The heroes take stock of their situation during their escape from the catacombs. Unaccustomed to the deep underground, Sayer is feeling the strains of claustrophobia nip at his rationality.
Climbing back up to the ground level, the group find that the ghostly skull has re-animated itself, but seems to be affected somehow. The companions quickly surmise that it seems to have lost it’s vision, perhaps do to the removal of the Skull Gems. They make quick work of the skull, stomping it’s remains into a fine dust just for safe measure.
After a brief debate on the contents of the sealed wing of the catacombs and the likelihood of significance clues therein, the group decide to make their way through the forest road back toward Darrowmere. It’s a solemn walk through the late night rain.
They find the Black Swan bereft of the typical crowd for this time of the evening. The barkeep mentions that any clientele that happens in seems to wander off before long, finding the crowd cold and dreary. The three cloaked figures in the corner have been here the better part of the day, nursing the same three pints of ale (much to the barkeep’s chagrin). Sayer orders the three a round on him.
The group was just noticing the gravity of the situation when the bartender delivers the drinks, pointing at Sayer. The figures all stand, kicking away their chairs and turning over the table. The barkeep, shrieks while running for safety.
The cloaked figures have a deep turquoise hue to their skin, with abhorrent growths marring throughout in patches. They draw vicious looking weapons with hands that seem sodden and bloated.
During the engagement, the companions find that the beings seem to break away at the combat, leaving an oily mess tangled with seaweed and barnacles. Still they came, intent on their target.
Eventually the group is able to tear away enough of their assailants to halt their attack. With the final killing blow, the figures burst in a wet mess, leaving the floor briny and sodden.
After Ogg’s attempts to to defend his friends fall flat, he boils over into a blood rage, throwing his sword through a wall and smashing all the furniture in reach into kindling.
He is eventually calmed while the group faces the aftermath of the situation carefully, not least of which a crowd of curious onlookers who had been passing by the Swan. The terrified barmaid who had been taking shelter in the pantry was eventually coaxed out, with wide eyes glancing uneasily at the hilt of Ogg’s sword as it protrudes from the wall.
A local is sent to find Hergen Blaythe, who arrives and looks over the destruction in bewilderment. The companions offer him explanation, all while he expertly shapes the splintered wood into a seating apparatus and surface for the newly fetched pints of ale.
The group eventually retires, long needed after their eventful day. They awake with renewed vigor and take up the task of investigating Darrowmere further. Believing the Church of the Verdant Thicket to have some understanding to what had happened in the Catacombs, they begin planning an incursion into the upper reaches of the Pavilion. Surely they must know more than they’re letting on?
The heroes discreetly linger in the Godsreach, discussing among themselves the best coarse of action to get into the restricted areas of the Pavilion. Akasha seems to reserve much of her opinion and is not noticed when she slips away. She approaches a one of the figures adorned in the telltale robes of the Verdant Thicket while he drags a rake across the surface of a sand garden.
She inquires about the church, asking of the young man how one might join their ranks. Noticing her to be an elf, he rushes to find his master, one with the authority to see to her request properly. The young bard is greeted by Master Woodshaper Kristoff, a vain man wearing resplendent robes fitting to his position as head of the Verdant Thicket. He eagerly receives Akasha and sees her right away to his office.
The prospect of having a real life elf, one who has gazed on the beauty of Aelostrian first hand, is almost too much for the Woodshaper to take. He makes small talk, writing accurately her name full name on the substantial paperwork necessary to accept her into the ranks.
There is a knock at the door as one of the groundskeepers enters requesting the Master Woodshaper to see to an important matter of the church that required his immediate attention. Failing to hid his frustration, Sunto Pai excuses himself and steps out of the room. In a scramble, Akasha begins rifling through the books and trinkets on his shelves and upturning the neatly stacked papers on his desk before fumbling open a locked drawer. She yanks out a dossier marked ‘Miraak Flores’, upturning a bottle of what must be expensive bourbon in the process.
Hearing the Woodshaper returning, only on the other side of the door finishing his orders to the subordinate, Akasha waves her hand in the air above the desk and creates an illusion of order, hiding beneath it the mess her search had wrought. As she falls back into her seat, the door swings open.
“I don’t care how you do it, just get that sand raked!”, the Master Woodshaper snarled, slamming the door in the face of the underling. Regaining the mask of serenity, he apologized for the interruption. Continuing the introductory paperwork for admittance, in spite of Akasha’s vague protests, Sunto Pai circled back around his desk sniffing the air slightly.
His composed look turned to confusion as he regained his chair, seating himself directly in a puddle of lavish bourbon. Akasha quickly takes her leave, hearing the Woodshaper bark out orders in bewilderment to nobody in particular.
Running along, Akasha finds her way through a series of hallways to the entry chamber just as three slow moving groundskeepers burst through a door opposite of her. Darting to the stairway, the nimble elf reaches the exit easily as the tenders chug along in their cumbersome robes and heavily decorated staves.
Akasha flees wildly into the city proper as the groundskeepers give chase, all out of sight to the rest of the companions. She turns a corner and ducks into a viaduct, quickly throwing an illusion over the space. Holding her breath, she hears as the agitated figures lumber past, the jangling of their ornaments ringing through the air. With a rush of relief, she settles into her nook long enough to lose her pursuers before running back to the Black Swan.