Dawn breaks over the oasis of Silver Spring with the scheming Anansi ready to set her mischievous plan into motion. She begins by convincing a merchant she met the day before to let her run his booth for a few hours, then coyly seduces a young officer in Anvil‘s service, **** (I’ve got his name written down, just not with me :P ), to come see her show later that night… and to see her personally after the show.
The merchant leaves his booth at the appointed time and Anansi quickly takes his form and performs business as usual, being careful not to steal a single copper piece. He’s far more interested in his big customer for the day – Anvil‘s lieutenant and accountant, Sven. Sven arrives with guards and a cart and Anansi begins processing his order, as Pan slides up and begins to share a tale of a slave trader headed across the tablelands who has about thirty fat halflings, nobles of some sort, presumably, given the riches that were found on their persons by the slavers. Sven is only mildly interested until Tosh’s name comes up, at which point Sven asks Pan to meet him and Anvil later that afternoon. Anansi also relates word of an officer in Anvil’s charge who was looking to go AWOL, possibly with a few men in tow. Sven is also appreciative of this information, and we are assured that the situation will be dealt with swiftly.
Meanwhile, Kahvi has been tasked with keeping an eye on the merchant, to avoid him coming back early or meddling with Anansi‘s plans. Kahvi soon learns that the man himself hasn’t come to keep an eye on his booth, but he did send a young street urchin to do so. The boy relates with wide-eyed wonder that he has seen the Merchant both at his booth and in the pavilion, after which the merchant summons the Captain of the local constabulary, Captain Jown-Zi, to handle the situation. Kahvi tries to distract the boy, Then goes to the booth the warn Anansi and Pan that the guards are coming, and that the gig is up. Pan wisely decides to skedaddle. Anansi points out that he hasn’t stolen a dime, turns back into his buxom woman form and waits for the guardsmen, who surround the tent in plainclothes disguises. Jown-Zi steps out and after a brief interrogation, decides to lock the both of them up.
The two prisoners are interrogated seperately, as Jown-Zi tries to determine what sorcery was used to create the illusion that the merchant was there all afternoon. Neither of them give up much information, but Anansi says that one of the other party members has the power, not her. Jown-Zi says that someone with such talent would be useful to her, but Anansi still doesn’t budge, suggesting that she be allowed to leave and find the rest of her party. Jown-Zi decides she doesn’t trust Anansi, and lets Kahvi go instead, under close guard.
Meanwhile, Pan has a date with Anvil. Anvil is as advertised: calm, brief and calculating, until he confirms that Tosh is nearby. Tosh is the one black mark on Anvil’s otherwise sterling reputation, as Tosh rebelled against Anvil early in his leadership of the caravan and stole away with a few dozen men and a whole lot of cash. So Anvil jumps at the chance to put an end to the pest. He rides out with forty of his best men shortly thereafter, leaving Sven in charge of the Nadir camp. Sven, meanwhile, has tortured and punished **** publicly, so presumably the “mutiny” Anansi had hoped to inspire has been shut down.
Kahvi then catches up with Pan just outside the party’s tent, where they’ve left Sam sleeping. When they go inside there’s no Sam to be found, and the artifacts from the young party that was slaughtered by Gith have been stolen! Acting quickly, they discover that Sam has been kidnapped by three figures in white robes who are now riding Krudlu hard toward Tyr. When they tell Jown-Zi all of this, Jown-Zi throws up her hands and says “Just get out of my town!” Then her guards help the party pack and show them to the gate.
The three of them ride hard in search of Sam. Kahvi does an excellent job with her tracking, confirming that the mysterious white-robed trio is staying on the road and allowing the party to move very quickly. As they crest a ridge near sunset, they see one of the white robed figures in the valley below. He’s stopped and is standing menacingly in the middle of the road, a large staff or possibly sword in his hand. The party watches as the cart holding Sam and the other two riders disappear over the far slope, and then a sandstorm whips up, clearly summoned by the man with the staff, the tip of which has begun to glow.
The party charges forward in the treacherous, blinding winds. Pan‘s Stupid Krudlu stumbles and snaps its leg, forcing him to switch to Sam’s krudlu and costing him a few moments. The other two charge on, and find themselves in an ‘eye’ in the storm, with the mage standing at the center. He barks a few arcane words, and the earth begins to shift in places as rotting corpses claw their way to the surface.
The battle is pitched and extremely difficult, as the mage is clearly more powerful than any of the party members. Pan, close to death himself, manages to fell the mage with a terrible blow from his great sword, and the undead are dispatched shortly thereafter.
Searching the body, they find that the ‘staff’ was in fact a massive two-handed sword, too large for any of the group to use effectively, though the mage seemed to weild the well-balanced blade with ease. The sword had, built into the handle, the same dial-construction that had been found on the Rod.
They also discovered a pendant with the three interwoven metals found previously. The pendant was in the shape of a B, but on closer inspection it was discovered that each of the metals followed distinct patterns within that shape. The bronze was the full B, the silver was in an S shape, and the gold was in an E shape. With seemingly nothing else to glean from the mage’s corpse, they set out into the dusk once more in search of their kidnapped friend…