Politics is the redistribution of power…
The group, having unearthed an evil Element Earth cult under Red Larch, returns to the surface with a prisoner in tow. They confront Ilmeth, the owner of the Wagonworks and unsatisfied with his answers, take him into custody and close the Wagonworks. Along the way, they meet up with Dirkhan the Bounty Hunter, who’s got some time to kill. Ander B heads off to get Father Elias, then heads for his bed. With a growing train of captives and a new party make-up, the group heads to the Constable and wakes the poor guy up.
Interrogating Ilmeth (Chopster plays bad cop to everyone else’s not-as-bad cop) reveals that nearly every important person in Red Larch is a member of the cult. This crimps the groups original plan of grabbing or killing (Chopster’s version) the cultists – there’s too many, and it’d break the town. A new plan is needed, and it’s decided to just bring in old cult leader in town, Alec Dornan, to get more information.
Continuing the parties use of tricky-shit, a complicated plan is concocted. Ander L will disguise himself as the Wagonworks owner and get Alec’s trust. Meanwhile, Dirkhan and Chopster will watch the back of his place, while Thogal and Father Elias will wait out front for Ander L to give the code “The moon is rising!” to bust in. Thing go somewhat to plan, except for the part where Ander L gives the wrong response to a challenge-response test, and Alec makes a break out the back-door – and right into the pommel of Chopster’s short sword.
Questioning Alec back in the Constable’s increasingly crowded butcher shop does lead to the revelation that the original cult was more or less a casual weekend get-together thing, until this guy Larek and his armed buddies showed up and turned it into something serious and sinister. Larek apparently came from some Monastery in the Sumber Hills, and is part of something bigger.
The party decides to get some sleep, and then to deal with things in the morning. And by deal with things, the party means gathering all the important people of the town up to reveal the existence of the cult in their midst. Promises are extracted that the cultists will not return to their evil ways (“Or else!”), and that their activities will not be so secretive. As part of this, the group leads the townsfolk into the secret underground temple, where embarrassingly, they discover a dehydrated and hungry little boy pinned to a punishment stone in the one room the group neglected to find.
Thar’s Cults in them thar hills!
The boy rescued and the town set right, the group decides to head into the Sumber Hills to find this Monastery. Gearing up for a few days in the hills, in the morning the group set off. Thogal, now accompanied by a blood hawk named Rex, uses his familiarity with mountain life to set a brisk pace and with the help of the hawk, the group finds a tower on a hill. With a burning wicker man, lots of tents, more tents, and even more tents. This is clearly not the monastery they’re looking for – but a note is made to possibly check this place out later.
The next day, heading more south and towards the river, the group stumbles onto Rivergarde Keep. Which, it turns out, is more of a castle than a keep. And looks fairly well defended, plus isn’t the Monastery. They continue searching, again making a note of the Keep’s location, since Father Elias wants to come back soon.
Finally, the group finds the Monastery, not actually that far from Red Larch. While the rest of the group observes from cover and at a safe distance, Dirkhan makes a recon. He claims to be a weary traveller, and is able to get some water from the stone-masked monk who answers the knock on the door. He also learns this is the Monastery of Stone, that there’s three entrances, and the place seems under-defended.
At this point, there’s some discussion of whether or not to do a hard recon (kick in the doors and start killing anyone who resists) or a soft recon (sneak in and look around), but nothing is decided before we break for the night.