Sigfried rolls into the room and a cockney named Barnaby tries to bluff with a couple of his friends, threatening the Ranger with poison arrows. Barnaby “invites” the Heroes into the room which doesn’t seem too promising. The Cleric decides the thieves don’t seem trustworthy and casts sanctuary on the Ranger – allowing Sigfried to run without being fired upon. The Heroes proceed to have a conversation through the door with the thief. Barnaby says they have valuable information, but have already ransacked the dungeon. Opening the door, Sigfried (still covered in the light of sanctuary) continues the conversation with the thief face-to-face. Barnaby, a member of the Black Shepherds, mentions to the Ranger, “You’re sparkly.” “It’s my personality,” Sigfried says dryly.
The thief is wary of bugbears in the dungeon as well as the Mage (who might, in fact, be pissed the fuck off that they stole the dungeon’s valuables). The thieves state their leader, Karnic, has been captured. Iago, the talker of the group, decides to make a deal: if the Heroes save Karnic, the thieves will supply them with Essence Bane. Jeric informs the group about his experience with Karnic and the fact he should be brought to justice. The Heroes want to decline the offer but the thieves refuse to let them through the room until they agree. Negotiations proceed with little traction. The group decides they will go get Karnic, simply bring him to justice and then deal with the thieves later. Alexander, tiring of the back and forth, decides he is not leaving without his sister and begins to go for the thieves. Santos tries to restrain the Wizard but Alexander “poofs” away and attempts to cast web once inside the room. Barnaby pushes Alexander into the pit trap out of which the Wizard “poofs” once more.
The Heroes reconvene to strategize. Although they disagree on the end result, they do agree they must first apprehend Karnic for either leverage with the thieves or to turn him into the authorities. They beckon Iago and accept his offer to serve as escort. While Sigfried searches the thief for weapons, Iago admires Lord Cathist’s sword sheathed on the Ranger’s back.
The Heroes follow Iago to find the bugbears. When they arrive at the scene of one of the skirmishes they discover two dead bugbears, two dead thieves and a half-live bugbear. Sigfried, the first to enter the room, questions the bugbear who whispers something foul about fire and mothers getting raped. As a result, Sigfried summarily stabs the bugbear. Taran searches the room and discovers a secret door. Sigfried rolls the bodies, recovering arrows and vials of green liquid.
The group heads through the secret tunnel. Darius the White kicks open a secret door at the other end and Sigfried begins to negotiate using the bag of treasure. The bugbears order the group to enter the room, and at Jeric’s insistence (shoving) they do so. They begin a series of negotiations with (and intimidation at) the bugbear’s de facto authority figure. Finally, the Heroes convince the bugbears to release the halfling. At that moment, Iago spits potent poison at the lead bugbear’s eye, killing him instantly. The thief reveals to Sigfried he has betrayed them all as he grabs for Cathist’s sword. Upon touching the weapon, the traitor shrieks in pain. Simultaneously, Iago’s appearance cycles through many transformations including Berek’s visage. It can now only be assumed that “Iago” is the man who appeared to be Berek on the Heroes’ first day in Valencia.
A Battle ensues in which Jeric, in a moment of ultimate fatality, decapitates a bugbear. Alexander creates a slippery surface with his grease spell. Truly, it is the one time everyone does their part in a battle, except Sigfried who drops his weapons…fag. The Heroes easily deal with the bugbears.
The Wizard and the Cleric argue violently. Santos uses divine power to engulf himself in flames, demoralizing the Wizard. The Cleric grabs Karnic out of Alexander’s web and proceeds to leave the room. Alexander conjures what appear to be black tentacles through which Santos simply walks, his divine flames easily repelling them. Frustrated and temporarily defeated, Alexander splits off from the group. In a moment of desperation to save his sister, the Wizard finds the remaining Black Shepherds and informs them of the Heroes’ plan to bring Karnic to justice.
Thanks to Alexander’s actions, the group runs into the Wizard and Black Shepherds who are determined to stop them. Santos summons a Celestial Lion and the battle begins. The fight is about to become a blood bath when Taran holds the halfing hostage and tells the thieves to stand down. Sigfried trash talks a thief, biting his quivering lip as he does so. The Heroes try to escape but the thieves engage once more. Alex casts Evard’s black tentacles, Sigfried wails on Barnaby and Jeric casts a seeking ray (new spell!). Taran orders the thieves to back down before the Cleric can do anything at all. The Heroes proceed to move out of the dungeon with their hostage. Karnic reveals the true reason for exploring the ruins: a weapon that can kill a being like Furnok Darmordir (an iconic warrior long believed to be dead). As before, the thieves attempt to block their way. Jeric clears the path by teleporting the Black Shepherd guarding the exit on top of another. The Heroes try to run but Taran is unable to leave Santos (who covers their retreat with Darius) due to the Geas. Santos tells Darius to take Karnic while Santos and Taran defend. The Heroes unfortunately have to leave Alexander the Wizard behind.
The Heroes, thinking they’ve finally escaped, are once again headed off by the thieves. Sigfried initially throws a vile of poison like a girl. He recovers, swinging away at Barnaby with his blades like a hot knife slices through butter. He does the same to another thief as he “grits his eyes.” Santos tosses the thieves around and Taran gives a one an ear piercing. Jeric inspires the Ranger while the thieves run. Sigfried doesn’t take kindly to their cowardice and chases the thieves down. In a violent fashion, he performs unnecessary surgery on the thieves. The Heroes escape but Sigfried and Santos are badly poisoned. Although Santos staves off the effects, Sigfried is unable to shake the poison as they exit the dungeon.
The Heroes finally stagger out of the dungeon and begin to set up camp. While resting to purge the poison, a figure passes through the illusory opening of the dungeon. It is Alexander, who has survived a short encounter with the Mage. The Wizard located his sister’s pendant, but she was no where to be found – only the Mage. After listening to Alexander’s story, they wake the next day to heal themselves and delay the poisons imbued on them. They head back to Valencia and bring the halfing Karnic to the Commander-at-Arms.
Santos decides to visit Berek. Sadly, the Adept is still in a state of zealous madness; believing he had done well (but not knowing why). Berek claims he hears Archbishop Ruger’s voice in his mind. The Heroes then visit the Council of Elders. Their envoy, Raylen Mayswire, implies the Council is already aware of their actions. He provides no further useful information.
After resting, the group heads back to the dungeon to finish off the Mage. They reach the magically-barred door of which Alex spoke. The Mage was, in fact, on the other side of a wall of Essence. He is obviously wounded, and the damage appears severe. The Essence-wielder has little interest in speaking with the Heroes. He fires bolts of pure Essence at the Heroes showing just how dangerous he truly is. The group begins to search elsewhere when the Mage utters, “Run. Run as if your lives depended on it. Run… or you all will die.”