After resting for the night in Alaric’s ransacked cottage, Alaric made a confession to the party as Martin treated his illness. According to his long-winded explanation, he used to be a torturer working for an elven noble in Ralinor. He had eventually realized that actions did not serve the good of the realm and led a coup against the noble, but was defeated. He fled and turned himself in to the elven Imperial Knights, who cursed and exiled him from elven lands. He had since been living as a hermit, until the panicking Leto came looking for aid. Alaric took the youth in and raised him until Leto left to discover who or what he was. Several weeks ago, a pair of enforcers for the Silfen family, whose daughter Leto had killed, came looking for him at Alaric’s cottage. Alaric lost his temper and killed the men with a Black Tentacles spell, before fleeing to Silverkeep to seek out Leto and warn him.
Martin was emphatically unhappy to hear about Alaric’s sordid past, refusing to help him find a way to lift the curse upon him, agreeing with Castiel that the curse was Alaric’s penance for his crimes. Hascya agreed to help Alaric find some way to revive Leto, and Alaric seemed to accept Martin’s non-refusal to revive Leto. Once again unsure of their standing with each other, the party set out on summoned mounts toward Silverkeep.
Around midday, the party encountered a column of soldiers marching toward Silverkeep. After some initial uncertainty regarding what they should do, the party recognized the soldiers’ livery as belonging to Lord Galliani, a high-ranking noble whose lands were loyal to Silverkeep. Riding up to the column, the party learned that the soldiers had been sent to reinforce Silverkeep’s battered guards in the wake of the wight outbreaks. The man leading them, Sir Ryland, was apparently Lord Galliani’s chief inquisitor. Martin then traded his old longsword for a longbow, a backpack, and some additional mundane gear. The party then bid the soldiers farewell and rode on ahead.
Later that afternoon, the party encountered a hole in the road. Corpses and parts of a smashed wagon littered the surrounding area. Martin dismounted to investigate the bodies. He learned that the corpses had been shredded by the mandibles of some great beast. At this point, the ground began to shake, and Martin ran back to his horse as a massive centipede emerged from the hole. Martin, mounted on his horse once more, charged the creature, inflicting a deep wound. Hascya attacked as well, with less success. Alaric summoned a wooly rhinoceros, which charged the centipede and inflicted heavy damage to the creature and exposing its vulnerable underside. The creature struck back, dealing massive damage to the rhino. Martin’s horse panicked, preventing him from pushing the attack, while Hascya leapt from his steed in an attempt to flank the creature. Seizing the opportunity, the centipede bit deep into Hascya’s side as the barbarian swung ineffectually. The rhinoceros struck the centipede once more before being dissipated as the centipede crushed it in its mandibles. Martin seized this opportunity to get underneath the centipede and strike its weaker underside with a flurry of blows that felled the mighty beast.
After mending some of his compatriots’ wounds, Alaric descended into the hole. The dirt tunnel soon led to a large subterranean chamber filled with thousands of minute centipedes and many eggs. Alaric attempted to destroy the vermin with his spells, but was quickly forced to retreat to the surface as the centipedes swarmed after him. Martin waded in with his shield and flaming sword, swatting centipedes left, right, and center, Alaric blasted the writing mass (and Martin) with flames, and Hascya… backed off and hung out on horseback, calling out encouragement. Eventually, Martin dispersed the swarms and was healed by Alaric, who was then sent back into the tunnel to look for valuable items and ensure that the nests were destroyed. Alaric smashed the remaining nests with his hammer, and noticed a massive mound of centipede excrement. Castiel refused Alaric’s order to start digging through the mound saying, ”No. This should be part of your penance.” Alaric started digging. He found a number of shattered glass shards, a pair of magic boots, and some gold coins in the pile. He failed to identify the effect on the boots, and returned with the haul to the surface.
The party, satisfied that the threat to travelers had been dealt with, set off once more towards Silverkeep, although Hascya and Martin insisted that the filth-covered Alaric ride some distance downwind of them. The party made camp by a stream, where Alaric bathed and Twohey arrived to meet Hascya. Hascya and Martin discussed recent events, and the party bedded down for the night. In the morning, with Martin’s assistance, Alaric finally shrugged off the filth fever he had contracted in the sewers, and the party made their way to Silverkeep.
On the road once more, the party spotted a pair of mounted drakes flying high above Silverkeep. While unable to get close enough to identify the drakes or their riders for certain, the party concluded that because Silverkeep had no history of using drakes as mounts, these were likely in the service of Carron. This conclusion was further supported by the presence of a large Carronite warship at anchor (but not docked) in Silverkeep’s harbor. A passing guard informed the party that the ship had arrived several days ago, and a diplomat had gone to the keep. Since then, the mood in Silverkeep had been very tense. Thanking the guardsman, the party traveled to the keep, where they were ushered into a meeting with the king and his councilors.
In the meeting were six people: King Heric, Princess Lynessa, Lord Galliani, Lord Hekkard, Master Vincenzo, and Commander Viviana. The party made their report, recounting their adventures in the tunnels beneath Silverkeep, in the planes of shadow and earth, and on the way back to Silverkeep. Once the party made their report, Master Vincenzo informed them that they had been gone for four days, that there had been no further outbreaks of wights, and that a Carronite diplomat had arrived to demand that the party be handed over to face justice for their crimes in Carron. The council was meeting now to debate the best course of action. Lord Galliani favored handing over the party to prevent a winter war against Carron, arguing that with Silverkeep's mines inaccessible, much of their workforce dad or missing, and the southern lands ravaged by the war against Goldcrest with winter soon upon the city, it would be better to hand over the guilty parties and avoid all-out conflict. The other councilors argued in favor of continuing to employ the party. The princess and Master Vincenzo favored sending the party abroad to convince other states to assist Silverkeep against Carron, with Lynessa favoring mending ties with Goldcrest and the elves, and Vincenzo arguing that the gulf states of Altin, Azmar, and Oakheart would be better seafaring allies. Lord Hekkard wanted to send the party directly at the fleet, in an attempt to break the blockade and regain the initiative. Finally, Viviana (the mithral guard commander) wanted to keep the party in Silverkeep to ensure the eradication of the undead threat.
The final consensus was that the party should go abroad and gather allies and resources to use against Carron. They were told to return by Springtime, and that they were to use their own judgment as to what alliances to form. The party pledged to send word under a pseudonym, either "Sparrow" or "Underground Sparrow" (preference as to which moniker to use varied between party members). The party then departed to shop and take care of business within the city. That evening, Commander Viviana and two mithral guards tracked down Martin and gave him a bag full of jewels (worth 45,000 gold) for the party's use in the pursuit of this task. She also provided several general letters, signed by the king, formally establishing Silverkeep's willingness to forge alliances against Carron. She wished Martin luck, and departed with her men.
As it stands, it appears that the current plan is to take the eagles west into the Dryadhearth forests and set them loose before continuing to the elven lands, which are to the north and west of Silverkeep.
SLIGHTLY TARDY RECAP!
The party stocked up on supplies, planning their trip northwest into elven lands. They prepared their disguises and came up with aliases for themselves. After careful consideration they decided not to fly and hike there, but rather to use a scroll of teleport after Alaric informed them that he should be able to cast it. In a flash of inspiration, the witch realized that he could actually teach the spell to Castiel and prepare to cast it on his own power the next morning. Realizing that this plan would permit easier long-term travel, the party decided that this was the best approach. The following morning, they teleported into elven lands.
The party arrived in the town square of Alaric's home town. The people around them gave them odd looks, but didn't bother the party as they made their way out of town. Alaric summoned mounts and the party rode towards Ralinor. Several hours into the ride, the party stopped to examine a strange tree with a cleaned humanoid skeleton lying at its roots. As the party approached it, the tree lashed out with its boughs, picking them up and attempting to strangle them. During the fight, it grabbed and began to strangle each character, and actually swallowed Ankou in its trunk after being toppled over when the wolf grabbed a tentril and pulled. It was eventually destroyed by Martin and Hascya working in concert. During the fight, though, Alaric sustained a serious head injury that diminished his mental abilities somewhat. Ankou was rescued by the destruction of the carnivorous tree.
After recovering from their brush with botanical death, the party pressed on towards Ralinor. Apart from crossing paths with a group of imperial knights riding the opposite way, the rest of their trip was uneventful, and they arrived in the city of Ralinor early that evening. The party decided that they should rest and recuperate before presenting themselves at the court. They found an inn befitting their role as diplomats, and despite the high prices, stayed there.
The following morning, the three went to the prince's court. The seneschal turned away Hascya and Alaric after the former was caught in a lie and the latter supported him. Martin, actually in possession of a mithral guard badge, was allowed inside. Once he was called to address the prince, Martin attempted to convince the prince to aid Silverkeep against Carron. While flat-out refusing to join Silverkeep in an offensive war against Carron, which the prince believed had been legitimately wronged, he seemed willing to aid in breaking Carron's blockade of Silverkeep. At least, until an elven woman wearing the robes of a Lorekeeper interjected, calling out Martin for traveling with a known exile from elven lands and for his role in the crimes Silverkeep committed against Carron. She and the prince ordered the party to travel to the city of Sardis to present themselves before the Council of Lorekeepers so that the elves could determine whether their laws would permit action on Silverkeep's behalf.
Martin reunited with the party and informed them that they had to travel to Sardis.