The session opened with the party making cautious progress toward Gol Asad’s public markets for the more wealthy citizens- those that could afford enchanted goods made by master craftsmen. When they were nearly to the market, Finn spotted a woman following them at a distance. Contriving a circumstance to duck into a shop without raising their pursuer’s suspicions, the group discussed their options, and decided on a plan to take the woman alive and interrogate her. Upon leaving the shop to put their plan into action, the woman was nowhere to be found. The party moved on to their objective after a short search and a bit of a waiting game to see if she might resurface.
At the market, the group fairly easily found shops to purchase most of what they wanted to rid themselves of, and were able to procure most of what they sought. A particular dealer named Muslata drew their interest, and he took a liking to the party, even offering Finn an enchanted ring he sought for a deep discount as long as he promised to “put in a good word” with Rustum.
While most of the group conducted their business at market, Sindar decided to visit his guild office in the Imperial Consulate to check in and drop off reports. He then returned secretly to the Asad to delve deeper into what precisely Ducet was doing to people there. He discovered, and later related to the group, that Ducet was using very powerful spells to quickly, and legitimately, heal large numbers of victims. The value of the materials he was chewing through to do this was almost absurd, but there was little room to doubt the effectiveness of his work. In his conversation with Ducet, Sindar discovered that the thing they saw in their encounter with Sadeesh was likely Sayoni herself, or at least his vision of her. Something they did forced her to reassert her control over him, resulting in the apparition they saw. Ducet knows that Sayoni has essentially dominated Sadeesh, but warned against feeling sorry for him or trying to spare him. He was bloodthirsty and bent on punishing Riyaqans that worked with the Empire before he ever came across Sayoni. She has merely given him the tools to do what he already wanted to do, but won’t risk his disobedience. She had originally shown him a way to create a body she could inhabit that would not die, and he had misinterpreted her instructions as showing him a way to kill tens of thousands of people.
Back at the Lacy Death, some strategic discussions took place on what to do next, given all the information at their disposal. Finn communicated with Arndt via a Sending spell, who was underway at sea aboard Talia’s Vengeance. Telling Arndt that Blue was likely captured and held in Haralin’s harbor, he asked for Arndt’s help. Arndt replied that he was tailing the Black Fleet near Hansen, and had seen evidence of a small troop landing there. He would continue in their direction. After resting a bit, the group headed out in the darkness to make a meeting with a local smuggler that had been arranged by Dezil.
Some theatrics involving lightning left the group wondering if Dezil was a resourceful wizard, had simply played a trick on them, or could somehow see the future. Whatever the explanation, they found their meeting place, and so did the pirate meeting them: Thuli Black, known in these waters as the “Sargasso Devil”. After explaining to Thuli where they wanted to be taken, and what they were trying to accomplish, Thuli initially balked at the risk involved. Some quick words from the party convinced him to try, and he agreed to a deal in the end: if the party agreed to disable and open the harbor gates in Haralin to allow his men to get at the ships impounded there, he would transport them to a safe drop-off near the city and give them what help he could. With the deal made, the group returned to the city to rest for the night and wrap up loose ends.
Back at the Lacy Death, the Broker filled the party in on his progress tracking the materials they had identified. He had found no large-scale viridium market, but had learned that the only mine still in operation was within lands controlled by the Garonokka dune giants, who were mostly immune to its effects. No information at all had been found yet concerning wyroot. The remaining materials were being bought in easily tracked quantities from a number of locations, but a network of merchants had helped him track a number of proxy orders back to the Khasif city of Nadju. He was still in the process of learning more specifics.
Shortly after this brief meeting, Ugess arrived from Sevir’s Hill at the party’s request. She was able to shed more light on the specific nature of the cursed skull artifacts they party had recovered from the Tulesti estate. They were cursed in this plane because they were party of a blessed ossuary in the Shadowfell. She would need to research methods to dispose of them safely. Asked about the penchant the estate had for plane-shifting to the Shadowfell, Ugess discussed her collected knowledge of the lost engineers of Riyaqa and the guardian cores they had built, believing the Tulesti estate had one such core. The inter-planar nature of the cores made it exceedingly difficult to manipulate them, and much more research would be needed to determine if theirs could be “unhitched” from the Shadowfell. Finally, she revealed some new results on the page they had originally brought to her many weeks ago. She had deciphered the symbols in context, and now believed they had seemed odd to her because they were actually describing an enchanted prison, not a warded tomb. Whomever had annotated the page believed the prison contained the essence of Mahari, the desert goddess.
Resting for the night at the inn, the group was preparing to leave the following morning when a group of rough-looking gentlemen downstairs caught their attention. Questioning the men as to their intentions, the party found out they were thugs sent to rough up an employee of the inn, or collect the money he owed, “however he wants to handle this.” Unappreciative of someone waiting to beat up an employee of Tabina (who had so far been incredibly accommodating of the group), Tarsus decided to stick his dick into the proceedings and start a fight in the inn. The men sprang to their feet, drew weapons, and countered. Alas, the party significantly overmatched them, and within a few seconds one man was badly hurt and another dead- pulled back from the brink only by quick action from Finn. Dezil burst into the room from his upstairs office, bringing a halt to the confrontation as Finn channeled to heal everyone involved. Dispassionately, Dezil banned everyone from the premises for the next 24 hours, on pain of being used as his Baleful Polymorph practice dummy. The party was fine with this, as they had a boat to catch.
The trip out of town was uneventful, and the party met up quickly with Thuli and his gun cruiser, the Anarchy. They noted as they boarded that the ship was lightly crewed for its size, and Thuli explained he was a bit between full crews at the moment. As the rest of the day passed, the group sent messages to a few people to keep them abreast of events. They asked Arastea Gomesh to tell Willie to hurry with his modifications to SeaChild, as the ship might be needed very soon. They told Blue they were coming to get him, and to be ready. They informed Arndt of their plans to infiltrate Haralin, and asked him to find a way to help or stay clear of the place. Finally, recalling that Ambo Dubash in Herlish had had contact with Wils (the original courier of the book the mysterious page had come from), Finn sent a Sending message to him to inquire after the source of the book. Brother Dubash informed him that Wils admitted to stealing it from someone named Arastea, and that she had been a powerful warrior and a good tracker. Wils had been in a hurry to get it back to his employer, but Ambo knew no more than that.
The story drew to a close alongside the party’s first day aboard the Anarchy as it slipped north through the Haralin Straits.
The vote has been tabled in the Asad while missing delegates are searched for and rescued. An automatic procedural clock of 60 days started when they went missing, with 15 days now remaining before the delegates are declared dead and replaced.
The Black Fleet has been spotted in Riyaqan waters, moving east along the southern coast.