With no further activity from Heldren for the night, the party hits the sheets in anticipation of a big day ahead. After breakfast, Heldren called the party to his room to reveal a big secret. He told the party that he is not a tax collector, but instead he is part of a group in the king’s service seeking the people who killed the king’s father 10 years prior. According to Heldren, this group calls itself The Compass and The Rose.
The party questioned Heldren to their purpose for killing the king: he believes they are aligned with The Kauvan Theocracy in the north and they killed the the old king, Wilfred, to end the war and protect the worshipers of Pholtus. Further, based on rumors and reports during the war, he believes that the Kauvan and the group are involved in nefarious other-worldly or extra-planar dealings involving creatures of “smoke and fire”. He asked the party’s help investigating the mayor as a potential member of this group and the first solid lead he’s had in years. The party accepted.
The party spent the day overseeing collection of taxes as a guise to investigating the mayor and the town further. While Clevinger, Tiggi, and Yisan went to talk to Naff about his experiences with the “dragon” in the mountains, Iltharr and Rasul stayed near the town hall. They observed a carrier pigeon leaving the mayor’s office but lost track of it as it flew WNW from the town.
That night, the party goes to further investigate at the town hall, and they see a group of 4 armed when hiding in a copse of trees near the mayor’s office window. While Iltharr and Clevinger “distract” the men, Rasul sneaks up from behind and makes quick work of one with two well-placed darts to the back. Clevinger wades into the fray taking the brunt of the damage, while Iltharr and Yisan heal him. Tiggi fires off a few well-timed magic missiles to stop a fleeing thug, and Rasul renders the leader unconscious. An unexpected new ally joins the battle, and introduces himself just as the town guards call for an end to the conflict.
After clearing up why the party was involved in a skirmish and getting the unconscious strangers into the town dungeon, the party gets to know Geth Blackoak and invites him along on their upcoming quest to the old mining town near Mt. Gesthein. The following morning, Heldren and the party leave Bemuen, with the prisoners secured in the wagon. Heldren heads SE to Brightmoor to interrogate the men further, while the party doubles-back through the forest with Geth’s help to meet Naff along the road to the mountains. After two days travel, they make their way to the abandoned mining town and find it in ruin and disrepair.
Suspecting that danger may lie ahead, Iltharr opens his senses to the presence of the divine and profane, but instead of finding undead or fiendish enemies, he discovers a great evil in Naff’s back pack – the same back pack previously given to the party by Heldren for Naff to use on the journey. Iltharr cuts open the pack and finds a gold talisman with a ruby in the center surrounded by infernal writing. With her arcane knowledge, Tiggi, deciphers the writing and gains insight into the powerful magic in the talisman. To her shock, she finds it is a powerful binding and conjuring magic and the writing is possibly a devil’s true name. Further study by Iltharr reveals it is a powerful relic, created by a sacrifice of blood, and contains a powerful binding magic as well.
While the party ponders their next move, a trio of imps and six lemures surprise them. Despite their poisonous stings, Geth manages to summon sharp thorns and a wave of thunder to deter the attackers, while Iltharr and Yisin heal him. Clevinger takes one imp down with his cross-bow, Iltharr ends another with his spear, and Rasul finishes the last with a well-timed opportunity attack. The lemures shamble helplessly in the magical spikes and are quickly banished back to the Nine Hells.
What is the meaning of the strange and evil talisman? Did Heldren plant it, or is he being set up by someone else? What awaits the party farther along the trail to Mt. Gesthein?