On the road from Minthras Imperium, Oakvale is the first major Rubian town that travelers enter. All traders have to pay a toll and stay for a day or two to wait for their paperwork. The trade is flourishing, with most of the Major Guilds having their guesthouses for members awaiting the customs permission. The customs is located in a signature landmark of this town: a three-story royal department, which is actually two long buildings on opposite sides of the main street connected by an overpass. It is constructed in the Imperial style with marble pillars, and the overpass resembling triumphal arches of the Imperial city. Maybe that's the reason the building was almost untouched by war.
During the war, the city was abandoned as it barely had any fortification. The noble fled, leaving their manors for ravaging by the Crimson Tide. Anyone who stayed was taken into the Tide or killed. Few have returned. When the war ended, the city was resettled mainly by refugees. Many of the noble owners lost their titles or lives during war, so the kingdom claimed what was left of their manors in the city center. Now the manors house crown officers and important guests. One of them also operates as an inn, charging exorbitant prices of 150gp per night for a suite. The royal departments moved from the destroyed capital, and many of them are still operating from Oakvale, hiring a new generation of bureaucrats. The only reminder of the war times is out in the fields to the east of town: a burial ground for Knights of the Holy Flame that perished in the battle of Kaedwen crossing.
The tavern Froggy's on the main road is run by Froggy, a good natured half-orc with a face of a toad. He is a reminder of the times when these lands were threatened by Cleaver Orcs. The nearest village is Ens, but the road to it goes through dangerous woods, so it's not well-traveled. A temple of Fharlaghnh is set up in a cabin in the woods to foster travel and make the trails safer.
Astaire, a member of Major Guild of Silk, was involved in some suspicious activity, and now the Guild of Silk has declared bankrupcy and ceased all operation in Rubia. The half-elf lawyer Sharmaine is a crown officer that leads the investigation. To her dismay, they found the Guild guesthouse cleared from anything of value, with a mysterious teleportation device in one of the rooms.
Sharmaine investigated the letters and ledgers found in the guesthouse and questioned the servants. She pieced together the following sequence of events:
- Diamonds in jewelry shops across the Old continent start doubling in price daily. It is hard to trace one single reason why that happened, but probably it has something to do with the surge in resurrection requests in the Imperium after the Godhammer explosion.
- Imperium cracks down on price speculation, so the trade of diamonds and diamond-based financial documents moves to Btharmaz. All Major Guilds join in the craze. Major Guild of Silk, in particular, instructs its members in other kingdoms to purchase diamonds locally and teleport them to their Btharmaz guildhouse. They reward the most resourceful brokers with larger cash allowances to make more diamond deals.
- Astaire makes a name for himself in the guild by producing an impressive number of deals and gets a huge sum of cash from the guild. The way he did that is by abuse of his position: he introduced his Rubian suppliers to a "get rich quick" scheme that he assured them was guaranteed by the name of the guild. He sent their diamonds to Btharmaz, but only paid them enough to keep them excited about the craze, promised them riches tomorrow and pocketed the rest. He then teleported to Ylsa and disappears. With the sum of money he had he could purchase quite powerful magic that will ensure they will never find him.
- The bubble bursts, and the Major Guild of Silk calls Astaire, only to find him gone. They send other members through teleport, investigate, find his correspondence about the "get rich quick" scheme he was operating. After a short but heated discussion that was overheard by servants, they decide to clear out the guesthouse of any goods and declare bankrupcy in Rubia. Not being able to trade there is a lesser loss for them than paying all the debts Astaire generated in those few days.
- The creditors hear the rumors, notice the diamond prices drop, and show up at the guild guesthouse to get their money back from Astaire. Finding an empty building, they turn to Rubia's law for protection. The case is assigned to Sharmaine, and with the help of the party she confiscates some of the guild's property from Ylsa Dorel, a foreign territory (read: party steals it). The guild wants to keep its reputation in other countries and cover up Astaire's crimes, so this incident does not result in international scandal.