The party continued along the North Loop westward from Lake Besmus. On the forth day out, they came across a band of soldiers from the King’s Army. As they approached, they saw the soldiers were gathered around the charred remains of a person in the road.
The remains were too burnt, and out in the road there was no way he had accidentally set himself aflame and died. He was burned over a period of time in a very hot fire. Yet, there’s was no indication of a brush pile or other evidence of struggle.
Variel identified traces of arcane magic in the area, but was able to identify little else. His best assesment, as well as Deldund’s turns out to be an extra-planar being used to consume the victim, likely an fire elemental or something similar.
The only local individuals the guards can think of capable of that are a little known group of extremists known as Droods. They have an elusive history of targeting individuals that encroach upon their self-claimed territory. The soldiers don’t appear to have any reason to doubt the theory, but without even knowing who this is, there’s little more for them to do. Deldund performs rites on the remains, and the group continues on with a new-found respect for the dangers of the western foothills.
A couple of days further into their journey, after waking and preparing themselves for travel, the party was ambushed just outside of their camp.
After a short battle, in which the enemy utilized a couple of lack-luster methods to try containing Ishrana Swaythe and Variel, the party soundly ran off their attackers. Two were captured, however, and they were all to eager to spill information under Ishrana and Deldund’s explanation of justice in the eyes of Gods.
The man responsible for the attack is one Spooner Brickler, a half-orc career criminal that apparently works for Murdock out of Port of Isles. The pair of thugs the party captured were paid by Spooner to help him capture or kill Variel. The purse for a live capture was 10,000 kingmarks, an incredible sum.
With that size of a bounty on Variel’s capture, they need to make sure word doesn’t get very far. Ishrana is adamant the criminals be served justice by the authorities. At her insistance, they bring one of the criminals to the nearest army fort. The other they release in an attempt to track him back to his boss after they brand him the Kard tradition.
The army Catain at the fort is less than comforting to their concerns. They’re told they’ll have to wait up to two weeks for the magistrate to arrive so they can go before him to make official charges. To Ishrana’s chagrin, the party decides to pursue their hunt for the Blade of Tevidus. There’s no time to waste on a captured petty thug. They leave him in the hands of the soldiers and continue their journey to Sandwatch. A few days later, the ivory city appears in the distance…