The players continue their investigation of Nimozaran’s disappearance, the increase in orc activity in the Cairngorm Peaks, the increase in visibility of the Iron Circle in the south, and the alien creatures that have suddenly appeared between Fallcrest and Thunderspire.
As the day starts, T’shea decides to further inspect the library on the second floor of the Septarch’s tower. Bork, Quarion, Eliza, and Arabold decide to seek further information about the activity of the area in town. Their first stop takes them to Maxwell at the Nentir Inn.
Maxwell reveals that the orc activity in the Cairngorm Peaks is something of a common occurrence, happening about once per decade. Due to the Bloodspear Wars, 90 years earlier, people of the vale tend to get jumpy when the orcs are on the move. They fear another invasion, but the orcs have only been following food for the past 90 years. He is unsure what’s happening with the Iron Circle, but he doesn’t believe it has anything to do with Nimozaran’s death. The Iron Circle is a mercenary group so their actions are usually dictated by the highest bidder. Maxwell also reveals that the Iron Circle is about 100 strong in seasoned veterans.
While Bork, Quarion, Eliza, and Arabold are away; T’shea receives a knock at the door of the tower. She greets a group of five men led by one called Belgold who states he has information on Nimozaran. T’shea is initially quite suspicious and does not agree to allow the men in despite their request to speak in private. Belgold offers to discuss in a more private location, such as a bar, and T’shea agrees, but asks to be allowed to lock the tower. As she closes the door of the tower one of the men kicks the door in which knocks T’shea prone. Four of the Five quickly surround T’shea and knock her unconscious while the fifth man runs to the second floor and starts a fire in the library.
After speaking with Maxwell, T’shea’s comrades agree to return to the tower to report their findings to her. Upon leaving the Nentir Inn they see smoke in the distance over the Septarch’s tower. They rush to the tower to find T’shea unconscious and the library on fire. Quarion and Arabold quickly work to extinguish the fire while Eliza heals T’shea and Bork searches for the intruders – finding none. Eliza and T’shea also find that T’shea has been tattooed with the symbol of the devourer.
With the fire out and the immediate threat gone, the Keepers head out onto the road following the assassin’s tracks east out of Fallcrest. Three hours out of the city they find the attackers had stashed horses in a small copse of trees and are now riding quickly away. The Keepers return to Fallcrest and acquire horses from Lord Markelhay.
Their pursuit delayed because of returning to Fallcrest, the players find they are approximately three hours behind the attackers so they push their horses to the brink and do the same with themselves. At the point they cannot continue they find that they are still about three hours behind. Clearly the attackers are pushing themselves as hard as they are.
The next day, the Keepers continue their chase to Thunderspire where they find the five men have gained an ally and have turned south-south-west toward the Witchlight Fens. They continue to give chase. After twelve hours of travel, Quarion casts fly upon himself to gain a higher vantage point of their quarry. He flies only close enough to discern if their enemies mounts are magical or natural creatures. From this lofty point he can also see that the assassins have clearly pointed out his location as well as the location of the entire party and one lone rider, the sixth person, continues on with a magical mount. He returns to his allies where they learn T’shea’s tattoo is enchanted with a location spell. The assassins are tracking them.
The Keepers then decide to have T’shea stay in their emcampment while the remaining four sneak up on the enemies camp. In doing so, Arabold and Quarion arrive first to find the enemy camp has complete disappeared. Concerned with T’shea’s well-being they hurry back to her and find she’s without harm. They agree to return to Thunderspire.
In returning to Thunderspire, they find three citizens of the Seven Pillared Hall are exiting the mountain carry full packs. Surina – the dragonborn warrior, Rendil Halfmoon, and Vadriar the Sage have fled the Hall and are traveling to Fallcrest. Rendil explains that one day about one-and-a-half weeks ago the bronze warders went berserk attacking the citizens. The twelve Mages of Saruun appeared in the Hall, the only time all twelve have ever been seen, to combat the warders. Within seconds, the warders and the mages had disappeared, but there was a long commotion within the Tower of Saruun. After the commotion subsided, the warders returned and began what could only be described as a search throughout the Hall and the tunnels of the Labyrinth. If anyone would try to stop the warders they would be attacked. Brugg, the former captain of the guard, was dead because he stood in the way. Vadriar adds that the happenings in the Hall remind him of the plan Paldemar had tried to enact several years ago.
T’shea described her attackers to the three refugees and Vadriar informs her that the skull tattoo on their forehead would indicate that they were from Skull City – the famed city of Acererak. The Skull tattoo marks the men as Faithmarked, people who still believe Acererak is alive, but has abandoned them due to unknown transgressions. He explains that there is another group within Skull City known as the Blackfire who believe that Acererak was destroyed long ago, but continue the research he began. He provided the Keepers with limited direction to Skull City and the Keepers began the journey. T’shea returned to Fallcrest with the refugees.
The Keepers traveled to the Witchlight Fens, supposed home of the black dragon Shadowmire, and come upon a battle between a large group of lizardfolk and Daggerburg goblins. In the following battle the Keepers quickly dispatch the lizardfolk, but attack the goblins as well. With the last lizardfolk killed or having fled for their life, the Daggerburg captain calls for a hold in the fight and sheaths his weapon. The Keepers comply and are subsequently berated for their actions in attacking them when the Daggerburg hadn’t attacked them. The Daggerburg captain permits them to leave. The Keepers comply.
After two more days travel, the Keepers arrive in Skull City to find it in ruins. The sculpted, skull-themed, black stone wall has been breached in many places. The moat has drained and is now overgrown with weeds and brambles – to the point that the bottom cannot be seen. The buildings within the city have fallen to ruin and some still burn. Bodies lay in the streets long been picked clean by predators or time.
Seeing the large skull formation signaling the entrance to Acererak’s tomb, as described by Arabold – the only party member who has been to the tomb prior, the group heads directly toward the hill. In doing so, they encounter a battle between a group of zombies and skeletons. They move to inspect and are caught in the crossfire as the Faithmarked necromancer fires a spell at them. As the battle continues, the players destroy the skeletons and zombies to focus their attacks on the necromancer, but before defeating him they are joined by two Blackfire necromancers and more zombies. Ultimately being victorious, but using many of their resources, the party decides to rest at the battle site.
After only two hours of rest, the party is ambushed by two bone nagas and 10 skeleton archers. The party is able to defeat their adversaries, but again have used many of their resources. The need for rest is of utmost importance.