Episode summary Edit
Knowing what they now know about the Oluana Spring, The Party and Rygax set off toward Cornello's territory. The protection it would offer from Swayne's forces doesn't hurt either. They begin to plot the route around Heidelag Castle, although Little One is still keen to travel through the castle.
Rygax begins to explain the reason it would be inadvisable for them to travel through the Zarstvo Drevesnoe forest, but the "camera" cuts away to another spot of BadguyVistion™, featuring Kaiser and Viktor, the entities (until now assumed to be a singular entity) seen in the Episode 26 epilogue in Swayne's throne room. Viktor appears to be some kind of living shadow who works with Kaiser in some capacity. Viktor finds the partially buried tentacle caster The Party killed last episode and, now knowing their direction of travel, Kaiser informs a shadowy being that he is the closest of Swayne's servants.
Cutting back to The Party, we hear the end of Rygax's explanation - apparently he helped the lord of the forest's son to elope, earning said lord's ire in the process. Rygax clarifies that the trees are incapable of moving on their own (at least, no more than normal trees), although the lord of the forest apparently has no love for the Vampire Kings.
Mora casts Lay of the Land, allowing her to see the local terrain in her mind's eye. After some more planning, including desires to avoid Cold Lake and the Bad Place, they eventually settle on the pictured route.
However, shortly after beginning this leg of their journey, Little One sees an invisible spectral being. Rygax, also able to see the invisible, informs him that it's a spotter sent out from Heidelag Castle. They don't attack, but are invisible and can see invisible beings, which they then report back to the castle. It is unheard of for them to be so far from the castle, meaning that the local lieutenants of Swayne must have sent them out specially to look for The Party.
Even worse, after a little more progress they suddenly hear an ominous cackling. Six incorporeal shadows emerge among The Party, which Swayne describes as "very bad". It's Tod, The Hollow Swarm, one of Swayne's lieutenants. After a tough fight, made tougher by the fact that they had yet to identify the Shield of the Sun from the Grisgol, Little One finally locates Tod and strikes him down (he only had eight hitpoints) and the shadows dissipate. While this won't kill Tod for good, he'll have to reform back at Old House, several days' travel away.
The more immediate danger, though, is that Swayne now has an exact location for The Party and could be en route personally. That, and the fact that centuries of constant war with no UN oversight have turned the border between Swayne's and Cornello's territories into a collection of toxic sludge pits. Toxic fumes reach right the way up to the "ceiling", so flight isn't an option.
Rygax reveals that he has a well-concealed sanctuary just inside Cornello's territory, manned by local allies who, to quote him, "probably wish they didn't live in the Shadowfel". No mention is made of Rygax's ability to cast planeshift. Only somebody of Elvish blood can pass the wards, but a half-blood like Rygax or Krillidin will do.
Rygax warns that some of the yellow pools contain tetracarbonyl nickel (don't ask how that works in a word with Arostotlian alchemy) and that if anybody starts to smell it, they should just slit their throat before their lungs dissolve. The damage is listed as "die in 1d4 rounds".
Draven begins analysing the ambient magical energy with his portable prismatronic energy survey device, searching for the types of transdimensional energy that could disrupt dimension doors. However, they soon hear the caws of the giant birds Swayne's minions had used to hunt for them earlier. Angel casts invisibility on Draven and Black, and the rest of the group hide behind a small hill. Four "crows" fly past, two of them ridden by what look like bundles of stitched-together limbs on their backs, but they show no indication of noticing the party and pass without incident.
Draven is unable to determine the exact effect of the ambient magic on dimension doors, but he decides that it's safe enough, determines the optimum route and doors them across. The interference generates mild nausea but is otherwise harmless. A couple of Corbinoids emerge from a pool and attack the party, but Krillidin kills them without breaking a sweat. This is Cornello's territory.
In the after-credits scene, Tod reforms from a pool behind Swayne's throne in Old House. He immediately begins his grovelling apology, but Swayne is disinterested, merely telling the Lady in White to "let Kaiser know". Kaiser, for his part, clarifies the location of the party's battle with Tod, then requests "a ride" to catch up. Viktor is surprised that Kaiser knows where they're going, but Kaiser only states mysteriously that he has been saving a chip to cash in on such an occasion. He asks Viktor to gather "some friends from the plains" and then meet up with him.