Before they begin, Taka reveals his dream to the PC’s and also confesses to have followed them after the shipwreck.
During the meeting, the elders divulge the town’s greatest secret to them: A nature deity named Hamaterasu resides in Ren Jing forest and they believe that the tiger they ran into was one of its chosen. No one has ever seen the deity, but they all have felt its presence. Indeed, rumors of its existence have now circulated beyond the forest, beyond even Pyanping. Lord An Ping, the Ailing Lord as he is called, even has his own troops looking for this creature. And he is not the only one. Reports of the Shadow Rebellion having a stronghold in independent Pyanping are true, and some say that they hide in Ren Jing. Furthermore, other darker creatures from the Si Shi Jungle, the Yuan-Ti, have begun to invade the forest more so than in the past. The elders suspect something foul is afoot and nature’s delicate balance has been disturbed. Based on Taka’s dreams, the elders believe that the PC’s have been sent to them to protect the deity and to find out why the yuan-ti are suddenly more interested in invading the forest. They believe that they must find the great forest deity and where it is hiding, before anyone else gets to it.
The PC’s accept the elders’ plea for help and in turn Taka decides to join the PC’s on their journey. First they must speak to the hermit Yin Shi Shang who resides just outside of town and is the only living person to have ever encountered Hamaterasu.
That night, as most of them slept in their rooms in the Silver Monkey Tavern, Yuriko slept on a large branch in the gigantic tree. She discovers a gang of apes have infiltrated the tavern and were destroying things. Shortly after a battle ensues. During the fight, the PC’s find that the same darkness that had overcome the swan spirit Tian’e, also corrupted the ape spirits.
The old hermit Yin Shi Shang retells a story to the PC’s of his encounter with the great forest deity after he stumbles upon a peculiar rock formation. He believes the stone circle is approximately 20 miles SW of Senxia Gu. After the helpful information, the PC’s eaves drop on a conversation the hermit has with Taka. He tells Taka that his mother, Yue, stopped by his abode two years ago before she departed and disappeared. She claimed she was heading south to investigate a growing danger.
Upon returning to Senxia Gu, the PC’s come upon a crowd gathered around the body of none other than Lo, the Shadow Rebellion bandit who had escaped. They take Lo to the healer’s hut where they learn that the Shadow Rebellion hideout was ambushed by the yuan-ti and their minions. The PC’s decide to head to the hideout, but first they endeavor to get some help from the two mercenaries they met earlier -
Back at the tavern, they find out that the mercenaries have left, heading first to the burial mounds before leaving north. At the burial mounds, the PC’s find that one of the mounds has been disturbed, possibly by the mercenaries. The party then exits the village via the postern gate, heading north to follow the mercenaries and towards the hideout.
On the path to the hideout the PC’s spot a ghostwood tree where they find an empty altar set within a part of the tree. A dryad appears and explains that there was once a totem in the tree, but people came by and stole the totem. Then, the dryad disappears when she hears the oncoming noise of approaching horses.