We return to our heroes standing in the Council Hall, where Kurz has more or less directly accused Korun Delx of being Horror-touched. The spellcasters on the council (Tyrnea, Phanduur, and Tolooraateth), immediately began using Astral Sight to scrutinize both Delx and Kurz himself. Phanduur saw nothing out of the ordinary at first, but both Tyrnea and Tolooraateth eventually detected the same oversized aura that Kurz saw. However, neither of them could identify an actual Horror mark, nor did either one know the significance of the unusual aura.
Unsurprisingly, Delx protested his complete innocence, hinting that Kurz may have accused him as a political response to Jurok Ghal’s arrest. Delx is was unwilling to accept the word of a “mere apprentice” as cause to arrest him, and Kurz’ book was not sufficiently clear regarding the nature of the unusual auras it described. After some discussion, Vunar agreed to place Delx under house arrest in Vunar’s own home, while Kurz and Tyrnea went to seek out Xabal for a more experienced viewpoint. Fareth, Laramanus, and Y’bbn accompanied Vunar and his guards, while Nimue returned to her home (from which she could keep a distant eye on Tolooraateth as the latter tried to replicate the Elemental Clock).
When Kurz and Tyrnea arrived at Xabal’s home, the Nethermancer was missing; there were no obvious signs of foul play, but Kurz thought his disappearance to be both out of character and entirely too convenient for Korun Delx. Inquiries to Xabal’s neighbors revealed that a dwarf had visited Xabal the evening before, and was let in without incident; no one was certain when, or whether, the dwarf had left. Interestingly, one of Xabal’s rats (kept for experimental purposes) seemed highly alert and agitated, not to mention curiously intelligent.
Meanwhile, Fareth and Laramanus took up positions outside Vunar’s home; the suspected Horror was within, guarded by one of Vunar’s men. Y’bbn, certain that some trickery was afoot, spent a good deal of time arguing with Vunar about precautions that should be taken against Delx, until Vunar had apparently had enough and elected to change places with soldier inside. When that soldier came out, Y’bbn proceeded to grill him closely on Delx’ activities; when learning that Delx had been writing, Y’bbn grew convinced that the High Councillor was devising some sort of arcane trap or bomb. Eventually, his assertions about there being a Horror in Vunar’s home began to attract the attention of passers-by, and Y’bbn was bodily bundled up the stairs and into Vunar’s house.
Kurz, with the help of Tyrnea and the curiously intelligent rat, discovered some recent bloodstains concealed under a wardrobe. Knowing that Nimue had some experience evaluating such scenes, he found another windling to go seek her out; they returned, mildly drunk, some time later. Nimue’s conclusions matched Tyrnea’s, but no one could find any sign of further bloodstains or any trail leading away from the hut. The rat was becoming increasingly agitated, and it was decided that the talents of a Beastmaster might be beneficial, so Nimue flew off to find one.
In Vunar’s home, Y’bbn discovered that Delx was indeed writing several pages of text, and began implementing a (for him) cunning stratagem to get a glance at his work. Delx, however, quickly seemed to catch on to the t’skrang’s plan, and covered up his writing. Vunar, for his part, seemed quite perturbed that Y’bbn was basically announcing to the population of Khar Rhûz that there was a Horror in Vunar’s home; while this might be true, it would certainly do nothing for Vunar’s own reputation. Fareth and Laramanus kept up a watch outside, seemingly not overly concerned about Y’bbn’s fate.
Nimue returned to Xabal’s hut in the company of Uthwyn, an elven Beastmaster. After communicating with the rat for a few minutes, he states that the rat claimed to be Xabal, or at least Xabal’s spirit, possessing the animal as the result of a dying spell. The mysterious dwarf (who Xabal did not recognized) had apparently come in last night and murdered him, then covered up the bloodstains and taken the body elsewhere. Through Uthwyn, the rat directed Kurz to a text which included a section on lesser Horrors known as ketzsers, the kaer’s apparent enemies. In addition to providing some more information about the methods of the creatures, the book confirmed that they possess an oversized aura like the one seen on Korun Delx. The rat, not knowing how long the spell would last, directed Uthwyn to find a small box and give it to Kurz; it contained a single orichalcum coin. With that, Kurz, Nimue, Tyrnea, Uthwyn, and the rat begain heading towards Vunar’s home, with Tyrnea contacting the other adepts on the Kaer Council as she went.
Soon, Vunar’s home was playing host to all five of our heroes, a half-dozen other adepts, several kaer soldiers, the accused Korun Delx, and one very annoyed rat. With the combined testimony of Kurz, Tyrnea, and Uthwyn, plus the book from Xabal’s home, the council felt that they had enough information to convict Delx, though there was some discussion of needing a quorum from the non-adept members of the Council. After a brief debate, Vunar moved forward to execute Delx; the creature revealed its true nature (and its deadly sting) to fight back, but the skilled Warrior triumphed quickly and the Horror soon lay dead.
The group then returned to the Council Hall, where there were still many decisions to be made. Kurz’ seat on the council would need to be filled; Jurok Ghal was suggested as a replacement, but the council seemed troubled by the political ramifications of appointing someone rather than holding an election. Tolooraateth confirmed that the Elemental Clock still seemed to be accurate, and that the mana level was apparently “frozen.” With that knowledge, and the certainty that at least one more ketzser still lurked within the Kaer, the Council requested that Fareth, Kurz, Laramanus, Nimue, and Y’bbn attempt to leave the kaer and determine whether it would be safe to leave, while the more experienced adepts tried to keep the remaining kaer residents safe and find the remaining Horror(s). At the PCs’ suggestion, Ka’gath was also invited to accompany them. The council provided what equipment they could, as well as an enchanted crystal that our heroes could use to communicate with Tyrnea (one-way, one-time) from outside the kaer.
After gathering their equipment and their resolve, our heroes, Ka’gath, and the rat went through the caisson gate beside the Freedom Gate and into the outer world. It was twilight when they emerged into a world that few of them remembered; stars sparkled in the dome of the vast, distant sky, and a fitful breeze blew. The slope leading down to the Serpent River – which was somewhat lower than Laramanus and Y’bbn remembered, but still very navigable – was rocky and dotted with scrub brush; not the lush greenery they remembered, but not as devastated as they might have feared. To the north and across the river were the dim lights of some sort of settlement, and after a few moments to try to acclimate to the world outside the kaer, the small group elected to head towards those lights. They soon found themselves following a well-marked and well-trodden path along the riverbank, yet another sign of civilization.
As they drew closer, it soon became apparent that the lights were those of a small town, and that a significant construction project was underway – a bridge across the Serpent. To Y’bbn’s great dismay, the once-splendid towers of the t’skrang village of Damritsar were being used as footings for the pillars of the bridge. On their own (west) side of the Serpent, the travelers found a small house next to a ferry dock, and awakened the dwarf ferryman. He seemed pleased to learn that a kaer had opened, though the heroes were very cagey about its exact location. He identified the town on the opposite bank as Tansiarda, stating that it had sprung up around the bridge construction site. He was happy to talk about the town and recent history as he rowed the travelers across to the town free of charge, though he seemed curiously reticent to talk about elves, despite Fareth’s frequent questions.
Once in Tansiarda proper, the group made their way to the Arch Barrel, the town’s inn. The innkeeper, a human named Elwyn, was pleased to have new customers, despite their admission that they had no coin. Like the ferryman, he seemed pleased to know that another kaer had opened, and was happy to talk about recent history. The gates of Throal had been open for about 75 years, and while the Horrors were not completely gone, most of the lands were considered relatively safe. The Therans had returned to Barsaive, but have as yet been unable to conquer it, though they did have a significant military presence at Vivane, in southwestern Barsaive. The former capital city of Parlainth, to the north, was now a ruined wreck, full of Horrors and treasure-hunting adventurers. Elwyn also told the heroes about the Mad Passions, a disastrous turn of events which had had little impact on life in Kaer Siyar.
Finally, Fareth asked again about the fate of the elves and the Elven Court, and Elwyn stammered uncertainly until another voice offered to take over the explanation. The face belonged to an elf…an elf with bloodstained thorns poking through every inch of his flesh. Despite his appearance, the newcomer insisted that he was no Horror, and offered to explain matters to Fareth and the others.