[11 Flamerule 1372 continued]
At Wayward House, Urist McBronzebottom draws the inebriated and weakened Markus up to their room. Dolcetto receives a visit from Guard-Captain Brinn, who reports having searched the warehouse where the kenku attacked quite thoroughly and having found no traces of battle or the missing "Markus' Marauders." Brinn implies that Dolcetto may have filed a false report just for fun, citing "feathered bird-men riding giant rats," and cautions her against trying again. Next door, Mellia tells Cain that she thinks Ralkin will come along on their mission to Nesme but that they'll have to be very careful how they explain things to Fargrim. She says they should focus on "liberating the city from an evil god." Cain agrees and notes Mellia's skill with words. After everyone has turned in for the night, Dolcetto sleeps for just a couple of hours and then identifies the longsword and chain shirt the party took from the dead half-orc Ikenvar long ago.
[12 Flamerule 1372]
A few hours after midnight, as the inhabitants of the beautiful city of Silverymoon slumber, a sharp rapping is made on the door to the chamber where Markus and McBronzebottom sleep. A voice calls out claiming to be Slace, one of the Marauders, with a message from the kenku. When the bleary-eyed Markus opens the door, however, he realizes he's been tricked by the legendary kenku facility with ventriloquism! Two assassins stand in the doorway and stab at the unprepared adventurer. One of the strikes goes awry, but the second blade plunges deep into Markus side. Instants later, bolts of pure energy fly forth from somewhere in the darkened corridor and smash into Markus' chest!
As Markus retreats back into the room, McBronzebottom leaps up quickly and skewers one of the assassins with a mighty thrust from a bastard sword! Although the dwarf has blocked the doorway, Markus isn't safe yet. Suddenly, the head of a massive rat smashes through the window and bites Markus in the shoulder! The sounds of the battle rouse the other adventurers sleeping in nearby rooms. Dolcetto turns herself invisible and then casts a spell on Fargrim allowing him to fly. The surprised dwarf hurtles through the air and nearly decapitates an assassin who had retreated from McBronzebottom's fury. It's clear that the attackers are focussing on Markus, and that some of them have spellcasting ability. The swordsman is hard-pressed, but manages to defend himself with claws and bites. Dolcetto follows Fargrim through the corridor and casts a nefarious illusion into an assassin's mind, making him see his worst fears and then suffer a fatal heart attack. Meanwhile, Mellia and Ralkin enter the corridor and take stock. Cain, for his part, decides to remain in his room. After McBronzebottom knocks one of the attackers to the ground and then levies a mighty overhead slash, only one assassin remains visible. The kenku tries to flee, but Fargrim cuts him off and then Markus unleashes a mighty roar; the kenku drops to the ground, terrified!
Fargrim hauls the kenku into the privies and douses his head until he confesses that he was hired by Villiam Teeal to kill Markus. Teeal was enraged that Markus didn't aid him during the final battle at the Academy. The captured kenku, who offers his name as Silverbeak, also claims that Markus' Marauders are being held in the basement of Teeal's house. After a startled chamberlain is sent to fetch the guards, Dolcetto tells Silverbeak she'll let him live if he makes a full confession. Silverbeak is happy to do so and is hauled away by a somewhat-apologetic Guard-Captain Brinn. Markus follows the pair, as Brinn has offered the injured swordsman healing by the cleric on duty at the local watchhouse. From the priest, Markus hears rumors of orcs gathering somewhere to the north and that the city of Nesme is said to have fallen under the sway of an evil cult after heroically fighting off a massive army of the undead.
Back at the inn, Dolcetto proceeds to start stripping the corpses of their weapons and equipment. She soon realizes that one of the bodies has already been stripped, and confronts the likeliest suspect: Ralkin! Ralkin, however, claims not to know where the stripped gear is. The tiefling resorts to trying to cast an enchantment on him to get him to confess, but the powerful wards of Silverymoon block the spell from having effect. Dolcetto leaves, after again asking about Myst's body and being told that the problem is being handled.
In the morning, the tired adventurers are relieved to see that Markus' Marauders have been freed. Markus buys them breakfast and learns that Villiam fled his home after leaving a threatening note. Partway through the meal, Markus is startled to see a figure he thought was dead: Myst! Markus follows Myst outside, and the tiefling says he's returned to the land of the living for only one reason: to distribute some of his prized possessions to his friends. He gives Markus a particular book for each of his adventuring companions, along with an explanation of why each was chosen. A confused Markus returns to the common room, throws the books on a table, and tells his companions "one book each, pick one out."
The adventurers proceed to spend the day on various errands. Dolcetto has drawn up an adventuring charter that she hopes will receive the city's endorsement. She journeys to the Star Court and hopes to have the charter entered into the Rolls, but is told by the clerk that, because the charter purports to be more than a simple contract between adventurers and actually binds Silverymoon itself as a party, it cannot receive mere routine assent. Instead, Dolcetto will have to speak to Lord Calleus Jimayne, Master of the Rolls. Dolcetto returns to the inn, hoping the promised invitation to speak to Lord Jimayne arrives before her planned departure. Meanwhile, Fargrim decides to sell some of the weaponry taken from the dead kenku assassins and visits Mortimont's Fine Pastries, only to discover that Mortimont will soon be closing the shop. Mortimont explains that he has "made a new connection with a special friend" and no longer has need of the store-front. He promises Fargrim, however, that they'll meet again soon, "in this world or the next." Elsewhere, Ralkin commissions the creation of a very special item. Late that afternoon, Mellia finishes learning a spell to defend against elemental attacks, Cain picks up a new suit of full plate armor, and Fargrim receives visible proof from Ralkin that Myst is still dead. The mystery of Myst's brief re-appearance to distribute the books puzzles the group, as the books are fairly ordinary tomes on particular topics like religion, nature, and so forth. None are magickal, trapped or cursed. Fargrim uses the gift of a book as an opportunity to try something he's never done before: learn how to read! McBronzebottom is happy to help, and the two dwarves quickly become friendly.
In the evening, Mellia and Cain pull Fargrim aside for an important talk about Nesme. Mellia begins by explaining that she and Cain plan to travel to Nesme to complete the task that Cain was given long ago and neglected for the sake of the party. She says their mission is to free the city from an insidious cult, and allow the inhabitants to seek refuge elsewhere, thus leaving the city's decrepit buildings and taint of evil and death behind. "We must remove their reason to say," she says, "so they can move to some place safe." Fargrim replies that he doesn't quite understand, but Mellia says everything will be explained fully once they're outside of Silverymoon and ready to teleport directly to Nesme. Fargrim agrees, but notes that liberating an entire city sounds like a difficult task. Moreso, he expresses concern over the terrible nightmares that are likely to return once he's left the sanctity of the city's wards. Cain says the best way to remove this problem, which plagues them both, is to cut it off at the source. As soon as Nesme is dealt with, the group can focus on uncovering the source of the nightmares below Startop Mountain.
After confirming Fargrim's participation in the mission to Nesme, Mellia speaks with Dolcetto. Dolcetto states her firm intention to travel directly to Startop Mountain with whomever will accompany her. She says that until the two groups are reunited, any treasure found by the faction in Startop will be split amongst the faction, including the Crown of Horns itself. Mellia shows no concern over mundane treasure, but her eyes blaze at the mention of the Crown. She says if the Crown is found, that will be a different matter entirely. Dolcetto wishes Mellia the best of luck in the spirit of sportsmanship. A rift has occurred, with Mellia leading one faction and Dolcetto the other. Will they continue as rivals or reconcile?
The adventurers rest for the night, continuing to pay the high room fees at Wayward House.
[13 Flamerule 1372]
Stormclouds loom on the horizon as morning dawns. In Silverwood, Syd finishes a druidic ritual to safeguard an important grove. Back in the city, Dolcetto talks with Fargrim privately about whether the dwarf will join her in going to Startop Mountain. Fargrim replies that the quest to liberate Nesme is an important one and that he'll be joining Mellia's group. Dolcetto asks Fargrim to remember Mellia's overheard statement about "razing the city to the ground," but Fargrim says he'll keep a close eye and will not violate his honour.
Dolcetto proceeds to post advertisements for adventurers to join her in a quest to Startop, promising "glory and wealth beyond measure." Markus notices Dolcetto distributing the handbills and expresses surprise that Mellia is going to Nesme. Dolcetto confirms it, and suggests Cain has led Mellia down a dangerous path. Markus says he'll go with Dolcetto, and bring McBronzebottom with him, as it's too dangerous to remain in the city with Villiam Teeal on the loose.
Mellia works to add another party member to her faction, telling Ralkin about an evil cult in Nesme and being quite honest about her intention to raze the city to the ground. Ralkin seems quite happy to go, but says he needs to wait until late the following afternoon. Mellia, worried that Dolcetto may cause her group trouble, tells Ralkin that he should meet her approximately three hours west of the city, on the road leading out of the Moorgate, because she and the others will plan to camp there overnight. The kenku agrees.
Markus arrives as Mellia, Cain, and Fargrim pack their things and prepare to leave Silverymoon. The swordsman gives Cain a book on history with passages about diplomacy heavily underlined. Mellia tells Markus that she wishes him luck and safety, but he can't look her in the eye. "Don't get killed," he says. Fargrim hurries away for a hasty private word with Dolcetto, telling her that he'll return if Cain or Mellia plan "something extreme." The two part as friends. After a fond farewell to McBronzebottom, Fargrim rejoins Cain and Mellia. The three leave Silverymoon, confirming that the once-unified adventuring company has now split in two.