Unlike the Shadow Gate under Tila Estate, the portal the Night Guard stepped through this time stayed open behind them, as Elidyr wished. The party crossed the lake and made their way through the woods to Sindaleth. Upon arrival, they split up, and each party member headed off to pursue their individual goals.
Tam spent his morning at the library, updating the local records of the “Cursed Woods” with an account of the Night Guard’s adventure in the Feral Bosk. He also checked in with Airic to confirm that the magical plague afflicting Sindaleth’s citizens had been cured – Elidyr’s curse was ended. After his morning of research, Tam visited the Home Tree, seeking a moment of rest after the events of the previous week. He told the tree the Night Guard’s story and received advice about where the party should head next – to either Oscus, or Osden.
Alfo went to the local black market and spent his morning getting to know the vendors and perusing their wares; eventually he purchased a Javelin of Lightning.
Manny sought out the nearest Lead to Gold outlet, looking for a transmutation book. However, due to a series of unfortunate accidents, the shopkeeper disappeared under a heap of alchemical supplies and was trapped in the cellar. Enterprising as ever, Manny decided to take over the shop, pretending to be a Lead to Gold employee.
Val tracked down the gravesite of Elidyr’s ancestors to find rare kingsblood flowers, a component of the legendary armor Rhoskan had offered to make for him. In exchange for the flowers he harvested, Val respectfully left a tribute at the grave site. He next headed for the black market, and was pleased to meet Alfo there. Together, they managed to convince a vendor that his wares were not quite so rare as they seemed – and that the price should be reduced accordingly. Val purchased the Manual of Quickness of Action.
“Ah yes, a noble back in Pabshaw had another copy. His name? Hmm… I seem to remember he was called Valerian Redwyne.”
Meanwhile, Manny’s pretense proved successful. His charm won over several skeptical patrons, and despite knowing nothing about the shop’s layout or stock, he made a handy profit.
After Val left the black market behind to seek more legal goods, Alfo approached a weapons vendor he’d met earlier, who had a magnificent magical sword for sale. Alfo offered a shady deal – a favor for the sword. The vendor asked Alfo to hunt down and kill a family of orcs near Oscus in exchange for the sword; Alfo immediately agreed to do so.
Val, having investigated most of the shops of interest, decided to stop by Lead to Gold – and was astonished to see Manny behind the counter. Manny managed to convince Val that he really did have a second job as a shopkeeper. As he was explaining his work, the heap of alchemical supplies on the counter began to collapse! Manny tried to save them from disaster, but slipped and was accidentally exposed to a Potion of Gaseous Form.
Unable to speak in his new cloudy form, Manny endeavored to communicate with Val by pointing at letters on various advertisements and labels. While waiting for Manny to spell out his excuses, Val shamelessly poked around the shop and “acquired” some valuable items. Finally, the potion wore off and Manny condensed into a solid, if unapologetic, mass. Just then, a city guard appeared at the door, demanding to know what had happened. Val and Manny explained that the original shopkeeper had disappeared and that they simply couldn’t find him. The guard marched over to the till and hit the floor release button, freeing the incandescent shopkeeper, who quit on the spot. Manny, being possessed of decent business acumen, instantly claimed the shop for his own.
After making his deal with the black market vendor, Alfo wandered the city searching for a courier for hire. He was overjoyed to run into his old friend, Keth Redblade, whom he met early on in the Night Guard’s adventures. The two spent a pleasant evening drinking and sharing tales. Keth agreed to serve as Alfo’s trusted messenger, and after Alfo handed over a few letters for delivery, they agreed to meet in Osden in a few months’ time.
After their action-packed day, the party was ready to retire for the evening, and met at Manny’s new shop to discuss their plans. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. On the step stood a formidable official who introduced himself as Elesar Glynhorn, Captain of the Gladrathi Royal Core. Despite the late hour, he insisted this business was urgent, and without the party’s cooperation he would arrest them. Elesar and Manny sorted out Manny’s property-rights issue (with Redrick’s help) and the captain soon declared the real reason for his visit: the Night Guard had been implicated in the disappearance of Elidyr Ashebow, and he needed the party’s help in tracking down the missing king.
Leaving Magnolia to guard the shop, the Night Guard led Elesar out into the forest, following their earlier trail. They did not trust him, however, and while Alfo snuck off to track an aberration with Shadow’s help, the rest of the party faded into the darkness, out of Elesar’s reach. Not soon enough, though – as soon as Elesar sensed their betrayal, he turned on them, ordering his hidden allies to attack.
From behind trees and bushes, a dozen armed warriors and casters leapt out at the Night Guard. Spells and arrows flew, and the party quickly realized Elesar’s soldiers were more than a match for them. In the distance, Val heard the marching of the Gladrathi army, but they were too far away to hear his call for help.
Meanwhile, Alfo found the aberration he and Shadow had been tracking and lured it back into the midst of the battle. Elesar’s warriors and the aberration wore each other down while the Night Guard tried to stay out of serious danger. Alfo, refusing to flee, turned and faced the aberration head-on. It lifted him into the air and bit him savagely, but Alfo slew the monster with a fearsome swing of the Axe of Dromar.
Few of Elesar’s allies survived. The dead, including the captain himself, lay scattered amidst smoldering foliage in the aftermath of the battle.
Wounded and battle-weary, the Night Guard had nowhere to run. Not far off, they heard the tramp of hundreds of feet, as the army approached…
Best Line goes to Alfo.
After the party left the Shadow realm and were on their way back to Sindaleth:
Alfo: “Manny, you need healing. Tam, go scout. Val, put your ear to the ground.”
Alfo (genuinely confused): “Because you’re the… leader?”
Honorable Mention to Manny and Val, who realized halfway through Manny’s misadventure that “the real enemy was capitalism the whole time!”
Best RP goes to Manny, for disappearing a shopkeeper, impersonating the shopkeeper, and (mostly) legally acquiring the potion shop.
? – The party leaves through the Shadow gate.
07:00 – The party crosses the lake and returns to Sindaleth.
13:00 – The party spends the afternoon engaged in their own individual agendas. Tam updates notes at the library, Val visits a grave, Manny patronizes the local potion shop, and Alfo explores the black market.
16:00 – Tam goes to see the home tree. Meanwhile, Val and Alfo make some shady deals, and Manny inadvertently takes over the potion shop.
19:00 – Alfo meets his old friend Keth Redblade for drinks. Manny acquires the potion shop.
21:00 – The party regroup at Manny’s new shop and are approached by Elesar Glynhorn, Captain of the Gladrathi Royal Core, who convinces them to follow him into the forest. Alfo tracks an aberration.
23:00 – The Night Guard sense danger and hide. Elesar and his soldiers attack the Night Guard; Alfo and Shadow draw the aberration to the battle. After many losses, the aberration and Elesar’s forces are defeated.
23:30 – Wounded and battle-weary, the Night Guard cannot flee. They await the approaching army.