Our heroes find themselves recuperating in one of the hobsters’ safe houses in a seedy section of the city of Isengard. Nwalme-Anna completely heals Rene of his chest wound, briefly putting an end to the chill of it.
Nwalme manages to determine that the Nazgul’s blade left a shard in Rene, which is working its way to his heart over time. Further, it can only be properly removed by someone of royal or imperial lineage. With that in mind, he and Araphor send for a surgeon, so that between the three of them it can safely be taken from Rene’s body.
The surgery goes smoothly at first, the surgeon exposing the shard for Araphor to pluck free. He does so but, being unprepared for the unnatural feel of the shard, he quickly lets it slip from his grasp. The sliver lands in the surgeon’s hand, digging in a bit. The physician maintains his composure, however, and Araphor pulls the shard free. Bringing it into direct sunlight, it bursts into cold green flame in his hand, disappearing quickly.
During the surgery, Thaliondor watches the PalaceCam scroll, along with Guthwyn. They note the Usurper and the obviously wounded Ring-wraith arguing, as well as the presence of two lieutenant “Empress Guards”.
Shortly after the surgery, a pounding on the front door sends the party rushing out the back, off to another safe house while some of the hobsters stall. In the new safe house, they get a report: roughly thirty “Empress Guard” had arrived, including two particularly intimidating lieutenants.
Araphor points out that it’s probably not coincidence that the Usurper captured two rings, and that there are now two new menacing leaders of the guards. Guthwyn and the rest of the party agree, and realize they need to stop these men – not only as probable Ring-wearers, but also that they continue to dog the party even to the new safe house. The party receives word that the group that “visited” their first sanctuary is now rapidly approaching their current one.
With a mere five minutes before the cadre of guards arrive, they begin to plan an ambush. Thaliondor points out that they’ve got to bottleneck through the doors, so that the guards’ numbers are not a great advantage; plans begin to evolve around that. Nwalme suggests hiding the back door via illusion, and Araphor points out that we might be better served by hiding the upper front windows, for hobbit snipers. Araphor also suggests laying down an Ice Slick just inside the door, to make anyone coming in particularly vulnerable.
A rough plan hammered out, they prepare to put it into practice.