Dhohar stopped a reasonable distance from the the other travelers, his spear held loosely and his posture clearly non-threatening. None had over reacted nor become threatening as he approached but he did note the lips moving as they quietly conferred about what to do (at least, that’s what he supposed they were doing). He greeted them in his clear voice, “Hello travelers, my name is Dhohar Ker’ki’hel. I found myself in this glade as part of a quest to aid nearby Falcon’s Rest. How are you this fine day?” With that greeting and ice-breaker he proceeded to chat for several minutes with the others. The woman was Kieyanna, the men Zandu and Milon. At a closer distance they seemed to be well prepared and he recognized Milon’s name from overheard comments in Falcon’s Rest, as well as the recommendations from Laurel for a guide.
The others were on the same quest to help Falcon’s Rest as he was and it appeared to have also procured the necessary mushrooms. They too, now sought the needed rat’s tail. He confessed to having searched the woods for some days in looking for the plant that was used to make the pickled substance but to no avail. They exchanged a few pleasantries regarding their respective animal friends; Dhohar introducing Mischief and Rumble and Kieyanna introducing her fire cat. After a few more pleasantries, Dhohar asked if he might aid them in completing the quest and they agreed. As a new group they began to move towards the hut at the center of the clearing.
As they walked closer to the middle, Dhohar motioned for Rumble to come. The bear promptly climbed to all fours and began his rolling amble towards the druid. Each step closer to the hut increased Dhohar’s sense of unease. Whatever this witch did she wasn’t a valid part of nature, that much was clear. Even the forest here seemed to be trying to flee from her presence. At the hut they noticed the wooden door was swollen shut into the mud frame and that the thatch seemed to be rotted and in poor repair. The group chatted about these circumstances and Dhohar motioned Rumble to stay.
With almost no to-do Kieyanna lowered a shoulder and charged into the hut, smashing through the door. It startled Dhohar who promptly lowered his spear. Nothing out of the ordinary happened next and his racing heart calmed as they saw no living persons in the hut. A large cauldron stood in the center with various figures dancing to flames around it’s rim. It seemed a not-good artifact if there ever was one. On the farside of the hut was a figure that seemed desiccated and gone in a chair, along with a nearly overwhelming amount of junk, much of it rotting or discolored. Finding the rat’s tail was going to be no easy task.
Milon agreed to wait outside and watch in case it was a trap. Dhohar followed Zandu into the hut and asked if it would bother his new companions if he attempted to determine if the thing in the chair was alive or not and searched for magic. He was loathe to reveal his magical ability, but he felt it necessary to determine if anything was booby trapped, and he was concerned they might get twitchy if he just started casting a spell. He determined the “body” in the chair was not living and never had been. It seemed to be a clear decoy of some sort and Dhohar asked his companions not to touch anything in the cabin for fear of traps. Next his spell to detect magic was cast and they determined a skull and the cauldron had latent magical energies. His sense of unease about the place was continuing to mount. With no other course, they began milling about the hut looking for the jar of rat’s tail they needed. Careful to avoid touching anything they eventually settled on a jar found by Zandu as the likely ingredient they needed. After a short pause, Zandu pulled it from the shelf and the cauldron promptly sprung to life.
Faced with few options but to help put down this manic inanimate object, which was attempting to swallow Kieyanna whole, he cast another spell to enhance the might of his ordinary club, turning into a powerful item that delivered hammering blows to any foe. After a tense half minute battle, with much gong-like ringing as they struck blow after blow on the cauldron, it fell silent. Large chips and scratches covered it’s surface, along with several deep dents into it’s sides and in one spot, hammering low of the lip. Dhohar noted Zandu fought with an unusual shaped sword, the likes of which he’d not seen before and that Kieyanna seemed quite handy with her own blade. Zandu was able to preserve the jar throughout the fight and he presented it at the end. It was a welcome relief to the last few minutes.
Leaving the hut the group decided to head to the Elder Tree and determine if they could get their final ingredient.