The heroes trudge back to the coastal town of Sandpoint in the rain and the gathering gloom. On their arrival, Hikage seeks a hot meal and a cup of sake. Zendo, concerned about his rat bites, and Corvus, plagued by small red bumps that none of the others can see, seek out Father Zantus at the Cathedral for help, despite the presence of a druidic healer in their band. Gellius accompanies the two to the Cathedral despite the snub.
At the Cathedral, the Desnan priest is concerned to see the state of the heroes of Sandpoint. He quickly cleans and dresses Zendo’s lacerated legs and chides Gellius for not doing so sooner. He examines Corvus closely, but confesses that he can find no illness in the young mage. He does, however, lead the three men in a brief prayer, and the healing energies of his faith ease their wounds.
The men tell Father Zantus that they have discovered, and dispatched, the murderer of Banny Harker and Katrine Vinder. They confess that, to their dismay, their friend Aldern Foxglove, had been bitten by ghouls and turned into a ravening undead beast, driven by both a ghoulish hunger and a fierce jealousy towards Zendo. The heroes are circumspect, however, and they do not tell the garrulous priest about the nobleman’s connection with the Brotherhood of the Seven, nor his contacts in Magnimar. However, they do assure the concerned Zantus that the ghoul menace has been dispelled, and tell him that the source of the corruption was an ancient ghoul warren beneath Foxglove Manor.
The wet and wounded Ragnar bursts into the Sandpoint General Store, brandishing the severed head of Aldern Foxglove. He presents the grisly trophy to a horrified Shayliss Vinder, but mollifies her somewhat by explaining that he struck the blow that killed Foxglove, avenging her sister’s death at the nobleman’s hands. Though the shapely young woman is still aghast at the gruesome present, she thanks the Ulfen fighter gratefully for bringing her sister’s murderer to justice, rough though it might have been. The bloodied Ragnar stalks off into the gathering dusk to collapse on his bed in the Rusty Dragon, his wounds untreated.
In the morning, the men gather in the Rusty Dragon and discuss their plans before speaking to Sheriff Hemlock. Zendo urges haste and subterfuge, counseling a rapid journey to Magnimar before word of Aldern’s demise can spread. Once there, he suggests using magic to conceal the group’s identity, and a swift investigation into the Foxglove townhouse. This seems reasonable to Gellius, and Corvus raises no objections, but Hikage and Ragnar both disagree, for widely differing reasons. The tall Ulfen finds that the plan smacks of cowardice and caution, while the monk insists that such deceptive, dishonorable tactics are unworthy of the heroes. Hikage also pragmatically points out that, if confronted by the town watch, the use of illusion and deception will be suspicious. Though Zendo remains concerned about corruption among the city watch, he agrees that an initial honest approach may be advisable.
The men also quibble over the method of travel from Sandpoint to Magnimar. Gellius, ever comfortable in the wild, suggests simply walking to the larger city over the next few days. Zendo wishes to purchase horses from Daviren Hosk, to get to Magnimar as quick as possible, though he is more than willing to travel aboard a Varisian caravan as well. Hikage and Ragnar instead suggest paying for passage on board a ship sailing down the coast to the larger port. The men agree to defer the decision until after speaking with the Sheriff, and determining when the next ship will sail. Zendo quickly treats the remaining injuries of Gellius and Hikage, but Rangar suffers his injuries in silence.
Sheriff Hemlock seems glad to see the men and is curious to see what they have discovered at the Foxglove Manor. They tell him what they have learned, and they reveal to Belor that Aldern was in league with a mysterious group known as the Brotherhood of the Seven in Magnimar. They show him the letter from Xanesha to Aldern and discuss the ritual significance of the murders. The sheriff sees that some of the murders were incidental, such as the feeding behavior of the ghouls, and the slaying of incidental victims, but he presses the men for how and why the ritual victims were selected. The heroes agree that money does appear to link all of the ritual killings, and tell the sheriff that it appears Aldern himself was in financial distress, leading to his initial contacts with the Brothers of the Seven.
Belor questions the men about the Brothers, and their connection to the ancient runes via the Sihedron ritual. He expresses incredulity that any present-day cult or criminal association would have much connection to ancient civilizations, especially ones which disappeared thousands of years ago. He points out that the ruins in town were only recently discovered, and that any gang of criminals could have made more money by pillaging the ruins at Thistletop than through any illegal schemes.
However, while he considers the murders solved, he seems to approve of the men’s determination to investigate further in Magnimar. He writes a brief letter of introduction to Acacia Uriana, Magimar’s Captain of the Watch. He also advises the men to tread softly around the Lord-Mayor of Magnimar, Haldmeer Grobaras. Though a vain, foppish, avaricious man, the Lord-Mayor is more shrewd than he might appear, and Hemlock concedes that the Lord-Mayor, for all of his flaws, is most likely too wealthy to be easily bought.
After taking their leave of the Sheriff, the men scatter. Zendo goes calling on Rynshinn Povalli, letting her know of his plans, and his plans to return. He subtly asks about her birthday, secretly plotting to observe her home during that time in an attempt to determine the identity of her mysterious benefactor. Gellius calls upon his sweetheart, Boudra, asking her to accompany him on his journey to Magnimar. To his surprise, she seems hesitant, her eagerness to see the ‘big city’ tempered by a reluctance to travel there on foot and camp on the hard ground each night. Ragnar goes to the Sandpoint Mercantile league and determines that a ship will be sailing for Magnimar on the 24th, leaving before midday and arriving in port in the early afternoon. Corvus and Hikage question the merchants and traders in the markets, and find out that a group of wagons will be leaving tomorrow, but the slower wagons will not arrive in Magnimar for four full days. Once the men meet for lunch in the Rusty Dragon, they decide that, barring buying horses and tack, their best bet for arriving in Magnimar is to book passage about the ship sailing there in a few days.
That decided, the heroes determine to divest themselves of some of the ‘loot’ they had recently acquired. They visit Vorvashali Voon, selling off many different magical (and non-magical) curiosities to him. They pay a visit to Hayliss Korvaski, selling her the Foxglove manor silver service, as well as several bottles of fine wine they found in Aldern’s wine cellar, and a rare painting by Goren Andosalu, among other trifles of jewelry and luxury goods. The men also pay a visit to Savah Bevaniky at the armory, selling her several magical weapons and enchanted armor that they acquired on their recent exploits. Ragnar sees a well-crafted greatsword on display, and despite possessing a magical bastard sword, he buys it on the spot. As dusk is gathering, the men pay a quick visit to Jasper Korvaski, to cash some small gems into gold as well. Finally, laden down with much gold, the men (Ragnar, mostly) lug their sea-chest to the Mercantile League and trade their weighty coins for a more manageable sum of platinum.
On the 22nd, the men rise bright and early and call on Brodert Quink. They are bound for Thistletop, intending to use Corvus’s magical floating disk to retrieve the gilded giant helmet held in the ruined treasury. Corvus seems much recovered himself, and claims that the reddish bumps are fading, though none of the other men ever saw them. The sage eagerly agrees to accompany the men on their trek, explaining that few of the residents of Sandpoint are willing to brave a goblin stronghold, even sacked, to help him examine the important ruins below. After a long, but undemanding day, assisting the pedantic little scholar, the men return to Sandpoint with an eye-catching trophy, the golden, snarling helmet of a long-dead giant. Though the men had thought to offer this extravagant prize to Voon, an astonished Ilsoari Gandethus stops them in the street as they pass by the academy. He offers the heroes a substantial sum for the ancient relic, and explains that it deserves a place of pride here in Sandpoint, rather than an ignominious fate of being auctioned off to some bored noble elsewhere. He sheepishly admits, however, that the ‘place of pride’ is, at least currently, the basement of the academy, where he maintains his own cache of curious from his adventuring career.