As the party is hanging out in a tavern in Redport, Croak brings forth the topic of who poisoned Jarrot, arguing that the siren wouldn't have let him back in her hovel if she had angrily kicked him out and cast it on him and as such the only suspect left right now is Boren. He also says they should meet with him and try to make acquaintances or even friends so that they can extract information from him about the topic while they also scan his property for possible magic items. With Van-Healsing being a very unlikely figure to want to meet with Boren, Croak advises that only he and Malakai go. Croak also mentions he has found out that one of the people buying halflings feet from Anvil might be a person named Chrissy originating from Hillsborough and that he wants Van to write a sort of letter of introduction in Croaks name.
Malakai and Croak go over to Borens Imperium and scout it out, Croak notes an armored female dwarf guard and goes to speak with the man at the counter who seems not to be Boren himself since he doesn't even understand thieves cant nor thiefly metaphors. Malakai buys a mithril dagger while Croak tells the clerk he would be interested in meeting his employer for possible selling/buying of fanciful items, the clerk tells him that Boren is a busy man, but if he can write an inventory of what sort of items they have he would get it to Boren.
Party leaves the shop, they note that there are no windows except two thick glass ones at the front of the shop on the 2nd floor. Malakai quickly comes up with a list and goes back to hand it in.
Van-Healsing goes to blacksmith shop for measurements and practices using a longbow.
Croak spies on the shop until closing time and sees the clerk, the dwarven woman and another guard, female human, leave it. He follows them for a while until the 3 of them enter "The Rancid Ooze" tavern. Letting half an hour pass he finally enters the tavern, noting that his targets sit together in the back, he gets a drink and slinks to side of tavern keeping his eyes on the 3 people. After a while the two guards leave, but once he steps out of tavern they already seem to have disappeared from the street so he heads back to "The Hobgoblin's Head".
Night passes and everyone meets up at breakfast table, Croak informs Van of the happenings last night up until Croak's solo reconnaissance which he only retells to Malakai. Malakai wishfully mentions attempting to learn Invisibility spell, which Croak would regard quite highly.
After a bit of discussion they head back to Borens Imperium, this time there are 2 customers in already so they peruse the wares for a while. Croak talks to the dwarven guard who introduces herself as Zinley, but they don't make for much chitchat. Eventually Croak talks to the shopkeeper who informs him that Boren would like to meet them at "The Rancid Ooze" tavern this evening.
They plot to go to the meeting, though Croak refuses Malakais offer to cast magic on him emphasizing that he wants to get on Borens good side first before they make any moves or at least find themselves in a very favorable situation to strike. Croak also mentions he doesn't intend to sell the potion of vitality, but just use it to entice him. They both agree not to take Van along because every bit of this would not be very palatable to him.
Later that evening both Croak and Malakai go to "The Rancid Ooze" and see a tall, well dressed man who they go sit with. Boren introduces himself and asks what they have to offer. Croak explains that he comes from Shirebrook and that some of the thieves in town had not been on his level or had his sight so he cut them out, but he likes Boren's setup. Boren explains that he is only in the distribution side of the things these days and that in this business everyone is responsibly for themselves and if Croak were to make a mistake in acquiring his merchandise he'd report him to authorities. Croak tells him that he will get some gems and earrings from an Akuban woman to prove his worth. Boren tells him to meet his associate in the same tavern the next day, Croak attempts to talk him into another personal meeting, but Boren refuses adamantly. With that everyone eventually leaves and they walk back to "The Hobgoblin's Head".
Van goes to the town crier once more asking for any suitable jobs for them to take. Crier tells him that in Ivywood there have been reports of owlbears and kobolds harassing loggers, copper per kobold ear. Both of them agree that it might be a bit low profile for Van and his party however. Crier brings up another issue, messengers disappearing on the road to Hillsborough and depending on the threat there the reward is flexible which seems to interest Van more.
Croak decides to go learn about glass and how to cut it. Malakai learns Flaming sphere spell.
Van asks the other two whether they'd want to go on the courier route mission and they agree. In the evening Croak and Malakai go meet with one of Boren's bodyguards, Zinley and hand her 2 peridots, 2 jaspers and silver earrings worth 1220. Zinley says the going rate is 50/50 for fencing items, which Croak reluctantly agrees to.
At one point Zinley begins to flirt with Croak and even offers Malakai to join in, but he expresses his distaste for dwarves. Flirting continues into thigh touching and Croak ends up at Zinley's home, eventually, in the night, Croak heads home.
Malakai consults Van which spells to learn next and Knock seems to be one both of them agree might be useful.
Malakai receives message from Sithlidyn that he has received message from Rohana and he would like to see him. Van pipes up that he'd like to go along with him. They go to his shop and he asks about what is this issue Malakai had with the law in Shirebrook which Malakai broadly explains, this prompts Sithlidyn to ask how would he know he won't be the next to be stolen from to save a life to which Van explains that it destroyed the life he built up there and he wouldn't want to repeat it. Malakai ends up offering to work for him for the day and as they'll be on a mission for about 10 days leave that time for the elf mage to ponder about it. Sithlidyn agrees and gives him the task of ordering spiders from most to least venomous.
Croak meets up with Zinley and gets handed 605 gold, but refuses another lay since he has mission to go on soon, then once she leaves he follows her to Borens Emporium, after a bit the human guard leaves, but nothing much else happens so Croak goes back to his inn.
Party sets out to Hillsborough. Van asks few travellers on the road about dangers they've faced, but no one except a man from Hillsborough mention anything.
Malakai learns Knock spell.
Party arrives in Clydesdale without issue. Van sells a spear and asks local bartender about Roc ridge and the dangers there, the man informs Van that there’s lot of caves and hobgoblins, wargs, mountain giants and such. He also mentions that there are giant trapdoor spiders preying on people on the road, a greater basilisk that lives in Roc Ridge that's called Stoney, a chimera, some ogres, some scorpions, some trolls, gryphons occasionally sweep the region and apparently a Roc lives on the mountain (Roc Peak) as well. Hillsborough does have lot of very important mines near it though.
Bartender also mentions there's probably only a single wizard in town which works for the local lord. Guards inform Van that the wizard prefers not to see people unless it's critical so instead Van heads to the local temple, cleric there tells him that mirrors do in fact reflect a basilisk's gaze and also that the gaze is effective only at 50 feet and it can only see itself in the mirror at 10 feet, she also mentions that basilisks are very slow so running away from them isn't hard. All of this in mind Van buys a mirror.
Road is uneventful, they see only few travellers on the road. As they get closer to Hillsborough it becomes notably more hilly with cliffs often dotting the sides of the road. And as they walk between some of those hills Croak notices multiple 6 foot spiders moving down towards them. Neither of the groups are surprised, but the spiders win initiative so panicked fighting begins. The fight doesn't last long and with a Sleep spell, torches and some yelling spiders retreat.
However both Van and Malakai get poisoned by the spiders so they hurry off to the town, nevertheless the poison takes effect before they get there and bit by bit Malakai loses his strength and 30 minutes later he dies. Once that happens Van-Healsing just straightens up and runs off to Hillsborough leaving Croak to pick what items he wants from Malakai's corpse and jog after him.
Van runs into town, finds out that there are no clerics in town with Cure poison spell, but they can help with some medicinal assistance.
Malakai's death is retconned because of Potion of Vitality and in-game they would've had 30 minutes to remember to drink it. Van still has to make 2 saves against poison 1 of which he passes and 1 fails taking 15 damage.
Experience and changes.
*Dates are extrapolated from a previous mention of an exact date.