Now in Balic, the party learns more about Fortari, who had hired Iphitus to steal the mirror from Grak’s Pool: He’s a noble and playwright whose parents were killed several years ago. The party goes to the Villa District and bribes a templar to get in, where they also convince Fortari’s bodyguard, a minotaur, to let them in.
In Fortari’s estate, the noble meets the party and feigns ignorance, saying he only wanted the mirror as a bauble, but Serge sees through his lies and tricks him into revealing that he knows more about the mirror than he lets on (by falsely claiming the mirror shows only an empty cave, not an opulent room). Alanna recognizes Fortari as a member of the Veiled Alliance, and he inadvertently outs her to the rest of the group as well. He explains that while sailing on the Sea of Silt, he was approached by a sphinx, who gave him a long, riddle-filled message, but part of it was that the mirror would lead the way to “a weapon that even the sorceror-kings will fear.” Fortari also reveals that he’s a sorceror, having some command over fire.
Mardukai struggles with working with the Veiled Alliance, as he believes the sorceror-kings provide stability to the world and improve the lives of their subjects, but he’s willing to work with the party (as with Serge, it’s an “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” situation).
The next day, Fortari shares news about the world and the Alliance: it’s raining in Tyr (which Serge interprets as a sign of the primal spirits’ approval of the death of Kalak just a month before), and Hamanu of Urik is gathering an army together (explaining Mardukai’s feeling of being psionically called back to Urik). Also, another Veiled Alliance cell — a slum full of tieflings — was arrested last night and is now being sold at the Slave Auction. Fortari intends to decipher the runes on the spying mirror by breaking into the hidden library in the Temple of Heroes, Balic’s civic center, and one member, Redhorn, has intimate knowledge of the temple that can help them.
The party goes to the Slave Auction and eventually finds the group of tieflings in question — Alanna herself finds Redhorn, recognizing the secret signs of the Veiled Alliance. Redhorn warns that the auction is a trap, so Serge pays an elf thief to cause a distraction. The three templars who are secretly watching the auction are distracted long enough for the party to launch their attack. Even though two trained cilops beasts are hidden under the stage, the party still manages to defeat the templars and the cilopses, free Redhorn (revealing that he’s a dark hexblade named Arkadi in the process), and escape the Auction intact.