The Burned Oak – Gavern and Sati, at this point – journeys through the wastes of Dacien, hired to guard the caravan of Osborne Brushgather and his family. They are headed for the newborn city, and aside from a few bandits, it has been an uneventful trip so far.
They spot a traveller up ahead, dragging a chest through the dust. When the caravan catches up to him, he introduces himself as one Amy Smithson, and is invited to join the caravan by Osborne.
Gavern rushes through the streets of the city, a package under his arm. He smashes through the door of an abandoned house, hides the package under a bed, and prepares for battle. Shortly thereafter, Sati and Amy enter, disregarding the agreed-upon knock. As Sati retrieves the package, Gavern and Amy look for other means of escape. They discover a trap door, and Gavern sends Amy down to investigate.
Shortly thereafter, their pursuers come upon them. Gavern, standing ready by the door, kills the first man as soon as he enters and blockades the entrance, shouting a challenge to those outside. The gangsters – the enemy – hold off, as their leader offers the Burned Oak a chance to surrender the package. Just as the Burned Oak, they are unwilling to go back on a contract (theirs with the Dragon Bones, the Oak’s with an unknown party).
The offer is denied, and battle is joined. Gavern strikes against another thug, but his blow is parried. The counterattack drives him to his knees, leaving an opening for Sati’s magic. Aided by Amy’s music, Gavern soon rises to strike down one thug, killing him with a deep cut to the shoulder. The one who was hit by Sati’s magic moves to attack her, but is intercepted by Gavern’s sword and summary headbutt.
The final thug flees. Their leader taunts Sati as he casts a spell of his own:
“What a disappointment you must be to our master.”
And Back Again
The Brushgather family comes upon an oasis in the wastes. Prompted by Sati's "intuition," Gavern suggesst that Amy and the halflings keep their distance while the Oak investigates. They find the oasis occupied by elves (or the semblance of elves) whose suspicious interest in the Brushgather children drives the group to avoid them.
As the caravan instead heads for a rest stop to resupply, Amy is recruited into the Burned Oak company, nominally to pay for its protection during the journey to the city.
On the road to the rest stop, Gavern goes off alone to investigate something that's caught the attention of a flock of vultures, only to discover the corpse of a half-orc. Searching the body, he finds Baltan papers – quite possibly forged – identifying the deceased as one Ramas Deadwood; looting it, he claims the corpse's well-made boots and a small, sealed box. Upon reuniting with the caravan, Amy informs him that the box's Draconic incription says "Opens only to the worthy." Amy takes custody of the box.
Eventually reaching the rest stop, Gavern and Sati go to resupply while Amy entertains the Brushgather children. After a tense negotiation with the local tavernkeep – a one-eyed dwarf who claims to have fought opposite the first Burned Oak in the War, losing an eye to two elves in its employ and taking their lives in return – Gavern trades the stolen boots, along with three pieces of silver, for a few jugs of water to carry the caravan the rest of the way.
The Oak and the Brushgathers continue their journey, their destination eventually coming into view. As they approach, they are hailed by a poncho-clad halfling seated on a rock. Gavern accomplishes little but further tension, but Amy stays behind, briefly, to speak with the stranger. She tells him two things: firstly, that one can swim through air in certain parts of the wasteland simply by holding one's breath (hence it's epithet "the Ocean") and secondly that the young city is a dangerous, dangerous place. Thanking her for the information, the tiefling rejoins the caravan.
Finally reaching the city gates by sunset, the Oak and the Brushgathers learn that the gates will be closed until dawn. They decide to wait it out among the other travellers assembled by the gate; only Sati notes that there appears to be residents of the city among them. Gavern seeks payment for the Oak's work with the Brushgathers, but Osborne finds a significant portion of their funds missing. Taking it in stride, the halfling assures Gavern that this sudden debt will be repaid, as soon as he comes to collect.
The Burned Oak splits off from the halfling family to make camp, but are soon interrupted by a child's scream back at the Brushgather wagon. While Amy rushes off to help in a heartbeat, Gavern stays behind to make a calculated decision, and to prod Sati into lending her aid as well.
The commotion turns out to be caused by an ogrillon, which has assailed the Brushgather children, for whatever reason. It proves to be a fierce opponent, striking Amy down before itself falling (and losing its head) to the combined efforts of Sati and Gavern. While Sati tends to the wounded tiefling – again only at her captain's prodding – the leader of the Burned Oak adds a fee for "children saved" to the Brushgathers' debt.
As the sky darkens, the members of the Oak return to their makeshift camp. Gavern, self-satisfied, bites into an apple.