After ten days at sea, the House Tharashk supply ship returns to Stormreach, laden with the former residents of Zantashk, the gnoll troops of the Liondrake’s Roar, some drow warriors and assorted adventurers. Kaddik has spent his time at sea training with his mentor Marik’aashta, Spark has been learning the history of the giants from Shinra, and Rufus has been seasick. But at last they are returned, and as the ship docks they head down the gangplank.
Meanwhile, Sláine and Caleb head for the docks, eager to see their compatriots and fill them in on the explosive events of the last week that have left Master Áedan near death and much of the southern rim of Stormreach in flames.
As the two groups begin to converge at the waterfront, something seems amiss – until the silence is broken by a horned, red-skinned humanoid bursting from an alleyway, warning them that it’s a trap. Suddenly the various dockworkers, sailors and stall-owners on the scene throw off their coats and cloaks to reveal heavy armour, spiked flails and surcoats bearing the device of a twisted green hand. As one they scream ‘FOR THE CLAW!’ and attack!
Outnumbered three-to-one, the adventurers fight desperately to survive, aided only by their new teifling ally. The Emerald Claw warriors pin them down with flaming arrows, setting part of the docks alight; heavy infantrymen and troopers batter them with terrible coordinated blows while a swordsman blazes around the docks like a streak of murderous flame. The heroes fight well at the beginning, but the weight of sheer numbers takes its toll, and soon they begin to fall. Eventually only Kaddik and Spark are left standing, but when all seems lost, Caleb recovers and manages to rouse the others, turning the tide. A single archer escapes the scene, and the heroes manage to knock out and capture the leader of the fanatics before he can take his own life.
Exhausted and spent, the adventurers have no time to recover before more warriors arrive – from the Iron Watch, Stormreach’s elite warforged army, come from the fighting in the south to respond to this emergency. Their leader, Ironjack, advises the adventurers to escort the refugees to the House Tharashk Refinery, where they should find shelter – but to be careful, as the refinery lies close to the region where the mad Storm Hammers are terrorising the city. They make their way to the refinery, bringing the tiefling (who finally introduces himself as Ash’uk Caarn, or Ash for short), and seeing signs of continued violence in the streets.
At the refinery, they are greeted by Viceroy Kurn d’Velderan, who agrees to house the villagers, gnolls and drow until better shelter can be found. As Sláine leaves to check on her master, accompanied by Ash, Kurn takes Kaddik and Marik’aashta aside – whereupon Marik reveals himself to be a spymaster of the Tusks, House Tharashk’s secret intelligence group, and that Kaddik is a spy in training. Marik knows much of the fell taint creatures that the Storm Hammers use as weapons, and perhaps how to defeat them – even if Kaddik’s companions must be sacrificed in the process…