Players: Lynn, Mike, Missy
Having decided that ignoring Victor's past could be more dangerous than confronting it (see adventure #4), Victor, Shao Tsang, and Mogdar decided to go to Kethys. They also had a ton of money and wanted to do some shopping. When they got back to Dagger Rock, they found that Balthazar was still there, and he had company.
In the middle of a circle of carnage, Balthazar and a ranger with a big glowing sword were fighting. After getting knocked through yet another building, Balthazar pretended to surrender, then downed the ranger with a power word (stun). Shao Tsang planted the suggestion "go home when you see a tree" in Balthazar's mind, which caused him to start heading back to Grog's Tavern.
Mogdar tried casting a complicated spell (which he later refused to explain) but Balthazar resisted. Victor entangled Balthazar, slowing him down. After a magic missle from Mogdar (and a couple of attacks from Shao Tsang and Victor) Tellar stepped in and clove Balthazar in half. A sinister black wraith rose from the ruined armor and flew away.
They stayed around long enough to heal the wounded and get some rest, then headed south to Timber. Tellar and Parenia remained behind to help with the rebuilding. In Timber, they picked up Ezren, who was looking for something in the old tower. Ezren mentioned that the city they were going to (Kethys) was built on top of ancient Azzarian ruins. The trip south was uneventful.
The group arrived at "the rock", a slum area of Kethys on the north side of the river. They went to the Bramble Rock tavern and met the innkeeper, Boris. With Mogdar's help, Victor made contact with the Black Circle and arranged a midnight meeting at the old tree in the brambles. Then they took Shao Tsang's folding boat to the other side of the river and started looking for bargains.
The first store they went into was an obviously fake "exotic goods" store, after which they headed for the city market, where they didn't find much of use, mostly common herbs and food. They asked for help finding a nice store, and were directed to "Sammy's".
Victor wandered out to the settlement outside the walls and meditated at the shrine of Meilikki. Ezren went with him for a while, then left and watched a play at the theater. Mogdar and Shao Tsang headed for Sammy's, but stopped on the way when they saw an interesting imports store. After some haggling, they managed to trade in some stuff they couldn't use for an ornamental box and a strange ring with quicksilver in it. They also picked up an obsidian-bladed dagger for Ezren. Victor showed up while they were shopping and bought a staff.
From there they went next door to Sammy's, just as it was getting dark. Sammy's offered a warehouse of magical items, labeled as to function and power. Shao Tsang asked for a djinni bottle, which Sammy produced. Shao Tsang opened the bottle and was attacked by a buzzard-like demon, which Victor entangled. Another bottle produced yet another demon. They released the first demon from Victor's rope and fled the store. When they found Ezren, he mentioned that Sa'ami was the name of an Azzarian trickster god.
Then they got a room at an inn. Mogdar and Victor told the others about the upcoming midnight meeting and convinced Shao Tsang to loan them his boat and stay behind. Ezren would follow, hidden, and watch for trouble. Victor and Mogdar scraped the boat on a rock, but they otherwise crossed safely. Under the tree, they met with three scruffy-looking thieves who said Victor had been called back to deal with a new threat and that his old assignment had been to infiltrate the Sphere, a powerful military society to the north. One thief (turned out to be Ratawist, the leader of the Black Circle magically disguised) took Victor aside for a private chat. Victor wormed out of his obligations by agreeing to stop the new threat, which Ratawist referred to as the "ophidians", a race of evil snake-people.
Ezren had heard of these creatures before (gee, good thing he was along, huh?). Also known as the Yuan Ti (a name which Shao Tsang recognized), the ophidians were the descendents of Azzarian demon-worshippers whose blood became polluted by unholy practices. With some nudging from Ezren, the PC's hit on the idea of exploring wells in the hope that they would interesect the Azzarian ruins below. There happened to be one right in front of their inn. They lowered Victor into the well on a rope and he quickly found a hidden opening just under the water by poking with his staff.
At that moment, Shao Tsang was suddenly engaged in psionic combat, and Mogdar was attacked by a man with snakes instead of arms. They managed to almost defeat these foes while Victor was climbing back out of the well, but Ezren suddenly changed into a snaky creature and cast a spell at Shao Tsang, who was instantly transformed into a small garden snake. The party was rescued by a mysterious woman who led them back to sanctuary in the temple of Tyr and restored Shao Tsang to his true form.
The woman explained that she was a former assassin named Rathlind who was transformed against her will by an archway in the tomb of Acererak. She now hunts assassins and others who would threaten the casue of justice. She also presented them with Ezren, who she had previously rescued from a Yuan Ti temple. Ezren had been kidnapped and replaced while he was away from the others at the theater.
Rathlind said that they weren't ready to face a foe as dangerous as the Yuan Ti. Heartily agreeing with this, they left a note with Boris at the Bramble Rock tavern, explaining that they would be back to deal with the ophidians another time, and left before dawn by boat.