And lo, Arivae and his disciples did wander the caves for what felt like weeks. And they came upon an unnamed village that had been defiled by monstrous slaads, working under the guiding hand of the warlock Emma. There the champions of Mystra uncovered a bit of writing in the fallen aasimar’s own hand—which told of the enslavement of the old one Nessus by Cantor.
The Weave Made Flesh and his disciples found a hidden chamber, in which Emma, surrounded by an army of slaad thralls, communed with her dark master. As the disciples listened in secret, Cantor spoke of a sacrifice—a person whose blood would be needed to draw him into Faerun. He hinted that this sacrifice was nearer than Emma realized.
It dawned on Arivae then—could the sacrifice Cantor spoke of be one of his disciples? Would Brother Bottom’s tiefling blood open a gate to another plane? Had the eldritch magic that permeated Brother Piska like bog water turned the young mage into an arcane key? Brother Foot’s body was honed to channel energy. Perhaps that energy could be turned to evil ends?
Brother Crow . . . had wandered off somewhere. Surely he was fine.
Whoever the sacrifice was, Arivae realized they’d stepped right into Emma’s clutches. His disciples relied on him, not just for spiritual guidance, but as their divine protector. And yet he simply could not stop that many slaad . . . not to mention their foul leader. For when the Weave was given mortal form in Arivae, it became subject to mortal limitations.
Did Arivae despair? Perhaps for a moment. But only a moment. Then he raised his hands, offering a silent prayer to Mystra, and performed the Miracle of Fireball. Emma noticed him just in time to take in the explosion, as tons of rock collapsed into the passage, sealing her and her thralls within the chamber.
The trip out felt much shorter. Arivae and his disciples returned to Neverwinter, and they did rest.
But the disciples were still being hunted—not by Emma, but by someone perhaps even stranger. The hooded figure who had appeared so often in their journeys revealed himself as an elf named Gaylord. He was a follower of Nessus, whom he called “Father,” mirroring Piska’s own filial devotion to his “Mother” with eerie exactness. Gaylord wanted help freeing his fetid patron from servitude, and in return he offered to point the disciples toward the location of Valendra, joining them in their journey.
With some reluctance, the disciples agreed to follow the lead into a nearby forest. Arivae could only trust that Mystra would guide his path.