With the wintry illusion in their memories, Athelstan found himself back in the Temple District approaching his wife, Judith. Their reunion was quiet and Judith was constantly looking back, worried about something. That something arrived in Onyx, the mastermind brought to Union by Ahkaris and known only in story to the Slayers through Railyn's tales. Onyx was quick to announce that Judith was his fiance and that they were late. This left Athelstan fuming as he took the arm of Ira and headed back to the guildhall.
After a meeting with Branor, the Slayers learned that Gore, companion of Lul, had come to him and requested the help of the Slayers. Lul had been kidnaped by the Black Smile and holed up in the Gardens which was currently overrun by monsters and beasts. They waited until morning and headed to the Gardens, meeting up with the minotaur. They entered and Gore became their distraction while they headed back towards where he believed Lul was being held.
They battled through the dense, overgrown forests striking down nothics and oozes, wights and elementals. During a short rest, Branor was keeping watch and noticed several beasts about the size of a wolf but sporting large spines and ran like cats. He discovered that they were part of the Swarm, an ancient plague on the world once thought to be destroyed. Still, they pressed on towards the house the Black Smile was occupying.
Hope set about picking the lock but was thwarted when Shimmer shoved his way through without hesitation. They quickly deduced that the house was abandoned and had been for some time. Venturing down into the cellar, they found a tortured Lul who smiled upon their arrival. Finding nothing of value, save for a note to Hope that simply read "I'm coming for you next," they took Lul to the Temple District for healing. Titus stayed at his side.
After their ordeal, Theristis started his search for the remainder of his quarry, Lord Cormier and Lady Anabel Sa'vage. A note was passed to him, however, from a contact informing him that Lord Cormier had left Union and was headed for Oxwaters…