The Time: 19 Anabasis, dusk
The Place: Altaruk Trade Fortress
Outed by his teammate Vinari of Tyr, the wizard Cawthra Cloudseeker is dragged away by Captain Tellemon and his men. Deprived of his spell components, he is powerless to resist as he is strapped down and interrogated by a humpbacked old torturer as Tellemon watches. Cawthra resists giving any direct answers regarding his intentions or his knowledge of the Veiled Alliance. Just as the torturer is about to get into his real methods of persuasion, Tellemon steps in. The captain says that he hates wizards like Cawthra, but he will let the aarakocra go in exchange for a service. Tellemon has reason to believe that the Veiled Alliance operates a cell in Altaruk – he wants Cawthra to join them and report their members’ names. In fact, if the leader’s name is provided, Tellemon will even offer a bounty.
Cawthra tells Tellemon that he accepts the offer, and the captain reminds him that any attempt to abandon the mission or to join the Alliance in an attack on Tellemon could only end in Cawthra’s death. With that, he returns Cawthra his things and sets him free into the night, mentioning that he’s heard a report of a wizard staying at The Oasis, a brothel found just outside the main gate. Cawthra wastes no time flying there, where he beds The Blue Raven, an aarakocra whore.
In the morning, the Raven tells Cawthra that, yes, a Balican mage named Elek the Enchanter has been staying at the whorehouse. He will likely be downstairs with his morning peppers and eggs. The Raven hints that customers who pay for it won’t have to worry about their secrets being shared, but as Cawthra reaches for his coinpurse he finds it nearly empty, not even enough to pay for the Raven’s services. As the Raven kicks him out of her roost, Cawthra flies downstairs through the street window and finds Elek at breakfast.
A brief conversation has Elek sending Cawthra to a local wizard named Banoc, saying he’s heard Banoc is in the Veiled Alliance, although he says Cawthra should stick around and sample a pair of elf sisters with him instead of seeking out some old man. Flying to Banoc’s adobe tower, Cawthra finds a kindly old mage who invites him in and offers a cup of kola tea. After some chatting, Cawthra discovers that Banoc knew his mentor, Suldin of Nibenay, and in fact it was from Suldin that Banoc had obtained the kola nuts. Banoc says that any friend of Suldin’s is a friend of his, and confirms that, like Suldin, he is a Preserver and a member of the Veiled Alliance. Although Banoc trusts Cawthra’s intent, he does not yet know his abilities. To prove himself, Banoc sends Cawthra to kill Elek the Enchanter.
Returning to The Oasis, Cawthra goes to Elek’s room, where he finds the Defiler with the pair of elf sisters. As the women flee, the naked Elek attempts to defend himself. He manages to daze Cawthra and tries to slash his throat, but the aarakocra overcomes him. As Elek flees down the hall, Cawthra steps out and scorching rays the Balican into a pile of ash, grabbing his valuables and returning to Banoc. The old Preserver congratulates Cawthra and unofficially welcomes him to the Altaruk Veiled Alliance.
Deciding to return to Tellemon and the party, Cawthra flies to Bloodsand Arena, arriving just as a crossbow bolt sinks into Tellemon’s neck. As chaos breaks out in the arena, Cawthra seeks out the only people he can call friends.