The heroes prepare the sled for their northern ride the following morning after taking shelter in the house of Avia. As Alarand works with the sled dogs, Cyprus communes with nature in order to better determine the source of the unnatural winters chill, determining that it must be coming from an artifact source located toward the north and east. Jin draws two tarot cards from his deck; an Inverted Death card, and the Headstone. As our heroes run across the frozen barrens, a shrouded man approaches from out of the drifting snow. After calling to the cloaked figure, the team reunites with a friendly face from their past. “Father Atticus!” they cry in unison, and after a quick embrace and a hurried discussion over Atticus’ mysterious disappearance and sudden return, the team fills him in on the missing details as it becomes quite apparent that Atticus is experiencing some sort of memory loss and confusion surrounding how he showed up in Ravensfjord. After a quick discussion regarding Avia and what direction to head in, our hardy adventurers head off in the direction that they feel is closest to north. As they traverse the snows, Alarand notices a patch of sky darkening in the north, and head for it as the only marker in a otherwise constantly shifting landscape. As the night sets in, the companions build a snow camp with a moon bridge roof, and Alarand continues to work with the dogs, teaching them how to attack in a coordinated fashion. As the heroes rest, low rumblings deep from under the earth’s surface rouse Cyprus and Alarand, and continued more severe rumblings awaken the rest of the team. Cyprus gives some Red Miners Cap herb to the sick dog suffering from the same black goop seen before in the villages, just as a massive black worm bursts from the ground throwing the party into the air. Rising several stories out of its hole, the monster appears engrossed in the same black growths seen on the villagers. Cyprus toughens his skin with bark and dives to save Avia from beneath the fallen moon bridge roof. Alarand looses two arrows into its thick hide, and manages to hold back the dogs from attacking. Jin uses coat of many stars and runs over to the bridge to release Cyprus by dispelling it. Father atticus runs forward to slash at the beast with his sword, only to lose it deep wthin the monstrosities thick hide. The worm whips its body to slam Jin, and Cyprus manages to sear a massive hole in the side of of the worm before it retreats back into the hole from which it emerged. Jin heals Avia, and manages to calm her a bit, and we continue to head in the direction of the distant object in the sky. The increasingly sick dog is mercifully put down by Alarand as the group continues to make its way north. As the night thickens, our heroes approach a lone cabin from a distance, and split into two groups. The priests approach the cabin, while Alarand and Cyprus move toward a nearby copse of trees. Cyprus communes with the trees, but only receives a repeating message of “the rot, the ROT!” Alarand notices a group of 4 riders to the north, and is able to see that they fly the banner of the League of Sorcery. Father Atticus and Jin try to speak with the praying figure within the cabin, but to no avail. They view the kneeling figure praying in front of a prone figure surrounded by candles, but are unable to draw his attention. Cyprus and Alarand are caught unaware by a group of men cloaked all in white after finding the dogs hit by darts. Upon turning around they confront the men holding Avia, who tell them that they will give her back in exchange for the cane (even though they too wear silver bands marking the order united ud Sid).
Atticus and Jin approached the hut to see if they could gain assistance to either where they were located, or shelter for the night. As Jin prepares for a surprise Atticus knocks twice on the door to gain entrance. No answer was returned. Atticus and Jin peer through the window and see a furnished kitchen and a man kneeling in the back of the cottage. Jin can make out the words or a prayer to Desna and so he takes the risk of entering the cottage through a window hoping to make friends with a fellow disciple of his goddess. As Jin approaches the entrance to the back room, he makes out jumbled phrases in the prayer and notices a pool of blood draining from a body that the man is praying over. As uneasiness overcomes Jin, and he begins to back away from the room, only to stumble over a kitchen table. The noise arouses the defiler of Desna. As he rises and turns to Jin his face is revealed showing a face of pure muscle devoid of skin. Hands shoot from the floor board and grab at Jin as he attempts to right himself from the floor. Atticus, who had remained at the door, bursts through the door at the sounds of Jin falling and the change in the defiler’s position. As Atticus runs to the altar room, he slips on the pooled blood and crashes to the floor. Before Jin is able to stand, the defiler opens his mouth revealing hundreds of midnight black butterflies that swarm him, but Jin is able to stand and charge through to smash though the torso of the disfigured man with a holy mace ending the retches life. Throughout the fight, Jin saw visions of the astral plane and Desna’s avatars being destroyed by dark figures, giant mutated flies, and other horrors. Jin began offering prayers and casting spells to surround himself in stars and butterflies to try to commune with Desn,a and only after giving up his ability to speak did Desna tell Jin that the astral plane has been lost and she requires a mortal form to live. She will remain tethered to Jin until she can find a pure form to control. Jin believes that Avia is the form that Desna must take. And so the plot thickens…..