- the companions duke it out with Milos
- they learn that he may not be top of the food chain
- bested in combat, Milos is killed and transforms into serpentine features
- Carson is found battered and bruised but alive
- Eagel and Thuron are excited for his return, prestige is gained
- the companions are rewarded with new helms
- Magus is healed but not cured of his affliction
- The Honey Pot was raided by the Watch and has been shut down, Brughan leaves town
- Marcus at Gregor’s Brewery has requested a meeting
Crossbows trained on the companions at the base of the platform, Milos’ smile is one of supreme confidence. “I am impressed at your persistence. Although this has proved your downfall in playing into this trap. I look forward to providing your lifeless bodies to Thuron, along with the blame for Carson’s death.”
The companions charge the platform as the robed figures loose their crossbows. Milos begins an incantation. Gaining ground proves difficult under the suppressing fire, although the companions ultimately climb the stairs at great cost. Anton is first to the top. A magical caress from Milos renders him unconscious. Romica and Magus Mike gain the platform and engage the serpent folk in melee, providing Freight sufficient time to revive Anton. Fighting with renewed vigour, the companions strike down one of the crossbowmen. For their efforts, Magus Mike is knocked unconscious and Romica is afflicted with fear. The burly dwarf runs aimlessly, pursued by his worst nightmares.
Sensing victory at hand, Milos addresses the group again, “Poor Eagel, I wonder how he will take the news that you were behind Carson’s abduction all along? He’ll probably blame himself for his good friend’s death.” The taunt proves a rallying cry. Romica recovers from the magically induced affliction and rejoins the battle. Desperate melee ensues.
Milos appears somewhat distracted, “The yellow shields should have been here by now, but I cannot sense their presence.” He motions to his remaining companion, “Leave now and tell the master that we have been betrayed.” The companions strike the serpent person down as he attempts to flee the platform. This proves a turning point in the battle, as the companions are able to concentrate their efforts on Milos. He proves a worthy combatant, but ultimately falls to the martial prowess of the companions. “By the yellow sign we will rule the world.” Freight’s pike explodes through Milos’ back, ending the tirade. As the life blood of Milos stains the floor, a terrible transformation takes place. His skin and bones rearrange themselves, his human visage altering into serpentine qualities. The dead body of a serpent person, with the barest hint of Milos’ former features, stares back lifeless at the companions.
Battle vigor fading, the companions take note for the first time of a bloodied sack in the corner of the platform. The body of Carson, beaten and barely breathing, is unwrapped. Freight administers his healing touch while Anton revives an unconscious Magus Mike with a potion of cure light wounds. Carson is excited to see the companions and happy to tell his tale. Years ago, he was possessed by an extra-planar entity. It was curious about this world and used Carson to gather anthropological information. Milos wished to understand what creature had possessed him and what type of information was collected. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, Carson had little memory of the episode and was unable to answer Milos’ inquiries. They continued to torture him in hopes that it would induce his recollection of that period. Relating to the cult, he observed that everyone in the temple took orders from Milos. He is unsure of who the “master” would refer to. He scoffs at the idea that Thuron would be involved.
The companions search the bodies of the serpent folk and locate a magical ring with protective powers, a key ring for the Temple of Knowledge, a wand of dimensional door, a dagger with a serpent grip, crossbows, decorative rings and a pouch full of gold. A closer look at the altar confirms a rudimentary image, inlaid in gold, that appears to feature a tentacled creature. With that, the companions exit the temple with Carson, along with the body of Milos which they plan to show Thuron.
Returning to the Sword of the Edict compound, Eagel is over the moon to see Carson alive. He escorts the companions in to see Thuron, who happens to be in the temple that day preparing for Swag Fest, which begins on the morrow. Thuron embraces Carson and, noting the body, asks if it is the person responsible for Carson’s abduction. The companions remove the hood of the serpent person. Thuron is aghast, and seems genuinely confused when he recognizes Milos’ features. Obviously rattled, the companions are satisfied that Thuron was not a part of the secret cult.
Discussing their findings, the companions advise Thuron that they believe that serpent folk sleeper agents have been installed across the city. If Milos was an agent, there could be agents anywhere. Thuron takes this to heart and confirms that this insidious activity will not be tolerated – he will lean on his influence within the city, including his noble compatriots, to assist in weeding out these agents. Further, he will put in a good word regarding the companions, as they have stirred up quite a reputation among many of his colleagues in the aristocracy. Lastly, Thuron provides a word of advice relating to Brack and Hollister – Brack is a selfish man that only looks out for his own interests and Hollister is a bad man paid to do bad things. In treating with them, understanding their intentions is paramount to ensuring a successful outcome. The advice is accepted graciously.
Given the considerable duress experienced during their exploration of the temple, the companions discuss the opportunity to receive restorative treatment from Thuron. He agrees to provide the benefits of his healing touch; however, he notes that Magus Mike is afflicted by an evil spirit that is beyond his capacity to exorcise. Further, the reagents necessary to restore the companions are rare. An agreement is struck whereby the companions pay for the cost of the reagents and receive the restorative powers of the head of the Edict. Mental prowess regained, the companions feel rejuvenated.
In recognition of the companions’ integral role in the return of Carson, Thuron invites Romica, as a representative of the group, to visit the Hall of Helms. The dwarf enters the massive room – there are various pillars arrayed around the hall holding finely crafted helms. A benevolent voice instructs Romica to step forward to be judged – a faint tingle and several pillars descend to reveal: what looks to be a cat’s skull (stalker’s mask), a crudely constructed stone mask (mask of stony demeanor), and a gentlemen’s mask (hap of human guise).
Romica rejoins the group and distributes the helms. The companions thank Thuron for his good will. In parting, Lando mentions that the companions would be happy to work with Thuron in future endeavors should he have need of an independent party. Thuron is appreciative of the gesture and provides some spending money to send the companions on their way.
The sun resting low in the horizon, the companions head back to The Bard & The Bastard via cab. On the way, they witness a goblin and gnome, both with a bomb insignia on their clothing, partaking in an argument on the side of the street relating to an unstoppable force and an immovable object. Philosophical interests piqued, the companions side with the goblin – an immovable object is immovable, period. The two hug it out and are on their way, an amicable outcome for all.
Several notes await the companions upon their arrival at the tavern. The first bears disturbing news from Brughan. The Watch has visited The Honey Pot in relation to an incident at Gregor’s Brewery. Unwilling to identify the companions, the Watch ransacked the premises and Kendrick was killed during the altercation. The Honey Pot has been shut down, and needless to say, Brughan is distraught. He needs to move on and will be leaving town shortly.
A note was also passed along by Marcus Wade. He would like to make things right with the companions. He admits to an agreement with the previous owner of The Honey Pot and would like to tie up lose ends before he loses his job. He is open to meeting during the early morning, before his shift ends, although he advises caution as he does not want his employers to find out about this business endeavor.
Lastly, there is a note from Mark Hawks. The Watch has also been to The Treasure Trove. He was not arrested as there was no contraband on premise, but it was a close call. He is worried about being sent back to jail. No need to come by the shop, but he just wanted to update the group.
Their heads swimming with the news, the companions bed down, exhausted, after a long day. During the night, Magus Mike is tormented by nightmares. The magus has a vision of huge black tentacles bursting through the floor to entangle him. The visage of a demon in the form of a black goat rises from the ground to whisper unspeakable things in his ear. Possessed, the magus awakes from the dream with the urge to slaughter his companions as they sleep peacefully in their beds.