After Nyphus lays down a challenge to the black-cloaked cultists, he starts to cross the street towards them when he hears the whistle of the city guard. He stops in his tracks and waits for the guard to reach him. At the same time, the cultists also begin walking toward Nyphus. The parade, and attending onlookers, remain watchful to see how the drama plays out. Pater, Mel, and Renic blend in to the crowd and watch to see what happens to Nyphus.
The guards approach Nyphus and the cultists and demand to know what’s going on. Nyphus accuses the cultists of evil acts at Morgansfort, and the cultists expose Nyphus and his party as the wanted murderers of members of their order. Things become heated when Jochim, led by the boy from his office the day before, suddenly steps in and advocates on Nyphus’ behalf. With the duties master involved, the guards decide this squabble is above their pay grade and announce that they will bring both parties before the Duke to settle the matter.
A march to the palace follows with guards between the cultist and Nyphus, Jochim, and the boy. Pater, Mel, and Renic all follow separately at a distance. As the group moves into the merchant quarter on the way to the Noble quarter a carriage with the initials, MR, passes them, seemingly on its to the palace too. The procession enters the palace gates, but the rest wait outside before deciding to regroup back at the ship.
Upon entering the throne room, the Duke is seen finishing up some business with a group of elegantly garbed elvish diplomats from Avenrho. It is their ship docked at the wharf next to the Amber Tide and the Tarred Goose. The Duke tiredly asks the guard what this is about. After a brief synopsis of the situation, Nyphus lays out his case passionately. The cultists lay out theirs. During their testimonies two people enter on the side of the throne room, an elderly gentleman in a wheel chair and his much-younger caretaker, a raven-haired woman with cruel eyes. This is Baron Morgan Rathwynn, father of Halden. He recounts the accusations of murder delivered to him by the Bailiff and Father Thelbain. The boy, Caleb, tells Jochim he saw the Baron’s caretaker with a green mark tattoo on her chest while she was undressed. The Duke, not wanting to get involved in a religious dispute, takes each party into his private quarters for an interview. He meets with Nyphus and Jochim last. He tells Nyphus to slip away as early as he can the following morning once the ships are allowed to disembark.
The group go back to the Goose and ask them to leave as early as possible. They gather their stuff from the wagon. They give Jochim the wagon for his trouble. Nyphus thanks the boy and they all leave early the next day. The party and the ship’s crew get on well. Much drunken cavorting occurs.
On the third night of what is to be a two -week voyage, Nyphus has a dream. He finds himself in a long stone hallway. At the end are two fountains. An eerie music plays. To the left is a milky fog of star lights, beyond which is an altar. On the altar, beside two golden goblets and a large book is a miter. Nyphus wakes with a start. The boat rocks restlessly and the crew can be heard up on deck. Nyphus goes on deck as does the rest of the party. Four large Rocs are circling overhead, but do not attack. The crew are alarmed by the great creatures’ passivity and spooked by the strange omen. The next day they Ravenstone is sighted off the starboard bow – a week and a half early.
The Goose’s crew quietly unload their cargo and take off, glad to rid of the strange southerners. The party find accommodations at a tavern/inn near the docks. Mel offers blessings to the fellow clientele in an attempt to strike up conversation and learn any news about town. She meets a middle-aged woman named Mrs. Harrelson, a widow who is proud of her son, a recent acolyte to the Green Mark, Brother Woodward. The widow talks of the cult in an adoring voice, awed that her son was part of such a holy group, reiterating the phrase, “The Green Mark will open the hearts of men.” She mentions that she hasn’t been able to see much of her son since his vows. Mel offers to dictate a letter to him and deliver it on her behalf. The widow graciously accepts and pays Mel for the service. There is a casual reference to slave pit, but beyond nothing seems too out of the ordinary.
The next day, the group heads out in the direction of the chapel of the Green Mark which is said to be at the heart of town, all roads leading to it. The morning streets are gloomy, due to the bank of clouds that hang over the city. The weather is brisk, but not yet cold, due to the humidity. No one appears on the streets which, although clean, are packed with ugly, three-story, shingle-sided tenements.
They reach the chapel, a small, squat and windowless building on its own at the center of a five-pointed intersection. Before approaching, they see a cultist leave the building and furtively move down the street opposite. The group decide to follow him, stopping when he enters a tenement. They wait and decide what to do next.