With a heavy heart, Dulgamar returns to the sound of Peter’s exasperated cries that he was not responsible for the potential forest fire. Explaining the situation to the budding alchemist, Dulgamar finds that speaking about what he witnessed provides some sense of comfort, but chooses not to explain further. Peter is quick to nod, perhaps more satisfied that he actually wasn’t responsible.
The Ravenguard presses on with Ditch at the reins and Blackfire at his side, slowly learning from him how to properly guide the horses. Later, they come upon an odd impression in the dirt near the center of the road. Ditch halts the cart so that the team can investigate, looking for distinguishing features around them to try to figure it out. Discovering odd scrapes in the bank of the road, Rhogar is certain that something is clearly wrong with this picture. The paladin walks forward and tips the blunt end of his spear into the mound, surprised to see just how deep it goes until it finally hits something solid. When nothing happens, he orders the cart forward, and Ditch guides it around the hole.
When they stop for the night, Dulgamar performs a perimeter sweep but notices nothing out of the ordinary. As Ditch leaves to see what game he can find, Rhogar converses with Rebecca and Gabriel about the nature of their relationship and learns that Rebecca is an apprentice of sorts to the senior scholar. Cornelius sits down at the slowly growing campfire. Interested to try his special fruit, he takes a bite and within a few seconds spews some kind of icy-agent from his mouth, instantly dousing the campfire. Everyone but Gregory, busy rekindling the fire with his magic, clamors to grab one of the remaining fruit. While they are all busy distributing those, Cornelius has an absolutely brilliant plan. Passing unnoticed, he walks over to one of the horses and feeds the horse the remainder of his odd fruit, and then backs away to see just how far a horse can breathe ice. However, the horse merely droops and slides to the ground. Cornelius, not wanting to cause trouble within the group again, steps away and returns to the campfire before anyone can notice.
When the others notice, an argument breaks out with accusatory fingers all pointed at Cornelius. Blackfire attempts to bless the horse back to good health, but his efforts seem ineffective. The sailor, however, continues his charade of innocence until Ditch returns, now bearing gifts. The elf questions the group, exasperated, until he gets the bright idea to try to force the horse to vomit. Somehow, the plan works, and the horse seems to noticeably improve as the odd agent coats the grass in front of his maw with ice. Wanting to better understand the odd fruit’s capabilities, Cornelius presents his remaining fruit to the immensely interested Peter, who is certain that he can start to whip something up the minute he gets his hands on it. Later, unknown to the rest of the party, Peter and Dulgamar reach an agreement for a second potion, exchanging his fruit.
Once dinner is ready, Blackfire is on a mission to figure out the odd color-changing potion’s aftereffects. He asks Peter about the potion, and the alchemist hurriedly presents a second potion that might work to reverse the change, too busy focusing on the icy-fruit potion. Gregory and Cornelius, with their magical expertise, are certain that it will work. Blackfire downs the potion at their behest and seems to almost immediately become slightly ill. Several members of the guild agree to take turns watching over the cleric in the night, in case his symptoms become more severe.
Dulgamar, during his shift, is startled when something suddenly leaps from the earth and jumps toward him, swiping at him with his claws and severely wounding him. The armored rhino-like creature is unknown to the guild-members, and it takes several moments for many of them to awaken. Kyser and Gregory, sharing one of the larger tents, are slow to move, and Gregory tries to help the other put on his armor more swiftly.
Meanwhile, many of the attacks are ineffective against this somewhat magical creature, as Rhogar seems to realize. The shell is tough enough to endure most physical strikes, though Blackfire’s healing seems to allow Dulgamar a slight edge, doing the most initial damage of the fighters. Rhogar’s divinely-empowered war-pick seems to have some effect on the creature, though it is incredibly tough. Whenever it seems as though it takes a heavy hit, it burrows into the ground and uses that maneuverability in the fight well. At one point, it manages to hit Blackfire so hard that he immediately loses consciousness, his mangled body trapped within its jaws. The creature attempts to burrow away with their friend, but Cornelius is not having any of that. Magically increasing his size and strength, he dives after the creature with both arms, lifting it from the earth and waving it overhead, before throwing it as far as he can. It lands upside down, but it seems that the creature has swallowed Blackfire as though to get back at them.
Back in the tent, a frustrated and not even close to fully-armored Kyser grabs his sword and charges outside, immediately joining the fray. He notes that the underside of the creature exposes several weaknesses, the biggest offender the soft extruding spot at the base of the chest. With a mighty leap, he jumps onto the creature and stabs into that weak area.
Triumphantly kneeling on its chest, arm hanging lazily on the hilt, he remains there for several seconds. Dulgamar, knowing that there might still be a chance to save Blackfire, jumps atop the carcass and cuts into the belly with his battleax, finding the briefest of glimpses of Blackfire. Peter shouts from his position that he might have something to help and hurls a new potion; Dulgamar catches it, reaches in, and pours it within Blackfire’s mouth as he yanks the cleric from the creature with the other hand. Rhogar tends to
Blackfire as Dulgamar jumps back into the belly of the beast to look for eaten treasure. After several dives and gasps for air, he finds a necklace that he stashes within his bag.
Bartholomew and Gabriel, sure that it is over, approach to stare in awe of the creature, which Gabriel’s wealth of knowledge identifies it to be a bulette. Rebecca identifies the necklace as some kind of divine healing item, and Dulgamar bestows it upon Rhogar for safe-keeping; Rhogar is certain that it is a magical item with limited uses to cure most wounds.
While several of the others leave to wash off, Gregory has an idea to take advantage of the bulette’s massive hide, and Ditch agrees. Magically and cyclically heating a dagger several degrees, the pair find a suitable wound on the bulette’s skin and begin to slash away the connective tissue holding one of its thick plates. As the others return, only Dulgamar seems apt to help them finish their project, and Gregory sets the dwarf to cutting into another plate on the other side. After several hours, nearly to daylight, they manage to isolate three pieces, one damaged, to its hide, and hook them all to the base of the wagon with rope.
Exhausted, the human attempts to get more rest, but the dwarf performs one last bit of guard duty, and Peter pulls him aside to gift him the first potion made from the icy fruit. After that, the dwarf attempts to get some rest as well, but they are awoken not long after dawn on the morning of white Blackfire to the smell of bacon and the sound of Blackfire’s threats at Bartholomew for writing on his skin. Unbeknownst to anyone but Ditch, the goblin has been practicing writing the only words in Elven he knows, several curse words. After several too-long seconds, the cleric seems to calm down and asks the goblin to not write on him again, and Bartholomew agrees semi-reluctantly.
Two days pass without incident, and they are quickly approaching a distinctive mountain on the horizon. When Gabriel announces that they are in the kingdom of Gerald, the aware of geography in the guild are confused. Gabriel launches into a lengthy discussion about the history of Gerald, how they once owned much of this land when they had powerful armies and considerable allies. Gabriel says the Empire attacked them, their allies abandoned them, and they were not able to handle the situation. Though he seems to suggest that is only one side of the story.
The morning of blue Blackfire, as they pass over the road, they are met with a distinctive noise like great wings flapping. Gregory, able to notice what is coming while the others are seemingly unaware, has the unmistakable impression that he dreamed this before, as a huge bird-like creature swoops down and attempts to make off with the horse Mercy. The bird, which must be a griffon after Gabriel mentioned them in his history, fails, just as it did in the dream, and battle quickly ensues, even as a third and much larger beast flies over their cart ominously. Gregory attempts to keep them away with flames aimed at them in flight, as the griffons attempt to grab the members of the guild who attempt to challenge them on the ground. Twice, they attempt to grab Cornelius throughout the fight, and each time they attempt to drop him, he merely laughs and uses his magic to fall as lightly as a feather. Dulgamar attempts to leap at the creature who landed in front of the horse, landing on its back and then avoiding his attempts to throw it off. Using the only weapon he has available without letting go in mid-flight, the dwarf rears up and chomps at the creature’s eyes, but he doesn’t manage to find the eyeball to blind it. The griffons each take small amounts of damage throughout the fight that eventually add up, to the point where one griffon eventually flies completely away after trying and failing to lift the horse from the attached cart. The second remains, flying after Blackfire, who has remained behind the cover of the wagon to assist. Grabbing the cleric from the ground, Blackfire is unable to get free of his own accord, but the others are there to free him. Gregory misses his attempt, but Dulgamar hurls his flaming ax and Kyser his sword, both doing extensive wounds.
Eventually, the griffon decides that this is not worth its time, dropping Blackfire and fleeing. Cornelius saves him from falling to his death with magic, and now everyone must catch their bearings.
After several minutes, they eventually press on. Midday on the day of blue Blackfire, they are surprised to find two well-armored men claiming to be from an organization called the Silver Swords, who have a potential job for us. They tell the group of a nearby farming village that is totally ruined thanks to the mother griffon, the twice as large griffon from earlier that had avoided them. Promising a bounty of 2000 Gold pieces if they kill the mom, the guild converses and asks Gabriel for his opinion, which Rebecca interrupts to say that they are going to help. Reluctantly, the older man agrees, and the guild decides to help. Devising a plan which sends Kyser along with the two of them to the mountainous griffon nest, as well as a member of the other group becoming doused in Roq piss to attract aggressions from the group and the mother, seems like a bad one. But it’s the only one we’ve got.
The group in the forest clearing waits him out and utilizes their intelligence to get it to work. Cornelius douses himself in urine and weaves a natural minor illusion to get anyone behind him to think he was a baby Roq.