The heroes wounded and weary from their recent battles agree to seek cover in the nearby Dernall Forest. They leave the hilltop and make their way across the ruined farmlands of Cantrev Stagford.
The party encounters ffolk who warily watch them from behind hedges and from other vegetation. Rehs approaches a middle aged woman named Elsi, who questions him about which side they are on. Rehs assures her that they are in service to the new High Queen. Elsi asks if they can spare food and water for the survivors of her village. She shares that Baron Blackstone’s forces took their livestock, food stores, and that they pressed the able bodied men and boys into his army heading south including her son.
Rehs informs the others and they break out their food and water to share with the dozen women, children, and an elderly man. The party offers their protection and suggests that they travel with them to the forest where they can camp.
Near the forest, the group is surprised by a young teen girl who sprints up to them asking for food. She tells Corthen that her family is camped in the Dernall near a fresh water stream. Hyrra offers to lead them to the camp in exchange for rations. Several members quietly discuss the chance that the camp is an ambush, but they feel that they can overcome any attack should it come.
Hyrra leads the party to her campsite. The gurgling of the stream can be heard nearby and a campfire burns in the clearing. Corthen asks where her family is. She quickly suggests that they have taken the trail for water and she darts off down another path. Tellazar looks to the others and whispers, “I knew this was a trap.”
Suddenly a shout comes from the boulders surrounding the party. “Death to the Dark Robes!” This cry is repeated by many voices and the party and their entourage finds themselves completely surrounded by a huge ring of angry armed men. With swords drawn the men move forward with death in their eyes. Tellazar tries to talk to the ring of men. Their leader in white plate armor accuses Tellazar of being a priest of Cyric. Tellazar and his friends deny the charge while the Stagford villagers scream in terror.
The white armored knight informs Tellazar that he can feel his evil and that their wizard can see his true form, that of a dark robed Cyricist traveling with Blackstone troops. Tellazar tells the man that he wears the robes, but he has claimed them as a battle trophy. The knight spits and says that no honest man would wear such garb. Ayremyr recognizes some of the heraldric devices of the opposing force. Some of the men are soldiers of Lord Cauldyth of Cantrev Aithe while others are in service to the royal family in Caer Callidyr. The others bear shields of a stag leaping a silver waterfall.
The ring of soldiers moves to do battle with the Guardians of the Past, when a man runs up to the white knight and urgently gets his attention. Erith recognizes the man as Douglar, a Harper they had met in the Wild Wood during their exploits in Aithe. Douglar speaks loudly and tells the assembled knights and soldiers that he can vouch for the adventuring party and that they are friends of Aithe and the High Queen. Douglar introduces the party to Sir Tirran Bravesword, paladin of the High Queen and to a grey-bearded wizard who has appeared nearby as Alatar Magnus, Court Wizard. Ayremyr speaks up and asks Alatar who rules as High Queen since the death of High King Tristan. The mage states that his eldest daughter, Alicia, rules the islands since the battle of Blackstone. Sir Tirran tells the party to rest and stay in the camp until they are needed.