The party makes its way across the desert, lead by Hilk before encountering a scene of gore: body parts strewn about the scrub land. Investigating, they are suddenly surprised by a clutch of ankhegs touched by a black disease. The party defeats their enemies, but Willicae is infected by a disease they will come to know as the Black Burn. A cry leads them to a lone survivor of the massacre — a desert dog with an ever-changing coat that forms patterns of power. The dog follows the party, picking Willicae as its new master.
The companions arrive at Restwell Keep and make their way to The Bastion. They wander the streets, their uniforms drawing disdainful glances. The follow directions to the Bastion, where they are introduced to Bikwik. Following Bikwik, the group travels to the Old Bailey, only to be confronted by The Duke, Nickle Copper, and Under a Rock — members of the Red Band who are the de facto law in this place. Unable to bear the insults lobbied their way by the men and their captain, Blackoak, Codren retaliates and challenges them. With a bet on the line, the party subtly assist Codren in his fight against Nickle Copper, fending off an attempt by their foes to take their winnings ahead of time.
Reaching the Old Bailey, the group meets Hest the Palaverer who gives them a lead on the drought affecting the countryside: an item of great magic created by Voran Earthmane that creates damp, fertile earth, located within an abandoned tower. The party leaves, but Hest asks Inferno to stay behind for a private conference, which Codren attempts to listen in on.
Before heading to the tower ruins, Willicae stops at an herbalist, the old woman Thistle. Thistle provides a slight relief for the disease but informs the party she cannot hope to cure him without rare herbs; the rival merchants Bosco and Grelda are one possible avenue to acquire them.
The party leaves the Keep and reaches the tower where they encounter a group of bullywugs on decayed ground floor. They succeed at dispatching the mud-covered bullywugs, and find a gleaming scimitar in the ground, as well as a trap door leading down to the tower’s heart…