As the travellers pass the Church of Her, a beam of light emenating from it points towards the southwest. None are sure what it means, or stray from their course.
New friends join, hailing from a faction of The Grand Cohort of Mercenaries while leaders of The Decrepit orchestrate a sacrifice of their own.
Darrow of The Concord of Research sends courier ahead to deliver a message to his Unnamed Beloved, confessing his love and longing for reunion.
Shortly after, while en route to The Crow's Den, Darrow receives a reply:
𝔇𝔞𝔯𝔯𝔬𝔴, ℑ 𝔯𝔢𝔪𝔢𝔪𝔟𝔢𝔯 𝔶𝔬𝔲. 𝔓𝔩𝔢𝔞𝔰𝔢 𝔪𝔢𝔢𝔱 𝔪𝔢 𝔞𝔱 𝔱𝔥𝔢 ℭ𝔯𝔬𝔴'𝔰 𝔇𝔢𝔫.
Though warned by the likes of Harken the Heretic, the eternally romantic Darrow could not be dissuaded from hope.
On the lengthy journey towards The Crow's Den, a mysterious figure made themselves known.
Calling themselves The Bald Burner, they murdered one lockless traveller after another causing a terror amongst the folically challenged.
First striking down 11 bald pilgrims, then another 3 before a series of solitary murders, and another handful.
In total 21 were slain by The Bald Burner before The Crow of Detriti took delight in this chaos and bestowed a Fetid Crow's Talon upon the serial killer – which the psychopath immediately burned along with another hairless victim.
Legend began to escalate, and soon the hunt for this elusive killer would begin.
After a long journey, the travellers arrive at The Crow's Den, uncertain of what they will find.
The portcullis opens, a dominant figure approaches, and speaks.
Ah, I see you have come to join us for the Crows' Trial. May you scavenge your supper.
Oh, you didn’t know? The Crows’ Trial delivers once per cycle. So forming of chaos and confusion... rather exciting!
I wonder why Detriti hid her among this chaos inside her... It does not matter. She will burn through us, so we may return the favour.
What is the trial for, you ask? Aren’t you full of questions, [...].
You’ll see. Might as well find a seat for the show.
A diminuative fellow named Pouches introduces himself.
Are you looking confused, aye?
You chose a strange time to come around these parts.
Darkblade? No, I'm not one of those loons. The Crows' Trial is littered with the corpses of failed participants.
A wonderful way to find some Tokens of Concord, I could care less about that old sack of bones Detriti.
The travellers learn that The Crow is an eternal being that does not know good or evil. It is beyond light and darkness – only representing survival through scavenge and an embrace of chaos. It has harnessed the power of Detriti without being obedient to her, and tonight is the night of its glorious trial.
The trial begins with a call for The Dark Blade Guild to decide who will die, and with little hesitation they pull forth a list of names including Darrow's Unnamed Beloved.
Before any can have a chance to react, the woman is sacrificed before the crowd.
Darrow is devastated, and unwilling to live without his love, he throws himself at The Dark Blades to immediate death.
Soon after, dogs are unleashed and the travellers flee from their snapping mouths before falling into a cleverly placed trap laid by Pouches.
Fallen into my trap, eh?
You really don't know how this works, do you lot?
Surviving the hounds is just the first trial, but 20 souls must be sacrificed before the end.
I did not know it would be you that would die, but I can't exactly choose what fool falls into my trap now, can I?
It's not personal… – Ah, get away you hounds!
As he gloats to the travellers and reveals that 20 must die for the trial to conclude, Pouches gets himself knocked in by the dogs.
Ah! Damn it! Well, now I'm stuck here with you.
As I was saying, it's not personal. Don't look at me like that!
I suppose it's time to introduce myself. I'm Pouches.
What? No, my name is not Patches, it's Pouches!
I do not know why everyone asks me that.
I implore you, please do not harm me.
I will show you how to survive this trial.
How about it? And we can share the loot, of course.
What do you say?
Offering the travellers a way out of the hole if they work together, he makes a short-lived plea for his life before a majority of the pilgrims execute him.
With Pouches dead and no way out, the travellers sit idly while much of the trial carries on without them.
The group searches Pouches and finds a rope to escape, along with a single Flame and Field Notes which are quickly taken by one.
While the majority are escaping, members of The Dark Blade Guild send champions to face a volley of arrows in a moonlit clearing, and then more to die by swordfight.
For completing the trial successfully, The Dark Blades receive five Artificer's Crystal and five Fetid Crow's Talons.
Climbing out of the hole and heading to the north, the group hears the end of The Trial of The Crow as they approach The Putrid Forest.
🔊 Trial's End and Into The Forest
Followers of Detriti are welcome. The great creators and artists of this world may create a new world in the image of your choosing. You may continue to her realm.