Having just chosen to enter the Pomarj and rescue Elara’s mother from the orcs, the party finds themselves sitting quiet and restless. The Queen announces to the group that they will leave in the morning, and that they will have the rest of the day to prepare. Nilly pulls Elara aside for moment and tries to convince Elara to let her pull a card from the Deck of Many Things. Elara agrees, but only if the group agrees to it. As Nilly walks off, Alesa and Elara get to share a tender but brief moment before the day proceeds. The party splits up to spend the remainder of their time in the elven capital resting and girding themselves for the journey to come.
Merrick attempts to purchase some new armor, but fails to charm the smithy into a steep discount and ends up being driven from the shop into the doors of a waiting tavern. Alesa studies herbology and examines a mysterious dagger to try and determine its magical nature. In the evening, Kallic and Archelaus spend the remainder of their time in the fighting pits; one practicing his martial skills, the other desperately avoiding sleep.
The next morning, the party gathers outside the Temple of Corellon, where Queen Yolande, Robilard, Laotan Hax and Nilly’s family wait to see them off. A unusually pale, casually dressed elf sits nearby as well. With a brief nod to Elara, Nilly announces to the group that she will be pulling a card from the Desk of Many Things, and there are audible gasps and shock falls over the group. Nilly’s grandfather attempts to persuade her of her folly, but Nilly will hear nothing of it. The Queen softly states that if Nilly discusses it with her parents and they decide to proceed, she will not stop her. As anticipated, Nilly’s mother and father plead with her to let them die; they were not meant to live forever and they don’t want her to risk her own life any further. However, they also know Nilly’s heart, and know that while she doesn’t have their blessing, she doesn’t need it. Nilly leaves the choice up to Elara, who tries to strike a deal with Nilly; save her mother and Nilly can have the Deck to do with as she wishes. Nilly and Elara argue back and forth, and in frustration, Nilly finally gives up. As the Queen attempts to move on to other things, Nilly makes a rude comment about saving Elara’s mother and Kallic swiftly slaps her across the face. An emotional exchange of words leaves Nilly grinning and Kallic grimacing, walking away shaken and hurt. During this exchange, Archelaus introduces himself to the bystander watching everything, and she introduces herself as Nehiri. The two of them spend a moment or two flirting before their attention is drawn back to Yolande.
Once again, the Queen tries to lighten the mood by announcing that there are gifts to present to the party. Three large chests full of gold are presented, as well as eight sets of white dragonhide and dragonscale armor, which causes Merrick to yell with excitement! The group is asked to remember their bonds of friendship as well as their commitment as members of the Citadel. Yolande asks the group to verbally commit to their path, and they all respond, if not in the most peaceful of ways. Motioning to the newcomer, the Queen introduces Nehiri to the party as their new guide to the Pomarj. As a last gift, Yolande offers a magical necklace to Nilly to replace the one lost in Dorakaa. While a few party members say farewell to their families, Nehiri beckons the rest of the group to the nearby stables. Laotan and Alesa share a quiet but tender goodbye, while Nilly’s mother and father express their pride and love for her before they part, knowing this will be the last time they will all be together.
Reaching the stables, the party sees well-laden carts and horses awaiting them. Nehiri mounts one of the steeds and instructs the party to follow her. After saddling up, the party rides south, following Nehiri and staying relatively quiet after the troubled meeting. Nilly keeps one hand on her heartstone, feeling her parents’ heartbeats growing fainter and fainter as a long week of travel in silence passes by. Another day passes and as evening arrives, the group makes camp as Nehiri cooks up another wonderful meal. After dinner, Nehiri gives Elara some information on what happened at Fort Bucknard; a special captive that was being held there named Mukmuk, the stand made by Elara’s mother Elmaewyn and the devastation at the Fort on the night of the orcish attack. Elara vows that the orcish empire will be destroyed as Nehiri and Archelaus walk off into the dark together.
The tiefling and elf stroll along and as they walk, they start to flirt once again. Suddenly, the night’s quiet is split by a shrill cry and a three-foot long claw bursts through Nehiri’s side, splashing Archelaus with blood. From the darkness emerges a towering, gaunt figure; twelve feet tall, skeletal face and fangs dripping with viscous fluid, with its’ free arm raised over its head and ending in three long clawed fingers. The boneclaw has made its presence painfully known.
Nehiri is lifted from the ground as the boneclaw grasps her tightly, as the party reacts to its sudden appearance. Alesa and Tigh blast it with magic, as Elara shoots her crossbow twice and misses. With deadly accuracy, Nilly launches an arrow into the creature and casts Mantle of Inspiration on some of the party members. Growling, Merrick launches himself at the massive figure and cuts a deep gouge down it’s chest with his flaming blade while Kallic attempts to tangle it’s legs. His whip causes it pain, but does not entangle the foe. Archelaus attempts to free Nehiri from the grasp of the boneclaw, but his efforts are for naught. Emitting a wave of rancid energy, the boneclaw vanishes and reappears across the camp, still gripping Nehiri in one clawed hand. Surprised, the group is overwhelmed by the wave but with luck, Nilly’s new necklace protects them from the necrotic effects.
With two bursts, Tigh and Alesa alternate fire and ice to damage the fiend. Elara sends another crossbow bolt at it and sneaks a peek in the packs of the donkey she’s hiding behind, finding a spell book that she tucks away for the future. Nilly casts Dissonant Whispers then fires another arrow, missing her mark. Merrick charges across the camp and swings wildly, the boneclaw using its’ free arm to parry his blows. Kallic runs within range, strikes with his whip and tries to wrestle the beast’s arm free of Nehiri, and he finds himself almost pulled off his feet. Fleet of foot, Archelaus runs swiftly up on the boneclaw, strikes it twice with his fists, dealing further damage to it. As quickly as the tiefling moved, so too does the boneclaw. It lashes out with its’ free arm, clutching onto Archelaus briefly before he deftly twists himself out of its’ claws. Another wave of energy releases as the vile thing teleports again, this time across to the opposite side of camp as Archelaus slumps to the ground.
Keeping her eyes on the beast, Alesa sends a Chromatic Orb flying toward it, which explodes against its midsection. Elara takes the opportunity to fire off another crossbow bolt, sinking the shot into its shoulder. Seeing that Archelaus has fallen, Nilly yells a Healing Word at him and fires off another arrow at the boneclaw, but the distraction of spellcasting causes her arrow to fly wide. Merrick pulls Archelaus up onto his feet, then pulls his own crossbow out and fires off a bolt, striking the creature hard in the flank. sprinting across the camp, Kallic’s handaxe flies from his hand and soars past the boneclaw, but the dagger that follows it through the air strikes true, sinking into its chest cavity. A soft glow encompasses Archelaus’s form as he heals himself with his chi, then he moves across the camp to try and get back into the fray. With a screech, the boneclaw drops Nehiri to the earth and swings wildly at Elara and Archelaus, missing both of them. Nehiri scoots across the dirt away from the creature, places her hands on her wounded abdomen and applies some pressure to staunch the bleeding.
Tigh takes to the air once again and strafes the creature, giving it a coating of frost while Alesa speaks a few words and a lightning bolt arcs from her fingertips across the vile boneclaw. With a trained eye, Elara brings her crossbow to bear, aims true and sends a final bolt through the forehead of the boneclaw, throwing its head backward and causing it to slowly vaporize. Nehiri staggers back toward the fire, holding her wound and apologizing for not seeing the creature sooner, as the quiet of the night settles back over the camp.