Kel William Marshal, age 26, returns to his family home after a terse request from his mother. William finds his father, Lord John Marshall II, and eldest brother Steven arguing. Steven is further upset to see William's arrival. It is explained that because of the financial ruin that Steven had caused the family, there is to be an arranged marriage with the daughter of a wealthy merchant, Richard of Thikle' Glade. The merchant wants Kel William not Steven to be the suitor. Kel William agrees and will set out to meet with this Richard and his 2 daughters.
That night Kel William tries to make peace with Steven. William says that he won't interfere when Steven becomes the Lord, and he can call on him if he has need.
A few days later Kel William arrives in Thikle' Glade. Spending a day to clean himself up, he heads over to merchant Richard's house. Walking though the house Kel William can see just how wealthy the man is. He has many servants and expensive belongings. William then meets Richard, who is a medium-sized man with a thick crop of black hair, dressed fairly nicely with a half cape coming down his back.
William and Richard talk business. Richard wants to have a measure of Kel William's character, not strength, so asks Kel William to come along for the next month on Richad's business deals. Richard explains he was born a farmer, and after a lucky break finding a overturned cart of iron ore that he sold, be got into business of selling iron ore, then other goods.
At dinner Kel William is introduced to the daughters; The Elder Daughter, Melissa, is outgoing and chatty, the Younger Daughter, Clarissa, is more reserved and bored. Kel William feels the Clarissa isn't happy about this situation, so he puts his attention on the eldest daughter. After chatting, Kel William realises how needy the Melissa is. The Clarissa likes to read history books and gives her opinions on various historical events.
After dinner Kel William and Richard have a stiff drink over a game of chess.
The next day William and Richard set off in a high quality carriage on the road to Bon' Dundisyr. At Bon' Dundisyr two days later they arrive at the ship "The Fat Lady". The ship will take them to Pernisis. Richard admits to William that the last time her was Pernisis that someone tried to have him killed. Kel William agrees to protect Richard.
In Pernisis, Richard and William head into town. Richard directs them away from the centre of town and instead toward the edge of town. They go into a build full of a dozen people having dinner. William is introduced to to them all and joins the table with them. The person they are meeting is a Nancy. Nancy and Richard talk at length of a conclusion trade deal so they will each make more profit with their Mahtava trade routes.
Later during the dinner William is alerted by Richard that someone is watching the house from the brick fence. Kel William goes to investigate. The thief tries to stab Kel William then turns to flee. Kel William goes to non-lethal blow, but accidentally kills the theif. On the thief are are theives tools and a disguise kit.
Kel William gets some town guards and reports in the dead thief. The guards arrive on the scene and explain there is an organised crime group targeting merchants in the past six months, so this wasn't surprising. A guard mentions the dead thief was drinking a Wheat Ale recently, instead of a Barley Ale. They head for the Sheriff Station and speak with Captain Rod. Captain Rod goes into detail to Kel William about the crime syndicate targeting cargo and goods, and there have been murders as well. Most of the problems occur down on the docks.
Kel William follows the Barley Ale clue and heads to the The Goblin's Grog brewery & tavern where it is made & served. Kel William describes the thief to the bartender, and is told she was a friend of the group of 6 sitting currently sitting in the tavern. They are new folks in town who have been spending a lot of money. Kel William waits outside the Goblin's Grog and waits for any of the group to leave. When one of them, Heather, does, he asks her to accompany him to the the Sheriff Station for questioning.
When asked to to identify the dead body, Heather says the dead thief was named Jane. Heather says Jane was the group translator, and claims to be surprised that Jane turned out to be a thief. Kel William and Heather return to the Goblin's Grog to talk with the others at the table, with some guards waiting outside the exits. The leader of the group with a red beard is called Nicholas, who denies any knowledge of Jane's activities.
Nicholas refuses to go with Kel William, so Nicholas drags him out of the tavern. The 4 others at the table flee for the back door where the guards are waiting. One gets away, one is knocked out by William, the other 2, Geoff & Anna, surrender. Heather disappears in the commotion. They are escorted back to the Sheriff Station.
Captain Rod is convinced these people are the syndicate that have been harassing the docks for the past 6 months. William then goes to questions the people one at a time. In the belongings is a book in a cipher that Richard explains is used by smugglers. When Kel William questions Nicholas, he says he is in the import-export business and claims innocence. He claims the book is a list of deals and merchandise, and he starts reading off a list of mundane trade deals, however no names are given. The last deal was for a shipment of iron ore that came from Eridon that is stored in Nicholas's warehouse.
Kel William and 2 guards head to the warehouse to find it is being emptied by 8 people. Heather aka Nancy is commanding the people around, holding a clipboard. Kel William goes to capture Nancy, but the ship starts to get away. Kel William lets go of Nancy and rushes up to the ship to help. Kel William tries to leap onto the ship, but he and another guard fall into the deep water. The 2nd guard is captured. Kel William and the guard get out of the water as the ship has set sail.
Kel William then finds a ship captain to give chase to the other ship to save the town guard. However the other ship gets away. Kel William returns to the warehouse, now sequred by the guards. Hidden inside one of the crates are halfling feet. William returns to Captain Rod about them being Halfling Feet smugglers, the town guard who was taken is likely murdered, and the books use a cipher used by smugglers. Captain Rod is satisfied by the evidence, and will take the 4 prisoners up to the Baron in the morning.
The next day, Kel William is told that they found the missing guardsman was rescued floating in the water, beaten badly but alive. Richard says that if these criminals are convicted by the Baron today that their goods will be sold off by the state at a low price, and he wants to buy them from the Baron. A few hours later the crates from the warehouse are indeed purchase and moved onto their ship the "The Fat Lady". They set sail soon afterwards.
The next stop for the ship is Bon' Theris. Things are traded and sold without any drama. Kel William talks with Richard and reveals while he would like to marry the elder daughter, Melissa. The two toast, drinking a bourbon.
The ship sets sail for Stoneport, passing the cold Cape of Arcadia, Richard talks about the curse of Caldonia causing the Cape of Arcadia to be so cold, creating the Frostlands. Richard wonders about all the treasures still left down there.
They arrive in Stoneport. Richard takes William to a meeting with a supplier in a warehouse. On the way to the warehouse William spots Nancy from Pernisis, spying on them. After selling the Iron Ore he got cheap in Pernisis, William quietly talks to Richard about seeing Nancy. William then escorts Richard back to the ship, then William searches the docks. The harbormaster says that Nancy gave anther alias of Marigold and she is from the 4 away from Richard's ship.
William tells the harborguard to arrest Nancy if they see here, then he searches the ship. The Captain, Rachel, demands William to explain himself. Captain Rachel says that Nancy claimed to be fleeing from brigands in Pernisis so joined their crew. William finishes his search and feels that Captain Rachel's story is true, then leaves. William makes sure the harborguard know the full story before returning to the "The Fat Lady".
"The Fat Lady" takes them back to Bon' Dundisyr. William asks for a day and a half detour to Suulwikk, and Richard is happy to comply, having had a more than expected profitable trip. William reports in his activities while in Suulwikk and about the criminals at large.
Kel William and Richard then return north to Thikle' Glade by carriage. Once back arrangements for William and Melissa to get married begin. The wedding is to be in seven weeks, Kel William agrees to try to get the palace available as the venue, calling in a lot of favors. Clarissa gives Kel William a knitted hat with the Marshal crest on it.
Kel William returns to his family home outside Suulwikk. William's mother and father are glad the wedding will take place and the family is no longer at risk of financial ruin. Kel William tries again to make peace with Steven. Steven asks for a favor, for William to arrange for Richard's the other daughter, Clarissa, to be his wife. Kel William agrees, but knows that Richard would never go for it, considering what Richard had always said about Steven in private.
Kel William returns to Suulwikk and resumes his duties.