Dakarai returns with news that additional troops will be coming from the White Iron camp. Weary from their last combat, the party decides to build up defences and make a stand within the Spellforge.
Dakarai floods the area in front of the spellforge by redirecting a river, creating a swampy muck suitable for the tiring bullywugs to hide. As the water rises, it floods the maze and entraceway of the mine, creating a perfect defensive line. The flooding is complete just in time, as the woods that the attackers were hiding in become wreathed in flame, presumably started by the White Iron troops in an attempt to drive the bulywugs back into the swamp.
Dakarai, Kharl and Hudson stay back to guard the mines, while the others make thier way along the cliffs through thick smoke. Spying the White Iron camp, they notice that they are mounting up for combat, while the rest of the camp packs up and heads for the hills. Kharl and Dakarai tend to the wounded, and Kharl returns Leventius’ Bane to Hudson, reinvigorating his morale.
Urllex leads the groups through the burning woods and extends the brushfire further onto the plain, forcing the approaching knights to dismount and make their way into the thick smoke along the cliff if they want to attack at all.
Returning to the Spellforge through the maze, the trio notice something amiss – the bodies of dead bullywugs floating in the waist-deep water. Immediately, the trio are set upon by a pair of Displacer Beasts – the monsters that destroyed Lorna’s home. A short, brutal fight plays out in the water, the party short on health and spells, the displacer beasts ripping and tearing with powerful tentacles. Dakarai goes down after recieving two powerful blows to the chest, and Kharl is flayed within an inch of his life. After the beasts are finally killed, the party returns to land to tend to the wounded, completely exhausted. Though Dakarai has been stabalised, he will not wake.
Back with the other defenders, they find that the bullywugs seem to have ambushed the last of the human attackers, sappers who had intended to bring the mine down on their heads. The party waits out the night, and no further attack comes. Emerging the next day, they find the White Iron company gone, obviously appalled at their own losses.
Time passes, and the party returns to Phandalin, where they spend weeks recuperating. Dakarai connot be roused, either by medicine or magic, and Kharl concludes that he is trapped in his coma by some powerful entity that he can see brief flashes of when he touches Dakarai’s mind.
Lorna and Urllex make contact with Halia Thornton, who is now the new mayor, and she suggests that if they want to stop the White Iron Company, they need to target the people paying them – a group of Artificers known as Wormwood, Fife and Vanderbourne.
Kharl gets in a serious disagreement with Halia over her pardoning of two of the redbrand thugs he had arrested – dragging them by their necks most of the way to the gibbet before he is talked down. He spends the rest of the stay in Phandalin hiding away in the Leventius estate feeling sorry for himself.
The unexpected return of a large halfling contingent from New Haven leads to an impromptu celebration, and also the return of Gundren Rockseeker, who had been in New Haven trying to settle his affairs.
Taking the party aside for a meeting, Gundren crypically reveals to the party that decades ago, him, Urllexin’s aunt, and Kharls grandfather saved the world, and that now they are cursed, and refuses to explain how or what from, saying that it would put them all in danger.
Gundren has in his hands a set of amulets to prevent against scrying, and says they don’t know how much the drows saw when they used the scrying room within the Spellforge, and that they might not have much time.
He tells the party has his funds have been cut off due to civil war in the underdark, and that because of this he plans to organise an expedition to find out what is happening in the drow kingdoms. While he does this, he gives the party two tasks – to go to Highhaven University and contact the headmaster, and to travel to Skypiercer temple to help Kharl the Elder ascend as Rhobsarendor.
Kharl asks Gundren “what he knows of salt,” the curse that had befallen his grandfather. Suprisingly, this causes Kyuss, present within Varyk, to snarl in fury.
Seemingly putting two and two about something together, Kyuss fully possesses Varyk and assaults Gundren, crying out in Abyssal, accusing him of theft. The party desperately tries to free Gundren, but Kyuss is too strong. Some quick thinking on Kharls part leads him to realise that Gundrens amulets would hopefully prevent demonic possession, and manages to get the necklace around Varyks neck.
While this successfully frees Varyk from Kyuss’s control (and banishes Kyuss from his mind), the damage has already been done – Gundren is dead.