Zarishu’s captors were chased all the way to the docks, where the Stable Investment awaited her capture.
On board waited the Garundi captain, who did not expect his men to pick up more than they came to buy. He summoned a salty wooden golem that acted as the ship’s figurehead and drew a wand. The golem was tough and his spells were crafty, but Sym, who had been left behind during the chase, enlisted the help of Grom. They teleported quickly to the docks to regroup.
Grom’s explosive assistance proved valuable if a bit dangerous, due to his lack of perceptiveness. They eventually freed Zarishu and brought her back to fighting form.
Zarishu apologized for nearly taking advantage of Altaire in his drunken state. She was becoming desperate to find a husband to throw off her pursuers, and she claimed it was not fair to Altaire. Altaire asked for a formal apology, in the form of a drink with her in the future. Zarishu smiled and agreed to these terms.
The next day dawned. Hroth found himself at the archery range as per usual. Zarishu passed by with a heavy sack, dropping it near his feet. She felt that she didn’t get to thank the group properly, so she looted the Stable Investment and brought them some spoils for their trouble (after taking some for herself, of course). Hroth was speechless as usual, especially when Zarishu gave him a spirited hug.
Altaire and Lilli went on patrol in the air of Absalom, watching for scum and villainy. They were not alone in the air; Khrane and Jaistelle happened by them on the way home from a mission for the Pathfinder Society, bickering loudly about exploding harpies. They happily greeted Altaire and promised not to reveal his crime-fighting activities.
Sym strolled down the crowded streets alone before taking to the rooftops. While bounding across shops, he came across a very nervous Garren. He was taking shelter from a number of Righteous Fury knights on the ground below. Sym winked and leapt to the ground.
Sym approached the Righteous Fury captain and inquired about their motives. The captain reported that they were hunting an evil vampire-spawn in Absalom. Sym asked what he had done, and the captain could offer no answer. He gave only excuses that his lineage made him unmistakably evil, and that it would surely lead him to commit heinous acts, like feeding. Sym shook his head; these men could not be reasoned with, so he resorted to another tactic: deception.
He deflected their search to the western gate of the city, near the sleepy residential quarter of Westgate. The knights spared no time and marched to the west. Garren bounded down from the roof and thanked Sym for saving his skin.
Silhren took a stroll to the Irorium, the oldest coliseum in Absalom. On the field was a collection of actors reenacting the life and triumphs of an ancient wizard and his companions. A nearby spectator, Mateba, explained that it was the story of Old-Mage Jatembe. He was an ancient wizard and the subject of folklore for the people of the Mwangi Expanse. He hoped that one day he could become something like Jatembe, and he watched the performance with starry eyes.
Noticing that Silhren was a local, Mateba asked him to show him around. Silhren indulged his curiosity and showed him restaurants, shops and temples. At the end of the tour, Mateba asked Silhren if he could deliver something to Sym for him. He handed Silhren a sack with a tiny object inside and asked him not to open it for his own safety. Silhren agreed to do so and returned to the Rilbahn estate.
By chance, she passed by Meghan in the marketplace as she purchased the salt. Meghan was out collecting supplies for the tavern. They exchanged hellos and Suhaila explained that she was going to the Kortos Mounts. Meghan decided to accompany her after dropping off her supplies at the tavern. Her husband told her he could handle it on his own while she went out “adventuring.” She was in and out quickly, already dressed for combat.
While Suhaila waited for Meghan to finish preparing, she sat alone in the tavern’s business side. This brought the attention of an unsavory and greasy Varisian man. He asked if he could buy her a drink and Suhaila politely refused; he insisted, claiming that he was important and influential in the city. Suhaila paid him little heed, so he persisted. He drew closer and closer towards her until he was nearly upon her. His head then jerked and hit the table; Meghan stood behind his unconscious body with a mug in her hand and a smirk on her face.
Suhaila insisted that they not dump his body in a back alley, and Meghan dragged him to a more humiliatingly public street.
Suhaila and Meghan hiked into the mountains with the salt. They became lost for a few hours, but found some harpies who carried them to the harpy nest near the mountain tops. They spoke with the difficult harpy tribe and managed to convince the rest that change was an option and that trade with the city could be mutually beneficial. The chieftainess was happy to hear her words, and she promised that headway with the minotaurs and centaurs would be forthcoming.
The heroes regrouped and laid to bed, save for Suhaila. Her inability to sleep gave her some free time and a moment to reach out to the little guest in their home. She promised no harm to them if they would speak to her and offered candy as a gift.
Climbing up the back of her nightgown, the guest scarfed down the sweet eatn’s. Suhaila promised that no harm would come to her from the other tenants of the estate and that she would be safe here; she also promised more candy for housework, which the guest was more than ecstatic to hear.
The next morning sun never came, as a storm began to spiral above the Kortos Mounts. The Arbiters of Absalom rushed to the northern gate, where they came across an elf named Nochte, who was being held inside by Ralpor. He claimed that creatures of darkness suddenly began pouring from the mountains, keeping anyone from investigating the source of the hurricane in the Mounts.
The Arbiters were admitted through the gate, clearly having the most experience with these foes, and the also clearly experienced Nochte was invited along.
He proved valuable to the fight, as the Arbiters managed to cut through the creatures enough to get into the Mounts. They were unexpectedly picked up by a number of harpies who had seen the source of the storm atop the highest mountain. The harpies carried the heroes to the top and stepped back out of fear of what awaited.
A man with long black hair and strange leather clothing danced at the summit. The storm danced with him, gaining speed as he performed and chanted for it. Watching him were a pair of demons and two people clad in heavy white armor the color of a full moon. The armored man in a large cloak turned to greet the heroes as they advanced. He asked the woman to his right, Tazula, to kill them where they stood before he whisked away with the winds. The woman grinned and drew her mace.
The demons and the antipaladin were upon the heroes like a hammer to the forging steel. Striking Silhren with a disturbing glee, she slammed him to the ground repeatedly, until she noticed a small ocarina on his belt. With a devilish sneer, she shattered the ocarina.
Nochte found Spencer chanting and drew his bow. His senses told him that this man was not among the living, and his goddess whispered to him that this man must die. This would be his charge from the goddess of life and death: Spencer Khalim must be destroyed and sent to judgment. Nochte succeeded in interrupting Spencer’s incantation, and the storm began to slow and dissipate. Spencer lashed out at him, nearly killing him with a single bolt of lightning.
Spencer shook his head and walked to Tazula. He assured her that there was little more that they could do here, and that their talents would be required for other doomsday projects. Before they disappeared, Tazula vowed to end the lives of the Arbiters who served the “weak goddess”.
They vanished into the air, and the sun began to shine on Absalom again.
The sun did not shine so brightly, however, for the bloodied Arbiters of Absalom.