Silk Town in answer to Investigator Angunar’s summons, discovered that there had been a number of kidnappings. They found the investigator in the Hungry Croc watching the crocodile fight a riding lizard of a Bloody Vulture outrider. Angunar adjourned with Athas, Kvothe and Artur to speak privately. He revealed the fruits of his search, informing the Fangs of the situation. Women were going missing. Pretty ones and ugly ones, but very few in between. It had been going on for a few months now, but the trend hadn’t been looked into until Ena was found dead in her spice cabinet.
The Fangs divided and spent the day pursuing leads and selling pilfered valuables. Some trained their puppies. When they met again, Angunar told them that 48 women had gone missing. Some seem to have run away, while others were seen with small groups of women. most notably, Nierra, and elf woman traveling through town with her knight retainer was kidnapped. Sir Gene, her escort, went in search of her and has not been seen since.
The Fangs surmised that the same disfigured women robbing the cart of iron boxes they’d encountered on the road into town were at the root of it. Such a hypothesis puts the witches in possession of both a part of a troll, an elf captive, and a number of women, as well as a ready supply of acid as evinced by the nature of their deformities.
Artur met Bruma, the halfling who had attempted to rob them in the night while they stayed at the Howling Lamb on a prior visit to Silk Town. He confronted her and she denied all accusations, until a man’s hand on Artur’s shoulder stopped him. The man’s upper body barely fit in his thin black tunic and he bore three circles upon his pale face: one on each cheek and one on his brow. Tight black rows of knotted hair lined his head. He introduced himself as Naghaya Degar, and told Artur to refrain from bothering Bruma again.
The two got to talking, and Mr. Degar spoke of “business picking up with all these kidnappings,” and of his role as “protector.” He told Artur of a story someone had relayed to him, in which a woman was carried off without a struggle in the night, possibly by magic. He posited that the women must have had a boat to carry a victim any decent distance, which lined up with Angunar’s guess.
Fevrin had his people gather information from the townsfolk. Some was suspect. The bevy of information included the fact that witches’ flesh is immune to being pierced by arrows or spears, that they burn in sunlight without special amulets, and that they can change people into frogs, or perhaps make them believe that they are fish and strangle on the air they’re convinced that they can’t breathe. One worrisome, but outlandish claim spoke of their reproduction; witches cannot birth live young and instead devour a child, cough up their bones and hair like an owl and assemble an effigy of them which they stitch skin from a flayed victim over and imbue with dark magics to animate into their own spawn.
Meanwhile, Athas and Kvothe had gone to track the woman who fled the cart two days before and run into the Sloughwallow. The day was very hot- the first of the oncoming summer to be so. Insects stirred the humid air in swarms as the pair tracked footprints dried into the cracking mud. They found a path of stacked stones marking stable ground within the swamp, and followed it to Bogton, a small community of forages within the Sloughwallow. There, they met with the elder of the village and asked about a naked woman coming through. He confirmed this, but couldn’t provide much else. They eventually found the woman under a man’s protection in a small mud hut. Athas forced the man out at swordpoint, his own gleaming chain shirt and blade at sharp contrast with the wattle-and-daub surroundings. The pair then interrogated the woman, who they learned was named Sally McNaph, the same as one of the missing women. She was obstinate, but did reveal the whereabouts of the coven’s hideout. She was obviously upset and when asked if she was a witch, merely said “we are all only what others see us as.” Athas and Kvothe left her to rot in Bogton, convinced that she would not return to the coven.
The next day, the Fangs set out to Flank, a logging settlement on the edge of the Limiwood. They investigated a number of caves, many of which were occupied by wild dogs. One contained a cairn surrounded by shields and supporting a tattered standard from which faint battle chants could be heard. Another contained a faintly magical sarcophagus that they decided against disturbing after giving it a swift kick.
The day after exploring the caves, the Fangs ranged further South. They found many small tributaries along the Rhyryn. With their ranger’s expert tracking skills. they discovered that one such small stream had evidence of a a canoe dragging through the mud for a short distance with bare footprints accompanying it. They followed the stream upwards. They found a pond at the base of a rocky hill with some sparse trees atop it. The forest loomed around the clearing, and under some of its branches, someone had tried to hide a larger barge with a cabin. The Fangs left it undisturbed to investigate the river, their suspicions confirmed.
One portion of the hill had fallen away leaving a flat cliff overhanging a deeper area of the pond, which stretched away under the rock into a cave. Half a deer lay nearby, its hooves split like fried onion blooms and the half of its body that lay under the water’s surface stripped to the bone. Fevrin held some jerky from his rations into the water. A small school of quippers emerged. Fevrin called upon Fharlaghn to bless a stone with radiance and tossed it to the depths near the submerged cave. Inside, he saw the ankles of some gnawed bodies tied to natural stone columns amid stalagmites.
Athas posited that this was likely a back entrance and that they might take the witches by surprise here. Artur argued that they should look for alternate entrances that might not be so wet. They searched the hill, finding little. Atop it, large boulders lay scattered, with a particularly large clump near the opposite side of the hill, before it extended away into a small chain of such hills. Nearby there was a small grove of dead trees that they searched. No discoveries were made apart from the cave.
After it was decided that they would explore the watery cave, Athas shoved the deer carcass into the pond, drawing a feeding frenzy. Fevrin damned the fish with holy fire and Kvothe turned them into slurry with the force of his eldritch blasts. After all was cleared, Athas unslung his pack and dove into the frothy water, clutching the stone Fevrin had gifted with radiant orange light and carrying it with him as he explored the cavern. Bodies tied to the columns had been mostly eaten, but beyond them a small hall extended with columns and stalactites cluttering the water. Athas made his way as far back as he was able, through the dancing shadows cast by his stone while he held his breath. He could find no passage and returned near the entrance where the tunnel branched. The other was gauged by claws set wider than any human hand and turned away. he followed it until he saw the waters surface again, glittering with blue and red light and shadowed by figures moving in the distance. The warrior surfaced, finding a wide cavern with a low ceiling where many women were toweling off and sitting near fires. His eyes seemed to fail him as his depth perception began fluctuating and his peripheral vision clouded. An effigy of bones and wood lanced him with a needle of purple energy and he felt his limbs deaden. He fled back through the tunnel, hearing faint screams in his wake. The warrior stood dripping on the shore and relayed his findings as the dying light of the Sunspire bathed the pond in ruddy orange light.
Kvothe set up his brazier and burned incense as he called a new shape from the outer planes to serve him. From the oily black smoke of the brazier a crablike fiend crawled to him, its carapace a dull glinting iron with rust at every joint. The red mage sent his minion into the tunnel and through the clawed cavern. It found an enormous beast of scales and claws with an ogre’s upper body and the tail of a serpent holding the leases on two frogs the size of wolves. One lunged for his familiar, and Kvothe dismissed it just in time.
As the Fangs sat near the water’s edge discussing their method of approach, Fevrin remained wary, readying a prayer of scorching to sear the flesh of any that may come searching after them. He was the first to spot one of the attack frogs swimming from the entrance of the cave and lit it up with radiant fire. At the same time, a canoe of four hideously scarred women emerged seemingly from the stone of the hill farther away.
The witches came out blasting. One clutched a duck’s-foot pendant and spoke quiet words as she flicked her fingers towards the Fangs. Kvothe was dropped into a deep slumber at the edge of the water before he had even realized that the enemy was upon them. Fevrin was struck by a sickly green ray from the fingers of another of the women, his veins blackening and stomach churning from the dweomer-venom. Athas and Artur fired on those the women in the canoe, arrows flying across the bloody water.
One of the women leaped from the small craft, rocking it violently and throwing the others. She paddled closer and pulled a glass vial from her sodden robes, flinging it just short of the unconscious wizard on the shore and the priest at his side. The frogs surfaced and attacked the pair, churning the pink and white foam on the shore into the mud. One latched around Kvothe’s ankle while the other bit at Fevrin, who called upon Fharlaghn to defend him, drawing a shimmering shield around himself with a word.
Then the denizen of the scored cave surface, throwing red spray as it reared from the pond and flung a harpoon at the priest, a rope trailing from it still coiled around the creature’s forearm. It struck home, punching through the metal scales of Fevrin’s armor. With a yank, the creature pulled the priest off his feet and into the churning waters. The monster’s serrated gills spread and shook in pain as it lunged for its prey and raked its own arm with its teeth.
Fevrin fled the thing’s gnashing teeth and Artur woke Kvothe as the frog latched onto his leg crushed his ankle like a vise, sending him back into unconsciousness, but not before he unleashed unholy fire upon the amphibian. Athas put an arrow into one of the witches, who were fumbling back onto the shore near the camouflaged barge. Another spell from their fingers put the warrior to sleep as well. One of the vicious frogs pursued the priest as he retreated from the water, still glowing from the guiding bolt it had been hit with. Fevrin battered it with his quarterstaff, proving that it could be used for more than just a walking stick as he broke the frog’s yellow back.
Artur fired an arrow into the centermost witch, twisting his fingers as he loosed the arrow. When the head buried itself in one witch’s chest, it curled and twisted, exploding into hundreds of thorns that pierced the other two. One determined witch staggered towards them, brandishing a ceramic bulb, her chest bleeding from a dozen wounds. She tripped on a root and sent the flask rolling to Artur’s feet.
The frog’s master flung himself onto the shore, pulling himself towards one of the Fangs and gnashing at at them. It flung its harpoon once more after the priest that had burned its pet, but Fevrin had caught on to its tactic, and took cover behind a tree. It pulled the harpoon back in a spray of splinters. Artur touched a hand to Kvothe and channeled a healing spell into him before retreating again from the thrashing fishman on the shore.
Kvothe, finally conscious, though not entirely aware of the situation, rubbed his hands together and clapped them to the mud with a shout, unleashing a thunderous boom that knocked the aquatic monster into a tree farther from the shore, blasted Athas awake and flung Artur further from the field, leaving ears ringing. The frog around his foot reverberated with the shockwave, but was not blasted off and clamped down, snapping a bone in his leg and sending him back into unconsciousness. The giant frog-master fled, slithering and dragging itself back to the pond’s waters, but not before an arrow found its mark in its heaving back.
the Fangs, shaken, discussed the next course of action as they stabilized their mage and treated their wounds. Athas, seemed only to be invigorated by the fight and wiped blood from himself, eager to go in after the fleeing foe. The others convinced him not to, and all agreed to return on the morrow. Someone pulled the now-empty canoe back into the hill, replacing the stone wall again silently. Athas hurled a stone through the spot, determining that it was an illusion.
The Fangs slept in Flank’s tavern on cots with the village’s lumberjacks.