[3 Flamerule 1372 continued]
After barely an hour's ride on the incredibly fast phantom steeds, the adventurers reach the west bank of the River Til. The river looks to be at least a mile wide and poses a clear obstacle. Syd considers summoning a water elemental to carry everyone across, but decides that it will fade from existence before its task is complete. The adventurers decide to ride north along the river in the hopes of finding a shallow ford. After a few miles' journey, they see a small band of lizardmen fishing along the bank but are able to ride past before the lizardmen can even react.
Near mid-day, the group approach the southern edge of the Yuirwood without having found a convenient spot to cross the Til. The adventurers' discussion on what to do next is interrupted by the appearance of a solitary half-elf bowman emerging from the forest. The newcomer bluntly asks the adventurers to explain their purpose, and warns them not to enter the Yuirwood. When the travelers explain that they are headed to Thay to rescue a kidnapped companion, the half-elf, who gives his name as Theyler, says that few who are taken by the Red Wizards ever return. He tells the adventurers that they may continue their journey as long as they do not enter the Yuirwood, and warns them that they will be watched. Before departing, he advises the group to avoid entering Phynys Muir, "The City of Lost Hope." The name clearly means something to Fargrim, still trapped in Dolcetto's body.
Although it means leaving the phantom mounts behind, the decision is made that Syd should once again transform into a giant eagle to ferry the adventurers across the river. As Fargrim and Mellia are being carried across, Mellia shares that she has been in occasional magickal conversation with Cain, but that the cleric of Kossuth has been terse and unhelpful. She says that once they've rescued him, she still plans to return to Startop Mountain and look for the Crown of Horns. When they join Dolcetto on the far side, Fargrim says he is coping fairly well with the body shift, while Dolcetto (in Fargrim's body) says she misses the magickal arts and has no desire to remain a dwarf. Meanwhile, back on the west bank, Myst (in Ralkin's body) tells Ralkin (in Myst's body) that he feels some of his connection to arcane energies starting to return.
When everyone has been ferried across, Fargrim tells the group what he's remembered about Phynys Muir. He says that many centuries ago it was a beacon of learning and wizardry in this part of Faerun. However, its most skilled explorers of the mystical realms delved too far, and unleashed a force that doomed the city. Those who survived the initial cataclysm erected a massive, four-sided gold statue of a figure with a hand held up in warning in each cardinal direction, so that none would seek to enter the city. Nonetheless, Fargrim says, the city is known to disappear and reappear all over the Wizard's Reach, and many foolish treasure-seekers have disappeared inside. A few, however, have returned with tales of great riches.
The adventurers find a defensible spot for a campsite and decide to continue their journey in the morning. Ralkin focuses on learning the best ways to manipulate the magickal energies coursing through his present body, while Dolcetto fishes and Mellia expertly starts a fire. The afternoon wanes, and as it begins to get dark a small hawk lands near Syd and hops around as if it wants the halfling to follow it. Syd, able to communicate telepathically, discovers that the hawk is actually the shapechanged form of a protector of the Yuirwood. The newcomer explains that a band of gnolls have penetrated the forest and reached a sacred site, which they are pillaging. Syd agrees to a request for help, and persuades his companions to go along with him.
The adventurers move carefully, though not particularly stealthily, into the darkening fringes of the Yuirwood. They soon reach the overgrown remnants of a ring of standing stones, many of which have fallen over. The stones are laced with a strange, silver-colored inlay, some of which has been clearly chipped away. No one is present, but Ralkin spots a doused torch on the ground that is still glowing with heat. Arrows suddenly whistle through the dark towards Mellia and Fargrim, while a pair of gnolls wielding massive swords emerge from hiding and charge Dolcetto. Syd reacts quickly, but perhaps rashly, by calling down a pillar of fire on both the gnolls and Dolcetto! Even worse, several nearby trees are set ablaze. The heavy fighting continues. Fargrim, in Dolcetto's body, transforms into a winged humanoid body and flees. Myst, in Ralkin's body, expertly shoots one of the gnolls in the eye with a bone bow. Syd transforms into a large lion and charges into battle, while Mellia fires rays of flame. The gnolls are quickly dispatched, including one that almost escaped but was incinerated by one of Fargrim's spells.
Syd conjures water to put out fire before it spreads, and Myst searches the bodies for treasure.