The bodies of their enemies yield quite a bit of loot, which is summarily dumped into Envar’s Bag of Holding to be properly examined and divvied later. Among them is a thick staff – wand-sized to a giant but staff-sized to smallfolk like the party – made of metal, and a brass lantern studded with green gems. There’s also a sack of silver and a smaller sack of gold. Korotir retrieves his eyeball trophy and their proof of giant-slaying.
Down in the bottom of the pit, the party discovers the giant was not mining for gold, but unearthing an arched shape of pure platinum, studded with short triangular spikes. It is still deeply embedded and would be a lot of work to remove it. There is talk of “stargates,” whatever those are. The party will tell Snail about it and ask for a finder’s fee.
As they head back to Daggerford, they meet with Voldric Firehammer waiting outside the gates to the town. Seems he’s run into a deadend in Waterdeep – no one will work with him after he mentions he’s working with the party, and the ban he worked to get removed has been reinstated. The party suggests possibly the Snail can help get flying mounts, since he seems so well connected, but Voldrick is suspicious.
In the Shining River tavern, the Snail congratulates them on a job completed, and gives them their reward – a thousand gold pieces to be distributed as they choose. He asks for an introduction to their new friend, which is given.
“And what… do you… want?”
Voldrick explains his predicament. The Snail can’t help him get flying mounts, but he can help them figure out why the Lord’s Alliance in Waterdeep is being obstructive. It seems he has a friend who is… a paper enthusiast… who knows the paper Korotir and Titan’s contracts are on is the same kind as is used to issue their Ban from Waterdeep.
He can find the person, but he will need Titan and Korotir to pose for a job. Korotir is skeptical of leaving Natalia. The Snail has an answer for that: “Willy. You can… come down, now.”
Another halfling drops from the rafters, decked out in rogueish weaponry. He’ll be accompanying the party while Titan and Korotir are away. Titan challenges Willy to a duel to see who’s better. Willy flees. Titan scoffs, only to be scared when Willy shows up a few seconds later (“Boo!”), completely unnoticed. Titan agrees maybe Willy is as good as he is.
Natalia asks what the price of this help is. The Snail says there is no charge – he is proving his usefulness to the party and vice versa, so they will hear him out in the future.
Titan and Korotir agree to the mission, if reluctantly. The rest of the party, minus Tranled, who also has some business with the Snail to accomplish, discuss their options. Perhaps going back to the ex-cultist Druid they left in Goldenfields would be helpful? He did ride a giant Vulture, perhaps he knows where to get ahold of some flying mounts. As the only real lead, they pack up to head that way.
It’s roughly ten days from Daggerford to Goldenfields by way of the Trade Roads that go by Waterdeep, even with the horses the Snail lends them. Titan and Korotir travel with them part of the way. < not explicitly GM stated, assuming >
26 Marpenoth 1486
The party meets back up with Lata with some awkward re-introductions. Lata has been enjoying living with the druids and learning so much about how not to be a cultist. He does miss flying though, and has managed to learn where his Vulture went – back to the Howling Hatred temple in the Forlorn Hills. He’s pretty sure there’s multiple mounts there and is willing to guide and teach the party how to make friends with the vultures if they’ll help him. Deal!
Before the party leaves for the nearby hills, they let Orin know about his sister. He promises them an epic party when they return from their expedition.
It takes two days to cover the rough terrain into the Forlorn Hills and the old Temple of Air on a cliffside…
28 Marpenoth 1486
The Temple of Air is a repurposed old Dwarven city, now in ruins. Voldrick is aghast at the desecration of his peoples’ monuments. There’s some talk about how to get into Temple without arousing suspicion – they’ll send in Lata first, as a legit “cultist” to go get robes for the rest of them so they can pass as cultists. Willy will sneak along with him as backup. Voldrick asks Willy how good he is at deception and Willy convinces Voldrick he’s really a gnome. Voldrick believes him.
This, predictably, goes badly. Lata gets into a fight with the first group of cultists he runs into, who don’t believe he’s really a member, and the rest of the party rushes to his aid. Envar is once again the best with a bow, though Willy is also frighteningly competent.
They spot a couple of Kenku running deeper within the Temple to warn the rest of the cultists still living here. Lata remembers there are some Very Bad Things further in that they do not want to meet, and the party runs for it. If they can get around the step-pyramid in the middle before the alarm is raised, they’ll be able to escape on the vultures.
Willy and Voldrick fly on Willy’s magical Owl Figurine, Natalia waterbends away water in the moat and Atarah goes with her, Lata transforms into an octopus and swims the moat, and Envar dashes along the outside. The flying Owl attracts the attention of a Wyvern and Rider from the top of the pyramid, who flies down to the attack. The Owl is knocked back into a figurine, dumping Voldrick and Willy into the water. Lata rescues Voldrick from going over a waterfall, and Willy has a ring of Swimming, so he’s fine. The Wyvern turns its attention to Envar. Envar gets enough shots in to kill the rider, then dives into the water with the rest of the party before the Wyvern itself can return the favor.
They make it to the other side while the Wyvern is searching for them, having lost track in the water. There’s a pair of Kenku and a trio of cultists guarding the entrance to the Vulture aeries, but the party takes them out easily without damaging their cultist robes, which they need to gain the Vultures’ trust. Atarah drags a dead cultist with her into the Vultures’ graveyard aerie.
Lata casts Speak with Animals and explains they need the Vultures’ help to escape. There’s a big wake of them, easily enough to get mounts for the whole group, absent members included, and they all gather around to listen to Lata’s promises of ample food. Atarah cuts open the belly of the dead cultist and dumps the corpse on the ground in front of the Vultures, who commence to feeding. Willy offers them water, and the Vultures are now appeased enough to be saddled.
As they begin saddling though, there is an evil hiss from the aerie doors. The Wyvern has found them and tries to get through, but is slightly too large. Everyone gets saddled, except Voldrick, who simply hangs on for dear life as the Vultures take off – the whole kettle of them, ridden and not.
The wyvern chases them, but between Natalia’s Flee commands and Envar’s arrows, is swiftly discouraged. The party is free to fly wherever they want. It is three days flight’ to Daggerford, and only an hour or so to Goldenfields.