Baron Black and his Treasurer Torm limped back to the capitol where they rejoined Joseph and Cice Tappo. Saddened by the death of their comrades, the group also received a letter from Hannis Drelev detailing his displeasure with their recent efforts at spying on his newfound kingdom. Although the matter of the letter was important, Baron Black decided that a more pressing matter was seeking revenge on the tendriculous that had killed General Mugwort and Warden Micka.
Baron Black began by asking Cice if she knew anything about tendriculouses, and was pleased when she was able to tell him of their primary weaknesses. With that information in hand, the party set out to find some new equipment to deal with the plant and to also find some adventurers who would be willing to travel with them. Torm was able to find one such adventurer when he stopped by the barracks and found a squatter named Aven who was willing to accept the mission. While Aven's appearance often causes him to be confused for a devil or demon, Torm was not concerned. The party also recruited another squatter, Kanon Phodder, as he was exiting a local tavern. Kanon appeared particularly interested in traveling south.
With new friends in hand, the party returned to the mud bowl where the tendriculous had ambushed the smaller group just a few days before. Torm summoned an air elemental to scout the area in an effort to look for the creature and was at least somewhat successful as the elemental located the tendriculous and was promptly killed by it. With the creature revealed though the party attacked, unleashing an array of ranged attacks. The plant did rush out toward the party in an effort to close the gap but was soon penned in by Fire Elementals and Vlad's wolf animal companion. Unfortunately for Vlad, the plant managed to consume the wolf, but the rest of the party escaped relatively unharmed and vengeance was theirs as the creature was slain and at least some of the belongings of their comrades were able to be recovered.
After celebrating their revenge, the party continued to explore the area around the mud bowl. While camping a short distance from the bowl, the party's rest was interrupted when Aven heard some commotion coming their way. As the party was roused Vlad was able to make out four creatures while Cice was able to discern they were speaking giant, and were likely trolls. In short order the four trolls revealed themselves and charged into combat. One had a large great axe while a second was armed with several spears, some of which he threw at Aven. The other two trolls were unarmed but charged directly at Joseph who was soon rendered unconscious.
The fight was looking bad for the party until Cice started to tell jokes in giant. The first one merely seemed to anger the troll with the great axe and it responded by slamming the axe down on her shoulder. Her second attempt at joke telling; however, proved much more successful and the axe bearing troll collapsed in a fit of laughter. The party then focused their attention on one troll at a time and started to gain the upper hand. Finally the fight truly turned in their favor when Torm smashed the elemental gem he had recovered from the giant turtle a few days earlier and a large water elemental was summoned. Although the trolls were powerful, they were no match for the combined efforts of the party and the large elemental and the trolls were soon all killed.
As the party sifted through the trolls' belongings they discovered something peculiar. The trolls not only had a sizeable amount of gold on them, but all of the coins had the letters "HMK" crudely scratched onto them. The group sorted through their own memories and could not make heads or tails of the letters for they could not recall anyone possessing those initials nor any group that had the same. They did recognize though that something was likely amiss and made it a point to seek out more information about "HMK".
The party then made their way south along the edge of the Tuskwater Lake until they could find its southern edge. There they noticed that there was a short waterway that connected the Tuskwater to Candlemere, a lake that has grown infamous amongst the local fishermen for the eerie tales of dancing lights on its shores and over its waters and the blood curdling screams that some fishermen claim to be able to hear coming from the island in its center. Kanon would not be scared off though and proclaimed that he was crossing the frozen waters of the lake to the island. As the rest of the party agreed, against the advice of Vlad, the baron sent out his eagle to scout out the island. The eagle was unable to locate any creatures on the island but was able to see a ruined tower in the center of the island, that appeared to have been there for a very long time. With that information in hand, the party set out across the frozen water, arriving at the bramble covered shores.