Jurim is difficult to understand, his ignan accent is thick, and the heat he emanates makes his presence uncomfortable. The azer is reluctant to talk of his origins, yet you learn he is an immortal denizen of the Plane of Fire, a servant to the current master of Dragonmaw and prideful of his role as merchant. Jurim alludes to a strict caste system, but further attempts to converse about topics other than his wares only frustrate him.
The goods in Jurim’s metal cart are exceptional, some magical. You have never seen full plate armor of its like, nor prices so steep! Here a magical shield, there a magical sword! However, your esteem for the azer lessens when he offers to trade a masterwork warhammer for Olen, who he assumes is your slave. You politely defer, but remember that Talebus was sold to Dragonmaw.
You barter a battered chain shirt to Jurim, who wrinkles his nose at its craft, in exchange for information about the barbarian. Jurim knows only that Dragonmaw’s master was delighted with the slave and spends hours at a time in his company. Talebus is routinely, “tortured, killed and born again from the fire.” The fellow Reborn’s fate and the azer’s indifference infuriates you! You storm back to your camp. Jurim’s persistent, unnerving glow serves as a reminder of Talebus’s cruel fate and sleep is difficult to find.
As you break camp in the morning more visitors arrive. Five lizardfolk enter from the direction of A-ka and you recognize them immediately as members of the Seravash tribe. Four of the lizardfolk are heavily armed, the last bears a heavy pack that jangles with each step. The Atavashi guards snap to attention and Fisk nervously eyes the new arrivals. Jurim seems pleased.
The Seravash move directly towards Jurim and begin haggling over weapons. Two of the Seravashi take tactical positions between you and the merchants, but you still manage to spy the objects being traded. The first is a beautifully curved short sword with a an opalescent hilt, its magical power evident by the soft white glow shed by the blade. The azer visibly flinches as it is displayed and, much to the Seravash merchant’s frustration, refuses to appraise it or consider it for trade. The pair move on to the next item, you decide to move on from the Waystone Market. You say farewell to Fisk under the watchful gaze of the Seravash and retreat towards A-ka.
The jungle is quiet in the wake of the Seravash. As you trudge uphill in the early afternoon, just past the halfway point in your journey, you hear a twig snap nearby. Ambush! The kobolds burst forth from either side of the trail, arrows, bullets and spells flying. Rusty blades and wooden spike protrude from a log that swings down from the canopy, forcing you to the ground. The angry yips of a dozen kobolds fill the air as you fight desperately for survival.
There are two leaders among the kobolds, one stuns you with a blast of colorful lights and the other blasts you with fire. You recover and split your efforts between the magic users, hacking at the guards and pushing forward through the dense underbrush. Bloodied, you cut down the first leader and the remaining kobolds flee. You manage to bring them down in flight.
You pause to bind the worst of the cuts and loot the dead kobolds. The first leader bears a scrap of parchment you translate from draconic:
Spotted at Strong Stone by scouts. Talked with coward brothers. Left south. Set up trap for return. Return when done, you will have caves as leader.
The cryptic message reveals that the kobolds set the trap explicitly for you. More pressing matters are at hand: you realize now that Olen is missing, the sailor must have slunk away during the onslaught. You easily find his trail and follow, but the hunt is not long. A few hundred feet down the trail you find Olen’s motionless body, his expression a rictus of panic and fear, slain by a pair kobolds as he sought freedom. The tracks of his small, reptilian killers head east into the jungle.
You worry that the kobolds will bring reinforcements from Kal-ereska. The kobolds move quickly and take no precautions, signs of their passage are plentiful in the soft earth. As the sun heads towards the western horizon, though, you have not gained on your prey and there are signs that more dangerous game is afoot. Large, day-old prints of an allosaurus cross your path. Perhaps these kobolds are not worth pursuing further…
You stop at a small pond visited by the kobolds and see two large dimetrodon on the far side. Curious, you summon the power of nature to converse with them. You learn the kobolds are long gone, that the allosaurus is not near, and that dimetrodon enjoy sunning. Your slow-witted friends convince you that you should turn around and hope to make A-ka by nightfall.
You reach the village an hour after dark. Your consolation for failing to find Raifa and the death of Olen is only Wota’s warm welcome. He informs you that the skiff will be ready in three days.