The caravan packed up and headed off on Kaellara’s planned course to the woods. On the way there, the caravan found overturned wagons and maimed bodies, with stinking piles lying nearby. Rehoofa shot an arrow into a pile, finding it to be a mound of troll feces. Ulf was worried about this; trolls were known to be in the Crown of the World, but not in this part of it, at least not at the beginning of winter.
Marcel had another nightmare days later, again feeling something chasing him, but not quite catching up. He kept his mouth shut, however. The caravan kept its collective eyes open, the party going out on a scouting mission when they saw a cloud on the trail indicating something was up ahead. They found a herd of wooly rhinoceroses ahead of them, in the path of the caravan. They considered waiting for the rhinos to simply pass by, but decided instead it would be better to resupply their food, and the party attacked the rhinos, driving them into a sudden stampede. Several bull rhinos broke away from the herd and charged the party, giving them a hard time for a few minutes before killing them. They stripped the rhinos for meat and took their prey back to the caravan.
The next day, Elsa found her druidic powers weakening, leaving her unable to refresh her spells. She realized perhaps she had taken things a little too far in attacking a herd of rhinos because it was in the way, and started thinking of ways to make amends. She confided in Marcel about her reduced powers, and Marcel reciprocated by admitting he thought the Nogitsune had moved into him. They talked for a while to figure out a course of action. Ultimately, they decided to go to Meckrin to see if his healing powers could help discreetly.
Marcel didn’t want to just announce he was possessed, for fear Suishen (and possibly others) would demand his beheading. So, Elsa and Marcel, both of whom could shape-shift due to their racial or druidic abilities, agreed to swap places. Then Elsa, disguised as Marcel, would say that “he” can’t cast spells because he’s a bad bard (explaining “Marcel” couldn’t cast spells). Then Marcel, diguised as Elsa, would claim to have a spirit possessing “her,” and ask if Meckrin could drive it out. That way, the Nogitsune could be driven out without agitating Suishen. Hopefully.
Meckrin was quite happy to help out Elsa, and put “her” through a demeaning and embarrassing ritual that involved her putting on a revealing garment that got soaked with oils, peeled off of her (to much hooting of the caravan drivers), and then burned.
Marcel hoped that perhaps following Meckrin’s magic, the possession had been driven out. He and Elsa agreed to keep it a secret as they moved on.
The caravan moved into the forest, and within days was attacked by a pack of ice trolls. The party fought them off, as did Maia, Arach, Kelda, and Kaellara. Meckrin hid under a wagon and waited for it to be over, so he was quite thankful of the party coming to his rescue.
The trolls had some treasure on them, bits of gold and jewelry likely taken from other raid targets. Also among the treasure was a human hand with the index and ring fingers bitten off, leaving a three-fingered hand that a troll had been carrying as some kind of totem.
The party found the totem and the trolls’ presence curious. Ulf thought that something was up north driving the trolls out somehow, forcing them to seek other prey. The party suspected oni involvement. Meanwhile, Arach wanted the caravan to limp along to the next city, so they could have a safe place to stop and fix the wagons from the troll attack.
That same night, Marcel was tormented by another dream. He woke up sweaty and with the taste of blood in his mouth. He was cleaning himself up when Kaellara appeared, giving him a curious look. Marcel said that he was dealing with something, and he would be all right. Kaellara gestured to indicate she would be watching him.
The caravan continued on, arriving at the small Erutaki village of Rimakak at the coast of a lake. They found the village deserted, except for a pair of snowcaster elves, Caladrel and Faunra, who approached the caravan to say that the village had been emptied out for some time, and they were there to investigate.