The following morning, the group decides to head out, moving to find the bandits that Jaroo was looking for. Merosska again offers his hospitality and encourages them to investigate the Sacred Stone monastery.
A few hours after leaving the spire, Sulannus mentions her encounter with the lieutenant and the offer she received to join the Feathergale Knights. Alexander explains what he found in the letter, and the group determines that the knights were likely not the beneficent group they were pretending to be. This is further confirmed soon after when a pair of winged humanoids descends on the group and asks to parlay.
The pair are creatures known as Aarakocra. The leader introduces himself as K’Rawk. He spends several minutes asking what the group was doing at the spire. After determining that the group are, in fact, not members of the Feathergale Knights, K’Rawk begins telling them of many of the things that he and his fellow tribe members have witnessed. He informs them of the sacrifices to a being known as Yan-C-Bin, shows them the symbol that the air cultists are using, and asks them to be careful if they return. The group bids K’Rawk farewell, and continues on.
A day later, several hours south of Hommlet, the group finds a large party of bandits camped out near the Velverdyva river, which leads up to Hommlet. Apparently, the bandits were using this well fortified area to attack any river boats heading to the village.
Alexander spends some time sneaking around the camp, identifying one strange individual who was apparently the leader of the group. He then heads back to the party and describes the area. Because it is now evening, the party moves to try to ambush the bandits.
The party sets themselves up for an ambush, easily surprising the bandits. However, the enemy quickly mobilizes and mounts a dangerous defense; the enemy leader casts a light spell out into the woods to illuminate the party, and the bandits use archers to target the group. Meanwhile, several warriors move forward to intercept the companions. Fortunately, the ambush is successful, and the companions swiftly dispatch the enemy.
The leader, they find, seems to be some sort of priest. Considering his skill at casting spells of water, the group determines that this must be a member of the water cultists after finding a fourth symbol. The group is now certain that the old temple must be awakening; if it’s not the one near Nulb, then it must be a new one that the cultists are trying to bring into power. Sulannus suspects that the cultists must be at war with each other, too, especially considering the efforts that the Feathergale knights were going through to get the group to investigate the Sacred Stone monastery.
After some discussion, the group decides to head there.
The journey through the Kron hills is difficult, but eventually they arrive at the small building. After doing a brief survey of the monastery and the surrounding countryside, the group finds 2 entrances and a walled garden in the back.
The group knocks on the front door, and a short time later a small panel opens. Peering out is a person wearing a golden gargoyle mask. She rudely asks what they want.
“We are looking for the delegation that went missing near here,” Graeyd remarks.
“They aren’t here,” the woman says before slamming the panel closed.
Several more attempts at conversation are rudely rebuffed, and the party withdraws, deciding to wait until nightfall to try to sneak into the building.
That evening, the group sneaks around to the garden. Alexander spends a few minutes struggling with the lock on the gate, but eventually they are able to move in.
The garden is not very well maintained. Most of the plants here are dying or overgrown, though it is clear that the monks have cleared out a few footpaths through the overgrowth. Several statues stand amongst the weeds and foliage, however, and the party carefully moves in.
Immediately, three of the statues spring to life. The gargoyles descend on the group, who find that their weapons are not very effective against the creatures. Alexander seems to be the only one who can effective wound the beasts, and only when he uses his new dagger.
After finally defeating the monsters, the group moves to one of the two doors that lead into the building. They take the south one, moving down a dark hallway that has several closed doors.
One door opens into an obvious distillery; casks of wine, presses, and copper tubing crowd the room. A second door opens into a small dormitory. One corner has a cot, the other a desk, which is occupied by a robed woman. Ciandara tries to pretend to be one of the monks within the monastery, but the woman immediately knows she is lying and shouts an alarm.
Ciandara, Alexander, and Gilbane move to surround the woman, who then proceeds to soundly thrash the three of them with her fists.
Meanwhile, a group of monks bursts into the hallway, hearing the alarm. Seeing Sulannus and Graeyd, they move forward to attack. Sulannus and Graeyd move into the room with the rest of their group and slam the door shut.
Soon, Ciandara is unconscious. The woman continues to single-handedly attack Gilbane and Alexander, and the other monks break down the door, surrounding Graeyd. Sulannus uses a Burning Hands to scorch several of the enemy, and then moves to another corner so that she can help the paladin and rogue against the woman.
Eventually, the party defeats the group. Deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, the battered group withdraws to lick their wounds.