The doors are locked and the guards seem at the ready; not a good start to getting out of the palace. On the plus side, Torvald and Foxpaw, two recent additions to the Silver Flame, managed to get in before the doors locked.
The group attempts to simply walk past one of the guards, but a threatening swing from a halberd rapidly stalls that idea. Fortunately the party has a direction in mind (the area indicated by the maid) and rapidly moves there while managing to hold off the guards with relatively little effort (after a particularly sound thwack one of the guards even runs away). Vikaris holds the door as the rest of the group slips out and into the secret tunnel. Well mostly; Riya either from holy fervor, blood lust or sheer stubbornness decides to show the 3 remaining guards what for, and engages all three at once. Unfortunately, their attacks are both well coordinated and deadly, proving too much for her alone. The rest of the group, including the new additions, run back in and drive off the guards, with Vikaris dragging Riya behind him (a bit of a disapproving look in evidence).
The group walks through the tunnel for miles, eventually emerging at a crossroads. Noting the smell of rotting flesh (and the abundance of crows) they move to investigate (minus a few members who go to get the horses, aided by Jubal’s obsidian steed). The group finds a pathetic looking village with a population looking half dead (physically and mentally) almost all of them missing a limb or other body part. Keira is able to provide words of comfort and more importantly a decent healing skill and despite initial reluctance, the villagers warm up to the group, feed them, and send them on their way.
Galloping down the road, the group is stopped by flaming timbers coming out of a smoking schoolhouse. Fearing a trap, but still feeling obligated to investigate, the group moves in. As suspected, a group of thugs, backed up by a mage and a dire rat lay in wait inside! The group engages them in combat, and despite the difficult terrain emerges victorious. They even manage to find some Hedge Wizard gloves in addition to the scattered gold. The group recovers, takes a short rest and moves on to their destination.
The group arrives at the temple and wastes no time pushing into the alter room (seeing as a column of darkness is descending into it from the sky). The fight is on, as the Grand Vizier, a deathlock wight, 2 berserkers and no less than 8 zombies loom. Moving into position, Jubal makes short work of most of the zombies with kicks, punches and probably a head butt or two. The rest of the fight is less one sides with Foxpaw nearly succumbing to the axe of one of the berserkers, and Keira spending some time within the column of darkness (after some magic from the grand vizier) and Riya almost succumbing to some murderous thoughts against the group (at the behest of Avonthemon). Still, the group pulls everything together and after some harried initial rounds, they all stand and none of their enemies do. Much is found in the room: gold, 2 rituals, a very nice amulet. And (from the body of Avonthemon) a violet metal dagger that seems to shift into a different weapon depending on who holds it. The group collects their reward from the mayor (1,500 gold pieces along with promises of aid in the future, and a very welcoming attitude in Aundair). All that done, the trek back to Flamekeep and further adventure on the horizon looms.