Investigating the defeated Drow, the party learned that 'Priestess Kavra' of House La'Frei had been spearheading an investigation into a series of rifts to the outer realms, a 'plane' of existence that no one knows very much about. Harnessing a small species of glowing, insectlike creatures from the rift in the orcish temple, the drow managed to infuse orcs and goblins with Llolth's essence, turning them into subservient monsters.
The brunt of the drow forces had been sent back to wherever house La'Frei is headquartered in the underdark, where another rift was written to have been found. Also present in the chamber was an astrolabe-like device with one of the insectoid creatures in its core. It was found to be able to point the way to other weak points in the weave of reality.
Leaving Kiri and her retinue to call in reinforcements and begin securing the mountains, the party set off to investigate the nearby forest. Many of the trees were dying or showed signs of rot. Beyond several llolth-orc corpses, the party found a single drow smoking atop a large boulder. Ambushing him, the group quickly learned the hard way that he was in fact a Firbolg in disguise, and his seat was his earth elemental guardian.
The friendly Firbolg Isz was a traveler from Yuna's homeland of Issylra, having left his people to pursue field research into ways nature can become blighted and corrupted. The party eventually decided to tell him the full story about the rift. Yuna wrote him a note allowing him to conduct research on it as long as he reported to Kiri and the party. He gave Ireni a preserved marsh lily from Issylra, claiming that anyone who was more interested in the flower than her appearance as a genasi might be an interesting person to converse with. He sold the party healing tonics and gave them a wand of light as a token of his gratitude for allowing him to examine the rift.
The party made their way to a ruined tower that a very old hill giant had taken up residence. The party ambushed him and his pet owlbear, then searched the tower, finding a few relics of the human kingdom that used to be present in the area. Additionally, Uli found a ring of acid resistance, Yuna quite a bit of gold, and Vani a very expensive platinum chain.
Leaving, they found that a large pack of ghouls led by an intelligent ghast had taken up a former orcish settlement near the mountain passes. The ghast allowed them to leave, as he and his pack were eating their fill of orcs and drow.
The party reported back to Volg Keep; Alfonzo and Natalia Volg began an investigation into the 'rift compass', while Jandar departed immediately to study the rift and guard it from drow. Vani received a note forwarded from the halfling Cade, a childhood friend, from her grandfather, who had heard of her exploits in the defense of Throughway Keep. He invited her to Ghosla and promised a feast in her honor.
Any manner of innovation can come from study of the Far Realm, but so may new and unknowable dangers. There are few with power, good and evil alike, that could resist the temptation of such potential…