Stocking up on Veiled Alliance potion-fruits, the party sent Karas back to his family's villa to find out what happened to Raina. An ongoing templar investigation was continuing, but it seemed that he was not currently wanted - there had been no witnesses to the fight left alive.
His aunt was overjoyed to see him alive, and after questioning revealed that it had been Asha's idea to keep the group in the entertainment room for the templars to attack. Upon asking around the slave quarters for the mul, Karas discovered that Asha had taken off with Raina after a fight, and the templars had let him fight.
Only to happy to aid a noble devotee of democracy, the templars explained that Asha had been helping them with their investigation, and had been allowed to leave after the villa upon the request of Mister Veyne.
Meanwhile, Pik asked Zaethus and Baristophocles about the weird green demon-face that he'd seen around - where the crystal skull had been stored, at the oracle's cave, worn by Venticles Veyne. The VA didn't have extensive records, but could inform the druid that the design was an icon of the lost city-state of Yaramuke, destroyed by Urik centuries ago. Very little was known of it anymore, as the sorcerer-kings besides Hamanu didn't want the common people to know that it's destruction ever happened.
The party headed off to the Veyne ludus to rescue Ungarth and Unbreth's tribe-mates in the morning, leaving Rhona at the VA headquarters and bypassing templar patrols who were still looking for a group with a bear - again, no one that witnessed the bear wearing the Hat-Of-Disguise-For-Bears survived the fight at the villa, so to all witnesses it was a simple panther that was walking beside Pik.
A jaunt through the slave-worked and crucifixion-decorated fields surrounding the city took them to the hill where the ludus was hidden away. The doors were unlocked, and no one was home. Descending to the underground slave pens revealed all the cells to be empty, but a gibbering noise led the party upwards again, to the practice arena.
Raina had been staked out to be eaten by a group of howling ghouls.
Our heroes launched themselves to the rescue, and Raina was back among them again. As the last of the ghouls was pummeled and stabbed, Asha's disappointed voice shouted down to them from the balcony. He was joined by a member of Ungarth and Unbreth's race, a scarred barbarian called Unthrik.
Unthrik invited the pair to join him, for as an ally of the Veyne family the tribe would be in a position to inherit greta power from the subjugation of the Tablelands. He would hear none of the protests that his words were insane, or that his plan to conquer Tyr in the wake of Urik's invasion was ludicrous. He could confirm that the rest of tribe had headed back to their home to await the signal from the Veynes to act, but was not privy to the intricate details of when or what these acts may be.
Frustrated by his kinsmen's refusal to join him, Unthrik charged down to fight them after first throwing a lever. Asha joined him in the arena, as did two brohgs - four-armed giants with a penchant for throwin' rocks.
It soon became apparant that Unthrik had activated the arena's training mechanisms, but it was to be to his own detriment: the party threw the barbarian back into a boulder that exploded into shards, and one of the brohgs managed to stumble into a mantrap.
Still, the fighting was fierce, the brohgs bombarding the party with stones while our heroes tried to keep Asha and Unthrik pinned down, druid-summoned beasts merely adding to the confusion.
Despite his best attempts to evade her and kill her friends first, Asha was finally cornered by Raina and battered to death. Unthrik attempted to cover his escape by triggering a blinding powder bomb, but was blinded himself, swinging wildly with his axe as Ungarth knocked him unconscious. There were still more words to be said.
Laurence J Sinclair