Upon their return to the central barracks, the heroes met with Guardsman-Lieutenant Eramus Silverstrife briefly only to find that the King and his entourage had left without them! Eramus thanked the group for their assistance, publicly crediting them for saving the city (well, half of it) and pointed them in the right direction to pursue the king’s group. Before they left, he was also able to inadvertently identify the mysterious figure whom Sorrow sought. “I never forget a deserter,” he scowled, pointing out that this ‘Zane’ character deserted his post in the Esham Guard to leave north with a group of fanatical cultists, who are thought to have settled somewhere near Cyrium, capital of Geador. Sorrow thanked Eramus for the lead, and the heroes bid him goodbye.
The group passed by the governor’s keep, ringed with guards preparing to mount a rescue mission on the hostage provincial governor. Passing by, they expeditiously beat feet to the northern gate of the city. There they were met by a scholarly dragonborn who introduced himself as Hallistair Leer, a special assistant envoy to the king, who apologized for the change in plans. “King Hestavarius III is very sorry he was forced to depart sooner than expected, but royal duties necessitated his escort of Highlord Celedrir, ruler of Escardona to a safe route out of Geador now that the bridges at Esham are inoperable.” Hallistair accompanied the party out of Esham, and as they crested a hill leading out of the town and into the forest a large boom accompanied the demolition of the bridges across the Vitos in Esham. During an extended flight to gain ground quickly and catch up to the King’s party, the party noticed a point of magical light off on the northwestern horizon, which after a flyover by a group of crystal golems, expanded in a wave of magical power. A thick bank of stormclouds quickly expanded across all expanses of the sky and volatile red lightning flashed from west to east. A booming voice that could only be the nefarious archmage Xanben Acidhorn echoed a triumphant cry throughout the land that the Death Warden was released at last.
As the red-streaked sky continued to roil, wildlife ran across the path in all directions. Out of the shadows, a frenzied dire bear charged the party. Well, rather, it charged in the party’s general direction until Shadow’s protective instincts caused it to attack the bear and draw its ire. After a long, protracted battle which left a few adventurers on their backs, Davian found a spirit connection with the frenzied and frightened animal’s consciousness. He resurrected and healed the beast, named it Lola, and she accompanied Davian from then on. The group traveled a short distance to Lola’s cave to rest before completing the remainder of their trek.