The soldiers returned to Harbormouth, weary in both body and mind. The horrors they had witnessed in Forge would not be easily forgotten. Silently the group made their way to the quarters assigned to them in the Keep, to await a counsel with the Duke in the morning.
The group meets with Duke Donough at first light to give a full reckoning of the events that took place in the village. The fate of the town weighs heavily on the Donough, but he doesn’t lay blame for what happened on the party. “You had no way of knowing what the Raiders had in store for the villagers. And I commend you on your posting of guards to watch the movements of the villagers.” The Duke growls angrily, “The Raiders pose a different kind of a threat now, one that can not be ignored. The best defense we have right now is to call up the reserves from inland and send them to the towns along the coast. My treasury won’t last forever though. Bah! If only the Queen would disengage from the south, we’d have enough men to hold the coast. Without the body of the army, though, I doubt we’ll hold out for long. If I could ask yet another favor of you?”
The Duke wants the party to escort his son, Ewan Donough, to Riversend, there to make an official request for the aid of the Redwater army. Ewan, who had been watching the proceedings, goes pale, but nervously assents to be his father’s messenger. They are accompanied by Eion, a half-elven man who claims to be Ewan’s page. The road to Riversend is a three-day journey and on the second night the party stops to rest for the night at a set of travelers’ cabins. As dusk falls, the the party divvies up watch duties before going to bed. The night’s stillness is broken by the high-pitched clicks and squeaks of several giant bats that descend on the sentries. Two of the bats blend into the pitch-darkness of the night, but four of them blaze and crackle with fire running down their wings. The alarm is raised and the whole party joins in battle with the creatures. Eion too, appears from his cabin and deftly dodges around the bats, striking with a honed dagger. Gudrun’s warhammer falls with a steady rhythm and Talara whips about the dark energies she commands. Toriel savages more than a few bats, as his predatory nature takes over. The four flaming bats fall to the ground, dissolving into piles of glittering residuum. One of the shadow bats also falls to Toriel’s teeth and claws, but the other one escapes back into the night. The party, severely wounded by their skirmish, again retires for the night.
The next day’s travel concludes with their arrival in Riversend. Ewan, speaking on behalf of the Duke of Harbormouth, is quickly given audience with Queen Katrionna. “M-m-my Lady Queen,” he stammers, “on behalf of th-the Duke of Harbormouth, I implore your aid in the Harbormouth Barony. The Raider attacks have resumed and are deploying new weapons against the v-villages.” The Queen raises a thin eyebrow at the stuttering courtier. “No aid is available to be send. I suggest your father solve his own problems in his barony, or be replaced.” Ewan glances desperately at the party, silently imploring for help. Talara is the first to step forward to try and convince the queen. Talara explains that the Raiders are using new methods of attack and are not merely satisfied with pillaging anymore. The Queen leans forward, interested by this news. Baern chimes in, detailing the methods of attack and pointing out their extra-natural origin. Following his lead, Gudrun tries to convince the Queen of the urgency of the situation, but is interrupted by an interjection from Councilor Hohepa, who reminds the Queen that the Fauchard armies have already crossed the Fulda River and are engaged in battle in the Blackwater Barony. Toriel’s ears prick up at Cn. Hohepa’s statement and he picks up on a connection – the Raiders leaving Forge shouted out a name as they left: Tane Kalani Hohepa… He brings this fact forward and whispers resound through the council room as people question the Councilor’s connection. Talara makes another impassioned plea, bringing up the history of the land and the plight of the people. Though Cn. Hohepa tries to interrupt again, he is shouted down by the rest of the council. The Queen seems to be on the verge of a decision, and Baern wraps up the proceedings with a masterful speech. Queen Katrionna orders the withdrawal of several divisions from the Blackwater Barony to reinforce the northern coast. Additionally, she forms a committee to address the issues brought up in council regarding the raiders.
A few hours later, Ewan, Eion, Cn. Kimo and Cn. Alpin meet with the party to form a plan. Eion reluctantly reveals that he’s in charge of Harbormouth’s Intelligence Corps, though Duke Donough doesn’t know the Corps exists. Through the pooling of knowledge, they decide the following: Eion will organize a rota of ships to try and track the movements of the White Ship. Hopefully they can discern some kind of pattern to eventually confront the ship itself. The Hohepa family is a wealthy and powerful elven family that lives in Southern Everwood. Tane Kalani is a cousin of Cn. Hohepa and studied with a mage, Kaleo Kai Ikaika. Kaleo Kai happens to study magical diseases and afflictions. The party hopes that Kaleo Kai can help the villagers of Forge. As another course of inquiry, Eion suggests they inquire with the Prayerful Brotherhood, an organization of monks in Unkard devoted to praying for the soul of Garrick the Forger. They, and the clergy of Unkard, probably know the most of what happens to a human’s soul.
The party decides to set out for Kaleo Kai’s laboratory, hoping the recruit the mage into helping the Forged. The mage’s tower is a good 2 week journey from Redwater, just over the Lani Ma’ata River. The small village is nestled in a quiet bend of the river. Kaleo Kai’s house is a fairly small cottage connected to a rather larger building that serves as his workshop. Kaleo Kai is a robust, middle-aged wizard with bright green hair. He listens interestedly to the report of the Forged and agrees to take on their case, IF the party will assist him with the research. The first thing he needs is several Forged for study, preferably a male and female. The party mentions Tane Kalani, and Kaleo Kai shakes his head sadly. “He was a student of mine several years ago. I study magical diseases with the hope of producing cures. Tane Kalani has a viscous streak – I caught him doing cruel experiments on people for the sake of perfecting afflictions, not curing them. Of course I had to dismiss him immediately.” The party inquires if Kaleo Kai has any idea of where Tane Kalani would go. The mage doesn’t think Tane Kalani would go to any relatives, but he had mentioned a girl, Konani Kai, who lived in Gull’s Rest.
Armed with new information, the party decides on their course – first to Gull’s Rest to try and contact Konani Kai, then to Forge to capture some specimens (a male and female villager and a zombie, if possible), a stopover in Harbormouth to send the specimens to Kaleo Kai Ikaika, then finally to Unkard to talk to the priests and the Prayerful Brotherhood.