The Rig Situation – Recaps episodes 30-35

On their way north to Vallaki, the party continues to discuss different strategies to take out the multitude of enemies that they seem to be up against. The majority of the plans heavily rely on the element of surprise. As they travel, Galahad begins to sing a marching song that he learned from his mentor Antonius. Zechs recognizes the song, it was a song that his mentor Argo sings as well. It seems that Antonius and Argo were once adventuring companions in a group called the Gargoyle Unit. Attros, too, seems to know their mentors. The Kenku explains that he met them in a previous life when he still had his small shop. Galahad speaks about some of the things Bahamut told him in their most recent conversation. Zechs asks Attros what happened to his shop and why he became an adventurer again. Attros replies that it was his wife’s shop, but she’s dead now. He reminisces about the past and about righting the wrongs that occurred, leaving it at that. The party continues to walk in the rain. As the day comes to a close, they come to a scene of civilization. The road meanders into a valley watched over by dark, brooding mountains to the north and south. The woods recede, revealing a sullen mountain burg surrounded by a wooden palisade. Thick fog presses up against this wall, as though looking for a way inside, hoping to catch the town aslumber. The dirt road ends at a set of sturdy iron gates with a pair of shadowy figures standing behind them. Planted in the ground and flanking the road outside the gates are a half-dozen pikes with wolves’ heads impaled on them. Shanks makes a slightly theatrical case to be let into the town of Vallaki. The guards, seemingly not wanting to deal with the group, relent and let the party in. As they walk through the town they pass by an old church, and many dwellings both inhabited and abandoned, and eventually come to a large, two-story wooden building with a stone foundation and sagging tile roof, upon which several ravens have perched. A painted wooden sign hanging above the main entrance depicts a blue waterfall. They make their way into the crowded tavern. They approach the bartender, a woman named Danika, for lodging that night. They come to find out that she is the daughter-in-law of the owner of the vineyard. There is no love between the two. The party orders drink, and food, and find seats in the tavern. Kyver takes everyone by surprise by ordering water and sitting quietly, reading his new book from the Journeyman. We’ahqa offers to help Kyver with learning about magic and its different types. Zechs inquires about a Dusk Elf possibly being in the area. Danika informs him that there may be one over at the Vistani camp by the western entrance to the town. She informs the Tabaxi that the Vistani seem to be working for Strahd and are not to be trusted. Zechs relays this information to the rest of the party and they discuss mentioning the Were-Ravens and their plans to ambush Strahd. They figure that it’s probably a better idea to not bring it up until the tavern is much less crowded. Smarter to not risk people eavesdropping on the conversation. Eventually, they disperse to bed, splitting between three rooms. Attros asks shanks for a vial of water and casts the spell Ceremony on the water, creating Holy Water. While everyone else settles down to sleep or goes into a trance, Attros, and Arguile head outside to try out some new tactics. Attros casts Spiderclimb on Arguile and runs him through variations of how this could be used in and out of combat. They speak about the other members of the party and how the future plans of the group may or may not go as intended. They go on to speak about Arguile’s past and his mother, what little the Tiefling is willing to say. During Shanks’s trance, he begins to have visions from his past. Terrible scenes from the tail-end of his time with the old guild he was once part of. He relives the deaths of his former guild at his own hands, except for one person. A person close to him, someone special. He awakes from his trance to find a Verdan woman sitting across from him, eyes fixed upon him. This shakes him to his core. She tells him that she sought him out to ask him why he did what he did. Glad wakes up during this conversation. There is a little bit of an introductory back and forth between Glad and Rig, as Shanks wants to keep his distance. It is readily apparent that Rig enjoys making him feel uncomfortable. Glad decides to take a quick nap before everyone else wakes up, she’s gotta keep her strength up to deal with the bullshit. While the rest of the party sleeps, Shanks and Rig converse about the situation that the party is in. The rest of the party begins to wake up and Cereius, Kyver, We’ahqa, and Attros meet Rig for the first time. We’ahqa asks the new person how she knows Shanks. She tells them that those questions get deferred to Shanks because she doesn’t know what she is and isn’t allowed to say. Shanks is adamant about not answering anything, so Rig gives them a very vague description of their working relationship. She eludes to a physical relationship but doesn’t outright state it. Attros, Kyver, and Cereius nod and introduce themselves on the way out of the room. Elsewhere, Zechs, Galahad, and Arguile make their way out to the rest of the party. Galahad and Zechs share a short conversation about their mentors and how it was luck that they would be in an adventuring party together. How when they finish with Strahd, they should all get together for drinks and catch up. The idea of a drinking competition between Galahad and Argo is also mentioned. Zechs, Galahad, and Arguile meet up with the rest of the party down at the bar. They all order food and drink for their morning meal. Shanks and Rig are the last to rejoin the party. The archer is noticeably uncomfortable and unsure about what to do in the current situation. Arguile and Zechs speculate about who Rig is and while they help Kyver with his book on magic, We’ahqa tells them that her name is Rig and is an old friend of Shanks. Kyver, annoyed with the whole situation, exclaims that she’s his baby mama and the party loses it. Zechs approaches the two of them and asks what the deal is. Galahad interjects before Shanks can answer, “Shanks! A friend of yours is a friend of mine! Come! Drink with us. Break your fast.” Shanks immediately goes to the bar and starts pounding beers. Seeing this, Galahad orders up some hard liquor as the remainder of the party introduces themselves. With shots being poured, Arguile asks if Shanks is ok. Shanks tells his friend that it’s complicated. Telepathically, Rig asks Shanks if it really is all that complicated. To which he replies, “more than you know.” Suddenly, within his mind’s eye, Shanks is sitting in a nondescript room with stools and a table; Rig sitting across from him. The conversation that follows is a cat-and-mouse dynamic between Shanks and Rig. “What do you know about the people that gave us our orders?” asks Shanks. “That more than likely, they were into some shady shit that we probably shouldn’t have known about. Which is why I made sure that I didn’t know about it,” Rig answers. Shanks continues “did you really stay out of knowing about it?” “It’s called compartmentalization, Shanks. You should really learn how to do it at this point,” Rig retorts. “Just because you can do something, doesn’t always mean it’s good,” Shanks postures. “Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean it’s bad either,” Rig replies coldly, “you have defense mechanisms and so do I.” Shanks asks what compartment he’s in now. Rig stares him directly in the eyes and tells him that he is his own, individual box. And that box has one thing in it. A single word and he already knows what it is. Shanks cryptically reveals that he was given an order and he didn’t follow it. Rig pushes for more information and this is when Shanks makes his escape from this mental conversation. [30] Back in the bar, there are cheers all around, welcoming Rig into the party. Shanks is overwhelmed at this moment. Arguile and Zechs take note and tease him for it, pressuring him to take more shots. Shanks pleads with the two, “I can’t!” Galahad turns to him with a shot in hand saying, “Bahamut is with you, my friend.” Everyone cheers again and drinks another shot. During the festivities, Shanks, visibly drunk now, turns to Zechs, “We must find Strahd’s coffin.“ Zechs agrees strongly. Shanks continues, “Rigs specialty is finding unfindable things.” Zechs comments on how convenient that is and Rig smiles. “Our former team was a group of specialists. I am good at finding things, he’s good at shooting things.” They wrap up at the bar with Shanks bringing Rig up to speed on their journey thus far, “so now we have to find the Dusk Elf.” “Hey guys, are we sure we’re supposed to meet a Dusk Elf and not an elf at dusk?” We’aqua inquires. Zechs shaking his head sarcastically shrugs the statement off, turning his attention to Rig he asks, “By any chance have you seen a Dusk Elf on your way here? She hasn’t but she mentions a camp and the party decides to pay their tab and follows her into the woods toward said camp. In the clearing of the woods, they see a grass-covered hill that harbors homes on the sides of its landscape. Atop the hill, above the fog, is a rig of barrel-top wagons circling a large tent with a column of smoke pouring out from a hole in the top. Even at a distance, they are met with the smell of wine and horses. We’aqua suggests he could talk to the horses to gather intel and the party agrees. He approaches a horse, “Hey what’s been going around these parts? Everything Stable?” Unamused, the horse replies, “What’s it to you, bud?” We’aqua failing at being nonchalant brings up the topic of Dusk Elves and the horse tells him there are many Dusk Elves that live there, which is he looking for? The druid tells him he doesn’t know their name. “Dusk Elves have names?” The horse tells him everyone has a name and introduces himself as Steve. We’aqua asks if Steve has heard of a Dusk Elf that might’ve been mentioned often. The horse recalls the name Kasimir and shrugs in the direction of where he lives. Meanwhile, the rest of the party watches as We’aqua and Steve neigh, whine, and grunt at each other. He talks to Steve and learns that his humans misgender him. We’aqua can relate to being non-gendered himself. “Hey bud, If you ever see me and your humans make you feel that way just let me know. I’ll talk to them for you… Everyone deserves kindness, respect, and love.” Steve appreciates his words. Parting ways, We’aqua asks permission to pet Steve. Steve thanks them for asking for consent and agrees. The rest of the party is baffled by the conversation. We’aqua fills them in and they head to Kasimir’s but not without the druid giving an earful to a couple of guards nearby regarding Steve. They make their way to Kasimir’s small and guarded home. One of his guards tells the group that only 3 can enter. After much debate, Galahad, Zechs, and Shanks enter. The Dusk Elf is curious to know what business they have with him. Galahad informs Kasimir of another Vistani Camp and how it was foretold that they would meet. Shanks in Elvish, tells him that he has suffered a great loss and is haunted by it in his dreams. Kasimir, also in elvish, tells him of his sister Catrina who passed away long ago but still sends him messages in his dreams. He tells him that if they could bring her back he will aid them in any way he can. Shanks relays the information to the others in common; he and Kasimir continue the logistics of the mission. “My sister’s lust for power led her to befriend Strahd, a decision she now regrets.” The party learns that her body lies in the catacombs of Castle Ravenloft and that the power to bring her back is in the Amber Temple. This is very unsettling for the party to hear and ask for some time to talk it over. The tarot cards play a heavy role in the discussion and Zechs decides to ask Kasimir about them. Kasimir knows who the Vistani woman is and cautions him to take what she said with a grain of salt. She is powerful and can see things but she could very well be lying. Zechs asks about Kasimir’s headspace and he explains that his one and only goal is to save his sister from “eternal damnation”. He goes on to confirm that one of the cards is most likely Castle Ravenloft. Shanks interjects and asks about the wizard who fought Strahd long ago. Kasimir refers to them as the Mad Mage and confirms that it actually happened. He continues that he is still alive and not far from where they are right now. The party contemplates going after the Mad Mage for help and Kasimir says it may be worth it but would be a gamble. Zechs decides to excuse himself from the conversation to have a word with Cereius. Meanwhile outside, We’ahqa sits with Kyver and Arguile as they work through the basics of magic. There is a rare moment of bonding between the three of them. They see potential in the Tabaxi but he’s not quite there yet. Elsewhere, Rig and Attros share a moment. Rig asks about his guild and mentions, by name, his guild. She’s heard of them and knows their reputation. They speak about her reasons for joining the group and how it isn’t just to catch up with Shanks. She’s looking for answers. Attros changes the subject back to the Telltale Guild and why he left. They find that they both have more in common than first assumed. Zechs makes his way over to Cereius as he spaces out, waiting outside. Zechs cuts straight to the point and asks if Cereius is capable of resurrection. The cleric tells Zechs that he has attempted it before but wasn’t overly successful. He eludes to something in his past. He also tells the ranger that resurrecting someone that has been gone for longer than a week or so is way out of his range of power. The conversation turns to the morality of trying to bring back someone that old could be dangerous. Not only to the soul of the person but potentially to those around it. Zechs finishes up and heads to Attros, asking him to head inside with Galahad and Shanks to help with Kasimir. The members inside make the decision to first head to the Amber Temple and help Kasimir with his quest. Then make a straight shot back north to find the Mad Mage and hopefully bring him to their side. Followed by hoping that the Journeyman will be able to help transport them back to Castle Ravenloft to save on travel time and face Strahd before his wedding. Meanwhile, Zechs and Rig have a short conversation about her motivations, which eventually turns to talk about Shanks. However, Shanks catches the tail end of the conversation and pulls Zechs aside, cautioning him about Rig. The party makes there way back out to the rest of the group. Kasimir makes a deal with the Vistani and the party now has transportation. Hilarity ensues while they decide upon their horses. As they begin to make their way south, the party realizes that they’ve been close to the Temple. They have to pass by the archway of green flame and the white tower where they found Strahd’s Tome. With the familiarity of the route, the travel doesn’t take as long as previously anticipated. As night falls the party decides to make their way to the archway and tower for rest. Riding up to the archway, the party spends a bit of time trying to figure out how to get over it again. Kasimir nonchalantly walks up to it and dispels the flames that block the pathway and gestures toward the tower. [31] The party makes its way into the abandoned tower, happy to find that the ground floor is large enough to house the horses. They begin to settle in for the cold night, Galahad brushing Ignacio after a long day’s journey south. Zechs leads a group back out onto the mountainside to collect firewood. Attros, Galahad, and Shanks help to gather and dry out what little burnable material could be found. With fires lit, the party decides on the watch schedule for the evening. Rig and Galahad first. Shanks and We’ahqa after them with Kyver and Zechs ending the evening. Atop a familiar tower with a missing statue, Galahad and Rig survey the landscape. With the surroundings quiet and calm, Rig turns to the goliath and sparks a conversation. A dialogue between the two that innocently wanders into Galahad’s personal past. However, the Paladin turns the focus onto Rig and the strange things she has claimed to do. She speaks about a job involving a corrupt wizard and their network of young arcane assassins and spies. How she was more of a pointer or bird dog and others like Shanks would do the dirty work. Galahad asks and it is confirmed that Shanks was with Rig on this particular job. Their shift ends with Rig heading down into the tower to wake Shanks and We’ahqa as Galahad prays on the ramparts. Shanks and We’ahqa take their positions at the top of the tower and look out into the night sky. It’s a quiet night, however off in the distance, We’ahqa hears the cry of a bird of prey. The thing that catches them off guard is that it’s much deeper than it should be. We’ahqa points out the direction of the cry and Shanks peers a little closer. The bird looks to be a good distance away but still has the size of Duo if he was sitting there with him. We’ahqa realizes that it’s a Roc that has nested in the mountain pass somewhere. This sparks a conversation about animals and We’ahqa’s relationship with them. The druid speaks about not having friends growing up outside of the wildlife of their home and that they’re still learning how to be friends with those who aren’t animals. “You know how to listen. You look at people and can size them up, I can tell,” We’ahqa explains. “You really get a measure of people and things. It’s really the same with animals, all you have to do is listen. Just see the thing for what it is and accept it. Then you’ll have a better understanding of it.” “I had a mentor try to help me with some of my fears,” Shanks expounds. “He explained to me that animals kind of see the truth of you. I’ve sort of been scared of that.” The conversation makes its way into decisions and the toll they take on the people that make them. We’ahqa tells Shanks that they do their best to live their lives without regrets. Learning, for the Druid, is the most important thing. Shanks speaks about the extreme situations he’s been put in and We’ahqa advises him to cut himself some slack. We’ahqa finishes the conversation by telling Shanks to let people in, and shed some light on the dark that he’s holding in. With that, they head back into the tower to wake Kyver and Zechs for the final shift of the evening. The two Tabaxi settle in on the tower, Kyver pulling out his book and Zechs scanning the terrain. Zechs begins to ask Kyver about his home. Kyver reminisces about a place called Nymora. A city built into the trees in a large forested area known as the Heartwood. His family lived in a small village outside the city proper. This sparks imagery, and memories, in Zechs head. For the first time in nearly two decades, the Tabaxi has any recollection of his childhood. A clear scene of holding hands with an older female Tabaxi, a Caracal like him, holding his small, child-like hand. They walk through the open forest, the woman looking down at him with a loving smile on her face. Zechs breaks down into tears. Zechs eventually thanks Kyver for this and the assassin tells him that he doesn’t need to thank him. He’s happy to share that with him. Daylight peeks over the mountain tops as the party prepares for the next leg of their journey. They travel for roughly half the day when the road fades away under a covering of snow. It takes them far enough to see the facade of some kind of temple carved into the sheer mountainside ahead. The front of the structure is fifty feet high and has six alcoves containing twenty-foot-tall statues. Each statue is carved from a single block of amber and depicts a faceless, hooded figure, its hands pressed together in a gesture of prayer. Between the two innermost statues is a twenty-foot-tall archway with a staircase leading down. The party investigates the facade and statues, however, the overall vibe of this place is dark and unwelcoming. The party tries to figure out how they’re going to approach the situation. Kasimir explains that this temple is where the Dark Powers are kept. Rig suggests scouts illuminate the situation. Shanks suggests that We’ahqa wild shapes into a beetle. After some conversation the party splits, We’ahqa changes into a beetle, and the scouting party makes its way into the temple. We’ahqa immediately takes off and begins to fly around the inner rooms of the temple. They speed through many different rooms, seeing several potential enemies and pitfalls along the way. While the Druid does their recon, the rest of the party slowly makes its way deeper into the main chambers of the ancient temple. Eventually, they venture into a large open area lined with statues. Four black marble columns support the vaulted ceiling of the temple, at the north end of which stands a forty-foot-tall statue of a cowled figure in flowing robes. The statue’s stony hands are outstretched as if in the midst of casting a spell. Its face is void of utter blackness. The ominous statue stands between two black marble balconies, one of which has partially collapsed and fallen on the temple’s black marble floor, in front of an open doorway. The walls of the temple are sheathed in amber, and the doors leading from it are made of amber as well. Arched hallways coated with amber lead away from the temple to the west and east. Flanking these exits are alcoves that hold white marble statues of robed human wizards with pointed hats and golden staffs. One of them has toppled over and lies shattered on the floor. At the behest of Attros, Shanks runs back out to the group outside to bring them in. The Artificer has a deep feeling of dread and thinks that they should be close in case trouble rears its head. When they arrive, Zechs asks Kasimir what they’re looking for. He makes them aware that they’re searching for the vaults that are within the complex. He hasn’t been here before but knows of their existence. As they continue to make their way into this larger area, three bolts of flame shoot out from the globe of darkness around the large statue’s head and hit Kyver. A swift and furious battle ensues, ending with Galahad using Kanna’s Fury like an axe to take down the statue and the Arcanoloth hiding at the top of it. Arguile finishes off with a strike to the back with his short sword and slicing its throat with his dagger. Zechs uses his Primeval Awareness to try and sense any other creatures in the Temple that might do them harm. The temple is crawling with Fiends and Undead. Galahad searches the body of the fiend to find a spellbook, some treasure, and a Robe of Useful Items. Cereius suggests using his ring, The Puppet Master’s Ring, to speak with the dead fiend for more information about the things going on. While the rest of the party does a quick inventory of their Bag of Holding, Cereius begins his questioning. “How many others are here,” the cleric starts. With a raspy and choked voice, the creature replies “There are many.” The cleric continues, “Where are the sarcophagi?” “To the north and the south,” it answers. “Why do you stand guard here,” the cleric inquires. “Great powers are kept here. They must be guarded at all costs,” the creature responds. “How do we acquire this power?” “You must find the sarcophagi and make your deal.” With the final question, Cereius asks “With who do we make the deal?” As the breath leaves its body once more, it relays the final answer, “The Dark Powers.” Zechs thinks back to realize that the Dark Powers are the entities that gave Strahd his powers. Kyver begins to get visuals of the shadowy figures from his dreams. The location and deal that was made come to the forefront. Zechs begins to dole out a few different items within the party, taking the Robe of Useful Items and giving the Cloak of Protection to Galahad. We’ahqa, still scouting around as a beetle, encounters more rooms and several amber sarcophagi. [32] As the party continues to take inventory of their Bag of Holding, Attros makes his way over to Cereius. Attros apologizes for the misunderstanding earlier when the party last faced Strahd. He tells him that he didn’t mean to hold him back the way he did. Cereius asks him not to worry about it. The subject matter of that confrontation hit an emotional soft spot in him that may have led to a bad decision. He sees it as Attros stopping him from doing something stupid. Cereius reveals that the loved one insinuated by Strahd is the reason for his journey. Attros relates to this, as he has the same motivation. A path to redemption. The two bond over their past and motivation. While this is happening, Shanks pulls Rig to the side for a private chat. He apologizes for how he reacted back at the bar, but Rig says that was her intention. She wanted to “knock him down a couple of pegs.” He promises that they will have the talk she wants to have after this is all done. She admits that wasn’t lying in their earlier conversation about not knowing what the higher-ups were doing in their organization. She explains that it wasn’t out of defiance or being a cold-hearted bitch, it was out of survival. She talks about how she’s been looked at as a waste of space and an abomination her whole life because of what she is. A Verdan, a mutant. He insists that she isn’t a waste of space and that he always wanted her around. As We’ahqa continues to fly through the temple, Rig walks over to Kyver. She asks him about his book and encourages him to keep learning. Kyver complains about getting hit by the arcanoloths initial attack. She relates heavily, as she is usually the point person on missions like this. The conversation ends as the party decides to make a move. Attros suggest setting up an ambush using the Rope Trick spell but before anything can come from it Kasimir just disappears. Seconds later, an explosion blasts from an adjoining hallway. Kasimir appears again and begins to apologize profusely. The group checks around the corner to see a slightly charred We’ahqa and corpses at the end of the hallway. Zechs asks about what We’ahqa saw throughout the temple. They speak about finding rooms with amber sarcophagi and creatures in them. They formulate a plan, using magical tinkering Attros will create an illusion of a suit of armor. Kyver, Zechs, and Arguile will be the lure. When these creatures We’ahqa spoke of follow, the illusion will be the focal point. Once they attack it, the party will let fly an onslaught of attacks to take them out quickly. The plan goes off without a hitch and the party is successful in taking out the creatures, which they find out are Nothics, with relative ease. They check out the room that the creatures came from and find the amber sarcophagi. Hearing about what is inside the chamber, Kasimir makes his way to it and the tombs. Zechs and Shanks follow the wizard into the chamber and watch as he reaches out to touch one of the sarcophagi. He touches and holds his hand in place for a moment on the first one. Pulling his hand back slowly, he moves to the next. Zechs asks if they can help, and the wizard replies that he needs to find the correct one. And the only way to do that is to touch each one they find until he comes in contact with the correct spirit. After searching the chamber, he concludes that the one he is looking for isn’t there. Zechs asks what spirit Kasimir is searching for, and he answers with the name Zudan, the Corpse Star. He pleads with the group to find the other vaults. The party makes their way through the hall to find another vault. They manage to find two more, one directly adjacent to the first vault found and one down at the opposite end of the hallway. Zechs feels the compulsion to touch the sarcophagus in front of him, but We’ahqa is quick enough to stop it. He takes a step out of the chamber as We’ahqa begins to cast Detect Magic. Arguile and Shanks ask what happened and Zechs explains that he was compelled to reach out and touch the object. Shanks questions the whole situation and Zechs says he didn’t like it from the start. Moving away from the rest of the group, Zechs explains that he’s wary of having Kasimir and his sister help them defeat Strahd. Having greater numbers aside, none of this sits well with him. They already have wildcards in the group and adding more at this point isn’t comforting. Attros chimes in questioning his sudden moral compass. Zechs explains that it’s not about morals but he’s hesitant about this whole thing because of its implications of it. If they succeed in stopping Strahd, will it just put the valley into a worse situation than before? Shanks nocks an arrow in his bow and looks to Zechs, “Then make a call.” Attros echoes this sentiment with a countdown. Zechs stops the potential assassination with a stipulation: if they step out of line, they die. But for now, they’re allies to the party and Barovia at large. We’ahqa walks over to the group and lets them know that there are massive amounts of magic exuding from the sarcophagi. Kasimir heads in behind them and repeats the same process from the last two rooms. Moments later he confirms that these aren’t the ones they’re looking for. He explains the history of the Amber Temple. The Dark Powers that were within the land of Barovia were caged by an ancient conclave of mages. They trapped the powers in the amber but the Dark Powers are still able to communicate through them. “So you mean to tell me that these things are still alive,” Attros questions. “Yes,” Kasimir confirms, “in a manner of speaking,” Zechs asks if they’re considered undead. Kasimir explains that this is very old magic, the magic is what Necromancy is derived from. Attros looks to Cereius for confirmation of this statement, and the cleric is pretty certain that it’s true. Attros wonders aloud if this is all necessary and leaning on his arcane knowledge, he comes to the conclusion that unless they receive a boon from a deity or come into extreme magic power, this may be the only route. Kasimir heads back into the main chamber and over to a set of locked double doors made of amber. Using his magic, he’s able to unlock them but turns back to the group for help opening them. Attros uses Thaumaturgy to begin to open the doors. Galahad is eventually coaxed into helping open the large doors. Galahad pushes the door open to reveal a room with piles of treasure against the eastern and western walls. A ten-foot-tall statue carved from amber in the likeness of a hawk-headed humanoid stands in a wide alcove to the north. Behind it, a crack has formed in the wall. As Galahad enters the room, the statue comes to life and charges forward. The party gets into a heated battle, but with their numbers and the sheer amount of force, they come out on top. The party begins to dive into the piles of treasure. It takes them a solid 20-30 minutes to go through the whole thing. During this time, Shanks peaks into the crack in the north wall and peers into the room on the other side. A golden marble staircase with a black marble railing hugs the north wall as it spirals gently up a thirty-foot-wide shaft. Lying in the middle of the room are six rotting wooden crates, with what seem to be creatures nestled within them. The amber-covered walls are sculpted to look like tentacles that entwine around marble bas-reliefs of kings, queens, pharaohs, and sultans attended by myriad slaves. The west, south, and east walls contain alcoves, and standing in each alcove is a tall, rough block of amber. Two wide cracks have opened up in the south wall, spilling rubble and shattered pieces of amber onto the floor in the southeast corner of the room. He relays this information to the rest of the group. Galahad suggests a short rest while Rig and We’ahqa take a look around to continue the search for more sarcophagi. Making their way down to the east hallway, they break into several rooms with large amber doors. They find a room with statues, another with carved reliefs, and two rooms with sarcophagi. The chamber at the far end of the hallway has walls of glazed amber, a floor of red marble, and a rough-hewn shaft in the center of its ten-foot-high ceiling. Three amber sarcophagi stand in alcoves, and above each sarcophagus floats a human skull wreathed in green flame.[33] We’ahqa and Rig square off against several Flame Skulls. The battle is pretty quick and the pair defeat the undead creatures. Both, however, take a fair amount of damage from the scuffle. Rig decides that she needs to take a quick break from “looking for things that can kill her”, wanting to tell the rest of the party that they’ve found more of the amber sarcophagi. They make their way back and relay the information. It seems now that more tombs or vaults are hidden behind the locked Amber doors around the complex. We’ahqa, Kyver, and Zechs search for more and find another room of amber sarcophagi. They make their way back to the party and inform Kasimir. While the players rest, Shanks and Rig have a private conversation. There is a bit of small talk before the focus is on the real subject of conversation. She questions Shanks’s statement that he did what he did because of an order he was given but didn’t follow. Shanks explains that the order wasn’t about him, it was an order to kill her. She asks why he didn’t say anything to her. What gave him the right to make that decision without letting her in on what was going on? He continues to tell her that the answers to those questions are long and complicated but Rig seems to be getting to the end of her patience. Galahad approaches Kasimir to bring the Dusk Elf to the newly found sarcophagi. He walks through the rooms, just like the previous ones, checking each to find the correct one. These new rooms don’t hold the vault that he is looking for. Discouraged, they head back to the party in the treasure alcove. While this is happening, Zechs pulls We’ahqa to the side. He explains to the Druid why they’re in the temple and how he is getting very bad vibes from the whole thing. Kasimir’s sister seems to have flirted with the same powers as Strahd. We’ahqa is less trepidacious about the situation and offers suggestions to figure out what is going through Kasimir’s head. Zechs suggests that the Druid talk to him and find out whatever they can. We’ahqa is ecstatic to be chosen for this. Puffing up their chest, they make their way over to the Dusk Elf, who is just sitting off to the side thumbing through a book. The conversation is innocent enough, with We’ahqa asking about his book. It’s a book of no importance to the situation at hand. The Druid asks if Kasimir reads about magic. The Dusk Elf pulls out another book from his satchel and We’ahqa recognizes immediately that it is a spell book. They offer a trade between them and Kasimir accepts. We’ahqa inquires about his sister and if she knew magic. Kasimir explains that while he had to learn it, his sister came to it naturally. The Druid digs a bit more, learning that his sister was entitled and had a bit of a temper. Kasimir explains that they had lost contact near the end of her life. She would rant about how the world owed them for putting them in the valley of Barovia. They would fight and make up, over and over again. The final time that they spoke was not the most encouraging situation. She told him that she was going to marry Strahd and never returned home. Only to haunt his dreams later on, revealing to him that she had died. In their conversations, he can hear the remorse in her voice. The conversation ends soon after and We’ahqa heads to Zechs to inform him of what transpired. Aware of an undead presence in the room adjoined to the treasure cove, the party plans a meaningful way of getting in there and clearing it out. Attros brings up using a choke point so that they can pick off enemies one by one. Things get a bit heated as they try to figure out exactly who to send into the room, and Kyver wastes no time in heading in before a decision can be made. Sneaking in, he discovers crates that contain slumbering vampire spawns. Before the party is completely ready, he attacks and a skirmish ensues. The party prevails but not without heavy damage dealt to Galahad, Kyver, and We’ahqa. After the battle fades, Kyver finds that he is in the place that the entities from his dreams wanted him in. A wisp of the shadow is highlighted in his vision, next to an amber tomb. Kyver is being pulled toward the one illuminated. Zechs notices the assassin making his way toward the amber tomb. He rushes over to stop him, making it a split second before Kyver’s hand touches the sarcophagus. Zechs tells him “Kyver, did you see what happened with me? I don’t think you were there for it. This thing compels you to touch it. I’m pretty sure whatever is going to come out of it is not going to be a good time. So, let’s not and say we did.” Kyver pulls his hand from Zechs and stalks away and out of the room. Kasimir makes his way in and begins the same process as before. This time, however, he finds what he is looking for. There is a surge of gray/black energy from the sarcophagus Kasimir stands in front of. It surrounds him for a moment and then fades away. Pulling his hand away, Kasimir is noticeably gaunt and paler. He looks as if he’s straddling the line between life and undeath. Galahad looks to the Dusk Elf, “Kasimir, are you alright?” The wizard replies, “I found what I needed.” The whole exchange is unsettling, especially to We’ahqa, who recognizes that this was a transfer of power. A transfer of dark power and magic. Galahad senses it too and uses his Divine Sense. There is an aura of undeath surrounding Kasimir. The Paladin questions him about this and his response is that it is the gift of Zudan. He is questioned further and they gather that Kasimir is steadfast in his belief that this is what he must do and that he knows what he is doing. Unfortunately, due to his proximity with the sarcophagi, Galahad is drawn in by one. Zechs can catch him in time but as they begin to walk away, he is pulled in and drawn in as well. Thankfully, after quick thinking by We’ahqa and Galahad, they’re able to get out of the room and make their way out of the temple. The tavern appears outside of the temple and the party makes their way inside. With the horses successfully in the stable and the group in the bar, Chico and Welby begin preparing food and drink. Galahad looks to Shanks, Attros, and Zechs gesturing toward the Journeyman’s office. Implying that he wants to talk to JM with them. They all head into the office and begin an interesting conversation with the Journeyman. They explain the events that occurred in the Amber Temple. They have some trepidation about what he’s trying to do. Furthermore, there seems to be some apprehension about what will happen, not only if Kasimir resurrects his sister, but when they defeat Strahd. The party is divided on the power vacuum that will be left in his wake. Shanks brings up Rig to the Journeyman. He questions if she is just erroneous or if she’s possibly a mole. The Journeyman tells the group that there are a whole host of reasons and means by which she could be here. A large majority of them have nothing to do with the Constable. However, it is definitely a possibility that he is involved. She tells the group that it’s up to them to decide what is happening. It’s at this point that Attros begins to stare down Shanks. His eyes begin to glow red. “I feel as if there’s something you’re not telling us, Shanks.” The archer asks what he’s talking about. “To something with Rig,” Attros accuses. A heated discussion begins between the two. Attros accuses Shanks of not being forthright with the group about not only Rig but his past in general. He argues that everyone in the group has shared something about their past and their goals, except for Shanks. Attros brings up the death of his guild at his own hands and then accuses Shanks of doing the very same thing to his guild. Shanks admits to it but it’s obvious that it’s incredibly difficult to talk about. The tension in the room is palpable as the conversation continues. Attros insists on hearing his reasoning for it. Communication begins to break down as Zechs gets involved. Eventually, Shanks relents a little bit and tells them a decent bit of the info that they’re looking for. The tension subsides just enough for Shanks to make an exit and Zechs follows. The Journeyman asks the remaining two what their thoughts are on the Verdan. They don’t know what to think but they don’t get the sense that she is there to do harm to the group. During the conversation in the Journeyman’s office, the rest of the party is resting out in the tavern. Rig and Arguile are sitting quietly speaking to each other when, from across the room, We’ahqa calls out “Arguile, Rig can I ask you a question?” The two agree and We’ahqa asks “What does sex feel like?” This rolls into an awkward and innocent conversation about “the birds and the bees”. The two explain it in the best way that they can. They describe, in clinical terms, what actually happens and eventually move on to the ideas of romance, lust, and love. We’ahqa is encouraged to think of sex in these terms and stress that consent on both ends of the act is needed. We’ahqa innocently asks Rig if they could have sex because he would feel safe doing it for the first time with her. Rig gently declines and reiterates that their first time should be with someone that they care about romantically. It’s at this point that Shanks bursts out of the Journeyman’s office. Hearing this last bit of the conversation, he freezes, causing Zechs to walk directly into him. Zechs tries his best to get him to come back into the office, even handing him a bottle of booze to calm his nerves, but Shanks isn’t having it. He takes the bottle and heads up to his room. Rig follows behind him. She looks to Zechs and says “let me see if I can talk some sense into him.” Zechs just shakes his head and heads back to the office. He lets Galahad and Attros know what is going on and Attros makes a b-line to the upstairs. As Shanks gets to the door to his room, Rig comes up behind him and leans against the wall. They both exchange looks and Shanks pulls her inside his room. “Someone’s a little frisky,” Rig quips. “Is everything ok?” Shanks takes a big swig from the bottle and tells her that they need to talk. She tells him that she’s here and is ready to listen. “They wanted me to kill you,” Shanks blurts out. “The two partners that you were supposed to e going on the next mission with were bringing you into a clearing. I was supposed to assassinate you. They felt that you were a double agent after the last job we did. And they knew about our relationship. They knew about everything. I made a decision based on what I felt we had.” Rig walks toward Shanks, putting her hand on his face and moving closer for an embrace. As the two embrace, she pulls Shanks in close, and looking into his eyes says “I have a secret too… It was me.” And this is when Shanks feels a sharp pain in his torso. He looks down to see one of her daggers buried in his ribcage. [34] Moments later, there is a thunderous clap coming from upstairs. Zechs and Galahad sprint toward the sound and burst into Shanks’s room. What they find inside is a strange scene: an unconscious Shanks slumped on the floor against the wall. Attros with his Mercurial Rod in Rapier form pointing it at another Shanks, Mind’s Eye drawn and pointing at the downed Shanks. Galahad unsheathes Kanna’s Fury, looking back and forth over the current scene, and asks “What is the meaning of this?” Zechs also makes a move to pull out his bow. The Shanks that is still standing assures the two that everything is ok. He explains that Rig tried to kill him but he was able to stop her with the help of Attros. Attros lowers his weapon, and Shanks continues that he saved his life. Galahad counters that Attros wouldn’t accost Shanks in his own room. The archer retorts that he did it in the Journeyman’s office, what is different about his room. Zechs suspects that something is up and asks Shanks a question, that only he would know the answer to. However, the archer gives Zechs a vague answer. Galahad catches on and asks his own question. “When we went to Krezk and you walked with me, do you remember where we walked?” Shanks, again, skirts around an actual answer and deflects by asking why he is being asked so many questions. Galahad continues to push and clarifies that this was their first real one-on-one conversation. Shanks brings up the subject of faith and his thoughts on it. This, however, doesn’t sway the Paladin. Something isn’t adding up in this strange situation. Elsewhere in the tavern, the rest of the party is beginning to become curious about what is going on upstairs. Slowly, but surely, they begin to make their way up. Galahad and Zechs continue to press Shanks for specific answers. Shanks goes on about how ridiculous this whole situation is. Zechs begins to draw his bow and Attros shifts his Mercurial Rod into a shield and steps in front of Shanks. The more they push, the more vague Shanks gets with his answers. As the frustration builds, Galahad announces that he’s going to “make this easy”. He walks over to the slumped Shanks, reaches out, and uses Lay On Hands to heal him. Zechs continues to get to the bottom of the situation. He states the situation as it stands, in plain facts. Shanks though continues to have just enough plausibility to his answers to keep the situation from resolving. He speaks about how his conversation with Attros wasn’t a pleasant one and that what he just went through with Rig didn’t help the matter. He reiterates that Attros saved his life, yes, but it doesn’t solve the problems they had before. The two of them threatening him with an imposter on the floor isn’t helping anything. As Galahad’s healing touch awakens the slumped figure on the floor, they see his eyes move to the Shanks standing behind Attros. There is obvious confusion in his eyes. Galahad asks the same question he posed to the other Shanks and this time he receives the answer he was looking for: “We talked in the morning, by the water. And had a conversation about faith.” With this, Galahad stands in front of his friend on the floor and points Kanna’s fury toward the imposter. Zechs follows suit by converting his bow into two short swords and activating its Medusa feature. Pointing them at the imposter and Attros, he demands to know what is going on. Attros responds by using Thaumaturgy to slam the door shut, his eyes beginning to glow a sickly red. The Paladin and Ranger continue to demand an explanation but Attros doubles down as his shield begins to glow as well, runes taking shape on its outward face. The facade of Shanks fades and reveals Rig behind Attros. “Can’t blame a girl for trying.” Galahad demands that she drops the bow. “Or what? You’ll kill me? I’m dead anyway,” Rig retorts. Galahad assures her that he will sleep well after she is gone and she agrees that he probably will. She lifts up Mind’s Eye and aims it at Zechs, who sees this as an opportunity to make his move. Using his natural speed as a Tabaxi, he successfully strikes twice before she’s able to let her arrow fly. As his blades bite into her skin, a fast-acting petrification process begins. Within 10 seconds, Rig is turned into stone. Cereius bursts in on the scene and makes his way over to Shanks, healing him. Zechs continues his attack as his blades slice across her. It pushes the petrification faster and Rig begins to solidify. Attros seems to snap out of a trance as Rig takes her final breath. The Kenku explained that she had cast a charm spell before they came. Galahad turns to Shanks and asks if they are going to end this, as We’ahqa runs into the room. The archer gets up and slowly makes his way over to Rig, studying the scene around him. Attros reaches out and casts Sanctuary over Rig, as We’aqha moves in front of her. The Druid pleads to the group that they don’t have to kill her. Zechs and Galahad are insistent that they must but We’ahqa looks directly at Shanks and asks “we don’t have to kill people, do we?” With all eyes on him, he bows his head in contemplation, piecing together the events that lead up to this situation. 20 Minutes Earlier Staring down at the dagger hilt protruding from his stomach, Shanks’s vision begins to blur. Outside, Attros walks with a purpose toward the archer’s room. Stepping up to the closed door, he hears voices and conversation. Quietly, Attros focuses on the voices and listens in. Rig resonates low and cold, there is disdain and contempt in her voice. It’s difficult to hear all that is said but he manages to make out: “I bet you never questioned your orders until you got that last one.” (inaudible) “I could see your devotion to the idea of love. I knew then that you would do anything for me, and you did so well. You were the instrument of my takeover, my coup.” (inaudible) “Don’t you go dying on me just yet, this is just the beginning of your severance pay.” Attros bursts through the door. He sees Shanks slumped against the wall on his prayer rug with Rig standing between the two of them, dagger in hand. Rig’s voice enters Attros’s mind. “If you’re going to come in, shut the door behind you,” she quips. Attros tells her that it depends on what she has to say. She replies that if he has questions, he should ask them quickly before they get interrupted. He asks if it really matters if the rest of the group is there. “Yes, it does,” she admits. Stepping forward, Attros closes the door. Attros and Rig have a back-and-forth about satisfaction and revenge. She admits that she knows a lot about him and his guild. And then Attros asks a peculiar question, “is it a deal that brought you here?” “How do you mean,” Rig asks trepidatiously. “On every stormy night, a soul cries out in pain at something they’ve lost. A mysterious stranger shows up to help them, at some mysterious cost. Sound familiar?” Attros seems fairly certain about his assertion. “In a roundabout way,” Rig answers somewhat sarcastically. “I didn’t make the deal for this, though. This is just a perk.” Attros makes a comment about ambition. Rig replies, insinuating that Attros would know what it’s like to be different and looked down on. He does and knows it all too well. He admits that he can’t hate her for the things she’s done, regardless of the decisions she’s made. “If you’re scum to everyone else, why not be the best scum you can be,” Rig questions. “Once upon a time, I might agree with you there,” Attros answers. The conversation turns to the tavern, what kind of deal did Attros make to get in there? Help is the answer the Kenku gives. He laments about his frustration with the party and the distraction that it is. She asks about the Journeyman and Attros concludes that they’re well-intentioned. Even if the road to hell is paved with good intentions. She agrees, based on what she’s witnessed. Rig asks a final question, “what are your thoughts on redemption?” Attros’s eyes begin to glow red and the Mercurial Rod in his hand shifts into the form of a rapier. “I guess you could call it the perfect lie. Something to give false hope and give someone who is dead a reason to continue.” Rig nods in reply and asks if he has a final question before things start happening. “Would you allow me the honor,” Attros requests, gesturing to Shanks? Rig obliges, stepping back as Attros moves toward the slumped elf. He kneels and uses magical tinkering to say “Those threatened by my way of life. That they’d murder her, my wife. In the vengeance that would unfold. Perhaps a detail left untold. When I killed old friends and brothers, blood washed my hands and others.” He reaches in, closing his grip around Shanks’s throat. Pointing his rapier back, it begins to glow as he casts Thunderwave at Rig. He then quickly casts Spare the Dying on Shanks as the archer passes out. He wakes up in a forest and is surrounded by underbrush, a pair of glowing yellow eyes fixed on him. With heavy, and slightly numb, limbs he pulls himself up into a standing position. Getting more in tune with his surroundings, he recognizes the area he’s in. It resembles a place in the Forest Bastion he used to travel to with his father as a young man. A large green and grey wolf lopes out from the trees, sniffing around Shanks and staring at him. A voice enters his mind “Shankise, it has been quite a while. I have not heard from you, since you were a child. Since you left your father’s care.” Shanks is in a state of disbelief. The voice continues, “I come to you at a turning point in your life. One where you have to make a choice. Continue the path that you’re on or forge a new one.” “Who are you,” Shanks asks. As if to answer his question, a flood of memories from his time with his father. The hunts. The rituals. Even his tattoo. “You know,” the voice states. Under his breath, Shanks whispers “Solonar.” The voice continues “You stand upon a precipice, the slightest miscalculation will send you to your doom.” “Survival is the way,” Shanks replies mechanically. He begins to cycle through the mantras taught to him by his father. “You remember what your father taught you, but you forget the golden rule. Like an arrow in flight, it is difficult to arrest the consequences of an action. Choose your targets carefully, for an ill-considered action can have a long-reaching impact. That is the situation you find yourself in now, and it is not the first time.” Shanks asks what he is supposed to do. How can he find balance when life is full of pain and despair. The voice tells him that balance requires opposites. Life and death, love and pain, hope and despair. A balanced mind creates a balanced hand. Shanks seeks balance, he knows the rituals and mantras but he doesn’t understand how they will help him when things are not going as they should. The voice tells him that everything does go as it should, they don’t need to know why. The only knowledge consists of knowing that you know nothing. The only constant thing is change. Shanks begins to make some deep insights about time and actions, coming to a resolution. The wolf bows its head and turns back to the direction it came from. The underbrush recedes to reveal a beautiful temple; some pieces seem natural while others are definitely refined and sculpted. The wolf looks at him and proceeds into the temple. He follows down a wandering path with carved reliefs of various forest-dwelling animals. The wolf turns back to look at him once more and then trots into a small cluster of pale white birch trees. He follows and it opens into an earthen room with a circle of pedestals fashioned from petrified wood. A lone figure stands across the room behind a pedestal. As he approaches, he recognizes the figure. They resemble several different depictions of The Hunter or Solonar. He kneels in front of the god in the way his father taught him. The Hunter instructs him to stand, he isn’t clergy. Shanks queries that the teachings aren’t right? Solonar tells him that there is no right or wrong, there is only balance. The tall, lithe figure leans forward to meet Shanks’s eyes. His deep umber skin glistens with sweat. His long, underbrush-textured hair drapes over his cloak of leaves and slides over his shoulder. Speaking out loud, the Hunter says “I’m willing to help you. And give you this second chance. Your friend has saved your body. It’s up to you to save your soul. I ask but two things of you: Walk in harmony with nature and oppose the efforts of those who would disturb her delicate balance. And choose your targets carefully, for an ill-considered action can have a long-reaching impact. Both in your life and abroad.” “Without question,” Shanks replies dogmatically. Reaching out his hand toward Shanks, the Hunter commands “Always question.” Touching his forehead, Shanks comes to consciousness with Galahad standing over him. Present Time Shanks pulls his head back up from contemplation with the word “Balance” in his head. He moves toward We’ahqa and Attros and embraces them. “No, we don’t have to kill her,” he says. Zechs storms out. Shanks explains that they do need to question her and find out what exactly is going on. Galahad protests but will honor Shanks’s wish and proceeds to storm out. The archer looks back to We’ahqa, and the rest of the party that is present, and insists that they have precautions set up. He also wants to get the Journeyman in on the decision. As Shanks makes his way down to JM, Attros, and We’ahqa remove her weapons and shackle Rig’s rigid figure. The party, excluding Galahad, Zechs, and Kyver, stands idly in the room as the Journeyman enters. Having just been informed of the situation, she quips “crazy plot twist right?” We’ahqa questions if she can do anything useful in this situation and she admits that her spells just “go boom”. She lets them know that she will help when she can be of service, turns around, and walks out. Before she’s out the door, the Druid asks where Shanks is. JM tells them that he went to get a healing potion. Meanwhile, Galahad makes his way down to the training area, where Zechs had absconded to. JM encourages We’ahqa to restore Rig and interrogate her. She doesn’t feel that Shanks is in the right headspace to talk with her and make rational decisions. Attros volunteers to do the talking and the rest of the group agrees. We’ahqa asks for his weapon, just in case she manages to charm him and the Kenku agrees. He hands his Mercurial Rod over to the Druid, who straps it to their back. So, with Attros, Arguile, Glad, and Cereius looking on We’ahqa dispels the magic petrifying Rig. And at the point of a sword, Rig is led over to the rug where Shanks sat moments before. We’ahqa informs her of why she is still alive and how the conversation she and Attros are about to have will go. She agrees. Attros sits down beside her on the rug and begins to ask her questions. They speak about the situation at hand. It seems that it was part of a deal that she had made. Her life is forfeit and she’s on borrowed time. This whole thing was built on chance. Attros presses further and she speaks about making the deal for mostly personal goals. The character assassination of someone she doesn’t name, though it’s implied that they already know who it is. She laments the fact that she knew she had a fifty-fifty chance of not making it out. While they were alone, before, she tried to escape but her bracers wouldn’t function. Attros offers a chance at continuing to live. A chance for a new deal. But she doesn’t think that she can break her current arrangement. Attros inquires about who she made the deal with, but We’ahqa goes a step further and names the Constable. She reluctantly confirms that is working for him. The Kenku digs further and she reveals that her mission was to stop the party and disrupt the Journeyman. It doesn’t seem he is as worried about the party as he is about JM. She admits that her plans just happen to line up with his. Attros continues with the questioning, asking what Rig sees as redemption. She smiles, “it’s a pipe dream. There’s a point of no return for those kinds of things and I’m way past it. Might as well lean into it. It is possible, but I’m not really looking for it.” Attros muses about death and its uncertainty. He compares Rig to his guild and wife. Things that were supposed to be gone but aren’t. He speaks of the deal he made, wanting answers to the questions he had about life and death. He admits again that he can’t bring himself to hate her. Even knowing what did and why he doesn’t see her as irredeemable. Elsewhere, Shanks makes his way into the training room. He walks in to see Zechs drinking heavily and in a rage. He makes his quietly over to the health potions. He drinks one and waits patiently for the Tabaxi to come over to him. Zechs confronts Shanks about what just happened. He calmly explains everything that happened up to when the two walked in and thanks him. Zechs begins to chastise him for keeping Rig alive as Galahad makes his way into the room. The Paladin makes his way over to the training dummies and swings his sword, discharging a Divine Smite, destroying several at once. Turning, he also wants to know what exactly is happening. Zechs goes off listing all of the things that they’ve been through. How could he want her alive when she just killed him? “I’ve never been so love-struck in my life. Was it that good Shanks?” The archer feels the anger welling up inside him but manages to calm it. He explains that it’s about love for her but this is all his mistake and he owns it. Zechs reminds him that they have two liabilities in the tavern and one of them just killed him. Shanks waits for Zechs to stop yelling and tells him that he needs to be able to speak to give his reasons. Galahad informs him that the group has already started interrogating her and Shanks thinks that that is best. He is not the person to do it. But they do need to find an advantage to the larger game that is laid out in front of them. This could be what they need. He goes on to explain that Zechs petrifying her allowed them to get that info while mitigating the risk of harm to the group. Galahad asks, “then what?” The three go into a back-and-forth about the difference between taking a life out of vengeance versus protection. Making different points about what it was like in the situation upstairs. Coming to a better understanding of each other, Shanks talks about finding purpose and meaning in the visions he had while he was unconscious. He vows that this situation will never happen again, though Zechs doesn’t seem assured. He continues that the team must come to a consensus about what action to take or they’ll never be able to achieve what they need to. The three of them reconcile and Shanks makes his way upstairs. Back up in Shanks’s room, Cereius approaches the pair. He tries to relate to Rig, speaking about being used by someone and having a price to pay to be free of it. He guesses that Shanks was her price. Rig replies, “have you ever loved someone so much that it hurt?” Cereius tells her that he knows that pain, it’s with him all the time. But he doesn’t let it consume him. She asks how long it’s been, Cereius is hesitant to give an exact number but estimates about a decade. They go on to discuss their breaking points. Once they’re past the point of no return, how far will they go to get to the one they’re looking for. The subject turns to redemption. Cereius tells her that he thinks everyone’s life has worth and he would hate to see her embrace death when she could still do good with the little bit of life she has left. Rig stares back at the cleric and coldly states that she isn’t afraid of death. This sets Glad off and she lays into Rig. The verdan sits and waits for a pause in the threats and makes an underhanded remark. It’s plain now, to the group, that she is trying to goad Glad into violence. Cereius steps in to try and calm things down. It’s at this point that Shanks walks into the room. Shanks and Rig stare daggers at each other. Cereius asks if the archer is ok and he assures the cleric that he is. Attros wants a few more questions before the conclusion of this event comes. He asks her if she knows of being called Elrin. She doesn’t recognize the name but admits that she hasn’t met everyone out there. Attros draws a comparison to the deal he made with the deal that Rig made. He offers to speak to Elrin on her behalf, but she tells him that she’s made too many deals. Attros responds, “that’s what makes you a good businesswoman.” Rig makes a comment about Shanks being the one to help him build her empire. She launches into a barrage of harsh words and insults directed at Shanks. “He saved my life then ran away like a little bitch.” She continues “I searched for the vast majority of the rest of my life looking for him. I made a pact with a time traveler to find him.” Arguile asks why she would try to kill him if she spent so long trying to find him. She spells out that she was the one to give the order to kill her. It was a test, that he passed. But instead of coming to her, he ran away. And not just away from the area, but to a different time. She then makes more inflammatory remarks to the group. We’ahqa jumps in to calm the situation down again and tries to find a way to keep her alive. A way to trick the Constable into thinking that she achieved her goal. Rig reiterates that there is no way out of this for her and thanks them for at least trying. With this, We’ahqa sprints out of the room to find the Journeyman. Taking his Mercurial Rod from the Druid during their exit, Attros shifts it into a dagger and tosses it to the ground between Shanks and Rig. He undoes her shackles and backs away. “It is your life, the remainder of it. Choose to do with it what you will.” Attros asks Shanks a final time to let her go. Shanks picks up the dagger and walks to Rig. “I’m sorry,” the elf says. Rig just stares back at him, resigned to her fate. “That’s nice. Too late for that now.” Shanks stares back at her saying, “I know, but a balance must be restored,” plunging the dagger into her chest. He holds eye contact with her until life leaves her eyes. Methodically, he pulls the dagger out, drops it on the floor, and makes his way to the exit. As the rest of the group files out of the room, Attros crouches beside her lifeless body and uses Chill Touch to freeze her in death. Nevermore,” the Kenku whispers. Nevermore.”

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