Heath the bandit and Chester the occultist rode the carriage up to Zellanta, joining Martin the leper, Vance the crusader, and Galatea the vestal (who arrived earlier.) They were sent out to a nearby lake, where forces of evil were raising horrible shrines to thicken the Encroachment and twist the area with horrible energies of the World Below. Three shrines had to be found and destroyed.
They followed the road the next morning after a service where Vance armored their minds against the coming stress. Passing the old wrecked coach road’s markers, they entered the Encroachment. They managed to get the drop on an encampment of mutated bandits, wiping out about a dozen shooters and blade wielders, and facing off with a huge hulk with a whip scourge.
The occultist swarmed the fight with massive tentacles from the Void, crushing and flinging the bodies of their foes, and keeping the big bandit distracted with tentacles long enough for Martin and Vance to wipe out his defenders and kill him. Chester was shot in the chest, almost lethally; Galatea healed him enough to stave off death, and he returned to whipping bandits with tentacles.
After the fight, Heath sifted the site for the most portable and valuable goods. Chester summoned alien flesh and grafted it to his chest, replacing his damaged organs. Vance and Martin gleefully hacked the shrine to pieces, wrecking it.
From the shore of the lake by the first shrine, they saw the other two. As they followed the track through the woods to close in on the second, they saw and heard massive foul bubbles released from the lake, closing in on the second shrine site.
They reached the second shrine to see a line of priestesses channeling Encroachment energy from the shrine out lakeward, and a head the size of a refrigerator was emerging, along with shoulders draped with kelp. The priestesses were protected by a mass of cultist brawlers, like the one they killed in the last expedition. Battle was joined.
Martin went for the direct chopping maneuvers, while Vance also chanted battle litanies that seared the cultists crowding around him. The rest attacked from a distance, again swarming the battleground with otherworldly tentacles.
The priestesses fought back with mind-wrenching stress and conjured tentacles trying to push attackers away, but they were quickly mowed down by tentacles and gunfire and lightning. As the last of the cultists fell, the 40 foot tall giant emerged from the lake, snapping off a tree to use as a club.
The tentacles wrestled with him, keeping him too busy to attack, and the whole party closed on him and delivered a righteous beatdown.
Resting and tending their wounds, they gathered valuables to the middle of the clearing and made sure the giant was dead. There was still one shrine left.
They followed the lake track around towards the third shrine. The Encroachment was thicker than they had ever experienced it. They were ambushed along the way by two fungal humanoid shapes that tore loose of trees where they had been glued, and four masses of fungal growth flanking the path.
A brief and fierce battle followed, with the intruders victorious. Chester was seeing visions of the tendrils he was supposed to control acting independently, coming for him, but he was mentally strong enough to separate hallucination from truth.
They got close enough to see the final shrine, surrounded by embedded fungal monsters. Heath stripped off his gear so he could carry the shrine, then he snuck in close, jumping out to grab the shrine and run before the fungus could react. He succeeded, and they managed to quickly batter the shrine to pieces then run for it before the forces of the Encroachment could close them in. Victory!
The caretaker bought all the gems and knick knacks, and also gave them 500 silver per shrine. The heroes let Heath keep all the expensive guns and ammo he had looted, as he expended plenty to help them out and would do so again. Brimming with silver and still alive, the heroes could rest and prepare for their next mission.