Lhye returns to the ground and the group has to come to a decision as to what to do. Lhye is adamant they go forward and holds his own blood to ransom. How would they return without him anyway? Proteus is terrified by Ustalav and has never been so far from sea before and is desperate to return to Riddleport. Proteus is out-voted, however, and they begin by following the remnants of a cobblestone road that had been overgrown with plant life.
They have a few strange encounters.
They find a semi-submerged fishing boat half drawn up to shore that contains crates of clattering poisonous centipedes that they almost open but choose not to do so after a successful Listen and Knowledge Nature check. The crates are marked to go to a university in Absalom and are marked as having been from a Mwangi expedition. Something that could have rang a few bells for them but didn't.
They noticed a sign by the side of the road indicating that they should turn back because death awaits. Death being a giant skeleton apparently. Lhye assures everyone that such a thing would be impossible. How could such a thing lie in wait anyway? They'd hear it coming a mile away.
They notice they're being watched by a raven. Proteus finds the whole thing very disturbing and when Lhye uses Detect Magic on it and finds that it is, indeed, magical Proteus fires an arrow at it which seems to glance off it's feathers. They attack it a few more times but it remains alive as it flies away. Thundery clouds materialise in the sky above them, unfolding out of nothing, and the fog is parted by heavy rainfall. A lightning bolt strikes a toppled log before them, causing them to back away from those who had show at the raven. No one gets struck by a bolt so they continue.
They arrive at a small bridge about ten feet long that goes over a dry stream bed. Several skeletons are trapped beneath the bridge by iron bars, almost like portcullis. The group are cautious, suspecting a trap, but quickly find that there is no trap. The skeletons are simply there.
They cross through a tight hamlet of about ten hours lining the overgrown street, mostly boarded up, and are attacked by a number of zombies. They take out a couple and then leave but not before Lhye finds his mother's lavender scented shawl.
They find a large stone wall drawn up from the earth as if by magic that draws along either side. A giant set of wooden gates is sealed by a magical stone plaque that the group promptly destroys. Now unsealed, the gates creak open to reveal a large grass-covered landing overlooking a chasm that separates this side from the other (a raised half-drawbridge stands on both sides with a mechanism for lowering it on either side). As they approach, a giant skeleton pulls itself up from the chasm, wielding a massive club.
The group suspect their days are numbered and that now they will die but soon find that skeletons of that size may be more dangerous than their smaller ilk but not by as much as they thought. They destroy it and it crumples into bones, falling back into the chasm, mostly due to a fire elemental summoned within its rib cage.
Proteus uses the end of his trident as the winch and they lower the drawbridge so that now, finally, they could get to the other side to approach the castle that looms in the middle distance. Feeling more confident, they stride forward.
The howling of wolves rattles their confidence a bit, however.