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Leaving Shirazandam for Ashrunar

We picked up with the party at their hide-out at Ayeshi's. She thanked us for all the help we had rendered to her and then spent quite a bit of time drawing us a map of the interior of Al-Taram lands, showing us where the temple with the ring is at, and telling us more about Al-Taram and who we can safely contact within.

Regarding Al-Taram:

"You should keep in mind that the people of Al-Taram do not live in a world like hours. Their's is a world of fear and submission and their lives are lived out in a state of waiting for awfulness. The ruling class is headed by things that have not been human for so long that there is simply no humanity left in them. They do not look at humans and relate to them, they look at humans and see tools, resources, or food. When dealing with such things, it is important to walk a fine line between being not too threatening and yet not submissive. If they sense fear or you play the part of a victim, they will pounce. Perhaps not literally, unless you find yourself in private with them. Most abhor direct conflict and work through intermediaries - an immortal that finds itself in physical combat has already lost in the eyes of its contemporaries for it has lost control of the situation. I guess what I'm trying to say is, be careful, get what you need, and do not tarry there long enough for them to figure out how to use you against themselves or the Black Order.
    "The borders of those lands run east-west. The northern border is about a day's ride south of here and runs from Lake Dunar to where the River Bazeer parts from the River Ghabeeb, at the northern tip of the Duah Swamp. The southern border is wilder and marked by the fortress city of Andum - controlled by the Bleak Cabal. The eastern border is the River Ghabeeb and it is heavily patrolled by both sides just like the north."

Regarding help:

"While in Al-Taram you can seek a safe night's shelter by mentioning my name to Kareem, an old friend in the town of Salfeer (means the "West Fen"). If you travel by the high road of Aaneem, rather than the main road of Do Nehm, then you will pass through the villages of Shataah, Adfeer, and Raheem on your way to Al-Taram. in Shatah you can shelter with Arasheed, the town's ombudsman, who will not be questioned for hosting people from out of the village. If you leave early and travel fast by horse you can make it to Raheem before the next nightfall and shelter with a cousin of mine - her name is Seriba.
    I will be moving to rejoin the rest of my family in Khelin Zhagal, which is two days northeast of here along the main road. If you find yourselves in these lands again and in need of help, you can find me there."

Regarding finding the temple where the Ring of Ghaneshah:

"Here is its rough location, but it is in wild lands and you will need more details. There is a merchant who sells manuscripts in Ashrunar named Taq who can give you better directions. You should travel there off-road. Patrols of the Order may question why foreigners are traveling to such an out-of-the-way place.
    "If you choose to take a short-cut and enter the lands of the Bleak Cabal from the temple you can avoid patrols of the Order and welcoming parties of the Cabal, but you will travel through wild lands inhabited by the Cabal's discarded children as you travel west-southwest towards Al-Taram."

Wealth from the assassination of Alad Adeeb was split up, equaling 1,333gp in gems and 40gp. Anya kept the boots of spider-climb. Lazarus kept the +1 amulet of natural armor that resembled a stone nut with a slight blue glow emanating within. Teagan took the swift shortsword +1.

The party departed the next morning without any trouble at the gate and headed east towards Ashrunar to find the merchant Taq and arrived a day-and-a-half later in the afternoon. Ashrunar is a heavily fortified town of 2000 inhabitants. Roughly 4000 military personnel work in and around the city. After inquiries at a public drinking house they located Taq the following morning at the public market. There was opportunity to purchase manuscripts from Taq. If there is some kind of general knowledge you'd like, perhaps in interest of advancing profession, craft, or knowledge skills that you haven't exercised recently, you could have bought such things from him. Anya inquired of a language, speaking something you had not heard the like of before to him, and he grew cautious and said that yes he could help her with this language, but that she would have to meet him later in his village, an hour's ride north from Ashrunar. Lazarus inquired about the temple without mentioning the ring and Taq agreed that such things were also best discussed elsewhere. Anya and Lazarus went to have dinner with Taq that night. Anya returned with a large scroll case and Lazarus returned with the whereabouts of the Temple of Fa'al and shared what Taq had said.

Regarding the Temple of Fa'al:

"In Bethdezran it's name is the Temple of Living Blood, but this is a poor translation. It is an ancient holy place where the spirit of Zhakrin gifted his people with the "mystery of the blood," holy secrets of the body and life. This was before the Bleak Cabal parted from the Black Order, so it is a place holy to both. No one goes there anymore though. It is inhabited by undead monsters like giants and as long as neither side possesses the place they are both content to leave the undead there to protect it from despoilers. Also, there is a witch that lives nearby who visits the place regularly. She is said to be hostile to any who go there and based on the stories I've heard you should avoid exploring the place while she is there. Some stories say that she has hoofed feet and eats the flesh of the undead there. You should travel off-road to get there, patrols from either side will question what foreigners are doing poking about in those lands."

The party left Ashrunar and headed east, following the directions provided by Taq. The sky was overcast and the forest deep, so when night fell it was impossible to see, but they slept without a fire to avoid notice by patrols. Still, a deadly troll-like thing found the party early in the night. It and the things that spawned from its severed limbs were slain. A little healing was done and then the party made a hasty departure to deeper into the woods at the sound of a hunting horn from the direction of the road.