The morning of the 28th passed uneventfully; each of the Arbiters went about their business, and by noon, Suhaila, Silhren, Altaire, Lili, and Nochte had all gathered at Meg’s for lunch. Having heard about Nochte’s attack on Garren, Silhren was reluctant to sit with him, so the snow elf sat alone. Lunch was peaceful; the Shelynites performed on stage at the bar, praising their goddess through song and dance.
The pleasant atmosphere was soon destroyed, however; assassins, who had been hiding in the rafters, dropped down into the bar, nearly killing Meg and paralyzing Suhaila. At the same time, a group of thugs rose from their table and went on the attack. The Arbiters burst into action, making quick work of the assassins and their hired muscle. After the fight, they tied up and questioned the survivors, who told them that the man who sent them was a Sczarni crime boss… the same one who had been harassing the two ladies earlier in the week. Reluctantly, they shared that the man’s hideout was somewhere in the Puddles district. Once the authorities arrived, the Arbiters departed, promising Meg that she could accompany them when they went after the Sczarni man.
The heroes decided to return home, tired out from the sudden fight. They spent some time relaxing; Suhaila used a new spell to contact her brother for the first time in years, startling him and clearly enjoying it; Silhren looked on, quietly thanking Shelyn that he had no younger siblings. Altaire, Lili, Sym, and Nochte spent some time in conversation with their temporary housemates, Zalor and Valencia; they discussed everything from magic, to the new shop, to their future plans. After awhile, the Arbiters split up; Altaire and Lili decided to go paint the sign for and advertise the shop, Sym and Nochte stayed home, and Suhaila and Silhren went to visit the tribes in the Kortos Mounts.
On their way there, Silhren spotted a very unhappy Hroth, who had been missing for the last several hours. Waving a farewell to Suhaila, he stopped to speak with him; Hroth explained that he was upset by Nochte’s racist comments, and Silhren responded with kindness and empathy. Suddenly, an arrow flew out of nowhere, striking Hroth; his bounty hunters had found him, and they attacked, forcing both of the Arbiters to defend themselves.
The fight was a grueling one for them; the hunters were trained to fight enemies like Hroth, and it was not long before he was badly injured by their arrows. Desperate to save Hroth’s life, Silhren healed him as best he could and told him to run, preparing to hold off the attackers. Out of options, Hroth temporarily retreated to a safe distance, sniping any targets he could find. His caution went out the window, however, when he saw Silhren take a devastating hit; his mythic weakness activated, and Hroth found himself in a furious rage. He plunged back into the combat, shooting arrow after arrow into his would-be enemies. Between Hroth’s vicious onslaught and Silhren’s stalwart defenses, the two barely managed to win the battle, although they were badly injured. Confused and angry, Hroth demanded to know why Silhren hadn’t run away; the paladin admitted that he had feelings for the half-orc archer, and kissed him lightly before he could protest.
Meanwhile, back at the house, a knock at the door was heard; Nochte answered it, only to be confronted by three rakshasa. Impatiently, they asked if Sym was present. Nochte tried to lie to them, but they saw through his deception and attacked; Sym came out of hiding, and he, Nochte, and Zalor desperately tried to fight them off.
In order to take one of the rakshasa out of the fight, Sym challenged him to a magical duel; he accepted, and the two of them began to fling spell after spell at each other, attacking and countering with their innate magical power. The duel was long and arduous, but in the end, Sym’s magic proved to be the stronger, and he defeated his opponent with the judicious use of fire and magical monkeys. Unfortunately, Nochte was still fatigued from the other fight earlier in the day, and he began to falter; he refused to give in, however. He fought on valiantly, even as he grew weaker, but he could only hold out for so long; in the end, a rakshasa threw a bolt of lightning at him that he could not dodge, and Zalor looked on in horror as the snow elf fell, breathing his last.
At the same time, Suhaila was interrupted in her journey to the Mounts; without warning, the harpy queen crashed to the ground in front of her, begging her to run. Just behind her, a shadow demon and two vrocks descended, demanding that Suhaila hand over the chieftainess. She refused, put the queen in her magical bag, and began to run back to town. The angelkin fled as fast as her legs could carry her, but she was no match for the demons, and it soon became clear that she could not escape them. Just as they closed in for the kill, however, a huge being landed between Suhaila and the demons; Altaire and Lili, having seen that their friend was in danger, had flown to the rescue, arriving just in time. Lili, strengthened by Altaire’s magic, made short work of the vrocks; the shadow demon proved to be a more difficult combatant, but Lili persevered until it, too, was destroyed at her hands.
After the combat, the harpy queen emerged from the bag. She explained that one of the harpies who didn’t like the changes to their methods that Suhaila was suggesting had called upon their dark god, the demon lord Pazuzu, to complain; unexpectedly, he responded, and demons had been sent to kill the entire tribe. The group hurried back to the eyrie; with the timely use of healing magic, they were able to save the majority of the tribe. Once the healing was done, the chieftainess spoke up, declaring to the harpies that it was time for them to let go of their old ways and embrace a new path; the other harpies agreed. As one, they bowed to a flustered Suhaila, thanking her for guiding them into a better life; bashful and confused, she thanked them for their kindness, and they took her home, carrying her to the city gates as Lili and Altaire flew alongside.
Upon reentering the city, Altaire, Lili, and Suhaila chanced upon Hroth and Silhren, just as the latter was expressing his feelings. With devious grins, they watched the scene unfold, joining their friends only after the moment had passed. Battered but upbeat, the heroes headed for home.
When they arrived at home, they were shocked to find the house in shambles; the living room was in complete disarray, rakshasa bodies littered the floor, and in the center of it all was Zalor, cradling the dead body of Nochte. Struggling to maintain her composure, Zalor explained to the Arbiters what had happened; horrified, they gave in to their grief at the loss of their friend.
The Arbiters had Nochte buried in the Pharasmin graveyard that evening; as they stood around his grave, they said their final farewells, knowing that they would never forget their fallen companion…