I signed up with one of these newcomers named Buzzard or some such to go back to the Pike Forest. I showed up ready to stand in the line and be a good soldier, but as it turns out my leadership was needed. I decided to take the same route into the Forest, mainly to show the newcomers the lay of the land.
Interestingly the fountain we saw last time was gone. Clearly a powerful magic is at work. The alchemical workshop area was still deserted and a burned out shell. I did find a path along the irrigation canal. We decided to set up an ambush to catch whoever was using the path. It went off perfect to plan. We killed a patrol of soldiers and freed some slaves, only one of which agreed to come with us back to Blackmire.
Afterward we decided to leave by a land route through heavy woods to avoid pursuit. We stumbled upon a dwelling of the Panther men. We have promised not to reveal it’s location in the hopes of enlisting them in a fight against the Cultists. Isidren is negotiating with them as I write this…