Shortly after Lord Ulthor departed, the party set to work on restoring their new fort, with the help of their new assistant, Haskill. They evicted an unwanted Ettin from the keep and set about hiring some of the more important staff members.
The party opted to begin construction on some of the more damaged portions of the fort, including the curtain walls, forge, and armory. Lobus also used some druid-craft to create a bountiful harvest for the farmers in the area surrounding the fortress.
The party chose Bjorn, a young lumberer who makes a mean meat pie to be their cook, but had to put the other decisions on hold when the quartermaster interviews turned ugly, and an applicant named Raven seemed to permanently blind Five and escaped, claiming that she was another student who served his master. As Five fought off the poison, his old master came to him in his blindness, and gave him a mighty gift in the form of a runed headband that bestowed the power to see without eyes, warning that this former student served a dark master, and that she would return to him when the time was right to strike back.
In the aftermath of the botched job interviews, the party decided to keep several of the other applicants on retainer, including Selene as a potions maker, the half-orc brothers Thunk and Krunk as warriors, and Anhtar Khoreem, one of the refugees they met aboard the Northern Wind, as another guard.
Some time had passed with no sight or word of Barney, and the party began to weigh their options and consider the next course of action in the meantime, including going in search of Barnabus and Avilhara, heading north to Daegaren to receive a new mission from Lord Ulthor, and investigating the disappearance of Albert, an old man who had intended to apply for the kennelmaster / stablemaster position.
They also received a warning from Vizexa that the enemies she was sworn to seek vengeance upon were growing near. The party set out northward, ultimately headed for the capital city but deciding to stop at Albert's hut along the way. After a brief search they found it abandoned, and also signs of a fight. They followed the tracks northward using Five's keen "sight" and ultimately found their quarry. Albert had been taken by a group of Githyanki warriors, led by the Githyanki knight known as Veraxon, one of the 4 responsible for stealing Vizexa's power. After an intense fight in which Iriel and Angus nearly died, and the rest of the party was harried by the Githyanki's psychic greatswords, Iriel dealt the final blow to the leader of the war band, and they freed Albert from his captivity.
The hovel where they made their stand was in fact being converted into a creche, or a training ground for young githyanki warriors (as creatures do not age on the astral plane) and Albert, an earth sorcerer, had been taken with the intent of fixing a broken orb that could open a portal to the astral plane. The party hired the grim Alberthane on as their stablemaster / kennel master, and also promised him some low-key work as an enchanter.
With Albert rescued, the party pressed on to Daegaren without Angus, hoping to find Barnabus alive within the bustle of Irefell's largest city. Along the way, they stopped for the night in Kilnton, where after a night of celebration and revelry they party fell into a deep slumber induced by some wine that may have been spiked or altered. Luckily, some failed CON saves proved advantageous, and the party ultimately woke up in time to stop a pair of brothers, Ethrain the warlock and Ethelred the wizard from being slain by religious zealots. They warned the party that such prejudices run truer in the capital and they pressed on to Blackstone Keep, while the adventurers made for the capital.
They arrived several days later, having acquired horses in Kilnton, and stopped at Entire Provisions for some magical supplies. Ehtar bought an amulet to provide some protection against divination magic, Iriel purchased some Dust of Disappearance to make the party temporarily invisible, and Lobus found the useful Amulet of Critters, which provides some additional uses of wildshape.
Afterward, the party found the mansion of their recent acquaintance, Pock Dunquil, and spent the night catching up with their friend over some wine and drink at what is soon to become Daegaren's premiere venue for parties and fancy shindigs, before resuming their search for Barney.
After a night of carousing and a barfight with a monk named Raspberry, the adventurers resumed their hunt for Barnabus, and after following a few leads from their research around town, they met Professor Horace Anders of the Daegaren Academy, and Danica, the leader of the Mages who make up the Servants of the Golden Tome. They arranged a deal whereby they would retrieve a magical stone from an old druid grove called Riven, and in return, Danica would use her powers to scry for Barnabus and try to determine his location. Just as the adventurers exited the grove and made their way back to the surface, they received a message via courier from Lord Ulthor, summoning them to the keep for a new mission.