|At least he's still alive, yes?|
As the party enters the portal to the Underworld, the goddess ERIS is ambushed and possibly killed by a figure with blue tinged skin.
Having been separated during the passage, but then reunited through the gold ‘threads’ linking their shards, the party members make their way forward, where they soon find the great dog CERBERUS, badly beaten, with one eye missing, a dislocated jaw, and a puncture in one of its foreheads. Nevertheless the guardian remains alive, and they are pondering how to get past him when a man calling himself AVAUNT, obviously a representative of Chaos and possibly Eris’ attacker, makes his presence felt.
After addressing them with no small degree of contempt, Avaunt manifests a blue gauntlet, which he uses to strip them of their active and carried shards, all except the ones carried by MANTIUS. Something appears to alert him of the possibility that they may carry more shards, but ARCTURUS misleads him by instead presenting the broken Vitualamen ex Vesperis. Avaunt orders all the others to leave, and VARIAN, DUMAS, and Mantius do just that, in order to safeguard the remaining shards.
After a peculiar moment where Avaunt seems bothered in some way by Arc’s proximity, the Chaos lord mentions that he is really more irked by the lack of a proper welcome for him by his own advance party, and lets Arcturus go, on the condition that he tells his superiors that “Avaunt has arrived and is setting his house in order”. The remaining trio accordingly scuttles away, but not before CATALINA notices a sort of ghostly image of the Mentis Scientia and Parvulus Mentis shards behind them.
After much argument, the regrouped and resharded party elects to go back in search of the stripped shards, notwithstanding their apparent earlier destruction. Through Arc’s use of the Concinnarium Vigilo to harmonize Dumas’s abilities as Literamagus and Varian’s as Palaestra, they are able to recover not just six of their eleven shards, but another six evidently lost by another set of shard bearers in the Underworld. As they are accomplishing the latter, Avaunt apparently catches wind of them, but Arc is able to this time trigger Mantius’s abilities as Barbas Lux in order to open a gate for them back to the beach.
At the beach, Dumas realizes that the gate is still somehow open and Avaunt is watching them, but the factor is able to make himself ‘overheard’ in such a way that the Chaos lord’s attention is soon turned elsewhere and the gate closes.
Looking for their companions, the group finds a prone and blue tinged ROGELIO lying alone on the sand. Dumas, Catalina, and Varian go in frantic but thankfully successful search of ALINA, who has managed to use the Mirror Magus shard from Rogelio’s number to hide herself. The less fortunate Rogelio has been infested and turned into some sort of undead creature; and ALECTO, Mantius, and Arc are about to put the man out of his misery when he awakens, apparently still in command of his facilities. After some debate, they decide to try and save him by putting the Cepi Adunatio shard on him, which leads to further confusion as Arc realizes that, in order to do this, he must ask permission from Alina, who has now become officially recognized as a member of Rogelio’s number rather than of their own. Alina hesitates but is eventually persuaded, primarily by Varian.
Rogelio is saved, and he and Alina come to understanding as to the pro tem nature of her membership in his party. Aly satisfies her curiosity about the corpse of a tentacled creature further down the beach, and the party settles down to rest at last.