The next day, during the afternoon, the group was contacted by the Thieves Guild to meet with them at the bar “Another Peak.” Upon arriving, they were informed that the Red Hoods had made another appearance, this time during broad daylight in the Sun Market. Just a short time before the group was alerted, the Red Hoods appeared and began to slay innocent men, women, and children indiscriminately for a short time before disappearing again. In the swath of carnage, a note was found to demand a 50,000gp ransom or the deaths would happen again. Toll immediately got up to leave, going to help heal the wounded. In all, 57 people lost their lives for no real reason. The group assured the Thieves that they would deal with the Red Hoods, and strike down with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to kill the people of Mythrazel.
Afterwards, the breaking of the amethyst goblet was discussed; with the head of the Thieves Guild chastising the display of the goblet as being in very bad taste – after all, the woman had gone into the heart of the wraith to get the damned thing. If one bar wanted to be known for having moose antlers, then another bar should not display moose antlers too. It was considered very bad taste. And if you did display your moose antlers, you should at least take precautions to protect your moose. She then pointed out that the mysterious owner of the other bar, who was not a part of the group, had not made any attempt to contact the thieves’ guild about exempting themselves from the guilds practices. The group informed her that the owner was a friend of theirs, and she agreed to tell the thieves that they should hands off the Luck O’ the Leprechaun.
Finally returning to the castle, Toll attempted to scry the one Red Hood who he knew by appearance. Failing that, he was able to scry the dining hall where he first found the man. From there, Gwendon took over and was able to scry the kitchen as well, where they saw 3 cooks. Jakkara teleported into the kitchen and snatched the two female cooks, leaving the male wondering where his people went. Looking outside for them, he unknowingly allowed the group the chance to discover where the hideout was – in the Lords Ward in one of the abandoned guard barracks! From there the Gwendon was able to shift the view into the barracks itself, discovering the entire legion of Red Hoods relaxing after their most heinous and evil act.
Fuming on their inability to act just yet, the group decided to curtail any quick actions against the Red Hoods, and decided that it was time to get a little bit of magic on their side. To this end, they began to research the Arcane College in earnest. During the research, Toll and Gwendon discovered a peculiar inconsistency. It seemed that in the records from library in the city and the belts that had been wished for, the School of Enchantment was missing. Upon taking this information to Gallandro, they then discovered that it took many attempts to tell him this information before it was finally retained. It seemed that great magic was at work here, deepening the mystery of the Arcane College. Scrying the outside of the college, they were able to look in many of the windows, seeing floating bodies in a huge solarium and a massive library that dwarfed the one in the keep. It was time for the group to get their hands dirty again.
The next morning, as the group prepared to head to the Arcane College, Gwendon deferred heading into the mage college with the rest of the group. She said that she wanted to continue to monitor the Red Hoods so that she could alert the town guard (And Sun Brigade) if the Red Hoods decided to attack again. Perhaps they would let their own people know ahead of time where the target was – giving the group a heads up. The rest geared up and headed to the road outside the grounds of the college. Once the group arrived, they entered the estate of the Arcane College with no troubles. Each member wore one of the belts of the college, with enough spare belts so that each party member could be a part of all the represented schools of magic – save the elusive school of Enchantment. Within the main grounds, they saw that there was a magic shop by the front gate and stables and servants quarters around the back, but all of the other buildings were dilapidated and gutted. Heading on up to the main house, the group entered the front door.
Within the main hall, they saw that there had apparently been some sort of combat, as the entire area around the front door was covered in char and strewn with dead. While the main group headed further in to explore, Lusipher headed into the cloak room and began to loot. While the group examined the entry into the dining chamber, they heard a noise behind them, coming from the levatarium – the great 3 story high open air passage between the three floors above ground and the 1 floor below ground. Turning, the group saw a group of zombies shuffling towards them, their cracked skin glowing an evil purple glow. Combat ensued, with the groups’ efforts proving to be absorbed by the Zombies with little effect. Fortunately, the zombies were too slow for the powerful group, and everyone was able to survive the battle unscathed. Of note during the battle: Lusipher’s sword appeared to get twice the energy from killing these creatures than any other creature he had slain; Jakkara, who has been known to personally kill a dragon, was not even able to harm the foul beasts; Sirrathi, not as powerful as Gallandro, was not even able to overcome the inherent magic resistance the creatures apparently had. In the end, the group defeated the creatures and entered the Dining Hall, while Lusipher went back to looting the cloak room.
In the dining hall, once again Zombies beset the group, this time numbering nearly 20. By the time the battle ended, this time without the aid of Lusipher, some new information was learned: Toll, donning his helm of Bahamut, was able to see that the purple glow was some sort of magical rune veins that ran through the creature like blood; Jakkara, Vheshema, and Dartel were able to damage the creatures easily with non-magical weapons; The creatures apparently could absorb magical effects given time; Kobort’s sword, Brialyn, feedbacks massive damage to him when its disruption power is activated while battling the creatures – apparently negating its life-force removes an equal amount from the wielder. Eventually, the zombies were all destroyed and Toll began to heal the few that were hurt – Kobort most of all.
While the group was battling, Lusipher hurried out at the sound of the battle then, instead of helping his friends, ran down to the next door to see if he could find zombies of his own to find. He was apparently miffed that no one would let him kill the small group by himself and decided to set out on his own. Beyond the door that he opened, he found a grand audience chamber. Within were the remains of a pile of bodies, with a huge, fat creature apparently consuming the bodies. Rushing into battle, Lusipher began to attack the creature with earnest. The creature returned the attacks in a feverous manner, and when it seemed severely injured it stepped sideways into nothingness, leaving a confused Lusipher Alone. A minute later, the creature re-emerged from whence it had gone, attacking Lusipher from behind. Again the battle raged and again the creature disappeared when it seemed to be losing. This time, however, it did not immediately return – which frustrated Lusipher all the more.
Meanwhile, back at the castle, shortly after the group left – Gwendon heard from her Dwarven “inquisitors” that the pair of cooks had apparently been hired by house Ineskadel – one of the two half-elven noble houses in the city! Additionally, later, as she was scrying to check up on Acelia and company who had gone the week before to awaken the Valshiren, she discovered to her horror that the entire forest of sentient vines had apparently been turned to stone and there was no sign of their friends!!! After finding out about the “possible” mastermind of the Red Hoods being House Ineskadel, Gwendon sent a message to the thieves to find out everything they could about the aristocratic family. Lady Arlinde warned her to be careful of the information, as it could easily be a red herring meant to mislead her from the true leaders of the Red Hoods. Then, after failing to find any trace of their friends in the stone jungle of the Valshiren, Gwen set off to the Mage College to inform her friends of the bad news.
Meanwhile, back at the college, Lusipher returned to the rest of the group battered and bleeding. Toll quickly healed him while he explained about the attack of the fat undead creature. Sirrathi asked Toll if he could look into the ethereal plane to see if the creature was still there. Readjusting his true sight, he could in fact see the hideous creature lurking ethereal over Lusipher’s should ready to pounce at any moment. Fortunately, it seemed to be stuck in the ethereal plane for the moment, to the groups’ relief. As Toll told the others about the creature still being there, A spirit walked through Lusipher into the room, telling another spirit that Assembly was about to start.
The group followed the lead of the spirits and went to the Assembly Hall. After a couple of tries, Sirrathi finally managed to get the room to light up, but not before Kobort began to glow like a torch. He explained to the others that since the sun turned red, he now has that ability. Sirrathi joked that he drained the sun to get the power, causing a nervous chuckle from the rest of the group. Soon after the assembly hall was lit, a spectral view to the past revealed that two schools of magic did not show up for assembly on a long forgotten day in the past – the schools of Evocation and Enchantment! After the image faded, the group resumed their exploration.
In the rear of the academy, the group walked a short distance down the hall to a juncture leading to several doors. Toll, who was still keeping track of the ethereal undead creature, noticed a shimmer of activity at the other end of the corridor. Writhing into view, a huge snakelike mass slithered quickly down the corridor to the group, which remained oblivious to its presence. As it came closer, Toll could make out that it appeared to be a living mass of magical runes quickly swarmed over the party and began to write runes on those who failed to resist its effects. Runes similar to the ones on the Zombies they fought were now covering many of the group, who complained of feeling drained of their life essence. Apparently, the living spell was attempting to turn the group into Zombies!
Deciding it was time to leave, the group returned to the main entrance, where Lusipher attempted to open the door with his force sword, which failed. Fortunately, Gwendon appeared at that time and opened the door easily from the outside. Rushing past her, the group explained the problems within. Toll told the group that the creature had joined the group on the outside of the school and needed to be dealt with. Expending part of his life force to cast a spell he had not learned that day, Toll pulled the entire party into the Ethereal plane to deal with the creature. A moment later, the fat bastard fell dead on the ethereal ground. The group returned to the real world, where Lusipher headed off to get a tattoo while the rest returned to the castle to try and find their friends.
Upon reaching the Tattoo parlor, Lusipher encountered a Tall, lean Minotaur leaving the shop. He greeted the creature, but received nothing but a nod of acknowledgement in reply. After getting a tattoo, he went to his bar and then on to “A different peak”, where he spent the remainder of the day talking with the owner of that restaurant.
At the castle, while the spell casters began to scry for their missing companions, Kobort and Dartel decided that they would draw from the Deck of Many Things. Dartel went first and after the first couple of draws disappeared in a flash of smoke as all his belongings hit the floor. Toll later learned that he apparently had drawn the Donjon, trapping his body in the spirit of the kingdom for all time. A little leery, Kobort drew one card from the deck with fate on his side – drawing a beneficial card. No one else wanted the pleasure of drawing from the deck so it was put back in a safe place.
Meanwhile Gallandro finally managed to scry Misha, finding her several miles outside the city carrying the body of Rhelvin (who it turned out was not dead but was missing a wing). Gallandro teleported to the pair and brought them quickly back to the castle so Toll could heal them and regenerate Rhelvin. The group then fed the pair and heard their tale.
After entering the Valshiren the day they left, they spent that night and the next day tracking down the heart of the Valshiren. Once they reached it, Acelia began the ritual to awaken the Valshiren. Unfortunately, it seemed that Babba Yaga had reached it first and somehow trapped the Valshiren. Instantly upon completing the ritual, the entire forest began to writhe and convulse as it began to turn to stone, along with every living being that was in it at the time. The companions managed to fly up out of the Valshiren in time to save themselves, but Acelia’s body was lost. However, it seemed that a Spirit of Nature had been awakened (or was in fact Acelia’s spirit) and was bent on destroying the one thing that was harming the valley – the Weirdlin. So the companions followed the Spirit of Nature north and began a battle that lasted several days. On the side of good – Gray Renders, Pegasi, Treants, Unicorn Duelists, the companions, Caeradwyn, and other animals of the forest fought the Weirdlin and their horrors until not one Ravager was left standing. Of the companions, Dart had fallen, his life stone returned to Toll until his next incarnation. Misha also returned the final piece of the Septerra Core to the group so that they could find the dwarven caverns. Misha and Rhelvin then stated that it was their intent to return to the Valshiren to rescue Acelia and planned to head out as soon as possible.
After hearing their tale, Toll and Gallandro decided to go visit the wizard Vorkastarak in the bear clan caverns to buy a few more copies of the Lexicon of Deeds. They ended up staying the night, but managed to buy two books and trade away their unused magic items. Gwendon, meanwhile, met with the Darkstalkers and told them about what she learned about the Red Hoods, including where their lair was located. They seemed very happy to gather this information, and asked if they could send a person to the group to represent the Darkstalkers and aid the group in their endeavors. The next day, the group decided to take two weeks time so that everyone could read at least one book.
The morning after the initial foray into the Arcane College, Lusipher did not come down for breakfast. Investigating, Toll discovered him in his room with a large glowing arrow hovering over his inert form proclaiming him a thief. Further investigation revealed that he had apparently been cursed not once, not twice, but twenty-seven times! Among the curses was apparently a drain in intelligence, as he apparently had soiled himself while he was asleep. After gathering Gallandro, Gwendon, and a servant to clean him, the group had to find out what he took from the college that had caused the massive overdose of curses.
The answer came at breakfast from Sirrathi, who announced that Lusipher had retrieved forty or so magical cloaks from the arcane college that she had spent the evening identifying. The group then decided that Toll and Gallandro would return the cloaks, while Kobort remained outside to open the door when they had finished. Sirrathi told them that she was going to visit the gnome tinkerer to see if he had finished with his airship. Gwendon volunteered to remain in Lusipher’s room to monitor his condition. Returning the cloaks seemed to do the trick as Lusipher awakened soon after Toll returned the magical garments to the cloak room. The 2nd trip into the college did not go uneventful, however, as Gallandro was once again drained by the serpent like magical force. However, the pair made it out of the college with little difficulty and started to head back.