Roster (Party Level 8th)
Berend - Dwarven Fighter
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard
Finial - Half-elf Paladin
Jonas - Human Rogue/Ranger
In the aftermath of the battle, with the ashes of several wagons gently smouldering nearby and the surviving mercenaries going about the grim task of collecting the bodies of their comrades, the company begins a frustrating interrogation of Aiyanna, sitting as always with Krait at her side. She reiterates what she said before, that she has no choice in this matter, and adds that she could tell them nothing even if she wanted to: her master would not permit it.
Questions about who this "master" actually is are met with stony silence, although Berend elicits the comment "he is the man between spaces". His control over her seems absolute.
"Every promise of my life before I was born, every dream of my parents as to what I could be... every choice and deed and consequence while I'm alive... every legend or rumour or tale of my existence after I'm gone... all his. Everything I have been or ever will be. Utterly his."
-- Aiyanna on her "master"
During the questioning Finial's suspicions surrounding Krait, and who he might be, start to rise. He detects a strange paradoxical relationship between the two of them, as if the huge goliath's deference to her is a deception, and trusting his instincts completely, as always, he levels his flail at him. "In Bahamut's name, you will face me!"
Krait's reaction is immediate. "So be it, paladin!" As he stands, Aiyanna's eyes roll up into her head and she enters some kind of fugue. Finial gets to his feet as well, and his friends -- after the briefest moment of hesitation for some of them while they decide whether helping will impune the holy warrior's dignity -- also decide to join the fight. Around them, the remaining members of Aiyanna's company stand around uncertainly, confused by yet another strange turn of events.
Krait focuses his attention on Finial to the exclusion of all other attacks. His massive two-handed sword is at first incorporeal, slicing through Finial's torso but not doing any real damage. That is until the creature utters a curse which seems to shroud the paladin in a terrible quiet, the voice of his god suddenly more distant than it has ever been, whereupon the blade folds into terrible reality that Finial can barely stand to look at, let alone defend himself against. The weapon cuts into him and forces him to use attacks which don't rely on Bahamut for strength.
"Is the voice of your god quietened, paladin? Are the angels silenced? Such is the reach of my will."
--Krait, to Finial, in the caverns of the Underdark.
Still, whether Krait was unprepared for this combat, or some other unknown reason, he doesn't make a massive impression on Finial's defenses before the combined assaults of the paladin's companions bring him to his knees. However with one last, defiant burst of power, he whispers a name ("Izo") and both he and Aiyanna slip out of existence, vanishing from the cavern and frustrating the adventurers of their victory.
Elumai examines the site of their escape, detecting a rupture in the fabric of the World which is far in excess of her own experience or ability to analyze (although that fact in itself is telling). Meanwhile Jonas menaces two of the remaining mercenaries, who tell him that they're just as confused as he is about what just happened.
Aiyanna hired them a few weeks previously, and they've travelled the caverns of the Underdark ever since, making camp intermittently so that Aiyanna can disappear and pay a visit to one of her "targets". They have no idea why, but they do offer to retrace their steps if it will save their lives. The party, however, decides against it, content to let this mystery go for now, and the mercenaries are allowed to leave.
A couple of days are spent in the Seven-Pillared Hall, assisting with the clean-up and ensuring that some of the stipulations made at the council meeting are upheld. Jonas, keen to start his own network of spies, starting in the Seven-Pillared Hall, recruits a likely candidate and gives them enough coin to find and employ other like-minded individuals to the cause. Perhaps detecting Berend's growing sympathy for Brugg's plight, or perhaps on a whim -- who knows? -- he also takes the time to free the ogre of his chains. The Mages' old lackey disappears from the Hall almost immediately.
Soon the time comes to take their leave of the Hall and return whence they came. The trip, which seemed so dangerous just a couple of weeks ago, now seems tame in comparison with the trials they have endured, and after an uneventful trek, they emerge, blinking, into the midday sun at Goffer's Ledge.
Up above, a few errands are the order of the day before the lure of further adventure in Pargsmeer House and Gardens, the atoll's notorious haunted house, proves too much. At the manor, they discover that the mayor has sealed herself in with her new husband -- none other than Mord himself! -- for the traditional 6-nights and 7-days of post-nuptial bliss. They're denied entrance, despite their association with the new first-dwarf of the Atoll.
Jonas, determined to uncover exactly what Asimuth Royt knows of the flurock and its properties, corners the Union man in a dark corner of the town and tries hard to elicit evidence of his guilt. The dragonborn prospector appears bemused by leading questions of worms and mages, however, and upon hints that the Mages want more of the material to continue their work, is forced to report that the stock has in fact dried up. Tempted by an offer of "three times the normal rate", however, Royt agrees to re-open some of the more dangerous lower mines for prospecting, on the off-chance that they missed a rich seam of the mineral during their earlier searches.
And finally, news which stands them in good stead for the journey east. With Riva still missing, his caravan is stranded at the Atoll, but another, much larger wagon-train under the stewardship of renowned driver Shortham Banks is due to leave for Emerandes in two days. The party pays a visit to his accountant, Olak Grentz, and in lieu of paying the fee for joining the trip, sign on as official and designated protection for the caravans and their occupants.
Which gives them a full day to kill, and a haunting to resolve...