The party reunited at the town of Blessings Be with the conspicuous absence of a certain bard. Fischer stayed behind in Hadler’s Gap to work on a project with the town blacksmith to help him compensate for his recently acquired handicap. After sharing the tale of what had occurred at the sanctuary with Reliff and Natyet, the group decided to hit the road towards Garland’s Fork in search of the dragon cultists.
The group wisely sent Natyet ahead in animal form to scout out the road. Not far outside of Garland’s Fork, the halfling turned cat detected a patch of road that appeared to be concealing some sort of pit trap. Natyet alerted the rest of his allies and they were able to thwart a cultist ambush. Several cultists were killed, with one of the leaders nearly escaping. It appeared that he had been trying to reach a large hill nearby, so the party headed in that direction to investigate.
Upon getting closer to the hill, it was apparent that some sort of camp had been established there at the base of a massive tree stump. The camp guards did not detect the group as they approached and they were quickly cut down when the party sprung an ambush of their own. The camp seemed to be equipped for about 20 people. There was a larger tent constructed up against the base of the stump. Inside was a chest full of valuables and a large empty shipping crate. The packing material inside the crate appeared to have recently held a large heavy spherical object of unknown origin.
Not wanting to go down into the earth unprepared, the party opted to make camp and proceed once they were well rested. After a good night’s sleep they made their way down into the cavern below the stump. They found it to be filled with a dull purple glow originating from chunks of purple stone embedded in the ceiling. Within the cavern they found various plateaus where strange and wonderful plant life grew. They kept their distance from both of it and eventually discovered a garden shed.
Within the shed, they found a variety of garden tools. In a small locked area they freed several prisoners who identified themselves as soldiers of the nearby kingdom of Thire. They had been in the area recruiting scouts and woodsman to help fight the dragon cult when they were captured. The soldiers provided some information including the fact that the cultists were only visitors to this site and that the leader here was a corrupted treant by the name of Nockmort. They also warned the characters that there was a large contingent of hobgoblins that were subservient to Nockmort. Despite their weakened condition, the soldiers had no desire to remain underground any longer and insisted on departing immediately to rejoin their unit.
Further down the cavern, the party found a well constructed locked door. They played a clever ruse and managed to trick the hobgoblin guards on the other side into opening the door and allowing them to storm what they found to be a small prison complex. Further into the prison they fought and defeated an ettin guard.
Within the jail cells they found one nervous looking hobgoblin and a small treant who had been tortured cruelly with metal spikes. The treant informed the party that Nockmort was using the power of the purple stones to create new and sinister forms of plant life and that he intended to corrupt more treants.The party eventually negotiated with the hobgoblin for his release. In exchange for his life, he told them that the cultists had gone through the chapel and down below. He made a hasty departure as soon as he was able.
Further exploration revealed a wooden crate from which a dryad was released. The heroes escorted her back to her tree which had been transplanted into the center of the underground garden.