Confronted with the Darkbringers, the Party negotiated to let them pass with no blood spilled. Tensions were high; as the lead Darkbringer engaged Sigfried, Otto (one of the supposedly hapless Town Guard) summoned red tendrils through some use of magic. The manifestations paralyzed not only the Party but the Darkbringers. Otto then tells a tale of destruction for believers of the Parent Gods. Systematically, he cruelly beheads all of the Darkbringers and sets his sights on the party. Just before slaying Santos, Otto is instructed by an unseen voice to leave. As he complies, the enthralled murderer tosses a hidden Berek down the stairs. The young Adept explains he was sent by Archbishop Ruger to check on Santos. The Heroes, deciding they couldn’t track down Otto, continued further into the cave. Unbeknownst to all, the group was being tracked by the Half-Elf Sirene. Tallbottom hears her trigger one of the traps, revealing her presence. After some tense moments and exchanges in the Halfling tongue, Sirene joins them. Traveling further into the cave leads to a neutral vein of Essence. Jeric informs his comrades only good-aligned Essence is normally found in this area. The Heroes attempt to seal the anomaly off. This, of course, after the Ranger decided to put an arrow into the well (which did not pan out). Santos ventured to dispel the magic around it (resulting in pain) and Tallbottom tried to examine a trap (also resulting in pain).
The Heroes, tired of being beaten and bruised by their own ignorance, decided to guard the vein from rooftop in shifts while the rest went back to the Barge Wright Inn to rest. Sirene kept an eye on the Party, Tallbottom told tales that were slightly exaggerated and the rest of the group retired to chambers or guard duty. First to watch were Jeric and Sigfried. Then Taran and Sirene. And then Santos by himself. While no one returned to do further harm below the streets of Valencia, the Party did learn that Herlont Wright was apparently aware of the secret caves beneath his inn. While not accused outright of the deed, Herlont did act nervous and shaken when confronted by Jeric and Sigfried. The next morning the Heroes did what any bloodthirsty adventurers would do: go shopping!
The nature of the Divine Augmenter is revealed: the powerful artifact can change the nature of things not normally capable of alteration into however the wielder sees fit. The Heroes also learn of an item called the Staff of Ancients. The staff, when used in the correct location, can find other hidden artifacts. The Heroes investigate where the dig site for the Staff might be, but the Valencians cannot provide straight answers. Upon the urging of the necromancer Ralg, the Party ends up heading to a temple on the outskirts of the city which emits a dark energy. It is here, claims Ralg, that Otto retreated. Ralg has determined the strange undead harassing the city originate from this place. The presence of sentries guarding the structure proves unsettling. The Heroes, making an epically poor choice, decided to sneak up on one of the guards… while wearing full armor. The brash move triggered an alarm spell, immediately alerting the patrol. To make matters worse, the Heroes discover the ziggurat’s true defense: the runed undead with which they’ve tangled lie buried in shallow graves where they stand. As the corpses erupt from below and the sentry charges, they awaited their fate.