As the party approaches the city of Raam, they pass through fallow fields surrounding fortified estates. Mercenaries patrol the countryside against attacks from rival noble families, but as long as the adventurers remain on the road, the patrols pay them no mind. Soon, they arrive at the gates. They are stopped at the gates with a few other merchants with meager wagonloads of goods. The mansabdars inspect the kank while Sarta presents his papers to a bored looking templar. Nythok draws attention with his ever-present cantrips and a mansabdar demands to see his arcane license. Everything passes inspection and they are allowed to enter the city.
As they enter the Low Quarter, the buildings they pass are mostly desolate. Windows boarded up, beggers crouch in the doorways sleeping or crying out to passerbys. There are a few places near the gate, wayhouses competeing for the city’s meager visitors. One place, known by nothing else than it’s “Broken Sign” agrees to house the party at 2 shells per day per person, does not include food, the owner agrees to allow them to tether their kank behind the building.
For the rest of the evening, the party spends some time exploring the nearby city blocks. Zamru buys some broy – fermented kank nectar – and shares it with Lavitz. Setalle sets out to purchase more appropriate clothing for business. Shaqtir harasses the still-recovering Sarta while Nythok entertains himself with his cantrips, and Deovan goes to scope out the marketplace.
The so-called Great Market is less than impressive. A handful of scraggly stalls and wary eyed merchants hawking their goods. Mansadbars patrol the area, idle about talking, or escort templars briskly through the refuse-strewn streets. Returning to the Broken Sign, Deovan glimpses armed warriors fighting, dead bodies on the dusty cobblestones, the mansdbars ignore them, despite standing just a dozen feet away in the main street. Deovan hurries back and shares his observations with the party.
Next day, Sarta leads the party to find Imar’s warehouse. Lavitz and Shaqtir carry the chest while the rest stay alert for trouble. Sarta knows his way around as he confidently takes a shortcut through an alley with a high wall on oneside and a half-collapsed building on the other. As Zamru passes by the rubble of a collapsed building, an emaciated form lurches out at him. A filthy elf with a withered leg clad in rags stumbles into the street and clings to Zamru’s robes as he kneels in the dust. “Great one, spare a chit? A broken chit to buy a bit of fruit?” Zamru nudges the beggar away from him, but breaks off a chit and gives it to the elf.
“Badna bless you!” cries the beggar and he scurries back into his hole in the rubble.
Just before they reach the end of the alley, a hoarse voice calls out sharply.
“Stop right there!” A goliath moves to block the way the party just came while a powerful looking dray steps into the other end of the street. She is the one talking. A thri-kreen hops into view ontop of the ruined building next to them.
“Which one of you is the merchant Sarta?”
Lavitz barks back “What?” without hestiation while Setalle nudges Sarta before he can speak. Catching on quickly, Sarta stares dumbly at the dray while the rest of the party nods and indicates that the human warrior is their leader. Setalle encourages the usually not-so-eloquent Lavitz with psionic messages.
“Tell your guards to be at ease, while we could take what we want from you by force, we are not barbarians. Our leader would prefer that we negotiate an exchange. “
The dray explains that her leader knows what is in the chest and they want it. She offers 800 jade for them to hand over the chest to her instead of delivering it to Imar. As the negotiate drags, Nythok’s instinct tells him the dray female might be a Veiled Alliance agent. He tries to signal her secretively, but she does not catch his furtive glances. Nythok alerts Setalle, who more succesfully catches the dray’s attention and as their eyes meet, Setalle signals her and then relays a mental message.
The dray is surprised and she responds Are you a veiled one? Setalle confirmes and the dragonborn learns from her that Setalle and Nythok are also Veiled Alliance. The dray demonstrates she is both talented and clever as a rapid-fire telepathic discussion takes place she continues to argue with the stubbon Lavitz, insisting that he sell the chest to her rather than surrender it to Imar and the corrupt mansadbars.
From Setalle and Nythok, the dragonborn sorceress learns of the tampered contents of the chest and agrees to the possibility of a future exchange with the party – if their plans are successful. The dray gives them instructions on how to contact her in the future: find the goliath named Drum in the Ghost City outside Raam’s walls. He will contact her, Ankha, if the group should return as promised. With that, Ankha and her companions leave, and the party continues.
At Imar’s warehouse, the group gathers anxiously inside the cavernous space of the warehouse. Laborers move about goods while a tall and well-dressed elf counts off merchandise on a wax tablet. Greeting Sarta, he remarks the usually reliable caravan leader is late. Setalle snaps that they must hurry – and so they get to business. Imar opens the chest and carefully opens one silk bag. Seeing the top filled with grain, the merchant appears immensely pleased and promptly pays Sarta the due amount.
Relieved that their ruse has passed the test, the party quickly resupplies and leaves Raam without a moment’s delay. On the road, Sarta parts way with them, heading for Tyr while the party turns west towards Urik.