The group leaves the last Dwarven Hold with their now fully operational recording device. Though their next destination is to be Brotheim there are a few things they need to do on the way. Namely, Ailith very much wanted some closure with Ivnit over her behaviour (running from a battle) outside the dwarven hold as well as her puzzling insistence that the group is directly to blame for the Dragonborn attack on her family.
The group agrees that this should be addressed before moving on with their quest, and off to Meerguard they go. Upon arrival Ailith immediately makes off for her chapter house and after having a rather intense conversation with Morgan (her mentor, the novice-master, and a Paladin of Kord) in which she learns that Ivnit has already arrived and challenged her, Morgan gives her till midnight to decide whether or not to accept. Ailith finds the group partaking in Rasp’s generous bounty (all but Echo who managed to completely incapacitate himself on some halfling mushrooms within an hour of arriving in Meerguard) and presents to them her situation. The group agrees that Ailith should accept Ivnit’s challenge to get it over with; and after Hope determines that Ailith would be very angry if she just went and killed Ivnit to get her out of the way she offers herself as a suitable ‘second’.
Ailith, with a scheming Hope in tow, head for the chapter house whereupon Hope learns to her dismay that it is traditional to sit up all night and ‘pray’ before a challenge. Ailith offers her a comfy bed for the evening but Hope refuses on the grounds that Ailith will be outnumbered in the chapel if she’s not there, making it a perfect time for Ivnit to try something. Though Hope had to be shushed several times when they first get there, she eventually settles down and Ailith has her prayer time.
Early the next morning they are summoned and when it comes time for Hope as Ailith’s second to inspect Ivnit’s weaponry she does an exceedingly thorough job of it. Even cutting herself with the blade to be sure it hasn’t been poisoned. The followers of Kord who’re watching mistake her intent and mutter at this as it’s said to be one of the ‘Old Ways’ and thought to be quite honourable.
Dawnis can be seen to valiantly ready himself to come to Ailith’s defense should Ivnit seek to strike a killing blow… but within fifteen seconds the fight is over and Ivnit’s second drags her unconscious body out of the ring. Ailith accepts her fellow paladins’ congratulations stoically and after a rest the group is ready to go. Mara insists they stop in Teufelheim so she can check on her priestess there and people are only too happy to comply. Echo is still unconscious and drooling in the backseat of the carriage.
They arrive in Teufelheim with no trouble and Mara checks in with her priestess. She looks pale but insists she’s fine. The group notices that the priestess and the archbishop are now on a ‘first name basis’ (all but Hope who is too busy gazing at the Archbishops horns). While debating their next destination, Dawnis suggests that they go to the wizard’s academy in the mountains. Bergen seems both surprised and angered that Dawnis is aware of the academy, renewing the wizard’s fear of the massive arch-bishop. After briefing the archbishop on their progress they head off to Brotheim to convince a Diva to sing into a rock.
An uneventful week or so later our heroes find themselves in a remarkably unguarded Brotheim. They immediately head for the operahouse where Geri and Hope drop the group off and go to secure accommodations for the evening. Hope makes a slight detour to visit the seedy orphanage she grew up in first.
Ailith, Dawnis and Mara drag Echo inside with them and prop him in a chair in the lobby before venturing further. To the group’s surprise, the operahouse appears to be all but abandoned, save for the sound of distant sobbing. Mara leads the way into the offices, and they come across a fat, drunk, human man bawling his eyes out. For the first time appearing to reach the end of her patience, Mara interrogates the human and discovers that Ivy Mendel (the diva the group has been sent to find) was run over and killed three days ago by a halfling cart. Furthermore, it appears that Ms. Mendel’s understudy – Deanna – quit a week ago.
Leaving the maestro to his tears, the group returns to the lobby to wait for Hope and Geri. While they wait, the maestro (who introduces himself as Hugo Erhardt) re-appears to try to find out why the group was asking after Ms. Mendel. The story morphs into a tale that they are head-hunters from a maestro in Tuefelheim, and were trying to lure the diva away. Ailith, with help from a slowly sobering Echo, is able to convince the maestro to provide a list of the remaining most talented singers in the city. They are also given the current location of Deanna: a seedy bar on the outskirts of town called the Broken Mirror (which is well-known to both Hope and Echo).
Hope and Geri arrive with the carriage, having secured accommodations at the Tawny Lion. The party adjourns to the inn, and debates their next move. Stymied by the loss of Ivy Mendel, the option of necromancy is raised – although there remains a concern whether Ms. Mendel would still be able to sing while undead. Eventually it is decided that Mara and Dawnis will go to a local temple to attempt to contact Bergen, while Hope, Echo, and Ailith go to the Broken Mirror to investigate Deanna.
The following morning, Mara convinces a priest of Teufhar that it is urgent she speaks with Bergen. After the priest is dismissed, and Dawnis goes to hide behind some curtains, Mara informs Bergen of the complications. Bergen is quite upset by the news, and asks for time to consider what can be done. He requests that Mara contacts him again that evening.
Meanwhile, the Tieflings and Half-Elf go to the Broken Mirror, where the discover that Deanna may posses just the voice they need for their mission. Unfortunately, it appears that she is under the ownership of Shard, an old companion/nemesis of Hope and Echo’s. Shard indicates that he would be happy to allow Deanna to help the group, for 1000 gold. Hearing this, Echo calmly informs Shard that not only is he in the company of one of “Bergen’s High Paladins” (Ailith), but that he can also command an army to arrest Shard and his thugs. Shard is given 1 hour to decide what to do.