Jak and Xaladin go to the River Jewel where Telicanthus arranged for them to stay. They find an elaborate, very well appointed inn with a butler waiting for them to show them to their rooms. He leads them up the stairs and shows them to rooms that are more like a suite with a private dining room, living and sleeping chambers and a private room with a hot bath already drawn and steaming.
Jak, not one to turn down amenities decides to take a bath and scrubs himself with the rose and lavender scented soap until his fur glistens.
Meanwhile Roland and James make their way, slowly to Sayre along with the githzerai refugees from Akma’ad. Tokk’it approaches them and complains that Odos didn’t try hard enough to save Gallia. They assure him that there is nothing he could have done, Gallia was dead when she was possessed. Pattie suggests they offer to make him a zombie girlfriend. Tokk’it does not take them up on the offer.
Jak and Xaladin leave the River Jewel, Jak smelling of a wonderful floral bouquet, and go to the Tankard of Ink near the University, where Roland suggested they look for a good place to stay.
The Tankard of Ink is under the ownership of a new proprietor — “The Tankard of Ink, New Proprietor, Bede Quickfingers, Bear Claws, Beer, Bed and Breakfast.”
When they go in they find a very large elf woman sitting at a table alone. She has the normal proportions of an attractive elf with long, silky black hair and pointed ears but she looks like she would be well over six feet tall if she stood up. When she sees them she grins showing the sharp stubs of two small tusks in her bottom jaw.
“Bede, guests,” she shouts. Bede recognizes members of the Bear Claws immediately, as they provided some of the money he used to purchase the place. He immediately offers them lunch and brings them each a bowl of steaming hot chili.
The half-orc woman watches them intently as they each try it and immediately spit it out, finding it to be unbearably spicy. She laughs heartily, slapping her thigh at their discomfort.
Althaea — the Eladrin ‘aunt’ of Mary — comes from the backroom spouting a bunch of complaints about the capsaicin in the chili being too intense for guests when she see Xaladin and Jak and stops in surprise.
Buttercup, Bede’s daughter, enters through the main door, complaining about one of her professors then gets embarrassed when she sees the guests and bolts up the stairs.
Bede brings Mary out from the back room to introduce the ‘chef’ and she speaks with Jak and Xaladin briefly. She mentions that she and Jalissa and Althaea were attempting to visit her village before the snows closed the pass but they delayed in the orc lands when they encountered a group of orc slavers. That’s where they met Thera — the half-orc, half-elf woman — when they freed her from the orc slavers. When they got to the pass it was snowed over so they came to Sayre to wait out the winter.
They met Bede and found out that, despite his supreme skill with baking and pastries, he couldn’t cook so he hired Mary to cook for him while he takes cooking classes at the University.
The next morning there is a slight confrontation at the gates when the city guards refuse to let the githzerai into the city, calling them child-stealers. Roland offers to vouch for them and escort them to their destination in order to ensure they’re behavior.
He and James pass by the Tankard of Ink while Xaladin and James are eating breakfast and the two of them rush out to join them, eager to avoid the spicy gravy that Mary has made to go with Bede’s morning biscuits.
They follow the githzerai into the Riverdown district to a dilapidated warehouse where the other githzerai refugees are staying. As they approach they hear shouting and James barges in to see what is going on. Two githzerai, an older man and a woman, are in the middle of an argument which they only briefly interrupt to help the wounded refugees. Gall’ott is angry at the mistreatment of the githzerai in Sayre and wants to band together to create a fighting force to claim some respect. Azitt insists that in so doing they will become the rumors that are whispered about them.
Odos, angry and worried about his people, seems to side more with Gall’ott especially when he hears that the city harbors a githyanki noble — Telicanthus, who invited the Bear Claws to tea at his house the following afternoon.
While they talk Amyria steps from the shadows and asks the Bear Claws for some help. She tells them that she had a dream sent from Bahamut, of a great web of communication that stretched across the planes. She saw at its heart a great spider that tugged and pulled at the web, the center of the communications. She awoke with the sure feeling that the center of that web was in Sayre. She came here but does not know where else to look.
She also asks them to look into Telicanthus as she does not trust him because she has never met a githyanki who was not out for blood.
Her final request is that they come to a meeting she has organized the next morning. She is trying to put together a Coalition of city leaders and powerful people who can organize the material plane to fight back against the githyanki. She would like the Bear Claws to be there.
They agree and set out into the city to find information about the missing children that the githzerai are accused of stealing. After a few hours of searching and asking questions they find a lot of rumors of people who know people who know somebody who is missing a child but nothing that substantiated.
When they finish their investigation Amyria approaches them once more and asks them to convince Odos to come to the coalition meeting as well. His knowledge of the githyanki would be invaluable but he insists on fleeing the material plane and leaving it in the hands of the ‘humans.’
They return to Odos and he agrees on the condition that they cast a ritual for him to consult with mystic sages about what Telicanthus has to do with Amyria’s vision.
The response they get is:
Read the writing on the wall
You are not far from a place where knowledge turns to greed
Beneath the spice house lurks the profane
And knowledge lies trapped behind the guardian
As the Bear Claws leave the githzerai warehouse they notice several beggars approaching them from the alleyways, beneath their rags they wear gleaming chain mail and carry shiny new weapons they they brandish with obvious familiarity.
The Bear Claws leap to the attack and quickly slaughter the majority of them. As the bodies pile up the beggars try to flee but are maimed and killed even as they turn to run.
Jak grabs the final one and slams him into the nearest building. When James threatens to break his legs he confesses they they were sent by the Filth King, the King and priest of the beggars of Sayre. They ask him about the spice house and he gives them directions to an abandoned warehouse in Lowbridge and warns them that there is a young girls set up as watch to raise the alarm should they come poking about.
They tie him up and give him to the authorities on their way to Lowbridge. They also explain to the authorities that the massive count of bodies outside the githzerai warehouse had nothing to do with the githzerai.
They make their way to the warehouse in Lowbridge and find it completely boarded up and abandoned, just as the beggar insisted it would be. Across the street is a young girl — nine or ten years old — with a club foot who is begging from the passersby. When they pass close she asks for money.
Roland tells her there is warm food and free toys being given out at a location in Riverdown. She seems hesitant to leave her post but his information is compelling so she hurries away, hoping to get back before she is missed. Xaladin sends an animal messenger to Bede to make sure and arrange a hot meal for her as she is expecting so that she will not go without.