The heroes accepted their charge to investigate the silence of Fort Rannick. They traveled by riverboat up the Yondabakari River deep into the Varisian lowlands. After seven days, they entered Claybottom Lake and reached the fishing town Turtleback Ferry.
They met the town mayor, Parson Sheed, a cleric of a Erastil. A broad-shouldered man with a thick black beard streaked with gray and salt-and-pepper hair, Sheed seemed cautious at first. Once he learned the party was there to investigate the happenings of the fort he became quite helpful. Sheed explained that the Black Arrows rangers of Fort Rannick keep the lowlands safe from ogres and other giant kin. The townsfolk were rightfully worried.
Once the party retired to the town’s only inn, the Turtle’s Palour, Kaleb learned that a local posse headed up to the fort a few days ago but had not returned. He also heard lamenting of a floating gambling den known as the Paradise that sank into the deep waters of Claybottom Lake due to an onboard fire a few weeks ago. The owner, Lady Lucrecia, and a number of patrons were killed.
Albi, always on the lookout for ancient knowledge, learned about Skull Crossing, a functioning Thassilonian dam that holds back the waters of Storval Deep north of Turtleback Ferry.
The next morning the heroes set out for Fort Rannick. Just a few hours north of town they heard the pained cry of an animal just off of the narrow road. Mal investigated and found a small black bear with its two feat locked in a cruel rack-like trap. The bear seemed to welcome the ranger’s approach and Mal urged Maggie forward to release the trap.
Meanwhile a rumbling tune and trampling crash announced the arrival of a huge new threat. A cyclops plowed into the clearing and yelled,”My bear! You no eat my bear!” Albi and Mal unleashed attacks before a clutch of dog-sized spiders joined the melee. Once the cyclops and spiders were defeated, the wounded bear led the party deeper into the forest.
Down a twisting wagontrail the heroes found a small farmyard with a dwelling and a barn. Although the corn should have been harvested weeks ago it still stood rotting. As Ito drug his small cart closer, the barn door flung open and three cyclopes charged forward screaming gigantish battle cries!