Immediately after they emerged from the portal, the heroes surprised a group of bugbears, who leapt to their feet and demanded to know how they got in the room.
Jarek laid out the situation for Jarmaag, telling him plainly that Rathos sent them to kill Jarmaag, and that the Bugbear leader now knew Jarmaag was making a move against him. Jarek also noted that Rathos had a spy in Jarmaag’s group.
Unsurprised, Jarmaag made a quick hand signal and Druel ruthlessly murdered a nearby bugbear, cutting him down with one blow.
“Now that we have that problem solved, continue,” Jarmaag said.
Jarek attempted to further negotiate with Jarmaag, but the Kobold was having none of it. Still believing they were agents of the vampire lords, Jarmaag asked for asylum in Jakkra Castle. With a heavy sigh, Jarek revealed that they were not there on behalf of the vampire lords, but they were there on a different sort of business. He said his uncle Miroslav, the high vampire lord himself, killed Jarek’s mother and Jarek wanted revenge for this act.
His companions were shocked by such a revelation, but his true lineage and race still confused them.
After Jarek had finished his story, Jarmaag told the heroes that they would instead help facilitate his escape to a new, secure location, and would act as his guards and agents while this apparent civil war raged. Jarek suggested the Hugragag Shifter Tribe Camp, but James, Capihon and Regdar vehemently opposed such an idea. They did not want to put the residents of Pakkin’s Folly or the Hugrugag tribe in any danger.
They agreed to take Jarmaag and his entourage to Pakkin’s Folly, under the pretense of protecting them in the empty buildings there. In reality, both sides were planning to ambush the other and leave them for dead.
Jarmaag used his Thief’s Door key to open a portal to the town hall. He sent a lone bugbear through to scout the area and make sure it wasn’t a trap. The bugbear indicated the area was clean and called everyone through.
The moment the door closed, the battle began.
Once Jarmaag fell, Druel became further unhinged and fought to his death, while Galaria, who had revealed her true nature as a succubus, stepped out of the battle and begged for a truce between her and the heroes of Pakkin’s Folly. She offered them a deal: let her live and she’ll return to Rathos with Jarmaag’s body, where she would explain that he and Druel were killed by a group of human assassins, and she would assume his duties as second-in-command of the Bloodghost Syndicate. Galaria also admitted she was actually an agent for a cult of Asmodeus, sent to spy on the Syndicate.
As a show of good faith, she whispered a word, and a bugbear came through the portal, holding a large bundle.
“If you accept this item, you’ve accepted the deal,” she explained.
Brel and Regdar sensed arcane power emanating from the bundle. The group considered the offer and quickly accepted. Jarmaag’s body suddenly disappeared in a flash of light and Galaria simply walked through the already open thief’s door.
Regdar investigated the bundle and discovered it contained the Sunblade, a powerful sword that would be a helpful tool in the battle against the living dead. They quietly left Pakkin’s Folly, ready for a well-deserved rest.
When the heroes were close to the shifter camp, two Hugrugag braves emerged from the forest and hurried them back to the camp. The site was frentic, Shifter and humans alike were scared, and relieved to see the heroes. Mira Crowleaf waded through the crowd and found Regdar, beckoning him to follow her quickly.
At the center of camp were two human males, dirty, battered, bruised, and barely conscious. They were Castar and Hectar, two men from Regdar’s home village of Karstone.
“All this is your fault,” Hectar gasped when he saw Regdar. “You must return with us to Karstone and make it all right.” Before he could continue, Hectar slipped into unconsciousness. Caiphon performed a small healing ritual on both men, and James took them to a healing tent. The group rested for the night and Regdar bonded with the Sunblade.
In the morning, Regdar explained to his companions that Karstone is an isolated village in the mountains, and that they are very afraid of magic and outsiders. He said once he manifested his abilities as a swordmage, he fled the village and came to Pakkin’s Folly rather than face banishment or execution.
The group entered the healing tent to talk to the Karstonians, only to find both men extremely angry and afraid. Hectar claimed the vampire apocalypse was all Regdar’s fault, brought on by his consultation with the dark arts. He claimed he knew the shifters were demons that Regdar had lured into servitude and his companions and the other humans around were all his thralls.
Castar bade Regdar to return to Karstone, to free the survivors – including Regdar’s mother – from the grasp of what they insisted were Regdar’s undead servants in the city. They said that Regdar and all his companions must also return to undo the terrible fate the world had suffered.
James and Jarek both tried to argue that the eternal midnight was actually the doing of vampires, but the Karstonites would have none of it. Frustrated and insulted, Jarek cuffed Castar, who fearfully withdrew. Hectar, meanwhile, accused Caiphon and Brel of using necromancy and consulting with demons in exchange for their obvious powers.
Regdar agreed to return to Karstone with his companions in tow. A slight argument broke out between James and Hectar over who would lead the group back to Karstone. James knew a quicker, safer, easier path while Hectar wanted to take the difficult path he and Castar followed to Pakkin’s Folly out of sheer distrust for James.
Ultimately, James led the group into the mountains without incident. However, they quickly realized someone or something was watching them. James slipped into the rocky outcropping and used his ranger training to find their shadow. Sure enough, a large goliath was silently stalking them. James fired off a signal arrow to inform the group of the potential trouble, and the Goliath stole away quickly, possibly frightened.
From there, the group rounded a bend in the narrow path to discover a large boulder had been pushed down the hill, blocking the path completely.