Uniting to pursue Mara, our heroes liaison with Urik’s Lieutenant Obe, a weathered military man with a small pair of spectacles. He and his staff are sent by Hamanu to accompany the group to the Forest Crescent to ensure they traverse safely. It is discussed in secret that these soldiers are likely also being sent as spies.
A few days deep in to the travels, the filthy sea shanties Samm has been teaching the soldiery are cut off by the bad news that they are traveling head first in to an alkaline swamp. The terrain proves to be rather treacherous, and even the air is difficult to breathe there. They soon find themselves ambushed, to the front by a great black drake and to the rear by several Otyughs. Obe’s men put down the plant creatures while our heroes lay the drake to rest.
Emerging from the other side of the swamp, they continue their journey up towards the Forest Crescent. Its terrain is extremely strange for that of Athas, and a little disorienting for everyone involved. Rikard at this time spots a wyvern off in the distance, dashing a Noh against the rocks to slay its dinner. Shortly thereafter, the Nohs begin to stampede, and our heroes are forced to find creative ways to elude the impending Noh hooves.
They become separated from Obe’s men in the confusion, and wind up arriving just in time to be ambushed by a xenophobic cannibalistic halfling tribe. Struck with darts laced with sleeping poison, they wake up in the halflings’ camp. Though they are bound and being prepared as dinner, a shaman intervenes and calls for their release due to some persuasive chatting and the culture friendly “magic” of Samm and Rikard. They discuss their mutual enemies in Mara and her halfling allies, and learn that the two tribes of halflings despise each other. Mara, meanwhile, has been spotted going to a diamond mine that she has some ownership of here.
They descend in to the mine to find her discussing Maddock with the shaman of the rival tribe, the Bone Pickers. Interrupting the discussion, our heroes confront Mara and her shaman, at the same time the Skull Goblet tribe do, and Obe’s men, and even a host of ninja from Nibenay. Samm takes the opportunity to slay Obe, whom he viewed as a spy for Hamanu, and the party pursues Mara out the rapidly collapsing mine tunnel. With their lives on the line, Vorelixen makes a case entirely too convincing of switching sides, and Althaea finds herself distracted by the possibility of being stabbed in the back. Using the most of his strength and an errant mine cart, he’s able to haul Althaea to safety with the blunt end of his glaive, and the group escapes the mountain tunnel just in time to avoid a messy and dusty death.
The case they pleaded was enough, however, for Mara to leave behind a gift of sorts. Several notes, proving the innocence of Vorelixen and her cadre. Plans are hatched to return to Balic.