Heading north from Cadina on the road to Stonepass, the companions came across Grdock. After being lost in the mist as the heroes fled from the undead masses, he had found his way eastward across the river in an effort to escape the mist. Having crossed the river, Grdock reported that he had come out of the forest and happened upon a large valley running north to south. On the far side of it, there appeared to be a massive ancient stone tower with an entrance at the base of the valley and another at the top of the far edge. However, there also appeared to be a mass of armored figures moving on the far side, likely orcs given the information that the group had gathered. After some rest, the party moved onward to Stonepass and then west to Clave Oath-Home to alert the dwarves of the mist and the undead.
As they approached, the doors of Clave Oath-Home were thrown open and seemed to bustle with activity. One figure seemed to leave the masses and head eastward, toward the party. It was the eladrin tactician, Fel’Adanis who previously had worked with the heroes for the Restoration Society. He revealed that the Society was still looking for the artifact and had determined that it was now in the possession of Heimerstendt. Vahl remarked that it was indeed in the Senator’s possession but that he had likely sent it back westward to Caldor. Just then, Ax felt the mental link to the artifact flare into life again for the first time since crossing the mountains. It seemed to be to the far east, perhaps in Fort Defiance where Heimerstendt had been headed. He mentioned this to the group and they decided that, after a quick visit with the dwarves, they should themselves head eastward to the Fort.
Coming to the gates, the party was greeted by Gatewarden Finegrol, who, oddly, seemed to comprehend the common tongue now…. The heroes explained that there was news of the Deep Delve expedition, but that there was more information that had to be passed along to the King. Passing through the halls, the city had sprung to life, smoke an noise was everywhere as the dwarves ostensibly mobilized for war. After a rest in the tunnel-city, they were escorted to the King by Finegrol. The monarch was in conference with his Warbringer, but paused to hear what the companions had to report. They explained the passage of events since they had last spoken, leaving nothing out. Valar Beck added that he had brought a piece of mithril back and wished to had something made of it. The king thought and put forth that, while it was odd that a man would retrieve a dwarf’s mithril and then demand a weapon from it, he would help Valar Beck if he could find a way to bring shipments of wood to the Clave, as those trade routes had long since closed. This seemed agreeable, and after some short discussion and resupply, the group headed east to Fort Defiance.
Passing again through Stonepass, the party learned that if would was the flow to Clave Oath-Home, it would likely come out of Northport, a coastal city downriver from Fort Defiance. Noting this, they moved onward and eventually came to their destination. The city seemed to exist on both sides of the river. To the east, on the far side, it was semi-circlular and walled; on the near side, it was unwalled and seemed to form a tear shape pointing back to the west. To the north of the road, large military tents stood with banners atop them, likely Heimerstendt’s camp. To the south of the road, a motley collection of lower tents sprawled for about as far as the army’s did, however the smell indicated that this was likely a refugee camp. Those displaced from their homes across the river by the orcs were likely the inhabitants of these hovels.
Ax lead the party towards the army, still following the artifact’s pull. They came to a tent that seemed to belong to a Magus. It was large but it also seemed to have an invisible barrier of some sort all around it. After considering it for a moment, Ax and Fel’Adanis harnessed some form of magic and stepped through the barrier, into the tent. Valar Back whirled to get away from the fools only to see that coming towards them, smiling, was Lieutentant Kails. He greeted them fondly and bade them come to the mess with him for some food, drink, and rest. All present save for Vahl accepted and followed him. Meanwhile, Ax and Fel’Adanis investigated the tent and found the artifact under some sort of magical dampening cloth. Given the situation both felt it wise to wait until the owner of the tent returned rather than taking it and drawing the ire of an army.
The Magus returned shortly and, after discovering Ax’s affinity for the thing under the cloth, escorted them huffily out of the tent. He put guards on the three and sent them to the mess with their friends. After some short conversation, the party was summoned to Duke Heimerstendt to report. Entering the tent, there were only the Duke and the Magus within. The Heimerstendt demanded that Valar Beck report to him and he did, leaving out nothing. The Duke nodded noting his pleasure with the report, but stating that he had no need of men like Valar Beck. Overriding a protest, he cloyingly continued that there was work to be done across the river for the Stewart of Fort Defiance. Had no need of him indeed. He then turned to the Magus and bid him explain that the artifact had been bound to Ax, and thus there was very little to be done with the thing but to turn it over to Ax for further, delicate, experimentation. After Ax assured them that he had no doubt he could control the ancient device, the Magus sourly turned it over. Ax smiled an alient smile and took the thing and slipped it onto one of the chain links connected to his manacle. Having concluded their business, they were dismissed.
Exhausted from their trip, the group looked to find someplace to stay the night. With all the people in the city, the inns seemed to be beyond their capacity as it was, and the group decided to head south to the tent city to find someplace to sleep unmolested. To get Passing through a seedy party of the city, the Borough of Daggers, the party was ambushed by a large group of the Raven Queen Cult. The assailants were comprised of the odd, ashen faced humanoids and some kind of dark hounds which blinked in and out of existence leaving dark smears on reality as they did. The creatures were led by the witch that had controlled the doppelganger in Corrin’s Rook and joined by an man(?) in chain mail wielding katars. Over the course of the battle, Vahl, with the help of the Polyglot Stone, heard the witch command the katar fighter to “stop playing with the creature and take it,” followed quickly by the katar fighter breaking the chain which bound the eladrin artifact to Ax, sending it flying into the air. Ax shot into the air, barely recovering it as Valar Beck struck down the assailant. Seeing the battle turn as the man and the witch fell, a few of the remaining ashen-faces raised a feather, which disintegrated and they disappeared. The party moved on to a quieter, safer place to sleep. At least one thing had been solved: they knew what the Raven Queen cultists were after…