[6 Flamerule 1372]
When the adventurers prepare to leave the Thayan Legion fortress outside Escalant, they discover a "guide" from the Guild of Foreign Trade is waiting for them. The woman wears a bright blue cloak and boots with silver buckles, and introduces herself as Pirith. She says it is her pleasure to escort the group to Bezantur and explain the advantages of Thay for trade and commerce. Dolcetto and Mellia reply that the road to Bezantur is easy to follow and that they haven't come to Thay on a trading mission, but Pirith is not dissuaded, and politely insistent. Suspecting that refusing a guide may bring along a more intrusive response from the authorities, the group relents. Because the group's spellcasters have not prepared sufficient travel magicks for another rider, the adventurers decide they will have to rest nearby another night and depart for Bezantur in the morning.
Pirith's presence is helpful in expediting their passage across the border into Thay and she leads the group to an inn in the nation's westernmost port, Murbant. Along the way, Pirith "chats" with every member of the group about their purpose in coming to Thay, their pasts, their abilities, and more. Mellia says the group is on a quest to rescue her daughter, but she is vague as to who has taken her. Dolcetto, in Fargrim's body, spins a tale about the famous orc King Obould Many-Arrows, but does divulge that the group arrived in the Wizard's Reach through a magickal portal from Silverymoon. Pirith is quite intrigued by this as she says she has heard that such magicks are suppressed in the city, and asks several further questions about the portal, Multivar, and more.
Ralkin and Myst, in each other's bodies, tell Pirith that they are suffering from a magickal affliction and ask her to find them someone capable of healing their ailment. Pirith returns to the inn a short time later with a black-clad priestess of the Maid of Misfortune, Beshaba! The priestess explains that afflictions such as those being suffered by Ralkin and Myst are the will of Beshaba, but that truer devotion to her Mistress would have passed their bad luck on to others. She says that it may be within her power to aid them, but her intrusive questions lead Myst to suspect that she will pass along everything she is told to Pirith, and he refuses to disclose anything about what caused the "affliction". Offended, the priestess leaves in a huff.
That same afternoon, Pirith finds Syd in the inn's stables and asks him several questions about his deity, Sheela Peryroyl, whom Syd explains is the halfings' goddess of nature and weather. Pirith is surprised to hear that Syd is unfamiliar with Umberlee, Goddess of the Sea, and Talos, Lord of Storms. She says he may be in luck, as if they arrive in Bezantur soon they will be in time to experience the end of the Ride of the Furies, a three-day festival honouring the two deities.
That evening, Mellia agrees to a private dinner with Pirith. As a member of Mellia's "retinue," Dolcetto volunteers to serve as table-servant and utilizes the inn's kitchen to cook some strange but delicious foods. During the dinner, Pirith continues pressing for information about Multivar and then moves on to asking several questions about Cain. When asked why the group has travelled so far just to meet with him, Mellia says that Cain is important to her quest and then hints at a romantic interest in the cleric to help satisfy Pirith's curiosity.
That night, Pirith awakens Mellia claiming that a maidservant alerted her to the fact that Syd is not in his room. Mellia escorts Pirith to the stables and distracts her long enough for Syd to transform back to humanoid form from the animal form he had been resting in. He says that he enjoys sleeping in the straw and hay rather than in a stuffy room, and Pirith seems satisfied with this explanation.
[7 Flamerule 1372]
The group, along with Pirith, depart Murbant and make great speed east. Along the way, they spot a slave caravan on the side of the road with several wagons overturned. A massive, hideous multi-tentacled creature is feasting on the slaves, who are chained to the wagons and unable to escape. The group slows, and Mellia asks Pirith her advice. Pirith says the group should keep going, as the slaves hold value only to their owner and that there may be a risk in harming the creature if it belongs to one of the Red Wizards who hold estates nearby. The group continues on without intervening, although Syd casts a spell as they leave to warp the wood on one of the wagon to free two of the slaves.
Bezantur is close to 200 miles from Murbant, but the group covers the distance in just a few hours thanks to their mystically summoned mounts and Syd's charms that keep the horses from tiring even at a canter. Extensive shanty-towns lay outside the walls of the enormous port-city, and inside the normal weather-wards of Thay have been lifted and replaced with fierce thunderstorms that lash the city with rain and lightning. The adventurers see that sailors, fishermen, and others who make their living by the sea are nearly naked in the streets and prostrating themselves for the Furies' favour in the year to come. Pirith leads the group through the downpour to an inn made out of red stone and the adventurers take up rooms.
Mellia emerges from her room with a large cloak concealing her clothing and walks with Fargrim, in Dolcetto's body, to the Flaming Brazier, the largest temple to Kossuth in all of Thay. The Flaming Brazier is a massive ziggurat-shaped temple made out of black basalt, set in the center of a large plaza that steams from the heat emanating from its tiles. Great cauldrons of heatless flame are set alongside the perimeter of the plaza to receive the donations of the faithful, while a massive ball of flame known as Kossuth's Gaze hangs suspended over the highest point of the temple. A staircase made of burning coals leads up to the curtain of flame that bars passage to the highest terrace, but Mellia and Fargrim enter through a door on the first terrace for petitioners.
The first terrace is lit by thousands and thousands of candles, casting deep shadows everywhere. It appears to serve primarily as residences for the temple's lower-ranking Tendrils (ecclesiastical priests) and warrior-monks. Mellia and Fargrim walk past a staircase leading upwards that is guarded by two battle-scarred monks and a staircase leading down that is barred by a steel trapdoor. Petitioners and novitiates of all sorts pass through the busy corridors. When the two adventurers ask to speak to someone in charge, they are led to the Tendril known as the Candlemaster.
In an office covered with hundreds of gold and bronze statuettes, and with a mostly-finished dessert tart on his plate, the Candlemaster is a portly Rashemi with a soft-spoken but saccharine personality. He explains that he doesn't know a priest of Kossuth named Cain. When told that Cain might be under some sort of discipline or punishment, the Candlemaster says that in such a case, only the temple's Eternal Flame, who resides in the holy sanctum in the seventh terrace of the Flaming Brazier, could give permission for outsiders to speak to such a person. However, the Candlemaster continues, only those who have shown dedication to the Flamelord can ascend to higher terraces. Reading between his words, Mellia and Fargrim quickly surmise that the man is asking for a bribe, but only one that can be conveyed through the legitimate channel of donating wealth into one of the temple's heatless cauldrons in the plaza outside. The two hastily exit to make the required "donation" and, after waiting for their devotion to be verified, are allowed to take what the Candlemaster says is the "test of purification" to ascend to the second terrace. Each adventurer is forced to thrust their hand into the flame of a burning candle without flinching to prove themselves pure. Both pass the test, and climb the stairs to the second terrace.
Meanwhile, Myst and Ralkin, having secretly followed the two to the temple, ask a Tendril for assistance in dealing with their "affliction." Myst takes offense at the Tendril's questions about whether the two are sufficiently pure in Kossuth's gaze to be worthy of healing and says something verging on blasphemy before departing with Ralkin. The two decide to head back towards the inn.
Dolcetto (with Syd's assistance) spends the day pouring over hagiographies of the Zulkirs fetched for them in the rainstorm by a slave in service to the innkeeper.
When Mellia and Fargrim reach the second terrace, they see it is illuminated by hundreds of torches and is almost uncomfortably warm. The head Tendril on this terrace, known as the Mistress of Torches, is a tall woman with a head and face that are so badly-burned it is difficult to look at directly. When asked about Cain, she states affirmatively that he does not exist. In order to gain permission to take the test of purification to ascend to the third terrace, Mellia and Fargrim are asked to "demonstrate that they lack the weakness of mortal flesh." Mellia asks Fargrim to step into the corridor, and when he returns, the Mistress of Torches announces that Mellia has demonstrated her devotion. Fargrim has difficulty determining what sort of words or actions are required to satisfy the Mistress' demands, and his growing confusion as to whether he is really Fargrim or Dolcetto is growing. Eventually, he settles on channelling the arcane energies contained in Dolcetto's body to transform into a small red dragon! The Mistress of Torches is sufficiently impressed. The test of purification (withstanding the flame of a torch) is successfully passed, and the two are allowed to climb the staircase to the third level.