The party of undead slayers spent two days aboard the Moon Gazer as they headed back to the Isle of the Good Lich. The sailing was fine and they had a chance to mend their armor, reflect on their battles, and heal their wounds. They arrived in the bay and, after dropping anchor, left the crew on the Moon Gazer and headed to shore. They were dutifully met by the Dock Guardian, who led them through the well manicured island. The Gate Guardian let them into the courtyard of the cottage and into the house of St. Julius, who was not happy. From the moment they entered a very cross St. Julius castigated the party for playing with the Deck of Many things. “You were given a mission to slay undead, not to take unnecessary risks for your own lust for power. Now look at what happened – Black Dagger’s mind has fled, not that anyone can tell.”
St. Julius gave them the choice of continuing on their missions straight away, or rescuing Black Dagger’s mind. Fortunately, his mind was still on the same plane of existence and on the same planet – way up North in the Equatorial Wastes where the hot sun blazed. He warned them of a dragon that was working with some pale skinned humanoids who seemed to have Black Dagger’s mind in a crystal. St. Julius gave them some magical horses that transported them nearby in an instant. But, before they left, St. Julius took Ryktbar aside. He had other business for Ryktbar, who would not be venturing into the hot northern wastes to save his friend.
They landed on the other side of the mountains from the valley that contained the fortress where Black Dagger’s mind was located. The started to cross the mountains up through a path, but the hot sun bore down hard on them. The rested for awhile, but decided to travel mostly at night. But, they were unfortunately ambushed by brigands in the mountain passes A stream of cross-bow bolts came from nowhere, and a spell was cast which caused roots to grow up at their feet. The party was split in two halves. The front half was set upon by several warriors, while two thieves snuck up and back-stabbed James the angry. But, after the initial surprise wore off, the party was able to quickly put the robbers down until their leader cried for quarter. Sage quickly charmed him. They got some information out of him, though James the Angry killed the other surviving prisoner. The party also found another victim of the highwaymen – Girard (Guyard?, Geuerd?). In thanks for the rescue, Girard pledged his allegiance to James the Angry.
After continuing through the night, a magical shelter was cast and the leader of the thieves was interrogated. He provided some information, but several of the players were suspicious that he might turn on them if Sage’s charm wore off. He was sent on his way, but killed by a magic missile to the back from James. This may have been the last straw for The Huntress, as James’s prayers of healing ceased to be answered shortly thereafter.
After waiting in the shelter all day, the players after dusk headed down to the valley. There, they they spotted three enormous boulders that lay some what out of place on the dry flat desert valley floor. Into each was carved a fortress. Before being killed (murdered?) the leader of the robbers told the adventures that the names of the three fortresses were “The Dwarf”, “The Woodpecker” and “The Ear”. They activated their magical horses and quickly rode across the night time desert floor, anxious to avoid the gaze of the dragon. The entered, somewhat haphazardly, into the fortress called the Dwarf. As they entered into an enormous dark semi-circular room, they noticed a floor littered with bones just before they were set upon by the residents – a family of manticores. Though large, they were no match for experienced wizards and warriors. All four were dispatched without casualties.