The Rift Walkers paid a visit to a very drunk Arrold to see if he had any means of identifying the mysterious package they had received. He did not know the spell, and vomited when he was told that his dream visions were referring to a gilded demon attempting to drag Priem to the Nine Hells with the help of the rift's power. For identifying the package, Arrold suggested one of the many shops that dealt in magical work that had cropped up around the academy.
The party entered a magical stationary and spellbook store and asked the proprietor if she could cast identify on the box. The gnome said she'd need to actually touch the magical object within the box, prompting a discussion among the party about what to do next. With multiple ideas being thrown around and no progress being made, Ireni opened the box. A 6th-level fireball engulfed the store, killing the shopkeep and 4 customers. The magical paper created firework-like sparks that exploded from the shop on a wave of shattered glass.
Mage-knights in the employ of the academy arrived on the scene and placed the party under guard. Eventually, Brunnar Ulk, the bounty hunter under the employ of the Barrister's Guild that the party had met previously, took a guilty looking Ireni for a walk after she offered to accept the blame for the incident in full.
After a lengthy interrogation process, and a misunderstanding that resulted in a brief fistfight between an unnerved Yuna and Brunnar, the party gave the bounty hunter the full story behind the box. They agreed to turn over the cylinder they’d found in the Untouched district as well as the records from Olwin’s Clockworks that proved Annah Sylveste had commissioned the device. Brunnar explained that with all of this evidence, he could convince his superiors to hold off on judgement of the party, and said they were free to go for the time being.
The party handled the grief of the incident in different ways; Vani spent some time with Kaneza, who left her a battered coin depicting the Halfing goddess of bounty, Yondalla. Ireni wandered the temple district, eventually falling in with the temple of Illmater and giving a sizeable donation to their coffers. She spent a long time with the priest of Illmater, learning the basic tenets of the religion. Yuna stopped in at a small elven temple that had iconography of Corellion, Sethanine, and Eilisatree, then went to talk with Arana about the Catoblepas. The firbolg gave her a powerful healing potion, wishing the Rift Walkers luck in destroying the walking blight against nature.
In the meantime, Uli snuck from the city into the swamps, intent on slaying the monster herself in her grief. She did not find the Catoblepas; rather, she stumbled upon a nest of Skitterhaunts, sentient oozes that had possessed a giant beetle, a bear, and the corpses of the two hunter’s guild apprentices that were goaded into the swamps by An’Seath’s offer of payment for the Catoblepas’ eyes. Uli was slain fleeing the creatures after attempting to kill them. Her magical sword, Chimera, sunk into the swamps.
Yuna visited the hunter’s guild and talked to Kess, who was not at all well-disposed to Uli or the party after she had seen her bargaining with An’Seath. She eventually mentioned she saw Uli heading out into the swamps alone. Yuna rushed through the city and rallied the rest of the party. Begging Kaneza for some sort of help, the party was overjoyed to have her join their ranks for their rescue mission.
An hour behind Uli and still exhausted from the fight with the Gilded Devil, the party combed the swamps, using Maximus II, Ireni in wolf form, and Vani’s skill with pathfinding. Vani picked up one of the fallen hunter’s guild pins. Eventually they found the swamp Uli had perished in, and underwent a grueling battle to recover Uli’s ooze-reanimated corpse from the swamps. After several near-death incidents, the party managed to hog-tie Uli and drag her back to the city. They gathered the 1500 gold needed to pay for a ressurection ritual and solemnly made their way towards the temple of Waukeen.
How much will Uli remember of the grueling moments leading up to her death?