Having returned safely to civilization, the party encounters its first true disagreement. Zeffan the dwarf is wearing the magic Bearskin cloak (can turn to a bear once per week) and the +2 Obsidian Axe. Taryn demands he put the bear cloak into the party’s storage vault for safekeeping, but Zeffan insists it be worn and used. Thor begins to ready his weapon and Zeffan jumps him. The party piles on Zeffan and knocks him down outside their room at the inn. Zeffan is a longtime patron of the inn, and always buys drinks for the locals, so someone runs off to the Sheriff as Zeffan’s unconscious body is dragged back into the room and tied up. The party legs it out of the room, but runs into the Sheriff and militia and are taken into custody. Two weeks later, the trial is held, and the judge decides that axe and cloak should both be sold and the proceeds split among the party members after court costs. The party compromises by paying the court costs, keeping the cloak and letting Zeffan have the axe. They then run over to Fencig the Fence, who points out that the magic items already in the vault are also co-owned by Zeffan. Taryn solves this by closing down the account, and then opening a new one without Zeffan. This bit of skullduggery is perfectly acceptable to Fencig, who can now claim that the party is responsible for any losses to Zeffan.
Off the party goes to Quasqueton again, this time deep in November. After a giant tick attack, they make it to the caverns and finish their exploration, facing the Brides of Zelligar (thanks to the folks at Original D&D Discussion), a group of ghouls, bats, and zombies. Artak is knocked off a high ledge to his death when the party goes through a secret exit. Taryn is also knocked off, but rolls less damage and survives. After finishing the dungeon (missing only about 5 secret rooms), the party trudges through the January snow back to town. Halfway back, a white dragon happens upon them. They toss snow on the fire, and scatter. Everyone rolls 1d10 to see who is the unlucky one, and Halaric is eaten by the dragon as he runs to the east. The rest of the party takes the opportunity to burrow into the snow, as Halaric takes 2 rounds to stop screaming on his way down the gullet. The rest of them stay buried until they feel close to death and then emerge to discover that Halaric is gone, but he’s left a lot of blood and his backpack (filled with loot) behind. There is some sadness but also some rejoicing. More loot for the survivors.
The party is ambushed by Zeffan, two fighters and a mage just as they are approaching the town. Zeffan knocks Thor unconscious and one of the fighters knocks Kalnarr unconscious as well. Luckily, Kalnarr kills the enemy mage before he can get off a spell, and Taryn manages to knock the others down. The bodies of Zeffan and his allies, stripped, will be found after the spring thaw, but the party will be far away by then.
Thus endeth the Search for the Unknown. To give the players a taste of the upper levels, they each receive 50,000 xp and 2 magic items, and 10 years of age, and then we start with I1, Dwellers of the Forbidden City. I wanted to have them go through the original Ravenloft, but they aren’t ready for that yet. I was always confused by the maps in the Forbidden City adventure, because they were so hard to read (all that light blue ink, so we couldn’t xerox them, now defeated by scanners), so I edited them, creating: