Along the road to Athkatla.
Having recently arrived back in the Prime Material Plane only to see smoke rising in the south, Saradoc and Ooga impulsively set off to investigate while Kaloy remains behind to talk with Mason about a certain spell she’s interested in casting: a means of further protecting the ship from Abraham’s minions.
Kaloy offers the idea of using the Hallow spell on the Gypsy Dawn, but is unsure of what will happen to Skinny and Frenelis, two companions of the undead variety. Mason says he’s fine with casting the spell on the ship—anything to keep his crew safe—and Ofelia offers an idea: they should visit Lord Eddard in Candlekeep, a master of Evocation and her tutor.
Saradoc and Ooga, meanwhile, come across a traveler on the road accosted by Gith. The traveler, a Dragonborn monk named Kavanah, is en route to Athkatla in search of some information tied to her status as an “heir” and the destruction of her temple. Saradoc and Ooga help Kavanah fight off the Gith, taking one of them captive, but when they try to speak with their apparently new ally, the conversation is frosty at best. She doesn’t trust them, and nothing they say seems to make anything better. It isn’t until after Saradoc reveals a past trauma and Kavanah communicates with Kaloy that things are finally put into order—Kavanah will travel with the heroes, if only to get to Athkatla.
A city in flames.
The escort of imps.
As the Gypsy Dawn grew closer to the city, several demonic imps flew alongside the ship and greeted Saradoc as their brother. They asked if he was coming to enjoy the sacrifice and to contribute to their ritual. Mistress Kaliasa and the Daemonfey have been helping Abraham’s forces capture the Zhentarim, and all the citizens of the Zhent-controlled city of Athkatla, to bring to the center of the city for a horrific ritual.
Saradoc is able to convince the imps that he is, indeed, there to help and that the companions he is currently traveling with are actually his offerings for the sacrifice. After landing, Saradoc and Kaloy employ their magic to fool the demons into believing that Saradoc has beaten them into submission. An enormous bone devil arrives to help carry the “beaten” Kavanah, Kaloy, and Ooga through the city so they can be contributed for the sacrifice.
Enemies of enemies of enemies.
As they traversed the broken city, they found that no bodies had been left behind by the Daemonfey, though blood and destruction could be found everywhere. As they passed one building, Saradoc detected a certain magical presence and convinced the imps to go ahead without him.
Entering a ruined store, Saradoc found himself surrounded by several surviving Zhentarim agents. Their leader, a Tiefling named Kairon, told Saradoc what had happened: Abraham had cut his ties with the black cloaks, annoyed that they had been infiltrated and deceived so many times by the heroes. Now Abraham was experimenting with a new ritual, researched from the aboleth the heroes encountered and destroyed in the Astral Sea, to try to break back into Faerun without using the black fires.
If Saradoc offered the black cloaks safe passage out of the city, he would leave something behind for Saradoc and his companions: a clue to finding out just who all the Heirs are.
Saradoc and Kairon come to a shaky agreement, not trusting one another, until they realize they are both cursed by House Dlardrageth. Both possess a cursed coin, and Kairon has been cursed with some affliction that renders him unable to touch things. After Saradoc leaves, there is a new understanding between the two of them. Perhaps even some trust.
Meanwhile, the bone devil carrying Ooga, Kavanah, and Kaloy reveals it is learning how to speak Common. Kaloy has some fun tricking it with incorrect grammar.
Brothers and Sisters.
Another deal with the devil.
Arriving at Waukeen’s Pavilion, the economic center of Athkatla, the heroes find that the entire marketplace has been cleared out to make room for a tower of bodies, most still alive and writhing in pain, prepared for Abraham’s experimental ritual. The two Illithid brothers, Xallisine and Malinthelid, appear to be the ones behind it. They are joined by Mistress Kaliasa, a leader of the Daemonfey and the same devil the heroes previously met in Silverymoon.
Mistress Kaliasa, at least, appears amused by the heroes’ presence and is pleased to meet them again. Xallisine and Malinthelid, meanwhile, are ready to destroy the ones who have been such a thorn in Abraham’s side.
A fight ensues, and things begin terribly for the heroes as the Illithids’ mental abilities overpower them. The situation is made even worse as the Illithids command the Daemonfey to attack the Gypsy Dawn, to kill the crew left behind. However, Kaloy is able to distract them long enough to try to negotiate a deal. While trying to set terms with the mind flayers, Saradoc communicates with Mistress Kaliasa: he agrees to help her restore House Dlardrageth if they help them survive now. Kaliasa, satisfied with the trade, calls off the Daemonfey.
The negotiation with the Illithids goes less well, however, but the distraction proved long enough to help the party recover. The heroes unleash all their power on Xallisine and bring him down. Malinthelid, the unstable brother already wracked with madness, shrieks in a pained cry and plane shifts away from the fight. Where he’s gone, no one knows.
It’s even less clear what he might do next.