The party is exhausted, largely out of spells, and trapped on a boat with a pair of homicidal halfling assassins. While the first has the group distracted, the other invisibly steals up on Brundle and buries a dagger in his back. While the wound doesn’t appear too severe, the gnome almost immediately spasms and falls to the floor, poisoned and near death.
The twins are dangerous foes, capable of draining the party’s remaining magic and using it against them; one of them steals Merrilyn’s remaining healing magic, while the other goes after Thistle, wrenching control of her Flame Blade away from her and using it to terrible effect. The battle is tense, as the cagy halflings can easily get the remaining heroes off-guard and launch powerful sneak attacks, but the party is able to divide and overpower them. Cyrus decapitates one with a critical blow, and the other falls to the combined efforts of Thistle, Carol, and Lilliana.
Finally free to rest and recover, the party makes it to Howlett. Carol is able to cure the poison afflicting Brundle, but he is still very weak Sailing up the Sathir River, they see signs of the ongoing war against the Reborn Talon. The port town at the mouth of the river shows an increased military presence, and the ship passes a devastated halfing caravan on the banks of the river. Disembarking to investigate, they find no survivors, although from the number of burned wagons, it appears just over half of the halflings (and their hounds) were killed. The whereabouts of the others are unknown. The destruction is complete, and there is no salvageable equipment among the burned wagons. Cyrus tracks the attackers a short distance, and finds a tell-tale sign of magical transportation, a circular pattern burned into the grass.
The group continues to Kestral and meets again with Queen Sathirin and Relerian Ambassador Reler’issa Tuomon to report their findings in Carthia. They learn that the Carthian delegation to the Council has withdrawn from Kestral, citing security concerns; Kaffrey has sent troops to support the war against the Talon, and Releria has been curiously reluctant to respond to the situation. The party then meets with Dunphy on behalf of the Jesting Shadows who gives them a little more information about the attacks on the halfling caravans: apparently numerous caravans have been hit by groups of hobgoblins apparently led by an elf in white robes.
The party returns to their old haunt, the Lonesome Jug, to ponder their next move.