Embarking from Gargatua, some with fresh scars from recent desert tribulations, others with mental scars they have just begun to unravel, the party takes a Windwhale to Refuge, the famed Neutral City in the midst of the Fey Court Civil War. While initially nervous as the windwhale was also transporting a captured Ashworm, the trip to Refuge was uneventful. However, while searching for information on the Refuge-located-ruins, death nearly befalls two of the party…
While the Judge and Anzula attempt to research anything on their discoveries in the Desolation’s ruins with the aid of an aspiring Gateway Architect named “Eldcor” they enlist, Gjalund goes about the city, attempting to utilize the extensive legalized “black market” in the city to pawn off some of the items liberated from the ruins. Neither wishing to participate in Gjalund’s shady dealings, and finding musty old tomes boring, Scara and Stormfury enlist themselves as competitors in the local Arena. Scara’s past experience allowed the two to get set against a betting high-odds match, against the very ashworm they flew with on the Windwhale trip. However, the difficult odds lived up to their name, and Scara nearly succumbed to the ashworm’s poison before the battle weary Stormfury landed a killing blow.
Flush with their winnings, the party re-united and began their westward trek to where Gjalund believed the ruins to be located, after consulting the copy of the map the Judge had made, no new information to be had from their research. Reaching a dense copse of woods, the party encountered a hermit woodsman living in a small cabin, and were able to use his knowledge of the surrounding forest to locate a likely entrance to the ruins.
Delving deep and prepared for a fight, the party uneasily crept through another ruined city to the central temple. They discovered that McMasters had already visited this ruin, and apparently taken the large crystal from this temple as well. Spending some time on the inscriptions in the temple, the Judge deduced that the crystals were parts of a key needed to access something stored in yet another ruin. He also learned that the third key was located in the ruins found near the border of the Ajjataran forest, and that they were needed at a fourth ruin to the north. Gjalund surmised the ruins appeared to be located nearly directly under Fort Marroth. The final bit of useful knowledge the Judge was able to decipher was that the Marroth ruins supposedly held something called the “Soul Cairn”, and it was connected to the three key crystals somehow.
The party decided the best course of action, considering how far ahead of the party McMasters already was, would be to take a Windwhale directly to Fort Marroth, and try to beat him to the prize so they could set up an ambush.
The party was on their guard as the exited the ruins, as while no undead had yet attacked them, the longer they spent in the ruins, the longer they felt like something, or somethings, were watching them.
They came back to the surface near nightfall, and made for the woodsman’s cabin to make camp for the night, only to find themselves ambushed by the woodsman himself, in reality an assassin left behind by McMasters in case they should find his trail, and a beach prince in his own right.
The fight was difficult, with Gjalund nearly dieing to the skilled bowmanship of the assassin and his blades, and Scara utterly destroying the cabin in a drug-induced rage, but the party prevailed. Exhausted, wounded, and Scara unconscious once his drug-high wore off, the party stayed camped for most of the next day. Perhaps most telling of all, Anzula willingly took the assassin’s beach prince title for herself, showing no restraint of remorse in smashing in his skull with her staff once he was brought low. The party then returned to Refuge, and plotted a course to Fort Marroth.