As the citizens of Raven's Bluff continued to grow weary of the overcrowding and the squatters inhabiting the city, the leaders of Pohjola continued to grow their new nation and gather information about the world around them. Spymaster Joseph Lagrange sent a spy into Drelev to learn some information about Pohjola's neighbor to the west. Meanwhile, Baron Vlad Black claimed more land around Raven's Bluff, even as the building within the village continued. He attempted once again to calm the squatters and move them out, but again, they refused to leave.
The following month, the kingdom continued to grow, but word reached Joseph that his spy in Drelev had been captured. Although Grand Diplomat Cice Tappo attempted to calm the situation with Drelev, she was unable to do so and Baron Hannis Drelev let her know in no uncertain terms that these actions would not be tolerated. On the bright side, the completion of a shrine and Baron Black's calming words did finally manage to convince the squatters to leave with the promise that they could move into a new housing development the following month.
The next few months saw the kingdom continue to expand its borders and build new buildings in Raven's Bluff but was otherwise largely calm. The only real hiccup occurred when a group of farmers to the north grew dissatisfied with Cice and her inability to calm relations with Drelev. It turned out that one of the farmers was the uncle of the spy who was captured and he was angry that Cice had been unable to secure the spy's release.
As the calendar turned to a new year, the leaders of Pohjola grew a bit restless sitting in their capitol. Coupled with this was a growing curiosity as to what lay around the borders of the Tuskwater Lake that they had yet to explore and so they set out to explore the uncharted lands to the south of their capitol. Cice; however, remained in the capitol as she continued to correspond with foreign dignitaries and Joseph informed the High Council that he had important matters to attend to. The remaining party members thus set out to explore the Kamelands to the east of Tuskwater Lake and south of Raven's Bluff.
On their second day out, the party found a well-hidden trail leading down from a cliff overlooking a pool of water that was surprisingly not frozen. Mugwort was curious about this pool of water and went up to take a drink. Although the water seemed relatively normal, a more pressing matter revealed itself as a giant snapping turtle charged out of a little outcropping at the base of the cliff, straight toward Mugwort. The general turned and tried to hack at the turtle but his aim was high and his bardiche passed harmlessly over the turtle's head. The turtle's aim; however, was much more accurate as it clamped down on Mugwort's leg, puncturing a major artery and sending him into unconsciousness. The party rallied to Mugwort's aid and soon dispatched the turtle. Mugwort was shaken by the fight but was able to recover well enough. As the party searched the turtle's den, Micka located a water elemental gem half buried in the mud of the den. What the turtle was doing with it he had no idea.
The following day, the party continued south along the eastern shore of the lake and found that the Kamelands continued far to the south. As they were exploring though, they located a strange mud pool that was bubbling with warmth and surrounded by large mushrooms and other fungal growths. Also apparent in the air was a foul odor. Mugwort, remembering the results of his curiosity from the day before, refused to investigate the area, but Micka was not deterred. He and his companion, Kuma, went up to the edge of the mud pool to examine it. Other members of the party decided at least get somewhat closer to Micka just in case; however, Torm and Mugwort became nauseated by the noxious fumes emanating from the area.
As Micka was examing the mud bowl, the fungal growth within it lurched to life and snatched the druid into a massive maw. As Micka became paralyzed he tried in vain to identify what had just grabbed him, but Vlad was able to recognize it as a tendriculos. Mugwort rushed to Micka's aid only to see the druid disappear down the giant plant's gullet, and then he too became snared by a tentacle from the plant. Torm; unfortunately, was battling his nausea, as was his horse and he was too distracted to offer much help. Vlad sent one of his animal companions in to assist as he fired arrows at the plant, but the arrows seemed to have little in the way of a lasting effect.
Mugwort was then briefly released by the plant only to be snatched up into his jaws. As Vlad and his cat companion tried to help, Mugwort soon joined Micka in the creature's stomach where, paralyzed, he slowly dissolved next to the druid. Torm was eventually able to recover from his nausea, but not before Vlad's cat had been killed by the creature as well. Torm sent in two earth elementals to battle the plant and although they did some damaged, they too were quickly killed by the enraged creature. Torm took this as a sign and chose to tactically withdraw from the fight at a high rate of speed.
Vlad; on the other hand, was determined to avenge his fallen comrades and chose to slowly move back as he continued to fire arrows into the creature. This drew the creature out of the mud bowl as it charged toward Vlad. However, it first encountered Vlad's long time mount and companion and the horse was snatched into the creature's jaws and soon swallowed as well. Vlad grabbed a new mount and started to back away while firing more arrows at the creature, but the plant did not seem interested in following him out of its territory. Although Vlad continued to hit the creature with arrows it soon became apparent to him that the arrows were being counteracted by the plant's natural regenerative properties and that they essentially had no effect on it. With this realization in hand, Vlad cursed under his breath and vowed to be back to avenge his friends, but begrudgingly turned and joined Torm as they regrouped and headed back to Raven's Bluff.