After the halfling falls to his knees before Riska, everyone’s skin begins to tingle. The halfling orders that his people “take them alive” — although only Trapspringer understands him — and a giant ball of energy surrounds Chhakuk. Riska and Kayl recognize the silhouette of Simkin inside. Simkin reaches for Chhakuk and asks for his help, something complicated involving Desna. Chhakuk takes his hand and disappears.
The halflings launch an attack, rendering the party unconscious (except for Iora, who surrenders). Everyone but Riska wakes in a tent, tied to poles and gagged, with four other prisoners: a hobgoblin, a ratfolk, a catfolk ,and an oread. The guards untie Trapspringer, who tries for the halfling secret handshake and gets himself knocked out.
Riska wakes in a wooden cell with a gray haired halfling woman staring at her. The woman speaks to her in common and Riska tells her about the orbs, leaving Marlin out. The woman says the orb has been gone hundreds of years. The temple was their home until an ambitious sorcerer destroyed it and took the orb.
The woman interrogates each of the party members in turn with little success. She leaves them tied up overnight, but decides to let them go in the morning and offers them a guide. Kayl and Iora demand the other adventuring party’s release, but the the woman is reluctant as they attacked her village in search of an artefact. Riska convinces her that Ahm Helmok has commanded they no longer eat the flesh of speaking creatures and she releases them. The ratfolk asks to study the artefact, and the halflings agree as long as Trapspringer remains as ransom for their good behavior.
She takes them to the Stone of Returning, which can return three people to their own world. The other party offers to let one of their members remain and assist with finding the orb, which is apparently the essence of nature (Riska theorizes at this point that each orb contains an aspect of Ahm Helmok, and that they have already encountered trickery and madness — she has no idea what the third orb on Marlin could be).
The party decides to invite Agiz Rerdahl, a ratfolk alchemist, to join their party. He bids his friends farewell and the halfling woman blindfolds the party and leads them away. She returns their possessions and warns Riska and Iora that the ritual in the book is very dangerous, and that if they perform it the sorcerer will know at once. She also mentions that he must have the orb on him and that it will give him great power.
With a final blessing she vanishes into a tree and the party continues into the forest.
Spent: Two from Riska to convince the halfling woman that Ahm Helmok forbade the eating of speaking flesh
MVP: Riska, for convincing the halflings not to eat speaking flesh
Teamworker: Agiz/Russell, for being a team unto himself
Embodiment: Trapspringer, Lord of the Handshakes