Liam determines that he’s going to stay at the Hostel in the trade quarter of the Sanctuary, but after seeing Lucan go there, he decides that it may not be safe with him there. He heads the Headquarters used by the Travelers. There he meets Gautier, the group’s smith. He grabs a bed in one of the rooms of the upper level and falls asleep.
The next morning, he wakes up to Gautier heading out to do some improvements to his furnace. Liam begins working on a copy of a large map they recovered from the Highpost. While he is working, Frohike wakes up and determines that Zedd has left for some unknown reason. Gautier comes in and says that they’ve had some visitors early this morning, a messenger from Elder Zazzil regarding the runes, an Acolyte of Hate came by regarding a pilgrimage, and a gnomish merchant whose wife and child were kidnapped.
They decide that they’d rather hold off visiting the Cult of Malice, so they split up. Liam heads to the Hostel, where the Gnome is likely staying and finds him drunk. He manages to inform Liam that his wife and child were taken from his caravan on the road between Talimport, a Gnomish city, and Riverborrow. He says he was knocked out during the kidnapping then passes out.
Frohike travels to Zazzil’s retreat outside the Sanctuary. After getting some trouble from the guards he is closely escorted to the courtyard where Zazzil is harshly training apprentices. He ends the lesson when he sees Frohike and strikes up a friendly conversation. He is interested in studying the Runes that they were given by the Bone Witch and says that a group of bandits operating near Talimport supposedly had something called the “Rune of Strength”. Frohike says he’ll look into it if they travel that way. On the way back to the headquarters, the Vessel of Alura informs him that Warlock magic taints Zazzil.
The two meet back up to discuss and say that more information is needed. Frohike heads to the Cult of Malice to see what they wanted. One of the Acolytes of Hate informs him that some of their pilgrims returned from Bariel, a small elven settlement, which was now abandoned. Frohike asks what the pligrims were doing out there, and the Acolyte says they were trying to Free slaves in the worship of Jupiter, formerly known as Zeus the Diminished.
After meeting again, they decide to split up again. Frohike heads to the library in the Temple of Hokalas in order to get a greater understanding of current events and relations to other things. Liam heads to the Hostel’s bar, and asks about Jupiter. The barkeep tells him to keep his voice down, as to not provoke the Cult. He says that his brother in Bariel was an “interesting fan” and points him to his associate who works in the Gran Empiraal, a major trade inn located in Riverborrow. He heads to Riverborrow.
Frohike’s research turns up information on Warlocks, and the Vessel says that he believes that Zazzil made a deal with a powerful being of great evil. He also discovers that the Iron Crusaders (as the followers of the Silver Lady are called here) ritualistically mutilate those they kill in battle and they always kill survivors.
On the road to Riverborrow, Liam encounters a tall figure, dressed in simple clothing but wielding an impressive golden bladed sword fighting off several insane Gnomes. Liam steps up to help. He gets a few wounds in the process, but they manage to slay all of them. The man, who is pale and gaunt, says few words to Liam, but does thank him for his assistance and heals his wounds as though they never occurred. He walks into the woods.
Upon arrival in the city, he is told to meet with Marquise Nalgax, whom he has never met. He arrives at the Marquise’s tower and the Marquise informs him that the creature he met in the woods was a Shadar’kai, a Walking Dream. He warns him that power is gathering and being pulled together in a greater conflict. He says that he should be wary, because they will be no being prepared for it.
In Frohike’s travels about town, he feels compelled to head back to the Retreat. He manages to shake it off before realizing that its the memories of Nexull trying to return to somewhere familiar. The Vessel apologizes.
Liam arrives at the Gran Empiraal, and asks about room rates. They’re more than he can afford, so he heads to the bar and orders drinks for one of the tables whose occupants seem particularly intoxicated. One of them offers a tip and slides a bag of gold his way after he is unable to keep coin in his hand. Liam takes the purse and goes to the bar.
After asking the barkeep for some information about Jupiter, he doesn’t have much to say other than he’s becoming popular amongst some of the Elves because they desire to have a civilization more akin to the Gnomes. He also says that they have a temple in Talimport. He enquirers about the Silver Lady, but the barkeep hushes him, because the Marquise’s agents have been burning heretics alive. The mention of the Lady peeks the interest of a tall man at the bar who seems to be listening and relaxes when Liam reveals that he is working against them. He looks over at the man before he leaves. He tips the barkeep, and heads out. He glances over by the mysterious figure, who is gone.
Meanwhile, Frohike is awoken by another dream of Zazzil and Nexull and feeling strangely hungry. He hears the sound of someone rocking on a chair downstairs. He sneaks down the steps to find a tall figure reading something. He uses his goggles to get a better look at him. He determines that he is a human wearing a green cloak and is holding onto Liam’s in progress map copy. A symbol is stitched into the back of his cloak, one of several weapons crossing in a pattern. The man stands up and taps his side then vanishes. Frohike uses his knowledge of magic to determine that he just moved across the planes.
Frohike attempts to consult Garrith back on the Mortal Coil, but Garrith plays stupid. When Liam returns from Riverborrow, the Court mage uses the opportunity to end the connection. The two bicker and then share notes. Liam recognizes a symbol from a druid who traveled through Will’s Gem a few years ago. She carried a green bladed scythe. He then realizes that she was also in a vision he had, as he remembers a woman carrying the same scythe.
They decide to find the Gnome who gave them the mission, however he left on a caravan an hour ago. They decide that their investigation will lead them to Talimport. They head to the Shrine of Vengeance to seek the aid of the Cult of Malice. An old priest, Qin’haed, volunteers to “liberate slaves”.
They travel to Talimport and get rooms at an inn near the city gates. They ask the innkeeper about anything interesting, he says the docks, temple, and Marquise’s tower are the only real attractions. They decide to head to the bazaar in the docks. There, they both realize that a female gnome has been following them. Liam tries to pull her into an ally, but fails to do so. She calls the guards, but he manages to defuse the situation, saying that he bumped into her.
Frohike confronts her, and she says that they are of the same clan, her name is Dianne Fuselighter. They head to a bar to talk about their respective studies and knowledge. Despite eating and drinking enough, he realizes he is usually hungry again.
Liam find Qin’haed in an ally firing bolts of radiant energy at the Shadar’kai. Liam resolves their fight diplomatically and they head to meet Frohike back at the inn. They see Frohike heading for the Inn, but he ignores them. He locks his room, but Liam picks the lock. They find Frohike holding the Vessel, and the Shadar’kai says its a Virian’haad artifact. Frohike realizes that he’s hungry again when the Shadar’kai is nearby.
The Shadar’kai reveals that the Iron Crusaders are meeting outside of town at midnight. They create an ambush point near an altar. They find that many of the barrows have been dug up. The books and scrolls buried with some of the scholars are missing. When the cult arrives, they charge. Liam and the Shadar’kai fight off the cultists while Frohike engages in a duel with his distant clanmate. Her spells seem to hit much harder than his, due to a dark aura that envelops her. Qin’haed uses his hatred to empower Frohike and helps wound her. Her aura expands suddenly, and in a wave of darkness she is gone. The remaining cultists are dead.
The Shadar’kai begins to individually pray over each one. Liam loots the recently dead. Qin and Frohike determine that they’ve all had their souls drained and the Shadar’kai returns. Frohike recognizes the tattoos on the Shadar’kai as a more ornate version of the symbols of the Jhovan Patriarchs. Then he asks if the Shadar’kai is the Dream of Benyar, which he confirms.
He explains that he was recreated by Odin as part of a debt owed to the Allfather, that Benyar would live as a mortal for one year and one day. He says that his Shadar’kai form is tainted by the Mantle of the Death God and that three other bearers exist on this world. He says that other barer traveled to the Feywild recently, but has since left. He also theorizes that the Vessel is designed to capture the Mantle for some unknown purpose.