Awaking after their holiday revelry, Team Trust discovers a magical golden apple in a wrapped present box for each of them, courtesy of their new friends. Biting into each one, they are endowed with extra power!
After Slink contacts his Red Knives contact Badger, the group decides that the best course of action is to head East to the old Halfling region, now a veritable graveyard. Badger tells Slink that they had sent a Halfling to the realm years ago, but he had disappeared…On the way, they camp for the night and hash out some of their issues, attempting to reestablish a sense of trust and understanding in order to fight for the greater good. The next day, they stumble upon the old Goblin Cave from months back, which is now a metal mining facility of Dracarys. The group sabotages the operations by murdering a bunch of dragon shaman and Gelid City guards before moving on.
A week of traveling leads the party to Barovia, the newly-renamed kingdom of the undead, and eventually to Barrow Village, former main town of the Halflings. Upon entering, they are met with a strange fog, which clouds their senses. Only Jilqwyn seems able to stave off its effects.
Barrow Village is a sad, desolate village populated by ghouls, lycanthropes, vampires, witches, skeletons, and zombies. They seem intrigued by Team Trust entering their mists, but do not engage the group…save for a lone mindless skeleton who delivers an invitation to Jil before disintegrating. The letter, which Jil does not share right away, is from the leader of these lands: Count Varick von Strake.
Eventually, Team Trust find themselves at the only place with any “life” to it: an inn with an assortment of undead and monstrous creatures. Some fact-finding reveals that the Count lives in the nearby Crow’s Keep, while one of his underlings, the Woodwitch named Eva (and former ruler of these lands), is holed up at the Tser Camp in the swamps. Rayne goes off to talk to a group of lycanthropes, who invite her along on a “hunt” against some vampires, their hated enemies. It would appear that the Count’s vampire army is widely disliked by both the witches (who live in the Tser Camp) and the lycanthropes (led by Valicia), although neither group gets along with the other. This has created a subtle three-way “cold war” between the groups all vying for power, but not openly.
Alone in a corner of the tavern is a small figure, who eventually reveals himself to be the Red Knives Halfling spy, Gayher Thanyu. Having witnessed the demise of his people at the hands of the undead army, yet unable to escape the region or even send word to the Red Knives due to the inescapable fog, Gayher has been living a sad existence in Barrow Village, working under Eva the Woodwitch, who he confirms can see the future and locate people, and who herself has been secretly meeting with Mad Moodeey to overthrow the Count. It is then that Team Trust realizes that they must meet with her in order to garner the whereabouts of their missing party member Lutervoc. Gayher announces a plan to attempt to pit the witches and lycanthropes against one another, although the Team is reticent to get involved in the action since Jil was told “not to harm any of the creatures in the Count’s realm”.
Following Gayher to a swampy marsh that night, the team meets the last of the Paladins of Heironeous (besides Itto), named Old Neb Obi. This originally-named character has been living in isolation for years, having watched his order be betrayed by Dracarys’ Finger known as Blackheart, who he confirms was once a Paladin of Good and was seduced by the Dark Side of the F…aith. Itto and Rayne worry that this may in fact be Crestus, and Itto vows to (eventually) investigate the Church of Hextor and reveal the traitor.
Resting for the night while Itto takes a mysterious journey into a Cave (er, tree) of Insight, Team Trust must now decide who in this odd land of monsters they can trust, and how they can find Lutervoc and defeat Roken once and for all…