After a long-awaited sabbatical, our Heroes have risen from the rubble of the Amber Lodge, and gather their strength. Their mystical encounters during the Metamorphic Masquerade have imparted equal shares of prophetic wisdom, and foreboding dread...
The boys are imparted a glimpse into the past and the future...
The Unwed Mother is bustling with activity. Stable boys are putting new hay down in the stables, and through the crystal-clear windows of the inn, Barstol the Innkeeper is polishing room keys and thumbing through the guestbook expectantly. The barkeep is spit-shining mugs, and the barback is bringing barrels of ale up from the cellar. In the upper windows, maids are preparing beds with clean linens. A fresh coat of white paint on the inn's exterior gleams in the summer sunlight, and a bright banner hangs over gatehouse: RAISING CINDERWROUGHT FUN RUN FINISH LINE.
Barstol steps outside and lights his pipe. He squints at the horizon. From the direction of the Black Treacle Mountains, he hears festive music approaching, rolling like thunder.
Wreathed in a dust storm, he glimpses what appears to be a massive herd of buffalo stampeding their way across the landscape, kicking up sod and trampling everything in their path. However, as he focuses his keen eyes, he discerns that this "herd" is made up of humanoid figures, shrouded in ragged wizard robes. They run with endless energy. Here and there, a ziff of magic rockets skyward like fireworks.
He takes it all in, visibly excited to receive such extraordinary guests! He perceive more details, hoping to anticipate their needs. Some runners carry musical instruments that drive on the beat of the rest, and other carry flagons of wine and beer. He sees the runners drink deeply, but for all their efforts, the drinks spill, as if through them, leaving a mire of spoiled booze in their wake.
Soon the oppressive music is almost up the inn, and all those inside come out to join Barstol in a welcoming party, hopeful for the gold that a realm-sized revelry in need of ale and rest could provide. However, as the runners come closer, Barsol's face goes white as he spies only bones beneath their cloaks. Their empty eye sockets gleam with a gleeful and insidious glow, and Barstol's pipe falls from his slack jaw.
The same, but it's a party barge headed toward Candlehat! The boys use some clues hidden in an old letter and a drawing of a tattoo to find a secret shortcut through the Black Treacle Mountains, all the while daunted by a host of orcs hellbent on keeping them from interferring with the Party Liches plans to destroy Candlehat!