Crixus lets his friends know that he will accept the position of Gardmore Justiciar and aid with leadership issues while they are away, but he refuses to continue adventuring and risking his own life now that he's found his long lost son Evan alive and well after all these years. Crixus pledges to stay in Gardmore and get to know Evan, hoping to rebuild their relationship and see who his son has become.
Zef speaks with Udoros in the middle of the night not long after the Abbey is cleared of the dragon's minions. Zef tells Udoros that he has a restless soul and sitting in one place as the party plans won't work for him. Zef wishes the group well and tells Udoros he'll be far to the east, traveling and adventuring. Udoros wishes his friend farewell.
Padraig attempts to attack Kun to obtain the magical Deck, since Erban has usurped his ancestral rule of Winterhaven. He thought the Deck might help him regain his city. The party jails Padraig in Gardmore, troubled at the news that Erban leads such a large and nearby city and troubled that their friend Padraig has become maddened. Udoros knows that Erban will only continue to spread lies about the party and damage their reputation, and Udoros decides to counter this damaging nonsense by actively building the group's reputation in the Vale. The best way to do this is to hire a troupe of traveling bards to visit the various towns of the Vale, entertaining the smallfolk and singing the praises of the Lords of Gardmore, among other things. This is going to require a very skilled composer to get to know the party and write ballads of their journeys. After the party agrees on this course of action, Kun uses his magical eagles to send word to all the towns of the Vale that Gardmore will host a bardic competition to determine the greatest bard in the Vale. Singers, musicians, magicians, jugglers, tumblers, dancers, comedians, and tricksters are all welcomed.
Kun, Heskan, and Kendred have just finished working on an ancient Arkhosian discovery. The artifact-machine the dwarves found and transported to Gardmore was functional, and Kendred was able to use the Bageron's soul-magic to figure out a way to place a soul and animus into the Arkhosian machinery, activating it. The resulting creature, Bulwark, showed a surprising strength and intellect. This magical technology's trial run is to have Bulwark accompany the party in the future so that eventually when more such magic-machines are created or activated, Bulwark can train them on how best to deal with that existence and protect Gardmore. However, in Bulwark's creation, the Arkhosian artifact's magical reservoir was completely drained, so Kendred is hard at work trying to figure out how to replenish it.
The party was addressed by the completed magical Deck artifact they re-assembled from the ruins of old Gardmore. The Deck manifested itself as a ghostly-looking man who stated the following:
"Greetings, I am Gilrone of Veldas. I was First Wizard of the Royal Magistry in that long-perished realm. I have forgotten more powerful magic than you lot will ever begin to fathom. I will be honest with you if you will return the same courtesy. I have much aid to give to your group, if you will allow it.
"I require nothing from you, now or in the future. My own ends are met by aiding ones such as yourselves. In my history, no one such as yourselves has ever completed the entire Deck. You are actively making the lands a better place, and I want to help you continue to do that. Telfizzle garbungur chelp felp wu-girble kaddis. What do you say?
"I have lived for thousands of years in these cards. I have had a very long time to ponder my decision to place myself here, frump dirf. I have decided to reach out to you, to contact you directly like this. I have decided to allow you to sacrifice myself and my own power to further your goals, as long as I agree to each sacrifice. I will show you how to perform such a sacrifice if you desire.
"Sacrifice one card for knowledge
"Sacrifice one card for Gardmore protection: I will create a series of permanent magical "alarms" in the dunes around Gardmore. You will be able to designate the consciousnesses the alarms are tied to, and I suggest you choose the guard watch shift captains. They shall be aware of deliberate non-animal movement near any alarms they are bonded with.
"Sacrifice one card for Gardmore protection: I will create a giant stone gurple-melf, err stone statute, near the main gate. When activated by one of you or your designees, the statue will fill with magical energy and fight on your behalf for a short time. This creation would be more capable than any but the most powerful foes you could have.
"Sacrifice one card for Udoros' tribe reunification: I know that you are pondering reuniting the tribes of your ancestors. Know this, half of those whom you would have as your people are under the yoke of an evil dragon named Bitterstrike. You know her, she has plagued your people in the northern Winterbole forest for generations. If you confront the dragon, and sacrifice one of my cards, I shall place the battle between you and the dragon into the mind of every shifter. All of those you would persuade to join you will witness your greatest victory.
"Sacrifice one card for Bulwark's goals: I know that you are a follower of a being called Erathis, known now as god of civilization. I know that you seek to increase safety and stability in the dangerous Nentir Vale. I also know that your creation devastated the ancient Arkhosian machinery that allowed it, and drained the reservoir of magical energy necessary. I will allow you to sacrifice a card to repair the devices and re-energize the magical reservoir, allowing more such as yourself to be created and furthering the ends of your group here in the Vale.
"Sacrifice one card for Jeddin's goals: You desire knowledge and power. While I cannot offer much of either to you directly, I can facilitate your ends. I know that you freed a trapped eye-creature from the watchtower in Gardmore, and I know that you promised to try to figure out how to send it back to its home in exchange for it agreeing to function as your communication agent with much more powerful creatures in that place. If you sacrifice a card, I will use the unleashed magical energy to send the creature back to its home, fulfilling your end of the bargain and providing you with a direct contact to the most forbidden and dangerous knowledge in existence.
"Sacrifice one card for rune portal magic: You seek to reconnect with your clan's ancient homeland far to the southeast, as well as learn how to truly use the lost dwarven rune portal magic. The knowledge you seek is gone from this world. There no longer exist any books describing the rituals required, it is lost to the past. However, in my time rune portal magic was trivial. I will provide you with the knowledge of the magic, as well as describe some locations of portals I was aware of in my own time, many of which likely still exist."
Jeddin let the party know he thinks Gilrone of Veldas is a little mad, but otherwise was being completely honest. The Lords agreed with Gilrone to consider his generous offer.