..and the Fellowship returns to the Temple once again at the summons of the Lord of the Supreme Council. However, all is not as it seems, as the Fellowship will soon discover.
The Lord of the Supreme Council waits impatiently to begin this summer's meeting of the Fellowship, for she has an interesting discovery to share with them--but more than an hour after the meeting was supposed to begin, Gawain and Ato still have not appeared. Furious at their laziness, the Lord of the Supreme Council sends a Temple acolyte to search the elves' rooms and drag them to the Temple. The acolyte soon returns alone; her face is pale and she clutches a scrap of paper. Neither Gawain nor Ato is anywhere to be found, but there was a note pinned to Gawain's door. The Lord of the Supreme Council scans the missive, and her eyes widen. The Fellowship lean closer to hear her as she reads the note in a hushed voice.
The members of the Fellowship are horrified at Leslie Whiplash's dastardly deed. Ato and Gawain must not remain in his clutches! With the Lord of the Supreme Council's approval, they resolve to withdraw a large sum of gold from the Questport treasury and ransom the elves with it. However, when they reach the treasury, they find that every single treasure chest is empty. Not a single coin remains in New Questport's coffers. A large piece of paper rests at the bottom of the biggest chest, inscribed in an elegant hand that the Fellowship finds depressingly familiar...
Fuming, the heroes consider their options. There is no gold in the Questport treasury, but perhaps they could find some? They tend to come across ancient treasure on many of their quests, after all... The Lord of the Supreme Council smiles. She knows just the thing that the Fellowship needs--in fact, it was why she summoned them in the first place. The Head Scholar has discovered a scroll that seemed to suggest that there is treasure buried in the grounds of the castle.
Perfect! If the Fellowship can find the treasure that Lord Bartholomew buried, they can use it to ransom Ato and Gawain from the kidnapper. The Fellowship decipher the clues, and decide that they are supposed to look by the fireplace in the Great Hall of the castle, in the groves near Lake Anava, in the apple orchard, and in the flower gardens. They quickly investigate those places, and within a few hours they have assembled an impressive heap of treasure.
It would be a shame to surrender such beautiful gold and gems to such an appalling villain as Leslie Whiplash, though. The members of the Fellowship resolve that they will bring the treasure to the appointed place as promised, and then hide themselves nearby. When the kidnapper arrives to collect the ransom, they will seize him and take him into custody.
The plan unfolds exactly as the heroes hoped. They leave the treasure sitting enticingly in a pile in front of the red building to the west, and hide themselves behind a convenient wall. A few minutes later, they hear footsteps as the thief leaves his lair. Immediately they charge forward, ready to teach the villain a lesson--only to stop, at a loss for words. The black-cloaked person drooling over the treasure is a blond young elf whose face is concealed behind an orange mask--none other than Ato himself!
Just a harmless prank, the elf suggests, but the Fellowship are unamused. Ato scowls. Gawain had lost so much money gambling with Ato that he had no hope of paying Ato back, so Ato had kidnapped him and planned to use the ransom money to equalize the debt. The other members of the Fellowship disapprove and take the treasure away from Ato. The elf grumbles under his breath and flourishes his knives. Emmy and Shadowa free Gawain, who has been tied up in the red building, and he swears that he has learned his lesson.