Lesym is swallowed by a giant toad. They make it to the manor and sign a contract in blood. After proving themselves in the basement, Thorn trains them for three months and forms the Ninth Knot. Rivalries develop with the Seventh. A boat arrives.
The wheels of the cart dig in to the wet, marshy ground of the moorland. Concerned that they’ll be easily tracked, Lesym breaks off from the group to make diversionary tracks. Trying to stay stealthy he has no torch lit, and as the only human of the group he’s the one member that can’t see. A menacing croak emanates from the swamps as Lesym is knocked off of his horse, caught in the foul mouth of Lashtongue, the giant toad. Lashtongue chomps down on Lesym, who in his weakened state (having not recovered from the prison break) loses consciousness. The giant toad slinks back in to the swamp with his fresh meal as the rest of the party hears the commotion and springs in to action. With a flurry of crossbow bolts, sword swings, and an ogre-dive-bomb-distraction, the group liberates Lesym from Lashtongue’s clutches and Vinciente force feeds him homemade potions until he comes to. Lashtongue lives though, and it takes some serious berating from Tush to get Grumblejack to leave the toad alone and be on their way.
Arriving at the Manor they’re greeted by Tiadora and a band of addled human slaves. She invites them in. Lesym hangs back, wary of this manor and the forces inside, but eventually joins the rest of the party. The slaves show everyone to their own private rooms. They’re cleaned up, brought fine clothes, and fed a restorative wine; all in preparation for their meeting with the master. While relaxing it becomes apparent they aren’t the only guests in the house — four more adventures (Dostan, Trik, Trak, and Elise) are currently staying with them in the manor. Naraka serenades the with Elise with a love song, Tush and Lesym entertain the twins Trik and Trak, and Vinciente studies in the alchemy lab while Dostan is nowhere to be found.
At long last presentable, they’re brought in front of Cardinal Thorn. He congratulates them on their accomplishments, tells them that he was instrumental in their escape, and that if they so choose they can be instrumental in Thorn’s dastardly plans. A contract is signed in blood, binding the group to each other, to Thorn, and to their unholy father. He says that they can have riches and power, but first, they must prove themselves. Thorn has prepared a test in his basement. If they can retrieve a medallion of silver and sapphire, passing all nine tests, then they can join him. The criminals are gifted with equipment to their specifications and magical iron circlets that allow one to change their appearance at will.
The group makes haste and enters the basement. Overcoming various spike pits, weird molds, and javelin traps, they’re faced with a room of utter darkness. Behind them a door slams and they hear a wimper — Blackerly, finally conscious, has been tossed down in the basement with them. He blindly approaches them in the dark, realizes who he’s down their with, and pleads for his life. Lesym ignores the coward and Blackerly feels his way back down the hallway, seeking escape. Soon after, as Lesym is doubling back with a torch in hand, Blackerly charges him with a sword. Easily dispatched Lesym brings Blackerly to the door leading to the room of darkness and tosses him inside. Slurping sounds are heard, and then, nothing. Realizing the mist in this dark room is actually a very hungry being, Vinciente quickly sets the room alight, burning the vampire out, allowing the group to strike it down. They head deeper: battling mithril cobras, falling prey to a giant spiked ball trap, awakening four Draugrs by annoying a shrieker… It’s not easy, but most of the basement is cleared. A small boy — Timeon — is found hiding out in a secret room. Naraka slowly gets the squire Timeon talking, then charms him in to submission.
The final room is found — and in it, the knight Sir Balin, the very same knight that Timeon served. They send the young boy to take watch on the other end of the drowned men’s room with Vinciente keeping him company. Lesym alters his form to appear like Timeon, Tush becomes Blackerly, and Naraka takes the form of the Warden. They enter the final room, Balin’s cell, and close the door behind them. Acting as though they’re here to rescue Balin, Lesym uses his Timeon-like appearance to get close to the knight. Weeping with joy that his squire is safe, Balin takes him in to his arms, embracing him. Lesym stabs him in the heart. They burn the body, retrieving his silver-and-sapphire holy symbol of Mitra, and exit. Timeon asks about the battle — they tell him they took down a Chimera — and Timeon wants to see it. Naraka makes the burnt corpse appear inhuman, and Timeon is in awe of their power as he unknowingly stares at the burnt husk of his former master. Tush hits Timeon on the head, knocking him out. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
With their trophy in hand the group returns victoriously to Thorn. He congratulates them, and informs them that they’ll begin training immediately — for while they are capable, he needs to sharpen them in to his perfect tools before being let loose on the world. The group trains for three months (training montage) under Thorn’s guidance. The other band of adventurers is nowhere to be found until the last two days of their training, when they return holding a sever head that they present to Thorn in a private meeting. No words are exchanged.
The training is finally at an end, and Thorn welcomes them in to his service. Atop his Asmodean alter Thorn summons an infernal beast. Lesym gifts his personal slave to the devil, who rips the man in two and starts hungrily devouring his entrails. Thorn takes blood from the devil and the sacrifice, mixes the two, and draws the symbol of Asmodeus on each character’s forehead. He christens the group as the Nessian Knot, the Ninth Knot of Asmodeus, and says their time has come. It’s time for war.