[3 Flamerule 1372 continued]
In Silverymoon, Markus talks Multivar into giving him some diamonds, claiming the old wizard promised additional payment for services rendered. The sly swordsman then proceeds to Blademaster Noboru's Academy and challenges the school's fourth ranked duelist, a Yuan-Ti named Yazzan. The Academy's Duelmaster informs the two that for this challenge, the school will provide them with blades and that the contestants may not harm one another except with the blades provided. When Markus and Yazzan enter the arena, it magickally takes the form of a dank, underground cavern with several chambers. Each contestant is given a scabbard with a sword inside of it and told that they cannot draw until the match begins.
Once the duel begins in earnest, it is clear that the contestants are being tested on their ability to wield any blade: when they draw from their respective scabbards, the swords that appear vary dramatically; and moreso, every time they land a strike, the blade disappears until the hilt is plunged back into the scabbard and drawn again! All sorts of blades appear, including rapiers, falchions, longswords, and even magickal blades of frost and flame. Although Yazzan lands a couple of good strikes, he is clearly outmatched in both skill and stamina and transforms into snake-form to try to hide and recover. Markus uses his feeble magic skills to lessen the darkness around them and spots Yazzan, and the Yuan-Ti decides to concede the duel. Outside the arena, El Capitan watches on, knowing that he will be next to face the upstart challenger.
Meanwhile, in the city-state of Laothkund on the Aglarondan Peninsula, the adventurers find themselves in the middle of an uprising, as the locals try to throw off the increasing influence exerted by Thay. The adventurers navigate through dark, unfamiliar streets, hearing shouts and sounds of battle all around them. Mellia argues with Dolcetto about why the latter stopped to search the bodies of the slain gnolls when they are clearly in a crisis situation. When the adventurers reach the end of a winding laneway, they see a wide plaza before them. The city's eastern gates are closed, and several Red Wizards, murdered in their sleep or caught by surprise, are hanging from the city walls. A standoff appears to have developed, as the Laothkundians are holding some Red Wizards hostage, staring down a hastily assembled army of undead, gnolls, and the surviving Thayans. Suddenly, an explosion rocks the rebels, and an all out battle ensues.
The adventurers decide to steer clear of the decisive battle for the future of Laothkund and instead find an area of the wall that is unguarded. Using the magickal spool of rope taken from Gelkar's corpse, Dolcetto (still in Fargrim's body) commands it to snake upwards and attach itself to a parapet. The adventurers then succeed in climbing over and find themselves on a wide stone road that vanishes into the darkness heading east. Moving quickly in the night, they follow the road for a few miles until it reaches its end at the mouth of a wide river. A series of wooden docks have been built there to handle cargo from both the river and the sea, but no ships are present. The adventurers retreat a short distance to the west and decide to camp for the night. Syd summons unicorns to heal his injured friends, while Ralkin draws forth the arcane energies in Myst's body to conjure a sturdy cottage complete with bunks, fireplace, and a table. Mellia weaves a spell to send Cain a message, asking him to update her on his status. His reply is terse, stating that she shouldn't waste time on pleasantries. Meanwhile, Fargrim, in Dolcetto's body, has trouble comprehending how magic works. Before sleep, there is some general conversation about how the mirror-portal could have effectuated such a dramatic change and some speculation that perhaps repeated use is the reason for Terrigo Multivar's memory troubles.
During the night, Fargrim, in Dolcetto's body, wakes up feeling refreshed after just a couple of hours of sleep. Soon, he hears a voice inside his head. It seems to be taunting him and says that if those inside come out one at a time, their deaths will be quick and painless. Fargrim wakes Dolcetto, and soon she hears the teasing, confident voice as well. Dolcetto thinks/shouts that if the presence thinks it is so powerful, it should come inside the hut and fight. And suddenly, it appears in the center of the cottage, smashing the trestle table with its bulk!
The intruder is a massive horned creature, 15' tall, that looks something like a cross between a rhinoceros and a spiny beetle. Fortunately for those adventurers who are slumbering, it's somewhat off-balance when it appears. Mellia, Ralkin (in Myst's body), Fargrim (in Dolcetto's body), and Syd leap out through the nearest door or window to give themselves some space. Myst, in Ralkin's kenku body, claws at the creature with talons, but the thick hide of the intruder blunts the attack. The creature lashes out with a powerful psychic assault, and both Dolcetto (in Fargrim's body) and Myst (in Ralkin's) are stunned and unable to move, easy prey for the creature's greatclub and horns.
Their allies come to the rescue, however, as Mellia fires spell after spell through the open window, blinding the creature. Syd transforms into a massive lion and charges through the doorway, pouncing and raking it. Fargrim, in Dolcetto's body, even summons a bison to aid in the attack! Struck from multiple quarters and unable to find its attackers, the creature has clearly bitten off more than it can chew. It drops to the ground dead, burnt and steaming from Mellia's fire and lightning spells. Myst, in Ralkin's body, identifies it as a creature he has heard of but never seen: a Braxat. With great difficulty, the adventurers drag the corpse outside and resume their slumber.
When they awake late in the morning, they see that a cargo ship flying the Thayan flag has anchored at the docks. A contingent of gnoll heavy infantry files out and begins trotting west, obviously requested to help put down the uprising in Laothkund. Dolcetto checks to see if the ship is guarded, and spots a sentry. The adventurers then pour over the map of the peninsula that Dolcetto obtained from the Vault of Sages. They decide to head north for ten minutes along the River Yuir and then, to cross, Syd takes the shape of a large eagle and flies everyone across. On the far side, Mellia and Myst carry out the frequently discussed plan to summon phantom mounts for the entire party, and the adventurers begin moving east at great speeds across the wilderness.