Following the previous food challenge,Iora watches everyone ooze through a metal grate. The party finds themselves in a room with urns lining the north wall, a corridor to the east. Riska examines the corridor to find it lined with poisonous bugs. Iora identifies the plants in the urns, realizing that one is used to smoke bees from hives. She lights it in an urn and Kayl fans the smoke ahead of them to clear the corridor, thus defeating the challenge of nature.
In the next room they find a pedestal with a statue of a group of halflings. Trapspringer touches it and, naturally, disappears. The others eventually follow suit, finding themselves in rooms with an apparently burned and dying family member: Reece for Riska, Gavin for Kayl, Argus for Iora, and Chhakuk’s father (probably also named Chhakuk). After Chhakuk cuddles the dying body for a while, everyone makes the correct choice of healing their family member, defeating the challenge of family.
They find themselves in a room with a corridor to the south and three to the north. The party spends an inordinate amount of time wandering mazes to the north, finding statues emblazoned with the Halfling words you, are, a, and fool. After a lot of confusion, Trapspringer suddenly remembers the corridor to the south. The party heads down it to find a door.
Beyond the door, Ahm Helmok — wearing Marlin’s body — sits on a makeshift throne, Reece at his side. “Marlin” calls Riska forward and takes the cursed gauntlet from her arm. It forms over his face, taking on a reddish hue. Ahm Helmok explains that he has been split into eight across worlds, but is bound to this realm, as is Reece after too long of an exposure to Ahm Helmok’s essence. He says that if they retrieve his pieces, he will reward Riska with what she wants — Marlin. Riska is willing but insists on speaking to Marlin first. Ahm Helmok briefly retreats, allowing Riska a few seconds of tense conversation with her foster father. They learn that Marlin offered himself up for possession in order to help Reece — and, according to Marlin, Riska. He hugs her before losing himself once again.
Riska and Kayl accept the brand of Ahm Helmok, an X in a circle with another circle around it, which will allow him to retrieve them from other realms. Riska pulls Reece aside and offers a half-assed explanation and apology for the current situation, and Reece agrees to carry Kayl’s signet ring and a letter to Lady Winterbourne.
Ahm Helmok asks if they’re sure they can trust Iora — after all, she is a changeling. Iora is shocked, but doesn’t get much more information out of him. Riska offers everyone a chance to leave, warning that their journey will be dangerous with little chance of reward, especially as Marlin managed to insult half the party in the ninety seconds he was awake. Everyone decides to continue on, Chhakuk assuring Riska he is with her to the end.
Ahm Helmok opens a portal and the party travels into a similar but different temple. It’s hot as hell outside, a blinding desert. The party rests for a time, during which Chhakuk discovers he can no longer hear Desna. Someone is providing his spells, but it’s not her. Riska sinks into a deep depression, leaving the others to plan and talk without her. Chhakuk spends the day reading the book of Ahm Helmok, while Kayl scouts ahead and finds a mountain range to the west, getting heat stroke for his trouble.
The party decides to travel at night, setting off for the mountains. They are attacked by bright blue lizards who do cold damage. After they eliminate the monsters, Riska breaks down and starts screaming and stabbing a lizard until Kayl finally manages to drag her away. Chhakuk asks for Riska’s rope; she tosses it to him and walks away, allowing Chhakuk to tie the creature and drag it along as a bizarre sort of decomposing air conditioning for when they face the heat of day. Thus strangely assembled, the party heads over the next dune.
Riska: For achieving her goal of finding Marlin
Kayl: For achieving his goal of protecting Riska
Chhakuk: For achieving his goal of solving puzzles without losing any further appendages
Trapspringer: For achieving his goal of helping Riska find Marlin
Iora: For achieving her goal of not doing something stupid in the temple that gets her killed
Embodiment: Riska, who is now well and truly broken.
MVP: Trapspringer, for getting us out of the F*&@ing maze
Teamworker: Chhakuk, for bringing the healz