“Yes having tea with Petha, let’s go!”
Seconds later, the Drow’s Bane appear in the Catchbreeze sanctuary dedicated to Tempus feeling excited to see their old friend again. They make their way onto the gardens and toward the house, when the sound of hooves can be heard coming toward them. A familiar large pig comes into view, charging toward them like a dog who has not seen its owner in a long time. Royce and Naismith see Tusker and big smiles come over their faces; they hold out their arms ready to embrace him. Except Tusker halts his trod fifteen feet in front of them and just stares at Nong for a long time; Tusker sniffs the air, looks confused and then a little frightened before quickly turning around and running towards the house. Nong stares back watching the animal who easily showed its affection toward the monk before, now dash away the moment it sees his old friend; Nong grunts in disgust. Royce and Naismith glance at each other, taking in the reality of their situation.
As the open dining room comes into view, the Drow’s Bane see Petha at the table talking and laughing with the ranger, Illian, who turns around to see the party. She smiles, gets up from the table and approaches; she hugs Royce, Naismith and Nong and then greets Mordrock. Petha is up from the table getting drinks and food for the newly returned; “Sirs, there are packages for you from ‘Wizards of the Coast’; I placed them on the small table over there,” she points.
Together the old party catch up and share their adventures; Illian explains she is in town to consult with the temple on her mother’s sickness and she is still looking for her father who may have knowledge of a cure. Royce, Mordrock and Naismith share with her about Ft. Morninglord, Skullport and the mind flayer hive. She notices Nong is not present and looks around for him; Royce and Naismith pick up on this and share with her how it is best he stay at least 300 feet away due to the wand’s corruption.
She turns her attention to Mordrock, examines him briefly and begins to inquire how he became part of the Drow’s Bane. “I hear you now have a room here at Catchbreeze, yes?” she says to Mordrock, as she looks away, feeling a little caught up in the moment. Mordrock nods and begins to share with her, how he joined the party and what his calling in life is meant to serve. She listens intently and engages in conversation, after realizing how Mordrock’s character is a good fit for the party.
After lunch is served, Illian, Royce and Naismith take Petri and Tusker for a walk. Away from the others, Naismith talks about Nong and the wand of Orcus, the impact it has had on the party and how they must find a way to destroy it.
Illian stops and looks at Royce, “How can you let this happen? I thought you would be the one to protect the group from this evil. And where is Kendall in all of this?”
“You do not understand Illian, the wand killed me when I touched it and it almost took over Naismith. Only Nong has been strong enough to wield it without too much damage,” Royce replies. “And as for Kendall we do not know what has happened to him; we think he is still helping King Battlehammer in Gauntlgrym but I am having my doubts now.” Royce and Naismith share how they have become an interest of Glasya, an arch devil from Hell, how the influence of Orcus is growing through demonic cults and how the demon they encountered in Ft. Morninglord, called out to Nong as if it knew him.
“I am sorry and offer my apology, I can see how all of this is taking a toll on you guys,” says Illian as she clasps each of their shoulders with a good squeeze. “I wish I was here to help you deal with it,” she says looking somewhat sad, somewhat guilty. Royce and Naismith both nod in agreement and then embrace her with a big hug.
On the walk back to Catchbreeze, Naismith describes how his brother is now at Catchbreeze under extraordinary circumstances.
“AND, Petha shared with me just now before we left, Lulach and Djanni are now an item!”
“An item?” says Royce looking a bit confused.
“Yes, Petha has noticed them holding hands and spending a lot of time together,” replies Naismith looking at Royce.
“Even with those eyes,” grins Royce.
Naismith lets Illian in on the joke about the condition of Lulach’s eyes and how he allegedly got that way. “I hope this is a reflection of my brother turning over a new page in his life,” sighs Naismith.
Illian stays for dinner and even gets Nong to spend a few minutes at the table with her before he gets up, tells her good bye and leaves. After dinner, she walks around Catchbreeze saying good bye to the staff and then goes into her old room. Moments later she returns with several scarves. “I made these for each of you while on my travels; each are a gift from me to you,” she smiles. Illian hands Royce a vermilion and goldenrod scarf with a tiny motif of swords and axes; then also hands Royce an auburn and cream scarf with an abstract motif of clouds and waves. “Please give that one to Nong when you see him.” She turns to Naismith and selects a black and plum scarf with a motif of keys and lock-picks and hands it to him. “And finally this one is for you Petha,” as she hands Petha a cherry and chocolate scarf with a motif of leaves and small flowers. “That is so sweet mistress Illian, thank you so much,” replies Petha.
There is an awkward silence as Mordrock looks down and steps back from the group. “I have one for you too Mordrock,” says Illian as Mordrock looks up much surprised to hear this. “Yonica is finishing up weaving your scarf for me and she should be done in a few days. It is white with a motif of various multi-colored cats.” Mordrock replies, “Thank you, that is very kind of you to include me.”
“Well I now must go and return to my duties with the Emerald Enclave,” says Illian as she takes several minutes to say her goodbyes to Royce, Naismith, Petha and Mordrock. She then calls to Tusker who is not far away, who comes running up to the group sniffing everyone before rubbing up against Illian’s leg. Illian gives Tusker a big scratch and together both ranger and pig walk out toward the street. As she leaves Catchbreeze, she turns around one more time, looks at the Drow’s Bane, smiles and gives a hearty wave before disappearing into the night.