In the morning, Mercaiden awakes to find Hallabiri has gone, left a note, and her share of the treasure from Hammerfast. The notes simply says: I have to leave. I’m sorry.
At breakfast, the soldiers have gone. The tiefling gambler tries to get you to join him in a game of three dragon-ante to gamble for the gold that Mercaiden placed on the table, as well as any magic items you might want to ante up. Grae beats him in a battle of wits and without saying so much, implies that he’d better leave you alone or face trouble.
You head out on the road with the six horses that you procured from Barton. After a day’s ride you stop for the night near Lake Nen. During watch, Tanharath hears another camper nearby. On her watch, Mercaiden investigates, and encounters a dragonborn wizard.
Conferring in the morning with the party, you determine that this person is likely a practitioner of elemental magic. Investigating his campsite you find him gone, but later in the morning encounter him walking on the road.
His name is Jarcath. He is an elemental wizard from the Elemental Chaos. He is working with Nimozaran and other wizards to stop a series of Far Realm incursions. He is travelling to Fallcrest to deal with the one in Nimozaran’s tower since Nimozaran is indisposed, and Tobolor cannot handle it all alone.
He tries to convince you to join him and to forget about dragons and cults and empires. He believes that empires come and go, but if the far realm is not stopped, all the world will be lost.
Fra’Nika and Baaki think that the party should stick to its original plan of freeing the Orcs and raising an army against Infernus. Grae and Mercaiden are inclined to join Jarcath. Tanharath is neutral.
Mercaiden performs a sending to Amon to find out the status of Fallcrest. He informs you that the fortress is lost but that he can investigate whether or not there are alternate ways to enter Fallcrest without passing through guarded gates.
As Mercaiden completes the sending, from the front a wizard appears over a hilltop with a group of what appear to be humanoids grafted onto the bodies of drakes like some kind of reptilian centaurs, and from behind another wizard appears with a group of ogres. Both proclaim that they have come to capture you!