After gathering some information on Cieran’s disappearance, including a pair of his pants, the party was about to set out on tracking the boy. As they were leaving, they ran into Cieran’s uncle Beaux, drunk and hopeless. Beaux insisted he tag along with the party on their search, and as he sobered up, he explained that he and his nephew had planned to meet at his old hideout, then go to an abandoned castle to practice Cieran’s recently emerged magic.
With Evangeline’s help the party tracked Cieran’s scent a good way through the forest when a few of them fell into a pit trap. As they climbed out, a large muscular human woman approached and apologized profusely for her traps inconveniencing the party. She introduced herself Shiala, and invited them all to lunch at her home to make up for their trouble. She led them to a rather homey cave, and offered them some tea and roasted meat, the source of which she refused to identify. Beaux ate it enthusiasticly, and Astratta noticed that it didn’t taste like anything they’d ever eaten before. Some questioning revealed that Shiala had served them human meat, and a search of her cave turned up an apron that belonged to Diggles, the beloved waiter who went missing from Roadside. The party didn’t take kindly to this meal, and intimidated Shiala into surrendering from what could have been a rough fight. They left Shiala tied up in her cave, and rifled through her belongings to find more clothes of varying sizes, some jerky, and a strange music box that seemed to play back voice recordings.
From there the party tracked Cieran to a large overgrown castle gate. The doors opened easily, and inside they found a beautifully kept courtyard that showed none of the wear and tear from the outside gate. While investigating the area, Beaux cast detect magic, and noticed strong enchantment magic coming from Esda. He interrogated them about it, and asked to look through their things. Esda refused, and as Beaux started to get more upset, Esda felt a presence that seemed to be asking for permission for something. Not knowing what it was, Esda agreed, and Beaux was suddenly overcome with a need to relieve himself. After excusing himself to the hedges in the garden, he ¬asked Esda to give him back the ring, insisting that no one should have the power it granted. When Esda refused again, he conceded and simply asked that they be careful with it.
As the party entered the castle itself, they found Cieran playing a harpsichord duet with a well-dressed dwarven woman, who introduced herself as “Princess Sophia Heartsten, heir to the Caeldor Estate and standing keeper of Runwicke Castle.” The party members didn’t recognize any of these names. Sophia treated the party to an extravagant meal, this time with no meat, suspicious or otherwise. As she talked, a few of the players noticed she seemed to sparkle slightly. She invited everyone to rest and stay the night.
The party was escorted to their rooms by a silent figure in a full suit of armor, reportedly one of the few employees in the “short-staffed” castle. That night, Esda heard a faint cry from downstairs, and followed the sound down to a corner of the library. They got the rest of the party and Beaux, leaving Cieran in his room. Back in the library, they followed the sound to a bookshelf, discovering a hidden passage that led underground.