After an additional two hours of traveling upriver, our heroes find a spot with clean water. They drink their fill, and Lucas washes out the barrels in the river. Then he fills them with clean water. Unfortunately, the filled barrels are far two much for Jocq’s poor pony, Bob to haul. Futhermore, Ravenous will certainly not allow them to walk right back into the city with barrels full of clean water, right? And what to do about Amoril, who continues to insist that Ravenous will kill him on sight. After a long discussion, the PCs decide to leave two barrels behind, empty the 3rd barrel, and have Bob pull the single barrel on the cart. When this tiny caravan reaches the city, Amoril will hop inside the empty barrel, and just like that, everyone’s problem will be solved. Just in case something happens to the bandit, Gabriel harshly demands to know exactly where Amoril was planning to take the empty barrels after dumping the poison in the river. Amoril gives up the location of the warehouse without a fight. Lucas and Jace threaten to kill the hapless bandit.
The party arrives at the city, Amoril is bound, gagged, and stuffed into the barrel, and everyone heads into Bonifant. Unfortunately, this time, our heroes are not allowed to pass unhindered. A somewhat familiar face confronts them just inside the gate. “Thought you could just leave me in the guardhouse to die?” he asks. Several other thugs surround the party, and battle is joined! As our heroes draw their weapons, the city gate closes behind them!
The door to the nearby gatehouse swings open, and a man wearing long, flowing robes comes out. He immediately brings his hands together to begin the dreaded incantations for Cone of Cold! This devastating blast of frigid air tears through friend and foe alike, turning several thugs and poor Bob the Pony into frozen statues. Even the survivors are severely weakened by this blast.
Jace tries to respond with a spell his own, but the mage raises a hand and the elf’s spell fizzles out. “Cursed Counterspell!” the wizard exclaims in frustration. He soon has more things to complain about, as several thugs single him out as an easy target. Gabriel Andre Beaumont tries to charge the enemy mage, but another tough steps in his way. Already weakened by the Cone of Cold, Gabriel soon collapses to the ground, his blood staining the city street.
The mage laughs as he summons an Ice Storm on friend and foe alike. More bandits fall beneath this barrage. Enraged by this callous disregard for the mage’s erstwhile allies and the meaningless death of his innocent pony, Jocq D’Gemseer steps forward to confront the mage. “You killed my pony!” he shouts repeatedly. The mage turns toward Jocq with a look of disdain. “No one cares about your dumb, stupid…” he is cut off as an overcharged Guiding Bolt from the kindly dwarf strikes him square in the chest. Blood sputters from the man’s mouth as he struggles to comprehend what has just happened. Panicked, he casts Invisibility on himself and tries to flee, but his form is still outlined by the holy light from Jocq’s spell. Lucas easily intercepts the fleeing man and cuts him down.
The battle has been won, but at what cost? Jocq mourns his frozen friend. Gabriel struggles to his feat, barely conscious, but still with the presence of mind to check on Amoril. The bandit lies shivering miserably among the shattered remains of his barrel. Lucas notices several suspicious men lurking at a safe distance, obviously tailing his ragtag group. Everyone needs to rest now, so they move to the closest building available, the gatehouse. Here, they hope, they will find sanctuary for a short time. Unfortunately, it is not to be.
Peering through a window, Lucas notices six rough-looking men approaching. This sets off panic among the adventurers. Jocq declares that he will stay behind and hold off the attackers, but Jace drags him away through the city gate. Lucas closes the gate behind them, then flies over the wall on his broom. The newcomers fire parting shots at the cleric, nearly knocking the weakened man from his perch.
Weakened and bleeding, our heroes run for the nearby forest, hoping to lose any pursuers. From the relative safety of the trees, they see the gate reopen, and several men come out. They don’t wait to see anything else, and head deeper into the woods. This stand of trees, however, is not a large one, and before long they emerge on the other side to find the rolling farmlands surrounding Bonifant.
The haggard adventurers approach a nearby farmhouse, and ask for shelter for the night. “I’ll probably end up regretting this, but I suppose you can stay here,” says the farmer. The farmer, a man by the name of Kikelel, annoys our heroes with his constant predictions of doom, but the night passes eventfully enough. In the morning, Gabriel asks Kikelel for extra waterskins. Lucas reimburses the man from the common fund, and Gabriel pockets the containers.
After some discussion, our heroes decide that the best way back into the city is to fly over the wall on Lucas’ broom at night. A quick observation shows that Ravenous is not patrolling the city wall, so our heroes wait for the cover of darkness to execute their plan. Meanwhile, at Jace’s urging, our heroes head to visit some other farms.
They meet a kindly farmer named Behalil Goudon, who invites them to stay for lunch. Over food, the man tells them of the bandits who raided his farm, and his plans for revenge. He hints that he will be able to take revenge soon. “How exactly are you going to do this?” asks Jace. “Let me show you,” replies Behalil. He leads several interested party members to his basement, where he unearths a strange looking statue. “It talks to me,” the farmer explains. “It gives me… power.” He snaps his fingers several times, finally getting a small, sulfuric flame to briefly appear. “It’s taking some practice, but soon those who wronged me will suffer for their crimes.” Jace concernedly notes that this is a statue of a barbed devil, and is undoubtedly a bad thing for this simple farmer to have. Using his telepathy, the wizard pretends to be the statue, and commands Behalil to give his visitor the statue. He is reluctant to do so, but shock at hearing the statue talk, and Jace’s persuasive tone convinces him, and he hands the statue over.
Devil statue in tow, our heroes head toward the Bonifant city wall.