Our heroes return to Arafel to find the following state of affairs:
- The Elven Federation has largely withdrawn from Arafel to face the Unconquered Sun.
- The violent offenders who escaped from Xanith Prison Island during the riot, which is totally nobody’s fault and probably still justifiable anyway, have begun moving into the abandoned Elven Quarter.
- The dwarves blame the gnomes for the prison break, which is totally unjustified, because there was absolutely no evidence of that whatsoever, and a lot of interracial garbage has started up again.
- The Termites have reemerged with Abbas Shivin as a sort of folk hero among the gnomes.
- The Mountainborn are doing just fine.
Jasper trails some miscreant dwarves back to their hideout to find them in the employ of another Abbas Shivin impersonator, inferring that the goal is to strengthen the Termites’ political position by exacerbating racial tensions.
He captures the gnome terrorist and then interrogates him with Dōmr’ and Faziad’s assistance, and learns of a meeting place.
Jasper then contacts Marina Tragalos, one of the remaining voices of sanity in the city, and shares his information with her. With a combination of gnome assassins and Tragalos guards, they capture five more Shivins.
The dwarves take three for questioning and the gnomes take two.
Jasper also begins encouraging the migration first of the Assassin Clans and then of the gnomish people in general upward into the Elven Quarter, in an attempt to give the gnomes an above-ground existence and to control the violence and chaos of the escapees from Xanith Prison. He has Faziad il Rabin and the nephthani (halflings) handle the paperwork to make the take-over of the abandoned real estate legitimate and legal.
using the Crown and The Sword of Storms as well as information provided by the gnomes, our heroes (sans Kiran, who is in Radhna with her kin) journey south to Lamia to hopefully recover the Orb of Stone.
On their way there, the heroes must stop to resupply and rest in the iblis city of Masana, and catch a gnomish caravan into jinn territory. Once there, they learn that the Caliph has been poisoned and that the iblis (dragonkin) are on the verge of a civil war between the more secular and religious elements.
Jasper appeals to the gnomic healers in Masana, pointing out that as awful as the caliph was, the caliphate was the only thing preventing outright fundamentalist rule of the iblis. However, the caliph had ordered several pogroms against the gnomes of Masana, so their general response was “screw that guy, we’ll see how the next ruler shakes out, and if necessary we’ll retreat to somewhere more gnome-friendly.”
The caliph died and the iblis degenerated into civil war. Our heroes went south with the caravan, with Dōmr bullying his way past the city gates that were supposed to be sealed with the caliph’s death. The iblis guards offered some pursuit, but some illusion magic covered their escape.
After further confusing and evading an unrelated military engamenent between iblis and jinn forces, our heroes reached a larger jinn outpost, and after enjoying their hospitality for a while, managed to finagle permission to approach the Forbidden City, using Firoz the Deceiver as a precedent.