Bralta uses what she can of her healing chants to bring Honora and Baden out of their comatose state. As the two catch their wits, Abbron explains the particulars of the situation. Honora searches through the surgical tools set about the forge workshop until she is able to find Kravoss’ knife, removed from the Stoic Man and set to one side. She reclaims it, just in case.
That’s when they notice that the frost-covered surgeon is still moving — though doing his best to play dead. Abbron steps over to the prone doctor and says in a kindly but stern tone that now would be a good time for him to tell the group something important.
The surgeon points out the vault attached to the secondary forge, and informs them that both the troll captive (the donor for so many grafts) and Dr. Kravoss are kept there. The group investigates, finding both these captives as well as a number of inert, fully constructed golems. Bralta has extreme difficulty attempting to pick the lock on Kravoss’ chains. Abbron then decides to freeze the section where the chains meet the wall, and Honora pulls the chains free with a tremendous exertion of strength.
They flee the lightning forge, climbing up the chain for the second-level exit. With Kravoss and the captive surgeon in tow, they navigate the dwarven underlevels until they emerge in the Icon district. From there they head for Highbrand Keep and an audience with Countess Vainharte.
The Countess receives them swiftly. She has food brought, and the battered heroes recount their findings. Vainharte recommends that the group stay in Highbrand for the evening, for the greatest safety. The group gladly agrees. That evening they manage to sleep soundly, with no rats at the windows.
At breakfast the four are in much better fighting condition. Vainharte encourages them to discuss their battle plan over the morning meal. Her young son, present for the meal, pays attention as well. Honora decides to fight defensively, using her shield and longsword rather than Earth Dragon. She also plans to visit the Valsyan temple for a sacred vigil, blessing her armor against this foe. At one point Honora suggests sabotaging the lightning forge itself as a secondary objective, which triggers a reaction of angry disgust from Bralta.
Countess Vainharte offers to join the hunt in person. They argue the point with her at first — Honora in particular states that with the Selpike politics in play it would be a particularly bad time for something to happen to the Countess. Vainharte replies that there is never a good time to lose a protector, but a protector who does nothing is worthless. Finally they agree to work together, in two groups that can unite or split apart as need be.
Honora and Baden move to the temple to spend the day in vigils. There the priests bless Honora’s armor to guard her against the blows of the Stoic Man, and Baden’s axe to receive greater power from the winter sun.
They descend the following morning. Vainharte brings a small retinue of her most trusted companions with her, including Bronn. Baden and Vainharte’s elven tracker ally move ahead to scout. They find troll-grafted at watch on the western entry and along the main approach, as well as some smaller, strangely put-together humanoids that seem to be some sort of imperfect experiment.
The two groups choose to split to a four-pronged attack. Honora, Abbron, Baden and Bralta will move in from the west side, while Vainharte’s squad attacks from the front.
The slayers get into position and then lure out the troll-grafted sentries. When they attack, one of the imperfect cast-offs bolts for help, but Abbron races to catch up and slays it with a lunge in spark form.
Honora and Bralta drop one of the troll-grafted before it can do much damage, as Abbron clears out the remaining cast-offs. Baden ties up the second troll-grafted, wounding him more severely than he can heal. When it reels from a particularly painful bolt of lightning, it turns its focus to Abbron at great expense. Baden exploits the opening in its guard, felling it with a blazing strike. The group pauses to catch their breath, and ready themselves to press on into the Stoic Man’s workshop.