Wounded and weary, the companions drift in and out of sleep as the airship sails over jungle and dessert. As the morning sun begins to creep over the horizon, the ship dips lower and lower until it is skimming the dessert floor. The sails begin to smoke, but Grael manages to keep the craft aloft just long enough to coast through a hidden entrances into a rocking outcropping. The heroes are greeted by wary eyes in the darkness. Grael and Bitamesh lead Behram and his men to a small cave with some bedrolls and they collapse. When they wake the cave is dark and silent, but the smell of cooking leads them to a large cavern fill with old wooden table, at which are seated a staggering number of thin, dirty children. Behram moves towards the cooking fires and is intercepted by a kemerai boy of perhaps 16, the oldest of the group. He introduces himself as Gevek and makes sure the newcomers aren’t a threat to the other children before giving them some breakfast. Eventually Grael returns and they discuss the situation they’re in. Apparently, when the Fa’Ossess came to Shesai, a gang called the Jackals came with them from Sesiid. The Jackals uncovered Grael’s plot and told the rebel legion about them, leading to the current situation. Grael’s people are captured or scattered and his has little hope of re-establishing himself in Shesai. His plan is, with the orphans’ help, to capture an eclipse dragon and use its wings to repair his ship, the Starshadow. He can then move about freely and will likely begin his work again in another Kerizatz city. That will take upwards of a month though and the group doesn’t have that long. They plan on returning to Shesai and somehow salvaging this mess, although no one is sure of the details.
The conversation is interrupted by one of the orphans, screaming that the legion is here and has captured a little girl. Grael and the heroes run down to the Starshadow’s holding bay and see two men moving away through the desert, carrying the girl. Dinesh becomes invisible and the group gives chase. During the run across the hot desert sands they realize that these two men, while built like legionnaires, are unarmed and unarmed, lacking even shoes. Goreman reaches them first and cuts them off. The younger of the two men is the sergeant Behram’s defeated the night before and he doesn’t believe for a second that Goreman is going to abide by any peaceful promises. The older man, believing that the barbarian has no hesitation to let a hostage die, releases the girl and tells the sergeant to run for it while he holds the powerfully built and heavily armed kormin at bay. That goes as anyone might expect and the rest of the group finds the man bleeding heavily, pinned to the desert sands by Goreman’s spear. A short time later Goreman returns with the other. The entire group quickly retreats from the harsh dessert.
Inside, they formally meet Sergeant Zouka Hamair and Marshal Katarius Forn. The Marshal and Behram discuss the finer points of loyalty to the Empire and loyalty to one’s men. Behram agrees that the Marshal has had to make some hard decisions. As for how the two rebels got here, Zouka was reprimanded for letting the Imperials take Vratas and Katarius was similarly punished for standing up for him. The two were loaded into the Starshadow’s hold for transport to the palace when Grael hijacked the ship.
In the end, Behram released King Felman from the shackles of time and Grael kills the man with the dagger Orsk, hopefully annihilating him. This has the downside that no one but Grael can remember the man, leaving only Fishbone’s notes to remind them who he had been. They then use the shackles to imprison the Marshal. Zouka is unwilling to return with them to Shesai, believing that Gamiir Fa’Ossess will have his family killed if he is seen. Instead, he helps Behram understand the political situation in Shesai. The legionnaires for the most part will follow their sergeants, who will follow their captains, who will follow their marshals, who will follow General Batoun Fa’Atrar. General Fa’Atrar is a personal friend to Gamiir Fa’Osses and cannot be swayed. In order to gain control of the 74th Legion, they will need to kill or otherwise remove General Fa’Atrar, in addition to Gamiir Fa’Osses. They will also likely need a symbol since they are outsides, perhaps one of the daughters(1). And lastly, they will need to be wary of Salar Fa’Galasiim, Abbas’ scheming brother who is said to have betrayed the Imperial plot to Gamiir.
With this knowledge, the four heroes set out across the Savage Path, following Bitamesh’s trail to Shesai.
Note 1) It has been explained that by Kerizatz custom, daughters of the desert princes never leave their palaces. The punishment for a commoner seeing a princess is death. This makes using them as symbols somewhat troublesome. The best bet along those lines is Kherka, the priest of Maithus who would be permitted to see the daughters in the cases of illness or marriage. Importantly, it is best that no one knows that Behram and his men rescued the princesses, since that implies that they saw them.