After a brief discussion, the party agreed to head out after Douven and return him to safety if he was still alive. On their way out of Fallcrest, a merchant approached them with an additional deal: a coven of witches was rumored to have taken up root in or near Winterhaven and the Lord of Fallcrest would like their heads. With their expectations of blood already high, another series of corpses did not deter the adventurers and they agreed to the terms for a small reward.
The otherwise uneventful trek between towns was interrupted only by a brief kobold ambush. The party spotted the lizardlings before they could lay any real traps and dispatched them in a matter of seconds.
Upon arrival in Winterhaven, the group headed directly to the tavern to gather as much information as they could. The town seemed blissfully unaware of any relevant malfeasance and only vaguely recognized the growing boldness of the kobold raiders. They did, however, bring up the additional problem of a goblin-infested keep just past town. While Rudra, Ill-Starred, and Eben played dice and nearly got kicked from the tavern, Vincent and LeMark arranged payment for efforts to clear the keep of its captors. In addition to a small gold reward, the former Shieldbreakers were promised ownership of the keep and its land as well. Eben more than all was newly-interested in this quest.
After whiling away the rest of the evening and sleeping in the tavern, the group set off first to investigate rumors of Douven’s last venture – an archaeology site a little over an hour outside Winterhaven. After carving their way through another kobold ambush, the group was surprised to find a gnome, several human laborers, and a pair of guard drakes excavating a site under the watch of a shadowy being. Both sides wasted a matter of seconds talking before the shadow ordered an attack.
The fight in the dig site went by the numbers with human rabble and drakes falling swiftly, followed by the gnome, and culminating in the shadow entity being smashed to tendrils against Eben’s shield. Douven was found tied and bound under blankets, but knew little about what he had gotten himself into.
Douven was brought back to town and the party attempted to gather more information based on the recent encounters. The town was of little more use, but there was a new Elven huntress who had taken up camp in the area and divulged more information; the witches were known to haunt a nearby waterfall. She declined the offer to accompany the adventurers, and they left the same day for more excitement.