While Dziga flees to the surface due to a magical compulsion, Kalerecent attempts to detect the presence of evil among Emeris, Early, and Vatex. Kalerecent sees an aura of darkness around Emeris, and distrusts him, but the group convinces the paladin that they were hired by Brother Fabitor to find him.
Kalerecent explains that he has been alone in the dark for many days now. He and his monk cohort RSANIR had investigated the old manor in Oldtown following a request from a concerned neighbourhood resident who heard digging noises. They used potion of invisibility and followed the monsters down the tunnel into the unsealed part of the Banewarrens. Originally, there was Ios and Verochin, a second lamia, a green hag, a goblin rogue, and several goblin archers. The rogue opened some vaults and released Tavan Zith, who just ran off and the monsters forgot about him completely. In the chamber with the massive sealed door, they saw a green hag use a ring to cast a Wish spell and open the sealed door. Knowing the monsters must be stopped, they ambushed the monsters. They killed the goblins but the monsters were too strong. Rsanir sacrificed himself to close the sealed door, and Kalerecent was forced to flee. Only the green hag was able to get beyond the door before it closed. Ios and Verochin left the Banewarrens to get more goblins, while a second lamia remained behind and pursued the paladin. Out of lamp oil, he found himself in a cat-and-mouse game with the lamia for the next several days in the dark. It was then that the “Grailquest Team” returned with more goblins, followed by the warblade, shadowcaster, and urban ranger.
Returning to the surface via the umber hulk’s tunnel, the group heads to St. Gustave’s. Fabitor thanks them for finding the paladin and has the acolytes heal their wounds and restore their willpower drained by the lamia monk’s fists. Fabitor invites them all to the Grand Cathedral to speak with his superiors in the Holy Order of Vigoor.
At the Grand Cathedral meeting, they meet various figures in the church. First is Brother TOBIAS, who wants to consider exploring the Banewarrens in search of ancient lore from the time of the saint Danar rather than sealing it up immediately. Brother HETH believes the Banewarrens should be sealed quickly, but first he would like to learn more about the magic used by Danar to seal up evil banes. Sister DALIASANA is an elderly, stern woman who simply wants to seal up the umber hulk tunnel and be done with it. Sister MARA does not express much opinion. Finally there is TELESTIR, not in the clergy but a devout servant of the Emperor who works with the hierarchy in the Holy Order, who leans towards Tobias’ position.
Heth asks the companions to accept a new mission. He gives them a scroll that, if used at the sealed door in the Banewarrens, should reveal some information about Danar’s magic. Kalerecent volunteers to return to the Banewarrens and keep watch over the sealed door. Emeris takes the scroll but secretly cannot use it, and will need to find Dziga for that. Telestir gives him a token that will enable him to send a message to the Church should there be trouble.
After leaving the meeting, Emeris is overcome with horrible pain as his draconic heritage begins to emphasize itself further. Early and Vatex head back to the house and stay up through their friend’s painful transformation. The next morning, Emeris emerges more dragon-like – and more powerful – than before.
The next day, the group tries to find Dziga but he is nowhere to be found. At the Bull & Bear Armory, Early hears some rumors about an army of barbarians that has just…appeared in Willendorf to the west. The army, it is claimed, is now marching on the city of Elan! The Commissar is supposedly preparing the massive guns of Elan for the city’s defense. It seems highly implausible, but the man assures everyone that he has a reliable source. The man is also an ethnocentric jerk and gets beat up by Early for disparaging comments about northerners.
Hirus and his brother FEEK ask Early if he has seen Itumar, who didn’t show up for yesterday. Early thought he was fine, as the boy had safely left their house after the raid on the cultist meeting. But Feek explained that Itumar’s apartment was trashed and the boy seems to be in trouble. Itumar’s friend, bard named LAVIS, went looking for him and found his jacket with a spell in some by some old storehouse. But now she has been missing for a day herself. Early reports the information to Vatex, who deduces Itumar’s location using Lavis’ only hint and his extensive knowledge of the city.
Early the warblade-fighter, Emeris the half-dragon shadowcaster, and Vatex the elven urban ranger hurry to the old storehouse. Although it is set up to appear abandoned, they find a trapped secret entrance. Early is electrocuted and the group is attacked by a human aberration modified with chaositech. Fearless and aggressive, it fights with spiked gauntlets and a strange harness that controls swinging, serrated blades. A fury of attacks weakens the thing enough that Emeris' arrow of dusk can render it unconscious. Vatex descends on the fallen thing and hacks it apart. They take the strange harness it wears, and in the next room they find the gagged and bound Lavis. She tells them this is the hideout of the Surgeon in the Shadows, who is mythical in the Elanian underworld.
The bard joins them and they encounter the Surgeon in his nightmarish operating room, splattered with gore and reeking of old blood and chemicals. It is full of weird tools and diagrams. The Surgeon and his dwarven assistant RASTOR are preparing Itumar for some awful procedure. The Surgeon teleports away, but his Castor and another chaos-shaped guardian, once a human woman, with a stumbling gait are left behind and fight to the death. The group fights to save Itumar. Vatex fires his rifle and hits the dwarf, who charges after him with a steaming chaositech axe. The dwarf stumbles over a cable across the floor and Early leaps upon him with a flurry of attacks. Emeris conjures black fire around the chaos-shaped guardian, who gets across the room with surprising speed and agility thanks to chaositech-enhanced legs. She flanks Early and cuts him with her chaositech blade-arm, and Emeris chases behind to touch her with a surge of life-fading power. Lavis inspires the group with bardic singing and Vatex leaps onto one of the blood-stained operating tables and cuts down the dwarf. The guardian has armored plates grafted to her flesh, but it only keeps her alive a little longer before Early strikes the fatal blow. Itumar is saved!
Itumar explains that a couple of cultists followed him back to his apartment when he left Emeris and Early’s house. They captured him and eventually brought him to the Surgeon. He learned many things while he was with the cultists. They are up to something big, and they speak of Khyron who thinks he can bring about the Night of Dissolution. Itumar tells them the cultists are planning to destroy a powerful anti-chaos device in a place called the “Kaleidoscopic Temple”. He corroborates information about the “secret project” between the Brotherhood and the Ebon Hand in Oldtown as well.
Early takes a few things from the hideout for Shilukar to look at, then the group sets the twisted place on fire and flees the scene. It is time now to find Dziga. Where did he go?
Next: Does the company return to the Banewarrens, or investigate the cultists’ secret project in Oldtown?
Random Elanian Factoid: Kinion Luth is the real name of the “Surgeon in the Shadows”. It is said that for the right price he will alter you in horrid ways to grant you fantastic abilities.