After escaping with Thalin, the group returned to Gunnar’s shack, only to find it in shambles. Judging by the impressions in the mud, the group rationalized that the raiumas learned of the Githzerai’s involvement in the resistance and attacked. Further, judging by the broken bottles of dwarven ale, the heroes wondered whether Gunnar had escaped before the raid.
Still, they utilized the domicile for the night, during which point Gelsando was contacted by a gnome in his sleep. In the dream, the gnome told him that Ko’dor could be bested by his own weapon and that the champions were not who they claimed to be. Urging him to journey to Abermort, a city south of the capital, the gnome vanished and Gelsando woke up.
However, Gelsando was not the only one who saw the gnome; the psionic Doro saw the gnome appear like a ghost, wandering into their group and whispering into the sleeping gnome’s ear before vanishing. The others on watch claimed to have not seen anything.
Still, unsure of where to go from there, the group left for Abermort, arriving to find the town mourning the passing of their blacksmith and the elder at the earth temple. The blacksmith’s wife complained of a strange smell the night her husband went to investigate a robbery in his forge, just as the priests smelt something terrible the night their high priest was slain.
Rhom and Gelsando met the cleric who had been promoted up to the elder, an elf whose alibi was his twin brother, a merchant now out-of-town.
Meanwhile, Doro and Quarion discovered that the snough had commissioned numerous local blacksmiths to mass produce battle axes and large shields to be distributed to the army. This marks the second blacksmith charged with such a task slain and his wares stolen before he could collect the obscene payment.
Abe and Tinker, meanwhile, met two swordsmen who had come into town determined to prevent any more deaths. One, a warrior who hid his visage behind a mask as black as the scale armor he wore and the other a vagrant with a blade on his hip. Though Grasscutter Kusanagi seemed to be the more compassionate of the two, his tales paled in comparison to the legend that was the Black Samurai.
Still, the Black Samurai bragged at having taught Greenbriar Sestun the sword- boosting the man who Abe hated above all else. While many gravitated towards the Black Samurai, Abe found a kindred spirit in Kusanagi. Ultimately, hearing Kusanagi’s story helped to somewhat redeem the elven race to the former slave: “I was born long, long ago, in the Ekade Forest. I remember… I was just a boy back then. I was still considered a child when the fighting broke out and the dwarves destroyed our home. My mother and father lost their lives in the fires and I was all alone.
“A great warrior took me in then and he began to teach me the sword- not to harm others but to heal my own fractured soul. I was still a very young man when I decided to leave him… I was angry. I hated the dwarves and the humans for what they were doing to our people… for what they had done to my parents.
“I killed a great many people in the name of justice. My sword wept and tears fell from its tip along with the blood of our victims. I killed so many people and I helped bring about a new age.
“And then I saw how we were treating them. I saw what we were doing to the humans and I knew… this was what I had wanted. This was what I had fought for.
“Raiumas carry two swords- the ancestral daisho… We carry the katana and the wakizashi. The katana we fight with. We kill with. The wakizashi- our side sword? –we use to decapitate our fallen foes and show them mercy at the end. We use it to claim our own lives and commit seppuku. It is known as the Honor Blade.
“I never used my Honor Blade. I never showed my enemies mercy. I had simply slaughtered them…
“I carry my katana on my hip now… determined to fight with the wakizashi instead.” He drew out his wakizashi in a flash and slashed it down through the air and across his wrist. It hit his flesh… and failed to draw blood. “It is the sword of mercy… and one I will fight with to atone for all the sins I have committed…
“All the blood I have spilt…”
Before long, the inn presented their entertainment for the night: Shakespeare Half-elven. Upon returning, halfway through the bard’s tales, Doro noticed the gnome he had seen whisper into Gelsando’s ear sitting in the corner, silently mouthing along with the tale. Doro approached him and learned that his name was Fflewddur Fflem, the greatest storyteller who ever lived. He was responsible for Jordan Roberts, the bard who announced the archery competition, as well as Shelly Mary in the keep. Fflem claimed to actually act as the seven greatest storytellers who ever lived and that he was simply trying to use Gelsando to guide the adventurer’s story.
Guiding Doro’s group on the trail of the lizardmen, Fflem reunited the party just as Ko’dor was attacking the fire temple. The party managed to take him down but at the cost of Quarion’s life. It was then that Doro discovered what was actually happening: the Black Samurai wielded a katana that was a bane to reptilians and forced Ko’dor to obey him. Further, he gave the lizardman a ranseur that would act as a bane to his own kind- letting him easily command his race.
The Black Samurai was having the lizardmen attack the blacksmiths, stealing the requisitioned weaponry and selling it to the empire himself. Further, Kusanagi appeared and exposed the warrior as the merchant brother of the earth cleric. The elder had been cut down to clear the path for the brother’s promotion in the order.
Further, Kusanagi went on to reveal that Grasscutter Kusanagi was not his real name but an alias he gave to keep people from learning he was the true Black Samurai. His job done and his named cleared, the Black Samurai left after watching the thankful fire clerics work to revive Quarion.