On the road back to Cerl, the party was camped around a fire telling ghost stories. After a while, there were sounds of marching off in the distance. “Is that fanfare?” John Anderson asked. “No, I don’t think so. I’ll go sneak about and find out what’s up,” replied Rona. From what she could tell the darkness, it looked like a small army marching toward the group about a half a hundred human-sized creatures; she could see their armor and weapons glinting in the moonlight. Somewhere on horseback, and as they drew closer their features became more discernible in the light of the torches they carried.
This ended up being Count Brendan Caridhas and his entourage returning to Cerl. However, the party members were unsure if he was after them for freeing Devan Eva, if he even knew. Rona tried to persuade a soldier named Collin to take the party to the Count, but she was kindly told to fuck off. Therefore, she cast Charm Person, and she made best friends with him. He then took the adventurers to the Count, and all the stuff about werewolves, demons, etc. was recounted to him so that he was forewarned prior to his arrival to Cerl. He finally allowed the party to join his convoy.
As is the adventuring party marched at the back of the convoy, Ignis’ behavior was very odd. He said nothing and stared at the nobles carriage for the entire trip back and refuse to say why. Finally, when pressed, he simply said, “Don’t worry about it.” It was as if he were in some sort of trance. Rona attempted to use Mage Hand to remove the circlet from his head, thinking that was the source of the problem, some sort of enchantment. However, this failed. Ignis got very upset at Rona about this and continued to follow the Count’s carriage, just staring at it.
Nolgrim and Rona stopped at a tavern for a drink before the group headed to the church to see the Revered Mother. Ignis refused to go with them, so Rona cast Suggestion only to have it fail. This was most disturbing, so the group proceeded to the church.
The Ethenian religion is matriarchal, so there were lots of young ladies there with bad habits (ha!). Rona, afraid to say anything in front of Ignis about wanting to remove his circlet as he was obviously quite reluctant to have it divorced from his head, slipped a note to the Revered Mother stating just that and that Ignis had not been himself since putting it on. She turned away, gestured, and very suddenly some inquisitors grabbed Ignis. A priestess approached, cast a spell on him, removed the circlet, held it up like a holy relic, and whisked it away.
Rona, a little frightened, begged to know if he was alright. The Revered Mother said that Ignis was alright now. Ignis, seemingly a big groggy, confirmed that he was alright. Rona asked what was going through his mind with that thing on his head because he was very clearly not himself whatsoever. He said that he had an overwhelming desire to keep secrets from everyone.
Ignis also said that he felt much more intelligent and knew that this circlet was part of a key to an unknown door. He could feel the presence of the other two circlets and knew their general locations: he was following one into Cerl, and the other is at sea to the east.
The party left the Church and had a hard think on the situation. Firstly, the next circlet is in possession of either the Count or his betrothed. Second, they just handed a very powerful relic to the Church that is perhaps more political than holy. Third, whoever is wearing the circlet in Cerl will undoubtedly be drawn to it in the church.
Suspiciously, the adventurers are invited to the wedding for being big damn heroes. Belle Marcon had a lovely circlet on her head. Count Brendan Caridhas offered to knight us, and most of the party accepted. Belle smiled wryly.
After the knighting and the wedding, the Count ordered the group to Shamkell because it kept getting raided by Kaeylites. Rona expressed her concern that Belle Marcon is evil and that this order was to get the party away from Cerl and maybe even dead. No one else seemed to agree.