When we left our party, they had just led a sallying force from the citadel of Marquis Rutan, allowing the king’s forces to retake the city, capturing nearly all the occupying Nekolyn forces. For the rest of that day the army rests while administrators calculate the spoils do they can be distributed. The next day, the king reviews reports of enemy positions and the camp prepares to depart.
During the watch assigned to the minotaurs on the eve if the march, Benquil awakes to find his sensory extension eye and ear he keeps with Match had been removed and now lies on the ground in a tent. He can hear Nekolyn voices. As the watch goes on, he monitors those extensions and watches as they are returned to Match with his other belongings. He watches Match convince the Nekolyn who returned his things to climb into his bag of holding before summoning a greater devil to make a distraction by attacking the camp while he escapes, flying North to where he has heard reports the rest of the party is located.
Shortly after the army begins it’s march, the party sees a well known flyer approaching and Benquil flags him down with a flare. Match descends, joining them in the midst of the army. As they walk he explains the Nekolyn he has brought, one of the military advisers in their army who wants to try to bring an end to the war after hearing of their nearly bloodless victory at Rutanport. He wants to speak to the king.
Match pulls the Nekolyn from his bag and he introduces himself as Leo. After locking his hands in magically created blocks of stone to prevent him casting, they escort him to the king riding at the head of the army. His guard knows them well and allows them to approach. After some discussion the king determines that he would like to interrogate Leo more fully when they make camp. He grants Leo to observe the front lines under the careful eye of Benquil, Lamila, Match, and Hilbrent-the greatest mage in his kingdom, all trusted citizens and great warriors. As the march goes on, Leo questions them, assuring himself that the Vardor people were predominantly good, peace-loving, and life-valuing.
That night they camp opposite a Nekolyn force, preparing for battle on the morrow. Benquil and Hilbrent cooperate to cast a mostly harmless lightning storm spell that sweeps through the enemy force, causing a small panic. Hilbrent builds a tower to observe the army from, intending to have Leo translate for the king from it in the morning, using magic to project his voice to the whole army. Hilbrent watches the enemy army during the night. They seem agitated.
At dawn, they find the army has quietly withdrawn during the night. The king prepares to mobilize his forces again and the party approaches him. They offer to go to the Nekolyn camp and negotiate a peace. The king agrees that Hilbrent can speak for him to broker a truce, no string attached, but he will be the one to conduct the peace talks personally.
They go to the head quarters of the invading Nekolyn army. While Match flies high above, they build another tower and announce their intent to negotiate a truce so peace talks can be held. Leo translates the announcement and they wait. Soon, one of the Nekolyn rovers jogs out to the tower, requesting that they refrain from further announcements and come and meet with Consul Heracles in the camp under the safety of diplomacy.
Confident in their power, they enter the camp. The army watches leerily, but they arrive at the Consul’s tent unaccosted. Once inside, Consul Heracles gets into an argument with Leo they can’t understand. Negotiations eventually get under way, but the distrust for Leo continues to make it hard. They present the head of Leviathan, Hilbrent telling the story of defeating Leviathan with accompanying illusions. Heracles meanwhile checks the images against the depictions in his book of scripture. He is nearly convinced by the story, but he argues that Leo could have put it into their head. With no response to that, they point out that their recent victory is only the first of similar victories to come, that they will easily win the war. They have been merciful since that victory, peace talks could preserve that mercy to the end of the war.
Consul Heracles agrees to meet King Vindil III. Talks are held and a peace is reached. The Nekolyns cannot return across the stormy ocean with winter approaching, so Vindil agrees to help them settle in for the winter South of his kingdom, decreeing they cannot come within 50 miles of his borders, though he will gladly arrange for food to be sold to them. The Nekolyns accept, prisoners are released on both sides, and the party returns to Fort Gollant with their minotaur cohort, Leo in tow. Before they go, King Vindil summons them and thanks them for their efforts. He informs them that Emil Gollant will be receiving a writ of nobility and become Marquis Gollant of the the Gollant March. As such he will be charged with protecting that border. King Vindil implores that they help in that effort, and they assure him they will.
In Fort Gollant they inform Emil of his impending ascension to the nobility of Vardor and take care of some other business. Benquil wants to use part of his share of treasure from the war to open a tavern in the newest seat of government in Vardor. He enlists Don to run the operation and he puts some money in as well. They plan to make the tavern a tribute to their adventures with paintings and carvings of their escapades. They contact Benquil’s father to hire one of the top chefs from among the elves of Shimmering Haven, one willing to travel to the newly discovered temple of Brimahil in Fort Gollant. They also contact the enchanter who made the cooking box they won at the Festival of the Migrant and enlist him to make a heater enchant for their green house where they will grow the fruit needed for the chef to work.
Benquil also approaches Brimahil to follow up on her questions about the Sarpin Crystals. She believes they are tied to the ancient gods mentioned in the text Benquil retrieved from Arem. She also believes her worshipers hiding among the Drow have found a deposit of similar crystals. She encourages Benquil to seek them out in the underdark. They party all decide to go and bring Leo with them, except Hilbrent who feels some guilt about the devil attack on Requiem and the war that happened while he was gone. He wants to settle down in Vardor and keep a closer eye on it.
The party travels to Gregor’s redoubt and descends into the underdark. They pass through the pool of mist and enter the underdark. Greeting them is a giant metal spider head with ruby eyes that glow, bathing everything in enough light for them to see. Match recognizes the image from a sketch on Gregor’s desk. He recalls it was labeled “Temple of the Bones.”