As rose fingered dawn starts to appear, Cassio of Padiha and Patch are on the last watch, and watch with curiosity as Selii rises quietly and walks away from the campsite. Cassio meets her and he quizzes her as to where she is away to; her response is that she likes to sit at the large fountain nearby and talk to her friend, and unsurprisingly Cassio assumes this to be one of her “friends” and thinks no more on it. The others rise, with Bucephala Clangula first up to greet the sun as it rises. He notes the curious old woman speaking to the largest fountain and wanders over, but all he sees in the waters is the reflection of the old lady. The old lady tells him that the various pools in the temple have other friends in them, but that her favourite is the young woman who is in the biggest one, whose clothes change with the colour of the seasons and whose smile alone is like the first light hitting the waves in a summers morning.
Meanwhile, with the others something that has been simmering for the last week boils over as humorous jests at the expense of the Altai pair of Czerlai and especially szletko reach a tipping point. Some months previously, the pair had enjoyed a night of carnal passion with the Turlavaynian body servant Dyminiqua whilst in the Great Range and the Altai Plains, and since then bedding habits (and indeed sexual preferences) of the Altai had been speculated over by party members like Cassio and Abbas Jalil from time to time; matters had almost reached blows on the ship some days before but Karragas had forbidden duelling aboard his ship, and since then it had been thought the matter had blown over, but one unfortunate jest too far pushes Szletko past his breaking point, and he throws down a challenge of a duel to the next person to offer him insult. Patch and Solimara had sat down to watch events proceed from a comfortable point, and when Szletko uttered an unwitting (and unfortunate) innuendo loaded threat about taking his sword to next man who said anything, Patch was forced to stifle a giggle, with Solimara covering his mouth. Szletko decides that this merits a challenge, and promptly challenges him to a duel to the death. Even despite a (grudging) apology from Patch, Szletko would not be moved, and soon an uncomfortable scene develops as the pair face off against one another. Patch allows Szletko to prepare his spells and whatever he needs to, and as he does so Solimara warns the group that should this go ahead matters will not be reversible and her and her partner shall leave the group.
Undeterred, Szletko steps in and swings a mighty and precise blow with his axe, and inexplicably Patch moves slightly and steps aside, with his daggers still at his side. At the same time, The Odd Topaz Stone around Czerlai’s neck starts to glow warm against his chest, and a curious topaz blue coloured light starts in the eyes of Patch, who now no longer smiles and is emitting a much more ominous and alarming manner about himself. Solimara pleads with Patch to allow no bloodshed “in the Lady’s house, for she shall not like that”, whilst Czerlai (whose chest is hurting now from the scalding heat of the stone) tries to persuade Szletko to let it go.
Abruptly, Patch turns and stalks away, showing his back to the Altai. Szletko follows to continue the matter (to call it a duel now seems curiously inappropriate), but loses him at the first corner they come to. Meanwhile, Solimara speaks to the group who remain, advising that it is a shame their time together is over, and that perhaps she can cheer Patch up and lighten his mood over the next few decades or so. By the way she speaks and the manner about her now, she is, like Patch, obviously more than she seems. Bucephala asks who they are, and all she replies is that he has an idea who they are, and after advising that her friend holds a grudge like few people, fades from view before their very eyes. Before this point, Czerlai has left to find bananas (to act as trade goods for the peoples of the Wyrm Peaks) and is followed out by Abbas. Szletko comes back minus Patch, and decides that scouting for the bananas with Cassio, Selii and Taturii Asamakiiro may be of some use. Bucephala, still musing on what he has seen or heard in this action packed morning, decides to spend some time reading over his religious texts and reflecting.
Czerlai and Abbas find no bananas, but they do find a great overgrown park with a large blasted crater about 500 metres across in the centre. In the centre lies the titanic skeletal remains of what can only be a dragon, measuring over 250 metres from nose to tail; the area sparkles with the coppery brass remains of thousands of large metal like plates, the scales of the dragon. The sight takes their breath away and shakes even the doughty Altai’ heart. They decide to forgo the bananas and head back to the ruined temple. At this point Czerlai notes that the stone that had been causing him discomfort is no longer on the chain and has vanished, much to his annoyance. Elsewhere, Szletko and the others head along the coast to where the supposedly ghoul infested banana trees actually are, but they turn back when they hear orcish voices conversing with the ghouls; Selii tells them that about twice a season Orc pirates (sometimes accompanied by human ones) trade with the ghouls, offering human slaves in exchange for looted treasures of the Veliccan ruins.
During all this, Bucephalas ruminations are interrupted by Karragus and some crew, off on their way to acquire good wood to effect repairs on the ship. The Minotaur and his men advise they are going along the coast to find some good lumber and that they shall be back before too long. After this, the Ateliketian chances upon something he half remembered that seemed pertinent to current events; that one of the forms adopted by the Trickster god Loksan is as a handsome young man with untidy dark hair and shockingly blue topaz eyes, and that he is almost always accompanied by his friend, lover and cohort Ba’Ath the Moon Goddess… It now all seems to fit, and Bucephala realises that for whatever reason and to whatever end, their little group was accompanied for a time by the 2 mercurial and whimsy prone deities; also, that Szletko picked a fight with the more powerful and vengeful of the two.
The other 2 groups return to advise of their different discoveries, and soon all know each others news. Sobering stuff, with each new addition seeming to deepen the mood of confusion and anxiety. They decide to head back to the ship, and Cassio and Taturri head to warn Karragas and his crew. Once warned and back on the comparative safety of the ship, they all decide what to do, with nobody comfortable with the idea of leaving human slaves to the horrific charge of either Orc pirate or Ghoulish monster, and after much musing, they decide to send a small scouting team to see how many orcish pirates are present; too many and the ship may have to flee early to the Wyrm Peaks, but if it is but one ship, it can be taken with clever planning and bold action.
Czerlai and Taturri are (now) the most stealthy members of the party and so they head off quietly, movig about half an hour through forest and jungle up onto the rocky ruined promontory overlooking a bay where the orcs are likely to be. Sure enough, they see a single Orcish galley sat at anchor about 60 metres from the shore, and they also see a band of heavily armed orcs with some human slaves on the shore, obviously parleying with something in the trees. A quick count spies about 6 human traitors and near on 40 Orcish pirates, with the large and forbidding captain on the shore doing the negotiations. A pair of rowboats slowly ferry human prisoners from the galley to shore. Seeing enough, the pair head back to the party and relay the news. It is promptly decided that an attack is not just feasible, it is also desirable, and so plans start being made; more heroics and bravery is in the offing no doubt, and at least this matter is enough to divert their minds from the other issues before them…