After clearing the Giant ruins of the roaches, they return to Base Camp to convince Grundark to move to the more secure location. Despite Two-Ton and Kormar’s best efforts, Smilla succeeds in convincing Grundark to at least inspect the site. To save time, the group makes a daring night-time journey back to the ancient inn. A cursory inspection is all it takes to change Grundark’s mind.
The next morning, the party conjures up several Tenser’s Floating Discs and they move base camp in a long, slow-moving train of men and pack animals. Panthers stalk the group the whole way, but refrain from attacking it. Kormar detects some Bullywugs attempting to set an ambush at the Giant bridge, but the Field Team is able to easily foil it. The entire expedition arrives safely at their new home without further incident.
The expedition spends the next couple of days fortifying the ruins against possible attack. Monsoon season begins, greatly reducing visibility, but after clearing the overgrowth within the main structure, the team now has a relatively cozy, easily defensible fortress in the jungles of Xen’drik.
After securing their base camp, the party debate whether to make contact with the lizardfolk or the Kenku, or hunt more Bullywugs. They agree the safest path is to take up Ssaross’s offer to introduce them to the lizardfolk leadership. On the way out of the camp, Kormar finds signs of Bullywug scouts, which he informs Grundark of.
As the party approaches home of the Emerald Scales tribe, they see a green dragon in flight overhead; it makes a lazy loop overhead and lands within a large, rocky tor. The lizardfolk live in a small, fortified village at the base of the tor. A high wooden palisade protects the village and all the structures are on stilts to keep them dry. The guards welcome Ssaross and the rest of the group, and the head shaman of the tribe agrees to an audience with the group.
Our heroes learn more about the ruins; they are on a dual manifest zone to Thelanis (otherwise known as the Feywild) and Lammania (the Twilight Forest). Entering into the ruins themselves is taboo, and requires a Purification Ritual. No lizardfolk has performed the ritual and entered the inner sanctum of the ruins in generations. The lizardfolk consider the ruins to be holy land, and draw their power from the primal energy from the planes without having to enter the ruins proper.
The party asks about the green dragon, and are told that the dragon is the “warlord” of the tribe. It, too, seeks something within the ruins, but is wary of committing the entire lizardfolk tribe to retaking it, especially with the Bullywug threat. The head shaman requests the assistance of the party to retake the ruins from the Kenku, and direct them to the Emerald Sage, a greatly respected oracle of the tribe that lives in Bullywug territory and refuses to relocate to the safety of the village. If the party can pass the Sage’s test, they may be able to earn an audience with the dragon.
After availing themselves of the lizardfolk hospitality, the Field Team returns to Base Camp, where they update Alvyn Wrenchwright. For his part, Alvyn has translated more of the documents, and confirms that the ruins are a dual manifest zone to Thelanis and Lammania. The ancient artifact within is called “The Heart of Life”, although he has not been able to determine its powers or history, yet.
Our heroes decide the next best course of action is to consult with the Emerald Sage, since attacking the Bullywugs will improve their standing with both the Kenku and the lizardfolk without the risk of alienating either group. While Grundark and Jordell train the rest of the expedition staff in basic crossbow marksmanship, Ssaross leads the party into Bullywug territory to the home of the Emerald Sage. The swamps are dangerous, even without the Bullywug threat, and a pair of Otyughs ambush the group, inflicting filth fever on all of them, except Quinn. Two-Ton and Kormar recover quickly, but the disease lingers on Smilla and Ssaross.
The Emerald Sage is an ancient lizardwoman mystic, who greets the party as if she was already expecting them. She tells them that she knows the location of the Bullywug demon leader, but she does not think the group is strong enough to defeat it yet. She presents them with a challenge: defeat a plant demon the Bullywugs are attempting to raise, and she will give them the location of the Bullywug headquarters.
Recognizing a quest when they see one, the party readily accepts. Ssaross stays behind, as this is a test for the foreigners, but Kormar is able to safely guide the group to the standing stones in the swamp described the Sage. Weather favors the party with good visibility, and they strike hard. A pair of Bullywug Mud Lords rain fire and lightning upon the party, while the plant demon engages in a duel-to-the-death with Two-Ton. Quinn pins the demon to the ground with his fiendish Tyranny of Flame, and the party makes short work of the bloodthorn vines and Bullywugs. The plant demon, however, is quite resilient and constantly regrows. It struggles valiantly to absorb the warforged, and finally succeeds, leeching the fighter’s lifeforce to replenish its own. The situation looks dire as our heroes pour firepower onto the demon, but are unable to bring it down. At the last possible moment, Two-Ton forces his way out of the beast’s maw, and concentrated fire finally reduces the abyssal creature to mulch.