Following their escape from The Realm of The Albtraum, The Party find themselves back in the Fadelands, in a part of rural Vistria north-north-east of Castle and northwest of New Vanover. Krillidin takes the opportunity to reveal his ignorance of this plane, not having heard of Deluvians and believing that Orcs have not been a problem since the Shatterwar.
Having spent more than enough time roughing it in the Shadowfel, the party decide that they'd rather not spend another night camping, and stagger to the highway, which they follow to the town of Glasshire. They take a room in the finest inn available and level up to 16, with Krill finally losing his exhausted status and Angel taking a tenth rogue level. Black still can't take level 8 spells until he reaches 18 WIS (10 + spell level), and even with the +2 WIS bone mask he "borrows" from Zaheer after rescuing him from Mount Pillar, he's not quite there yet.
This is the catalyst they need to start sorting through the loot in their portable hole (and there was much rejoicing). Among the coinage, vender trash and consumables (feel free to go to 4:24 and look at the scrolling list, I'm not transcribing it), they find the Amulet of Penitence (+6 WIS, +2 vs. fire, -4 vs. poison, -6 max HP), Naismith's Pick (+2 blocking halberd of monsterslaying), bracers of mind blank (unknown curse) and the Breastplate of the Master (+4 AC, immunity to charm, +2 vs. non-charm compulsions, cast modified dominate (effectively possession) 2/day). Draven immediately claims this last item for himself, as up until this point he had been wearing a mere +3 breastplate. And definitely not for the dominate.
They also ID the gear revealed to the fourth wall by Demonac in earlier episodes, with Little One taking the sheld and Krillidin taking the ring of protection. Krillidin's bow also gets weakened by a sudden miracle from Asmodeus or something. Write your own headcanon.
Having rested and regrouped, their next move is to reconnect with their intelligence networks. Angel seeks out the local Organisation representative, a man named Brawler with arms to match, while Draven Sends to Daggerface, instructing him to meet them at the teleport circle. DDF is glad to hear this, but informs them that there is growing discontent in certain quarters from the king's acceptance of the Deluvian peace offer. Meanwhile Brawler gives Angel a slightly more detailed version: only about half the nobles in Vistria got messages back to King Edward before the deadline for him to make his decision on the treaty, but many to the north and east (further from the Verandi frontier), seeing advantage in agitating for war, may have delayed their messengers intentionally. While there has yet to be any actual violence, a growing faction is clearly angling for the thrones, with Princess Haruyo van Smith, Hando van Smith's 12-year-old daughter speaking out publically in their favour and the third son of King Edward also with them, "enjoying" an "extended stay" with some relatives.
Draven Sends to Marcus Jonasson, the secular leader of The Hand of Sirius, but can't get through. He tries Thiswell instead and manages to get through, only to find that the Hand has fractured, with Jonasson leaving with about 37% of the Basilica's people to form the new Gauntlet of Sirius, joined by a greater proportion of The Hand's agents in the north. There was no actual fighting, but the two sides parted on quite bitter terms. Leavers include Giselle Kira, the Basilica's weapons trainer, while Andrew Midgarde and Samantha Higgins have stayed with the mainstream Hand, as have most of the priests, such as Victoria du Waal (sp?). Father Fields has also stayed, as his loyalty is first to the royal family.
Back with Angel, Brawler tells her that The Organisation is remaining neutral in this conflict, but is also not seeing itself as bound by the treaty. That said, they're not to go after the Deluvians in a way that will lead to blowback to the Vistrians, unless they see a really good opportunity.
While all this politicing is both well and good, we must not forget the true reason The Party ventured into the Shadowfel in the first place: curing the Astral Plague. Resolving to return to the teleport circle and from there to Polaron, they buy some horses and ride south along the road through a number of small hamlets. One night, they see a disconcerting illumination against the night sky, emanating from about a day's ride in the direction from which they just came. Draven uses the druidic version of scrying to view the area around Glasshire's central fountain. The town is burning (with yellow flames, Daltonist art errors notwithstanding) and corpses are piled up in the streets, but no soldiers are visible. Eventually The Headless Horseman comes into view, killing a fleeing villager, before riding away.
Rygax believes that the Horseman will not be able to return for a while if he is killed in the Fadelands, so The Party set up on the road and wait. After a few hours, a few new patches of light appear, possibly from more burning settlements, until finally the horse appears, or at least its smoke as it runs *beneath* the road, having taken about half the time to ride from Glasshire that The Party had.
Draven casts Greater Invisibility and Mora casts Haste, but the Horseman does not attack just yet, instead dipping further down and riding past. Soon the smoke trail again becomes visible, approaching them perpendicular to the road from 30 feet away. Little One attacks with a Searing Charge, athough the horse seems immune to his fire damage and bits him in response. The rider rises up from the ground among them, having apparently dismounted underground, but Draven hits him with a Force Orb. The rider retaliates by throwing its chain at the invisible flying Draven, although the miss chance implies that it only knows his location, rather than actually being able to sense him. The chain hits, but Krillidin hits as well with ... a lot of arrows. The rider is destroyed, although an evil-sounding laughter can be heard as it fades away, while the chain falls to the ground and into Angel's inventory. The horse does not fade, but Krillidin soon reduces it to a smouldering arrow-filled corpse, of which Draven takes a sample.
Draven IDs the Horseman's weapon as The Chain of the Reaper, a +4 unholy flail or spiked chain that glows green when near somebody who has killed one close to the wielder. It also has bane against such a target. Draven grabs the weapon to see if Angel has killed anyone close to him, but the chain remains yellow. It also deals him 2d6 damafe, because unholy.
Draven wants to Send to the Gauntlet and let them know about the Horseman, so as to avoid a humorous yet potentially fatal misunderstanding. He still can't reach Jonasson, so he considers other options. Anton Pike is probably of high rank in the new organisation, but he's ... prickly. Giselle Keira (sp?) is probably a better choice, so Draven tries her. She agrees to pass on the message, but is dismayed to learn that Black and Draven are not joining the Gauntlet. She implores them to side with Jonasson in the name of stability, but she does not appear to have a way to contact him. Angel claims that the Earl will likely have already created a communication netweork, as he is a master spy, which is definitely something that has been mentioned prior to this.
They ride south for several more days, eventually reaching the campsite near Grandmount where the teleport circle is still waiting, along with Gabriel Black, Zaheer and Dwarf Daggerface. Rygax moves on, taking the opportunity to visit the Shepherds at the Western Lighthouse (in Archtide) before planning his next move. He passes with some inspiring words and a convenient summary of the Week of Hell.
The Party teleport back to Polaron, checking in with the Controller and GE-7 and reuniting with Liz and Rainbowdash. They then teleport back to New Vanover to retrieve Draven's equpiment from the Basilica and get to work on the cure.
- This episode marks the first mention of Jonasson's first name.
- It is mentioned that they returned to the teleport ritual about a week after their initial planeshift.