Returning from the ancient library and descending from the mining town of Daneel, members of the Tiefling underground Rau and Ravana (having left their compatriot with the monks of the Temple of the Forgotten Sun) seek passage back towards Sorica. With little of their traveling expenses left, they barter passage on a Darfellan cargo ship seeking to return the tome they acquired to their employer once home. Their hopes are dashed as the crew of the ship scatters when a sea drake attacks and Rau and Ravana are forced to fight the beast, along with the Flind Gnoll traveler, Porthos. After a valiant effort, and the destruction of the ship, our heroes are swallowed, electrocuted, crushed by pressure, and chewed to their demise.
Upon their subsequent deaths, the heroes awaken in a deserted tower, surrounded by an immense clouded desert. With only a hazy recollection of their pasts, and complete confusion regarding their shared dream/experience, the adventurers are at a loss to explain their predicament. A flock of inscrutable ravens does nothing to feed their curiosity.
Rau discovered a rusty rapier, Ravana, a frayed belt of rope, Porthos, a copper armband oxidized to a pale green, and each was clad in simple rags with no other possessions.
Porthos, taking the form of a bird, flies above the clouds of dust that obscure this ash-like wasteland. Finding the desert a vast pit, protected on all sides by tall mountains and sheer cliffs, he descends to the ground finding himself lost. Seeking to blow away the haze by summoning forth wind, he succeeds in only billowing up more of the fine grained sand, choking himself and the surrounding area with a dense cloud.
After a futile search of the area, along with a brief encounter with moving, aggressive, and poisonous Ironthorns, the Rau and Ravanasearch for Porthos and are able to seek him out by the plume of sand he has created. By this time night falls and the group seeks to turn back towards the tower at dusk, yet they find themselves lost. As they wander in search of the tower they spot a distant, flickering light and begin to approach cautiously….