An expedition led by Vorelixen is dispatched to a grove west of Balic to recover bundles of “Pride of Balic”, the state flower necessary for the Festival of the Cooling Sun parade. Along the way, they encounter a mysterious ruin that by all accounts should not be there. Coming upon it to investigate, Vorelixen can hear a mage of some sort incanting a ritual to summon a powerful elemental spirit intentionally leaving out any sort of binding clause. The expedition’s combatants assault the wizard, his elemental minions, and his hired swords. Though they are successful, the former silt sailor Samm is severely wounded. Investigating the ruins turns up an oval piece of obsidian embedded in to the stonework about 8 feet long and 4 feet wide, which calls out to the group’s arcane inclined. Ro, the slave giant, obscures the entire stone floor with a couple feet of hastily shoveled sand.
The expedition arrives at the grove and harvests the flowers, but finds themselves dozing off and experiencing horrible nightmares. They’re awoken by Ro’s scream, and discover him mummified overnight. With a little research, they realize that they must have encountered a Thrax, and deduce someone in the party is actually the one responsible. They assemble a litter from tent poles and canvas to carry the load Ro had shouldered, and set off with the hope of reaching Balic in time and solving their Thrax issues. When Nanee the handmaiden is found in similar shape a night later, the party of Samm, Vorelixen, Althaea, and Rikard deduce that Verdan, one of the dwarf twins, is actually a fledgling Thrax. They slay him and his summoned minions with ease, and arrive at Balic just in time.
They take some time to enjoy the parade, checking out caged drakes, foreign flora, the political scene, and the gladiatorial arena. Meeting back up, they are surprised to find there’s a terrorist attack occurring with robed and masked men releasing the drakes, setting buildings aflame, and opening summoning circles. Samm rescues a family from a burning building while Althaea distracts and disposes of drakes running amok. Samm is able to recruit some gladiators to help disrupt a summoning ritual with Vorelixen, and soon the entire group is fighting off the defiler in the streets. Before long, the Rage Drake that Althaea tricked in to falling through a sewer grate appears to have freed itself and joins the fray, but the group successfully puts it down.