The caravan approached the gate with their skiffs – Brick lying unconscious on the middle one, trying to fight off the blinding sickness he contracted after their battle with the Tsalaxa guards – and joined the line of merchants and travelers waiting to enter Tyr. The line was slow-moving, and by the the party was approaching the gate they could see why: there was a group of templars at the gate, apparently taking the name of each person to enter, and collecting taxes from those bringing in cargo. Traven and Thoradin conferred, and decided that they didn’t want to declare their cargo. Traven spent the rest of the time coaching Lamont, and when they arrived at the gate Lamont asked to see the templars’ commanding officer. After a short delay, the commander showed up and he and Lamont had a quiet conversation. Lamont offered the commander a deal: allow them to enter without declaring their cargo, forego the normal taxes, and they’d pay the templar detail directly instead. Thankfully, this particular captain was more greedy than loyal, and he accepted the deal. They paid him a hefty sum in sticks, with a bonus in ancient copper and silver coins, and were waved through the gate and into the city of Tyr.
The winding path of Caravan Way led them to Iron Square, where the trade houses had their offices. They found the Wavir office, and Lamont entered to find Rhotan Vor. Lamont spent a few minutes examining the room – walls covered in shelves, holding all manner of trade samples on display, before noticing the well-dressed mul behind a counter at the back of the main room. He inquired after Rhotan, and the secretary soon returned with him in tow. Rhotan was surprised to see them so soon, but excited that they’d managed to secure the treasure and his skiffs. He had them bring the skiffs around into the alley, where a large gate opened into the walled courtyard behind the trade office. With the skiffs and the treasure safely behind the Wavir compound walls, Rhotan told them that he had several other potential opportunites that he thought they could help with, if they were looking for work.
The party discussed finding a space to rent as an office and base of operations in Tyr. They decided to look for a space in the caravan district, to be near the convergence of the noble district and the warrens, and near the main gates. After a few days of searching, they found a suitable space – a room facing the street, just large enough to open a small tavern, with additional rooms for an office / study, a barracks with space for ten simple beds, and one last room that they planned to convert to a vault. Another few days saw the spaces outfitted with basic but functional furniture, and the vault walls and door reinforced. They hired two serving staff for the tavern, and two guards to keep watch over the place, particularly the vault. Traven met with the templars’ gate captain again, to tell him that their newly opened tavern would give a 10% discount to the templars who worked the gates, as an offer of goodwill.
After moving their remaining treasure into the vault, they began to look for contacts in town. The proprietor of the best-known tavern in the caravan district (The Golden Inix), a pompous half-elf named Rowan, spent several hours telling exceedingly boring tales to Traven and giving him advice on how to run the bar, but Traven felt he would be a good contact in the future as long as they could keep him convinced that they were suitably impressed with his stories and experience. They also investigated a well-known weapon shop on Caravan Way, Grik’s Weaponry. Run by a very large mul named, unsurprisingly, Grik, the shop sold all manner of weapons, but with a particular preference for the showy and flashy. Grik seemed to cater to the city’s gladiators, being an ex-champion himself. They set up an appointment to view his “special stock”, and discovered that he had a small cache of iron-bladed weapons in very old styles – Traven bought himself an iron longsword for an exorbitant fee. They sold two of the weapons from the Madar Vault to Grik as well, to offset the cost of the iron blade.
Finally, they met with Rhotan again, to discuss his other leads. He laid out four rumors that had crossed his path lately. First, one of Rhotan’s contacts reported seeing a mostly-intact tower high in the mountain range that splits the Forest Ridge, east of the Crystal Forest and southwest of Tyr. It was his opinion that if it was as intact as his contact claimed, it was worth exploring. Second, There was a building at the center of a part of Under-Tyr called The Sorrows which had never been breached. No one knew what it contained, but it was rumored to be the crypt or house of some ancient noble family. Third, the ruins of the city of Arkhold on the edges of the Silt Sea, far beyond Balic, were supposed to hold vast wealth, and their remote location meant that they were largely unexplored by treasure hunters. Last, and most risky, The Temple of the Sky Serpent deep in the Forest Ridge had been explored by many groups over the years, finding only endless winding tunnels. But when the moons aligned in a certain way above the temple, snake-men poured out through greenish portals to perform strange rituals. None who tried to enter the during the alignment had ever managed to return, but it was Rhotan’s feeling that the snakemen who issued forth from the temple must come from somewhere, and that place may well have vast wealth – possibly even abundant metal or water. After some deliberation, they decided that the tower to the southwest would be the best combination of accessible and lucrative.