Waking up recovered from the bulette fight earlier in the day, the group agrees that the temple below is best left for another day when they’re slightly stronger, and decide to escort the prisoners out of the monastery. Bruldenthar requests that he be taken back to Summit Hall, and that all the prisoners will be cared for by the knights and paladins stationed there. On the way out the group checks up on Drool to see how his scuffle with the minotaurs went. They find two dead minotaurs and Drool impaled through the stomach by a large horn.
Leaving the Monastery the party travels east along the edge of the mountains. They are attacked by three Howling Hate scouts, using leather suits with built-in balloons to fly. The scouts are taken out quite quickly and the team strip the cultists of their wingwear.
They approach the Desserin River to find a number of bodies at the water’s edge. There is a number of bandits dead on the bank, and one man with blue skin and what appears to be gills tied to a nearby tree. All four of the bodies are stripped of their possessions and have a large vertical gash from the top of their head all the way down through their neck, chest, and stomach. The group searches for any signs of the people who attacked this thugs and find a number of humanoid footprints of varying sizes leading into the mountains. Following these tracks our adventures find a boat and use it to ferry the prisoners across over a couple of hours.
The Paladins of Samular accept the prisoners and tend to their injuries. Bruldenthar thanks the group, saying he’ll soon travel to Beliard after he rests. Ot asks him about his profession and discovers he works as a sage in Mirabar and can appraise the ring Ot found in the temple. Bruldenthar tells him that the ring will protect the wearer from fire. Malark and Ot agree to test this theory with burning hands. Ot is singed but suffers from less damage than a normal person would when set alight.
Entertained by the fire show, a passing merchant offers a ride for the group into Beliard. The trip is peaceful and without incident. Arriving in Beliard they decide to turn in for the night and are welcomed by the haunting sounds of an Erhu being played poorly. The bard tells the group that a wandering Warrior taught him everything he knows. In the morning Malark asks sheriff Keelas about the murders that happened during their last visit into Beliard. Keelas informs them that it would appear that two Earth Cultists committed the murder and escaped during the night. The party realised they let two Earth Cultists go before arriving to Beliard the first time. Malark does not pass that information on to the sheriff. Keelas laments that the town has had an increased number of attacks on citizens, and he has sent to Waterdeep for some guards-for-hire to increase protection around the area. Malark asks about recent occurances, and Keelas notes that some cows were stolen from farms to the west.
Airi begins to search around town for other druids to ask about the local sect when she spots a frail looking older woman going about her shopping. Airi recognises her as a former druid and attempts to converse with the woman. She is standoffish at any mention of the Scarlet Moon, saying she only wants to make soup for her dinner. Airi continues to ask, the old druid eventually relents and asks Airi to hold her vegetables. The second Airi takes the armful of soup ingredients what was once the old woman becomes a rat, and shoots off into an alley. Airi transforms into a cat and gives chase. The rat trips as it tries to jump over a crate and the cat nearly pounces on it, but slips away at the last second, ducking into an alley. Airi, who didn’t see which way the rat went, goes right, headfirst into a dog which bites down hard on the cat. The damage causes Airi to transform back into her Tiefling form, resulting in a dog hanging off her arm. The dog lets go in fright and runs off. Airi turns to spy the rat run under a door into a house in the alley.
Ot catches up with her and they both peer into the window looking for movement. Alton unlocks the door and the party moves in. Redkin objects to the illegal search and opts to keep watch outside. The group find no trace of the rat, Airi demanding that Alton open the other side of the house, he does so and Airi bursts through to find herself on another street, as a scared dog runs past yelping. Doubling back she notices movement in a jug and covers it with a plate. Then shakes the utter shit out of it and starts to fill it with water for some reason. Redkin talks some sense into her and she released the rat, which turns into a very tired and wet old woman.
The old woman agrees to tell her story so long as the party returns her vegetables and joins her for soup. Alton empties his pockets of most of the vegetables, stating they “weren’t worth keeping anyway”.
The woman tells her story about the Druids of the area, who once worked so hard to bring life and nature to the valley, only to become brainwashed by a charismatic cult leader who wielded fire. The druids then turned against nature and set about causing destruction. She tells Airi that if they should seek out the meeting place of the druids, there may be one sympathetic to their cause, a man named Mahoon she was once intimate with many moons ago. She begins to go into detail about druids and various animal forms during intercourse and everyone becomes slightly embarrassed and they quickly leave her to her memories.
While preparing to leave Beliard, the merchant that gave the party a ride to Beliard waves them down. He has six wagons headed to Bargewright Inn and asks for their help as hired guards. When questioned about the convoy the merchants tell the party that the increased attacks by bandits and cultists means that supplies meant for the Inn are being taken, and the Zhentarium is losing money in the venture. The agreed upon price comes to 200 gold for the party, and the convoy sets out. Ot and Airi hitch a ride on the very last wagon, where a Half-Orc merchant offers them 20 gold each to prioritise protecting him over the over wagons. Ot attempts to intimidate him into giving more, but the merchant simply laughs it off as playful banter.
Malark questions one of the local farmers who lost their livestock, with the farmer offering not much in the way of information, other than he saw bandits to the West and they probably came from the river. When asked about the vertical gashes on bodies the farmer has not seen any. The convoy continues along the Stone Bridge without drunken incident, and come to a fork in the road not long into the valley itself. Another blue skinned humanoid is tied to a signpost with the gash on their body, and a number of bandits piled up behind him. The merchant wants to stop for the night but Malark convinces him to ride on for another 20 minutes, lest they run into whoever is attacking these ruffians.
The wagons are circles and guards are put on watch. During the night some unseen raiders attempt to set fire to a wagon with flaming arrows, alerting everyone in the convoy. Airi turns into a giant spider and runs up the side of the mountain, with Ot stealthily doing the same on the other side. Malark sets a small patch of bandits ablaze with a fireball, Alton picks off one with his shortbow, and Redkin attempts to shield the wagon from arrows. The bandits retreat and the merchants manage to put out the fire. Ot chases after the bandits as they escape up a small mountain pass. He follows to find two dozen of them led by a large brute beginning to light torches and return. He runs as fast as his dwarf legs can carry him and informs the party.
The Half Orc merchant opens a crate of shortbows and hands them out to everyone, loudly proclaiming that these bows are on loan and should be returned in pristine condition after the battle. The merchants and guards and party all wait for the assault while Ot and Airi prepare to ambush from either side of the gully.
The same wagon as before is targeted with the first volley of arrows, the Half-Orc and his men drop their weapons to retrieve a small box from a false bottom in the wagon. The party returns fire, killing a quarter of the bandits. Ot douses the party of bandits with his dust of dryness water glob, putting their torches out, then attempts a super sweet backflip over the bandit party but loses his footing on the launch, ending up in the middle of the group, copping a knife to his side in the confusion. Airi uses her spider venom to poison the bandit captain, and in the resulting melee the captain falls into a catatonic state. With their leader down the rest of the bandits flee. The merchants have a number of injured and dead, with Redkin’s help many are healed but the resulting casualties comes to three guards and one merchant’s apprentice, plus the lost wagon. Ot demands to know the reason for their hidden gold, and the Half Orc swears it’s just for paying the party and buying supplies.
The next morning the convoy comes across a familiar sight: a group of dwarf miners heading to work from Red Larch. Malark and the head miner have a quick argument about Constable Harburk’s chances at becoming mayor, and as they walk off he warns the party about “Balloon Boys”, right before three more scouts attack the convoy. They’re taken care of quickly and their wingwear is looted. It’s evident that the Howling Hate is desperate now the Feathergale Knights have been taken down.
The party spies Red Larch in the distance, with the voting for Mayor in a few days the town is preparing for the upcoming election feast. The wound suffered by Ot in his side starts to throb a purple hue, and he becomes feverish. Rolling back into the wagon and knocking a chest of semi-pristine shortbows to the ground. His eyes roll back into his head and he begins rambling in another voice, a high pitched voice. Giggling and chortling and screaming at the same time. He begins to claw at his face yelling “CYRIC CYRIC LORD OF LIES”, then snaps back to an eerie calmness, looks at the the party, then jumps out of the cart, running towards the nearby woods.