Have a look at the Golden Scimitars’ ledgers; it’s hard to make head or tail of them but the PCs manage to work out that there is money coming in from the Winking Vixen, Fahil’s and others and 30% is going out to “A” which Ulthar thinks must be the mysterious Avishandu. Returning to the city above, the PCs tell Tamrin and the whores at the Winking Vixen and Fahil that the Juma Gang have dealt with the Golden Scimitars. Free drinks and other services are available whenever the Gang stop by in either establishment (although Juma Ji’ad’s “special requests” will cost extra). Ulthar finds Iancu Petronas and warns him Francio has got himself mixed up with a criminal gang and could cause trouble for the acting company.
Hrothgar, Sora and Juma start training for the upcoming swimming race, using the Dolphin Strait for practice. Ulthar takes the healthier option of swimming up and down the small lake in the park district of the Garden Ward.
Hrothgar wakes up feeling sick - he has contracted filth fever. After selling off some stuff in party treasure, the PCs visit the Curio Cabinet in Tinker’s Alley where they are looked after by Irene, the sweet little old lady who runs the shop. Gil buys a restful bedroll and Ulthar buys couters of second chances. The PCs also put down a deposit on a pair of iron armbands of power - the person who comes first in the swimming race will be the one allowed to buy them!
More swimming training in the afternoon.
Sora now has filth fever too! Hrothgar is still feeling peaky but hasn’t got any worse so carries on training in the Strait.
Hrothgar recovers from the disease; Sora is still ill. Dulicitus sends a messenger snake asking the PCs to meet up with him and report on their investigation. They send a return message saying they are very busy and will be in touch later.
Sora recovers from filth fever after Ulthar finally agrees to help treat her illness. The warlord takes the Golden Scimitars ledgers to the Dev’shir estate. Lady Patricia agrees to have her dwarven accountant look them over for the PCs.
Swimming training continues!
The day of the race arrives! Juma bets 50 gp on himself each way at 5-1. Of the PCs, only Gil doesn’t take part. Hrothgar gets off to a good start after Margarita the water genasi swims straight into a fishing boat, with Ulthar, Juma and Otemish the half orc (three times winner) close behind. Sora brings up the rear - the dragonborn swallows a mouthful of sewage which has her reeling in nausea. As the race continues, nothing can stop Hrothgar although Ulthar and Juma are right behind him all the way. Meanwhile, things have got worse for Sora as her leg is grabbed by a crocodile and she is forced to wrestle it to get free!
Hrothgar wins the race, claiming the title “Faster Than The Rest O’ The Fishes” and a gold-plated trophy. Ulthar and Juma Ji’ad are second and third. The celebrations go on long into the night - Juma soon loses the 125gp he won by betting on himself while Ulthar takes Agnella (one of the serving girls at Fahil’s) out for a night on the town.
Hrothgar goes to the Curio Cabinet to pay for his iron armbands of power. Next, the PCs go to the Praying Mantis Dojo, following the map they found in the Golden Scimitars’ hideout, and confront Sun Yifu, the master. They are a bit thrown when he doesn’t seem to know what the PCs are on about and end up leaving.
That night, the party returns to Tiangao-town and Hrothgar breaks into the dojo through the weapons room on the ground floor. The others follow. The barbarian steps on a creaky floorboard when he tries to sneak upstairs, waking the sleeping martial artists. Sun Yifu appears again and throws the PCs out.
The PCs set off for the Karak Lode.
Enter the barren Thornwaste. Towards the end of the day Hrothgar climbs a rocky outcrop to try and find a route through the brambles ahead and spots a traveller. This is Mag Blackthorn, a ranger and disciple of the mysterious Ghostlord who remains mysterious even after Ulthar’s extensive questioning of Mag. The wanderer agrees to act as a guide for the PCs and take them to Dunesend.
The PCs follow Sora’s lead and blunder into an ambush by a band of dwarves led by Haledon of the Crimson Hand, the bandit chief whose treasure map they stole. Sora and Hrothgar charge into the brambles to fight Haledon while Gil, Juma, Ulthar and Mag battle the dwarven hammerers. Two dwarven bolters also fire crossbows on the party from higher ground. After a tough battle, the PCs are victorious - Haledon and the hammerers are slain; the two bolters run into the thorns and escape.
Searching the bodies, the PCs grab Haledon’s +1 flaming greatsword, and four blue garnets (100 gp each). One of the dwarves has a fist-and-hammer crest on the side of his warhammer (the sign of the Hammerfist clan); another carries a journal hinting at his clan’s desire to claim the lost Karak Lode in defiance of their enemies in Clan Ironfell.