The last chamber’s door was locked, but an iron key was hanging on a peg beside the door. They opened the door, and to their surprise found Sir Balin imprisoned inside. In the short conversation that ensued, he claimed that Damien’s sister did not take much convincing in order to betray him. Of course, Damien could see through Balin’s lies and dismissed this as pure hogwash. Getting rid of the inquisitor was easy work, and by the end of it, the party has the needed pendant. Adarastus Thorn was very pleased with their success.
Following the nine tests began three months of training under the tutorage of the Cardinal and with the help of Tiadora. Once these were over, Thorn held a great banquet in their honor and awarded them the title of the Nessian Knot in a ritual involving blood and fire, and a summoned devil consuming the flesh of a slave chosen by Gardain. When the ritual was done, Thorn announced that they will set out on their first mission the following day. They are to guard a ship carrying arms to a bugbear chieftain named Sakkarot Fire-Axe, located north of the great wall. The captain of the ship, Kargeld Odenkirk was not to be trusted and disposed of as soon as they finished their first task and he brought them to the town of Aldencross, not far from the tower Ballentyne. Then they were to proceed and infiltrate the tower, murder its commander, weaken its defenses and open the gates, allowing the bugbear army to take it by force and start a war with Tallingarde. Gardain was interested to know how they would control the bugbear horde from taking over all of Tallingarde, but Thorn advised him not to worry about that just yet.
The next day they set sail with the unsavory Captain Odenkirk and his rough crew. The going was rough, but the first week of travel was quiet. Not too long after they passed the great wall, though, they were confronted by a patrol ship. Using his considerate persuasion skills, Damien managed to convince the patrol’s captain that they were carrying weapons to Ballentyne. A bit later, they were attacked by several merfolk, their leader mumbling a strange prophecy before dying: “The shining sun has seen the wickedness you hide in hearts. And thus it will be the son who brings your doom.”
When the Frosthamar passes near some large island, Kargeld tried to persuade them to stop there to get some fresh water, but Damien was adamant that he could supply all the drinking water the crew needed. The captain didn’t like this and tried to argue his point, but Damien and party were resolute on no delaying. Actually, they were so resolute that when a group of Yutak in kayaks appeared, the party refused their attempts at trade.
On that night they encountered a cold front, and when the sailors lighted some torches, they could hear an unearthly laughter from above them. They were then attacked by ice mephits. The sailors were pretty much useless in that fight, but after a hard fight, the party managed to fend off the attack, losing only one sailor to the mephits. On the next day the Frosthamar finally arrive at the ice-choked mouth of the river Taiga.