The survivors began their first night outside. They assigned guard duties in which the first half of the night was taken care of by Dawkens and the other by Belenthidas. Theo was sleeping on his own, unaffected by the snow and his hunger satisfied by the rations he had filched. Destir had requested that he would be allowed to sleep a full night’s rest since he needed to recharge.
During Belenthidas’s turn, he spotted a great white wolf stalking the survivors at a distance. He noticed the unnaturalness of the wolf straight away, given away by the way it hovered using its burnt stumps. When he set himself against the wolf, there was a short moment spent circling and evaluating each other. However, the wendigo eventually began wind walking and charged straight past Belenthidas whose attack went right through it. There was panic at the camp and Belenthidas was unable to find the enemy in the middle of it. It turned out that it had bitten two people – on on the leg and another one near his shoulder. It had also dragged away one of the survivors.
Based on Belenthidas’s description, Theo and Destir identified the creature as a “vindigo” of Karrnathian folk lore. They realized that it was a spirit of cold and hunger. However, they did not remember its infectious bite. As such, the next night, Belenthidas and Theo were patrolling when Theo noticed that something was already crouched over someone inside the camp and munching on something. He alarmed Belenthidas to the presence and they charged it after it became apparent that it was someone munching on the entrails of another. Belenthidas woke up the camp and they managed to grapple the killer. It turned out that it was the man whose leg had been bitten. He claimed innocence, confused by the taste of blood in his mouth. He had no recollection of smashing the victim’s head with a rock and gutting him. Belenthidas made the judgment that clearly the bite had infected the man and he needed to be executed for the safety of the rest. The man was convinced that it was for the best and he accepted his fate as long as Belenthidas would bring his meager earnings to his wife in Vulyar. The other man claimed having no urges to eat human flesh and pointed out how the killer had admitted hearing things while he had not heard anything inside his head. However, he too was executed with a swing of the paladin’s sword.
Later, when the vindigo attacked during Destir and Dawkens’s guard duty, three more people were bitten. Two more were killed by it. Belenthidas executed the bitten woman, dwarf and traumatized man. The woman pleaded to be tied with rope made from her dress instead, especially since Destir had finally realized that it was a disease which could be cured. However, Belenthidas claimed that they did not have the resources to keep someone as dangerous as that as a burden and executed her. Since he had killed an innocent while it was unnecessary, he lost his paladin powers until atonement. The dwarf accepted his fate solemnly. The crazed man had completely lost his sense of reality and claimed everything being just a dream until the sword arched.
Many people left the group the following day, despising the brutality of Belenthidas’s judgment. They were also afraid of the cannibal spirit and thought that a smaller group would be safer. By now, there was no food and people had been receiving frostbites. There was enough lumber for one more night. It turned out for the better since there was no trace of the vindigo.
The next day the survivors stopped a bit earlier to hunt and cut firewood. They managed to build a bonfire that kept most of them warm – luckily enough since the night was especially cold. However, people did not have shifts around the fire and almost twenty of those too far from it died from the cold.
The tragedy heralded a change in luck for the survivors, though. First, they found an abandoned inn by the wayside. In there, there was a lot of decayed wood which could be burned. Also, there was one and a half barrels of dried beans which was more than most could have dreamed of. Second, they reached the village of Voldom by night. The villagers welcomed them and with the help of Chantalyn in the chapel, everyone was housed for the night. However, Theo had to promise her 10 volunteers for her experiments. He managed to convince 12. Belenthidas managed to remain ignorant of the truth about the village and slept soundly in the stables of the cultists.
Early te´he next day, Chantalyn began her experiments. She took one of the survivors and attempted to cruximigrate her. Destir observed as she was nailed on a log and held up. Originally she seemed willing but after her arms were nailed down, she started screaming and kept doing it for hours. However, Destir did not intervene. When Theo heard the screams coming from outside of town, he realized that he would have to distract Belenthidas or he would anger the villagers by attempting to smite them as heretics. As such, he changed shape to a dwarf and ran to Belenthidas, claiming that there had been a murder. He made a ruckus to conceal the distant screams and led the paladin in the opposite direction, out of the village. Once outside, he made several feints such as disappearing and turning into a bloody orc raider and turning into a damsel in distress, having been tackled by the orc. However, while he was helping the disguised Theo up, Belenthidas saw through his illusive clothing and tried to knock him down. There was a short scuffle during which Theo summoned his monstrous centipede and ended up changing to his “original” form that Belenthias knew. Suspicious but no longer outright hostile, Belenthidas questioned Theo who admitted to having lured him out of the village since if he were to be there, “innocent people would be killed”. After Belenthidas promised not to kill anyone, Theo told him that they were staying in a village dedicated to the service of the undead and how they had been asked for an offering of volunteers.
Meanwhile, Dawkens and Destir had mapped the situation with the remaining survivors. Almost one hundred wanted to stay in the village and wait for the patrol that had most definitely been dispatched from Vulyar. They also managed to negotiate about supplies with the villagers. They had had a good harvest this year and as such, they could actually provide a surprisingly large amount of food for a decent price. It would probably last for six days with the amount of survivors continuing their journey. However, all this took long enough that continuing the journey that day would not have been wise. As such, the party stayed another night in Voldom. Destir was once again woken up by religious rituals, this time the mourners for the survivor who had been unsuccessfully cruximigrated. Belenthidas covered his ears and focused on leaving.
After a few more days, this time of relatively comfortable travel, they were reached by the horse patrol sent from Vulyar. The horsemen ended up prioritizing those left behind, especially those still by the train. However, they left ten of them behind to protect the party and the survivors. The rest of the journey was a breeze compared to its start.