A group of would-be slaves find themselves drawn up to port in Venitarri, the slavers who captured them are brutally (and mysteriously) slain. Word spreads of the would-be slaves who killed the slaver Ironbeard.
They are greeted by a courier bearing a message from a man, Goswrought, who brokered the contracts for the labor Ironbeard was ‘importing.’ Goswrought has no claim over them, the contract is incomplete and Ironbeard is dead, but the slave broker has more troublesome problems.
He asks the group to investigate the disappearances of three women, songbirds, he calls them. These women were each cast as Ariana in the tragic opera “Trinlor and Ariana.” Each woman disappeared one by one. A radical sect of the Pelorite church is suspect – the Order is staunchly and vocally opposed to mounting the opera.
Investigation reveals a strange ritual on the Via Transitus – a construction project in the city. The Via Transitus is a large triumphal arch and grand bridge linking the Central Circle – an area of town given over to parks and culture – to the rest of the city. It is funded by Nalazeeb.
One of the women is found swiftly, kept in Repose in a temple of the Raven Queen.
The group arranges a meeting with Nalazeeb, who pledges his help in finding the missing women. He is particularly interested to hear that one of the women has been discovered.
Late in the evening, the group splits – one goes to investigate the arch again and others go to investigate a barge sitting at a mooring in the grand canal directly beneath the arch. Within, another strange ritual is underway. One of Nalazeeb’s personal guards is in attendance at the rite. The barge is stealthily cut free of its moorings and drifts away as the party escapes.
Rattled by the implication that Nalazeeb is involved in the strange rituals, the group settle in for a night of restless sleep to begin their investigations anew on the following day.