10th Reaping, 594, morning
The Duke’s army is on the move again, several days march away and showing no signs of stopping. Scouts report back that the Duke and his commanders have spread the word of the Heroes treason, attempted assassination, and murder of the former commanders. Even ordinary folk in the towns and villages of the Grand Duchy are beginning to question the actions of these so-called Heroes. Back at Pest’s Crossing, the falsely-accused– well, of treason, they’re certainly guilty of killing– Heroes decide flight is better than fight, and decide to evacuate the town and surrounding land, sending the families under Calibos’ lordship off to Tika Town, accompanied and escorted by their small army. Meanwhile, the Heroes head off to see if the real Duke is imprisoned in the hunting lodge where they encountered him previously to the march of his army. Xellos first hides the mirror in the river.
On the 12th Reaping, the evacuees begin their long march, while the Heroes ride off towards the Oyt Wood, where the Duke’s lodge is located. They skirt around the approaching army, taking care not to be seen, and after three days of hard riding they arrive at the lodge and make camp as night falls. Xellos flies off to scout the place out, and discovers that the lodge has been burned to the ground! He reports back to the others, carrying a skull of a dead soldier for Halmary to speak with dead: he learns that there was a surprise attack, balls of fire exploding in the grounds. Sidni goes back with Xellos and they deduce that there was indeed a short-lived and one-sided battle, with tracks of a single rider leaving the ruined lodge.
In the morning, the 16th Reaping, the Heroes explore the ruins, looking for any sign of the Duke or for what happened there. Using their swords of seeking they find a faint trace of the Duke, coming from underground. They unearth the stairs to the cellar and descend. Whilst Ungrid and Xellos stand guard, Halmary uses his magic mace to search for secret doors and discovers one behind a barrel. Calibos opens it, triggering a glyph of warding that strikes him with a lightning bolt. Inside the hidden room are two broken statues: one of the Duke, the other of his wife. They seem incredibly life-like, and also smashed. Obviously someone had turned them to stone and then destroyed them, killing them. They take a few pieces from each, with the intention of somehow bringing them back to life at a later date. There is also a chest inside the room, which Halmary finds traps on and dispels another glyph of warding: inside are coins and gems that are looted.
Back outside they find horse tracks leading away from the ruins. They break camp, mount up, and start following them into the forest and down the path that leads out.