The Westraven Witch
The moment the first party member emerges from the hole leading from the Northeast Passage, combat begins.
Note: if the group is still engaged with the Centipede Swarm from the tunnel leading here, it will continue to engage them here. If, by using the beanstalk, they managed to avoid encountering the Centipede Swarm in the tunnel, it will emerge from the hole itself right after the first PC and engage.
As you exit the hole, you find yourself in a small enclosed glade beneath a starless black sky. A pale moon provides dim lighting, washing the surrounding trees and tall grasses in a dim gray. About fifty feet away, you notice a shadowy figure dart from behind a tree, longbow notched with an arrow. The moment it sees you, it lets fly!
The Medusan Protector will attempt to pepper the group with arrows from range, while taking cover behind The Black Tree. If the party takes cover such that she does not have a shot, she will ready an action for the first one that appears rather than close to engage. Her intention is to hide her true identity long enough to actually lure the party into charging close to The Black Tree so that it can lock them down for her gaze attacks. If the party attempts to snipe from range, she will use Soul Siphon on their best ranged striker in an attempt to dissuade them.
The Black Tree, being immobile, will have no choice but to hurl rocks until the group gets closer.
Neither The Black Tree nor The Medusan Protector will pursue the party from the area should they flee. The Centipede Swarm from The Northeast Passage still will, of course.
Features of the Area
The Glade: once the party has had a chance to emerge from the hole and survey the area:
The glade is surrounded on all sides by dense, impassable stands of trees. Here and there amidst the grasses are small patches of root vegetables, but they are scattered around, with no careful rows or any semblance of order.
The Medusan Protector: If at any time the Medusan Protector loses concealment and is seen in good lighting:
The spry creature with the bow is a hideous female with snakes for hair, one of the legendary medusa!
Perception Check (DC 25) while fighting, or examining the corpse if the Medusan Protector is defeated:
The staff of the bow the Medusa was using is peculiar: thicker and more rounded than you might expect for a bow-staff. Her quiver contains a number of standard arrows, but also three peculiar-looking ones that stand out: they have flights that look like gold leaf.
The Black Tree: Once any member of the group shines a bright light on The Black Tree:
You see a reflection of something metal, a plaque of some sort, attached to the large black animate tree.
Perception check (DC 20) within 5 squares of The Black Tree:
The “plaque” actually looks to be just the head of a spade, tacked to the tree trunk with a few nails.
The Plaque: the “plaque” is actually the head of a spade, and half of The Shovel, which should be placed with Norril when he is buried. Removing it from The Black Tree requires 3 successes (each a Standard Action) on either Athletics (DC 20) or Thievery (DC 20). Obviously, this is a lot easier when The Black Tree is dead. (Given a short rest, assume success.)
The Bow-Staff: the bow-staff of the Medusan Protector is actually the gnarled shaft of a spade, the other half of the shovel that should be placed with Norril when he is buried in The Crypt.
The Three Unusual Arrows: the Medusan Protector has three Lightning Arrows +2. She won’t use these in combat, unless it’s going swimmingly well for the PCs and you’d like to make it a little more difficult, in which case she’ll still have “three left” after she’s killed.
Vegetables: are mundane plants. They are edible.
Flowers: there are a few flowers scattered around the fields here and there. One would provide a suitable gift for Rose.
Eastern Path: This narrow path leads to The Hedge Maze.