Daybreak renewed the group’s discussions of what they should do next- reluctant to say too much in the presence of Charles, they were all able to agree that they would at least like to have the stone identified further, before deciding whether or not to give it to Dr. Brandin. Elyos mentioned a personal contact of his, Durvan Gall- leader of the Explorer’s League. A dwarf deeply interested in the study of dragons, he might have heard more about the stone, or perhaps know more of Sintharia, the black dragon the stone had supposedly belonged to. Agreeing to this plan, they set out for Modan, a journey that would take them roughly 10 days. However, they had scarcely started when they encountered something odd- what looked to be a small man burst out of the trees and came running towards them, pursued hotly by a group of Drow. Somewhat confused, but without much time to process, the group jumped into the fray, fighting the Drow and their leashed Hook Horror. Two of the Drow escaped back the way they came, while the party defeated the rest.
Their new acquaintance introduced himself as Ampelio, explaining that he had been in the area looking for seeds when the drow jumped him. The group briefly pondered chasing down the two that had fled, and had ultimately decided against it when Wylem took matters into his own hands, chasing after the drow on his own. The others decided to follow, and after a few minutes came across what appeared to be a man-made tunnel. Delving inside, they discovered what had been the campsite of the drow- confirmed when they encountered the Drow captain, hiding in his room. After a tedious battle, the captain fell to Wylem’s arrow. Musef read through the log book in captain’s room, and the group learned that this tunnel was one of many. The drow were creating them as a way to funnel prisoners back to their city, Laath Themar, where they were to be sacrifices in a ritual to free “The Lady”. Spending a few minutes to recuperate, the party then headed down the rest of the tunnel- where they found themselves in a dangerous negotiation with the final drow, who held one of the prisoners hostage. As the drow tried to bargain for his freedom, Wylem took a risk and shot an arrow at the drow- while it impacted, it was not enough to slay the drow, and the consequence was dire. The drow immediately killed the boy it had been holding hostage, and fled to the back of the room. After a brief combat, in which Adama accidentally attacked the hostages, and Charles was slain, Elyos managed to slit the drow’s throat, completely severing his head in the process.
Seeing to the prisoners, the group was surprised to find they recognized three of them- the Tiefling Bard, Erath Vatiss, and his fellow troupe members, Drunny the dwarf and Nathenril the half-elf. They had been captured on their way to Strathmore. The final prisoner was a young boy, around 10 years old. Visibly distressed at the death of his friend, Wil, the boy was calmed and looked after by the party, eventually revealing his name to be Theron Elric- Musef instantly recognizing his last name as that of the ruling family of Caerlin. They decided to abandon their previous plans, in favor of escorting Theron back to Caerlin. On the way, Elyos and Theron bonded over a mutual love for creatures, while Musef entertained the boy with his pie summoning and colour changing abilities.
A group of guards met them immediately at the city gates, and escorted them to the King and Queen. Eldin and Iselda Elric surprised the group by talking candidly with them, thanking them for the return of their son, and explaining that they had been hearing of similar cases in the area. The King dismissed them, saying he would be summoning them again in the near future to talk more about the drow. In the meantime, he requested they visit the Arcanum, and speak with Wynnifred, the head researcher there, who was working on the same issue. Upon speaking with her, the group (minus Elyos, who was kicked out due to his rude comments) learned that the drow were trying to bring back Yamara, a great Old One who had once plagued the earth, until she was defeated and sealed away by Runa Skyborn, a Titan created by the gods to combat those primeval beings. Wynnifred was also able to identify the cube they had found as The Oathstone, an artifact supposedly created by Sinestra, the goddess of magic herself. In order to activate the stone, the holder had to swear a solemn oath- paying with their death immediately upon the oath’s completion. If the oath was sworn, but never finished, the soul of that person was considered forfeit, and would remain trapped in the Oathstone forever.
Deciding this was too dangerous an item to give away, the party decided to try and deceive Dr. Brandin, pretending they believed a different object to be the one he had requested. Returning to Brandin, they told him their story, handing over the flaming sphere they had found in the mansion. While Brandin remained calm, he seemed mistrustful of the party’s story, noting the powerful magic objects they had recovered for themselves. However, he allowed them to leave seemingly without incident- while Musef tried to quickly read his thoughts on the way out, he was unable to detect them. The group decided to spend the night at The Whistling Owlbear, agreeing to take Ampelio along with them wherever their next adventure might lead….