The monster was indeed a troll, and while the rest of the adventurers moved forward cautiously, Utuk appropriated Mellvin’s horse, and charged boldly to engage the beast. Unfortunately, it seems that when the Tu’Evan cleric created these beasts, he included a brain in the design, because when Utuk got close and struck the monster, four more jumped out of the trees to ambush him! And his friends were hundreds of yards away – Blueblood guarding the road, and NubNub’s boar going a little out of control, and running around in circles. But was Utuk perturbed? Not showing fear, he prayed to his god to guide his holy mace, and swung out again at the freakish unholy wretch, just as it lunged to tear him from the horse. What it got for its trouble was a holy mace through its mouth, spraying its brains out the far side of its skull. A white flash erupted, and the other trolls turned tail and fled deeper into the sacred grove. So more yet survive… for now. But Utuk was safe, and victorious.
Somewhat astonished at the priest’s guts, the party continued on to Cortaka, a fine and bustling city, possibly the largest human settlement in the whole world. Perched next to the caves leading under the fiery mountains, it is the perfect trade city, connected to both dwarven and yuan-ti trade, as well as regular traffic from myconids. There is always plenty to see and do, but the party were on a mission. After merely buying some climbing equipment, trading some gems, and staying overnight, the party moved on, the road south to Saadoe beckoning. They travelled with a purpose, a direction – to reach Saadoe. Nothing was going to distract them, hinder them or lead them astray. Onward into the night they pushed themselves, until finally they reached the small ogre port town. There, Vargas was able to befriend the captain of a small minotaur longship, and secure passage to Vahassa if they felt they wanted it. Mellvin managed to discover a worshipper of Ra’a, and some sort of secret meeting taking place in one of the town’s buildings. But there was no evidence of any meeting of Tu’Eva clerics here in Saadoe, or the recent passing of any gnomes.
It was only when Mellvin went out to the mountains, searching for tracks, that he did in fact find something – a few tracks seeming to go up into the mountains at a low point saddling the gap between two peaks. Could this be a trail that has been followed to the swampland beyond?