After recovering from the fight on the “Lady’s Sorrow” and their subsequent obfuscation of their role in the assault and burning of private property, the party starts sifting through James’s encrypted journal, and trying to plan their next move.
The Judge also learns the bags of fine powder he pulled from hiding on the Lady’s Sorrow contain Greymist, a powerful hallucinogenic drug. Recognizing that he could easily sell the drugs himself for nearly 3 gold, the Judge opts to keep the illicit substance with him instead of turning it in, and he slips another step down the path of corruption started with his rampant deceit to the Ordinators.
They eventually decode James’s writing style, and learn that he’s supposed to meet an agent of his in the nearby forests of Vvark the following day, and begin scouring the city for any sightings of James so that Gjalund can attempt to track James to the site of his meeting. Stormfury tells the rest of the party he has to check in with his Crimson Claw contact in the city, and that they should leave a message for where to meet up with them if he’s not back before they leave to chase down McMasters so he can catch up.
After the better part of a day spent pounding the streets, they come across a Tafari fishing in the bay named Alexandros, who introduces himself as the 14th Beach Prince of Tel’Eros. Alexandros saw someone who matched James’s description climb out of the bay a couple hours prior, and take off up the road to Tel Seydra before ducking into the mushroom forest. Alexandros offers to show the party where, and the group sets off. Eventually, Alexandros hits the limits of his knowledge, and they must turn to Gjalund’s wildslore in order to track down McMasters. Despite the slower going, the party manages to catch back up to James several hours from town, and manage to covertly catch most of his conversation with two smaller, heavil cloaked, figures deep in the forest of Vvark.
The party learns that ancient ruins similar to those found near Ajjatara have been uncovered in the Desolation, and that the pieces of pottery and helmet they “recovered” were from that dig site. They also learn James intends to head there himself. When McMasters goes to pay his agent and leave, Gjalund shoots the purse of money from McMasters’s hand, and the battle is on. Though the party has the element of surprise, James proves to be a skilled combatant, as do the two cloaked figures who are revealed to be goblins. The party can feel their luck starting to turn, but then reinforcements arrive: more goblins, and a gigantic spider that becomes dubbed “The Shadow”.
The battle is hard fought, and more than one member of the party nearly succumbs to their injuriess, including one severe wound suffered by the Judge. Eventually, they kill or defeat most of the goblins, and James escapes on the back of the Shadow, though Gjalund manages one final parting shot on the villain that appears to sorely wound him, and as slumps over and the spider begins carrying him as it scurries away.
The party dresses their wounds, and revives the goblin leader, whose name they learned was Bek during the meeting. After time spent interrogating Bek, the party is left with the following knowledge from the ordeal:
- The Girallon that attacked the windwhale were acting on their own, not under direction from McMasters.
- McMasters is heading to the Desolation, via the Western Transitgate.
- McMasters has a big mystery plan that not even Bek is privvy to.
- McMasters works for the Gauntlet, he isn’t the Gauntlet himself.
- McMasters has a gigantic pet spider, originally bred by a close aquaintance of Bek’s.
- Bek has no idea how McMasters controls the spider.