Caelon, Adar, and Hadrian made their way into the inn, the Welcome Hearth and soon met Struthers and Amily, the proprietors. After being fussed over, fed, and set by the fire, the heroes began exploring the grounds and questioning the smiling couple, eager to find some clue of The Bright Ones. After learning from Amily that various followers of the Mother and The Ocean had been sniffing around, Adar and Hadrian sensed a magical presence in the vicinity and tried to ascertain its source despite the late hours and the pounding rain.
After much finagling, they managed to learn from Amily and Struthers that there were sinister dealings afoot and heard tale of a lost girl and a mysterious cave that held a troubling box. Determined to find out what was going on, the heroes set out into the night and found the cave with ease, the magical power shining like a beacon from the unadorned, basalt box that sat in the centre of the cavern.
Casting a Knock spell on it, the heroes saw the box open and inside were an acorn and a strange stone. As soon as the box opened, they felt their magic leave them and Adar was cursed by a terrible silence as all the voices from his previous lives ceased their constant chorus of encouragement and wisdom. Robbed of their magic, they could only watch in horror as the acorn hopped out of the box, smashed against the ground and from its leaving arose the form of Charles Autumn.
Shedding his more urbane guise, Charles Autumn grew to a monstrous size, his feet transforming into hooves and terrible horns spilling from his head until he resembled a huge satyr. In his baneful voice he offered them the choice to join him. The rest of the Bright Ones, including the dissembling couple of Amily and Struthers appeared out of the gloom and held the heroes tight while Autumn spoke of his plans to remake the world using the stones which fed off the belief of the Bright Ones, causing their innate hatred of magic to banish its presence. The stones came from The Aboleths and Charles Autumn seemed assured that soon they would have enough to change the entire world.
Stripped of his comforting voices, Adar went into a blind rage and snatched at the stone which led to a terrible melee between the heroes, the Bright Ones, and Charles Autumn facing Adar in hand to hand combat. As the Heroes held the stone, their powers slowly returned and they were better able to take on the smiling cultists until it was just them and Autumn who seemed unkillable. Then, Caelon, his wintry powers newly granted him by his new patron, The Lady de Winter cast an icy spell that seemed to sap Charles Autumn of his vitality but it was Adar who speared the beast, leaving him to explode into a cloud of leaves.
The heroes’ magic returned and they boxed the stone back up and began to explore the cave. They found where the Bright Ones lived and held their strange rites before four thrones which seemed to correspond to the four who lived on The Other Side of the Hill. Finally, sensing magic again, they discovered a dungeon where a dozen mages and sorcerers were chained up in various states of mental and physical decay. The most lucid, Doctor Orsi seemed very excited to see them and explained that all of them had come searching for Valos and his promised magical kingdom but had been lured and trapped by the false power source of the black box. Taken back to the inn, the heroes pondered just what to do next…