The party camped at the oasis and headed out the next day. During the late morning shortly before they were to make camp, they entered a large flat expanse of the eastern Salt March. The quality of the sand covering ground and the fact that the sun was directly ahead of them and low in the sky combined to produce a near blinding effect. They were unable to hold their eyes open for more than a second or two, and though the terrain was easily traveled, their pace was slowed. They decided to tie themselves together to keep from being separated.
They had been trudging through this dazzling field for about half an hour when their heard a strange howling sound coming from somewhere ahead of them. As they continued they heard the sounds of clawed feet tearing through the sands around them and they found themselves under attack by a pack of dog-like creatures.
The party was doing their best to fight off their attackers, but they found determining the creatures' locations to be difficult at best in the dazzling light and they were being pushed around by the continuously circling and attacking beasts. About half-way through the fighting, Glitch was pushed into a large, jagged crater he was unaware was in front of him. This had the side effect of dragging Alina to the edge of the pit and pulling Tisroc down into it by the ropes that bound them all together.
As Glitch righted himself at the bottom of the pit, a massive, purplish serpent-like creature emerged from the sand in front of him and let loose an echoing shriek which had the immediate effect of frightening the remaining dog-creatures away. Glitch began attacking it, but Tisroc and Alina decided to run for it. Cutting themselves loose and getting out of the pit, they called for Glitch who had, by this time, managed to anger the beast to the point that it had him in its mouth. He twitched and immediately disappeared from its jaws, appearing on the edge of the crater next to them. The group made a run for it as the creature began to slither up the edge of the crater after them.
The party traveled for a couple more days, entering the bounds of the Dead Forest. Tisroc discovered that there was no magically-discernable water source in the area where the village of Duront was supposed to have been, but after some travel, they did find a sign indicating it was nearby. The group proceded to the edge of the village. They didn't see much movement or any lights aside from a large bonfire on a terrace on the far side. This seemed strange, but they decided to check it out.
As they made their way across the village, Tisroc caught a glimpse of someone behind them - maybe a few people. As they approached, they noticed movement on the terrace and they could see several men holding crossbows at its edge. At this point, Tisroc stopped, turned around, and yelled for whoever was behind him to come out. There was a loud bellowing laugh from behind him on the terrace, "Well Jask, you seem to be losing your touch." it said as a man skulked out of the shadows, "leave these alone - they don't have anything good anyway." Then the voice addressed them, "Please, friends, come and speak with me." as it gestured toward a slope which led up to the terrace where he stood.
Upon entering the light of the bonfire, they could see the man who had called to them. He looked a little unusual - his skin had a golden hue and his eyes were a vibrant blue. Tisroc recognized him as having some genie ancestry. The man, called Selkin, asked them why they had come to this abandoned village. When they mentioned the citadel, he seemed to become suspicious until they told him their full motives. At this point, he disclosed to them a little more fully.
He too, was wanting to go to the citadel, but he and his company were after a pair of large rubies said to be set into the eyes of a statue in one of the upper halls. There was a problem, however. The site had become home to a nest of vicious, flying creatures that had some skill with bows. His group had tried to enter the citadel several times, but were driven off each time. Selkin suggested that they should ally their powers. This seemed like a good idea to the group, and they spent the rest of the evening strategizing how they might approach their common problem.