The return to Tolas at Gateway is relatively uneventful trip, barring stone hail the day before you return, a sign of landfall somewhere far, far above you, which shreds the sails and causes a delay for repairs. After completing the makeshift repairs to the sails and while approaching the city, a merchant vessel comes within hailing distance and you find is a small competitor of Gundar Trade House, bearing some chatter from the city. The captain brings tidings of a rash of murders across the city and many taking the nod to keep away for a time.
Tolas accepts his daughter's remains, as well as her crew, and the tale of their fate in stride. While horrible in its result, Tolas clearly looks like a great weight has been lifted from his shoulders and can perhaps, find closure in finally knowing what happened. He makes idle reference to the happenings in the city, but little more.
While returning to the Verdant you encounter a couple city guards dealing with a woman standing in the threshold of an alehouse, wielding a cleaver and covered in blood. She largely ignores the cries of the young guardsmen to drop her weapon and when a man exits the alehouse behind her, pleading with her, she turns in a blink and disembowels him on the front steps. You engage the woman to help the guardsmen, who look very relieved and in short order, incapacitate her. Her eyes have gone completely black. The guardsmen relate that they are finding more and more people murdered brutally throughout the city and keep finding normal people who've become 'darkeyes', as they call them, as the culprits. Most have been killed when capture has been attempted, but one is imprisoned and the woman incapacitated will make two.
Efforts to discover more about the 'darkeye' issue is largely met with resistance and suspicion by the city guard or by a lack of ability to put the murders in context or explain what is causing this in people across the city. Even the local healers along Gods Parade, or 'Miracle Mile', have mostly just seen the few wounded who've survived, though most who have been attacked have not survived and suffered brutal deaths.
Preferring to see if this issue will run itself out, you load up the Verdant and set out once again for the lumber filled island you'd intended to visit weeks before. Upon your arrival, you see no obvious signs that anyone is docked in the capture field of the island nor are docked along the perimeter. Arriving late in the day, you set up lodging high in the tree line in the form of a large flat shelter.
During the sleep cycle of the day, you are roused by the moans and stomping of an ogre, a glowmad changed orc, being led around by a group of goblins, far below you on the forest floor. They quickly spot the landing and set the orge on the tree. He lifts a mostly makeshift sledgehammer and brings it mightily down against the trunk of the tree holding you and your crew up. With some quick thinking, the captain and one of the crew slip off the platform into another tree, while one unfortunate soul slips off as the ogre's hit breaks the tree trunk from the stump, and plummets to the ground. Most of the crew finds purchase on another tree on the ride down, while the rest of the crew are thrown about to the underbrush below.
Blackthorn dispatches the goblins in one fell swipe of his axe, once he lands upon the ground and then engages the ogre but momentarily before racing off toward the Verdant, while his companions use the cover of the trees to pursue the same course. The ogre keeps close to him as they race toward the ship and just before reaching it, passes Blackthorn and stands him down. In a closely pitched battle, Blackthorn just manages to best the ogre before it connects another thunderous hit against him. Hauling the ogre's body on board to collect a bounty via Lowren back in Gateway, you take some deep breaths and assess the losses the battle wrought.