Stranded in the village of Zantashk and besieged by gnolls and drow, the adventurers – Spark, Ballast, Kaddick and Rufus – scope out the inn/trading post in which they and the other survivors are taking shelter, while attempting to size up their erstwhile allies, village reeve Duuth Velderan and the adventurers known as the Red Nails. Ballast explores the inn’s cellar to find a locked door and a strange chemical smell, while Kaddick starts asking the villagers and inn staff if they have seen his missing mentor Marik. A servant girl recalls seeing him with the gnolls that arrived a few weeks back, but not since the gnolls rounded up some of the villagers and local prospectors and took them into the jungle a couple of days ago.
Further investigation is sidelined by a sound in the inn’s chimneys, followed by lithe drow, a lizard creature and a sackful of scorpions tumbling out into the cold fireplaces and immediately attacking. The heroes fight off the invaders on the ground floor while the Red Nails and their hirelings take care of a second force on the first floor. The drow are fanatical, screaming in the Giant tongue that they are prepared to die to rescue the souls of their tribe, which no-one in the team understands.
Wounded but undaunted by the fighting, the heroes regroup, and Ballast decides on a sick plan – to arrange the bodies of the dead drow and some broken furniture into a macabre ‘tea party’ that would demoralise the remaining drow forces. He convinces Garrett and Pike to help him in this; as soon as the three step outside, Kaddick and Spark slam Duuth into a wall and demand an explanation as for why the drow and gnolls are attacking. The terrified reeve tries to dissemble, but finally admits that the gnolls had ‘got out of hand’ and he was trying to get rid of them. Before he can say more, Venna and some of Duuth’s henchmen demand that they let him go and explain themselves.
Meanwhile, outside, Ballast needles and pushes Garrett and Pike as they assemble the grim tablueax, until they are spotted and attacked by a small party of gnolls. The Nails attempt to leave Ballast outside to be killed, but he battles and defeats Pike as the gnolls mob the inn’s door. Soon chaos erupts as those inside attempt to push the gnolls out, but Ballast brings up the rear to push them inside and force a confrontation. When Kaddick orders the wounded gnolls to surrender, as they are Liondrake’s Roar troops, the gnolls become enraged; they draw back, but demand the heroes surrender themselves in ten minutes or be wiped out. To make matters worse, a furious Ballast then attacks Garrett, only to be incapacitated by Venna’s magic.
Now tensions are high, confusion is rife, swords and bows are pointed at erstwhile enemies, and the threats outside grow ever closer…