The party woke at dawn at Fort Firstwatch, the unofficial headquarters of House M’Ker. They could see a dozen or so actual forts littered about the landscape as well black smoke rising from the far side of the city.
They broke their fast with Truvo M’Ke the house patriarch who told them small details about the city, though not much of it positive. Even as they were leaving for Raam, they could see merchants setting up their stalls and what seemed to be beggars gathering at the entrance to Fort Firstwatch. An hour’s walk to Raam’s eastern gate was uneventful, and a similar sight of lounging beggars and poor greeted them at the entrance.
Upon entering the city, the party were greeted by an onslaught of noise, rank smells and most of all, people. The main street was overflowing with a mix of humans, dwarves, elves and half breeds, the party had never seen such a small proportion of humans in a “civilised” area. The party decided to push through to the market place, not quite avoiding the greedy hands of pick-pockets.
Trash and refuse was piled as high as houses down side-streets, most houses and stores on the main street were boarded up and stalls were empty. While there were lots of people moving around, the street was devoid of the usual mummers, performers, hawkers and merchants that were a common sight in Tyr, though there was no shortage of prostitutes of all races.
At certain points, they could hear fights echoing from side streets and even saw three well-dressed dwarves take down two uniformed men in the middle of the street.
Eventually they reached the market place, the only place so far that seemed to have open stalls. There seemed to be a riot occurring in the street running the circumference of the market as merchants sold bags of grain and barley to the highest bidder. One transaction ended poorly as a man had his throat slit by a woman just as coin and food exchanged hands.
The party decided to push onto the headquarters of House M’Ke in the Coins District. This side of town seemed less populated, but this could be due to the armed guards at every door. There were beggers moving from door to door, only to he shoved back by brawn. House M’Ke was guarded by two lackwit humans who barely tried to stop the official-looking group.
Rogil M’Ke was up in his office, hiding behind his desk which was unsurprising from what the party knew if this city. Rogil explained that he had already been shaken down for “protection money” from representatives of Mawab Shialha, Mawab Maarham and Mawab Urdon-Mur, the three most dominant Mawab (warlords) in Raam. To further foster a relationship with House M’Ke, the group agreed to have a discussion with the three warlords. After reading the note from his father, Rogil told them of Shiatri, an Offspring in Ghost City known for aiding the poor, and for being one the oldest still living.
The party made the small trip to outside the city walls, moving closer to the source of the black smoke. They noticed that the buildings here were black in top from the constant fall of soot. Eventually they came upon Ghost City, a town as big as Altaruk, yet entirely comprising of tanneries, abatoirs, brick works and a crematory, the source of the pungent black smoke. While less crowded than the city, beggars still lined the streets, on which there were always several carts piled with the dead headed towards the Crematory.
Shiatri wasn’t hard to find and sensing the party wanted to discuss things in private, she led the party to a small tavern/cave nearby. While only looking in her 30s, Shiatri was quite open about her century or so of life and remembered the Eye of Abalach-Re, or more how she avoided being one of the souls that powered it. Unsure of the motivations of the group, and with little faith in Nibenay, Shiatri initially declined to help them. Tiran managed to turn her opinion, claiming that any ruler is better than the one Raam has now, and the party were the path to a better ruler. Shiatri offered to accompany the party to the temple which housed the Eye of Abalache-Re. But first, to discover the temple’s location, Shiatri would have to meet with some her contacts, and establish some more sinister ones. She would meet with the party at noon the next day.
With Rogil’s “protection money” on their mind, the party moved directly south to one of the giant forts that rest outside of Raam, the residence of Mawab Maarham. There were four dozen dwarves going through military drills out the front, but the party were able to pass through the gates with no problem. Mawab Maarham received his visitors, though didn’t seem pleased about it. He admitted to demanding protection money from House M’ke and didn’t seem too happy about being confronted about it. Less happy when his honour was questioned. While he didn’t give the money back, he agreed to help the adventurers get the money back from Mawab Urdon-Mur. He also gave them a dozen dwarves for back-up and two men to guard Rogil M’ke from further requests of “protection money”.
The party wasted no time in heading over to the fort of Urdon-Mur, back past Fort Firstwatch. Leaving the dwarves at Fort Firstwatch (much to Truvo’s displeasure), the party continued on foot. Unlike Maarham’s fort, Fort Urdon-Mur was more of an egg shell that housed several large mansion on the floor with small buildings honeycombed up along the walls. Urdon-Mur was also happy to receive his guests and claimed no knowledge of any “protection money” racket, attributing the misunderstanding to some of the gangs under his sway in the lower district. As a show of good faith, Urdon-Mur gave the party 1000 bits (the party didn’t bother to correct him) and two men to help return the funds.
Distributing the funds appropriately, the party dined with Rogil M’ke before retiring to Fort Firstwatch for the night. At the crack of dawn, the party gathered at Fort Maarham to rouse some hungover dwarves. With help from sergents, the dwarves were soon in fighting formation and along with the party, marched quick pace towards Fort Shialha. It wasn’t long before they were spotted by elven nomads, who followed them all the way to the open-air fort of Mawab Shialha. Despite having two dozen dwarves in tow, the party were let into the compound. Shialha came out to meet them, but the party had no intention to negotiate.