While searching the ruins of the Vrasuk encampment, the group finds a treasure chest full of magic items with a note from Grashnok thanking them for thinning the herd by taking out some of his weaker associates. Grashnok also reminds the group that he is looking forward to seeing them in Shadowmeade.
The group sets out to find shelter for the night. Lucien appears to have a lot on his mind, and insists on walking separately from the group. Sindri attempts to question him about Gharash’s new powers, but he seems not to even notice as he stares off into the forest.
With the battle over, and feeling a little less on edge, Sindri begins questioning Unk, who he still believes may be Gharash, about how he could begin wielding such powerful magic.
Sindri, “So… where did that new fighting style come from? That’s pretty powerful stuff.”
Unk, “I told you! This new sword is great!”
Sindri, somewhat skeptical that any sword could hold such powers, asks, "Really? It must be really impressive! Do you mind if I take a look at it? I’m always interested in learning about arcana.
Unk, expecting to have a little fun with the gnome, hands over his sword. Sindri takes a close look at the sword, and deciphers that the sword merely carries a Lifedrinker enchantment, hardly capable of producing the light show he saw earlier. Discovering the deception makes Sindri more skeptical of Unk’s claimed identity.
Sindri: “Wow! That is a really nice sword! It would have been really nice to have back when we were killing all those women and babies that kobold encampment!”
Unk: “Yea, you’re right! It would’ve been great to…”
Sindri exclaims, “Imposter! Who the hell are you really?” as he readies his implements, preparing for another battle.
Unk: “Hold on a second! Whoa there! Yes, yes, you caught me! I’m really, uhh… Vharash! Gharash’s twin brother!”
Sindri takes a step back, squints his eyes, turns his head sideways, and asks, “Well… if that’s so, why didn’t you just tell us right off? And where’s Gharash?!”
Unk: “Gharash said he wanted to devote himself to hunting the ‘Werebutterfly’ and asked me to take his place with you guys for a while. I thought it would be more entertaining if I just stepped in and let you guys be amazed for a while.”
Sindri, “It will be good to have someone around with a sense of humor! That Gharash just didn’t know how to take a joke, and he was always so serious. Say, what’s the deal with that tattoo on your arm though? I wouldn’t want to have one of those nasty things if I could help it! You may have taken this thing a bit too far.”
Unk explains, “Oh this? It’s just temporary. Since you figured me out, I guess it’s time I got rid of it,” as he covers the tattoo with his hand, pretending to rub it off. The tattoo disappears as he polymorphs his arm to a more natural state.
With Sindri’s concerns satisfied, the group continues on to set up shelter a few hours from the syndicate’s fort.
The next day, the group begins searching in ernest for the famed ruins, and comes across a small group of 3 gnolls and 2 centipedes. With the old ruse behind him, and the new ruse before him, Unk is free to show off his swordmage powers a bit, including one round where Sindri intentionally draws an attack from a centipede, allowing Unk to teleport to the monster, attack it, teleport it near the other centipede, and force it to attack its ally, giving Unk another free attack against said monster. Woe to any monsters who decide to attack Sindri or Lucien when Unk is pursuing them.
After a full day unsuccessfully searching for the ruins, the group sets up camp, and begins to rest. Just as the adventurers are falling asleep Sindri and Lucien are very suddenly awakened by an intense burning pain originating from the tattoos in their arms. Unk is startled awake and rolls his eyes. The pain is unlike any they have felt before, and the tattoos themselves are glowing with arcane energy. As the pain begins to reach a new height, the group is transported to a forest of trees older than even Lucien or Sindri have ever seen. They are unable to enjoy the splendor that surrounds them though as they are still writhing in pain.
Out of the distance, the true Gharash approaches the group and places his hands on Sindri and Lucien’s marks and the pain subsides. Gharash seems to have a peace and clarity about him that the group has never seen before. He explains that he has met the All Mother and she has removed Grash’Nok’s mark from him and granted him new wisdom. As Sindri exclaims that he is really excited to meet Gharash’s brother, Gharash gives Unk a powerful stare, reverting him to his true changeling form. Sindri is shocked, but still more amazed at Gharash’s transformation and his surroundings.
He tells the group that they must seek out the challenge that awaits them in Shadowmeade to prove that they are worthy before they can be free of their burdens. Unk, laughs that he won’t have any trouble proving himself anywhere, and he’s been saying they should go there all along. He then quickly jibes Gharash about his butterfly hunt. Gharash responds that the challenge may not be a physical battle, and intermittently removes his hand from Sindri, allowing the pain to return, as he explains that he’s aware of the butterfly prank. Gharash and Unk exchange a few more words with Unk growing more arrogant with each turn, and Gharash eventually transports Unk back to the forest. After Gharash has finally told the remaining two all he is able to tell them, he transports them back to their campsite.
Upon arriving back at the campsite, Sindri is anxious to confront the changeling again to find out what is really going on, and notices that there is a dwarf wearing Unk’s armor sleeping in his place…