Returning to Hommlet, the party immediately rushes to find Elmo. There, they find Baragustas trying to gather his son. The party quickly relates their story, revealing to Elmo the location of the dead bodies they found; bodies that they suspect are ritual sacrifices of some kind.
Several hours later, Elmo returns to the group with the results of his investigation. With Baragustas’s interrogation, he was able to gather the names of all of the members of the Believers (it turns out that the Believers were the town elders) and arrest them. Hommlet is, of course, scandalized. However, the group notices that the townsfolk are much friendlier toward them.
The following day, the group is approached by a shepherd named Larmon Greenboot, who explains to the group that the Constable was a bit too busy to hear him out, what with the arrest of the Believers and all. He’d heard what the group has been doing for the town, and wanted to bring to their attention some shallow graves he had found not too far from the Kron hills. If the party wants to investigate, he’d be more than happy to show them where they are.
The group considers this, but first decides to go speak with Jaroo (who has just returned) to get his news. Jaroo tells the group that evil is again stirring in the area, but he’s not sure if it’s associated with the old temple or not. He asks Gilbane if he would like to join the Old Faith. Gilbane accepts, and Jaroo asks him to investigate rumors of a bandit camp near Hommlet in the hopes that Gilbane can learn more information.
The group decides to head to the graves first. Following the kind shepherd, they come to a hill that rests in the shadow of a large tower that Larmon identifies as Feathergale Spire. A group of nobles from Verbobonc resides there, helping to patrol and defend the countryside while riding on their monstrous mounts; hippogrifs and giant vultures, mostly. They call themselves the Feathergale Knights.
The hill holds four shallow graves. One grave has been partially dug up by local wildlife, and the group sees that the body is that of one of the dwarves in the delegation. Digging up the other three, they find that one is a human female that Ciandara recognizes as one of the guards in the delegation. One of the other bodies wears the strange stone armor that the group has now seen numerous times, and one of them wears a white robe with black crow feathers at the shoulders.
Hoping that the nearby tower has further information, the group works its way up the mountainside, leaving the shepherd Larmon behind.
Once the group reveals that they are peaceful, the Feathergale Knights lower their drawbridge and invite the group in. The Knight Lieutenant, Savra Belabranta, tells the group that their arrival is fortuitous, as today is the day of the tenth anniversary of the Feathergale Knights. She guides the group upstairs to the pinnacle of the tower to meet the Lord Commander, Thurl Merosska.
Merosska is an older man, still in his prime. He boisterously greets the group and spends a short amount of time describing the Knights. He then asks the group if they would like to partake of his hospitality and join him and his knights for a celebratory dinner.
In the dining hall, Merosska asks the group to tell him the tale of their journeys. Gilbane spends the next few minutes explaining their journey; the bandits, finding the necromancer at Lance Rock, the tomb of the fallen knight, and the tale of the Believers. Merosska, impressed, calls a toast to the party’s valor. At this time, a guard bursts into the room and shouts, “Manticore! It’s on the move!”
Merosska and the other knights immediately scramble, leaving their food untouched. Merosska holds up a ring, saying, “We should take the opportunity to slay this beast! A prize to the one who brings me its head.”
There is a loud cheer from the knights, and they rush to the stables. Merosska asks the group if they would like to join in the hunt, and Sulannus, Grayd, and Gilbane readily agree. Alexander and Ciandara decide to stay behind, wishing to investigate their suspicions.
Merosska graciously offers three hippogrifs, and the group takes to the sky. Since it is night, they only have the full moon as their guide, and the thick fog and clouds that blanket the canyons below them make it difficult to see their prey. Gathering into formation with four of the Feathergale knights, each riding giant vultures, the group begins tracking the manticore. Eventually, they see it moving closer to the canyons and dive down to attack.
The manticore is a much slower flyer than the vultures and hippogrifs. The four knights move in close, attacking with their spears, and the manticore retaliates, forcing two of the knights to withdraw with serious injuries. Sulannus and Gilbane attack from a distance with bows, and Graeyd calls out a blessing to make their attacks more accurate. The knights attack again, once again wounding the manticore, and it strikes back, killing one of the vultures, causing the vulture’s rider to fall to his death, despite Sulannus’s valiant efforts to dive and save the knight. The fourth knight is forced to withdraw, leaving only Gilbane, Sulannus, and Graeyd to defeat the creature. Victorious, the group descends to the body and retrieve its head so that they can return to the tower.
Meanwhile, Alexander and Ciandara begin their investigation. Starting on the bottom floor, they move their way upward, finding several rooms with men wearing white cloaks with black feathers at their shoulders, similar to the one they found in the grave outside. Ciandara, now suspicious, goes to the kitchen to ask for some tea as a distraction, allowing Alexander to roam the tower more freely. Alexander eventually finds the Lord Commander’s rooms, finding a letter that gives him pause:
We are pleased to hear about the outcome of your altercation with the Black Earth cult, and we praise you for the capture of one of their prisoners. This noblewoman from Veluna has an interesting tale to tell, and we shall enjoy interrogating her further. Keep a close watch on the Sacred Stone Monastery. I want to know what our enemy is planning next.
Your beloved queen,
Keeping this letter in mind, Alexander returns to Ciandara, and the two of them head to the tower’s pinnacle.
Merosska praises the returning hunters, handing Sulannus his ring. He then pulls her aside, going over to a spyglass and briefly angling. Looking in, he nods to himself and asks Sulannus to look.
In the moonlight, she can just make out a large building; what looks like a monastery. Behind her, Merosska says, “Great evil lurks in these hills. Depraved cultists led by wretched monsters. I believe that the source of the evil that you seek lies in that monastery below. It is known as the Sacred Stone Monastery, and I believe that they are tied to those men with the strange stone armor that you found. If you wish to investigate, I wish you good fortune.”
He offers to allow the group to rest here for the night so that they can continue their journey in the morning. The party agrees, and guides the group downstairs.
Savra pulls Sulannus aside, telling her that she and Merosska are both greatly impressed with her deeds. She would like to know if Sulannus would be willing to join the Feathergale Knights, revealing that they seek to master Elemental Air so that they can defeat the enemies of Verbobonc. Sulannus promises to consider the offer, and the group gathers together to discuss Alexander’s revelations before resting for the night.
The party is now 3rd level.