Bloodied again by the anakore ambush and perhaps feeling they had bitten off more than a few merchants and caravan guards were really prepared to chew, the party nevertheless soldiers on in pursuit of the bandits holding Belana Wavir.
As they follow the now-days-old trail, they come across the bodies of five slain thri-kreen. Thuk’Cha appears taken aback. Stunned, if a kreen can be said to feel that emotion. These are the bodies of The Children, a secretive hive that even the general kreen population knows little about, and is totally hidden from any outsiders. It’s apparent these thri-kreen have been murdered by the raiders.
Soon after, the bandits’ lair emerges into view: a collection of huts, ramshackle buildings and tents sitting atop a 100-foot plateau that has a road winding around the outside. Even from a great distance, Hiccup is able to spot a woman who looks like she might be Belana Wavir inside one of the buildings.
Deciding that a frontal assault is not wise, the party decides to take Thuk’Cha’s advice and seek help from The Children, thinking the secretive hive may be ready to exact vengeance. Thuk’Cha however, has no more than a rough idea where to find The Children. He tells them that in order to locate them, he will have to retune the hiveseeker to guide them. That will require Binder’s Weed. And the nearest source of Binder’s Weed he knows is in a canyon frequented by a tembo.
The tembo is a terrifying creature, despised across Athas, and the party enters its lair with caution, only to find it empty, except for a few small kruthiks gnawing on the discarded flesh and bones of animals and humanoids previously consumed by the tembo. In the corner, growing next to a small pool of water formed by a steady drip down the cave wall, is the Binder’s Weed.
A few of the kruthiks die before the party decides to ignore them, gather up the Binder’s Weed and whatever else of value they can find, and get out. Before they can, though, the tembo shows up at the entrance to the cave.
“Ah,” it snarls in a hissing whisper. "The water … the smell of it fills your nose, does it not? Such an intoxicating smell. The smell of life. I hope you tasted it – it is quite sweet and delicious. But for you, it is the smell of death, for you have stumbled where you should not be.
“But I have recently eaten, and I cannot overfeed the kruthiks or they become insufferable. You, and you,” he says, pointing to Thuk’Cha and the dray, Toothless, “You may leave. Leave the softskins and go.”
Toothless begins to walk out, and the tembo lets her go. The rest of the party, knowing they must fight for their lives, attacks.
The tembo quickly realizes it has miscalculated by staying in the narrow cave entrance rather than bounding down in the main cave chamber, where it could have used its great maneuverability to deadly effect. The situation is made worse by the return of Toothless, who never intended to leave in the first place. Trapped, surrounded and blinded, the tembo falls, spitting in frustrated rage.