Contingents from Dagna and South Crystalmere meet on the road and head to the Walled City, and descend upon the city hall to discuss the current landmass that has attached itself to the realm. Dolorian welcomes everyone and offers the members Official Response Squad to take the floor. Zorran reports on the haunted village and the castle full of undead, and Momoko and Amaira provide further details about the situation and the wealth of resources. Shan tells them about the “bread”, and Momoko provides a sample that Zorran passes around. Amaira says it is made from something called “wheat”.
The ORS proposes returning to the landmass with a larger force to subdue the undead and attempt to meet with the sorcerer of the castle. In talking about Porthos — the town guardsman — and his dog, Archer, Momoko suggests returning to the town at dusk to see if the people return. Ordan instructs Bekan to show them the dead headless bird, bleeding black like a tiefling. Elbert Grove and Faustina Bystrom (despite a slight from the former toward the latter) agree that the castle is too good an opportunity to pass up.
The troops meet in Dagna to prepare to venture toward the undead castle: six from the Reaving Falcon led by Estarus Gorfasson, four oracles from Dagna, and five samsarans join the squad before they depart, and decide to head to Arven first to see if Porthos and the other villagers have re-appeared.
Upon arrival at the gate, Porthos and Archer are there. Porthos doesn’t remember them, and starts telling them the same stories he spoke about two days ago. When Amaira pushes regarding disappearing during the day, and Porthos says he doesn’t remember going anywhere. Momoko wants to wait until dawn to see what happens to the town of about a thousand people. 20 years ago, something happened at the castle that turned the lord undead, but nobody knows for certain what kind of curse was inflicted. It appeared to not impact the village, according to Porthos.
The party enters the village and decide to check out the Ecstasy of Agony Tavern after a warning from Porthos about the mercenary company visiting the town. Shan notices they are wearing blue uniforms, and remarks on some of the other buildings, including a library and a temple. Amaira notes that the holy symbol belongs to Abraxis, the master of the final incatnation, the demon lord of forbidden lore and magic. This intrigues her, and the four squad members head over to the temple, and Amaira opens the door.
Inside the worship hall is a single room, made up of veined blood-red marble with different colours for each base tile. An altar takes up the back third of the room in the design of brass snakes. The walls are covered in runes written in the infernal language, the basic orisins of divine and sorcery. There are brass snakes on the ceiling as well, and Shan jumps up to grab one. When she points it at Zorran, the mouth opens, and when she lets go, it stays in the same place she left it. They decide to leave this place for future investigation, and resume their walk to the tavern.
About a half-dozen of mercenaries in blue halbards take up a table, and the troops sit down at three empty tables. Belamina introduces herself and takes drink orders. Shan gets her “least sexy thing on the menu”, that looks like a syrupy mess that smells like black liquorice; everyone else tries the local stout or an imported elven wine. When Amaira detects magic, everything appears to be conjured: Belamina, her serving tray, the beer… everything that wasn’t here during the day is a summoned object.
Zorran chats up a hunter in the bar, and eventually gets him to talk about the castle and “his lordship”. His lady wanted to make them more powerful, and sacrificed the people in the castle to gain this power by turing them into demons. The witch-hunter, favoured by the gods, was killed by the demons. The undead put the demons on spikes, and they are said to be still living in the dungeon.
They decide to spend the night at the inn… and Belamina never asks for payment for the drinks or the rooms.