The party commences a search of the lily-pond room- toppled shelves which held jars of unknown liquid substances have spilt their contents into a mixed puddle on the ground. Richard climbs into the pond to drag the cadaver closer to the edge, using his stick- they determine that this stranger, wearing the robes of a gardener with the emblem of a green hand on them, was stabbed or otherwise killed by punctures in his chest. Richard drops the body back into the water. Marten finds an old, knobby walking staff leaning against the one wall, and takes it with them.
Aelita, avoiding the sight of the corpse, goes to investigate the opposing door. She can hear rustling movement beyond it, but a great weight seems to be holding the doors shut. Richard eventually joins her, and proceeds to smash out the pane of glass directly beside the door. They wait, as the rustling grows closer, then, a skeletal face appears from the overgrown plants within! It is followed by the rest of its body, humanoid, but seemingly scrunched in on itself, its bones covered with a patchy green mold-like substance which partially obscures its armour and emblem- like the soldier outside, a blank coat of arms crossed over with a red “X”. It goves off a strangely visible cloud of foulness, which they realise upon its approach are some kind of spores. Richard, Sasha and Marten are driven into coughing fits as it comes nearer. Sasha swings the hammer-poll of her axe at the creature’s torso, but instead of shattering, the bone spongily caves in, and springs back outward.
They change tactics, slashing at the bones, and the skeletal horror soon falls, unmoving, into a heap- the spores, however, are still visible. The party smashes out the other window-side, hearing more sounds of movement from within that side of the greenhouse. When no hostile force comes through, they enter, taking the fight to the mold-monsters, of which they encounter two more among the overgrown plant stalks within. They find that the doors had been blocked by a series of heavy shelves, which, again, had been toppled, spilling their contents. At the opposite end of this room lie another set of double doors. Richard grows more visibly agitated as the minutes continue and the fog outside doesn’t seem to abate. He paces nervously, sweating and panting, feeling trapped. Marten and Aelita pass through the doors to find a large workroom, clearly set up as a functioning alchemical laboratory, or something very like one. Aelita leaves Marten to make a search of it, whilst she returns to the heavily overgrown plant room, Richard returns to the main section, and Sasha goes upstairs and outside to see if she can detect any change in the fog.
Quite suddenly, Richard sees that there is someone- or something- standing outside the front door, in the fog. One arm raised, it seems very close, but unmoving. He shouts for Aelita, who, searching along a workbench in the next room, looks up- only to see the silhouette of a figure outside her window. She dashes back to the main, leaping into the arms of an astonished Marten, who had just gotten back himself. They cautiously approach the front door, but when the figure is unmoving still, they decide to smash out a pane. Richard has gone stiff with fear. Looking through their broken hole, they see that the figure is a statue, looking as if it has been cobbled together from bits of other statuary- much like the large one outside, which they toppled.
Richard is now in a state of flull blown panic- the statues are alive, JUST LIKE IN THAT BOOK! He grabs the party memebrs and flees through the workshop. Before opening the doors to check for fog, he does a head count- Sasha, still up on the roof, is missing. He flies back into the greenhouse, followed by the party, to witness her magnificent entrance, half jump and half fall, through the ceiling- Fable kicks himself for having not thought of that first. They fling open the workshop doors to find the bank of fog, steadily creeping across that field of vision, and Richard backs right up into the greenhouse, stiff as a board. They’re trapped for sure now. No way out, no escape. The party, meaning Sasha, has to carry him away from the door, as his legs seem to have stopped working.
After some brief debate, Sasha smashes out the back wall of the greenhouse- two or three panes, enough to walk through. They find themselves faced with perhaps thirty feet of open grass and shrubbery to a steep cliffside, which the greenhouse is built against. The slope is perhaps seventy degrees of rock, broken only by the occasional hardy tree or shrub. Sasha and Aelita pool their rope, and decide they have enough to try and scale the cliff, if only Sasha can get up it to secure the line. She makes it thirty feet up and secures the first rope, before losing her footing and falling. At this point, Richard loses complete control, and begins to shift. The party witnesses in horror as his form twists and melts, reshaping into the general form of some wolflike beast of bark and earth and twisted iron, with shards of glass and plant stalks protruding shaggily from its back. He then bounds off into the trees, quickly disappearing from sight. Sasha’s falling injuries, her second bunch of the day, use up most of the rest of Aelita’s magic, and the group tries to follow Richard, to no avail. They shelter briefly in a Gazebo in the courtyard, before dashing back off and up the road, hoisting Caery up bodily so that she can keep up.
After an good hour’s run, the party slows their pace, satisfied that they are far enough from the danger. Unsure where Richard has gone off to, they begin the journey back home, but dark soon forces them to make camp. Sasha designates the lions’ share of the work, being one of the only members capable of getting along in the wild, and she is able to forage enough from the surrounding forest to make a proper meal of their cobbled rations. They all catch a bit of sleep, too tired to set watches and stay awake. Marten ends up watching camp for most of the night, before dozing off before dawn. Caery is the first up, and the only one conscious when a rather large bear walks through camp, investigating the food-smell they have left behind. It doesn’t harrass or wake anyone, and she spends a few minutes whispering quietly at the bear while it decides she isn’t much of a meal. About two hours after the bear leaves, Aelita wakes, followed by the rest of the party. They pack up and head on down the road, initially forgetting to wake Marten, who is still asleep in his patch of grass. Along the road, Richard, who has trailed them through the night, catches them up and slips back into line without a word.
They spend the rest of the day hiking home without incident, without a stop for lunch, since, surprise, half the party didn’t bring anything for rations. What food they had was split between them for dinner. Sasha, Marten and Aelita scavenge berries for the group along the trail as they walk, and prevent Fable from poisoning himself trying to do likewise. Finally, close again to Sasha’a home as late afternoon draws near, they hear the familiar shout of Darryl’s “Come on them, big fella!” coupled by the roar of what is more than likely a bear. They choose not to try and intercept him, and head home to their individual families whilst Sasha rushes to check all the snares before Darryl checks for her. With varying degrees of success, they slip in their respective back-doors and head to bed.