TL;DR: the heroes get framed into doing a dangerous job. They bump into their enemies at a sumptuous ball.
The heroes are in the land of Axum, wondering if they could maybe find a guide to help them reach their destination. They are in fact sitting in a tavern discussing their next move when the place fills with cops. The heroes are accused of the crime of "Disturbing the Elemental Balance to the Detriment of the Common Weal." To whit: the marid is now off the coast of Axum and in a terrible mood. Fierce storms are lashing the coast and are interrupting trade. The ruling council of magi who run Axum need someone to blame; they have picked the heroes. In all fairness, technically, the heroes are guilty.
There follows a scene in which I, in the character of the leading officer, explain repeatedly to the players that "under arrest" means you do not get to keep your weapons, armour, spell components, etc.
Anyhoo... the heroes languish in some not-so-dismal cells for about 3 days when they are approached by a man named Salana. He offers to spring them from jail and give them the freedom of the city in return for a favour involving great danger. The heroes are naturally suspicious and one asks if Salana had had them imprisoned just so he could blackmail them now. Salana assures them that he had nothing to do with their arrest; that was his ex-wife's doing. Someone asks if he is helping them just to annoy his ex. Salana says no, that's just icing on the cake. Negotiations follow and Salana offers them a small fortune in magical potions in additional payment. The heroes agree to the terms.
Behind the scenes: Salana needs the heroes to gain him access to the Tower of Art, a place that acts as a repository for magical power. He needs to access the Tower on a night of a mystical conjunction. A night when certain magics are at their most potent. A night when all the magi in the city are obliged to stay the hell away from the Tower. The heroes are to get in and place a magical key into the Tower's control panel. Once the key is in place Salana can magically enter the Tower and finalise his ritual. He wants to use the stored magic power to turn himself into a lich. Not that he's telling the heroes precisely what he has planned. Just to get him in and then take his "sleeping" body back to his home after the ritual.
The heroes are quickly released and have the run of the town. They also get to stay in Salana's palace.
The night after they are released the heroes hear about a big hubbub down by the city gates. A couple go to look and they see a score of skeletons marching up the street. They are escorting a large, ornate carriage. The carriage is painted with frescoes of Osiris and Isis in the Underworld. An odd feature they note is that the carriage is lacking any windows. Riding alongside the carriage is their old friend, the traitor Ferridoon. Another score of skeletons march behind the carriage and at the very back of the parade stalks a hulking gnoll woman. The Kemeti are in town.
On the night of the conjunction the all the magi in the city are expected to be at a grand ball. This is ostensibly a celebration, but really just so everyone can keep an eye on everyone else. Salana invites the heroes to attend. It'll be fun, he says. The ball is also close to the Tower.
The heroes are enjoying the ball when a new party makes a grand entrance. At the head is a small, plump, yet ever so impressive woman, Salana's ex-wife Nyala. Behind walk three individuals. Immediately obvious to the heroes is the tall, scarecrow like figure of their old friend Ferridoon. Beside him shuffles a figure who is completely hidden by voluminous robes and a deep cowl. Lastly, but most jarringly, they see Lady Jasmine Sunblessed. Lady Jasmine is their old commander and was last seen dying upon the blade of Lord Iniquitous way back in the opening scene of the adventure. Nyala walks straight up to Salana and asks to meet the Akkadians he spent so much of his political good will to free. She introduces herself and her own guests.
There followed a hilarious scene in which the heroes freak out.
The paladin's player cannot lie. She just can't. Nor can her paladin. So to avoid giving away... everything the paladin spends the entire scene stuffing pastries in her mouth. If there is ever any chance of sound escaping her mouth she shoves in more pastries. But she does peak under the cowl of the mystery guest and realises that he/she is a mummy. The mummy introduces themself as Ak-Hortep and asks why a child of Bast consorts with filthy Apep worshippers. Paladin can do nothing but offer them a pastry.
The sorcerer, the party's most charismatic member, immediately hits on Lady Jasmine. She returns the flirtation and gives the little fellow a smile that shows her extended canines off to their best advantage. The cleric's player had been out of the room having a nap. They came back in at the sound of hysterical (nervous maybe?) laughter, get caught up, and are "WTF?" At about this point someone thinks to ask if the bad guys might recognise them. The cleric realises that Ferridoon is giving them "where have I seen these people before" face.
Not wanting to drag things on too long Salana made excuses and in ones and twos the heroes quietly slipped out of the ball to begin their mission.
That ended the session. Next one will be a good ol' fashioned dungeon crawl.