After slaying a patrol of trolls, the party hunkers down to wait until dark before they investigate the mysterious hunting lodge by the Cult of the Dragon’s teleportation circle.
Garrett notices that Larion is looking glum, obsessively playing with a whalebone handled butterfly blade. Garrett takes the young half-elf aside to awkwardly ask what’s wrong. Larion admits that he feels like he’s dead weight and is failing to meaningfully contribute to the party, just the latest in a string of failures and bad decisions.
Garrett shows him the clockwork fish he carries with him in a glass bowl. It was part of a job, but the fish looked so pretty he kept it and is always cheered up when looking at it. He clumsily compares Larion to the fish, as someone else he cares about.
Larion shows him the whalebone dagger, which is carved to look like a dragon. It’s his only keepsake from his family. When he was a young boy, he stole it from his sister the night before their ship was caught in a terrible storm and foundered on rocks. Larion survived, but his mother and sister were lost. Sharing stories about trinkets revives the half-elf’s spirits and the two of them return to the rest of the party, who have been gossiping shamelessly about them.
“So it’s not Maid Marion so much as Laid Larion,” Hurk is snickering as they return. Garrett warns him off the jokes, otherwise he’ll find a shrieking mushroom down his pants. Hurk replies that he already has one—she’s called Jamna. The gnome whoops as the group’s snickers turn to laughter. In high spirits despite the cold, they await the fall of darkness.
Once the sun is safely set, the adventurers creep towards the hunting lodge complex. Ignoring the kennel and stables, the three rogues move in to investigate the lodge itself. Garrett has the misfortune of disturbing a slumbering bee hive, but his howl of surprise fails to draw any reaction.
Counting themselves lucky, the rogues scoop out the building, peering in the windows where they can. They find several well lit rooms with hunting trophies, suits of armor, and even a magic tapestry, but no people. They also find a cold an empty guest room. The kitchen has four human cooks busy at work.
Garrett, with a boost from Raeyanne, tries to climb onto the balcony above the kitchen, but can’t find purchase on the icy surface. His scrabbling alerts the cooks. Raeyanne bleats like a mountain goat, hoping to assuage them. Instead, the cooks groan that “It’s those damn mountain goats on the roof again. Best drive them away before they knock off more shingles.”
With some deft moves and a hasty minor illusion from Jamna, the rogues manage to avoid scrutiny from the cook who steps outside. After that, they hastily retreat back to the treeline to regroup with the others. The adventurers decide that their best bet is to break into the empty guest room and go from there.
Garrett and Raeyanne manage to keep the others from bumbling into the bee hive, and Garrett swiftly gets the guest room window open. They proceed to scout out the western wing of the ground floor, before moving cautiously into the central chamber. There, the two demonic statues flanking the stairs leading up come to life and attack them.
Raeyanne gets in an initial vicious strike and then ducks into cover, but swords and daggers prove to be less effective against their stony hides. Beryl tries to get at them with her warhammer, but can’t land a blow. Hurk stands sentinel at the center of the fight, lashing out at the monsters whenever they try to harm one of his companions. Garrett finally brings down one of the gargoyles, while the other grows concerned about the lack of reinforcements.
With just one target left, Hurk drops his shield and goes after it with his longsword gripped in both hands. Larion tries to leap over the staircase to get into a flanking position with Beryl, but his foot catches on the railing and he ends up sprawled beside the creature, which tears into him. Hurk instead edges forward to flank with the half-elf.
Jamna, who had been firing her frost ray between Hurk’s legs, runs along the wall to get behind the tottering gargoyle and bash its knees out with her enormous wrench. She grins up at Hurk. “All yours, big guy.”
The half-orc hacks the monster to pieces.
Afterwards, Beryl heals Hurk and restores the badly wounded Larion to ship shape. But as her spells knit torn flesh back together, a figure dressed in cult regalia appears at the top of the stairway.
“Welcome to the hunting lodge, honored travelers,” the cultist tells them. “My mistress will see you now. She expresses her gratitude for your dealing with the… scenery.”
Raeyanne stays out of sight as the rest of the party warily follows the man up the stairs and down a hall to a meeting chamber. Inside is a stern half-elf woman dressed in purple thrown over white scale mail. She is attended by three bodyguards.
“Welcome,” she says. “I consider you my guests. Perhaps we can do business. I am Talis the White.”
At the sound of her name, Larion pushes past Garrett to come to the head of the party. Talis gapes at him as he blurts out a single word: “Sister?”