As the party returns to the town, guards stop them at the entrance and lead them to the council chambers, where an emergency meeting has been issued. Abeth Daleheart sits in the center of the curved table, with three of four remaining council members beside her – Cailyn Deri, innkeep of the Hungry Badger sits immediately to her right, alone with an empty seat beside him, and geared in full plate armor of beautiful elven craftsmanship. A lithe, but powerfully built, long-haired and fuzzy-bearded half-orc with dark, almost soil-colored skin sits to her left, geared in leather armors perfectly matching the foliage of the living forest to the east. A young human woman with a pixie cut and tan skin sits to the half-orcs side, dressed in fine, colorful clothing belying a performer's tastes. From rumors around the town, you know the half-orc to be Volukh Zhagarr, a famous ranger of the area with ties to the orcish clans of the eastern mountains who once adventured with Abeth and Cailyn, and the young woman to be Lila Retsk, an incredible bard in her own right, and daughter to the woman who had also adventured with the council's group.
Immediately upon entering the council chambers, the conversations cease and Abeth stands in a fury. A loud bang resounds through the chamber as Abeth's fists meet the table's surface, sure to have at least dented the wood beneath them. "What did you DO!?" Her normally poised and elegant speech cracks with the sentence, a harsh and terrible sound emitting from her throat. Cailyn's hand, then, lies softly on the halfling woman's shoulder, who takes a deep breath to calm herself, and slowly, with a measure of her former grace returning, she sits and asks again. Quieter, this time, and with the elegance and poise returning – "What did you do?"
Explaining yourselves, with or without a spokesperson and with or without the same elegance, you tell the tale of your adventure to and into the fort. You inform her of your infiltration of the fortress, and your battle within. When you mention the erinyes, Abeth's demeanor seems to crack once again, but she reigns it in with more success than she had previously.
"That's why the beacon was fired, then. A prisoner escaped, and a demonic incursion was felt by the fort's defences."
Volukh speaks up with a deep, and resonant speech almost despite his orcish heritage, "We should inform Alshara. They may not have seen the beacon with their own defenses in place."
"We'll discuss that at a later date. First, where did the erinyes escape to, what was she doing, and how did you get away?"
You continue your story, informing her the erinyes had little memory of her former life, or at least seemed not to, and had actually assisted you in returning to the town. At this, the council is shocked, save Lila.
"Clearly the devil has plans for you, or for the town, and wanted you to return. Did she leave anything with you? Did she use her magic on you in any way?" Her voice, while clear and musical, has a slightly rough effect to it, as if she'd been smoking for thirty years despite being in her early twenties.
In the seconds it takes you to answer, you decide… To lie. Whether this was an effect of the devil herself, or a personal decision of your own free will, you aren't certain, but in the end you decide to withhold the existence of the rune on Ticking Clock's hand, or the magic she'd worked on the lute, and the various other magics she'd expended to your wellbeing. You inform the council that, as far as you knew, she had done nothing but aided you in your return home, without magical interference upon your person.
The council, regardless of their belief of these statements, concedes to your record of honesty, and the conversation changes to other things. After another two hours of debriefing, you learn the truth of the fortress you had just escaped.
Fort Daleheart, Abeth informs you, was built in the time of the Empire, by her ancestors. It was built as a bulwark against extra-planar influence, and had been successful in that regard until her ancestors had been deceived and slaughtered, save her great grandfather who had escaped.
Regardless of what you knew of Abeth's apparent deceptions against you, you decide it best not to bring up. At the end of this however, as Abeth requests of you your continued support in the coming conflict with Dergomal, you reconsider. Through-out all of this, as you worked in the interests of the town and council as expected of you, you had received nothing but suspicion and deception in the end. Though your purses hang heavy, you decide it best to turn away and find other pastures. The council concedes, and with the retrieval of the original copy of the Writ of Action, you are dismissed from your service to the Council and Town of Waekefield, and left to go on your way.
Leaving the council chambers with slightly heavier purses than when you entered. As you head for the inn and awake the next morning to a bustling inn and sit together at breakfast, you discuss amongst yourselves where you are headed.
Ticking Clock still has his mysteries to solve, and upon small chit-chat with a guard, learns of a somewhat familar name… A former colleague of his master, one Asher Vez. Asher Vez is the remaining council member, an older gentleman and cleric of Aejuna, the goddess of the moon. The name is familiar, and indeed was a major contact of Ticking Clock's master. Asher Vez was last seen on his way back to town from an expedition into the dead forest to the west, but had disappeared upon contact with a certain grove of trees within the plains.
Dox arrives in town the next morning to find his hound bounding towards him a mile out from town, tackling him to the ground and, after a bath of slobber, leads him back to the inn where he finds the group in their current state. Learning of what has occurred from the rest of the group, it occurs to him he has his own contacts to check up on, but thus far the town has been particularly profitable for him… And he still holds his own copy of the Writ of Action, thanks to his efforts in forgery. He also still has a former colleague missing somewhere in the forests to the east, and hears from the rest of the group about Volukh Zhaggar, ranger of those woods.
Lelantis is free to return to his people, and his duties as ranger of the elves. Free to hold the circlet of intelligence he'd been gifted by the rest of the group, and his mind cleared of previously held prejudice, he finds himself at an impasse – Return to his former life, surrounded by those who held the same prejudices he once had, or stay and assist the town in their efforts to push back the Hobgoblin nation to their north, and the rising infernals to the east?
Saje is left to wonder her own new circumstances – She was the one to bring the group together, after all, with her interest in the bounty board. She has her own quests to fulfill, with a family to avenge and a history to uncover. The town still remains a possible home for her if she should wish it in the meantime, but she has been on the road for long enough and remembers the city streets with an odd sense of nostalgia despite the terrible conditions of her childhood there.
Ophinora holds a cursed lute she still must purify, and a road that calls her name. A small town is no place for a performer to remain for long, and her own storied and secret past remains ever looming behind her, ever ready to claw its way back into her present. A sense of forboding fills her heart, and little in the way of her current company or her lack of place in such a small town gives her comfort against it. Her feet itch beneath her boots to be on her way once again, though the group informs her she's welcome to travel with any of them.
Ultimately, the hands of the council splinter and go their separate ways. Some may stay, some may go, and some may find their way some other direction all together. The campaign draws to a close, and the players take their bow, but the story remains, to the very end.