The voices in his head.
After subduing the Spellguard, the heroes preparetheir next steps. Stepping away from the mage rather than murdering him, however, Saradoc hears a voice in his head, asking him why he isn’t taking the man’s life. The voice seems to be a lot more active lately …
A funny thing happened on the way to the reception.
Sir Dunfarres’s package.
The heroes let Tym go so that he can report back to Lady Iveress. Hoping to keep their presence a secret, they tell him to feed Iveress a simple lie—just that they found what they were looking for.
Meanwhile, they head to the mail room to find the parcel Sir Dunfarres had been waiting for. The word “midnight” is written along the side, in the same familiar handwriting as the coded messages Vasandra received.
Inspecting the parcel in a forgot storage room, they found the components for a powerful poison within. They decide to complete its delivery to see who’s supposed to take it. Sir Dunfarres leads them to the kitchen and places the parcel in a cabinet out of the way. However, with Ooga wildshaped as a direwolf, they attract the attention of a chef. She attacks the wolf and calls the guards against it.
Ooga runs while Saradoc remains behind in the kitchen, hiding in a cabinet to keep an eye on the parcel. Ooga runs to the storage room, Knights in Silver hot on his tail. To evade them, he returns to his half-orc shape and melds with the stone of the palace. The Knights fail to find him as Tobias and Kaloy, still in her guise as Sir Francois, finally catch up.
Left behind in the kitchen, Saradoc spies a halfling steward retrieving the parcel. He follows him to the servants quarters and into his private room, where the halfling begins concocting the poison.
Away from everyone else, Saradoc assaults the steward and subdues him. After a brief round of questioning, the halfling, Sulfrael, tells Saradoc nothing except his loyalty to the Zhentarim. Saradoc considers keeping Sulfrael subdued, but another bloodthirsty voice enters his head, telling him it would be so easy to just slit the defenseless halfling’s throat. Saradoc begrudgingly complies, hides the body, and takes his clothes to impersonate him. He destroys the poison, ensuring that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Exhausted from all of their efforts, the heroes split up to get some much needed rest. Tobias and Kaloy retreat from the castle, back to the Gypsy Dawn while Saradoc, Ooga, and Sir Dunfarres remain.
Kaloy speaks with Lady Iveress, concerned that her ploy to charm the apparent fake Iveress failed. Iveress tells her a secret she’s told no one else, about how much she loved the stories of a knight named Sir Tascha, who hid her identity and fought as a man, becoming a hero in the process. Kaloy polymorphs, taking the guise of an androgynous warrior named Sir Alyxe. Iveress seems pleased.
A visit from the Zhentarim.
Saradoc and Ooga, meanwhile, rest in Sulfrael’s room. While Ooga tucks away in a corner and dozes quietly, Saradoc investigates Sulfrael’s things to see what he can find. His correspondences seem to be highly concerned with the comfort and accommodations of King Thuenor of Mithrall Hall and his retinue.
Soon enough, there’s a knock at the door. Saradoc answers and creates a minor illusion of the poison being prepared on the table. An anonymous figure in the black cloak of the Zhentarim asks if Saradoc remembers his next instructions. Truthfully answering that he doesn’t, the Zhentarim agent is displeased by continues: the poison is to be split into thirds, to give to King Thuenor in small doses. The dwarf is to be forced out of the Silver Marches Summit through sickness on the third day, but he is not to be killed.
The Zhentarim agent then leaves and disappears down the hall.
The Welcoming Reception.
Life of the party.
The heroes reconvene in the reception hall as the representatives of all the Silver Marches nation-states convene for the summit. Saradoc fills the heroes in on the situation.
Saradoc continues to provide King Thuenor with ale, hoping that he’s able to convince whatever Zhentarim agents are watching him that he’s performing his function as required. Ooga hovers nearby, wildshaped as a quasit. When Thuenor steps away from the table to relieve himself, Saradoc follows and tries to tell him that it’s imperative that he attends the entirety of the summit, especially the third day. Thuenor seems confused (and drunk), so Saradoc also informs his majordomo as well. He seems to take the information a little more seriously.
Tobias surveys the reception. Sir Dunfarres approaches him and informs him of some disturbing rumors he’s heard around the palace. Namely, that an Illithid mindflayer had been spotted in the lower reaches of the palace. Whether these are baseless rumors or true remains to be concerned … but the heroes are aware that the Brothers are mindflayers.
Kaloy, in the guise of Sir Alyxe, attempts to get closer to the fake Lady Iveress. As she sidles up to the dais to speak with her, she’s instead greeted by Arthrial, Iveress’s chief of staff. While he seems charmed by Sir Alyxe’s presence, Iveress again seems entirely disinterested.
As Lady Iveress stands to address the reception, Saradoc and Ooga sneak out to find out where the journal is.
Approaching Lady Iveress’s room, Saradoc, still disguised as Sulfrael, is greeted by two Knights in Silver and a Spellguard … Tym. Tym seems distant, distracted, and does not recognize Saradoc at all. The knights do not allow him passage through.
Ooga, still a quasit, scouts ahead through the window. He spies two Zhentarim agents on the other side of the door, guarding the journal they’re looking for.
Ooga and Saradoc decide to use magic to try to steal the journal. Saradoc climbs along the ledge outside and gets into position. Flying in through a crack in the window, Ooga stealthily grabs the book from the table while Saradoc places an illusion to fake that it’s still there. However, the journal is heavier than expected. The book accidentally hits the ground with a soft thud, enough to alert the Zhentarim guarding it. They cast magic to see invisibility and catch Ooga in the act.
Ooga hides under Iveress’s bed in an attempt to evade the Zhentarim. Saradoc uses more magic to knock some candles over, starting a fire in the bedroom. One of the Zhentarim leaps over the fire to try to attack Ooga while the other alerts the knights on the other side of the door. Rather than facing them all head on, Ooga transforms back into his original half-orc form, pushes past the Zhentarim, and jumped out the window, plummeting over 40 feet to the ground. As he falls, Saradoc catches the journal with his own magic and retreats back inside the palace. Ooga transforms into an eagle and flies away.
A powerful, fiendish threat.
The alarm is raised—the palace is under attack. Sir Dunfarres leads Tobias toward the action, to maintain their own appearances with the knights.
They look out onto Lady Iveress’s room from a window, enveloped in flames, smoke billowing into the night sky. Tobias uses his divine senses to see if anything is amiss. He notices something very, very dangerous.
A fiendish presence so strong has left the residue of its evil somewhere within the palace.
The heroes make their exit from the palace, the Iveress’s grandfather’s journal now in hand. The Silver Marches Summit has only just begun …