[22 Flamerule 1372, continued]
As a heavy rain begins to fall over Longsaddle, the adventurers continue planning their raid on Nesme. Mellia sends another magickal request for information to Rufus Greenleaf, who is on his way to the High Forest. Rufus replies with a brief statement that there’s a temple in the center of the city. Mellia tells the others that if she gets a chance to see the temple, they can teleport directly there and launch an attack. Meanwhile, Markus and McBronzebottom head back into the village to collect Wrex, and see him watching a store across the road. Wrex tells them the storeowner’s wife is cheating on him, and shares the fact that the barkeep at the Horn and Hoof is actually a fence. The three talk about Nesme, the new mephit, and more before borrowing a tarp from Trappy to return to the campsite for another strategy session.
During the session, Ralkin promises that he’ll be able to land five solid hits with his bow during a battle. He accepts Mellia’s suggestion that he learn her spell to create an extradimensional space, and that during the battle he pop in and out of it in order to gain some protection against counter-attacks. Markus suggests attacking during the Aurilites’ prayers, but unfortunately, no one (including Cain) knows when those prayers take place. The swordsman also emphasizes that the group have to have an escape plan. “I’ve learned that the hard way,” he says. After a discussion of various ways to scout the city, the group decide that Mellia and Wrex will teleport outside of Nesme, hide in an extradimensional space, and then use spells to survey the city from a distance.
The first try at the plan goes awry, however, as Mellia loses control over her teleport spell and the duo end up in the middle of an unknown wilderness. Frustrated, Mellia teleports them back to her and Cain’s room at the Gilded Horseshoe, and sends Cain a message about the failure. Wrex finds the instantaneous jumps through space daunting, and becomes nauseated. He heads outside, and finds Markus and Urist. Talk turns to combat, and Wrex demonstrates how to put a bag over an enemy’s head and then slit their throat!
When Cain returns to the inn, he’s confronted by Ardarac Harpell and told, in no uncertain terms, that the time has come for the cleric of Kossuth to leave Longsaddle. Cain says he’ll take the “advice” into consideration. After talking it over with Mellia, the decision is made that everyone will leave the village in the morning. Meanwhile, Markus, Wrex, and Urist experiment with a portable device to deflect the rain and Cain’s mephit gets up to mischief.
Late that night, Mellia (in bed with Cain) and Wrex (secretly following the barkeep of the Horn & Hoof tavern) feel a powerful tug on their thoughts. Each are able to resist the psychic pressure, but Wrex recognises a familiar aspect to it and decides to lower his mental defenses.
[23 Flamerule 1372]
In the morning, when Cain comes down to breakfast, he notices that Ralkin has small horns protruding from his forehead—much like Myst used to have! Ralkin seems as surprised as anyone, and Mellia deduces that the horns are actually illusionary. After breakfast, Mellia goes to wake Wrex, who never came down. She finds him in his room, putting away some drawings, and asks him if he also felt a psychic tug from the night before. Wrex confirms that he did, and that, as happened months ago, he found his psyche drawn through space to a high tower in a large castle far away. Inside a chamber filled with glass statues and magickal respositories for other psyches like his own, Wrex said he saw the mysterious dark figure angrily ranting. The figure, who had a beaten and bound priest of Myrkul on the floor next to him, said he had been too forgiving with the Hunters for the Crown and that this was going to change. According to Wrex, the dark figure said that the priest had been blabbering about there being just 70 days left until the behemoth rises and the Crown is destroyed. Mellia asks if all of the glass figures were still intact, and Wrex dissembles.
The adventurers head north along the Long Road, hoping to find a new, well-hidden campsite. It takes them a few hours in the pouring rain to find a suitable place and set up camp with a tarp overhead to keep dry. The group quickly put their plans to scout Nesme into action. Mellia turns herself, Ralkin, and Wrex invisible and then teleports the trio to the west bank of the Surbrin, near where Mellia first laid sight of Nesme many months ago. Seconds after they arrive, Mellia creates a small extradimensional pocket for the trio to hide in (Ralkin takes care to hide his magickal containers outside) and then she sends out magickal sensors to scour the city for information. Ralkin spends his time in the space learning the spell that Mellia used to create it.
On the western bank, the sensors report that the Citadel of the Riders, which had been a shattered ruin the last time Mellia saw it, was a veritable beehive of activity, as dozens of stonemasons were rebuilding it using massive blocks of granite transported to the area on ramps of ice. A tall, arching bridge of ice spanned the Surbrin, connecting the Citadel and the city itself to allow a connection that the priestesses of Auril could easily sever in times of threat. The outer walls of the city were also undergoing reconstruction, still supported by remnants of the icy dome that had shielded the city. At particular points in the city, armoured bears were being trained in warfare, winter wolves were housed, and bands composed of a mixture of Aurilites, Riders of Nesme, armoured bears and wolves were patrolling. The magickal prying eyes confirm Rufus’ account of a temple being expanded in the center of the city, using the building that originally housed the Council Chambers. Interestingly, the sensors report that several buildings near the temple have been laid to ruin, only some of which can be rebuilt. Wrex does a little scouting himself, and notices that above the city not a single bird is in sight; instead, several small winged imps covered in ice and snow keep a close watch on the city below them.
Having spent the entire day in the extradimensional space, the trio have supper while Mellia’s sensors gradually return. Wrex asks if Mellia ever got in trouble, and mentions it must be tough to be a mother. He asks what Mellia’s daughter is like, and the diviner, although suspicious, gives Wrex a description of Allia. Mellia adds that her daughter tries to be ladylike, but at just four years old, is in many ways still a toddler. Gideon, she says, was very good with children. Wrex brings out a music box that plays a simple, but very beautiful melody. Mellia asks Wrex about the person he’s trying to rescue by finding the Crown of Horns. Wrex says the man is old; not a father, but the closest thing he’s ever had to one even though it’s been a few years since he saw him.