Eldur mentions that a small group of marauders is troubling the farmers at the edge of the fertile lands and Vitur asks him to report this to Derek as well, which Eldur does. He then goes to have dinner with Yeesha and they both visit a concert.
Nvidia has started her day with a visit to the bathhouse and then she decides to look at the spider everyone is telling her about. The corpse is displayed at the library, where she meets Retro. She is thrilled when she finds out that he knows a lot of legends and stories, but less thrilled when he makes her pay to hear some. But it’s a good story, about a human building in the mountains north of the city that no-one has ever dared to enter so far. The story even comes with a map. He then asks her if she ever heard anything out sand worms (she makes up a good story on the spot) and tells her that he would pay handsomely for any proof that they exist. He does have a badly burned and damaged page from a human book that talks about them, but he’d love to confirm it.
She makes a stop at the King’s Head, where she swaps stories with other adventurers and gets to meet Beringar, who admits that he’s impressed by her vehicle. Coming from Beringar, that’s saying something. After two beers and a snack, she goes to visit the concert as well. The storeroom where it takes place is too small for all the people in it, it’s loud and hot, but the music makes up for it. But after a while, she has to come up for fresh air and she runs into Eldur, who asks her to meet him in the morning. She agrees and they both continue to enjoy the evening.
A slight hangover doesn’t affect Nvidia’s sense of business in the morning and they bicker for a while until they agree on her payment for taking Eldur to Taliss. It doesn’t take them long to prepare for the journey and they leave around midday. It’s the first time either of them has crossed the bridge: a decidedly flimsy looking suspension bridge that spans the canyon. But it’s sturdy enough for loaded ox-carts, so Nvidia’s lightweight sand yacht is not a problem. Eldur prefers to make the journey with his eyes closed and hidden under his hood, though, he is not fond of heights.
As long as the landscape is still the flat desert that surrounds Tavor, they make extremely good time and after a day, they have covered about half of the distance. But now they are among grassy hills and the sand yacht cannot go as fast there. They settle down for the night, keeping watch – they both have no idea what to expect out here. In the middle of the night, Nvidia hears loud breathing and rustling, right next to the tent they pitched on the yacht. She wakes Eldur and eventually they take a look outside the tent, armed with a shotgun. In the light Eldur’s ring produces they see nothing at all, but the breathing is still there, as loud as ever, coming from the ground. Nvidia jumps out of the yacht and faces a small, spiny creature that investigates the ground under the yacht for anything tasty. It trundles off, disturbed by the light, and they go to sleep again.
Another day and night passes without much happening, except that Eldur and Nvidia compare myths about their races (no, Mada don’t turn to stone when they die and Cerbora don’t jump into the fire when they get old). The landscape turns into rocky hills, with sparse shrubs here and there and small red-furred creatures that live among them. On the morning of the third day, they arrive at Taliss.
The town is not particularly wealthy, but people make a living. Guards stop the yacht at the town gate, but when Eldur says that he comes from Tavor and wants to talk to the mayor, Isaak, the gate is opened and they are allowed in. Isaak arrives a short time later, he has taken the time to dress for the occasion and invites them to his house. Both of them notice beautiful pottery scattered around the room and Isaak says that he’s the town’s potter when he’s not mayoring.
After a small meal, Isaak comes right down to business. He probably knew fully well why they had come from the moment they entered town and he’s only too glad to come to an agreement. However, he’s not about to be taken in, he knows that this is the best chance his town will have at prosperity and he is a skilful negotiator. The discussion takes until the evening and Isaak and Eldur agree to sleep it over and make the final agreements in the morning. Isaak invites them to dinner with his family and they are served a very tasty red rat-stew.
They spend the night in the house of a woman who sometimes lets rooms to travellers, the few that come to Taliss. In the middle of the night, Eldur sit bolt upright in his bed when he realises that he’s about to buy a pig in a poke – he never asked to take a look at the mine. It’s going to be awkward, but before he agrees to anything, he must do that.