As the group wondered the city, taking in the exotic local and culture, they discussed possible ways to pay Grael. The option they kept coming back to was Qi. Although the poor girl was dead, she was still a princess. If Grael could get access to Kherka, the priest of Maithus, and convince him to return her to life, she would be a valuable hostage. Grael would know, however, that even if the Fa’Galasiim family rose back to power, ransoming Qi would earn the Desert Prince’s wrath. As such, the only use for Qi would be to keep her as a hostage, condemning her to a life of imprisonment and isolation. Unable to give the girl such a fate, Dinesh instead snuck her into the Temple of Maithus, believing Kherka to be likely to raise her and hide her until a time when she could leave freely.
The recent run-in with Oniago gave Behram another idea. In Vogat, Oniago had helped the group infiltrate the dungeons and once inside had gone his own way. The group returned to the Red Storm and offered to intentionally create a major distraction inside the Prince’s fortress, allowing Grael’s men to sneak around and steal whatever they want. On the way to the Lake of Tears, however, Dinesh spotted someone pickpocket Behram and ran off in pursuit. Rather than flee, however, the Quixix turned on Dinesh and proceeded to lash out at all four companions, wounding each slightly before being forced to flee. Eventually he was caught and subdued. When they questioned him, he told them his name was Bitamesh and that Grael had sent him to test the northerners. After all, no offer could be so tempting as to make Grael help the losing side of the conflict. Understanding that business is business, they let Grael’s lieutenant go on ahead to report.
Having affirmed that the Imperials were strong enough to take on the rebel legion, the opportunity to pillage royal stores apparently appealed to Grael and he accepted. When the group returned to the Red Storm after midnight, they were met a couple blocks away by some of Grael’s men who promised to show them the secret way into the palace. During the journey, however, Dinesh noticed tattoos on the men’s necks and became suspicious that there weren’t Grael’s men. Dinesh tested them and when it became obvious that they were imposters, they were killed. The last one managed to let out a scream, however. They had managed to avoid an ambush, but not by much. Rebel legionnaires swarmed from alleyways and across rooftops and the heroes were forced to take shelter in a small home. After a minute a magical barrier formed to shield the entrance from the rooftop archers, although thinking back the heroes can’t remember who cast it. They made a dash for freedom, but only managed to improve their position, rather than escape. Dinesh and Fishbone took cover while Behram and Goreman turned to face the masses. Less disciplined that the Legionnaires Behram had commanded, Behram easily repelled them while his massively powerful Kormin ally caught them down in twos and threes. Eventually the hail of arrows began to take a toll, however. Goreman and Dinesh took to the roofs where they scattered the archers, but were grievously injured by a sorcerer. Eventually the sorcerer was killed, releasing Dinesh and Goreman from his terrible curse.
With the rebel legions regrouping, Vratas appeared to confront the heroes and they were forced to flee. The Bladestorm’s pursuit was halted by a slim wizard who Vratas killed with an evil-looking black dagger. Disoriented and distressed that they could not remember the man who had saved them, Behram and his men stole into the darkened allies and quickly founded and abandoned house to rest in.
With Vratas and his men patrolling the streets, their rest was short-lived. Rather than wait to be found, Fishbone cast a glamour, making the four soldiers appear to be a small family with two children. Then, acting as the mother, Fishbone went out into the streets and told Vratas and the raider with him that northerners were in the opposite ally and that they could be ambushed by passing through her home. A master of deception, Fishbone not only convinced Vratas, but also lifted the dagger off of him as he passed. Once Vratas entered the trap, all hell broke loose. The Bladestorm was quickly injured, but recovered in a fury of axe-strokes that transformed the house into a blender. Dinesh looked for openings while Behram and Goreman struggled to contain the desert warlord. Fishbone won his fight against the raider, but not quickly enough and more raiders came running. Finally Vratas was overwhelmed and made a break for it. Goreman caught and dropped him, but the Bladestorm’s men were unusually loyal for bandits and sacrificed themselves trying to retrieve their leader’s body. Rebel reinforcements arrived and did what they could to contain the heroes. Eventually, with all of the raiders in the area dead, Goreman found himself fighting two legion Sergeants while Behram was successfully penned in and grievously wounded. Fishbone and a sergeant whom Behram had previously forced to surrender, calmed Goreman and negotiated a mutual withdrawal, with Vratas’ body captured by Goreman.
Injured, but safe for the moment, the heroes head back to the Red Storm fto find sanctuary with Grael and to have the Bladestorm’s body turned to water so that he can never be raised.