When the trio of adventurers teleport back from their scouting mission to Nesme, Mellia warns that the bonfire the others have built could draw attention and suggests that Cain order the mephit to stop adding to it. As Markus & Urist huddle together to keep warm during the constant downpour, Mellia sketches a rough map of Nesme on the muddy ground using a stick. She says she is confident she can teleport everyone directly to the Aurilite temple. The adventurers discuss what defensive spells should be used prior to the battle, and what everyone's role should be once the battle begins. In regards to Markus' mention of the need for an exit strategy, Mellia says she can teleport almost everyone out if they stay close to her during the battle. However, she won't be able to take the mephit or Wrex, and tells the latter he'll have to lay low if things go bad and then rendezvous with her the next morning for transport out. Wrex expresses concern at the idea, stating that the city was locked down tight and will be crawling with patrols after an attack.
In the middle of the conversation, the adventurers see a figure moving towards them from the far side of the bonfire. Before they can react, the figure, who upon closer inspection is a young man covered in pock-marks and scabs, stumbles towards Cain and collapses in his arms, coughing. Urist, always on guard for danger, sprints into action and knocks the man to the ground. Mellia, who was waiting for Cain and the newcomer to be separated, conjures a mystical wall of flame between them. Although her lover is singed by the sheer fury of the flaming wall, the newcomer is incinerated! Cain's mephit drags the smoking corpse and hurls it into the bonfire. The adventurers decide to keep the bonfire going, even with the risk of drawing attention, but to double-watches. Further, they decide to launch their attack on Nesme the following afternoon to give Mellia time to prepare a scroll.
Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, Rufus Greenleaf has penetrated the High Forest accompanied by his riding dog, Sheila. He's awakened at his campsite in the middle of the night by familiar faces: Teuveamanthaar and Reitheillaethor, High Forest elves who have had several dealings with Rufus in recent months. They say that word has spread of Rufus' disgrace in the eyes of Silvanus, but that they care little. Instead, they ask if he's brought payment for the land they've allowed him to occupy near Unicorn Run. Rufus replies that he didn't get any gold on his brief foray outside the forest, and that he's on his way now to talk to his mentor about why Silvanus has withdrawn his gifts. The two elves bring out a flask of honey mead and share a sympathetic drink with the halfling.
[24 Flamerule 1372]
The constant rain refuses to let up, leaving the adventurers to make their preparations for the day in wet and soggy conditions. Ralkin shows the others that his beak has been lightly charred, and says that Cain needs to get his mephit under control--the mephit, however, denies responsibility when questioned by the cleric. As the others go about their routine, Wrex is the only one to express concern over what happened the night before. Ralkin and Urist shrug, and say that this close to the Evermoors, the fellow who startled them seemed like undead.
The adventurers spend the morning and early part of the afternoon in various activities. Mellia works hard on writing a scroll underneath a rain-drenched tarp. Markus, Ralkin, Wrex, and Urist have an impromptu marksmanship competition before all but Ralkin decide to go for a walk to see what's around the campsite. They find only unremarkable wilderness during their perambulation, and begin discussing what life was like in their home cities. Urist says her father ran a forge, while her mother was a guard captain in a city far underground. However, Urist says, she herself had no desire for a life swinging a pickaxe unlike her 18 other siblings, and sought a life on the surface. Encountering Markus' "glory" in the Silverymoon blademastery academy seems to have been one of the highlights of her life so far. Markus, for his part, discusses not where he grew up, but his brief sojourn in Luskan, a city he describes as horrible. Wrex says he hails from a city far underground Luskan and that he hated life there, because as a poor child, he was destined to spend a childhood picking mushrooms. Talk turns to the use of mushrooms and other ingredients in ale, and soon the adventurers find themselves hear the Long Road. They see a large amount of traffic heading north. Wrex flags down a caravan guard and hears that tensions continue to run high between Luskan and Mirabar, and both cities are preparing for open war. Further, a mysterious plague has broken out in Mirabar, which some think is an attack by the Arcane Brotherhood and others assign to a failure to propitiate clerics of Talona. When the adventurers return to the campsite, Wrex shares the information he's obtained and speculates that the man Mellia slew may have been someone who fled the plague in Mirabar not realising he was already infected.
In the late afternoon, the adventurers are ready to put into motion a plan that Mellia and Cain have been developing since they returned from Thay fifteen days prior. After casting several defensive spells, Mellia teleports herself, Markus, Wrex, and Urist as the first wave in the assault on Nesme. The foursome appear about thirty feet west of the Aurilite temple in Nesme, near a small house reduced to rubble by Rufus' tornado attack from a few days earlier. A guard on the western entrance to the temple is shocked by the attackers' sudden appearance, and gives a shout for help that none of his fellows at other sentry positions hear! He moves forward nonetheless. The battle starts out well for the adventurers: Markus slashes the guard's swordbelt in half, dropping his sword-scabbard to the ground. Wrex darts in with his katana for a quick strike before withdrawing, and then Urist charges in and sweeps the guard's legs out from under him! Urist and Markus quickly put the overmatched guard out of his misery. Mellia teleports back to the campsite, disappearing just as the temple's other defenders, hearing the sounds of battle nearby, engage the adventurers. The precautions the adventurers have taken prove wise, as the freezing breath of a pair of winter wolves has no effect on them!
Mellia returns instants later with the second wave of the assault force: Cain, his mephit, and Ralkin. The battle is soon in full swing, as the temple's dedicated force of soldiers moves to engage the invaders alongside ice mephits, armored bears, and the Frostmaiden's battle-clergy. A well-placed fireball by Mellia incinerates a junior priestess, and one of the winter wolves falls to various injuries. However, the battle suddenly takes a disastrous turn for the adventurers. In a well-coordinated maneuver, the western door to the temple is opened, the temple's high priestess utters a blasphemous magickal curse on minions of the Flamelord, and then the door is slammed shut. The shock of the curse knocks Cain to the ground, weak and paralyzed by the verbal defilement of everything he holds dear. Then, three priestesses of Auril come around the temple's southwest corner and conjure a synchronized wave of blistering hail storms on the adventurers. Although the adventurers easily resist the freezing cold that accompanies the storm, the pounding force of the hailstones is enough to knock Ralkin to the ground, kill his familiar, and hurt the others. Seeing that the battle has turned against them, Mellia shouts for everyone to retreat to her position or they'll be left behind. Markus buys her time to cast the spell by startling the Aurilites with a magnificent display: he rears back and breathes fire, like a dragon! By the time the flame has died down, Mellia, Cain, Markus, Urist, and Ralkin are gone.
Wrex, who had been cautious during the battle by channeling his inner ki force to remain hidden in rubble and strike only when advantageous, manages to escape the battle unseen thanks to all of the defenders concentrating on the only visible target remaining: Cain's mephit. The mephit fights bravely before being magickally forced to flee by a frustrated cleric.
Days of preparation for the attack have resulted in the adventurers retreating. True, they all escaped alive and some casualties were inflicted on the Aurilites. Clearly, however, the battle-hardened forces of Nesme will be a tougher nut to crack then they initially assumed.