As part of their discussion, Ghulkari goes on to remind Elo that she must always remain vigilant of taking herself too seriously, and of getting too full of herself. The orc settles into his watch to let her think of what he has said. As she is doing so, she noticed a strange person hover at the edge of their fire’s light. She goes over to speak with them and discoveries they are a priest of Wee Jas. The priest tells her they have fortuitously camped close by to a temple of Wee Jas, and she and her group are invited on the morrow to attend the High Priestess there.
The next morning Elo tells the group what she saw, and they all agree it’s probably a good plan to speak to the priestess as she might know something about Darkhide.
They trundle down the mountain and find the temple of Wee Jas. They are welcomed in, as they are apparently expected. It is a dark place, filled with fire and great banners that ripple like flame in the breeze. They are lead through, and are met by the temple’s High Priestess, Bethena. She explains that Thaddius Darkhide III wasn’t always a bad person, that he use to be a loremaster, like herself, bound to collect and protect dark knowledge from those who use it unwisely. They use to do this for their mistress, the Ruby Lady, so that neutrality might be kept, but she says that something has happened to Darkhide. She says that where once he was a keeper of knowledge, he has turned sour in his dotage and now uses it for ill gain. The group tell her of their first meeting him in the mining town of coven, and she surmises that this was where he finally turned. She tells them that both she, and Wee Jass are pretty angry with him for not coming home and getting himself straightened out.
On hearing this, Elo is now unsure about their previous plan of ‘kill him to death and let that be the end of it’ – maybe the good in him can be recovered, she thinks – but the Priestess insists that he must be brought down, and gives her a strip of blood-soaked cloth as a permission slip. Felix asks if there is anything they should look out for, and the priestess tells them he will be likely wielding a wicked looking poisoned dagger.
As they are speaking, they sense a presence, and turn to see Darkhide loitering there, looking like a ghost. The magic users quickly figure out he has come to them as a sending, and Darkhide says he does hope to see them soon, as their friends want to say hello. They are all confused, but then he conjures images of Alphonse and Lorcian as Wraiths. He looks to Merri as well and gives her a big theatrical wink. At this, the High Priestess loses her cool, and unleashes a Phantasmal Killer after him, and he vanishes, cackling as he goes. The Priestess, now faint from her sudden expending of energy, reiterates she wants him dead, and is lead away by an acolyte.
The group leave the temple, feeling sombre, only to find that their cart is tipped over and the horses dead from the touch of the Phantasmal Killer. Ghulkari says it will be a long walk back, so they should make the most of this misfortune and preserve the horses for dinner. This takes the rest of the day, and they are informed by the clerics they can make camp in the temple grounds, which they do.
The next day they are deciding what to do now over breakfast. Elo recalls that the orc paladin mentioned something about a nest of evil close by. Since everyone is not keen on the idea of straight up facing Darkhide until they have more power under their belts, she suggests they go looking for that instead. Everyone is okay with this plan, so they set off, back towards where the village once stood, and work their way along the mountain passes.
Eventually they find a hamlet, and as it’s getting close top evening they decide to stop there and see if there is an inn to stay at. However, as they approach they see a mob gathered, pitchforks and torches and all, listening to a man painted in red and white, eulogizing about something called the Crimson Lady. The group hang back and discuss in quiet voices that it sounds like one of the more dangerous cults of Wee Jas, and they dislike the idea of this man converting more followers to this less-than-righteous cause.
The man is encouraging the villagers to leave, and travel to the Crimson Lady’s base in the north. Felix steps forward and tells the villagers they shouldn’t listen to the man, because (and here he gets his geography a little mixed up) this is where drow reside, and everyone knows drow aren’t a wholesome race. He has first-hand experience of this, he adds, having been present when drow tried to attack Toreguarde.
What is a Toreguarde? the villagers ask.
A city to the south, replies Felix.
Ah yes, interrupts the Crimson man, the cities of the south that grow fat off the poor working folk, like the villagers before him.
Actually no, Felix politely interjects. While there are some would like nothing more than to do this, there are those who stand against them. He gestures at Elo, ushering her forward. The Lady Elowyn, for instance – a true champion of the people – tries to put a stop to that. He goes on to expound about the recent troubles where she spoke out against the nobles who wanted to segregate everyone; about the noble who hired Gore Jesters to put fear into the population; about how she is a Paladin of the People.
As he’s speaking the villagers attention goes from the Crimson man, to Felix and on to Elo, who is starting to wish the ground would open up. When he is down talking, one of the villagers asks her directly if this is true. She grudgingly admits, yes, and reiterates the salient facts of the matter.
A villager asks, is she’s a saint?
There is stifled giggling from the others of the party, standing behind Elo and Felix, as they try to quietly piss themselves with laughter.
No. Absolutely and categorically, she is not a saint, she says. The villagers all nod to themselves a little, as she goes on to say that even though she has been ordained as a paladin, she follows no god, and is at heart still a simple watchman.
The crowd murmurs; mutterings about a “prophecy” of “a messiah from humble beginning” are thrown around, a truly righteous spirit who would deny their nature. Elo tries to put a quash on this, proclaiming she’s not a messiah, but a very naughty girl! It doesn’t help. Felix keeps talking and slowly the villagers start to kneel, as the others are absolutely dying with laughter behind Elo and Felix.
Suddenly a little girl comes up, and says her Grandma is very sick, and is Elo able to help. Poor Elo is nonplussed, and says she can try. The little girl shyly takes her hand and leads the paladin through the town, with the villagers and the group trailing behind. It is assumed that the Crimson man has cut his losses and scarpered. Eventually the girl arrives at a run-down chapel. The girl leads Elo in, followed by the group. A green miasma fills the one-room church, and at least twelve patients are laid out on pallets along the sides. Merri informs Elo they all seems to have some kind of pox. The girl leads Elo to one of the pallets, and introduces her to her grandmother. Elo kneels down and says she will try to help, but the old lady, grips her hand and says no. She has had a long life already, and though it was hard, it was good. There are others who would benefit from her ministrations, she says, and indicates weakly to another pallet. Elo moves over to see a young woman, heavily pregnant. Elo concentrates very hard, willing her powers to help this woman, and she is able to eject the disease from the young woman’s body. She helps the young woman out, lest she catch the illness a second time, and there is much celebration from the villagers, who see this as proof they were right about Elo. Elo is suitably embarrassed.
She is also knackered, so Merri asks if the village has an inn. There is a tavern/ village meeting house type affair, they are told, which has some spare rooms. It’s not much, the man who runs the tavern says, but it’s theirs for as long as they need it – for free. Too tired to object, the party retire, though Elo stays up to have a small word with the kobolds. She is worried they might, somehow, take offence at the villagers behaviour. The kobolds inform her they are fine – they know they were her disciples first. They do however note that she hasn’t bathed in a while, and pointedly suggest she lets them bather her. Maybe in the morning she tiredly tells them. They agree with this, and satisfy themselves with sanctifying her bed. With that, they all fall into slumber.