In the morning, Lady Alma introduces the party to their true benefactor Hanan. She is Elven, and wears riding clothes including pants. She has short hair and wears a bow on her back. She appears flighty but easy going. She tells the party many things, but in a way that alludes to her knowing more. She says that the Tear of the Heavens can control the anger in people’s hearts: either to quell it or to strengthen it. This is why it is so wonderful for peace but dangerous in the wrong hands.
She says she comes from Soldana, a land far to the west past the Beyond (deserts) and that she does not remember her age. She says that they must journey north into Salbik, a land ruled by someone called the Frozen Empress, in order to find the Tear. She says that many are looking for the Tear, including the Frozen Empress herself.
She says that she has befriended a local druid who knows more about they area. Both Horrace Greystone and Calamira of the Tesdanyali say they will go with her. Beollimadus Fiddelson goes to see the Lord of Fitulgan, Davy Witherford. Lord Davy says that there are troubles in the land. Many refugees from the surrounding farms are staying at the temple of Solt. He says he has heard of troubles at the temple and asks if Bilymendez, a brother of Solt, will assist them.
Meanwhile, Hanan, Horrace, and Calamira go to see Reggie the druid. Reggie tells them that fires are burning to the north and that the Kolber pass has been overrun with monsters. Robbers have been spotted on the road to Kline and Brownies live in the woods northeast of Fitulgan. He has not heard anything about Falling Frog pass. Reggie gives Calamira a hawk feather wrapped in a blue cord and says that if she presents this to the druids at Yoggler’s Shrine near Falling Frog Pass, that they will assist her and all she travels with.
Later back at the Grotto Inn, Digitalis talks with a man dressed in leathers wearing a brimmed hat who shows a badge indicating that he is an inquisitor for Solt (Beollimadus knows that inquisitors are permitted to act as judge, jury, and executioner provided their actions are for the best interests of the church).
The group all head up to the temple of Solt where they meet a dwarven priest named Garren. Our heroes learn that something disturbed the graveyard. The fresher bodies are missing. All agree to follow the clear path deeper into the woods, except for their benefactor Hanan who says it’s “not her thing” and will be back at the inn.
Deeper into the woods, Leola (Chiku’s tiger), detects something strange and Chiku yells out “we are under attack.” Surrounding them are peculiar creatures they have never seen. Larger than a man, wearing armor and brandishing weapons, but covered in fur. There are 8 of these creatures (later, the party learns they are Gnolls). Two are partly hidden by the trees and are using arrows. The others carry clubs and charge our daring heroes.
Not to be outdone by their previously glorious battles, Chiku decimates Gnoll after Gnoll with superior halfling fury. As Gnolls drop one after another, a broader one stands up several yards away from the fighting. He is wearing full armor that is covered in mud and blood that have dried into a black paste (the children’s “Boogie man” from earlier).
Running on the pure joy of slaughter, Chiku charges at the newcomer who freezes her in place with a wave of his hand. As the rest of the party come to assist Chiku, Mr. Black Armor Dude picks up the haffling and runs away… which prompts the remaining 2 surviving gnolls to wisely follow suite.
The chase is On!