Restenford, now liberated, was in shambles. A quick investigation of the Castle Restenford’s dungeons revealed some prisoners, who were eager to escape their cells and help rebuild the town. That task completed, Ser Hectre suggested that the adventurers retire to Fletcher’s Peak while they consider their options for dealing with the orcs that invaded Brei. However, Hectre had another plan.
In the old town of Fletcher’s Peak, Lucio the bard heard Elm, Hectre’s adopted sister, play her songs. Eldrad helped lift barrels of fine summer cordial up from the wine cellars, and Althaea helped the town prepare for the feast Hectre was throwing. At the feast, however, a sleeping draught was slipped into Eldrad’s drink, and he fell unconscious. He was taken to the town’s Temple of Ulir, where Hectre and Althaea hoped the demon within him could be exorcised.
The exorcism did not go as planned. Instead of Eldrad being freed of Atasaya’s grip, the demon bear took over completely. The monstrous form of Atasaya was constrained by the limits of Eldrad’s mortal form, but his great and terrible body burst forth from the water of the temple’s reflecting pool, his eyes red as flame, his claws sharp as swords. Althaea pleaded with Eldrad to calm himself, to remain in control, but the lord of Ursina could not overpower Atasaya’s influence for long. Atasaya struck down Ser Hectre, rending a bloody gash across his chest, and the knight fell unconscious on the temple’s grassy floor. With a deft thrust, Althaea plunged Thunderbreath, her gleaming short sword, through Atasaya’s black heart.
Althaea, heartbroken, left a brief message and fled Fletcher’s Peak, departing for Ardennes alone. The kind and dutiful Althaea now had only tears in her eyes and vengeance in her heart. Hectre was awakened in the houses of healing, his wounds mended shut by the priests’ healing magic. He traveled alone to the Ulirian temple and knelt by Eldrad’s body, a tearful apology on his lips as he drew his sword and destroyed his cousin’s body, hoping that Atasaya would never again take his body. Lucio, shocked and appalled by the entire affair, vowed to find Althaea and protect her, and he too departed for Ardennes, hoping to meet the sapphire dragonborn on the westward roads. The wood elf Naiadé disappeared without a trace in the confusion.
And so, three months passed, and the hands of fate beckoned four young warriors towards Ardennes…