Sir Bruce gathered Persephone Montaine, Leadbelly, and Max outside of the goblin caves. He said a prayer to Tyr and used his divine sense to detect any evil within 60 feet. Bruce’s heart skipped a beat when he sensed the fell presence of a fiend. He fearfully gazed upon Persephone, but then relaxed somewhat when he determined that she was not the fiendish source. In his astonishment it was coming from himself. In particular an item on his person. The glowing emerald Sir Bruce has taken from the fallen goblin king, Blort, was detecting as fiendish. Sir Bruce gently removed it from his pack and placed it carefully in the saddle bags of Leadbelly before helping Persephone up and mounting Leadbelly himself. They all road off towards The Village of Tommen.
During the ride Sir Bruce and Persephone talked. He told her about him being a knight of Tyr and The Order of the Silver Owl. She was quite interested. Sir Bruce could feel her easing back into the saddle getting closer to him. Sir Bruce quickly explained his vows of chastity and how important they were to him. Persephone, sighing with disappointment, returned her posture to a more normal seated position. Sir Bruce asked Persephone some questions about her father Bressard Montaine and Warden Duthane. She revealed that her father was a man of books and that his love for the starry constellations was matched only by his knowledge of them. She said that Warden Duthane was prone to be angry on occasion but was always calm and cool towards herself and her father. Sir Bruce asked her to recount her abduction for him again. She told him that she had seen a human man – not a goblin or a worg – strike her with a rock. The man’s face was covered with a purple scarf hiding his identity. Bruce asked her that if she was to see that scarf again, could she recognize it. She said most definitely that it was unlike any she had seen in Tommen before.
They made good progress and camped along the Old King’s Road. Sir Bruce set up his tent. He had Persephone sleep inside the tent while he guarded her from the outside. The night passed without incident. In the morning, Sir Bruce prayed to Tyr for his spells and was rewarded with a full complement. Sir Bruce cast a detect magic spell and confirmed that the glowing emerald was indeed magical. They set off again towards Tommen and pulled into town around noon.
At the edge of town by The End of the Road Inn they encountered rather surprised looking Warden Duthane on horseback. Duthane was amazed that Sir Bruce had returned with Persephone and offered to take her right to The Observatory. Sir Bruce wanted to return Persephone personally to her father, so they agreed to ride up to the observatory together. There they were greeted by Bressard Montaine and his guards. All of them had lunch at Bressard’s table in the observatory. Sir Bruce recounted the harrowing tale of his battles with the worgs and goblins to find his way to Persephone. Bressard thanked Bruce for returning his daughter and gave him a box with a donation to his church as a reward for his effort. It contained five 100 GP emeralds. The Master Treasure List was updated.
After a good lunch prepared by Bressard’s servants, Sir Bruce placed the glowing emerald he had recovered from Blort, the goblin chief, on the table. He explained the evil nature he had detected within the gem. He also had Persephone explain to the two men how she had been struck by a man hidden by a purple scarf. During the whole explanation, Sir Bruce studied Bressard and Warden Duthane carefully. He noticed that Warden Duthane began to perspire and a little trickle of sweat ran down his forehead.
Warden Duthane said he would redouble his efforts to investigate these new leads to find the one responsible for the kidnapping. Bressard thanked Sir Bruce again and extended his invitation to visit him at night and see his telescope in action to gaze at the stars.
After leaving the observatory, Sir Bruce met with Warden Duthane in his office. Sir Bruce bluntly leveled the accusation that he thought Warden Duthane was involved and that he wanted permission to search his office. Duthane refused and became enraged. Bruce took out his manacles and instructed Duthane to stand down, lie on the floor, and put on the manacles. Again Duthane refused in a very tense stand off that ended with Duthane bolting away, Sir Bruce drawing his sword and cutting into him as he ran. Sir Bruce gave chase into the next room but found Warden Duthane opening a dresser and grabbing something inside. Duthane looked back over his shoulder and smiled at Sir Bruce as he vanished. Sir Bruce searched the office but Warden Duthane was truly gone. And his efforts to find any incriminating evidence turned up naught.
Hastily leaving Warden Duthane’s office, Sir Bruce almost ran over Jarik Goth. The old dwarf said he was trying to meet with Warden Duthane to try and get him to do something about his salt mine. He also bluntly reminded Sir Bruce of his promise to investigate the troubles at his mine. Sir Bruce calmed the angry dwarf with some soothing words and explained that now that Persephone had been returned to her father, he could investigate the mine. Sir Bruce asked Jarik Goth is there was a town council. He discovered that indeed there was a Council of Elders that met regularly with Warden Duthane and others to run the town’s affairs. The members of the council included Bressard Montaine, Orion Endar, himself, and some other town citizens of note that Bruce had yet to meet. Sir Bruce warned Jarik Goth that Warden Duthane was somehow involved in the evil goings on that had been plaguing The Village of Tommen of late and that he was not to be trusted. Sir Bruce asked Jarik Goth to call a meeting of the Town Elders to discuss this new development this evening at The End of the Road Inn. Goth agreed with the understanding that the next morning Sir Bruce would go up to the mine and find out what was going on up there.
Upon returning to The End of the Road Inn, Sir Bruce had Kip Briarpatch tend to Leadbelly and stable him. During some conversation, Sir Bruce warned Kip to watch out for Warden Duthane and that he was possibly involved in the kidnapping of Persephone Montaine. Sir Bruce asked Kip if he had seen any unusual behavior out of Duthane of late. Kip thought about it and said he recently saw Duthane doing something in a thick patch of woods out behind the Inn. No one ever goes in there, so Kip thought it was odd that Duthane was in there for a good 20 minutes. Knowing how angry Duthane can get, Kip just watched him from afar. It looked like he was digging a hole and filling it back in.
Sir Bruce asked Kip to bring him to the very spot that he saw Duthane in the thick patch of woods. Kip, Bruce, and Max found the spot and Bruce began to search the area with Max sniffing and routing around. After about 10 minutes of looking, Max dug his head into the ground and came of with a purple scarf dangling from his teeth. Bruce recognized the description of the purple scarf from Persephone as the very one having been worn by her assailant just before she was kidnapped. With the some solid evidence no win hand to incriminate Warden Duthane, Sir Bruce felt more confident about his meeting tonight with the Council of Elders.
Sir Bruce thanked Kip for his help and asked both Kip and Persephone to be at the Council of Elders meeting tonight in order to be witnesses for him. Both agreed. Kip then brought Sir Bruce to the grove of his sister, Felicity Briarpatch. There Sir Bruce showed Felicity his glowing emerald and asked if she could divine anything more about the stone. She confirmed that it radiated magic. She poured a drop or two of holy water upon it to see it sizzle away also confirming its infernal nature.
Just then Sir Bruce felt the urge to strike out and attack Felicity. It was a strange voice in his head that he had heard before. He resisted the demands of the voice and took a step back as the emerald began to change shape. The voice in his head said:
Blort was easy to command but your will is strong. You must be broken. The Master cannot abide one such as you prying into his affairs. I, Esmeraldoch, will slay you!
The emerald transformed into a Crystalline Devil. The 6 foot tall gem encrusted humanoid had a cruel twisted face, jagged teeth, and terrible talons like shards of broken glass. Its feet, however, were soft and bare looking like they could pad along with surprising stealth.
A battle erupted in the grove with the Esmeraldoch lashing out at Sir Bruce with two claw attacks. Kip Briarpatch ran for cover and Felicity Briarpatch ran to her chest and got out a wand. Sir Bruce responded with mighty swings of Talon. It was good that he was using Talon. The silvered enchanted fey blade cut through the armored gem encrusted hide of the devil where normal blades would have been turned aside. The defensive protections of the devil also included magic resistance as the druid spells hurled at the devil were more easily resisted and defeated.
After having difficulty penetrating Sir Bruce’s sturdy plate mail armor and shield, the crystalline devil sprayed out a magical 15 foot cone of crystalline spray which hurt Bruce badly. Luckily Felicity and Kip were far enough away to be out of range. Max ran into the battle at several points to act mostly as a flanker. But Esmeraldoch used his crystalline spray to catch both Bruce and Max. The damage proved too much for the faithful hound and he went down in a shower of shards and blood. The aid spell, Sir Bruce had cast on him previously did not keep him standing but saved Max’s life as the damage would have normally instantly killed him.
Eventually Sir Bruce’s hammering blows with Talon proved too much for the crystalline devil. He called on the divine power of Tyr to add smite damage to his blows and finally laid the creature low. With a final unholy shout of pain, the devil burst into a shower of broken crystal.
Sir Bruce thanked Felicity for her help and apologized for bringing such terrible evil to her grove. He purchased 3 potions from her. A Potion of healing, greater healing, and fire breath. The Master Treasure List was updated. Felicity said that Bruce was welcome to sleep in the grove if he wished, so he set up his tent before heading back with Kip to the meeting of the Town Council.