((Time may have eroded my memory of some of these events, so please clarify/correct with a comment if I missed something.))
Portia had disappeared after claiming an evil artifact. Her cohort Meric left immediately from the temple to find her. Meanwhile, the party accompanied the crushed Wilhelm Orren back to his family estate, where the Orren family attempted to buy/coerce their support. The party decided to stay out of that.
At the same time, a cleric of Reidman named Cassandra walked into the devastated city of Merridell, where she began asking about a missing person…her sister, Portia Aribitrium. She received some bewildering responses – her little sister was a hero and a wizard, who single-handedly took down the Githyanki ship with her powers. By chance, she ran into a man named Meric – who said he had traveled with her, and yes, the stories had a degree of truth. Unfortunately, she had recently disappeared. He was going to look for her.
The next person she met had some helpful information – a dark-haired, tan man with a very large sword told her she was traveling with an evil man named Donovan, a wanted criminal. They had passed through town recently, and should be on the way back soon. He planned to meet them on the road to bring him to justice. Cassandra agreed to help.
The rest of the party was on the way back to Merridell in preparation for their meeting with Lucilia when they were ambushed – Donovan recognized the leader as Zacuren, his friendly assassin. He had brought with him a small assortment of archers and armored guards, as well as a Cleric of Reidman, apparently tricked into helping him. As the battle went on, an angry Cassandra attacked and demanded to know where her sister was. As the party explained the situation and tried to discredit Zacuren, Cassandra’s assessment of the situation changed. She decided to switch sides. Unfortunately, it came too late – Donovan was winged by an arrow, and died on the battlefield. At this point, Zacuren moved forward to claim his body, but was blocked by Cassandra. Cursing, Zacuren teleported away. Once Zacuren was gone, the other men surrendered.
Back in Merridell, Cassandra raised both Donovan and one of the archers from the other side who was slain…and continued to demand an explanation. They party helped the best they could, describing Portia’s downward spiral since King Arturos’ death and her oath to Elbert Payne, concluding with her claim to the Sword of Tiernach and disappearance. They had resolved to find her, but had more pressing concerns – such as the cult of Falazuriax. Cassandra agreed to join them – perhaps to fight both evils.
They spent some more time in Merridell, until it was time to meet Lucilia Delgado.
Lucilia and the Scales of Lotanakos revealed that they had discovered what the cult of Falazuriax was up to – they were trying to collect pieces of a scroll containing a spell that could cover the world in flames. Presumably, this would not be a good thing. They resolved to collect the pieces of the scroll before the red dragon cult could. These would not be easy to find – while they searched other places, the party was assigned to seek out a man named Redric the Orange, who lives near the village of Three Falls.
They celebrated for the rest of the night with the Scales, who were mostly a group of bards. Drunkenness and good times were had. A red-haired member tried her best to seduce Augustus, to no avail. One of Ari’s friends, a muscular man with a very deep voice named Sarastro, got very drunk and gave Ari a gift – the Partita Vero, a magic scimitar with an ice enchantment.
They resolved to leave the next day. While Donovan possessed a teleport spell, he could not teleport to a place he had not seen. Luckily, Cassandra had a spell that allowed them to travel speedily on the wind, reducing their travel time. Unfortunately, she could only enchant four people this way. Tamera, the bard that had been traveling with them, volunteered to stay behind at the Inn. Then Donovan could teleport back the next day to retrieve her, since he would have seen the town of Three Falls by then.
This went according to plan for the most part: the party quickly passed rolling hills, open plains, and vast forests before arriving at Three Falls. Donovan teleported back to retrieve Tamera while the rest of the party got an Inn. Once back at Merridell, however, Donovan discovered that Tamera was not at the Inn. She was gone.
Donovan began to gather information. The innkeeper said she had received a letter, and left looking troubled. He had no idea where she went after that, though. With no other course of action, Donovan began to walk around town, asking people. He walked for several hours without success, though he did pick up a discarded rod from a frustrated wizard. Finally, as he walked through the red light district of Merridell, he saw a man dressed in a white vest and loose-fitting pants – garb worn by Alton Barrera when he attempted to reclaim the Eye of Sidhe from Tamera.
Donovan began to form an idea of what happened. He disabled the man with his spells, and interrogated him in the street. He got the information he needed – Tamera had been captured by her family of assassins.