As they prepare to leave for Tantalus, a party of Templars (the personal guard of the Dukes of Tantalus) arrives bearing a message for Arthedain Hollin. They inform him that his mother has fallen gravely ill and that his father, the Duke, requests his presence immediately. Arthedain had been hoping to get in and out of Tantalus without his family learning of his presence, and is disheartened that they knew he was in the Kirsvald, but decides to honor the request out of affection for his mother. The rest of the party decides to accompany him since they were headed that way anyways. The Templars will serve as escort back to Tantalus.
On the road to Tantalus, they are attacked by a band of gnoll raiders while they are camping for the night. As the party is awakened by the noise, they find that all of the Templars have been turned to stone and have to scramble to drive off the raiders. After the fight, they find strange reptilian tracks leading off the road, but lose the trail before they can track what did this.
They continue on towards Tantalus without further incident until they are within sight of the city. There they are accosted by a group of ruffians who are seeking to capture Arthedain to ransom him back to his family. However, these ruffians are not prepared to deal with a band of experienced adventures and use tactics meant to bully weaker foes. The party tears into the ruffians with extreme prejudice giving them far more than they ever bargained for when they conceived this half-baked plot. However, one of the ruffians only watched from a distance, and manages to escape and enter the city before the party can deal with him.
Once they enter the city and make their identity known, they are quickly escorted to the ducal palace. Here they are greeted by the duke’s younger brother Alistair, a strange affected but graceful man garbed all in black. They are taken to ducal chambers, where Duke Arronal Hollin greets them. Introductions are made and Arronal tells Arthedain of the affliction that grips his mother Avalesca. His mother is of Varastani descent and the chosen of Istus, goddess of prophecy. It seems she is in the grip of some vision and trapped within it. She keeps calling out for “the conduit” but no one seems to know what she means. Worse, the toll of the visions is wasting her away and she can get no nourishment from food, so her body is essentially consuming itself for energy to fuel these visions. She cannot survive for long, but have no clue how to free her from the grip of these visions. Worse, any who come too close can be trapped inside the vision trance as well if proper precautions are not made. She does not have long before the visions consume her entirely. Even the duchy’s archmage Lear is at a loss to find a solution.
Faenthar speaks to the duke, telling him that with Arthedain returned home, his obligation is fulfilled and his mother’s debt repaid. He tells the duke he has an idea for something that can aid his wife, not cure her, but to keep her alive until a means to free her can be found, but if he does it, it will be the Duke that is in his debt. Arronal agrees and Faenthar tells him the materials he will need.
Fox and Dawn are uncomfortable in the trappings of the palace and go into the city to explore. They find a small group of Northlanders and catch up on the news. They learn that during their three week sojourn through the Shadowfell, over three months had passed in this world, and events in the Northlands had continued to develop.
Gelmyr also sets out to explore the city. Arthedain continues to visit with his ailing mother. Faenthar spends two days assembling the materials and performing the ritual to create a magical belt of sustenance for the Duchess. He presents it to the Duke and tells her that it will at least give sustenance to the seeress to prevent her form wasting away and consuming herself, allowing her to survive the ravages of the visions until a way to free her from their grip can be found. The Duke is in Faenthar’s debt, and he asks for access to the ducal libraries, the very same libraries his mother sought a century before seeking clues about the location of the lost city of Tal Neccar. The duke’s gratitude is great, and he not only grants Faenthar’s request, but appoints him as an adviser to the court, granting him the power to act on the duke’s behalf on many matters and giving him access to most of the ducal palace.
The belt is given to Avalesca, and attention is turned to trying to find a cure for her affliction.