“By branch and bow and the first turning leaf,
I, Shallesta, of the Lurking Depths, swear to relinquish my claim on this Princeling’s soul
should this foul corruption be removed from the Wood.”
After a week of gruelling military service, Ronan and Milo have the strange new concept of a couple days off. With Falel left to the northern pass to search for the now missing dwarven caravan, the young nobles convince Baelas to take them on a wilderness expedition to the Will-O-Wisp Inn to the south.
During their stay at the Inn, they hear rumours of banshees at the old Dairn Cemetery, and while investigating the next morning they encounter a mad, corrupted ogre whose very presence has disturbed the spirits of the dead. Following the creature’s tracks into the dangerous Cassell Nadath, they are assaulted by a water kelpie (Shallesta) and an invisible pixie (Merryweather). The group discovers that another team of goblinoids entered Cassell Nadath, but were protected from its denizens by foul magics. Milo makes a pact to remove this taint from the wood. In exchange, Shallesta will give up her claim to the soul of the Prince.
Merryweather leads them to the goblinoid camp, where they are shocked to find a corruption that removes their very connection to the Fae essence of the Realm. Fighting off the infected vegetation and the undead skeletons of the goblinoids, they retrieve a dark vial that is the source of this evil. While leaving the wood, Ronan feels an ethereal presence – a personification of the music he hears in the winds of the Cassell Nadath.
Returning to the castle, Milo determines that the vial contains the blood of some unspeakably evil and powerful creature, before it actually animates and tries to kill him. Milo destroys the remains, but is left with a scar across his cheek.
The Duke and his advisors are planning on how to proceed, and decide it would be best if Ronan and his companions spend some time away from Brinnigarr at the northern outpost of Gorra.