The characters squeeze out of the caverns near the salt quarry and upon climbing to the top of the “sink hole”, come face to face with a purple and orange dray wearing a robe. The dray is hiding something in his hand and immediately demands that the party give him the stone that they retrieved. He says that the stone is a sentimental item that he dropped into the hole. The lie is convincing and if the characters did not know that he was lying may have believed it. A fight breaks out as Abraxis hurls the body of the man they saved from the spider caves (who is still unconscious) at the Dray. Suddenly several zombies arise around the characters rending them and the dray shows himself to be a potent necromancer who defiles and wields dark fire and deadly magics. The defiling seems to invigorate the undead creatures under the dray’s command. Theari has an embarrassing fight as he keeps falling down the sink hole over and over again. In the end though it is a tough battle, the party prevails and kills the dray. The zombies fall with their master. At the moment of his death, the Dray cries “by Badna!”. Upon checking his body TaNiik finds a elaborate tattoo of a spiral shape with four arms emerging from it. The two on top are offering as though in prayer and the bottom two are clenching fists.
Tom cuts off the skin that holds the tattoo and takes it with them as well as all the other goodies that they found below. Abraxis and TaNiik, who have been to Raam, know who Badna is. It is the “god” of Abalach-Re, the sorcerer-queen of Raam. Years ago Raam’s queen declared she was grand vizier of a mysterious god who watched and protected her named Badna.
Abraxis burns the bodies just as Exzerch and two cohorts ride up on their kanks and escort the characters (Abraxis retrieves the man he hurled, who is still out, they think he is poisoned) back to the dock house where they had waited for an hour before. The characters are able to sail back to Balic without incident and arrive by nightfall. A legionary meets the characters and takes them back to the Mal estate. When they arrive the man who they saved from the caves receives some medical attention and the characters get cleaned up and go to meet Brendos. They show him all the items they brought back and gain a large amount of his favor. Brendos seems most excited about the crystal spider silk and not so much about the stone. The group lies to Brendos at Theari’s request, they do not tell him any information about the stone’s obvious special powers. Brendos sends the stone off to the Templars of Balic to have it looked at.
Once in their room, Theari tells the rest of the party that Brendos is extremely afraid of anything he does not understand, especially magic. If they had told him, he may have become suspicious or worse towards the characters.
In the morning, Theari does not open the small window between their rooms as usual. Instead Brendos and several slaves come into the room and bring both breakfast and brand-new weapons of far higher quality. These included a string of wooden daggers, coated with obsidian, a giant-hair net with new polished stones, and a bone sword from Gulg with a small tree carved into the hilt for exotic effect. The characters are able to meet with the man they saved, named Tanner Deephowl. He belongs to a company of mercenaries called the Sun Walkers that comes out of the Northern Tablelands. They are little known in this corner of the world but he was contracted to guard a caravan carrying water on route of the Great Road when they were attacked by the black sands raiders. He fled the fight and lived. He traveled to Alteruk where he heard rumors of a green fireball slamming into the ground (this happened weeks before the one the characters sought out and found). It was weeks later when the second meteor fell nearby and when he heard the rumors of the sink hole and the mysterious race to enter it. He got with a group and headed there to plunder its depths before anyone else. He is grateful to the party for saving him but says there is not much he can do to help a slave. If he is ever in the situation to help them he will do so gladly.
Theari tells the party about Brendos’s desire to take them to the arena at Ledopolus. The tournament’s format is death matches up to a champion bout. They are also informed that north and south Ledopolus are very near the island of Ledo, a place ruled by giants. The giants of Ledo make silt travel in the region nearly impossible.
A week and a half passes in relative normalcy for the slaves of house Mal, they still train with Rhamil in the courtyard. They also enjoy some new found freedom to travel a narrow way through the household to be outside on occasion. It is at the end of this week and a half that the characters realize that tomorrow is going to be the Festival of the High Sun, the beginning of the Athasian year. It is the day where the sun shines the brightest. Andropinis himself will make a showing at the Megaleneon and for a great show of “democracy” and the ability of anyone to rise through the ranks, he will randomly choose a household and purchase and free the slaves of that house. The players go to the ceremony under the high spires of the Megaleneon but alas, are not the winners of this lucky lottery. They do however gain their first glimpse of Andropinis who appears very much the statesman. His skin has a golden hew and he carries a golden scepter with a gem the size of Abraxis’s fist held within it.
The journey to South Ledopolus takes two days and is relatively uneventful. The characters pass the time riding and sneaking in gambling (Tom had managed to procure a gambling kit thanks to his getting “close” with a Mal house servant girl). TaNiik prays to an unknown creature. One night on the journey the characters discuss their knowledge of the Black Sand Raiders, the group that hit Tanner’s caravan. The raiders are led by a man named Zuberon, the Iron Rider. The group is then approached by Brendos who tells them that the Templars found nothing strange about the green rock they brought back and that they may keep it as a trophy of their journey. It was placed in a storage compartment on the caravan.
The characters arrive in the small city of South Ledopolus. They notice most of the trade in this city is dominated by three houses, House Wavir whose emblem is the silver crodlu, House Inika of Gulg whose emblem is the wooden spear, and house Tomblador of Balic whose emblem is the silt skimmer. The characters learn that house Wavir does not allow slavery in their house and that house Tomblador are heated rivals of the Mal estate, since both deal heavily in the silt trade. The characters also learn that South Ledopolus is the home town of the Horned Demon who apparently made his start among the religiously fanatical dwarven arena fans of the city.
The coach arrives at a large house and the characters are put in a cage just inside the entrance to wait for several hours. During this time a dwarf official who says he is sent from the arena arrives and asks the characters their names which he makes note of. He is scared stiff by TaNiik and leaves in a hurry. Brendos goes to the estate of the towns leader named Bruthambar, a dwarf and leader of the rockcutter clan. This town and its sister city on the north side of the Estuary of the Forked Tongue are attempting to construct a bridge between each other, but the giants of Ledo always come and tear it down.
Theari arrives to let the characters out of the cage and they sit around the house for a few hours. Eventually night falls and some more officials in robes arrive and tell the characters that Brendos has sent them to fetch his slaves and take them away, to keep them safe from a imminent giant attack. The characters are suspicious of this but have no good reason not to follow them, so they head out into the street with the three strangers. A older and younger human man and a dwarf female. While out in the streets, Abraxis notices that no one else is acting like a giant attack is coming so yells a warning to everyone. The people on the streets are stunned, but do not flee. After some coaxing, the players follow the trio to a house owned by house Wavir. The three reveal that they are part of the Veiled Alliance, a secret sect of wizards who are hated and hunted by the sorceror kings. TaNiik seems interested in what they have to say, while the other three are worried and skeptical. The three make it known that they have been able to sense the stone that the characters retrieved and that it is very dangerous. They inform them that many stones fallen from the sky and all have varied abilities. They are impressed with the party’s ability to kill the servant of Badna. They wish to help the characters get free of Brendos and help them instead, though they are vague on details. The characters meanwhile are throwing off the old wizard (in particular showing their surprising foreknowledge of things and accrediting this knowledge with the mysterious and fictitious “Secret Slave Information Network”) who is now speaking with them with casual talk of things most would not know or would be afraid of. The wizard tells the characters that Brendos will return with an opportunity for them, and that they should take it. Outside it turns out that the alliance members were able to correctly predict the giant retribution that would take place for trying to once again build the bridge. Giants are stalking through the streets leaving damaged buildings in their wake.
The characters swiftly return back to the house with only a few servants the wiser. Brendos comes home after the attack late at night, and angrily goes to bed.