After gathering nearly all the provisions needed for the winter, the castaways visit the gnomes to see them off to their winter home. The gnome chief bestows gifts upon the party, and wishes them all the best. Though winter in the North will be harsh, the gnome warns the party not to travel too far or trespass on the elven lands to the South as they are fiercely guarded.
Despite the chief’s warning, the party decides to head south and extend a hand to the elves. On their way, they are distracted by a golden fox which leads them to a mysterious door in the woods. On the other side, they battle a mad naturalist but fail to steal any jewels from his insectivorous carbuncles. They do manage to capture the fox and continue on their way.
Their attempts at diplomacy are rebuffed by guards at the border of the elven forests. Refusing to permit the group to travel any further south, the elves demand that the humans return to their encampment in the north and leave as soon as their ship returns in the spring. They forbid the humans to build a permanent settlement and threaten hostilities if they do. Hragnar tries to to reason that given the coming flood of settlers, diplomacy is essential. The Elven guards are unmoved.
Our adventurers return to their stronghold in the north and that night the first heavy snow of the season falls.