27 Kythorn 1372
Resuming their trek on the King’s Road, the party is stopped once again just a ferry away from the Damaran capital of Heliogabalus. With the unusually hot summer and the glacier melting in the north, the Pelauvir River had swollen to twice its normal width and its current was still stronger than it would usually get in the spring. Furthermore, along with the waters had come a gigantic sea snake, the kind which is normally content to stay in its remote icy lake. The last two ferries crossing from the Heliogabalus had been attacked by the beast, and while both had managed reached the other side safely, they now need extensive repair and most of one’s cargo had been left overboard. And with no one able to report back to the other side, it could be days before the king is even made aware of the situation.
With no other way to get Barend’s goods across and no wish to waste any more time, the party volunteers to take an empty barge to lure the snake. When it finally shows up and starts to attack the boat, Lazoryel uses his shapeshifting powers to take the shape of a sea elf and dives in the river to battle the monster. Their swimming abilities augmented by the magic of Ruknar and Larena, Galen and Dragonkiller soon follow to do the same while the spellcasters summon ice creatures and aquatic beasts to support their allies and Barend works to patch the cracks in the boat’s floor. During the fight, Ruknar and Larena spot a badge with a golden lyre in a diamond that Barend hides under his vest, but the dwarf assures them that it’s nothing woth talking about. When the monster is at last defeated, the barge goes back to the south shore to pick up Barend’s cart, allowing everyone to finally reach the city of Heliogabalus before the day is over.
29 Kythorn 1372
While entering the gates to the inner city of Heliogabalus, the party learns that the real Barend Balderk has been back in his forge for three weeks already, heading back earlier than planned after escaping with his life when a dwarven look-alike and his thugs robbed him of all his possessions on the other side of the Galena Mountains. Identified as the imposter, the dwarf the party has been travelling with is taken by the guard and thrown in prison while his cart is confiscated to be given back to the true Barend. Having known the real Barend for years and certain he couldn’t have been fooled during a whole month, Dragonkiller convinces the rest of the party to help prove his friend’s identity. During the “fake” Barend’s trial, they manage to catch the other in his lies and magic is used to force him to reveal his true identity as a doppelganger. It’d been trying to use Barend’s contacts and reputation not only as a merchant and weaponsmith, but as an ally to the secret organization known as the Harpers. It tries to escape but is easily caught by the party, despite them not having brought any weapons in the courthouse, and thrown in a cell while the real Barend is set free. But when a cleric Tyr that everyone has just seen leaving the courthouse is found unconscious in a back room, the party realizes the doppelganger is on the loose again and everyone rushes outside to track it in the surrounding streets, only a few minutes behind. As the doppelganger eventually finds itself alone in a dark alley with Dragonkiller, it strikes first and deals a nearly wound to the goliath, but using his rage over what has been done to his dwarven friend, Dragonkiller pins it to he ground and breaks his neck.
5 Flamerule 1372
Word begins to spread about how the party defeated the monster attacking the ferries and how they helped the city’s justice stop a criminal, and eventually reaches the royal palace. The audience the party had asked for, which they normally could have been granted after months of wait, if ever, is given them after less than a tenday. Though unimpressed by their manners, King Gareth Dragonsbane sees the good intentions behind the party’s quest. The king himself does not know much about the prophecy, but regarding the “men of faith flying on dragon wings”, he can tell them that in the allied land of Impiltur to the south, Queen Sambryl’s paladins ride on the back of bronze dragons. They also learn that a group of frost giants has been attacking travellers on the King’s Road, just a few days behind the party, and had last been seen heading south. So three days later, armed with new weapons bought at a discount from Barend, the group of five heads south on the Merchant’s Run, toward the Impilturan capital city of Lyrabar.