The heroes get roused early from their beds by a banging sound at their doors (each of them were in different rooms, but the door to each room was being banged on). When they each independently cautiously investigated the noise, they found that there were a number of city guardsmen in their hallway, insisting that they accompany them to Zentoun Fortress. They had apparently been sent by Captain Karath.
Worryingly, there was no sign of Nortrix (who had gone to bed the previous evening at the same time as everyone else). However a stable boy was able to tell them that Nortrix had headed off an hour or so past. He had mentioned to the stable boy in passing that he was going to see his uncle.
Content that they knew where Nortrix was (generally), the heroes then headed to Zentoun Fortress. They were a little surprised when the guards formed up protectively around them but kept walking. They were met at the fortress by Captain Karath and Selinda, which surprised them after their discussions of the previous night. However the reason for this soon became clear when they learnt that the fortress had come under attack the previous night, leaving most of the Imperial Northern Rangers present dead or seriously injured. As they watched, dead rangers were being carried out of the fortress to be laid beside other dead rangers. They agree to help Selinda (who is the highest ranking serving Imperial Norther Ranger at present) to find out what has transpired.
The heroes begin by searching Ranger-Commander Braveheart’s chambers and the areas around there. Here, every body they find is dead. All have been killed in a similar manner, with either their throat being slit or multiple stab wounds to the chest; sometimes they have both. Some of the leadership group is missing (or at least not in the leader’s area of the fortress). They determine the presence of poison, having noticed an odd odour in the food that was still sitting on the Ranger-Commander’s table.
Following the poison they investigate the kitchen next, where they find the head cook dead, having been stabbed in the back repeatedly. Hoatzin also also discovers a clay jug that smells like the poison they had noticed upstairs (only stronger); the jug was lying, discarded, next to a mostly empty cauldron of stew (which was the previous night’s meal).
To better understand what had transpired, the heroes sought out a cleric skilled in the necromantic arts of speaking with the dead. Almost all of the city’s clerics had assembled at the fortress and were assisting in the healing of those few survivors, as well as saying prayers for the fallen. After a few direct questions the heroes were soon introduced to the gravely voiced Cleric Symon, a priest of Nerull, who agreed to help them in questioning the head chef.
The questioning was easy (at least for the heroes) as they asked questions of Symon who in turn then mentally questioned the deceased cook. From the cook the discovered that he had been killed by a kitchen hand, “that bastard Raskin”, just after he had noticed someone pouring something into the stew. He had then died without learning anything else. With a name to follow up they returned to Selinda, but she was unfamiliar with any “Raskin”. Next, Kysmer went and looked through the Ranger-Commander’s records of staff (a weighty tome) until he found a Raskin, an unfortunately named man: Raskin Rankin. The records list an address, a rented room, for Raskin Rankin so the heroes decide to go and check it out. For safety reasons, Captain Karath insists on four guards accompanying them.
At the guest house they are show to Raskin’s room by the grumpy desk lady. His room is on the third floor with a window that looks out into an alley. They scour the room for clues (even thinking to check outside the window, in case the man was hiding out there) and they find a small wooden chest with a yellow star on its lid (just like the one they had found previously). The chest itself it empty, but they decide to go check out The Golden Star in case anyone is there.
They find The Golden Star as they had last left it: abandoned and looking in need of burning down. Kysmer decides to give the upper floors a quick once over and heads off alone, which was how he then found a scrappy looking cultist (who immediately attacked him). Although initially surprised, Kysmer was able to swiftly deal with the attacker. With nothing else of interest to be found at The Golden Star, the heroes got the guards accompanying them to carry the now dead cultist back to Zentoun Fortress.
Back at the fortress they once again sought out Symon, who again agreed to speak to the dead on their behalf. The dead cultist from The Golden Star admitted to having taken part in the attack on Zentoun Fortress. He explained how everyone was poisoned and finished off by hand while they were incapacitated. Sheepishly he also admitted to not having paid attention to where they were all supposed to meet up following the attack and had ended up returning to The Golden Star. He had no idea what was to happen next, but he was able to supply the identities of some more cultists, some of whom turned out to be members of the city guards. Captain Karath was immediately summoned and told of this and the matter was investigated, only to turn up that those guards had all been stationed on the Trayal Gate the previous evening. None of them had been seen since last night and the Trayal Gate had been unguarded this morning at change of watch.
At that moment a commotion is created by Ranger-Lieutenant Throon the Mighty as he arrives back at the fortress to discover what has transpired. He had, until now, been missing presumed dead. Reluctantly he took on the mantel of acting Ranger-Commander (from Selinda). Thrown the Mighty is devastated by what has happened, but manages to bring his emotions under control to take care of his responsibilities.
Freed from being acting Ranger-Commander, Selinda manages to catch up with the heroes. She mentions that one of the rangers they had rescued all those weeks ago, Lott Fireleaf, had been found dead, butchered, in front of the locked armoury door. This death seems strange to the heroes (no-one else had been carved into, just stabbed a few times and then left) so they once again beseech Symon’s assistance. He is, once again, happy to oblige.
From Lott’s corpse they learn that the attackers had wanted access to the armoury. To thwart them, Lott had swallowed his copy (he had one, being the armoury assistant) of the key. When they realised what he had done, they savaged his body for it. He died before they had finished.
After releasing Lott’s spirit Grax searches through Lott’s inner body (messily) until he locates the armoury key, apparently undiscovered by the attackers. To be sure that the armoury was still secure, they then went and checked it out, with Selinda in tow, and found that it was completely untouched. Selinda explained that it was good to know that the enchanted weapons and items located in the secure armoury were thus still safeguarded. However, it did make her wonder where the fortress quartermaster (and master of the armoury) Elwynd Tavasqa had gotten to. From what they could now piece together, Elwynd Tavasqa and Lina Oakfriend (the assistant to Ranger-Commander Braveheart) were the only people with any rank still missing.
Could either of these two have been a traitor?