We all go asleep in the vault, with Salthor keeping first watch. He casts Aura of Vitality on me while I sleep, helping to heal my wounds. Nothing happens on Salthor's watch, and Sven eventually takes the second half. At some point, she hears a thump in a nearby room, and a pained grunt. She goes to check it out, and sees a Dwarf, leaning down, grasping a wound at his side. She goes over and asks what happened.
"They were everywhere…we lost 'em all…"
"Who as everywhere? The silver children?"
"Aye. You've seen them?"
"You've fought them?"
"Not personally. I have friends who have fought them."
The Dwarf tells her he found this room on his way back up; Sven uses Lay On Hands to heal him a bit, stopping the bleeding. The Dwarf thanks her, and asks what she is doing here, and if she is alone. She tells him, no, that there are people with her. He asks if there is a way out, and Sven tells him there is, but that he should stick with the group. The Dwarf nods, and passes out. Sven takes him back to the rest of the group, props him up, and resumes her watch. She thinks more on the words she hear, though none of them make sense. One word does stand out, the name of her god, but the rest is not the Draconic she grew up knowing. She hears scuttling down the great hall, though none of it comes any closer.
We all wake up and see the Dwarf; he is indeed one of the Dwarves that was with Salthor, Arter, and I, and appears to be the only survivor. I treat his wounds, waking him up by relocating his shoulder. He introduces himself as Tholl. Talking to him about what happened, we find out about another passage out. We decide to take it, and he leads us to it; it is a hidden door, much like the one we used to get into here, and Phallo uses the phrase he did before to open it. We head down a narrow hall, for hours. Eventually, it opens into a cavern, with wooden support beams. There is a ramp leading up. We are in an old mine, long abandoned, even before the Silverlings. We head through the mine; going by how many times I had to recast Light, we walked for about 10 hours before stopping to sleep. Phallo casts his magic hut. Before going to sleep, I sit up and cast Sending, trying to see if I can get a message to Pahariel.
Salthor talks to Tholl, about Tieflings. Salthor is the first Tholl has ever met; he had begun to wonder if they were even real. Salthor expresses his surprise at how Dwarves don't seem to immediately hate Tieflings based on their appearance; Tholl says Dwarves are often seen the same way, considering their past. The conversation peters out after that, and Salthor awkwardly leaves.
It's almost uncomfortably quiet as we sleep; no sound comes from the outside whatsoever. We awake, and continue on. Arter yells out 'echo', for no real reason other then to hear it back. About six hours kin to our walk, Tholl stops, and asks if we feel that. We all feel a chill wind in the air, a sign we are almost out. I also hear, way back, deep in the cavern, just the faintest echoes of skittering. I alert the group, and we immediately start running for it; behind us, the skittering follows, and then we hear a great explosion.
The explosions follow behind us, the Silverling's trying to escape it as much as we are, as the mine collapses. Salthor and Aelin end up falling behind; the rest of us run out of the mine, and realize this. Turning back, I see Salthor, leg crushed under a rock. Sven and Arter go over and push it off; while I heal his leg, they start looking for Aelin.
They find her, buried under rocks. Dead.
It takes each of us varying amounts of time to pull ourselves out of the shock, and look at where we ended up; we are in a long abandoned fort. There is a large tree in the middle of the courtyard; not having much other choice, we bury Aelin there. Checking her pack for the communication rings, and other various magical items, we find a sealed envelope. The wax seal is from the Duchy of Vergemotte, and inside is a birth certificate, which reads,
Elena Ashryver Galathynius, born to Mother Evalin Ashryver and Father Rhoe Galathynius, nephew to King Enrice Adarlan of Highhweor.
This appears to have been Aelin's real name, and so Salthor carves into the tree, "Here lies Elena Ashryver Galathynius, but we knew her as Aelin". After the burial, Salthor and I sit near the grave and talk awhile; I tell him, haltingly and somewhat awkwardly, about my past. I thank him for taking care for me after I fell, though for some reason, he seems to blame himself for not being fast enough to stop it. In the end, we all go to sleep, further into the fort.
In the morning, we awake to voices, from people in the courtyard. Salthor and I sneak forward and listen in; it appears to be a fight between soldiers from Cal Bweneth and Bartannus. They are across each other while on patrol; the Cal Bweneth side claim that this area belongs to them, while Bartannus says that it is neutral ground, and always has been. Salthor and I step out, alerting the soldiers to our presence. They are alarmed to see us, but we do manage to convince them we are not a threat. After some talking, the situation ends up de-escalating, and we convince the soldiers to leave, and actually try and confirm whether or not this is neutral ground.
Having heard from the soldiers that we are near Boldorn, we all discuss where to go next. Tholl decides to leave us here, to head to the capital, where he can report on what happened. As we are talking, a nearby bush rustles, and out steps a Halfling woman, riding a black wolf, of all things. Her name is Elle, and the wolfs is Cinder. She herself wants to head to Boldorn, but the army patrols make it difficult for her. Since we're now known to one of the patrols, she asks us to go with her; we agree, wanting to check out the city in its current state for ourselves. Elle leads us along alternate routes, seeming very skilled at it, and we reach Boldorn in only a couple of hours. It is bigger then when we visited it, with a large tower in the middle; that's new, according to Elle, who has been away for 50 years. Using a map of Boldorn that Elle has, we figure out where the Alienage was, and ask her to lead us there. She takes the role of the tour guide, telling us about Boldorn and pointing things of interest out to us. We pass through a marketplace, where Arter sees a merchant selling armor that would actually fit him. After some extensive haggling with/harassing the merchant, he ends up buying it. Elle takes us to the old part of the city, collecting a number of tourists along the way, she the points things out and tells us 'facts' about them. We see where the Alienage was; it's opened up now, with various people living there. The architecture of the city is well done, and many old building still stand, even after so long; of note, the older prison, with the castle next it, still remain, though they have been long since abandoned.
Sven and Phallo wander off at some point; Salthor and I go to find a library, to find out information on the history of Boldorn, while Elle and Arter head to her family's inn, the Dragonfly Inn, after she gives us directions to both the inn, and a library. Salthor and I head there, however, before we go in, two things happen. Salthor spots someone wearing an amulet like his, and goes after her; in my pack, I feel something start vibrating, and when I check, it's the conch. I try saying hello into it, and holding it to my ear, but get only vibrations. Holding it out, it seems to vibrate more in a certain direction, and I start to follow it, playing an odd game of hot and cold. Eventually, it leads me to the old prison.
Salthor catches up with the woman, and asks about the amulet. She tells him that it belong to her mother, and seems very mistrustful of him. She starts to walk off, and after a moment of consideration, Salthor goes after her again, asking her to please talk to him. He releases the spell that makes him look human, and says he only wants to talk. The woman recognizes his name when he introduces himself. She takes of her own amulet, but remains human. She asks if he knew her mother; he says he did not, only that he knows the man who made those amulets. The woman says her mother was like him, one of the Tarriq (sp?). She says she knows the truth about Tieflings, or something like that. She has much to do today, as she is a teacher at the university, but she would like to meet tomorrow. She asks if he knows of the Dragonfly, which he does, and says they can meet there in the morning.
Salthor goes back to where we were and asks around about a 'crazy dude with a conch'. Following directions, he reaches the prison. I'm inside, standing in front of a wall, as the shell vibrates steadily in all directions. Salthor comes up, and explains what he was doing; I do the same. He looks up, noticing what I did not; a tower that is a part of the old castle, past the wall, with a large balcony. He offer to turn into an eagle and fly us up. After some hesitation, I agree.
Arter and Elle, meanwhile, are on the way to her family's inn. She tells him, extensively, about her family, apparently instilling fear of her twin sisters in the process. Reaching the inn, they run into her brother, and have a Warm Family Reunion™. She finds out that her father died while she was away, unfortunately, and in that she also have a number of new siblings, including an infant one. A feast is held to celebrate her return.
Salthor and I fly up to the tower, and look around. There are doors near us, and stairs going up and down. One of the doors is lock, with a very sturdy lock. On the ground nearby is a key, which opens it. There are more doors past this, and another staircase, which we head up, to the top of the tower (there appear to be two other towers, for a total of three in all). In the room at the top is a room, with a table in the middle, with a plate on it, and a still burning candle. There is an open door; past it is a storage room, which has a large hole leading into the mountain in it. It seems to go down a long way. Examining the table, specifically the plate, we find a blank piece of paper. After some thought, I realize this paper is like the kind in Rish's home. We hold it up to the candle, and words appear, in fancy letters.
"Every hero needs a home," it reads. There are four keys around the plate, identical to the one we picked up. More words appear, sloppier written. "Also, I am sorry to hear for your loss, so here is one less key."
"He really is so fucking weird." I say, and yet more words appear.
"Hey, she was my friend too!"
Fair enough. Salthor and I take the keys, surprised, confused, and somewhat distrustful, at least on Salthor's part, at these turn of events. We leave the castle through the balcony, which seems to be the only way out, and head for the inn, where the rest of the group is.
The session ends there.