The Third Twin

5) A Hint of Zest

In which the group returns, and the plot thickens

In the wake of their encounter with the goblins, the heroes spend several hours recuperating. Zito spend their time seemingly conversing with their reunited boyfriend/greatsword, Erdan taught Santee how to (improperly) whittle, and Lapis inadvertently showed off her water-breathing skills. When they eventually reconvened, they briefly entertained the idea of investigating the rumor of duergar, but decided against entering an unnecessary conflict. Instead, they packed up their belongings and made tracks back to Bluegrave to report their success and collect their earnings.

During their return journey, there was brief talk of what the future would look like for the five adventurers. Erdan expressed a desire to keep the band together, as he liked the lot of them and felt that they worked well together. Zito expressed appreciation for the idea, though not in so many words. Lapis was hesitant to commit, admitting that she felt out of her depth in adventuring when she had only set out to research a paper. Erdan managed to convince her to at least consider the idea.


The group arrived back in Bluegrave around midday, and were met with the sight and sounds of construction: work had begun on a palisade which would encircle Bluegrave proper. Deputies, rangers, and civilians could be seen among those laboring on the wall. The group passed by with a nod.

Their first stop was the Statehouse, where they had another near-run-in with Araboot Prishelwink, the town's clockmaster. Erdan took great offense to the gnome's behavior, and instead of continuing to the Rangers' Guild Chapter, he went to the Mayor's office. There, he and Zito met with the receptionist, who assured him that the office was well aware of Araboot's behavior, and he was welcome to fill out a complaint against her. Erdan was unimpressed, and made a veiled threat against the gnome should she run into him again. With that tense moment hanging in the air, Erdan departed the office, with Zito awkwardly following shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, Touma and Lapis went to the Rangers' Guild Chapter and met again with Sharon. They explained that the goblin problem had been taken care of, and presented the head of Rostigar as evidence that the threat had been greater than estimated. Sharon agreed, and paid out an additional 50 gold over the contract's original 50 gold pay. However, in the process of completing the paperwork, Sharon asked for the name of the group, stating that it would make the current and future paperwork much easier. Unsure of what to say, the pair said that they would confer with the group and return with and answer. They departed after a final thank you.

The two pairs reconvened in the Statehouse, but split up again. Wanting to make himself useful, Touma returned to the palisade and offered to help; his offer was gladly accepted. Meanwhile, Erdan, Zito, and Lapis visited the home of Atrivael Loughslae to see how the boy was faring after his return. Asha'dra greeted them, but informed them that Atrivael was currently at the Temple of Heliod. After some refreshments and chitchat, the group departed. Erdan continued on to the Temple, determined to see Atrivael, but Lapis and Zito declined.

As Erdan left, Zito attempted to locate Araboot, to warn and protect her from Erdan's grudge. Unfortunately, it was difficult to see her in the crowds of the marketplace, and so he scaled first the blacksmith shop Charred Ore, then the Statehouse, to get a better vantage point. Doing so attracted attention, however, and he was scolded by several people to cease his climbing. Ignoring them, he gained a little more information about Araboot, then descended from the Statehouse roof through the interior. As he exited, he happened upon Araboot, and succeeded in delivering his enigmatic warning.

Erdan reached the Temple, but did not see Atrivael inside. He only recognized Father Tom Whittier, and after a brief search through the temple's rooms, he approached the Father and asked after Atrivael's whereabouts. Father Tom directed him to the graveyard, where Atrivael was cutting grass, and so Erdan went. 

Upon entering the graveyard, Erdan found Atrivael standing in front of the Grave of the Tyrant, staring at it. Somewhat concerned, he snuck closer, then called out to the boy, but received no reply. Erdan approached, and was shocked to see a dark purplish magical energy was clouding the boy's eyes, which were locked on the sculpture that stood above the mausoleum. Atrivael responded to no stimuli as Erdan tried to get his attention… until Erdan took his hand to pull him away.

In an unnatural movement, Atrivael pulled away and turned to face Erdan wearing a mixed expression of fear and arrogance. As Erdan again tried to carefully approach and coax the boy, Atrivael spoke with a deep, scratchy voice that was not his own. He spoke of the imminent return of some terrible individual bent on destroying worlds, for which the minotaur – identified by the spirit as Moulmeraaz – was once a general. Atrivael defiantly declared that the evil would be defeated, to which the possessed boy replied that the return of "Nixilis" and his generals could not be stopped.

Somewhat freaked out, Erdan tried to knock out Atrivael, with no success. The voice responded by saying that it was merely a herald, and that stopping him would not prevent Nixilis's return. Unfortunately, this seemed to be the end of the herald's message, and he took it upon himself to try to end Atrivael's and Erdan's life with a powerful necromantic explosion before absconding from the boy's body. While it only knocked Erdan to the ground, the spell succeeded in pushing Atrivael to death's door. Afraid for the boy, Erdan carried him from the graveyard while screaming for help. As he approached the Temple, he was met by Father Tom, who hurriedly cast a healing spell on Atrivael… who woke with a horrified gasp. 

Smiling as he saw Atrivael was alright, Erdan promptly passed out…


Seeing the explosion of necromantic energy from town, Zito rushed to the graveyard to investigate. They seemed to almost disregard Erdan and Atrivael, and instead headed for the site of the blast. Unfortunately for them, they found little explanation for what happened except for a wide circle of dead grass, the energy seemingly drained out of it.

Meanwhile, Erdan regained consciousness and, along with Father Tom, helped Atrivael back into the Temple. Taking a seat, the boy explained that he had been in the graveyard when he was drawn to the Grave of the Tyrant. He became inexplicably entranced by the sight of it, and then suddenly felt a foreign presence invade and possess him. Discussing what the spirit had said, Atrivael confirmed that Moulmeraaz was indeed the identity of the minotaur whose skeleton he had tried to raise, but neither he nor Tom were able to offer any more information about Moulmeraaz or Nixilis to Erdan. Instead, Father Tom suggested that they inquire about the supposed demons with Father Latouk Galg, head of the Temple of Heliod in Oldtown just to the south.

Elsewhere, Touma was aiding in the construction of the new wall when he saw a young man come running towards town. The man stopped to converse with a Deputy before continuing further into town. Touma, intrigued, approached the deputy and asked what had transpired, to which the deputy replied that something had happened to Atrivael. Touma then accompanied the man towards the Temple.

Given Atrivael's exhausted state, it was decided to escort the boy back home. They exited the temple and met up with Zito, then met Touma and the deputy further up the road. Eventually, as they neared the town, a larger contingent of deputies and the Constable greeted them. As a few deputies rushed past to investigate the scene of the incident, the crowd now marched towards the Statehouse.

Going to the Constable's Office, they were met by Atrivael's mother Asha'dra, who embraced her son. After some moments of reunion, the two of them were ushered into the interrogation room, along with Father Tom, Atrivael, Zito, and Touma.

The Constable personally oversaw the interview, and so the events of the day were recounted for the elven man. Additionally, it was revealed that Atrivael had initially found the book containing the necromantic rituals in the first floor of the Grave of the Tyrant, but he could not recall a distinct reason for why he had entered at all.

Eventually, the group was also joined by Lapis, who was called in to act as an expert on the Pale Warrior. She corroborated the recounting of the group's initial excursion into the Grave, but could not confirm whether Nixilis or Moulmeraaz were connected to the Pale Warrior. She was able to offer two suggestions in addition to Father Tom's referral: to look for more information among the experts in Iadra, or find some place nearby called Edgeheart that supposedly had little known information regarding the Pale Incursion.

When the Constable was satisfied with the facts he had gathered, he allowed Atrivael to leave, saying that he had not harmed anyone, and the possible transgression that was performing necromantic magic would be left to other authorities. With that (after an unexpected incident with a doorknob), the group departed the Constable's Office. Before fully leaving the Statehouse, however, Touma told the group that the Rangers' Guild wanted them to assign themselves a group name. After a second to consider it, Zito raced to the Guild Chapter and signed the paperwork, dubbing the group ZESTO (an anagram of the members' names).

Once that paperwork was signed and filed, the group returned to the Blue Hearth to discuss their plan. It was largely agreed that Iadra was too far away for what could be a pressing issue. Instead, they decided that Father Tom's suggestion made the most sense, being nearby and well-recommended. With that mostly decided, they went their separate ways for the night.



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