Having rested and recuperated for over a month, the party swung back into action. Their cursory investigations into Black Eye Marcel yields little fruit.
Etienne insists that the party not leave in search of information about the missing Rosary of Saint Willa until after the Summer Solstice has come and gone. The Midsummer Festival in Coronale is legendary the world over for its flowing wine and beer, its plenitude of music and art, and for the debauched behaviors of the citizens. Needless to say, these things are all very important to Etienne. He performs on June 23 and 24 to great acclaim.
On June 25, the party sets out for Chalon to investigate the disappearance of the Rosary. The journey through the heartlands of Couer au Soleil is uneventful, and they arrive on June 30. Chalon is a picturesque if small city sitting on the western foot of the mountains. The city is also the ducal seat of House Burundy.
They make their way to the Honey Spring Inn, where Vignon had been staying when the Rosary was stolen from him. Entering into the charming common room, they immediately note three knights-templar, immediately identifiable by the clean white tabards with the red shield icon on the breast. They are greeted by Sylvie, a matronly and efficient innkeeper. They can't help but notice dark circles under her eyes and the way that her clothes hang off her.
They secure lodgings and talk to Sylvie about the night that the Rosary was stolen. She recites the details of the theft as if by rote, having told this story to every passing Templar since it was stolen. The party gets a private dining room, talking late into the night, and resolving to make further inquiries of Sylvie in the morning.
Late that night, however, Bernardine wakes to the sound of a scream. Grabbing his blade, he pounds down the stairs in his smallclothes to find Bertrand standing over Sylvie's body as it spills its lifeblood on the floor. He has a dagger in his hand, and he says
"It's a mistake!" Before everyone can wake and assemble, one of the servants has fetched a constable and Bertrand has been arrested.
Bernardine quickly gathers the rest of the companions, and they begin to track the murderer. Morgoth invokes a cantrip that allows him to see magic, and between Bertrand and Bernardine's skill at reading the ground and Morgoth's skill at spotting residual magic, they soon trace the killer to a rather seedy wine sink. Walking in the front door, the companions see that there are over a dozen hard men drinking, with no indication which of them is the killer.
Etienne thinks fast, yelling from the doorway, "he's right over there!" A man in the back of the room leaps to his feet, ripping a jagged black sword from a sheath under his table, and battle is joined.
Before the man has even drawn blood, his weapon begins to drip dark blood on the floor. Unfortunately for the companions, Etienne's tactic also has resulted in things degenerating into a general brawl. The assassin bides his time while the Bernardine, Cedric, and Valerius wade through the toughs in the bar. When they finally break through, he blurs into motion with superhuman speed, severely injuring Valerius almost immediately.
Thet battle teeters back and forth. Valerius falls and Bernardine teeters. Morgoth heals Valerius, who takes his feet. Etienne is almost beaten unconscious by a drunk dockworker. Morgoth shrouds himself in a sanctuary ward and moves calmly through the battle, tending injuries and restoring the fallen. With a half-dozen of the toughs down, the rest decide they want nothing to do with fighting the formidable companions.
The weight of numbers finally begins to catch up to the assassin, and he tries to escape. He calls on Cedric to assist his escape, calling him "my brother," but Cedric knocks him unconscious instead.