After saving the life of the princess and the passengers of the Coal Tongue, they are now heroes in the eyes of the public. While Keldar & Harland party hardy with the locals, Jodo turns in early while Varris, not being a city slicker, sought shelter away from the commotion in an environement more fitting for a ranger. While looking for a place to rest, he notice he is being followed. After confronting the stalker, Varris is informed their presence is requested, by Lilly, at an inquiry regarding the events that led up to the Coal Tongue explosion.
The next morning, the group noticies that Xu Kai is completely healed, showing no signs of injuries despite taking a few good hits the night before. Suspicions are rising between Xu Kai and the group, but none more vocal than Varris. Jodo, as per his personality, kept his thoughts & opinions to himself.
At the inquiry, which started more like an inquisition, was swift. Each person was questioned individually, a common theme being "what happened to the person in the doorway?"
At the end of the inquiry, the group's account of the events cofirms the council's suspicion of the Duchess. As such, the adventurers are requested to go and find the Duchess to [Axis Island] where she is believed to be hiding out. The island, though, is surrounded by a powerful spell shield that prevents any passage to it, immediately setting a fire anything that breeches the spell shield. The plan is to anchor just beyond the shield but still within sight of the island as both a sign of "we know what you did" and as way to for the adventurers to lead a small insertion team to the island… underwater. A known cave is the insertion point. Once on the island, the plan is for the insertion team disable the spell shield so the armies of [Taldor] can invade the island and take vengeance on the Duchess.
Now walking under water (think Pirates of the Caribbean), the adventurers are the only survivors of an underwater avalanche, leaving the rest of the insertion team under the rubble.
After a few bad swim check rolls, the adventurers finally make it to the cave. Once in, a glowing orb emerges from the center of the room, expanding fairly rapidly. After the orb engulfs most of the adventurers (Varris was able to swim just out of reach of the orb), the group is given a vision, from the perspective of a rider of a gold dragon.
[Add vision details here]
At the end of the vision, the group carries on in the cave and inadvertently trigger a trap that activates 3 elementals, one of air, one of earth and one of shadow.
The elementals are defeated but at a high cost. Harland was fatally injured but through some nimble heal checks, he was stabilized but is in dire need of rest and healing. Xu Kai, on the otherhand, appears to be uninjured despite how the battle played out. Clearly, Xu Kai is keeping a secret, which only further deepens the suspicions of the group, especially Varris.