In the wee hours of the still-dark morning, Baat and Khamul are awoken by strange sounds from the room next door — Taelyn, Tasi, and Kemina’s room. Khamul has neither the energy nor the patience to investigate what eventually becomes recognizable as sobbing, but Baat has plenty of both. Baat goes to see what’s wrong, and finds Taelyn just absolutely heartsick in her sleep. He tries, gently, to wake her, to no avail… and so does the only thing he can think of: Retrieves a healing mushroom from his pack and places it on Taelyn’s head. Satisfied, he leaves.
When morning truly dawns, Taelyn is weary and troubled from her unrestful night, but the party gathers with the quickly warming rays of sun and go to the trial. Kemina is noticeably, and mysteriously, absent, but the party continues on; assuming she’ll return in time for the trial.
The trial unfolds to some interest of our intrepid party of foreigners, and some nerves. A dozen villagers volunteer to testify, most seemingly against Grindol – though Baat manages to intimidate away one of the number. Grindol’s social awkwardness is brought under fire, as is his status as an outsider from the community of Nettleton. Lise in particular stands up for Grindol, putting blame on whatever evil there is in Nightwall Cottage – reminding the village of her husband, Dale, and his uncharacteristic action and subsequent trial a few years before. She points out that the party are Kings Own Knights who investigated and found reason to believe there WAS evil in the house at work. Jalessa (the butcher) also briefly testifies that Grindol “did not act like a guilty man”. However, counter testimonies besmirch the trustworthiness and intentions of the party – revealing to the village that they are NOT, in fact, Knights of the Kings Own, but are only trainees and just let everyone believe they were fully fledged Knights.
The party, though, have their own pieces to say. Taelyn goes first and explains how Grindol was not like himself the night of the attempted murder, and also laid the rational groundwork of what they found in the caverns. Tasi not only cut off one of the nay-saying testifiers with a logical smackdown, but he also explained the intricacies of the notes and experiments that had been found and the not-very-strenuous logical leaps to conclude the nothic/Randall was forcing people against their will to his ends. Khamul describes the deep unholiness and wrongness of the caverns, vouching from his position as a paladin of Tanfana. Then Baat rounded out the group with a heartfelt plea that just because Grindol was different in behavior than other villagers, and just because they (the party) were outsiders from the village, that their hearts were still pure and they should be considered for their intent.
In the end, Imdarr and the magistrate brought out the recovered skull of the nothic – Randall Nightwall – and questioned him. This final testimony sealed what the party had already quite handily laid out, and the magistrate publicly proclaimed Grindol Farmoor an innocent man.
Once this was finished, the party returned to the tavern to seek Kemina, who had not shown up at the trial as they’d assumed. With some help from Sable, missing all morning until then, Taelyn was led to the woods outside town where she found Kemina’s deeply meditating form. Concerned for her companion — for Kemina’s body was as if it had been sitting there for decades, with roots and moss and lichen and other plants growing up over and onto her — Taelyn tried to wake her. But her first attempts were to no avail, until she removed one of her elemental dice and severed a root growing on the die. Kemina awoke, none the worse for wear or awareness, it seemed, and Taelyn caught Kemina up on the morning. Kemina, given a moment, seemed to remember what she had just experienced and the two rushed back to the tavern and inn. Kemina sent off a letter to her Druid circle while the others planned logistics.
Baat flew off to seek out Gundren, and the under-the-weather Khamul took a nap while Tasi, Kemina, and Taelyn went out to restock crossbow bolts and buy horses and a cart. Successful despite some unwelcoming shopkeepers, the party (minus Baat) reconvened at the tavern.
Baat, on his own, arrived at a large estate at the end of the day, having not found Gundren during his hours of flight. The butler of “the lord’s manor” turned the aarakocra away… but while Baat was setting up his own treetop camp, he spied something strange a ways off… and discovered a badge of authority from the King’s Own Knights pressed into the mud, amidst the wreckage of a recently-former campsite.