As the party returns to the mayor to report on their adventures, Kizzy becomes quite angry, remembering the reference to him in the letter they found. She angrily confronts him and demands the party strip him of his clothing in search of the Sihedron rune. The mayor is understandably unhappy about this, but Kizzy manages to sweet talk him into letting things go. He invites the party to a feast and rewards them each with 6 000 gold, then asks them for another favor. It turns out that the soldiers stationed at Fort Rannick have not checked in for a long time — even for them. He offers another reward if the party is willing to check in on them. The party agrees — except for Pam, who decides that she needs to remain, commit to her training, and care for North. Kizzy is particularly dismayed by this turn of events, but as everyone bids Pam and North goodbye, the goblin manages a few garbled words of farewell to her.
The mayor mentions that a ranger named Shalelu is heading the same direction as them, and would be willing to accompany the party on their task. They accept gratefully, and after some shopping, they set off.
A week on horseback brings the party to Turtleback Ferry, where Skull River opens to Claybottom Lake. No one responds favorably to the inquiries after the guard at Fort Rannick, which is a half day’s journey away, and in spite of Kizzy’s objections, the party decides to rest the night.Fox settles in to gamble. He finds no shortage of willing partners, as the barge Paradise’s sinking has left the town’s inhabitants remarkably short of entertainment. He also finds a not-too-attractive companion for the night.
Meanwhile, Shalelu, Kizzy, Araemita, and Tasslehoff have set off in search of further information, Araemita cheerfully swigging from a bottle of whiskey. They learn that some local fishermen have recently been eaten by Pinkeye the Gar, that the Paradise’s sinking is a relief to some (who do not approve of its owner, the “strumpet Lucretia”), and that one man’s uncle seems to bear a strange star shaped tattoo. In fact, the man informs them, many townsfolk have the strange tattoos, but they keep them well hidden — an easy task with the fall weather.
The party also learns of strange lights across the lake in the Shimmerglens — almost as if people holding lanterns were dancing over there, not all the time, but often with the dawn. Thoroughly perplexed, the party retires for the night with intentions of heading to Fort Rannick in the morning.