Nora slowly opened her eyes, scanning the little grove. Erroix was sitting by the pond, in a pose similar to hers. Bodvar and Dah’Marra were both lying beneath the oak tree, resting in the cold grass. Deormund was standing ready at the edge of the grove, peering into the gloom under the trees. With the sun setting, the cold had grown harsher in the little clearing.
One of Dah’Marras ears twitched, and the ranger was up and on her feet in the blink of an eye. “What did Nora learn?”
“Some form of powerful guardian spirit called a ‘Totema’ went through the forest around the same time Volkmarr arrived in Luthadale,” Nora replied, removing the stopper from her waterskin, “Which I cannot believe is unrelated.”
Erroix stirred as well. “I have heard the name ‘Totema’ before, but only in stories. Incredibly powerful guardian spirits, outstripping even materialised elementals.”
“Why would guardian spirits help Volkmarr?” Dah’Marra asked while looking at Nora.
Nora stoppered the waterskin again. The water had been almost painfully cold. “Without more information, I cannot say for sure. He certainly is not something that spirits should be guarding.”
“It is possible the spirits know something we don’t.” Nora said.
Bodvar had gotten up from the grass as well. “They probably do, but we know that Volkmarr willingly devastated a city and led to hundreds of deaths. I can’t see what could dispell that fact.”
Something still seemed off-putting to Nora, but the cold quickly replaced her worries with more practical concerns.
“We should move. I don’t think we are properly prepared for a winter wind, and it’ll be warmer, or rather, less cold among the trees,” Deormund had picked up his pack but was still holding onto his spear, “Besides, I don’t care much for this part of the Zedlei. We shouldn’t stay long.”
Nora thanked the spirits of the grove again, and the party moved on, travelling further west into the shifting groves of spring and winter evening. The smells and sounds of the forest that they had experienced on their journey north from Morabella were curiously muted, as the imbalance in the forest made itself felt to its mortal denizens as well. They had seen almost no animals of any kind since entering. They were just passing another frost-covered grove when Erroix matched pace next to Nora, holding a light-spell on the tip of his staff. Night had fallen in the forest around them and the party had contracted somewhat. Even Dah’Marra was staying in sight through the brush.