Part 1: The Keep
Serra is officially dead, killed in the zombie attack. So the newly minted Lydia is sat with the group, and will be carried around by Hodor… Sorry Brody… While the cripple formerly known as Lydia will stay with needle to explore the tunnels. Needle relays the group’s marching orders to them: they’ll be headed out the next day with the rest of the recruits bound for the front lines.
Needle is coerced into being more open by the not even slightly secretive Serra, and relays the story of how he was sent to find her by way of a riddle: “The east hides its valuables well, questions from the smallest you must answer, answer them well, they are not yours.”
This seems to have led him to the gold dragon’s cave, an experience he barely survived with his life. He confirms Serra is one of the people of the east, and Serra responds by claiming he has something of hers, showing her quickrazor. He acquiesces and shows her the weapon’s partner on his wrist, explaining that he stole it from the fortress years ago. He shows the document they were listed on: a manifest claiming they were commissioned 70 years ago for Serra’s mother, and they were specially designed to pierce those with copper skin.
The manifest also has a sword listed, which resembles the one James’ father now has: a golden holy longsword, one of five, with Heironeous inscribed on it, and with the ability to resist mental compulsions. That disappeared 30 years ago.
With regard to Serra’s people, one of her kind was tasked to kill the king, but shied away at the last minute. This caused her to be hunted and her people to be mistrusted. Serra speculates that her mother was on the run, with damaged hands when she went into hiding in Burnside. James voices concern that if the priests have gone to Burnside and suspects she’s there they may punish the village for hiding her. At this point it’s agreed they’re too far away to return, and being branded as deserters won’t help their cause.
Serra draws a map to Burnside for Needle before they depart: he agrees to look in on the place before they part ways.
Part 2: Capture
The party head out, James with the officers and the others in the ranks. Brody loudly complaining that he’s of no use that far away, Chris mockingly following orders and Serra in a sack disguised as half a half elf. James arranges the watch order for the troop, using his own watch to practice magic (knowing what he does from Serra’s revelations) away from prying eyes, and Serra using the time and her own magic to transcribe the book on dragons into common. Brody keeps name dropping Serra’s real name, in fact completely forgetting to call her Lydia at all!
One morning the column of troops meet a solitary figure on the road through the woods, the officers send James forward to speak to them, who takes Chris along for support. The rest of the troop is oblivious to the shadowy figures surrounding them. As James approaches he is grabbed by the figure, an elf woman who puts a knife to his throat. The rest of the troop is attacked by the elves in the woods, who kill one of the guards before capturing them. James tries to negotiate with the woman unsuccessfully, Chris threatening to kill her if she kills James. Seeing the situation lost James gives the order to Chris to flee. Chris runs one direction and Chris runs in the opposite direction to confuse the elves, eventually escaping, knocking out one of the elves in the process.
The rest of the troop is blindfolded and led to an encampment. The elves are a group of resistance fighters hose homes have been burned by the queen’s troops. As they leave the troops in tents bound and blindfolded, Brody and James try to get the guards attention, but only succeed in getting gagged. Brody eventually gets his gag and restraints off, and Serra explains to him that a jailbreak in this situation isn’t a good idea. He then doesn’t ungag James, inadvertently preventing him from using magic. He does manage to get the guards’ attention, and tries to cosy up to them while relieving himself. Name-dropping Spanik he does learn that Spanik has some double meaning in elvish, but little else.
The next morning James manages to convince the elf feeding him to leave off the gag, and is surprised that no one has come to interrogate the officers. He creates an illusion that the tent is on fire, but the inattentive guards don’t notice so he adds sound to it. The guards raise the alarm and move the troops to another tent while they put out the fire. Or at least realise the fire is a hoax…
This plus Brody’s shouting attract the attention of the elf leader, who unblindfolds Brody, and exclaims “Brokai!” in horror, before fleeing, taking the entire guerrilla force with her. Except one who Chris takes down and steals a knife from.
As the troops take control of the camp, they loot the place for information. The party now being in charge of the troop, technically, they organise the guards. Serra and Chris try to interrogate the captive elf but to no avail. He’s too terrified by Brody for some reason and Chris’ newly sociopathic attitude doesn’t help. They’re going for honey and vinegar, and get vinegar and battery acid… Eventually while Chris is away James compels the elf to leave and go home.
The next day they set out again, Chris acting as an advance scout. Chris hears a weak voice call out for James and Brody, and approaches. It’s GranGran, who says the village has been taken over by the clerics, who’ve brainwashed the villagers. She mentions something about taint and that she barely managed to escape. She hands over Chris’ unopened letters to Trixy and disappears.