The 79th Day of Summer
After receiving the letter from his master, Elder Yen Chi Tan, Po Chen Loon moved quickly along the path to Thorneton before breaking off and travelling the foothills. Though he moves much faster alone, it is still several days before he reaches the base of the mountains.
The 82nd Day of Summer
On the morning of his fourth day away from his new companions, Po finally finds his master meditating peacefully. He approaches quietly and sits before him. After a long pause, Elder Yen apologises for checking up on him – it has become protocol since a bright young monk left and became corrupted - and asks Po what he has been doing since he left the monastery. Po recounts his experiences travelling south, joining with The Weavers and meeting his new companions. He tells him of the defeated bandits and troll, of his charity and his attempts to spread peace.
His master seems pleased with his answer, though he says nothing. After another pause, Elder Yen asks Po how he will prove to him that his heart is still true. Po ponders a moment, then pulls himself up to his full height, he does not need to prove anything, he says, the proof is in his actions. Elder Yen again says nothing, but nods slightly before taking a defensive stance, indicating it is time to spar. Though Po gets some early hits on his master, Elder Yen strikes Po in the solar plexus, knocking the wind from his lungs. Po takes several more blows before he recovers, but cannot land another punch, and soon loses consciousness.
His master wakes him quickly and they spend the rest of the day in training.
That night, much like Po and Elder Yen, Quercus prepares to sleep under the stars, though he does so alone. In the night air, his mind replaying the argument again and again, Quercus calls on his mother for guidance, unconsciously releasing his dancing lights. The soft lights coalesce into a humanoid form that sits by his side as he drifts off and gently strokes his hair, even after sleep takes him.
Meanwhile, Baldur Bredabrik, Bambos Charalambos and Malek find themselves having a much less peaceful slumber in The Wizened Crone inn. As he tosses and turns, Malek sees himself in a large, dark room, as he has many times before. This time, however, he is not alone, his colleagues stand beside him looking beaten and exhausted. Before him stands a towering column of fire. As it slowly wanes and dies he feels a sense of victory, but when only embers are left he feels a familiar shiver crawl up his spine, the smoke billows and grows, spreading from the room and out across the town, darkness engulfing the buildings, trees and plains.
Across the hall, Baldur sees himself sitting in a small, stone-hewn room with a single door. Through the door enter three dwarves – all identical to him. Beyond the door he hears familiar voices, his travelling companions. As one Baldur leaves the room, another enters, but despite his best attempts he cannot pass through the threshold. In another room in the inn, Bambos also finds his sleep disturbed. In his mind, he is walking through a forest on a warm summers day. He is alone at first but soon joined by Malek, then by Quercus and Baldur, and finally Po. It is joyous, there are jokes and laughter, but something nags at him. He finds himself looking at the path behind them, sure there is something following but not seeing anything. He turns again, each time convinced there is something, someone, just outside his vision. He tries to ignore it, but can't escape the feeling, when he hears a sudden bang, and is jolted awake.
The 83rd Day of Summer
Bambos takes a quick look out his window then runs to Malek's room, finding him already awake. They begin to go down to eat, finding Baldur also on his way. He asks if either of them have seen Quercus, but they haven't. Downstairs, they are met by the same barmaid as the night before, who smiles warmly. They order breakfast, which Bambos and Baldur eat heartily. Malek picks distractedly at his food, nervous about his latest vision. Worried that they may be losing time, he tells the others what he saw, and they finish eating quickly.
Outside, Quercus is already waiting. He awoke feeling that petty squabbles between friends are insignificant in the face of the evils in the world, and is ready to make amends. He greets the group and tries to apologies to Baldur. The dwarf doesn't seem to remember why Quercus was mad, but quietly brings the drow into a hug.
They spend the rest of the day on the road, and once more make camp at night.
The 84th Day of Summer
After a couple hours walking the next morning, the party see a humanoid figure on the road ahead. His nerves frayed, Malek instinctively throws a firebolt, only for the figure to pull a quarterstaff from its back and deflect the bolt from its path. The figure turns, ready to fight, but stops himself and begins to wave as he sees his companions. The group run to Po, and they quickly catch each other up with what they've being doing. As they near the town, they discuss why they have journeyed here, Quercus reminding them that he has a task of his own – to find a necromancer and learn more about the plague infecting his home.
Thorneton soon looms on the horizon. At first glance, it appears to be a clump of woodland, but beyond the trees and thickets stands the tall, ornate city walls. Thorned vines twist and climb up the dark stones adorned with gargoyles, buttressed and fortified. Where the road meets the wall is a huge oak and iron door flanked by towers on the wall and two golden-armoured guards in front. The party briefly discuss how they will enter the town, but decide to improvise, and Quercus hails the guards. One, a dwarven woman with deep chestnut hair and beard, calls back cheerfully.
The group approaches and tell the guards they are in town looking for work. Fura, the dwarven woman, tells them they are in the right place and is soon singing the praises of The Chrysalists for bringing fortune to the town. She recommends The Grey Mare tavern, where the official town guard and some of the Chrysalist guards like to drink, and also the miners tavern The Pick and Axe as they are looking for work. They ask about the Chrysalists, telling Fura that they have heard a lot of good about the group and would consider joining, with Baldur particularly pressing her on how he might get a set of the golden armour. She tells them to enquire at the new Chrysalis temple on the main road, that they are sure to have work to suit them. The party then asks how she got involved with the Chrysalists, and she replies that she is working for them in exchange for their clerics healing her mother, which she couldn't afford at the traditional temples. Her colleague interjects, saying that he joined simply because they seemed more organised than the official town guard.
Saying their farewells, the party pass through the great oak gate for the first time. As they meander into the bustling town, Bambos voices his concern to his party for their apparent change of heart towards the Chrysalists and tells them he doesn't want to join. He is sure that they perform ritual killings of the shortest members. Unable to explain the deception to Bambos, Malek instead magically reduces himself in size to calm his fears.