With all the guards and jhakaars slain, the characters were now free to scope out Hakaar's house. It was night so they could clearly see that there were no lights on, and they could not hear anything from outside, so they concluded that either Hakaar was either a heavy sleeper or that no one was home. A win in either case. The front door was locked briefly before Jiga got her picks on it. Inside they found some alright furnishings, but a fine layer of dust coated almost everything, indicated that the place saw little use, if any. I handled the investigation like a skill challenge, allowing them to use their skills to locate the prisoner (or at the least his prison); it was a pretty easy feat to narrow down the areas of the house that actually saw activity, and locate a hidden passage soon after.
They followed a short passage underground, which terminated at a stone door with a ring of red runes. Branor deduced that red, glowing runes are often a bad thing, while Sardis's experience with magic more accurately concluded that it was some form of fire based trap. A very low Arcana check confirmed her assessment to the tune of 20 points of fire damage and being knocked on her ass. As if being bloodied was not bad enough, it also alerted Hakaar to their presence.
They sucked it up and opened the door, finding Hakaar standing before a blazing brazier and an unconscious man chained up in the corner; the very picture of villainy. They exchanged some words and threats, but Hakaar's patience quickly wore out and he summoned a pair of magma beasts in the shape of Large scorpions that flanked the door. This did not stop many of the party from trying to get in, provoking an assload of opportunity attacks, but with the silver lining that Branor got to give his defender's aura a strenuous workout early on.
Hakaar proved to be a pretty potent pyromancer, tossing around scorching bursts, a burning hands, and even having a few abilities--Elite kickers that felt niftier than another double attack--that let him turn up the heat when characters took fire damage when it was not his turn (which was most of the time, since almost every attack that the enemies had dealt fire damage). In fact, despite having a full suite of party members he actually managed to kill Maximus. Well...I hand-waived it at first, but after Beth's persistence I finally relented that yes, Maximus did die (by only a few points), but would be raised by the Veiled Alliance anyway so it was all kind of a moot point.
I guess it worked out for the best in the long run, because after Maximus came back to life he retained faint memories of wandering a cold city composed entirely of black glass, which is foreshadowing if I've ever used it. Which I did.
So with the prisoner and loot in hand--including a fire elemental that Sardis bound to herself, gaining a gift of fire--the party made it back to Wavir's enclave, and with nothing better to do was packaged up in crates and shipped out of Balic's city limits. Once safely out of sight, they were let out of the crates with the understanding that Girias had instructed the caravan to at least escort them to South Ledopolos, which was nice because that will be their launching point to a rumored lost city that they'd heard so much about. We wrapped up the night with a nice attack comprised of sunwarped hyenas and a couple flocks of kestrekels, whereupon I learned that the dwarf knight is really fucking hard to chew through, and the psion is really good at obliterating swarms.