In the Stark Contrast inn, Cassian meets Cilantro, an elven bard, who speaks only in the third person. Cassian immediately asks him about the thicket. He suggests that this may be related to tales that the roads to Versayorsa are becoming overgrown.
Yarfik remains with the horses, and witnesses the guards closing up the gates of the city and firing at some sort of large bird. He is yelled at for having the animals out in the road and potentially attracting the griffin. A guard leads Yarfik to the stables, where he pays to stable their animals. The group debates whether they could go capture or befriend the griffins to use them as flying mounts.
They resolve to stay in town to ask around for the doctor. A passerby directs them to an inn called Wendy's Pride, where they find Dr. Francis. He is a gnome with a bowl cut and thick glasses. They ask about the thicket, and Dr. Francis takes them to a booth to speak privately. He shares that he had seen a humanoid mushroom moving around. Yarfik shared a dream that he had as a child that featured a man in a hat that resembled a mushroom, and Francis became offended that he was being mocked.
Cassian smooths things over and Francis offered monetary reward for samples or notes in the form of spore samples, notes, or drawings. Francis gives them four mushrooms that do 1d4 healing. Francis offers stew but they decline so that they can talk strategy in private.
The party has a long discussion about where to have K'Thok meet them. They decide that they won't wait for K'Thok but Yarfik will send him a message to catch up with them on the road. They forget what K'Thok was reading when Olash fell for him.
The group decides to stay at Wendy's Pride for the night. On the street they see Posht, who tries to convince Valera to come back to the ORE guild house with her. She agrees to go, with a massive eye roll and a telepathic message to Cassian that he should come. He invites himself along, Olash comes to get a reading lesson, and Yarfik goes to pay for their rooms.
Posht hands Valera a book about griffins and gives the book "A is for Ankheg" to Cassian and Olash. Cassian sits in Olash's lap and begins helping her read. Posht asks Valera to tell her about herself, and Valera says that her parents are gone. Posht tries to summon Valera to the back room with the offer of another book, but Olash sees it and points it out to Cassian. Valera refuses and at Cassian's suggestion, she turns invisible and goes into the back room. Gulric is tied to a chair and drooling, and Posht is poised ready to close the door.
Yarfik arrives to a locked door, and everyone goes to the door and asks him to break it down. Posht comes out of the back room, calls to Valera to come out, and as Cassian tries to talk his way out of it Posht casts silence. Yarfik attacks the door but fails.
Posht asks into the room "how long have you been impersonating a member of the ORE?" Cassian steps out of the cone of silence and attempts to deceive her by acting offended at the accusation. Cassian and Posht discuss it, and then Valera becomes visible. Posht tells them that they will not be leaving, and the episode ends with her hand beginning to crackle.