Day breaks and the glow on the horizon has faded. Dael paces back and fourth anxiously waiting for the party to get moving. The party hurried back to the ruin to gather their horses as a gentle dusting of ash rained from the sky.
The party rode full speed to Crimbury, stopping only once for Dael to identify some strange tracks.
Massive hoof prints.
... Minotaurs... Several of them.
The party head closer to the destroyed town, dismounting and attempting to move silently through the splintered gate. A ferocious bellow confirms Dael's suspicions and the beast takes his fury out on the collapsed side of a building.
As the party collect their thoughts and formulate a plan, muffled screams are heard from inside the shattered building. The Minotaur reaches his arm into the rubble and pulls out a red bloody chunk.
The party rushes into action, launching a volley of spells, hexes and ranged weapons. Exhausted, the minotaur breaks free and recklessly charges Rilken. The resulting clash is all the minotaur could take. He falls to Rilken's blade just as his axe was coming down.
Liyal has survived the onslaught and has even managed to protect four halfing children. She wears the ring London gave her explaining that she was unable to resist doing so. She claims that eight men in blue cowls came to the town and twelve halflings donned blue cowls also. She was unable to resist putting the ring on, but as the warning said, it did indeed attract minotaurs.
Dael and Al detect several more minotaur heading their direction and formulate a plan. Dael and Liyal will ride out of town with the ring on Liyal and hopefully draw the monsters away. They ride south but Liyal is unable to resist the allure of the ring again, claiming that it will "show her where to find them..."
She forces Dael off of the horse and continues galloping south. Dael hides in the brush as the minotaurs rush by. When she arives back at the ruins of Crimbury, the rest of the party has gathered approximately 400 survivors of the initial population of 1300. The survivors explain that the blue cowled men were definitely looking for something. They hurled fire as they gathered their allies. Twelve young halfings, all close friends of Tuck Bucklebough Jr. donned similar dark blue cowls and joined in the mayhem. They fled East when the minotaurs arrived.
Not knowing who the cowled ones were or where they were going, the party had a tough decision to make. Do they head South, following Liyal, or do they head East following the cowled group? Al brings up Illiaphs noble family connections, but his request is met with an icy glare.
The party debate for some time. Interested in finding a library to do some research on the items and cultists, but knowing that they can't let Liyal get too far away with the minotaurs on her trail, they rush after Liyal.
Three days later they reach the edge of the Sunnsir desert. Daels favourite terrain.
With her as a guide they move quickly through the blowing sand until they reach the Sunnuth Delta and the city of Sunnuth. The minotaur tracks lead across a series of wooden bridges and piers across the muddy delta.
They ask several merchants about the minotaurs but they refuse to barter information for free. It's expensive but they are pointed in the direction of a importers guildhall...
The importers guildhall is heavy with strange cinnamon scented incense. The party feels dizzy as they head inside.
Shaking off the cynnas stick smoke, Rilken sees two other kenku picking through an assortment of small trinkets. His sharp eyes spot a familiar silver ring with a blue gemstone. As he and Dael approach, the ring disappears into the kenkus robes.
Rilken and the two chat for a while before a trade is struck. The ring is traded for a large satchel of gold jewelry found in London's ruin and information on where they found it. The kenku, calling themselves Corbin and Kangee explain that they pick-pocketed it off a strange young woman while she was talking to a Gnome. Corbin doesn't remember what they talked about but Kangee remembers they said something about a circus in Carrefour.
Illiaph, Al and Shalazar begin asking around about the minotaurs but everyone they ask gently pats a copper pin on their shirt. The pin depicts the floral crest of house Legault and they are instructed to ask Guildmaster Lassandra Legault.
Lady Legault sits on a round cushion flanked by four hobgoblin guards. She eyes the three as they walk up and introduce themselves.
"So you're Thorben's boy mmm? The one that was exiled? I hear he's so proud. Thorben and I never did get along. He was always a stuffy bore and I never liked him. Oh what he would think of this... I'll do whatever I can to help you along, as long as he hears about it and knows it was me. What can I do for you?"
The party explain that they requite access to a library to do some historical research.
"By all means. My public records and historical archive is right this way"
She leads them to a large circular room with shelves and racks of books and scrolls. Two minotaurs guard a large doorway on the other side.
"Don't mind the Minotaur. They're just here to prevent thieves from breaking in the back. I should look into new security though. They do tend to wander off."
The party spend days researching the items they have, the coweld wizards, London's ruin and come up with some answers.
Lasandras ancestor, Jodando Legault once dealt with someone fitting the cowled wizards description. In his ancient memoir the party find something useful.
The other items seem to point towards a network of shadowy pools and may be portals to the Umbreal plane. Use of a portal requires activation with a Shadow Key, a scepter like rod of shadowstuff.
Investigating shadow items and the umbreal plane they come across many places including the Pool of Vis in the city of Shra on Narrock, The Deepblack beneith the worldcavern city of Ironwell, the Umbreal Door which seals the twin cities of Kolzamor and Kalzomar.
The party come to the conclusion that the shadowy mace that Rilken gave to Terron Blackwell was one of these keys. They wonder what Blackwell would want with such an item as they wish Lasandra Legault farewell and board a ship for Wingar.
Only time will tell...