- A dark skinned human and two dwarves find Hillfort unconscious on a beach. They lift him and take him to a small settlement, barely even established in the foothills boarding a desert. The settlement is Ardan, and when Hillfort regains his wits he finds himself being cared for by the man and dwarves who speak a strange language. He casts a spell and is able to understand them: he learns where he is, the local currency, and two of their names: the human is Hakiy, and one of the dwarves is Noori ibn Ma’sa.
- Meanwhile the group finds their way into the city of Rhatram. Landen seeks information of his guild-mate Rhynn while shopping in the eastern market. He gets a haircut, skin bald, and the sight of Durgyn seems to distract the barber as he does his job. No one in Rhatram seems to have ever seen a minotaur, and Durgyn can understand why. They certainly aren’t native to the land; all the hair makes the heat unbearable. Landen overpays. When he exits the barber and finds his hired sword Gerard, he asks for an opinion on his new style. “Fearsome m’lord” Gerard jokingly replies.
Largo finds a bank to learn the common currency and exchange money. He finds the bank is a fancy, large structure. Inside, Largo finds an agent and lays a gold coin on the desk, “ever seen one of these before?” he asks with a wink. The banker replies in common, unamused, “I know the Eastern gold currency… I work at a bank.” He learns the official exchange rate:
EXCHANGE: 3cp=1tac, 1sp=1tur, 1gp=1gold, 1pp=2tin Tac are small, rounded bits of steel, Tur are larger, finished coins of a metal alloy, gold are hexagonal coins of gold, and Tin are spherical balls of precious metal.
Sapphira speaks with locals to learn the culture and ways of this foreign place. Gvados changes to bird form and takes a view of the city from the sky. He sees a large ship at port bearing the name ‘Desert Wind’.
Durgyn discovers coffee… and caffeine.
- Hillfort imagines his friends must have made it as well, but obviously not to the same place as him. He figured if he could find his way to Rhatram, the group would converge there since it’s their destination. He learns from his hosts that Ardan is 9 days travel from Rhatram. Hillfort decides it’s time to leave and offers to pay the men for their aid. “We could not let you die, there is no price for hospitality.” Hillfort asks, “may I set a price?” “If you must” Hillfort gives them 10 platinum pieces in a pouch. Hakiy insists he travel with Hillfort to Rhatram, and Hillfort walks the small settlement while Hakiy prepares the horses. He casts dancing lights for children, and finds life there quaint, peaceful, and completely isolated.
- Gvados lands on Landen’s shirtless shoulder. Landen shakes to get him off, but Gvados grapples to keep his footing with his talons. “Huntsman! Get off! Talking animals freak me out…”
“But it adds to your mystique,” Gvados replies.
The bird nudges Landen’s head, “What’s with this?”
“Wha?” Landen touches his bald head. “My hair! Where’s my hair!? It’s hot you fool, I cut it off.”
Landen finds an extravagant merchant’s stall with all sorts of jewelry and clothing. The merchant’s name is Fa’jy. Landen seeks purple and black fine garments of the local attire to keep him cool. “I want a shirt with one sleeve,” Landen states in his noble voice to the merchant.
“Two weeks custom order, or I can modify a garment in my inventory,” Fa’jy replies.
Landen finds a shirt he likes and rips a sleeve off.
“How dare you profane my merchandise!”
“You said two weeks!” Landen argues and knocks the bird off his shoulder to try on the shirt. Gvados flies around the stall, but it’s so cramped with merchandise he knocks clothing on the ground and crashes onto his back, feigning injury.
“Get that bird under control or get out of my shop!” Fa’jy screams. “If any more garments are damaged…” The merchant scrambles over to inspect the condition of the items on the ground.
Landen grabs Gvados and stuffs him in his backpack. “Knock it off,” he grumbles and he stuffs the bird in.
“Mine are the finest!” Fa’jy growls. “You owe 9 tin!”
“Okay!” Landen concedes and pays the requested amount.
“Now leave so that bird is no more trouble.”
When Landen leaves the merchant’s stall he opens his backpack. Gvados tumbles out and turns into a wolf, causing a huge scene, destroying Landen’s backpack, and bringing the guards running to the scene. Things are resolved… eventually.
- The group continues to gather information on Rhynn and the emperor’s convoy he spoke of. Gerard seeks information at the taverns, Landen at the docks.
A ship of the emperor’s, the Firestorm captained by Aan’ha al-Sabui, landed in Rhatram two weeks ago. One day later a caravan left from the ship and traveled northwest: inland to the capital. It is a 17 day journey on foot to take the road to the capital. Over two days travel out from Rhatram there is a long stretch of road that travels through dangerous hill country. A camp is on either end of the road where merchants and travelers wait until they are large enough in number to make the journey through the hills. The road is constantly raided by Duergar that live in the hills. It’s rumored there are so many and they are so established in the hills that settlements litter throughout the hills, hidden in the valleys, and that they even have a large fortress.
Largo learns that there is no organization of thieves in the area. They cannot survive the harsh punishments in Rhatram and the duergar make it impossible for them to pillage merchants on the roads.
- The adventurers wait a day for any sign of Hillfort. At the end of their second day in Rhatram they leave in the cool of night on the road to the capital.
Speaker in Dreams
Searching Rahtram for info
Across the ocean, the party finds Thaotrem very different from home