The party returns to Theradyn and rests, working at their chosen professions, practicing their skills. Garran discovers that by adjusting the tension of the spring in his bracer design, he can turn the utilitarian item into a rather effective short-ranged weapon. He packs the bracer with broken glass and dubs it the Mucksweep Facemangler.
The party took the strange orb to the temple of Heironeous in an effort to have it’s properties identified. The young acolyte tasked with the job was nearly killed by a strange backlash of energy from the orb when he tried standard methods of identification. Confused by this, the party leaves the orb in the care of Father Geolin Orrenti, allowing him some time to study the strange object.
Several days pass uneventfully, and then one evening a letter arrives, bearing the crest of High Councilman Brogan Lassiter. The letter calls them to a private meeting at Lassiter Manor the following day.
They consent, and attend the meeting. There they meet Brogan Lassiter and his steward, a young albino cleric named Aerik. Lassiter expressed his thanks to the party for ending the undead threat from the Monastery and purging the bandits along the Bridge Road. He asked their permission for Aerik to cast a Zone of Truth over the meeting, since they had need to speak to each other with complete honesty, and lacked the time to grow to trust one another implicitly.
Lassiter asked them immediately if they knew of the Faradrim Hand. He explained a bit to them of the history of the Cinderlands, as he was something of a scholar of Faradrim lore. He asked them about the orb, saying he was made aware of it by one of his contacts in the city bazaar when MacElroy’s agents attempted to sell it.
“I have read of it. It is said to be a lock of sorts, binding away the evil power in the Cinderlands. It must have been stolen, plundered by treasure seekers, possibly in the employ of the Hand, possibly not. If it were to be destroyed… I shudder to think what could happen. It is called the Mordan Stone, and there is only one place it will be safe. The enchantments protecting the stone weaken the further it is carried from the Cinderlands, the stone becomes brittle… weakens. It must be returned to it’s place, and hidden away from those who would seek to destroy it. I implore you… complete this task. For all of our sakes. I know where the stone need be taken. I have pored over forgotten maps, and long lost writings detailing the stone’s proper resting place. We must leave, at once.” “I implore you. You know the words I speak to be true.
The party debated whether or not to trust Lassiter, but eventually consented due mostly to the Zone of Truth spell over the meeting area. The following morning, the retrieved the stone from Father Orrenti, and meeting Lassiter at the gates, rode hard for the Cinderlands. Near midday the following day, they reached the place indicated on Lassiter’s maps. Lassiter’s soldiers drag back a huge stone slab in the ruins, revealing a stone staircase into darkness.
“Within, if this book is correct, will be a large stone plinth of some kind. A gold cradle, built for the stone, designed to focus it’s warding powers, and to keep it safe. There may be traps, be wary. Once the stone has been replaced, return to me, and we will reseal the chamber for good. My men and I will depart, back to the banks of the Greyribbon, and make camp. We will return at sunset tomorrow, and the following day, and the day after that. If three days pass and you have not returned from the crypt, we will have to assume that you were killed inside, and we will reseal the chamber, caving in the entrance if possible to prevent the stone being removed again. Good luck to you all.”
The party descend into the crypt, navigating traps and several ancient puzzles. They finally reach the end, and discover the golden cradle Lassiter had described. They place the orb in the cradle, and immediately, they can tell something is wrong. The crypt begins to shake, loose stones clattering down, huge lengths of chain begin to drop from the darkness above, and the cradle itself glows white-hot and melts, sending the orb rolling from the pedestal.
Garran snatched up the orb and the party fled the catacombs, dodging falling rocks and shadowy hands grasping from the darkened alcoves along the way. They escape the tomb, and make their way across the blasted landscape towards the Greyribbon river, and Lassiter’s camp. When they arrive, they discover that he has been joined by more soldiers, now numbering nearly fifty. Brogan Lassiter and Aerik ride out to meet the party alone, but well within shouting distance to the armed soldiers standing ready behind them.
Lassiter thanks the party for helping him free Mordan. He refuses to answer any of their questions and mockingly urges them to flee for their lives before night falls and Mordan emerges from his tomb. He offers them horses to make good their escape, and turns to ride back to his waiting soldiers. The party is enraged at the betrayal, and despite being horribly outnumbered, Mariss puts an arrow through Aerik’s left eye, killing him instantly. Barely restraining his rage, Lassiter rescinds his offer of the horses and drags Aerik’s limp corpse onto his own saddle, and rides back to his forces.
The party watched in helpless frustration as Lassiter and his men dismantle their camp and ride out, leaving them stranded in the knee deep drifts of grey ash and the fields of stunted yellow grasses of the Cinderlands, the ground trembling slightly beneath their feet.