So everyone crossed paths along the road and met one another, and shortly afterward they all heard explosions on the path ahead.
They discovered the alchemist of Daredurum, Zoba Brisingr, in mortal combat with a Dire Boar.
After rescuing him from certain peril, he introduced himself and offered them passage into the walls of the settlement that he calls home. He mentioned his mission in being on the path, in brief, as returning to town with a Hoipali Membrane that might be used in a potion to help a friend of his that had “supernatural proclivities”.
After escorting the party past the guards of the gate without any questions, he showed you guys his shop and offered to let you bed down for your stay in Daredurum in the old medical warehouse attached to it.
Beginning to explore, Scarfinger and the Jade Fox encountered a young woman being bullied by the town group of kids. After rescuing her, she introduced herself as Persephone, Zoba’s new apprentice, and – learning that the party saved his life – she showed them and Lucian around town at light speed (handed the party the town map, in effect). Then she mentioned something about needing to be somewhere and ran off (I’m retconning it, she ran off to watch Cleo’s match, not to see Zoba).
Electing to watch a match at the local arena, the party saw Cleo vs. Grusk, where Cleo insulted Grusk on the basis of his violence in the ring and on his orc ancestry. After Grusk’s terse and stoical dismissal of Cleo’s accusations, the match began and Grusk emerged the victor.
The Jade Fox and Lucian both elected to participate in betted arena matches, and both of them emerged victorious, against the fighter-duelist “Juniper” and against the cavalier Lavitz Lancebearer X, respectively.
As the party left the ring, they saw Cleo being harassed by many arena-goers for what he said and how he did against Grusk, with Persephone (his girlfriend, she had mentioned him previously) attempting to defend him. A tomato hits Cleo’s face, and Persephone glares at it’s thrower, prompting the tomato thrower to fall backward in horrified disbelief, exclaiming “can’t you all see it!? It’s hideous! Auuuaaaaahh!” before fleeing at full speed. At which point Persephone, as confused as everyone else, runs off sobbing in the direction of Zoba’s place, leaving Cleo at the mercy of the dissipating crowd.
Arriving back at Zoba’s place, the party was greeted with two pieces of news: first, that Persephone would be staying with them in the warehouse for at least awhile, and that the membrane he had gone to so much trouble to collect had denatured to the point of uselessness, thanks to his leisurely pace at the start of the return trip. He offers each party member 200 gold each for leading three simultaneous expeditions, one to the woods north of the lake, one to the southeast plains, and one to the southwest bog, to retrieve the needed membrane from each area and return it within 48 hours of harvest, where the three fresh membranes might be used together in his planned potion.