Barakas sees flashes of a woman on horseback stricken down by an arrow.
He realizes that he’s in a forest, and becomes aware of dark shapes around him. Intuitively, as happens in dreams, he knows that they’re hunting him.
He tries to muster an effort of will to wake himself, but succeeds instead in transporting himself to a different space. He’s in a vast, sprawling ruin of what must have once been a great city.
Thorn, too, is dreaming of these ruins, and manages to spot Barakas from a high vantage point. She sees as well the humanoid shapes closing in on him.
Telia finds herself standing in a vast, grassy plain which stretches as far as she can see in all directions.
She becomes aware of a dark shape in the distance and realizes that it’s a black horse galloping in her direction.
She tries to intercept the horse as it approaches, and is injured by the impact, but manages to calm the beast, which allows her to ride it.
Ciro finds himself in a dark swamp, on a raft, with writhing black shapes moving through the water below, bumping the raft.
Ciro, after failing to find any sort of land or way off the raft, tries to attack one of the writhing shapes in the water. He manages to hurt it, but lands in the water himself, locked in a desperate battle with the thing.
At about this time, Barakas manages a supreme act of will, using his inquisitorial abilities to shape the mind’s image of the space. He manages by this to bring everyone together in the ruins, then with another burst of will, forces everyone awake.
They awaken to find themselves back in their beds at the inn, freaked out by their experience of having shared a communal dream, but seemingly unharmed.
As Ciro and Barakas enter the hallway to check on Telia and Thorn, however, they become aware of dark shapes, just like those in the dream, standing at the end of the hall.
Ciro knows what these are – Shadar-Kai.
The three shadar-kai descend on the party and a battle ensues.
Just as the fight ends, the inn’s concierge, a haughty halfling, rushes up the stairs to see what the noise is about. Seeing the bodies of the shadar-kai, now already fading to transparency, he falls silent, terrified.
Wisara Osterman, the inn’s proprieter, now joins the group, and is equally horrified to see the remains of the shadar-kai fading away. She knows what these are. She tells Barakas that he and his friends cannot stay at the inn. These things will return for them, and this represents an unacceptable danger to her guests.
Grudgingly, Barakas and company agree to pack their things and depart. When the time comes, they gather their things and find Barakas’ parents holding court in the Inn’s common room.
Wisara signals to Barakas to speak with her further. She apologizes for her earlier rudeness, explaining that she was afraid for her guests. She advises Barakas to seek help – these things are dangerous, and they will be back, she tells him. She recommends that he speak with Grundelmar, a priest of Pelor, who can be found in the House of the Sun.
The party, accompanied by Barakas’ parents and grandmother, make their way to the home of Barakas’ uncle, Orest Naerumar. He is expecting them, they are told – Barakas’ mother sent a messenger informing him of their arrival some time ago, and he has prepared a dinner for them all.
They arrive without incident, and are let inside by the servant, Ardic, who offers to take their traveling cloaks and baggage.
Orest Naerumar is there, and greets them warmly, showing them around his opulent three-storey house. (The first floor contains the store and the house kitchen, the second contains a dining and entertaining area, and the third contains bedrooms sufficient for an array of guests. He’s clearly set up his house to serve as a sort of inn for traveling merchants doing business with him.
Another man is there too. Naerumar introduces him as a business associate, Sirett. He acknowledges the party coolly, and barely speaks throughout the night.
Dinner is a fine affair, and afterward, Naerumar invites Barakas to join him on the balcony. Barakas’ parents are clearly offended that the invitation wasn’t similarly directed their way, but make do.
Ciro, curious about Sirett, tries to learn more about the man, but can’t manage to engage him in conversation. Taking another tack, he embarks on a plan to annoy the man into a reaction. Barakas’ grandmother seems to be watching this exchange with interest.
Telia and Thorn, meanwhile, having little interest in polite social gatherings, make their way outside to the small pasture behind the house, and proceed to slaughter one of the livestock animals for their dessert.
Barakas, out on the porch with Naerumar, tries to ascertain how much or how little Naerumar knows about the item they’ve just (allegedly) brought to him. He professes to know little except that the buyer was willing to pay well for it.
Barakas is able to confirm that Sirett is in fact the buyer.
Barakas tells Naerumar that he believes the box to be dangerous, and suggests that Naerumar not give it to Sirett. Not so easy, Naerumar protests – Sirett already knows they have it, since Barakas’ parents spoke of it at dinner.
Ultimately, they manage to come to an accord – Barakas will leave the box with Naerumar, who seems to believe it to be the real item, but Naerumar will hide it in the store’s vault, and tell Sirett that it wasn’t found.
Naerumar offers to pay Barakas and his friends one thousand gold for their trouble, but Barakas declines payment until Naerumar has himself been paid for the box. (Not wanting to appear to have ripped off his uncle if the ruse is discovered.)
Ciro, meanwhile, having failed to elicit a reaction from Sirett through an escalating series of attempts, suddenly finds his memory of the past hour erased, and his interest in Sirett diminished. He somehow can’t remember anything after dinner.
Later on, Ciro sets out from their rooms upstairs to try to spy on Sirett in his own room. He climbs across a balcony to peer in his window, and sees Sirett sitting alone in the room, perfectly motionless, in a chair in the dark.