Maurice, K'lika'qualkua Kuna, and Ezekiel make it back to Phandalin safely with Gundren Rockseeker. Upon arriving, the slightly-healed Gundren questions whether they recovered the map that would leave to the Wave Echo Cave; it was his possession of the map that had led to his being captured in the first place. Maurice admits that they had been a bit busy rescuing Gundren and hadn't really considered the map, causing Gundren to lament the evil that would soon take advantage of its treasures. According to Gundren, the secret to the cave's location had been lost for centuries, but that legends told of a mystical forge buried deep within the cave that could turn ordinary weapons magical. He points to two possibilities for the party: return to Cragmaw Castle and recover the map, in the off-chance that it is still there; or seek out the location of a druid named Reidoth who lurks around Thundertree and is rumored to know where the Wave Echo Cave is located.
K'lika'qualkua Kuna takes his cousin to the Stonehill Inn and takes on the role of his nurse, while Ezekiel excuses himself to return to the woods for a while and contemplate his next course of action. As a spontaneously-abandoned Maurice stands in the middle of town, he hears the sounds of footsteps behind him and turns to see the long-missed visage of Balmore P.D. After exchanging pleasantries, Balmore P.D. reveals that he and Halain, Tulinthel, and La'Thum had successfully vanquished a horde of orcs, and that the others had decided to press on to Thundertree. Dobby peeks out from behind Balmore P.D.'s cloak, now wearing a tailor made French maid outfit. Maurice mentions that he made an acquaintance called Negro the Black, at which point the eponymous drow melts out of the shadows of a nearby building and silently stands in their midst.
Balmore goes to the Townmaster's Hall to receive payment for taking care of the orcs. After handing him a sack of 100 gp, Sildar questions him on the whereabouts of Gundren. Balmore P.D. sends Dobby to fetch Maurice and Negro the Black from a nearby bar, where they're consuming ale. When Sildar hears that they've rescued Gundren, he is relieved, yet also disappointed they had not also recovered the map. He suggests they either attempt to return to the castle, or they seek an answer from the banshee Agatha (who Sister Garaele had informed him could answer any question). Sildar says he shall send a letter to the Lord's Alliance in the hopes that they can send men to help take down Cragmaw Castle.
The party proceeds to the Shrine of Luck, where they make offerings in the fountain (except Negro the Black) and chat with Sister Garaele. She expresses doubt that Agatha will be willing to answer another question by the party. She also shares her unease with the Deus Vult Academy of Excellence's stealing of practically all of her students. When the party expresses a similar concern, she promises to send a letter to the Harpers in the hopes that they can provide resources to investigate the academy further and determine whether it is a substantial threat.
Since it is still daytime, the gang walks over to the newly-refurbished Tresendar Manor. Balmore P.D. hurls a firebolt at the door of the mansion, which vanishes just before making contact. An investigation reveals that there appears to be an anti-magic field surrounding the building.
After drawing a phallic symbol upon the door, Balmore P.D. knocks on the door. It bursts open, revealing the same tall drow Negro the Black had encountered before, clutching a gnarled wooden staff. Maurice lets him know that he'd like more information about the school, claiming he wants to send his cousin Carp there. The drow, named Oscar Fiero, replies that if Carp is going to go to the school, then they will recruit him; it's not the sort of school one applies to. He attempts to cast Detect Thoughts on Maurice, but (with a natural 20 saving throw), Maurice realizes what's happening and shrugs it off. Balmore P.D. tries shoving his way in, but the drow outspeeds him and slams the door.
They strike up a conversation with one of the guards, an Aussie who takes a liking to the group. Maurice suggests he meet them later that night at the Sleeping Giant, which he agrees to. Later, as Maurice sets up a performance in the bar, Negro the Black sneaks off and unsuccessfully attempts to waylay a guard, resulting in him getting knocked prone and tossed from the premises, with the promise that if they ever see him again they would not be so lenient. Meanwhile in the bar, Balmore P.D. drinks several glasses of milk and shares a sip with Dobby, who gets explosive diarrhea as a result. After Maurice's successful performance (a musical performance mixed with crowd-pleasing jokes), the Aussie shows up and is convinced to ask his fellow guards if they want to quit their job and form a militia to lay siege to Cragmaw Castle. He says he'll get back to Maurice in a couple days' time with his answer. As the Aussie leaves the bar, Balmore P.D. snatches a pouch he's wearing that seems as though it may have keys to the Academy in it; however, all it contains is a small amount of money and a locket.
The next day, the band decides to head to Thundertree. Besides encountering a band of orcs along the way, the crew has no trouble reaching their destination by nightfall. They are almost beset upon by a roving pack of ghouls, but Maurice surreptitiously casts invisibility on himself and his sleeping companions, allowing the ghouls to pass straight through the camp without stopping.
In the morning, the rested party begin exploring the ruins of Thundertree. Once a proud town, it is now deserted and eerily quiet; ash and rubble cover the decrepit settlements. Passing from house to house, they are accosted by twig blights and ash zombies. Eventually, they find a comparatively well-kept house, inside of which is Reidoth the druid. He informs them that a dragon has taken over the town, and that there are several cultists led by someone who matches the description of Angus McGravy. Maurice asks about Rolf's Golf Emporium, and Reidoth points him in the direction of the store's remains, warning that it's infested with twig blights.
Entering the store, the group is attacked by 8 twig blights. Maurice pulls a remarkably unsullied golf club from amidst the rubble and makes several unsuccessful attempts to swat at the shrubs, while Balmore P.D. and Negro the Black respectively burn and chop the practically all of them.
Continuing their investigation, they come across a house covered in webs, with webs also blocking the path ahead. Negro the Black steps inside the house and is ambushed by two giant spiders. After a fierce fight, the spiders are defeated. Across the path, Maurice notices a derelict Herb and Alchemy shop, which is where Mirna Dendar had informed him was located an expensive emerald necklace. Balmore P.D. discovered the necklace behind a bookcase, and the party then decided to call it a day and retired for the night in Reidoth's little house.