Returning to Stormreach, the city seemed much the same as when they left, only perhaps a bit smaller. Returning to their home, they found Erel waiting for them, and another surprise – a piece of floating ruin had been secured above their house, tied in place with heavy ropes. Asking Erel about it, he said the piece had floated over during a windstorm and he paid some ogres to secure it for them. It wasn’t perfect, but it would give more room to expand. In the corner, Erel pointed out another guest – Shackleton’s valet Alfred Bunter. After introductions all around, Bunter told Shackleton that his mother had sent him to bring him home again, but Shackleton said he had no intention of leaving yet, he was still enjoying himself. Bunter had already spent some time cleaning and tidying up the upstairs, so the group settled in while Malaxder took off to spend time with Andraste.
Settling in, they told Erel about the various treasures they had to sell on the market, and asked him if he knew someone that could help set them up with a buyer. He did not, but he knew that only a few Letters of Marque were given out by the Storm Lords each year, and the last ones had been bought by The Savage Company, who had recently returned from the jungles as well. Ral suggested that they use their favor they had curried with House Tharashk and see if the House could somehow arrange for both a sale and a Letter of Marque.
Upstairs, Ral and Tierel examined the floating rubble that was chained to the roof. Ral decided to get ahold of a wand of stone shaping and create a floating home for them to live in. He began poking around on the rubble, trying to envision the best way to make use of the space. Tierel, ever watchful from the roof, noticed a strange figure in the street below. She seemed to be watching the door of the shop, trying to stay unnoticed in the crowds below. She was unarmed, but she had an odd appearance about her. Summoning Baph, she leapt down into the street and tried to follow this mysterious figure. The woman disappeared quickly into the crowd, but they caught enough sight of her to recognize her again if they saw her. Baph wondered if she was a minion of the Silver-Eyed Woman, but no one knew for sure. Erel had never seen or heard of her before, though he promised to look into it.
The next day, they met with the local baron of House Tharashk, who was quite willing to help them set up a sale in exchange for their letter of credit with the house. He even managed to pull some strings and get a legitimate Letter of Marque, allowing the group to sell their goods without the huge taxes levied by the Storm Lords. After a few days of preparation, the group gathered in the back room of a local merchant with their invited guests, prepared to wow and dazzle them with tales of their adventures and perhaps raise the buying price for the treasures. Each of them dressed in their best “adventuring” gear, Shackleton in his nicest clothes with his mithral shirt on, Tierel covered in Drow tribal body painting, Malaxder in his glamour-weave robe and with his arcane sight spell making his eyes glow ominously, Anton in his shiny polished armor and his holy symbol prominently displayed, Baph in his tattered rags splashed with blood, and Ral in his normal outfit. Erel attended as well to help manage the paperwork and the various bids, and Andraste helped Anton manage the security for the meeting.
The first guest to arrive was Lady Darnys Giorello, a wealthy Gnome noble from Khorvaire known for her interest in ancient relics. She was accompanied by a group of gnomish bodyguards, all well behaved and polite. Next was Prince Wilkes, a young Karrnathi noble who was already half-drunk, and a giggling young girl attached to his arm. Third was Lionel Day, a Halfling artificer who resided in Stormreach and occasionally purchased relics for his own research and study. Next was Saeragar Marmagilda, a ruthless merchant with a bad reputation for brutally crushing his competitors through any means necessary, and a cadre of warforged bodyguards to protect him. Lastly was Lord Katanavash, the Reidran Consulate to Stormreach, who caused Ral to immediately freeze up with nervousness. Lord Katanavash was very polite, but Mal noticed some odd energies coming off of him when he interacted with people. Marmagilda lurched his massive bulk around the room, critically examining the items on display, while Lionel made friendly conversation with Malaxder.
While Prince looked around the room talking to his giggling date, Tierel spent some time talking to Marmagilda, offering her services in exchange for payment. Mistrusting her at first, Marmagilda quickly warmed up to her after seeing a kindred soul, especially one that could be as useful as her. Shackleton regaled Lionel and Lady Giorello with dramatic tales of their adventures, and Ral jumped whenever Lord Katanavash spoke to him, looking like a deer in the headlights much of the time.
Finally, the prospective buyers each made their offers, and the group took them into an adjacent room to consider them. In the end, Lord Katanavash’s offer was the most generous, but Malaxder and Anton were wary of selling the artifacts to him. Malaxder pointed out that he had been using some kind of magic on everyone he spoke to, and might have managed to affect their minds in some fashion without them knowing. Ral explained that enlightened being like Lord Katanavash were inherently magical, and the effect was probably harmless given the great beneficence of the Inspired. The others were wary of this story, but eventually they decided to sell the items to Katanavash.
Collecting the payment, Mal asked Katanavash outright what the magical effect he was doing was, and the Reidran ambassador confessed that he knew of no magic he was using consciously. Ral spoke up again with the same story as before, that the Inspired were simply great beings, and sometimes they exuded magic unconsciously. Katanavash smiled warmly, and Malaxder accepted his explanation. The ambassador presented the group with a satchel of platinum coins, and arranged for the delivery of the artifacts with the hosting merchant.
After everything was done, Andraste suggested that they go out for a celebratory dinner at the Chapterhouse. Tierel and Baph decided to go home and change first, while the others went ahead to secure a table. Approaching the house, Tierel’s keen eyes saw that the door was slightly ajar. She snuck in quietly and found that the house had been ransacked, top to bottom. Even Erel’s rooms were trashed, and their belongings were scattered everywhere. Walking in a few minutes later, Erel cursed and began cleaning up his space, trying to find what was missing. Heading upstairs, Tierel and Baph found that while their space had been trashed, nothing was actually missing of theirs. Leaving Erel and Bunter to clean up, they returned to the Chapterhouse to join the others.
Back at the Chapterhouse, the restaurant and bar were packed. A popular Halfling band was playing on stage, and few tables were available. After a short wait, during which Tierel and Baph returned and told the group about the robbery, they were finally taken to a table with a view of the stage. Walking by, they saw Prince Wilkes once again, who threw them a friendly salute. Settling into their places, Shackleton suddenly felt a chill up his spine, and turned towards the door.
There, walking in like they owned the place, was the Savage Company, led by Jackson Savage himself. Jackson saw him in the same moment, and the group began sauntering towards them. As Ironsides and Tara Hawk moved to flank them, Anton activated his ring and donned his armor, while Tierel vanished into the crowd. Shackleton and Savage exchanged a few terse words, while Ral and Mal watched Endel Sorra and Saavedra Sevenleaf, waiting for signs of spellcasting. Finally, Savage uttered some insult and Shackleton could take no more, pulling his sword and leaping at him. The two began immediately tumbling around the restaurant, leaping over tables and vaulting off walls, their blades flashing like lightning. Anton turned and extended his hand to Ironsides, and when the warforged accepted it Anton activated his gloves of thunder, sending electricity surging through his opponent. Tara Hawk grew a pair of powerful claws and moved into an offensive stance against Anton, while Tierel pulled her dagger and prepared to stab Jackson as he and Shackleton tumbled by. Suddenly, she felt a dagger tip at her throat, and the changling Tally whispered a warning into her ear from behind. Baph prepared to psionically attack Jackson, but found he was somehow hampered by Endel Sorra’s influence. Malaxder watched Saavedra carefully, but the elf seemed to be watching the battle impassively, making no action to cast or use any magic.
As Shackleton tumbled around the room, he was impressed to find that while Jackson was not skilled enough to land a blow on him, neither was he skilled enough to hit him back. While they danced around the restaurant, Shackleton noticed a familiar figure out of the corner of his eye – The Silver-Eyed Woman, sitting at the end of the bar past a group of dwarves. Turning to avoid a close strike by Jackson, when he looked around again seconds later she had vanished. Tierel, meanwhile, spotted the mysterious unarmed woman she had seen in the street a few days ago, leaning against the wall at the opposite end of the bar, watching the battle unfold with everyone else. She went to move towards her, but found her path blocked by Anton and his battle with Ironsides and Tara Hawk.
As suddenly as it had come, the desire to fight left Shackleton and Jackson, and they stopped their rapid fire attacks. Looking around at the chaos, they saw that while some patrons had run for cover and the employees were summoning the guard, others were greatly enjoying the show. Putting his sword away, Jackson called to the rest of the Savage Company and the group made their way quickly out of the Chapterhouse, leaving just as the Stormreach Guard was coming in. Malaxder and Anton stepped forward to speak to the guards, using diplomacy and a little bit of gold to smooth the situation over with everyone. The Halfling band, who had never stopped playing the whole time, began a more mellow set of songs, and events in the tavern finally began to settle down.
Flanked by Baph and Ral, Tierel finally pushed her way past everyone else and cornered the mysterious woman by the bar. The woman introduced herself as Lakshmi, and told them she had information for them, and a warning that they were being manipulated. She confessed she could not share her information in public, but admitted she had been following them through the city and asked if they would be willing to meet her later. Tierel did not trust her, but agreed to allow her to present her case to them the next day at Erel’s shop.
Finishing speaking to the proprietors, Malaxder came back to the table, which was now overflowing with drinks and food bought by various admirers in the crowd, including a very nice bottle of wine complements of Prince Wilkes. While Baph downed the wine, Mal told the group that he felt that some kind of magical effect was used to start that fight. Shackleton agreed, and told them how he and Jackson both suddenly lost the urge to fight immediately after the Silver-Eyed Woman vanished from the crowd. Tierel told them about Lakshmi and her warning, and the agreed it would be good to meet Lakshmi and see what she had to say.
The next day, Lakshmi appeared in the shop precisely when she said she would, and told them that they were being manipulated by agents of something called The Dreaming Dark. When they asked about the Silver-Eyed Woman, she told them that she was definitely one of those agents, as was Lord Katanavash. Ral spoke up then, saying that he recognized her for what she was – a kalashtar, a being possessed by evil spirits. Ral explained that the kalashtar were known for horrible acts of terrorism in Reidra, and were considered to be monsters. Lakshmi patiently explained that Ral had been misinformed, and there was much he did not know about the world. Mal agreed with her, because he had never had a good feeling about the Silver-Eyed Woman anyway. Ral asked her why she thought Lord Katanavash was in league with them, and she told them that it was Katanavash who sent the thugs to ransack the house. Erel commented that nothing seemed to be missing, including some relatively expensive reagents of his, and Lakshmi told them that Katanavash was only looking for one thing – the Dream Stones, which they were wisely carrying on their persons.
Before leaving, Lakshmi asked them if they would aid her in searching the jungle for a lost ruin she had been sent to find. They told her they would consider it, and she gratefully told them she could not ask for more than that.