Book One: A Darkness at Halarahh

The city of Maarlith is under curfew over fears of growing activity from werewolves in the west. Four strangers to the city find themselves swept into the Winking Weasel Inn. The proprietor, Vashram, engages in an unscheduled meeting with a woman, Laith, who arrives just after the curfew. Hidden from view of the patrons, she asks him to fence a strange advanced weapon crafted by the Saltpeter Coterie, extremists from the Church of Gond. Known as a ‘pistol’, the weapon has the destructive power of a magician and requires no skill to use. Vashram is paranoid about the trouble such an item might bring to him.

Before he can decide whether or not to help Laith, a group of ruffians disguised as city guard members arrive at the inn, having stalked Laith through the city after getting word of the weapon she carries. They are members of the Knotter’s Row Gang, a Cathyr-based criminal organization that expanded into Maarlith after their leader was killed and replaced by a mysterious new mastermind.

Led by a thief named Pretty Boy, the gang’s members try to get Vashram to give up Laith, but he has escorted her into a smuggling tunnel beneath the inn to hide her. When the strangers–Emerion, Felgrin, Jhyr, and Kilgruss–try to de-escalate the situation, the hoodlums try to teach them a lesson. They are soundly defeated: one escapes, Pretty Boy and another enforcer are killed, and the last is captured. Laith, however, has fled down the tunnels and Vashram suspects that she will soon run afoul of the Knotters.

They tie up the final Knotter, a dwarf named Robard. Initially defiant, he quickly caves while watching Vashram efficiently dispose of his compatriots’ bodies. He informs the group of a gnomish informant in the mercantile district, the Aurum, might have information on Laith’s whereabouts. The party agrees not to kill him, but Felgrin has a better idea. He takes Robard to a temple of Chauntea, but they prove to be of little help. Then he decides to introduce the treacherous dwarf to his deity, Kelemvor. After a rite meant to show Robard the dangers of the dark path he is walking, Felgrin lets the thief, who seems little changed by the experience, go free.

The party heads to the Aurum and finds the gnomish informant’s hut. While Kilgruss is trying to break in, he is approached by the gnome, who uses a Hold Person spell upon him and then drags him indoors. Within are two huge city gnolls and a whole lot of trouble.

Elsimore mulls over how to best get information out of Kilgruss, who is paralyzed by the enchantment upon him. One of the gnolls suggests that he ‘read’ the dragonborn’s insides, a pseudo-magical practice known as haruspicy. Although Elsimore doesn’t seem thrilled about the prospect of harming someone, he pulls a dagger. Emerion charges across the street as it begins to clear of passersby, coming to Kilgruss’s rescue, but he is quickly manhandled by a gnoll and dragged inside with a scream.

After a brief conflict, the party manages to kill both gnolls and subdue Elsimore. He begs for forgiveness, claiming that he was as much a prisoner of the gnolls as a willing employee of the Knotter’s Row Gang. He was in the employ of a svirfneblin, or deep gnome, named Maligaunt, and when he left Maligaunt’s service after the Battle of Heller’s Fort, he sought employment and protection from the Knotter’s Row Gang. He seems mildly unhinged.

The party chooses to believe him, taking his hat and alchemical crafts, provided that he assist them with information necessary to find Laith. Elsimore tells them that the Knotter’s Row Gang is now led by a horrible creature named Karal, a mage with a monstrous reputation. He says that Karal moves around constantly, conducting experiments on living beings in temporary safehouses across the city. One such safehouse is near the Blow Hole, a waterfront inn.

On the way out of Elsimore’s abode, the party notices that a business down the street has been replaced by a garish storefront. After inquiring with one of its customers about the nature of the business, they head inside and meet the ebullient Eladrin proprietor, Alinser. They trade with him and, with Elsimore’s consent, gain him temporary employment and protection with the elf. It seems like a win-win scenario.

After a rest at Kelemvor’s temple, where they learn more about Karal’s black reputation and ties to the Malarite werewolves of Prastuil, the party heads to the waterfront. They find that the Blow Hole’s proprietor and clientele live in fear of the Knotter’s Row Gang and are more than happy to spill their secrets. (Also, they discover that the proprietor makes some of the worst beer in the city.)

Discovering Karal’s most recent safehouse nearby, they sneak inside and find a magic-carved tunnel below. While investigating, they are assaulted by an experimental witherling and a partially turned werewolf. They are able to put the witherling to rest and subdue the lycanthrope, but discover that he was imprisoned with a child that looks like him, now deceased. Realizing that the man will probably attempt to kill himself when he awakens, they keep him unconscious as they heal him to buy themselves time to think.

With Jhyr still in ape form, the party decides to take the unconscious man to safety. They encounter a squad of city guards near the Plaza of Dancing Dolphins. Although the guard captain, Laruff, is swayed by their arguments, he must take them into temporary custody for violating curfew. It is the order of Trade Prince Aethel Dekhor that curfew violations be firmly enforced.

The party is placed in temporary holding. At Felgrin’s insistence, their charge is taken to the temple of Chauntea by the young halfling acolyte they met there previously. During the night, the party is visited by Lady Kria Gant, a statuesque woman who seems used to getting her way. She believes their story about the werewolf and the safe house, and informs them that more is going on beneath the skin of Maarlith’s society than they know. Kria promises to see them set free.

Suspiciously, the group is transferred to a new holding cell deep below the constabulary, where they are distant from both the other prisoners and law enforcement. Just by chance, Emerion notices that the warding glyphs meant to surveil their cell have been mixed with necromantic sigils. Kilgruss is able to pick the lock of the cell, but the party knows they will risk worsening matters if they simply escape. As they try to defuse the obvious trap, the party triggers it, summoning ghostly apparitions. Once the first wave has been dealt with, more of the phantasms begin appearing to overwhelm the party.

A powerful Turn Undead spell tears through the creatures, revealing Kria Gant. She informs them that they will be spending the rest of the night with her, and begins leading the party to freedom.

Kria takes the party to her manor at the fringes of the Aurum, a vine-covered manse called Greenstone. After a brief encounter with Kria’s consort, Virigo Rasius, the party settles in with the couple. Felgrin sends to the temple of Kelemvor and has a meeting with a representative, Deathspeaker Tolwin, about the evident presence of a necromancer within the city. Kilgruss sneaks off to case the house under the guise of a human servant, but finds that the couple’s tastes are exceedingly plain: they have nothing worth stealing.

The next morning, they are summoned to attend Lord Korris Fenn, Trade Prince Aethel Dekhor’s representative and long-time chirurgeon. The pompous noble is highly skeptical of their tale about the attack in the jail, writing off their mysterious transfer to the enchanted cell as a failure of paperwork. He nonetheless does not wish to cause trouble with Kria Gant or her consort, so he commutes the remainder of their sentence for violating curfew.

On the way back to Greenstone, the party decides to check in on the feral werewolf they recovered from Karal’s safehouse by the docks. Ondrel, the halfling acolyte of Chauntea to whom the werewolf was entrusted, informs the party that he got free and caused considerable damage on the previous night. Weighed down by their own consciences, the party decides to stay the night in the temple and guard the werewolf from potential malfeasance by Karal.

Their suspicions are borne out. That night, a dragonborn mage, his imp familiar, and a pair of footpads breaks in and nearly manages to subdue the party with a Sleep spell. Emerion is immune to magical sleep, though, and rouses the party. They handily defeat the assassins, except for one that reveals himself to be a Malarite werewolf. The werewolf flees after being afflicted with the Call of the Grave, narrowly avoiding Felgrin’s attempt to bring him down.

In the morning, the party breaks their fast, enjoying a decidedly vegetarian meal until Felgrin introduces jerked meat to a curious Ondrel. They are interrupted by the arrival of a runner from Greenstone. Kria Gant has been summoned back to the Saltpeter Coterie in the Council Hills for another round of inquisitions regarding her role in the events at Heller’s Fort. She and Lord Rasius send along a tradebar worth 500 gold pieces, along with oxen and a cart for the travel westward.

Felgrin and Kilgruss split off to purchase supplies, with Felgrin purchasing a brand new hammer with silvered faces and Kilgruss stealing a silvered dagger by replacing it with one of his own. The arms merchant they are dealing with, Tival, sends them to a gnome named Shimmerstone when Felgrin inquires about a decent place to purchase gems. Shimmerstone immediately mistakes the pair for a couple and provides them the gems in a bag stamped with the sigil of Sune, a love goddess.

Upon their return to the Temple of Chauntea, the party departs with Ondrel toward Luenath. While scouting, Jhyr discovers that the ill-maintained former trade road they are following runs parallel to the tracks of a large troll.

In the night, they must stealthily move past a gnoll camp in the distance. Ondrel explains that when Muramand’s armies collapsed, the gnolls lacked central leadership to guide them back to the Gnollwatch Mountains in the northwest. Instead, they have settled in the plains, thriving on the hunting there even through the rainy winter.

The gnolls prove to be no problem, but during the night, a small band of halflings passes by the party. They track the halflings along the path to Luenath only to discover a convergence of the halfling path and that of the troll. Smelling cooking meat nearby, they fear the worst. They sneak into the forest, Felgrin charging ahead, only to realize that their worst fears have been subverted: the halflings are a group of cannibalistic Ghostwise halflings from the east, and they have captured the troll, abusing his regenerative powers for a food supply.

After killing off several of the halflings and driving away their pig-riding leader, the party debates what to do with the troll. Emerion’s patron wants him dead, Kilgruss votes for the convenience of murdering him, and Felgrin is torn on whether or not it is the troll’s time. Jhyr, however, points out that the troll’s own hunting is its natural place. The party settles on giving the creature just enough poppy milk–intended for the comfort of the lycanthrope–to leave it between life and death, and let fate sort out the rest.

The party continues onward to Luenath. They are struck by the natural beauty of the city and the strange pall of tranquility that surrounds it. While navigating the ruins with the oxcart and their lycanthrope passenger, they are apprehended by Luth, a weary-looking man who commands a small squad of ranged guards. He is initially suspicious about the party’s intentions, smelling the blood of their recent combat on them. When he recognizes their charge as a lycanthrope, he admits them passage, relying in part upon the instincts of a young woman in his group: Bhediya.

Bhediya and Luth escort the party into the inner city, where they are greeted by two wolves and inquisitive stares from the denizens. Members of the Selunite cult seem to have many scars from their recent participation in the battle of Heller’s Fort. They also regard the lycanthrope, whom Felgrin is carrying, with concern.

The party are taken to meet Blais of the White Claw, the Chosen of Selûne. She wonders aloud if the man they have brought is afflicted by the same malaise as another visitor. As Luth takes Kilgruss for a somewhat confrontational tour of the small commune, the rest of the party goes to see the ill woman, Tarris. She is caught in mid-transformation, having been poisoned or infected with something that has caused her lycanthropy to go out of control. It is tearing her apart at a fundamental level.

Blais has placed her into a dream to slow the progress of her affliction, but a new difficulty has arisen in that she seems plagued by nightmares. As a way to prove their mettle and in exchange for helping the lycanthrope they brought to her, Blais asks the party to venture into the woman’s dream and confront that which is tormenting her. With the aid of Irien, a teenaged member of Blais’s pack who is (peculiarly) not a werewolf, the party and Bhediya voyage into the dream.

Tarris’s mind takes the shape of a dark forest where butterflies cling to trees of living shadow. They find the woman hiding, but when they confront her, she seems distraught by the horrors in which she has partaken since becoming a werewolf. A monstrous creature arrives, a manifestation of her struggle with her bestial side. It is accompanied by shadowy apparitions that take the shape of Bhediya’s wolves.

With their guest’s aid, the party defeats the nightwere. Seeing their courage in the face of her darkness, Tarris seems more at ease with herself. She reveals that she sought help after being infected with lycanthropy. She was visited by a mage in her native Halruaa who said that he could cure her. He gave her a tincture that appeared to be bright blue and glowing; not entirely liquid. Bhediya recognizes it as a derivative of Farflame, the telltale blue fire of the Spellplague.

When they exit Tarris’s dream, Blais tells them that the woman is stabilized, but still needs help. Eskalpos, a Crinti physician from decades past, knew a great deal about lycanthropy. He was interred with his research notes. She begs the party to go retrieve the notes from his barrow, offering them passage with the ki-rin that has come to call Luenath home.

After a final meeting with Blais and Bhediya, where the latter expresses her desire to reunite with her old adventuring party, the ki-rin takes the group to the March of the Crinti. Eskalpos’s tomb seems to have largely avoided the desecration that has befallen many of the Crinti barrows, ostensibly because he was a physician of great renown. The party finds that the tomb is rigged with a variety of traps that include a self-sealing entrance and poison ducts to incapacitate or kill potential grave robbers.

After dealing with a shifting stairway and a rune that reverses a trespasser’s gravity up into deadly spikes, the party is confronted by Eskalpos himself. He has been touched by the curse of undeath, returning as a vampire several weeks prior, and has escaped his interment. Although he tries to bargain with them for his life–such as it is–Felgrin refuses to hear of it. He attempts to attack Eskalpos, sending the vampire fleeing as a mist.

Uncontested, the party searches his burial chamber and discovers his research notes within a hidden nook in the wall.

Trapped in Eskalpos’s tomb, the party attempts to hunt down the vampire, only to realize that it’s unlikely that they will be able to catch up to a creature made of mist who has access to poison-venting air ducts. They set themselves to the task of seeking another way out of the Crinti tomb. While investigating, the party discovers that one of the poison grates is large enough to crawl through. They discover a machine at the heart of the ducts, much of the drow poison within having gone bad.

One of the ducts leads out to a separate passage used by the builders. The party remains as Emerion tries unsuccessfully to hunt down the vampire, but as the sun sets, they resolve themselves to leaving and warning the surrounding countryside. Failing to deal with a magically bespelled archway, they are caught in a time trap that holds them in stasis for over a month.

When it finally runs out of power, they leave the tomb and encounter a drow merchant, Fremeth Eferis, who was waylaid by Eskalpos. His rothé ran off when it was cut free during the struggle, and his slaves fled. He begs the party for help in recovering the rothé. They find it, and the two recently deceased slave-guards, in a nearby copse. The slaves come to life as fledgling vampires, oddly linked by the circumstances of their grave-birth. During the fight, Jhyr sets the woods on fire. After defeating the vampires, the party rescues the rothé and leaves the burning woods behind.

Kilgruss attempts to negotiate with Fremeth for compensation for the service of returning his rothé and dispatching his undead–and now, merely dead–guards. Fremeth says that he isn’t carrying sufficient gold with him, but did leave some in a safebox back in the nearby village of Bairnsbarrow, one of the nodes on the trade route he is beginning. The party knows they must get back to Luenath with the research notes, but Fremeth insists that the village is brief and the trip is safe.

He is half correct. As they are passive the ruins of a Crinti rancho called Lainstone, a teenage boy bursts from the ruined buildings, pursued by a werewolf and two follower wolves. The party is too far off to prevent the werewolf from biting the boy, infecting him with the curse of lycanthropy, but they manage to kill the small pack with the aid of a passing Tabaxi warlock, Ari. Jhyr is bitten by the werewolf during the fight, and swiftly develops a fever. They take the boy, Warlow, back to Bairnsbarrow with them, where his mother is relieved and seems unfazed by the fact that he has been bitten. The party notices dusky coloration in a great many of the townsfolk, suggesting that they are humans with a scattering of diluted drow ancestry.

Meanwhile, Kilgruss secures payment from Fremeth back at the inn and witnesses a growing confrontation between a town greybeard, Arfeld, and the innkeeper, Lister.

Warlow’s mother sends for the town wisewoman, an elderly matron named Penthe. She also seems unconcerned by lycanthropy, administering a viscuous red goop to both Warlow and Jhyr that almost instantly causes their moon fevers to abate. Felgrin is especially amazed, as the only known cure for lycanthropy involves powerful magics, but Penthe says she cannot take credit for the discovery: it was the work of the ‘Blessed Healer’ who recently came to the town.

At the Worm’s Turn, the local inn, the party’s suspicions over the Blessed Healer’s identity grow. The discontent between Arfeld and Lister reaches a head as the old man attempts to leave the inn without paying for his drinks. An angry mob forms, apparently done with Arfeld’s constant transgressions, and decides to bring him to the Healer for “justice.”

Felgrin attempts a Zone of Truth spell to determine what the townsfolk consider to be justice, but he finds that they’ve intentionally avoided thinking about the ramifications of their newly adopted system of crime and punishment. A strong young farmer drags Arfeld to the old tomb in the village center, where the Healer resides. Although the party succeeds in prying Arfeld free from the farmer’s grasp, they are too late. Eskalpos, regenerated and at the height of his vampiric powers, emerges from the tomb with superhuman speed and claims the greybeard from the party forcibly. He greets them, clearly recognizing his unprovoked assailants from the events in his tomb.

Eskalpos deals with the party disdainfully, pointing out that they attacked him in his crypt entirely unprovoked. The townsfolk seem to be fond of him, or at least the services that he offers. Felgrin is able to bait Eskalpos into agreeing to a Zone of Truth spell, under which the party inquires about how he got to the roots of lycanthropy in an attempt to undermine his support from the villagers. They experience mixed success. As a condition of the vampire accepting the spell, Felgrin says that he will leave town.

In an effort to prove that he is merciful, Eskalpos uses his vampiric powers to hollow out Arfeld’s mind, allegedly cleansing his slate. Some of the party see this as barbaric, but the townsfolk seem to approve of the ‘justice’ that has been done. Eskalpos offers to let the party stay in town provided that they stay on good behavior.

After the gathering, Warlow’s mother, Yuria, takes Felgrin into her confidence. She has noticed that several villagers have disappeared beyond the criminals that Eskalpos has purged. She tips him off to three: a single woman named Aleir, a miller named Terrim, and a trader from out of Herath who went to Richter’s Hollow but has not returned. She tells Felgrin that Eskalpos leaves his tomb in the early hours of the morning and returns by dawn.

The party investigates the mill and find no signs of a struggle, but see that Terrim left mid-meal. He walked out to a nearby scattering of trees and the trail does not return. They make their way back to Eskalpos’s tomb. Signaled that it is safe by Yuria, they enter, only to discover a number of corpses down below. Some of them come alive, one as a fledgling vampire and two as zombies, and battle the party.

While the party members are trying to determine what to do with the bodies and how to expose Eskalpos, the vampire appears. He offers them a deal: leave him be and he will leave them alive. Felgrin refuses, attacking the vampire.

Eskalpos realizes that his days in Bairnsbarrow are over. He charms Felgrin and bites him, draining the dwarf’s life force and leaving him an empty husk. Then he turns to mist and retreats, telling the party that he has taken from them as they took from him.

With the vampire gone, the party reunites with Fremeth Eferis at the inn and, after helping to bury Bairnsbarrow’s dead, sets off toward Luenath with Felgrin’s burial.

On the first night, he rises as a vampire. He insists that he is the same person, but he is now imbued with strange powers and cannot channel his holy magics in the same way as before. Reaching an agreement with the party to kill him if he becomes a threat, Felgrin travels with them toward Luenath to seek solace and information on his terrible condition.

The party is accosted by Luth and his ragged band of defenders, but there appear to be fewer of them than before. As they proceed into the city of Luenath, the party learns why: Blais meets with them and tells them that Tarris’s magical disease has spread.

She is initially put off by Felgrin, but, moved by the sincerity of his belief that he is still the same dwarf at heart, she offers to help him with his growing bloodlust. Over the course of a night, she and Jhyr join Felgrin on his first hunt.

In the morning, she asks the party if they will help her further. She wants them to go to Halruaa to determine the source of the plague, which has resulted in dozens of werewolves being put into the stasis of the Dream. The ki-rin will take them, but it wishes for Emerion to remain with it, having developed an interest in the warlock.

She realizes that this is a costly request, and offers to sweeten the deal. Knowing how much Felgrin’s affliction bothers him, she suggests that he may be able to find a cure for his vampirism. She offers up the Gate of Iron Fangs, a gnollish ruin once ruled by a demon loyal to Orcus, Lord of Undeath, as a place to begin the search for a cure.

The party accepts, and the ki-rin whisks them to the mountains overlooking the ruins, just northwest of Herath. While descending toward the shattered buildings, the party finds a freshly crisped corpse, its pockets still laden with two gold coins that have been fused together. This desecration of coin offends Kilgruss.

They discover the killer of this gnoll at the top of a ziggurat within the ruined city. Thane, an aasimar, has just triggered a trap and the party swoops in to save him. They battle a pair of ornate golems with his aid, but the fight damages the roof of the ziggurat and they fall through into darkness.

Finding themselves trapped within the ziggurat after their fall, the party collects themselves and heals their grievous wounds. They realize they are in a treasure chamber and quickly loot it of its valuables. While trying to unlock the chamber’s door, Kilgruss triggers a trap that locks every door in the ziggurat. They also hear a woman’s cry.

On their way to seek out the source of the sound, they come across old blood scrawls on the walls that seem to resolve into different dire warnings for each party member. Jhyr is able to determine that the writings are some form of illusion magic.

They find a throne chamber with a half-closed sarcophagus. While investigating, a mummy bursts forth, but Felgrin is unable to detect it as an undead creature. The mummy is adorned with a torc inset with a large ruby. Upon destroying the ruby, the bindings come away, revealing a half-elven woman named Alana. She claims she found an alternate route into the ziggurat and was trapped by the bindings, a particularly sinister trap.

The party makes their way through the ziggurat, defusing–or in some cases, triggering–a variety of traps along their way. They learn it was once a place of worship to Zehir, an aspect of the Mulhorandi god Set, but more recently it has been defiled in the name of the demon Yeenoghu. They find a statue of Zehir that has been defaced by gnollish cultists.

After proceeding through a rotating door that allows no egress, they find themselves in an intersection with two doors. One is mundane, opening out onto a horrific pit of human and gnollish bones. The other is carved entirely from bone and has a magical lock of constantly moving shadows.

The party proceeds into the bone pit chamber, discovering another ruby like the one used to capture Alana. This one is imbued with potent necromancy that animates the bones in the pit, bringing them to life as a skeletal mage and cohorts. Although Jhyr breaks the chain suspending the ruby, it falls into the pit and sinks beneath the living bones. The party defeats the skeletons and shatters the ruby after Felgrin takes a dive into the bone pit after it.

Recovering the shadowstuff key, the party heads for the bone door and opens it. There they find a more ornate version of the false tomb they discovered earlier, this one littered with the bones of a demonic glabrezu.

Kilgruss, already suspicious of Alana, realizes that she casts no shadow. She reveals herself as the essence of the glabrezu, a severed spirit unable to return to the Abyss for reconstitution, and fights the party. Although they are able to defeat her, they realize that she will eventually reform.

The party discovers a hidden catch behind the tomb, leading to a transportation chamber. They determine how to work the ancient machine there and are able to open a portal to the Nath, a hilly grassland in the northeast of Halruaa.

In the Nath, the party is approached by a group of wanderers known as the Arambrai, people who were exiled from Halruaan society because it is believed that they were corrupted during the years when Halruaa was transposed onto the world of Abeir. Huller Roshnov and his wife Neschka welcome the party to travel with them. They are simple people who subsist off of aurochs and overland rothé.

That night, Kilgruss learns a great deal about milking the animals, much to his chagrin, and Thane is fascinated by the beasts. Felgrin, Ari, and Jhyr go hunt to sate Felgrin’s bloodlust. He manages to bring down a skinny bobcat, but during the hunt the trio finds signs of crude habitation in the surrounding hills.

The party is enjoying a congenial feast with the Arambrai when the wall of Huller’s wagon suddenly explodes and a magical unicorn erupts into existence before fading away not long later. The source of this magic is Huller’s son, Phadim. He is a sickly boy born strongly gifted with sorcery–so strongly, in fact, that the magics are tearing him apart.

The party comes to find out that all of the Arambrai are sorcerers. Most have only scant power, but Halruaa is a well-ordered society ruled by trained wizards. Sorcerers are dangerous because of their uncontrolled abilities, but they are also dangerous, as they have inborn abilities that wizards work their entire lives to cultivate. They have been exiled to maintain the societal order.

A Halruuan skyship soars overhead, heading toward the mountains overlooking Dambrath. This startles the travelers’ cattle, leading to a devastating stampede. During the recovery efforts, Huller reveals that more and more skyships have been heading toward the eastern mountains, and none of the Arambrai know why.

In the stampede, one of Huller’s prized aurochs got loose. The party agrees to track it down. They discover that it has been abducted by whatever is living in the surrounding hills. Following the signs of the beast’s struggle, the party comes into conflict with a tribe of malformed, blue-skinned goblins who are unusually slow-witted. They were altered by the Spellplague and are on the verge of extinction, having clung to ancient rituals to survive in the changing times. The inbred goblins are trying to instill the power of Baphomet into the auroch.

Although the party disrupts the ritual, a demonic entity has slipped into the auroch. They fight off both goblins and possessed beast until they can knock the bull unconscious, dispersing its possession. The goblins beg for mercy, and the party takes mercy on them after looting the creatures’ cave.

With the goblins’ loot and dignity taken, the party returns to the Arambrai camp. They learn that Phadim, Huller’s son, has taken a turn for the worst. The party is upset to find that most of the Arambrai, including Huller, are resolved to the boy’s fate. When they insist that something must be done, Huller informs them that the only option has been evaluated as too dangerous.

In the days before sorcerers became seen as deadly to the continuance of the mageocracy, children with the inborn gift were often taught to harness it by using specially prepared focusing crystals. More recently, the use of such crystals has fallen out of favor because it is seen as necessary to let nature take its course with the uncontrollably gifted. Achelar, a nearby city, was a seat of learning for fledgling mages until it was consumed in a great cataclysm that split the city in two. If there are still focusing crystals available, they would be in the ruins.

After struggling with the gates of the city, the party makes their way in and defuses an ancient warding mechanism defending one of the academies. It has been stripped bare of its resources, but they are able to reactivate an ancient magical map at the academy’s heart until Thane overloads it by requesting the location of all books in the city.

They proceed onward toward the unnatural chasm at the city’s center, the streets rising like the slopes of a volcano. On the way, they see curiously undecomposed bodies, freakishly twisted and barely identifiable as once human. Felgrin goes to scout and sees a strange, genderless figure overlooking the pit. Blue light blazes down in the depths.

Negotiations with the creature do not go well, as Thane attempts to hug it. Although the party manages to cast the creature down into the thousands-feet deep pit, monstrosities–humans mutilated by farflame–attack them as if guided by a single mind.

Jhyr’s druidic magics destabilize the slope on which they are standing, and the party topples into a terminal fall.

The party falls toward their death, surrounded by falling boulders and chunks of stone. As they streak toward the ravine at the bottom of the pit, they see the mutagenic powers of farflame for the first time. Mushrooms and fungi have grown into bloated, pulsating sacs along the walls of the ravine. The flame itself, really a sort of plasma that exists between natural states, burns without heat and has disturbing properties.

Just as they are about to impact, their descent slows and halts, interrupted by an overwhelming force. They see the cultist that they engaged casually holding up all of the falling boulders so as not to disturb the pits of surrounding farflame. It saves them purely as a consequence of not wishing to be inconvenienced. The creature then returns to ignoring the party until they try to engage with it.

The cultist seems to speak for a variety of distinct personalities, each one causing its eyes to glow a different shade. These personalities–the Judge, the Butcher, the Weaver, and the cultist itself–consider the party. Although they have difficulty communicating with it, they are able to discern that it scarcely considers them a threat and does not seem to wish them especial harm. It even suggests a way out. The party wisely leaves the cultist unharmed.

Following the cultist’s directions, they proceed past a variety of the human-like creatures, which are gorging themselves on farflame and transforming into nothics. Somewhere in the ravine, they hear a beast stalking them.

They come to a door that turns out to be a once-human expanse of pliable flesh, and after providing the tormented creature with some company, it allows them passage. After defusing a wand that has become a magical barrier as a result of farflame corruption, the party discovers a passage that takes them back up toward the city.

All the while, they encounter strange blobs of darkness that appear to be glimpses into another universe. One such blob forms above the town, evidently the culmination of an effort by the cultists below, and tumbles down into the streets nearby.

After a tangle of horrific entities falls through a gap in reality caused by the Far Realm cultists, the party hears screams and shrieks coming from a small encampment in the northern portion of the city. They arrive too late, and the camp is torn apart. Everything is awash in aboleth slime and the cultists are torn apart. Some of them appear to have murdered themselves violently. As they watch, one of the cultists snaps his own neck, commanded by an unknown master.

The party takes the opportunity to avoid both the cultists and the alien creatures attacking, but they swiftly run into another cultist, who kills herself violently as they approach. This solicits a scream from a hiding woman, Athla, who has blanched white hair and a dyed green forelock.

She admits that she is a member of the cult, the Cloister of the Revealing Fire. Once an acolyte of Sune, she grew disenchanted with the worship of the gods and especially with the frippery of a goddess like Sune. She was recruited into the Cloister and became a scholar especially gifted in manipulating biology. In a partnership with the Ilysium of Halarahh, she helped create the Wolfplague. She does not know the real name of her contact, only that he has a crescent-moon scar by his left eye and a small forked beard that he dyes a vivid scarlet. He goes by the name “Cairosh”.

Felgrin is horrified by the amount of damage Athla’s body has taken. Her ribs are shattered and she should be near death, but she seems to be in only moderate pain. He notices that his healing is not especially effective on her, likely due to the amount of damage done. She shares information on Azradim. He is a conduit to beings known as the kaorti, creatures of incredible mental power.

The Cloister has been working across the Shining South in the name of the kaorti. They were not trying to summon the creatures that fell into the city, who were a consequence of their actual actions: the cultists were attempting to use the abundance of farflame to burn a hole in the walls between the Material Plane and the Far Realm. She does not know why, but it is not the first such bore the Cloister has created.

With Athla, they make their way to the academy storing the crystals. There, they are attacked by the aboleth, who has used its psionic prowess to disguise itself. After fending it off, they they manage to break into the storage and recover the crystals. Ari is mind controlled in the encounter, but they knock him out to prevent him from doing damage. Several party members are afflicted with the aboleth’s disease, which will require healing beyond any party member’s skills.

Free from the horrors of the city, the party carries an unconscious Ari back to the Arambrai. Upon reuniting with Huller, they discover that Phadim is on death’s door. In a surprising display of selflessness, Kilgruss helps the dying boy channel some of his excess magical energy into one of the recovered arcane crystals, and the change in the child’s condition is almost instantaneous.

Athla offers herself up as a permanent prisoner. She says that if the party spares her, she can be of use in helping to cure the Wolfplague. She worked on its creation, and would consider coming up with a cure to be a worthy challenge. It’s clear that she is almost entirely amoral.

Huller warns the party against trusting her by recounting the story of a water viper that he saw one day while he was a young child. Using magic, he fed the viper a field mouse and sat nearby, observing it for the better part of an afternoon. He thought he had earned the creature’s affection, but it tried to bite him, and his father had to destroy the creature. He uses this tale to point out that some creatures cannot change what they are.

Meanwhile, Ari awakens and tries to escape, still under the aboleth’s influence. Jhyr hunts him down and trades blows with him, magical and physical, until the tabaxi is able to break free from the charm.

Over the course of a week of travel, they make their way southeast to Maeruhal. Phadim has begun improving, but Kilgruss has lost a few scales on his forehead, leaving a raw patch of flesh there. Several times, they see skyships thrumming overhead. Most are sleek trade vessels, but several heading east are bulky ships girded in steel and shining with spell wards. Athla proposes that the group find the means to secure her a laboratory in Halarahh.

In Maeruhal, they meet the affable and inebriated dwarven druid Gunder Bullstones. He is able to cure the party members, and quickly bonds with Jhyr over their love of greenery.

Gunder is able to help the party out with information on some of the departing ships With Athla posing as the Lady Cor-Elizar, the party is able to bribe their way aboard a small merchant vessel, the Skyskimmer. While on board, Athla raises the issue that their time in Halruaa is going to be incredibly expensive.

The ship is small and incredibly fast. On their way toward Halarahh, they pass by the cities of Lhaddas and Sulazir. The two population centers are marvels, with a great floating dais above the first town that is accessible only by magical flight. The other has a series of magical fountains powered by permanent Gates that span a series of earthmotes. Gunder Bullstones, informs the party that there’s a huge earthmote to the far south called Yaulazna, which is maintained by a group known as the Five Companies.

In Sulazir, the skyship docks are abuzz with activity as huge new ships are being worked upon. No one entirely knows why, as skyships have always before belonged to individual mages, but these have been commissioned by the Ilysium, the ruling body of Halruaa, for its own uses.

During the remainder of the brief journey, the party reasons out how they will get by in Halarahh. Athla points out that divination magic is highly common in the city, so spells to disguise their appearance will have to be the work of very powerful mages. Their eventual goal is to receive an introduction to the Council of Elders, the country’s top ruling body, but they also need a place for Athla to work on her Wolfplague cure.

Upon docking in Halarahh, the party consults with a diviner named Yabala Yabash to see if they can gain some intelligence to guide their path, but the visit produces no immediate results. They have better luck at the Robbed Rod, an inn in the Travel District. They learn from the halfling proprietor, Mulliver Blushberry, that a noble house, the Petriats, recently lost an airship in the nearby Akhlaur Swamp. It’s likely to be packed with valuable salvage, and rumors hold that magic-hungry laraken have been sighted near the crash site, increasing the likelihood that powerful magical items are on board. This would solve the party’s financial issues in one fell swoop.

While Gunder samples every imaginable substance at the raucous inn, the party negotiates with Mulliver to attain a self-propelling canoe that will take them near to the crash site. The halfling only asks that the party take off from the docks at night, as he certainly wouldn’t want others reverse-engineering the canoe’s enchantment.

After agreeing to give Mulliver a cut of the findings, the party takes off for the docks.

After arriving at the Akhlaur Swamp, the party sets off across the muddled expanse of sodden land and treacherous water. They travel for more than a day, discovering a safe hillock where they spend the night. While ranging to try and discover where the Petriat airship crashed, they hear screams coming from nearby.

They rush to the rescue, only to find a group of rough-looking men and women being devoured by ooze-like laraken. After fending off the magic-devouring creatures, the party recovers a strange floating crystal that the dead travelers were transporting. They explore nearby. Jhyr discovers an odd expanse of water, and when he dives in, he lands head-first in a long ravine formed by the fall of the airship. It has been concealed with powerful magic, a large illusion anchored by a number of ritual statues that have been placed along the edges of the ravine. Using lightning from above, Jhyr is able to destroy enough of the statues to dispel the illusion, revealing the Petriat family ship.

Because of the intense magical shielding blanketing it, the ship has survived its crash, and they hear movement within. They discover that the ship is in good condition. The fall from the sky triggered a trap on a trunk in its cargo, destroying the contents. As they descend into the belly of the ship to the engine room, they hear something immense slithering down below.

It proves to be a mutated purple worm, grown strangely magical from devouring so many of the swamp’s laraken. It has coiled itself around one of the three crystals driving the flight of the ship. They fight the creature, buffeted by the waves of gravity-altering magic from the remaining intact crystal, and finally manage to kill it. It does not take them long to determine that they might be able to get the ship in the air.

Using the crystal they recovered and mending the remaining one damaged by the worm, Thane leads the way in reigniting the crystals’ magic with electricity. Slowly, the ship tugs itself free from the ravine and rises into the sky.

Aboard the ship, the party analyzes their new lodgings. In the aftercastle, there are two officers’ cabins featuring four bunks, as well as captain’s chambers protected by a heavily warded door. The hold is the main deck, where there are eight crew cabins situated to either side and a variety of treasures sealed into magical chests. On the lowest deck are the galley, sick bay, and engineering. The ship likely had a crew numbering about thirty or more.

Most of the potions in the sick bay were shattered when the ship crashed, and there is occasional disarray in the crew quarters. Athla raises a concern. Whatever caused the ship to fall out of the sky did not seem to cause any battle damage, so she is concerned that it could happen again.

Athla points out that they could simply take the ship and return to Dambrath by way of the ocean, as it will undoubtedly draw attention if they get near to Halarahh and they will need to work things out with the airship’s owners, House Petriat. Athla encourages the party to kill and replace Ilianos Petriat: the Cloister does that sort of thing all the time, after all.

They are unable to get the ship up to full speed on two engines, and decide to settle in for the night. When they wake in the morning, the party sees a rustic-looking ship in the distance, elevated by propellers and wobbling through the air like a drunken bird, begins heading toward them. Despite their attempts to evade it, the ship easily catches up, firing a boarding chain that hooks onto the side of their new prize.

Led by the goliath pirate Gurul, the attackers are clearly associates of the dead scavengers who came after the ship in the first place. The party repels Gurul’s attackers and damages his ship, sending it plummeting into the swamp. But the cost is great: during the battle, Felgrin is gravely injured, sending the vampiric dwarf involuntarily into his mist form. Thane, confused from being Polymorphed and not entirely aware of Felgrin’s vampiric nature, fires off a Shatter spell that inadvertently kills Felgrin. His body materializes out of the mist, no longer vampiric and quite sincerely dead.

Panicked from the death of their long-time compatriot, the party falls into chaos and recriminations. Jhyr, having used the Pendant of Nature’s Fury to empower his Wild Shape during the fight, is trapped in his bear form. Enraged, Ari sets a course for Mt. Talath, the seat of magic in Halruaa and home to a vast Mystran temple. He reasons that, if anyone can revive Felgrin, it will be the powerful priests there.

With Athla’s aid, Kilgruss works on trying to unlock the captain’s chambers. They discover that a powerful set of lethal spells is inlaid into the door. Together, they undo the wardings, although Ari nearly sacrifices himself to block a Finger of Death fired off at Kilgruss.

Within the cabin, they discover an enchanted logbook that seems to bear the entire history of the ship, dubbed the Crimson Gale. They also find that the occupant of the cabin must have died messily in the crash. Almost buried beneath fallen books is a small Teleportation Circle. As Kilgruss clears the obstructions away, it comes to life, revealing that the Petriats had a functioning portal leading back to a small ruin in the city of Halarahh. He quickly places a book back over the circle to prevent it from being accessed from the city.

Skyships owned by the priesthood of Mystra approach the Gale as they enter Talath’s airspace. They are assigned a guide, who facilitates the necessary payment for docking at Mt. Talath. The priest leads them into the vast temple complex, a huge library that delves down into the heart of the mountain. Athla confides in the party that the Cloister attempted to infiltrate Talath a number of times, but always failed.

While the party is discussing the Far Realm, they are overheard by a goliath named Monok. He is instantly suspicious of the party, but Athla wins him over with a series of easy lies. He still insists upon following them on their visit to meet one of the Mystran high priests, Anthrim.

After Felgrin’s rapidly decaying corpse is brought to Anthrim, the affable priest confirms that Felgrin can be resurrected, but only if his soul is free. Working off of Thane’s drawing of the shadow that seemed to be following Felgrin, he is able to determine that Felgrin’s corpse was reanimated with the aid of the fallen power Tenebrous, a divine echo of the demon prince Orcus that has been severed from its owner. He surmises that Felgrin’s soul must have descended into the Abyss. While he does know the necessary techniques to open a gateway into the Abyss, Anthrim warns that the party is unlikely to survive such a voyage. It is also tremendously expensive to resurrect the long-dead: likely around 40,000 gold in total.

The party resolves to come up with the money by negotiating with House Petriat for the return of their airship. Athla decides to stay behind in Talath, hungry for the knowledge provided there. She mentions that the Cloister tried several times to infiltrate the immense libraries there, which descend all the way down to the heart of the mountain, but failed.

The party makes use of a teleportation circle in the captain’s chambers to reach Halruaa, but half of them are immediately abducted by House Petriat guards.

An uneasy negotiation with Ilianos Petriat follows, and the remaining party members are allowed through the portal safely. Kilgruss casts invisibility upon himself, though, and sneaks on through. Under the protection of ongoing negotiations, the party follows Ilianos to House Petriat to discuss the safe return of his skyship. They are under armed guard the whole way.

House Petriat is a beautiful abode stretching across several small skymotes. Immediately, it becomes obvious that the family’s resources are stretched thin. They have only a few dozen guards left in their employ. Ilianos’s majordomo escorts the party toward their quarters, passing by two young women wearing blindfolds. One of them immediately spots the invisible Kilgruss, who complies with the house rules by revealing himself.

As they ascend toward their temporary quarters, Monok notices a heavily guarded dwelling on one of the skymotes. While the majordomo, Senashir, is opening the way to their quarters, the party notices a distinct deformity in the majordomo’s hands, but he quickly covers them with the sleeves of his robes.

The party is able to enjoy a needed bath before they are summoned to dine with Ilianos. There, they negotiate a finder’s fee for the skyship while also seeking Ilianos’s aid in approaching the Council of Elders. When it is clear that they are not a threat or in league with his enemies, Ilianos admits that his house’s position is highly precarious. He takes them to his son, Gorios, who became one of the plaguetouched while trying to retrieve a cache of powerful magical artifacts from a Plaguerift. Now, his skin is sloughing away like jelly, and it is only a matter of time before he succumbs to death or madness.

Monok is disgusted that Ilianos is keeping his son alive with the aid of the local Mystran order. The lord explains that he knows of no way to heal his son, but while the young man lives, he still believes there could be some hope.

With his family’s secret revealed, Ilianos shares that someone must have betrayed the secrecy around his son’s condition. Assassins have been coming after Ilianos, seeking to end the Petriat line. There are many in Halarahh who would benefit from the fall of one of the Ilysium’s lords by using Petriat’s fall to raise their own status. He offers the party a small estate in the city in perpetuity, as well as an eventual introduction to the Council of Elders, if they will help him find out who is trying to destroy House Petriat.

The party immediately suspects Senashir, who has been responsible for ferreting out any moles in the household. Ilianos reveals that this is impossible: the majordomo is not a human at all, but a rakshasa bound to the house for generations since Iliana Petriat saved him from death at the hands of his own clan.

With the aid of House Petriat secured, the party allows Ilianos to send his majordomo with a message for Athla. When it is revealed that she is a member of the Cloister, Monok is furious and refuses to work with her.

In order to expunge some of the tension, Kilgruss challenges Monok to a duel, but the goliath handily defeats the dragonborn. Jhyr turns into a cat in the chaos of the fight.

Ilianos secures meetings with two powerful lords of Halruaa, Rysar Golenoi and Vulian Anshin. The latter is willing to meet with the party in several days, but Rysar insists on coming that evening. The party find him to be convivial and charming. He is the last child of a great house, having lost his parents to an assassination attempt in the southeast. He is willing to secure an audience with the Ilysium for the party.

After the dinner, Senashir returns from attempting to carry a message to Athla. He reports that he was unable to find her, either under her own name or as the pseudonymous Lady Cor-Elizar, but he learned that Athla had used her false identity to check in to the temple’s dangerous and forbidden Understacks. When she failed to return, it set the entire temple on alert. The party must go and rescue her.

Their attempts at subtly infiltrating Talath go poorly. Monok, initially reluctant to come, attempts to inform the Mystrans of the party’s presence, and his new compatriots are forced to restrain him. Senashir, too, is irate at needing to facilitate those far less stealthy than he is, given his natural abilities as a rakshasa.

At last, the majordomo leads the party down into the Smiling Vault, one of the Understacks containing knowledge of demons and devils. He is unable to enter, as the entire place seems to be warded to prevent external access from extraplanar beings.

He agrees to provide a series of distractions to keep the priests from accessing the vault, and leaves the party to their devices.

It is immediately evident that Athla has unleashed something terrible in the Smiling Vault. The party is beset by the undead and animated tomes, a few of which are stolen by Kilgruss.

Deep in the vault, they discover Athla under the charm of a succubus that she has inadvertently summoned. Jhyr transforms into a moose and severs the succubus’s head, killing her, but not before she boasts that she has seen Felgrin’s soul in the Abyss.

On their way out of the vault, Monok attempts to trap the party by using his ritualistic magic to place a tiny hut in their path. They manage to resolve things, but it becomes clear that the goliath is attempting to sabotage their escape because he feels Athla needs to be brought to justice.

When a group of Mystrans, alerted to the party’s presence at last, pins them down in one of the mountain’s vast libraries, Senashir disguises himself as Athla and theatrically sets the place ablaze with a Wall of Fire. Thane, distraught at seeing so many books burn, begins to rescue the precious tomes from the flames, and he is caught by the Mystrans.

The others escape, eventually incapacitating Monok so that they can retreat to the still-docked Crimson Gale unhindered. Left behind, Thane is accosted and delivered to Father Anthrim, who begins interrogating the guileless aasimar. Senashir assassinates the priest in mid-sentence, liberating Thane from his cell and rejoining the others. They hasten toward the Crimson Gale and the fractured party beats a hasty retreat away from Talath.

Reeling from Monok’s truculence and their botched rescue of Athla, the party soars away from Talath in the Crimson Gale, their mood dour and resentful. They seem on the verge of coming apart at the seams. Senashir, demeaning as always, states that he will return to Halarahh to report to Lord Petriat and leaves the party to sulk.

As they settle into their rest in a storm-tossed ship, Jhyr is visited by an apocalyptic vision from Hiatea. She appears as Ondrel, the halfling, who leads him through the ruins of Luenath. She reveals herself by asking if Jhyr would recognize her with her spear, and her shadow seems to stretch many times her size. The entire party senses the presence of the ki-rin, but the beast merely appears as an abstract glimpse of light here and there.

There are bodies of dead werewolves there amidst the pale stone ruins, most of them torn apart by their lycanthropy due to the worsening Wolfplague. Draped across the steps of the central plaza is Blais’s corpse. Bhediya appears, telling Jhyr that Blais gave up her Chosen’s grace to save those that she could, but it was not enough.

It becomes clear that Bhediya represents Selûne and that a tanned, silver-haired man with an eerily soft voice is meant to be Malar. Both deities demand that the party stop the oncoming plague, being joined in their entreaties by Silvanus in the form of Gunder Bullstones. He promises that the party will not go without guidance any longer.

The group awakens to the sound of something screeching over the roar of the winds.

As they race up onto the deck, they see storm drakes flying alongside in a hunting formation. One of the largest beasts clambers up onto the deck and attacks. The storm drake alpha is terrifyingly powerful, and it seems that the scattered party will be overwhelmed, but Emerion materializes in a wave of white light and replenishes his former allies with healing spells, urging them on to victory.

The party limps toward Halarahh on a rapidly declining ship. Thane discovers that one of the two remaining flight crystals has cracked under the strain of the drakes’ attack. It appears that powerful draconic creatures are able to tear through Halruaan wards, but the death of the storm drake alpha has kept the Gale safe from its pack.

After harvesting the organs of the storm drake, including its draconis fundamentum, the party heaves the remainder of its carcass overboard. Monok seems to have been changed by the experience of a powerful religious vision. If not sold on the Harbingers’ tactics or their willingness to consort with former Cloister cultists, he decides he will at least do his best to aid the party.

Ari has difficulty landing the Crimson Gale, and it crashes into the skyship docks near House Petriat. Ilianos and Senashir arrive, drawn by a gathering crowd, and stealthily retrieve the battered adventurers.

Vulian Anshin is insulted because the party failed to dine with him, a high offense. More, the Crimson Gale’s crash will bring about questions, as it has undoubtedly made Ilianos look weak. Combined with the Gale’s involvement in the difficulties at Mount Talath, Ilianos reveals that things are not looking good.

During the following days, Ilianos works to repair his relationship with Vulian. The party attempts to offload their drake parts, and are surprised to find that the merchant they engage with is willing to give them far more than market price. He says that there has been a run on draconis fundamentums, the organ that lends draconic beings their magic.

After Ari mistakes the Saltpeter rifle as worthless and sells it to a merchant, Kilgruss goes to stealthily track it down and steal it back. He finds that the merchant has hastily taken the weapon to the Ilysium. When he demands it back, he is briefly imprisoned and interrogated by a mage in a mask of glittering metal, who charms him and lets him go.

That night, a strategy meeting with Lord Petriat is interrupted by the arrival of magehounds down at the Petriat entry hall. When the party makes their way down to deal with the newcomers, they instantly realize something is wrong. One of the two blind seers that Ilianos employs is missing, and the other seems distant and dull.

Those suspicions are confirmed when the magehounds attempt to assassinate the party and Emerion. After felling the murderous attackers, Kilgruss receives a telepathic command to ensure that the bodies are stored in the Petriat manor house.

Priests from Mount Talath, led by a resurrected Father Anthrim, arrive at House Petriat to investigate the Crimson Gale’s involvement in the recent infiltration and attack. The party comes clean to Anthrim, but they argue against him taking Athla back into custody. Anthrim instead agrees to allow her to remain in House Petriat’s custody so that she can work to find a cure for the Wolfplague.

After a trip out to the city to replenish their dwindling supplies of consumables, the party returns to House Petriat with every expectation of a quiet night before their meeting with the Ilysium.

Instead, they arrive just in time to see a flare of blue light erupt from the center of the manor house, where the magehounds’ bodies are stored. All at once, every ward and spell in House Petriat fail, sending the entire dwelling plummeting to the ground.

The party searches for survivors, but finds few. Anthrim is dead, and Senashir is lost. As a fiend, his essence will travel back into the Outer Planes to reconstitute, a process that could take days or years. After gathering up Anthrim’s remains and ensuring that they be sent into the care of the Mystrans for possible reconstitution and resurrection, the party responds to a summons from Ilianos in the form of Ptolsky, one of Petriat’s few remaining armsmen.

He takes the party to one of Ilianos’s more discreet homes within the city, where Athla is working. Ilianos provides the party with a quintet of Sympathy Rings, which will allow them to communicate with one another telepathically.

Any hope that Ilianos’s manor has not been discovered by the party’s increasingly brazen enemies is shattered with the sound of breaking glass from Athla’s laboratory. By the time they arrive to save the researcher, her assailant–a young red-haired woman clearly foreign to Halruaa–is dead, with Athla’s dagger buried in her neck.

In addition to some of the mutations standard to Cloister members, the party discovers that she has a recent scar along her chest. Athla opens the chest cavity to reveal that the woman has a draconic fundamentum stitched into her chest, modified by Cloister techniques into some sort of powerful antimagic bomb.

The party goes to the Ilysium to warn them of a threat within their own city. When it is clear that their words are falling on deaf ears, Rysar Golenoi reveals himself as a member of the Council of Elders and backs the party publicly. When Rysar steps up to speak on the party’s behalf, Cloister members throughout the audience reveal themselves, activating their fundamentums all at once. The Ilysium begins to fall from the sky.

The Ilysium falls from the sky, but parts of the floating structure regain their magical capabilities, only to be shorn away by the force of gravity as the structure falls. Falling rock from the ceiling takes out the members of the Council of Elders, but Rysar, standing with the party is spared. The party escapes through one of the breaks in the ceiling, using magic to outfly the spreading cloud of debris from the crash.

In no immediate danger, they devote themselves to combing the ruins for survivors. When it becomes clear that nothing more can be done, Rysar offers the party lodging at his home.

The next morning, he speaks before a crowd beneath the statue of the Elder Cairosh, whipping up the embittered people with a xenophobic and jingoistic speech. In the back of the crowd, the horrified party is visited by a grim-faced older man flanked by several magehounds: Vulian Anshin.

He and the party surmise that Rysar has planned this power play for some time, a fact hammered in by the arrival of the warships commissioned by the Council of Elders. The party tries to reason with Rysar, but he is cold toward them as he goes to board his flagship, the Spellfury, to begin what he claims is a counterattack against the Cloister for their act of terror.

The party investigates House Golenoi, discovering that Rysar’s study contains a hidden room that is torn apart, as if by a monstrous beast. They reason out that the ‘assassination attempt’ that killed his parents was actually an assault by werewolves, and that Rysar must have been infected with lycanthropy. Hating himself, he worked with the Cloister to infect werewolves with the Wolfplague, and has now moved on to other horrific goals.

Within his study, the party also finds a teleportation circle that they surmise must be a way onto the Spellfury. They contact Vulian, who brings three magehounds with them to bring Rysar to justice.

When they arrive on the ship, they discover that Rysar has most of the crew charmed into uselessness, suggesting that he is far more powerful than anyone had guessed. They approach him, and he flings Vulian overboard effortlessly. All three magehounds use their innate abilities to limit Rysar’s power, but he eventually overwhelms them. He is aided in the fight by his lycanthropic form, animated as its own entity by Cloister powers.

The party triumphs over Rysar just as he imprisons Kilgruss in a tiny gem with a powerful spell.

In the aftermath, Vulian halts the Spellfury’s fleet and promises that the Halruaan people will deliberate before taking further actions. After the party find a cure for Kilgruss’s condition, he and Ilianos suggest that it is time that the party–now known as the Keepers–leave Halruaa to its own devices, but they leave with the people’s thanks.

Just as they are about to take their leave of Ilianos, he experiences a powerful connection via his bond with Senashir. Felgrin is not the only being trapped in the Abyss. He reveals that Thane’s deva, Iounara, has been taken by fiends for nefarious purposes.