As dusk falls on Stormreach, lights flicker around the twelve vision circles scattered around the town. These small rings of standing stones throw up silent images at irregular intervals – a strange phenomenon that the locals have come to accept and ignore over the decades. Tonight, though, they all come alive at once, showing an image of the Elemental Chaos. Then static cycles through the rings, faster and faster, the image coming back brighter and brighter as it passes, until suddenly a bolt of lightning erupts from a cloudless sky to strike the westernmost ring in the Oldgate district…
…and when the glare fades, the heroes who were lost in the Elemental Chaos (Rufus, Sláine, Kaddik and Caleb, along with the genasi Janda-Shen) are standing in the ring, back in the mortal world once again.
Splitting up, Kaddik and Caleb head back to their rooms at the Black Wrack, where Kaddik finds a note from Durgran’Torrn saying that he will come to the tavern to meet with them tomorrow. Caleb slips out to meet with Jaris Cantar, who berates him for letting the Key of Eleven be destroyed when the White Oubliette collapsed. Still, he pays him for his work, and tells Caleb to keep tabs on Janda-Shen, who may be key to accessing the power of the Elemental Chaos – and on Ballast, since the signet ring he’s trying to sell is apparently connected to the Cantar family.
Meanwhile, Rufus heads off on his own, and Sláine and Janda-Shen go to Respite, after they obtain a hooded cloak to disguise the genasi and her crystalline hair. They tell Master Áedan what happened, and the monks consider the possibility of relocating to Dannel’s Pride to protect the local Cyrans from the Storm Hammers. And while all this goes on, Spark – having lost Ballast, but witnessed the light display over the vision circles – attempts to find out what happened and where his allies have vanished to.
The next day, Kaddik goes to meet the gnome Valexa Von Ruthven, positing the idea of her sponsoring an expedition into the depths of Xen’drik – which is primarily a ploy to help him learn about the House Tharashk outpost where his master is apparently being held. Valexa is dubious, and asks for more details about the expedition’s purpose and destination, but does show him a map of the continent, where he finds the location of the prospector’s supply outpost Zantashk, 1000 miles to the south-east.
Meanwhile, Caleb investigates the vision circle in which they materialised the previous night, only to find it guarded by the Ninth Wands, an Aundairian military unit that has set itself up as one of Stormreach’s ethnic/cultural militias. He doesn’t, however, realise that the leader of the guards is Tyrnan Thiel, who rescued Spark from danger the previous day.
Eventually the team meets up at the Black Wrack, where they fill each other in on what’s transpired and discuss what to do next. That conversation is cut short as the bomb explodes, the tavern erupts into flames, and Sinruth and a cadre of Liondrake’s Roar mercenaries attack them while loudly claiming to be members of the Storm Hammers. The battle is dangerous and difficult, and the heroes barely manage to defeat the mercenaries, before escaping the burning tavern by the skin of their teeth, and with a prisoner to question. The captured mercenary admits that he was hired to flesh out the Roar’s ranks and told to talk about the Storm Hammers in earshot of witnesses – and that the note from Durgran’Torrn was a fake meant to lure the heroes to the tavern. As the Black Wrack collapses in flames, Ballast arrives on the scene, and the heroes contemplate what to do next…