Conquest of Ythalek

The Canyon Expedition
The true enemy revealed

The entire party teleported back to the village where they had left Mei to find that most people did not expect them to return. However, they were all happy to find that the menace had departed and that they party was safe. Mei rejoined the group and they left the Elder’s house.

Almost immediately, they were propositioned by a bald man with the garb of a merchant. He needed guards for a trip through the canyon toward the capital city of Luo Yang. The group decided to help him, only to find that his cargo was not merchant paraphernalia, but people: a woman, man, and child. They were joined by an old guard and a younger man who was introduced as the merchant’s apprentice.

Once in the canyon, progress was fairly swift. Vlad and Clik shared a wagon with Alderath and discussed what was happening and where they were headed. Meanwhile, Jeoffrey and Cliona were in another wagon and were having their own discussion. However, the party began to notice that all life was disappearing from the region. No trees were growing, no plants on the ground, and even the wind was gone. Along the ground were hundreds of dead snakes of all types and varieties. The party was immediately put on their guard.

Before long, a few of the snakes transformed into undead snake soldiers holding spears. Though minions, they were violent and attacked the party without mercy. Some alchemical flasks were tossed from the cliff and ignited what little dry foliage existed as well as two of the wagons. The party quickly grabbed everyone and began moving on foot toward the end of the canyon, which was in sight in the distance. Along the way, a crevice appeared that stopped the remaining wagon and forced the party to clear it. Once across, another group of snake soldiers attacked, though they were also defeated quickly.

The party moved to the end of the canyon to find a wall sprawling across the exit. An older man as well as an ancient man both yelled at them to get inside. Once the doors were shut behind them, the party finally caught their breath, safe in He Fei.

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Another New Arrival
The trouble begins

The group — now Cliona, Jeoffrey, Alderath, and Vladimir — left the keep to head for Herlie to get supplies. Hayashi was joining them in an attempt to get some last minute items for the trip back to Forlorn but also to gather some needed items for the Keep. In addition, Hayashi said he knew of a pair of builders and an agricultural specialist.

Upon arrival on the docks, a portal suddenly opened in front of the group. A large Thri-kreen walked out of it and immediately turned on the group. After a long stare-down with some heated confrontation, the group learned that his name was Clik-Clik and he had been teleported to this plane from his own world. Though Cliona did not trust him, Clik and Alderath left for the tavern and proceeded to be distracted while the rest of the group gathered supplies.

While gathering supplies, Cliona found that the pirates that had been captured previously were still in jail. She moved to speak to the nobles and found that the Lord of the Keep just did not know how to deal with them and had received no instructions from the Citadel itself. Cliona, using her bluffing ability, managed to convince the nobles as well as the pirates that coming with her to join the militia at the keep was in everyone’s best interest. In return for their freedom, they were required to do exactly as Cliona or DeClerq commanded of them.

Jeoffrey, meanwhile, was discussing current events and magical theory with Tyrna Nog. After some time, he was able to discover a few details about the planar disruptions as well as get a gauge on Tyrna Nog’s true power. However, he left with little more information.

Everyone returned to the docks to depart. Hayashi returned with Lucy and Emmet, a pair of warforged architects, as well as Largo, an old retired military man who had great knowledge of agriculture. With everyone in tow, the group returned to the keep. Upon arrival, they were reminded by Karl that the mission in Forlorn was still active, and everyone decided that they would depart for Forlorn immediately the next morning.

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Under the Keep
Where spiders tread

For a short time, new arrivals began to enter the keep. Maximillian and Hayashi, Agrias and DeClerq, and even Return, Skye, and Idria eventually arrived. Blizzacane and Torbera made themselves comfortable, as did Isamo and Fizzle. As things were starting to settle down, Ssthraxia entered the main room, looking for Cliona. Cliona spoke with her briefly and found that a number of creatures had been found in the caves. The group decided to investigate, though Jeoffrey stayed behind to research some papers that Alderath had found beneath the kitchen floors.

The group entered the caves with torches and magical lights and found that Ssthraxia had been right: two new people came running toward them. After calming them down, Cliona suggested taking them prisoner and finding out what they knew. After a short discussion, they learned that the two new arrivals were a dwarf runepriest named Mufasa and a totally human cleric of Pelor named Vladimir. They both stated that something strange was going on under the Keep, and Ssthraxia swore that her spiders were not to blame. However, she refused to go back down there until it was cleared up.

Cliona, Alderath, and Wigelsbach descended into the caves and found a passageway that curved off to the north and opened into a large room with some ruined remnants. However, they were immediately beset by spiders. Though numerous, the group was able to take them down with little effort. However, more spiders could be heard scurrying about in a room deeper in the ruins.

The group searched deeper and found a strange armored man with six spider legs protruding from his back. All around him, smaller spiders scurried about, digging at the walls and collecting some form of mineral or material. In the back of the room was a large glowing altar in the shape of a stone tee pee. Occasionally, a spider would wander too close and would almost instantly die in convulsive fits.

As the group was about to attack, Jeoffrey joined with some information from the papers he had been reading. However, the spider creature noticed the party and attacked. Though heated, the battle went fairly smoothly as the spiders were demolished quickly. The spider creature, sensing that he was not to win this fight, disappeared in a cloud of inky blackness and was not to be found.

Cliona and Jeoffrey worked to try to understand the altar. While Jeoffrey’s proximity was characterized by numbness and weakness, Cliona was only effected by a sense of calm. After a decent amount of time spent investigating, the group left the ruins to find Alderath having fun destroying a spider nest with his spear and fire. While he was distracted, Wigelsbach headed back to deliver the results. Cliona and Jeoffrey had a brief religious discussion before heading back into the keep.

Once the group revealed what had happened, Return and Karl went into the ruins to investigate it for themselves. While they were gone, Cliona had a brief discussion with Skye about what had happened and the group discussed the fate of the new arrivals. It was decided that Mufasa would remain at the keep in order to shore up the new defenses while Vladimir would travel with the party when they again set out.

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The Keep
A home at last

The group appeared along with all of the new additions in a room with a strange purple floor. To their right was a large stone tablet. At the northern door was Krenal’Onar, who seemed to be holding some sort of magical barrier over the door. Isamo the youkai and Fizzle were sitting in the corner with some injuries. When the group approached the door, Karl informed them that a number of ghosts were on the other side and had taken over the keep.

After some negotiation, Karl agreed to drop the barrier and let the party through, but not before blessing the party with some blessing of his goddesss. As soon as the barrier was gone and the door open, Ssthraxia shrieked and jumped through the door, charging a creature across an open floor. The party moved through the door to find a number of ghosts and banshees floating in the room beyond. Their leader-an apparent ghostly Shadar-kai ship captain-turned to face the charging spider. However, Ssthraxia was charging a large drider behind him. The drider shrieked as well and scurried down a western hallway with the large spider hot on his tail.

The party immediately set to work in eliminating the enemies. However, the ghosts were not hampered in their movement and moved in and out of the party with ease. The banshees screams did little to help the situation. However, the party methodically took down one ghost after another until only the captain remained. Once he was alone, it took little time for the group to destroy him.

Once the ghosts were gone, the party set about searching through the new building and healing the wounded. Cliona collected some ectoplasm from the ghosts before departing to search for Ssthraxia. The rest of the group worked to get the party back to full strength. In the west, Cliona found a walled room of rock that had a hole into an underground passageway. As she jumped down the hole, she found a dark passageway that seemed to lead in several directions under the building. Almost immediately, Ssthraxia scurried up to Cliona, quite satisfied with herself since she had utterly destroyed the drider.

Continued exploration of the new building was put on pause as Karl explained that this was to be the base of operations for the new militia group. He also explained that the mirror did appear to be a portal, but it was linked to the hand mirror and could be used as a means of teleportation. This was confirmed by Viki, who was apparently the guardian of the mirrors and had now found everything she was searching for. She settled down to manage the teleport magics and joined the party. Another visitor appeared – Leknaat, the guardian of the tablet. She also explained that the tablet would mark the Stars of Destiny as they were brought together. A greater story was at work, and the party was part of the group that would change the destiny of the continent.

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The Underground Citadel
Traps galore!

After a short trip east, the group came upon a lonely village that seemed to have fallen on bad times. A small amount of negotiation later, Cliona and Jeoffrey found that a decent number of the villagers had disappeared in a nearby cave. Since Liu Shan had asked them to help along the way, the group decided to investigate the cave, expecting to find a large creature or monster. However, what they found was quite different: a glowing purple crystal floating a few inches above a stone altar. When they touched it, the group was magically transported into a strange new dungeon.

Almost as soon as they materialized, the group heard a deep, growling voice say “Oops,” as a nearby door sealed shut with no visible way to open it. With only one other path, the group progressed forward into the relatively dark hallways. After only a few turns, the group found themselves in a hallway with statues lining both sides. A few steps later, Wigelsbach discovered a trap on the floor. This caused the group to begin to take it easier, but it did not stop Alderath from stepping on one, activating a number of the statues. Battle ensued, but the group had little difficulty dispatching the statues, leading them to be even more careful for the rest of the hallway.

A quick (yet profitable) side path later, the group found a huge crystal formation that seemed to be “growing” purple crystals. After some discussion, the group decided to take the crystals with them. Four crystals seemed to be “mature” and were added to the inventory. Afterwards, the group found themselves in a pit room with powerful gusts of wind blowing back and forth across the pathways. On each of the platforms connecting the narrow passageways were traps of varying types: acid, lightning, spike, and poison. Navigating the wind using strength and rope (along with a clever ritual by Cliona to bypass one section entirely), the group found a place to input a crystal and unlocked a door further ahead.

Another trap was triggered in the next hallway blocking the progress further north. However, another crystal lock was found and unlocked another passageway. The only hallway left was littered with an enormous number of traps. The party learned of these because Alderath managed to hit every single one in the passageway. The rooms that branched off from this hallway seemed to be cells, and a room at the end of the hallway granted the group another lock, which opened all of the cells and allowed them to find another treasure chest.

The next room branched to both the left and the right. A bit of scurrying could be heard in the room to the right, so the group decided to investigate. Once inside, they found a large number of webs and small spiders. After progressing forward, they found a huge spider at the back of the room. With little warning, the large spider attacked, along with a number of smaller spiders and tiny spider swarms. Again, the group fought and dispatched the smaller spiders, causing the large spider to scream in agony and loss. Cliona understood the language it was speaking and entered a negotiation. After some time, she got the spider’s name and told her that they would come back for her before leaving.

After a rest, the group entered the room that had broken off to the left and were immediately assaulted by a huge column of flame coming down the long hallway. The group jumped to the north for cover and walked down the new hallway. They came to a door that had a riddle engraved on it. The riddle hinted at four keys that would go in four keyholes. A pair of voices – one male, one female – could be heard arguing in the distance. These voices had been heard in several places throughout the dungeon, but the source could not be determined exactly.

The group moved south and found the entrance to another room. Once inside, they found a pool of red liquid in the middle and four altars each with a crystal on them – red, blue, brown, and green. Another riddle was found, which caused Jeoffrey a bit of confusion. In the meantime, Alderath decided to “test” each crystal by humping it fiercely. The red one burned him and he stuck to the blue one, but the brown one vibrated severely, so the group was pretty sure he still enjoyed himself. After a bit, the group solved the riddle and opened a previously sealed chamber. Inside, they found a burial tomb for a very old creature and their followers along with another key.

By this time, the fire in the hallway had subsided to the point that it was only firing intermittent balls of fire. From this second doorway, they could tell that the fire was coming from a large statue at the end of the hallway. The group jumped out into the hallway, only to find that the gargoyle statues were coming to life and attacking. Again, the group fought and dispatched the enemies with only minor problems.

Once they had turned off the statue, the group found the throne room of the dungeon. In this room were a large number of smaller rooms that broke off on each side. In the middle of the room was a large mechanical structure that seemed to be housing a huge automaton. Before the group could move forward, a sneeze was heard and Viki and Miku fell from the ceiling. While Miku landed on her butt, Viki landed in Dexlexius’s arms. Another sneeze, and she was gone, along with the bard.

Though confused, Miku stood and joined the group precisely as the huge automaton activated and charged the group. With the new cleric’s help, the group dispatched the automaton within only a few rounds. To their horror, the machine at the back began to build a second automaton. Before it could finish, however, a large number of spiders appeared and wrapped the machine in a huge web, causing it to jam and cease to function. The large spider came into the room and thanked Cliona again for sparing her and her children.

From this point, the dungeon itself seemed to have shut off. However, it was seeming to heat up. The group ran quickly to the previous door and figured out the riddle, placing the keys into the locks and opening the door. To their surprise, a dwarf and a razorclaw shifter appeared in front of them while Viki sneezed back into existence behind them. Long story short – and it was a LONG story – the vain dwarf Torbera had a hand mirror that Viki needed to allow the group to teleport away from the dungeon. After MUCH deliberation, the group obtained the mirror and vanished.

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Continuing the Journey

The ship continued on its way toward the Forlorn Dynasty. While Cliona, and to a small extent Dexlexius, helped to bring Miku and DeClerq around, the other big men helped to bring the ship into port. As they exited the ship, they were greeted by the children of the Guan family – Xiping, Suo, and Xing – as well as Bao Sanniang. These four escorted the group to a nearby fort city, leaving them at the gate.

The group decided to investigate the town. Cliona – watched from a distance by Jeoffrey – found an old scholar to talk to on the path to the central hold while the fighters and bard went to the tavern to gather information. They were greeted by a scene of destruction and learned that someone had ransacked the tavern not long previously. After much “investigation,” the guys came to the conclusion that the candy mage had rode in and destroyed the tavern with his magical rainbows and sugar beams. They ran outside to tell the others.

While Cliona and the old scholar led the slightly inebriated group to believe that they were correct, Cliona and Jeoffrey accepted a letter to be delivered to the scholar’s apprentice in the capital. The group then were informed that the Lord of this fort was ready to meet with them

The group entered the fort to meet the Lord Liu Shan and his three guards: Zhao Yun, Xing Cai, and Ma Dai. While Jeoffrey, Dexlexius, and Wiggelsbach received news of what their tasks were in Forlorn, Cliona was busy getting Zhao Yun’s attention. When successful, the two of them found a room in the castle for the night while the rest of the group were led to their own sleeping quarters. The next morning, Alderath decided to make breakfast for the group while Dexlexius wowed the servants with tales of grandeur and raucous music. Somehow, he managed to wow one servant girl, a 15-year-old named Mei Dai Sun, to the point that she insisted on coming along. She was so wowed that she almost ate Alderath’s cooking. She was “saved” by Cliona but still decided to travel with the party.

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Travel on the Big Blue Wet Thing

Once on the ship, Dexlexius and Cliona each took to their own cabins while Wigelsbach decided to impart upon the ocean his night of drinking. When he finished, he noticed some strange smoke coming from an island known as Castaway Island. The crew told many stories of the evils of the island, but the group decided to take a lifeboat to the island to find out what the signals meant.

Once they arrived, the group found 6 trolls dancing around a fire. A pair of rough tombstones sat just north of the fire, and the group could vaguely see Hayashi tied to one of them. As they disembarked, Wigelsbach realized he recognized their language and tried to assimilate himself as their king. While this did not work, it did start a fight.

Quickly the group realized that only fire could do-in the trolls. Wigelsbach moved to the fire and grabbed a lit log, lighting several of the trolls on fire to dispatch them. However, another monster rose from the ocean: a Far Realm Abomination. This horribly ugly monster seemed to attack much quicker than what most monsters could attack and quickly moved in to stun Wigelsbach and Alderath. While Wigelsbach could get out of the stun quickly, Alderath had a bit of trouble. While he remained stunned, the abomination slapped the two melee units repeatedly with its tentacles. During this time, Jeoffrey noticed something in the edge of the woods that was not part of the trees. After a second inspection, he realized it was Miku, the apprentice cleric from Herlie.

When Alderath broke the stun, he smashed the abomination with all his might. This, coupled with an attack from Dexlexius, bloodied the monster, allowing him to stun the two front-liners again. However, this time they both recovered quickly from the stun and proceeded to beat down the solo beast. With a magic missile from Cliona, the monster finally fell.

Once the fight was over, Jeoffrey moved to Miku to awaken her and found that another person hung in the trees: DeClerq, the other ship captain. He awakened them slowly while Cliona untied Hayashi and began a ritual on the corpse sitting by the fire. She found that this corpse had been used as a conduit/reagent for the equivalent of an interplanar hijacking ritual. The abomination was using the body for the past 5 years to abduct people who were using teleportation spells and eating them. Using another ritual, Cliona found that the man turned out to be a Shadar-kai general of the Raven Queen named Carathor who had been taken from a great battle during an attempted shadow step.

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Elemental Fight
Tabletop

Once the group had rested, they were told to depart for a village that had been attacked several times recently. The Citadel had no information on what was to come or on what was doing the attacking. The group left to find what they could. Upon arrival, the group learned that the Captain of the guard knew very little other than the attacks usually came at night. They met a young boy named Theirin who was willing to help out where he could. The group made up a plan to prevent the attack that Kai was sure would come later that night.

The group waited in ambush for the attackers, and the attack came around 10pm. The attackers suddenly appeared with little warning: first some crossbowmen, followed by what looked like an overseer, and finally joined by a pair of magicians in the treeline. The attack started and the defenders looked to have the upper hand. Though the fight complicated when 5 black puddings rose from a nearby mud pit, the group took them out quickly enough to eliminate the attackers. As the last one was beaten, it turned into water and rushed into the forest.

The group immediately gave chase, leaving the town behind. They followed the sound of the rushing stream and eventually arrived at a true brook. The water rushed to the side of the brook and a huge rock rose from it. A terse conversation in a harsh screeching sound took place, followed by a painful scream and the water joined the brook. The rock monster stepped from the rock followed by a huge lava elemental from the fire. They were joined by 10 thunder and lightning elementals. The fight once again was joined and the group quickly learned to fear the smaller minions: they exploded on death. Though the fight was harsh, the group won the day in the end. However, following the fight, a debacle of a skill challenge took place and much confusion and hilarity ensued.

Upon their return to the village, the captain gave them a letter to present to the Citadel. The group rested and departed for the Citadel. Upon their return, they found that they had a day to rest before they were being sent out yet again, this time to investigate a shipwreck that apparently occurred nowhere near water. The group once again moved to investigate, arriving around midday. The shipwreck was indeed a boat in the forest, torn in half. An evil aura seemed to permeate the surrounding forest. Alric moved to the top of the boat in order to get a better vantage point and banged on the deck, yelling for whatever was inside to come out. He was surprised by a tentacle that slammed through the deck, nearly impaling him. From the ship crept a Far Realm Abomination and 6 of its thralls. While the thralls flung goo at the group, hitting Kai quite solidly once, the abomination spent its time stunning and smashing the rest of the group repeatedly. The group struggled to maintain its power, but eventually mowed down all the thralls. Once they were gone, everyone focused on the abomination. Though close, some solid crits by Sandy and others as well as magic missiles from Kai helped to finally bring the beast down.

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The Second Group
Tabletop

Nunah and Shiema had returned to the Citadel to find that another group of recruits had arrived to join the militia: Zhang Kai, the Deva and adopted younger sister of Zhang He; Celestia, the Eladrin cleric; Alric, the fighter from the streets of the Forlorn Dynasty; Sandy, the Halfling rogue; and Diabeetus, the Drow Monk. The new group were quickly set upon the task of training in the training grounds under the Drill Instructor. Their task: bloody Taigong Wang, a foreign diplomat that was in the Citadel helping the leaders of the country.

Long story short, Taigong Wang beat the group about the head and shoulders multiple times. Though the group did emerge victorious (as much as they could say they did), Taigong Wang gave the group a moderately passing grade and recommended them to the Citadel leaders. At dinner, the group finally met their commanding officers, Nunah and Shiema. Though Alric did not seem readily impressed, the rest of the group remained respectful and introduced themselves as well.

The next morning, the group split up to take care of various needs before their next task was given to them. Zhang Kai spent a long time talking with Taigong Wang in the library while Sandy and Celestia eavesdropped and Alric wandered aimlessly. Before long, Alric, Celestia, and Sandy departed for the town to finish their own errands.

Sandy and Alric spent several hours investigating taverns and talking with the seedier aspects of town. During this time, Celestia wandered to the church to gather information from the town there. While there, she noticed a disheveled man in priest robes constantly chanting a ritual over a dead fish. She was intrigued and asked around to find that the man had been there for over a week and had not slept or eaten anything since his arrival. The other priests had given him robes but had not extended any further help to him.

Celestia set about finding a way to help this man. She realized after some time that he was chanting a raise dead ritual, but he was doing so without any components. She decided to ask the church, but they were not willing to help. As she was contemplating what to do, Sandy and Alric arrived at the church and settled into the back pews. Celestia left the church to find a wizard, and after some time learned that only one true wizard resided in town: an old man who ran a “club” for “wizards”. She arrived to find him talking to Kai about various rituals. She explained the situation and the man was immediately interested, agreeing to come to the church and to bring his own components for the ritual.

Once the three arrived back at the church, they found that Alric and Sandy had gathered a large number of the homeless and more destitute of town and were smoking in the back of the church. Some betting was also going on, however the church members turned a blind eye as a much more potentially serious incident was developing. The wizard moved the man away from the fish and examined it for some time. He put out a good number of magic crystals and began to incant the spell, but stopped almost immediately. He pulled a much larger number of crystals from his pouch and started again, but again stopped very quickly. He began to pile the crystals higher and higher.

While this was going on, Alric brought a bucket of water to the side of the ritual location. The man who had started the ritual suddenly had a moment of clarity and looked at the group, insisting that a much larger amount of water was going to be needed. Without hesitation, Alric departed for a nearby tavern, bringing several of the homeless men with him. He negotiated the use of an empty vat and had the homeless men carry it back to the church. Once there, he set it up and had the many men fetching water to fill the vat.

By the time that the vat was full, the wizard was finishing an expedited version of the raise dead ritual. As the ritual completed, the fish began flopping around the altar it had been placed on. The crazy man immediately grabbed the fish and threw it in the vat. The water began to rise from the vat in a sphere. It began to spin quickly without throwing any water, and eventually it exploded, revealing a 5-foot tall fairy dressed in a blue garmet and blue hair. She turned to the crazy man, said “You are forgiven,” and the man promptly died.

While the clerics quickly moved to help the man, the fairy asked to be taken to who was in charge. While traveling, she explained her plight. She had been caught in the fisherman’s net and had been killed when he panicked and threw her. She was one of the world’s elemental fairies, separate from the Pixies and elementals both. She and her kind were at war with the invading elementals and enlisted the group’s help to eliminate this menace.

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Date Ra-- Night with Cliona

Cliona departed the tavern for a few hours, leaving Dexlexius, Wigelsbach, and Alderath to stay in the tavern drinking. When she returned, Alderath procured a number of drinks in leaded, reinforced tankards. These drinks, known as “King Behemoths,” were designed to be “one and done” drinks. Alderath, good buddy that he is, delivered 3 to Dexlexius. While the first two totally derailed his senses (he was seeing some very psychedelic images involving beholders and feathers and techno music), the third one destroyed his speech and his motor skills. At this point, Cliona returned, saw “Dexy” in that state, and decided to take care of him. After dragging him upstairs by his feet… stuff happened.

Next morning, Alderath and Max found Dexlexius removing the bindings tying him to his own bed. While he remembered little, he had this distinct feeling that Cliona tried to kill him. As the group went downstairs to find Wigelsbach still drinking modestly, Cliona again joined the group in the tavern. While she flirted somewhat with Dexlexius, she did not stay longer than a few minutes. While the group discussed the previous night, Max walked outside to investigate a loud clanging noise that had drifted in. He returned to the group and implored that they join him outside quickly.

Once outside, even Dexlexius noticed the huge tree that was now growing out of the stone beside the tavern. The iron guard near the tavern had apparently fainted upon noticing this new arrival, but the group was more interested in the tree. Although Alderath wanted to remove the tree with his ax, Dexlexius reminded him of the danger of harming nature when Cliona might be nearby. Alderath backed down and Dexlexius turned away from the tree to walk back inside. To his surprise, the tree reached its branches down to grab him. Not really to his surprise, it turned out to be Cliona. While they chatted, Wigelsbach and Jeoffrey walked toward the group, Wigs from the tavern and Jeoffrey from the library.

Cliona departed for a time when she was put off by Dexlexius, while a gold guard from the Lord’s Keep came running toward the group. The guard came with a message for Jeoffrey, but did not recognize him. Dexlexius bluffed the guard into giving him the message and the guard left happy. Dexlexius delivered the message to Jeoffrey, who read it to find that they were needed at the docks ASAP to escort a diplomat to their allied nation, the Forlorn Dynasty. Dexlexius went to find Cliona and found her chatting with Fei Pa. After a short conversation, Cliona departed, leaving Fei Pa to whisper to Dexlexius to check his pocket when he was alone on the ship.

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