As the remaining party members return to the inn to recuperate, strange events transpire in The Gloom between Pau and Sa-Nah-Gig.
The results of the arena match are told to Boroff. Daren asks if there is anything that can be done to find Pau. While he is in The Gloom, Pau is lost to all means of detection, but once he emerges Boroff has a ritual that will allow the group to locate him. Given that Pau was alive when he entered The Gloom, Boroff suspects he will not be forced to stay. Unfortunately, the ritual requires a large quantity of corpse dust, pure form of ground desiccated ancient remains. While most of the party rests, Garret, Malharath, and Daren head to the High Spot to collect Garret’s winnings and then to find the ritual materials.
High Spot is a massive party, celebrating the approach of the season’s final two matches. One of the Cos Brothers, the larger, is in the center of the plaza, holding court among the elite. He speaks with two voices and two minds from the one body. The Dun’Ka are present and arguing about why the next match wasn’t held immediately. Seeing the party enter, Xil’Toll’Nap approaches. He banters with the party in his strange slow manner, but says little of significance. Daren notices a strange leaf stuck to his insect leg, and stealthily plucks it away as the party passes.
Winding through the celebrants, the everyone proceeds to the semi-private Three Winds suite. Murkle is outrageously drunk, while Bitta, and Osum are seated quietly along the back wall. Mika is glanced sneaking out a side door with another woman in tow. Malharath, Bitta, and Osum talk about finding the ritual materials, The Gloom, and finding Pau. Osum, foolishly attempts to probe Malharath’s mind about the ritual and is strongly rebuffed and summarily put in his place. The talk turns to the knowledge of the Night Priests that Malharath has imparted to Bitta. Bitta has taken this knowledge and spread word of their true nature. It is learned that Taxin Bas of the Zul clan found the Night Priests first, far to the North East, and introduced them to The Thirteen. Some in the consortium are concerned and will lobby to drop or stop the quota, but others seem unconcerned. Bitta provides the corpse dust for free to repay Malharath’s previous soothsaying.
As the meeting with Three Winds concludes, a Night Priest enters the suite. The priest is clad in a flowing robe of pulsating skin and wears a helm with an animated metallic bird perched on it. It appears much more powerful than Pyre. Malharath stands and reaches out as it approaches. He envelops its mind with his own, and withers its connection the hive. The mental battle is brief and violent. The priest is shocked, then confronts Malharath, the bird helmet laughing maniacally.
The bird turns and says “Were I not here, my servant would lose control, rampaging among these people.”, revealing itself as a chaos orb.
Daren then steps forward, marks the priest with his Oath of Enmity, and passes divine judgment on it with his Bond of Censure. The bond separates it from the humanoid vessel. The body crumbles into bones and dust, while its chaos metal skin coalesces into the bird-orb, and then unveils its true form. It is a floating toothed maw, surrounded by many eyes on tentacles. The room erupts into panic. Murkle tries to flee, stumbles, crashes into a wall, collapses, breaks his remaining horn, and pukes. Bitta and Osum recoil in horror.
Malharath holds up his arm, gestures at the fiend and says, “Behold the true form of The Night.”
Ir snarls back, “What do you hope to accomplish here?”
Others celebrants rush to the room. The Dun’Ka leadership, Xil’Tol’Napp and his attendants, the massive Cos Brother, Korvak, and Blind Rage Taxin Bas of the Zul Clan are present in the small chamber. Only Korvak and Blind Rage seem appalled by what is seen.
The Cos Brothers seek to calm the orb thing by telling it “The Three Winds and the others are not of major consequence. We can fill the quotas without them.”, seeming to implicate that some in The Consortium have marked the the Three Winds as expendable, should they not go along with the agreed upon quotas of promised to the Night Priests.
Midst the confusion, the party departs, with Malharath stopping briefly to confront Korvak. “Your people have things that you have no right to keep. I will come at dawn to claim what is the Tribes’ by right.” Karvak starts to object, but Malharath cuts him off, telling him the defeated know better than to question their betters. Korvak lashes out with his Blight Blade and kills a slave in spite.
No longer under control of Malharath or Daren, the chaos orb reforms the supposedly destroyed body of the night priest, as if nothing had happened to it.
Having the necessary ritual materials, everyone hurries back to Boroff at the inn. He performs the ritual while Mal, Daren and Garret rest for a few hours. Boroff rushes to them once the ritual is complete. Pau is in The Blight stronghold.
Malharath, Daren and Garret depart immediately for the stronghold taking the covered walkway. Only one set of guards objects and requests bribe, and Malharath, having no patience for delays, chastises him for not bowing to his superiors. He relents and apologizes.
It is the dead of night and at the Blight stronghold no guards man the front or rear door. The party chooses what appears to be the rear door. Garret inspects it and finds no traps, so Daren picks the lock and opens the door. Inside is pitch black. Garret enters and lights a torch.
The light reveals sixteen guards ready for battle who charge with poisoned blades drawn. Garret unleashes several blasts of wild magic killing many, while Daren and Mal strike down more. Once their numbers are thinned Daren teleports into the back ranks hewing down more with his war pick. The battle is quick but fierce and all the while a bell rings in the background. Undaunted, they all decide to continue without pause, even though Malharath is moderately injured.
They advance through the interior double doors into a central chamber with three heavy curtains draped over its exits. Malharath approaches the only curtain with light behind it and peaks behind it. Inside is a half eaten corpse on a table, Korvak, a fearsome guard, and Pau shackled to the back wall.
Korvak slaps Pau, “Tell me what Sa-Nah-Gig told you!”
The guard draws his sword and says, “They’re here.”
Pau struggles to break the stone manacles to no avail. Daren charges into the fray and engages Korvak, while Malharath charges the guard. Garret enters and lobs spells from a safe distance.
Korvak responds by disappearing into shadow, invisibly closes on Malharath, reappears behind him, and whispers, “It ends now.” He plunges his poisoned blight blade deep into his ribs dropping him. He spits blood onto the stone floor and gasps what could be his final breath.
Pau launches mental and martial attacks at the guard while restrained. The mental attack misses, while his footwork lands solidly. Daren unleashes his Argent Mantle striking the guard, nearly killing him, and then teleports to Korvak. He unleashes massive blow, punching a deep hole into Korvak’s chest, releasing a blast of radiant power from Mur’s Third Eye, and then pausing to wipe the blood from the head of his war pick. Korvak reals in pain. Garret runs in to administer aid to Malharath, who is slipping towards death. He recuperates and inspires strength in Daren. Korvak slashes Garret in retaliation, as Pau finaly breaks free, kills the guard, and closes on Korvak. Daren lands another blow, while Malharath swings wildly over Pau’s head, catching his spear between Korvak’s armor plates. He wrenches the weapon further, landing the blow and inspiring Daren to fight on. He furiously lunges again and the obsidian blade cuts deep, channeling a mental attack. Korvak, dazed and near death, disappears. Daren is unable to locate him, but Pau senses his footfalls across the room, near the exit, closes, but cannot land a strike. Daren and Malharath close on the fleeing assassin.
Korvak reappears and says, “There is only one way to end this.”, plunging his blade into the floor and opening a vortex to The Gloom. Daren and Pau resist its pull, but Malharath and Korvak disappear. Korvak returns immediately, and is struck dead by Daren, with a sharp blow to the back of the head.
Korvak’s death returns Malharath, who is dangerously close to slipping away. Garret pounds on his chest, slipping in blood the first time, but stabilized the ardent and staunching his wounds. A necklace with a large single piece of polished amber containing a small winged humanoid is taken from Korvak, along with his blight blade. Daren drops the leaf snatched from Xil’Tol’Napp and hoists the unconscious Pau. The battle weary heroes flee into the darkness seeking the safety of the inn.