The party continues their ascent up Mount Fresa, being very cautious as to avoid any potential ambushes by the Legion. Eventually, their travel path up the mountain takes them to a rope bridge that must be crossed – diverting would take hours due to having to climb down and then up the other side of the ravine.
As the group ascends Mount Fresa, they go into hiding as a large band of Dakans decend the mountain. These Dakans state out loud that they’re grateful to be leaving the ruins – they had come across creatures that they had been afraid of, and were lucky to be relieved by the Legion. Aras takes note of the fact that the Dakans were scared by what they had fought against – the Dakans do not fear too much, being draconic in heritage.
As the Dakans continue descending the mountain without noticing the party, Alenn requests Aras gives the command to attack – stating that if the party kills this group now, the party will leave a “calling card” that will intimidate the Legion and dissuade them from continuing to the ruins.
Due to the numbers of Dakans, Aras immediately shoots down the plan – it’s too reckless (even for him, with his hatred against Dakans in particular and all), and states that it’s not worth risking the safety of the group while they are hidden – these Dakans are evacuating, not looking for a fight.
Dissatisfied with Aras’s answer, Alenn decides to go for it – yelling out to the others to follow him while he engages. Aras immediately yells at him to stop, but it’s too late as Alenn begins hacking at the first Dakan he comes across. The other Dakans immediately realize they’ve been ambushed, and notice the hidden party members in the treeline. As the Dakans charge to fight back, Aras and the others realize they have no other option but to fight back, and engage as well. Aras yells for the others to defend Adgar, and leads them into the fight.
During the fight, one of the Dakans manages to fire off a signal flare before being killed off – Aras becomes mortified, as he realizes that this means they’re calling for reinforcements, most likely the Legion company. As the fight continues on, Aras has the group fight on while they withdraw, as he cannot determine if the Legion is going to send reinforcements to assist the Dakans. Alenn is outraged as the others retreat, thinking that they’re leaving the fight unfinished. The party withdraws and escapes, not even taking the time to loot the bodies of the dead draconians they leave behind.
After the fight, Aras immediately berates Alenn for his idiotic action – he risked everyone’s lives without any need to. Alenn shoots back that he knows that Aras does the same thing often – to which Aras replies he only does what he needs to, instead of engaging into fights any time he can. Alenn disregards Aras’s complaints, saying that it was the best tactical option to remove enemies from the fight and lower the morale of the reinforcement Legion troops. He further goes on to say that even if the Legion did come to assist, that they would have been distracted from their main objective – Aras cannot argue that point, but states it would have possibly costed lives he isn’t willing to throw away to find out.
Gragus gets into a conversation with Aras afterwards, stating he seems to have some sense. Aras replies by informing Gragus that he’s led parties before on his own and a platoon when he was in the Army of the Sword’s Path – stating that while he’ll fight on his own without hesitation, he doesn’t engage in a fight with allies without knowing for certain they can win. He had done that before in the past – and got too many people killed because of it.
The party in general is scolded by Selea due to their extremely reckless actions while she tends to Fiva’s wounded hand, but Gragus is rather impressed by their skills. Travner is a bit more annoyed, however – wanting to go in and find the treasures in the ruins before the Legion loots it. The rest of the party is dismayed with his lack of concern over the more important issue of a new portal possibly being opened, but ignore it as they continue on their journey up the mountain.
The group carries on through the night, but are forced to camp after several people exhaust themselves. Aras volunteers to stay watch for the first part of the night – though during his shift he notices a bright red flame further in the forest.
He heads over to investigate, and finds a lone fire sprite hovering over a shallow pond. He’s taken aback by the sight – having never seen one of these before, and prepares to fight it in fears of it being a mindless monster. It notices him, however, and begins quivering in fear, squeaking out quite understandable common asking him not to hurt her.
Aras is shocked by the fire sprite’s pleas, and immediately puts away his sword. The fire sprite becomes delighted as she sees he means no harm, and introduces herself as Soli. Aras is amused by the sprite, and begins a conversation as he’s curious to know why she so happens to be here – knowing that such elementals are unable to project themselves on the material plane without some sort of magic allowing it. Soli informs him that a sorcerer had claimed her as a prisoner a long time ago, keeping her as a personal pet – having soulbonded her to a ruby and leaving her unable to escape it without dying in the process.
Aras immediately realizes that this would be Yarvdenn, and pledges to Soli that he will rescue her from her plight – though he is completely unaware that the sorcerer has been watching the entire time. Yarvdenn sneaks up behind him and casts a empowered ray of enfeeblement on him, leaving Aras no time to react and causing him to succumb to the effects of the spell. Soli watches on in horror as her new friend falls limp, and is returned into Yarvdenn’s ruby as the sorcerer investigates the intruder. He leaves Aras for dead, casting another ray of enfeeblement on him to ensure the job is done before leaving. As he watches Aras squirm, he informs Aras that he figured this was what the dakans were warning them about – though it wasn’t worth aiding the disposable draconians, he figured it wouldn’t hurt for him to personally see what they had encountered.
Selea and the others hear Soli’s cries back at their camp, and upon realizing Aras has gone missing run out to find him. They come across him laying facefirst in the pond, and Selea barely manages to revive him with her cure light wounds spell. Aras comes to and informs them of what had just happened – leaving Adgar concerned, as a person capable of casting a magic jar spell in the way Yarvdenn had is capable of much more.
Deciding they have no time to waste, the party quickly finds the Legion camp and plan a raid of the encampment. Aras goes in order to attempt to slay the sorcerer himself, being aided by Gragus. Fiva sneaks around in an attempt to determine how she can undermine their camp – accidentally knocking over a lamp and causing a tent to catch on fire. Despite her initial horror of the fire she started (Fiva and her overwhelming fear of fire in general), she quickly realizes this is a rather good thing – and sets about knocking over every lamp she comes across.
The Legion troopers are caught off guard, and quickly disperse in order to escape the forest fire now ongoing. During the confusion, Aras comes across Yarvdenn and fails to kill him, but does manage to steal the ruby containing Soli and runs away. Yarvdenn’s troops are unable to mount a suitable counterattack due to the shock of their camp burning down unexpectedly, and the party sneaks away. The party loses Travner during the confusion of the fight, but he eventually shows up once the party has fully regrouped – though he shows up nearly an hour or so after the fact.
Though he makes the excuse that he had become lost during the battle, Travner has secretly met with Yarvdenn himself – having been hired by the Legion as a local spy. He informs Yardvenn that the great wizard Soros has brought a party to the mountain in order to find the Book of the Realms, and informs Yardvenn of the individuals that have assisted Soros. Yardvenn immediately recognizes Aras and Fiva upon hearing about them – Aras having reached some level of infamy with the Legion due to his fight with Sepna Austir. Upon realizing the legitimate threat this group presents to the Legion’s efforts, Yardvenn puts out immediate orders to track down and eliminate Adgar’s party – presenting Travner a small gold pouch with an advance payment for his services before dismissing him to sabotage the party’s efforts.
Fearing for their lives in the event the Legion catches up to them after destroying the campsite, the party presses forward and quickly come across the ruins. Soli is freed for the moment from her ruby, and she quickly informs them that they must be careful – Yarvdenn did not take as many men as he did for no reason.
Not really fearing what’s inside, Aras leads the rest of the group towards the entrance.