In the Sendsend market Zartoshvar sets up his alchemical lab and begins to concoct, with much flair and gusto, a herbal foot ointment. He is approached by Cloudhopper who asks him if he wouldn’t mind translating a bit of Farusean that Cloudhopper copied down off crates brought on board the ship in exchange for some tobacco. Zartoshvar begins by protesting at Cloudhopper’s previous assumption that he is Farusean but ends up agreeing to the deal seeing as he so badly needs to smoke his pipe. He receives a bowlful of pipe weed on the promise he will translate the notes later, but right now he insists on finishing his medicinal preparations. Cloudhopper then roams the market, keeping a watchful eye out for anything or anybody that appears out of the ordinary, while trying to look as casual as possible, wandering from stall to stall feigning interest in the wares. Nothing stands out, with the exception of a trio of young men in front of the tavern who lean against the entrance and seem to be watching Zartoshvar as he prepares his ointment with particular fixation.
On board the Cloudhopper, Rabinagath continues to redefine and copy the ships maps when he hears someone quietly hail him from shore. A man dressed as a Farusean merchant, shows him a small package bound in leather and sealed with wax and asks him if he would take it to a man named Emilson at a clothiers on River street in Helas Girith. He offers Rabinagath 25 silver pieces for the delivery, 5 now and 20 when he arrives. Rabinagath feels awkward about the transaction and asks why he doesn’t give the package to the captain. The man explains that he is from Nolunday, a city in Farusea, and has been called back home for his family has taken ill, otherwise he would take it himself and he does not wish to bother the captain as it might entail all sorts of paperwork which he wants to avoid. Rabinagath haggles with the man for some time, and just as it appears the man is going to walk off, they come to an agreed price of 15 silver pieces no, 25 when the package is delivered. The man hands over the package, which he explains is a codex of clothing patterns of the latest fashions, and the 15 silver and departs. Rabinagath ponders over wether or not to open it up…
Back in the market, Zartoshvar stands quietly by his alchemical stall, trusting that the professionalism of his work will attract buyers and there is no need to hawk his wares. A single man wanders over and asks him what it is he’s selling. Zartoshvar goes to great lengths to explain the qualities of the ointment he has prepared and the man appears interested though he wonders if Zartoshvar has anything for sore joints, as that is what he is really suffering from. Zartoshvar explains such a cure takes a while to prepare and months to work properly but if the man were to pay him 40 copper he could prepare him a months supply and give him instructions of how to make more. The man feels the price is too steep and asks instead about the foot ointment. Zartoshvar tells him 25 copper, to which the man insists on sampling the cure and then haggles with him and eventually they agree on the ointment plus a list of ingredients for the 25 copper. The man then leaves and Zartoshvar, having no other customers packs up. Zartoshvar calls a young boy over to him and gives him a description of Cloudhopper and orders him to find him and tell him he’s wanted. The boy runs off and Zartoshvar shouldering his pack, looks around for a place to eat and drink.
Cloudhopper, watching the market is aware of a man dressed in Farusean merchant clothing hurrying across the square. He follows the man and, gaining his attention, asks if he might translate the words he copied down. The man seems a bit perturbed by Cloudhopper’s request but when Cloudhopper offers him 10 copper for his services the man takes his money and tells him the words are the name of a Farusean Vineyard, Othlan Fields. The man then turns and leaves and Cloudhopper continues his meandering. A minute later, a young boy tugs at Cloudhopper’s sleeve and tells him a Dredenian is looking for him in the market. The boy then holds out his hand for payment and Cloudhopper gives him a copper piece. Pleased, the boy runs off and Cloudhopper makes his way back to where he last saw Zartoshvar.
Meanwhile, Zartoshvar, hungry and thirsty, turns to the local tavern. He notices the three young men watching him from the entrance and when he approaches they step forward and block his way. They ask him what he’s doing here, and then tell him to leave, and “go back to the wastelands”. Zartoshvar takes offence to this slight of his homelands and expounds upon the richness of Dredena and how Tandasean culture by comparison is so meagre. The comparison goes right over the heads of the young men who call him a “desert rat” and one of them steps forward and gives Zartoshvar a shove. At this moment, Cloudhopper comes into view and walks over, asking the young men what they are doing. They begin to threaten Cloudhopper as well and ask him if he wants a taste of a knuckle sandwich. Cloudhopper responds that he’s never had that before and asks if it’s tasty, and promptly gets punched in the mouth. Fists begin to fly now and Cloudhopper tries to defend himself but gets knocked about several times by his attacker. Zartoshvar on the other hand, draws his large knife and, patting the blade of his knife in his other hand, asks the young men if they are truly looking for trouble. Surprised and intimidated, the young men back off, one of them fleeing behind the tavern and the other trying to pull his friend off of Cloudhopper. A couple more blows against the side of Cloudhopper’s head and the thug’s friend succeeds in pulling his buddy off of Cloudhopper though the enraged young man still tries to throw punches. Cloudhopper takes off and Zartoshvar again makes a show of the blade in his hand and the remaining two men get the picture and leave. Zartoshvar then proceeds to the doorway of the tavern, but stops short of entering as the size of the crowd inside, a dozen people, makes him feel uneasy. He tries to get the attention of the bar maid and finally succeeds. With a little convincing, she brings him some dried meat good enough for a few days of travel rations and a mug of beer. He drinks the mug down and heads back to the Cloudhopper. Just after he leaves, Cloudhopper himself returns and collects his quarterstaff which he dropped during the altercation with the street tough.
Zartoshvar and Cloudhopper return to the ship and climb aboard, seeing Rabinagath again and exchanging greetings. The state of Cloudhopper’s face causes some stir on the boat and Captain Gnemoarshiz offers to clean him up a bit, but Cloudhopper refuses and simply sets to work. Eventually our adventurers and the crew of the ship settle down for the evening. Cloudhopper goes directly to bed, but Zartoshvar and Rabinagath stay up a while, listening to a musician who plays a lute by the water further north down the quay. As the night deepens, they spot what at first seems to be a meteor shower far off on the horizon above the mountains to the northwest, but something seems amiss as the meteors seem to be falling way to regularly. They watch the phenomenon for a while and then go to sleep.
In the morning, the Cloudhopper leaves the dock and heads downstream towards Helas Girith. The morning is uneventful, but in the afternoon smoke appears on the horizon to the north, over the west bank. The smoke is some distance away but as they travel further downstream they get closer and the smoke thickens somewhat and the scent of burning wood is clearly in the air. Cloudhopper, having climbed the mast, hears distant shouts and screams. Still sticking to their course they eventually come close to the western bank of the river and suddenly several men, women and children come running to the water’s edge and yell for help! The clear cry of “Orcs!” can be heard now and as if on queue, one of the men on the bank is violently heaved forward into the water from behind and 4 or 5 large brutish, grey skinned creatures with small eyes, furrowed foreheads and sharp teeth fall upon the people calling for help. Some of the people are run through with sword and spear, but others are grabbed by the Orcs and taken away into the reeds. People also begin jumping into the river to escape their attackers. Two of the Orcs on shore see the Cloudhopper and, putting away their swords, draw bow and arrow and begin to fire upon the ship. The captain curses and begins to turn his ship away from the bank. “Do you have any weapons on board!?” asks Zartoshvar to the captain, who tells him that below decks there is a crossbow. Cloudhopper then grabs the longest rope he can find on the ship, ties one end around his waist and one end to the ship, and leaps into the water heading for the people who jumped from shore. Rabinagath shouts to Captain Gnemoarshiz to turn the ship about and head into the centre of the river. Captain Gnemoarchiz is already turning the ship…