Dalun

Blood in Burnodraath

After lying in wait for much of the day and night at the tavern the wife of Tannoc Causwold and a group of armored guards arrived, but not Tannoc himself. Solgrin made the choice to stay his hand, as there were greater foes to defeat and her death could tip off his real enemies to his coming. The party regrouped at The Drunken Darter and heard news that the Causwolds are claiming to have vanquished the last of the devils in the Halls of Might. This angered the group, particularly Aegishand, who bribed a town crier to stop spreading such nonsense.

They made their way to the Halls of Might and found that indeed a group of men wearing the blue and white colors of house Causwold were stationed out front. The party confronted them and asked what exactly is going on. The men were crass, but explained that knights of house Causwold entered the manor and cleared out the last of the devils. Solgrin challenged one of the men to single combat on his honor as a knight, but the man knew who he was dealing with and did not accept the duel. The soldier claimed that it would not be right for him, a commoner, to fight Solgrin, a knight. Ultimately the men had no choice and let the group pass.

Inside the Halls of Might they found that the place appeared ransacked, but there was no sign of devilry. They crept down to the cellar area and overheard a group of Causwold knights discussing “the clean up” of the estate grounds and learned that somehow Tannoc and his men were able to erase any sign that these infernal beings once dwelt here. Having heard enough the party attacked the knights. It was a bloody battle, but one by one the knights of house Causwold were cut down by Solgrin’s axe, Aegishand’s daggers, Goltheiron’s sword and Daylen’s spells.

After the battle the group paid a visit to Castle Rain to meet with Duke Arkirk. They revealed their findings and while Arkirk said that he believed the adventurers’ account he also explained that he cannot take any action as Duke of Rorain against Tannoc or his house until proof is found. The party discussed their options further, departed from the castle and waited outside watching the entrance to the city castle. The party spent the entirety of the day watching and following the horselord until he left the city with a small group of body guards. He rode south along the Trade Road, but broke into a gallop aiming for the open Steppe once his guards realized that they were being followed.

Solgrin spurred his horse and caught up to Tannoc, engaging his enemy in mounted combat. The horsemen looped around each other, each side taking passes at the other, riders were dismounted, spells cast and arrows fired. Aegishand fired a keen shot from his crossbow knocking Tannoc off his horse. After the battle Solgrin rolled the body of his enemy over and when he saw his lifeless eyes gazing back at him he roared, flailing his axe, thrashing and screaming until his voice gave out. He collapsed knowing that his foe was dead, but not avenged his own hand.

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The Duke and the Devils
An infernal plot unravels in Rorain

Solgrin, Aegishand and Larkspur received a message from the barkeep of the inn they were staying at, The Drunken Darter, requesting an audience with Duke Arkirk. The trio discussed what the duke could want from them and then decided to speak to meet with him at the city castle.

It was still early in the morning, so they were able to meet with Duke Arkirk in his study. There he asked the party to investigate the halls of The Glorious House of Unrequited Might because he has already heard reports of strange happenings in that part of town. They talked about Hydratha and his true form as a pit fiend. This bothered the Duke quite a bit and he offered that if the party purge those halls, then he will reward them with land, gold or titles. The party asked that he keep an eye on a particular Horselord by the name of Tannoc Causwold, a murderous villain from Solgrin’s past.

The party infiltrated through the secret tunnel entrance below the halls that they used to escape the day before. Inside they found the cellar had mutated into a fleshy, sinewy pit of filth and pus. The party was attacked by an ice devil and four bone devils that spawned from membranous sacs pulsating along the ground and walls. It was a trying battle that left Aegishand and Larkspur badly wounded, but they proved victorious in the end. Solgrin helped his allies escape and the party withdrew.

When they returned to the tavern they found some Causwold men guarding an inn room and while Solgrin desired greatly to cut them down and see who was inside his allies persuaded him to wait. They rented a room of their own down the hall and decided to lie in wait to confirm if Tannoc would be returning that evening.

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The Hollow House
A monster hunt in Rorain leads to unexpected answers

When the magic of the god-stone in Goltheiron’s hand was released the party found themselves transported from Ashzenok’s lair to the center of Rorain’s forum square. They quickly disappeared into the crowd to avoid any unwanted attention and found a quiet place to listen to the town crier’s news. Apparently a group of elite mercenaries and adventurers going by the name of The Glorious House of Unrequited Might has established themselves in the city. In recognition of the opening of the new guild Duke Arkirk agreed to sponsor a monster hunt to bring adventurers to the city. The party responsible for the greatest kill would be rewarded with gold and glory and would be offered an invitation to join The Glorious House of Unrequited Might.

Solgrin had not been to Burnordraath in some time and wished to visit a shrine constructed by his grand father to pay his respects. At the Sepulcher of Yuhl the warrior encountered a messenger who gave him a roundel displaying the Drothspell family heraldry along with the feather of a peregrine falcon. Solgrin kept his axe belted to his side and questioned the messenger who revealed that he was asked to report Solgrin’s arrival to a man wearing a dark cloak at a local tavern in Rorain. He was to say “Is Locstir coming?” as a code phrase to initiate the conversation. Solgrin paid the man to keep quiet and then returned to the city. He went to the tavern and spoke with the man briefly, but wasn’t able to get much information from him before he drew his wand on Solgrin. He cast a spell, Solgrin resisted the magic and killed the man. He recovered a simple brass key from his corpse and made off into the streets.

Goltheiron and Aegishand split up and did some digging around town to see what they could learn. Goltheiron spoke with the founder of the House of Might, a proud warrior named Hydratha, who explained his mission. Hydratha wishes to create an order of warriors and wizards dedicated to bringing themselves glory and power in their own names, not as sell-swords or vassals to one of the Horselords or anybody else. He offered membership to Goltheiron and his allies, acknowledging their reputation as heroes and champions, but the paladin declined. Aegishand discovered a seemingly empty warehouse on the waterfront with magic-infused locks. He was able to pick the locks, but the doors remained fixed in place by some spell.

The party met back up with Daylen at a tavern called “The Drunken Darter” and plotted their next move. They took some rest, as they had just come from the Abyss and then struck out in the middle of the night to the warehouse on the waterfront. They used the key Solgrin found and let themselves inside. The grounds were empty, but beneath a discreet trap door they found a prayer circle of red-clad cultists. The cultists were chanting infernal words into a column of magic smoke suspended in the center of the room. The cult leader explained that if the party should choose to interrupt them that a devil would be loosed upon them. Apparently the cultists had recently met with a nobleman from Solgrin’s past, a man named Tannoc, who was making a bargain with a devil they summoned. The cult leader claimed that Tannoc made a deal to secure himself some sort of unholy divination.

The party discussed attacking the cultists, but chose not to intervene. Daylen and Goltheiron knew that the cultist was telling the truth and neither of them wished to risk releasing a devil upon Rorain. Once the ritual was complete the cultists left and the party argued over the wisdom of allowing them to send the devil back to the Hells. They decided to track the cultists back to see where they were headed and sure enough they entered the front door to halls of The Glorious House of Unrequited Might.

Quickly the group strode inside and confronted Hydratha who did not immediately confirm or deny any involvement with devils or cultists. He took them to the basement of the estate where he guided them to a pentagram branded upon the floor. Hydratha’s flesh burned away as he revealed his true form; he was a pit fiend wearing the skin of a man. The cultists from the warehouse joined the fray and battle was joined. It was a bloody engagement ending with Aegishand and Goltheiron wounded on the ground and Solgrin and Daylen desperately fighting tooth and nail with the devil. Daylen telekinetically lifted Aegishand’s blade and struck from a distance while Solgrin retrieved Goltheiron’s holy sword, Qel’alas​, and struck the final blow felling the pit fiend Hydratha. The party stabilized their wounded and fled out an escape tunnel to the docks.

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Curse of the Abyss

With Zagash the Mighty dead Aegishand was anxious to return to Eltgaard and deliver the news. After the party got back to city they waited for the noble council to discuss matters of succession. During that wait the party was visited, one by one, by mysterious folk. While Daylen was out trying some local cuisine, for example, a dwarf woman bumped into him, grabbed his hand, looked into his eyes and told him that he was marked and that his soul would burn. Each member of the adventuring group in turn encountered a strange, seemingly innocent denizen of the city who delivered a similar infernal message. The party convened at the stronghold and decided that they would need to return to the Abyss to settle matters with the demons they’ve encountered.

Gylek cast a plane shift spell and teleported the party back to the demon monastery of S’zorzek the Lesser. They found that some force had destroyed the demon’s sanctuary likely out of some show of dominance from a rival upon hearing of S’zorzek’s death. Partly buried among the rubble of S’zorzek’s hold the party found a gold fragment of a standard bearing the device of another demon lord named Ashzenok. Daylen recognized the symbol, a blood droplet supported by bat wings, and knew that Ashzenok’s fortress lied at the heart of “The Plague Forest” here in the Abyss.

The party set off to confront Ashzenok to see if he is the one responsible for their curse. The Plague Forest was a miserable woodland of poisonous fumes, but the party persevered and discovered Ashzenok’s fortress. They crept inside and made their way to the demon lord’s throne room. Ashzenok began to question the party as to why they had come and who they were, but before answers were offered swords were drawn and spells cast. The battle was fierce and became protracted when mariliths slithered into the throne room at the sound of fighting. Ultimately the party slew many demons that day and even managed to snare one for questioning.

The captured demon explained to the party that Ashzenok was under orders from Reblithar to infiltrate a cult within the city of Rorain in Dalun. What purpose the cult would serve Reblithar exactly the demon either did not know or was so important that the demon chose death before speaking it. The party destroyed the wretched being and Goltheiron used a god-stone to teleport them all to Rorain for more answers.

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Reunion, Recovery and Regret
Eltgaard: a stage for politics and bloodshed

The party returned to Dalun, specifically to the dwarf city of Eltgaard, to see to its recovery and reunite with Larkspur. The adventurers had spent some time questing alongside Goltheiron on his home plane of Noruld, but the halfling chose to remain on Dalun. When they rediscovered Larkspur he looked a little worse for wear and was quieter than normal. Aegishand gave his friends and allies a tour of the newly renovated stronghold, the home of Aegishand and his wife, Lady Grimlove. New additions to the hold featured laboratory space for Gylek, an archery range for Larkspur, a chamber for prayer and meditation for Goltheiron and a stable and field for Solgrin’s horses.

After exploring the stronghold the party discussed the political situation in Eltgaard. The noble houses of the city have decided that a vote must be held to determine a successor. Golthos the Tyrant slew high king Eldukar and the entire royal family during the siege, so a successor or new form of government must be chosen. The vote is to be held tomorrow, but a number of current events have the nobles’ thoughts distracted from the issue at hand. The group decided to split up and investigate these matters hoping to restore a bit of hope to the people and focus the nobles on this critical vote.

Gylek met with Kurnli, master of the stonemasons guild, to plan the reconstruction of the king’s bridge that once connected the main keep to the rest of the city. The party funded the project with ten thousand gold and Gylek offered to use his magic to help shape the stone needed for the bridge. They discussed the name “Giant’s Fall.”

Solgrin and Larkspur tracked down a dwarf named Aedrik who has been rallying disgruntled commoners to his side and has been advocating for the end of the monarchy in Eltgaard. Aedrik and his riotous gangs wish to “return to the old ways” and abolish all class, rank and government altogether. The party was a bit divided on what to do with Aedrik, but ultimately decided that his type of thinking was too dangerous for the city’s future. The two went to meet with Aedrik who was actively ranting in the streets to an angry crowd. They approached him, some of Aedrik’s following stopped them, so Solgrin and Larkspur threw a couple of things at Aedrik causing a fight to break out. The dwarven rioters were no match for the veteran adventurers even without their weapons and eventually the crowd made way. Aedrik fled, so Solgrin and Larkspur gave chase. They eventually cornered him and dragged him inside an abandoned shop. Larkspur’s interrogation quickly turned to torture and when he took his knife to the dwarf’s scalp Solgrin killed Aedrik out of mercy.

On the other side of the city Daylen and Aegishand went incognito as traveling merchants and infiltrated the noble house of a powerful claimant to the throne, a self-proclaimed prince by the name of Rogohr. There are other dwarf nobles of lesser repute and renown laying claim to the throne, but Rogohr is the mightiest. Daylen used his wit and charisma to befriend a household servant and got him talking meanwhile Aegishand crept away. The servant let slip something about Rogohr’s father and with the context implying that he was not King Eldukar – which would kill the “prince’s” claim. Aegishand unlocked a safe in Rogohr’s study and found letters signed by Rogohr’s real father who indeed was a wealthy noble, but no king. The two scoundrels exited Rogohr’s estate and discussed their findings.

The party reconvened at the stronghold and decided to hunt down an enemy of the dwarves, a frost giant by the name of Zagash the Mighty. Folk are saying that Zagash is “Golthos come again” and morale is sinking with every attack against the city. During the journey through the subterranean roads Gylek’s mind was seized by some invisible hand. His eyes rolled back in his skull and his animated limbs cast a spell to raise undead beings from the ground. The party attacked the creatures unsure of what was happening, but when they realized that the dwarf cleric had some measure of control they continued on. Gylek became laconic, simply saying to move forward when asked what was going on, so with little other choice they party continue. At one point the party encountered a group of dwarf refugees looking for healing, but Gylek was unresponsive and regrettably they were unable to help. Eventually Gylek regained his faculties and explained that he was visited by a being of immense power who he knew must have been Reblithar, the blood god responsible for giving Gylek his abilities.

It took many hours of travel and tracking, but eventually the party found Zagash’s lair in the tunnels below the Dungardt Mountains and did battle with him and his numerous lackeys. Daylen used a powerful enchantment to fool some of Zagash’s agents while the party engaged the ogres and ice troll protecting Zagash. After slaying the ice giant the party pulled back into the tunnels to regroup and discuss their next move.

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Realm of the Slaad
A portal opens inside the fortress

After the death of Al’iikbad a number of parties have arisen to lay claim to the Fortress of the Darkened Sun. Zadesh, archmage and former associate of Al’iikbad, wishes to turn the fortress into a stronghold for spellcasters and rule the realm as a magocracy. Archmage Zadesh desires to take control of the remaining armies and make them answer to a mage court which he will preside over. Conversely the resistance group who challenged Al’iikbad’s rule wishes to create a “peoples’ council," tear down the Fortress of the Darkened Sun and disband the men-at-arms. They plan to rule for the people by voting on issues in an open forum.

Alternatively the party discussed the possibility of handing the fate of the Fortress and the city over to the Ainugrand, Malmöl or perhaps Goltheiron. Solgrin voiced his opinion that giving control over to Malmöl or the people would bring about weakness and would invite outsiders to take the Fortress of the Darkened Sun for themselves. Aegishand supported Goltheiron as choice for ruler as well, but ultimately both the fighter and the rogue deferred to the paladin. Just as Goltheiron was announcing that he did not feel right becoming the new leader for the people Lady Golhina stepped into the room to deliver some news.

Apparently an extraplanar gate has opened inside the necromancer’s fortress. Al’iikbad was known for conspiring with otherworldly forces as an avenue to power and the group quickly learned that this gate led to the domain of a Slaad-lord named Khallum. A being that Al’iikbad sought an alliance with to overcome the Ainugrand, but now that Al’iikbad is dead Khallum has set his eyes upon Noruld for himself.

The party agreed that for the safety of the people and for the sake of winning their favor in the coming debate over governance they would need to close the chaos portal. Solgrin, Aegishand and Goltheiron strode into the magic gate which took them to Khallum’s sanctuary within the first layer of Limbo. The Slaad-lord’s castle sat upon a floating stone island filled with water that orbited a molten sphere of fire and lightning. The Slaadi castle was mostly submerged within the interior “ocean” of the stone island though the caverns below were accessible by a central spire that stood above the surface.

A group of red and blue Slaad attacked the trio of adventurers, but were cut down on the causeway before the main entrance. They descended the spire into the core of Khallum’s watery sanctuary. Within, the Death Slaad-lord Khallum stood with a pair of grey Slaad guardians. The heroes did battle as newly birthed Slaad pulled themselves from the nearby spawning pools and the fighting intensified. Ultimately Solgrin, Aegishand and Goltheiron slew Khallum and his cohorts, but were surrounded by innumerable Slaadi reinforcements. They broke Khallum’s sword, whose pommel held a god stone, and escaped the Death Slaad-lord’s sanctuary sealing the portal behind them.

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Death of a Lich

After the prison break the adventurers were attacked by an evil desert djinn and a band of soldiers. After destroying the genie, a Dao, the party questioned a surviving soldier who confirmed Goltheiron’s suspicion that Al’iikbad had not truly been defeated in their last encounter. It would seem the Necromancer had mastered undeath and transformed himself into a lich.

The party set about defeating Al’iikbad’s servants, guardians and minions to undermine is power before the final battle. They recovered some treasure from the fortress vault including the “Ruby of the Desert” a powerful fire gem. After a few exchanges with soldiers, escaped prisoners and the occasional servant or apprentice the party did battle with a dracolich. The undead dragon had blue scales and shot lighting from its mouth. It proved to be a powerful foe, but Goltheiron mounted the beast and slew it with several well-aimed smites. The dracolich was custodian to a “shard of midnight” which was said to be a piece of the moon that fell to the ground during a solar eclipse before the fortress was built. Gylek and Solgrin destroyed the shard.

Confident that his powers were diminished by destroying the shard of midnight and looting his treasure trove the party confronted Al’iikbad in his main hall. The necromancer’s inner sanctum was a chamber wrought of solid gold with silk rugs and a tall-backed throne. Al’iikbad was guarded by a cadre of mystically animated suits of armor. These helmed horrors were brought to “life” by the unwilling blood sacrifice of a half a dozen innocent servants whose bodies littered the gold chamber.

The battle was brief, but bloody. The animated suits of armor were destroyed and the lich was finally defeated. His phylactery was crushed and he was unable to assume another form. At last Al’iikbad Zhal met his bitter end.

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Shadows of the Sun
Fortress sneaking and a prison break

The party reconvened after their escape from the Fortress of the Darkened Sun and discussed their next move. It was decided that there was unfinished business inside the fortress and speculation that Al’iikbad had not truly been slain, Goltheiron suggested that the evil sorcerer had become a lich. Daylen and Aegishand got to work securing a supplies wagon scheduled for delivery to the fortress. After a scuffle with the local garrison and a brief chase the party eluded their foes and made off with the supply wagon.

The following evening the party used stealth, magic and deceit to re-infiltrate the fortress. They were guided inside and taken to a lower level where the supplies would be offloaded by a handful of servants. Solgrin, Malmöl, and Goltheiron sprang from their hidden positions in the back of the wagon and slew the nearby enemy soldiers. The party then crept on ahead, taking the soldiers’ uniforms as disguises, and made their way to the dungeon.

They had to relinquish their weapons before entering the prisoner holding area, but it was worth the risk because they made contact with a resistance agent. A human male who had been taken captive for “seditious activity” revealed himself to be a member of a resistance movement with aims to disrupt Al’iikbad’s rule. The party decided to rescue the agent and motivate a prison revolt to provide cover… and perhaps a bit of justice.

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Bad Blood
Goltheiron takes his revenge

After stepping into the abandoned warehouse the party was confronted by Lady Golhina and Goltheiron’s former squire, Malmöl. The encounter was tense at first because Golhina was not convinced that Goltheiron was genuine. She and Malmöl explained that there were rumors after Goltheiron’s death that he had abandoned the Ainugrand and joined forces with Al’iikbad. Of course this was totally untrue, but Goltheiron’s story of awakening in the Silt Lord’s realm after this death on Noruld, fighting his way out, and coming to Dalun was difficult to comprehend. Ultimately it was decided that the paladin’s coming actions would determine his allegiance to the Ainugrand, to Noruld and to his mother.

Lady Golhina, Malmöl, and the rest of the party formed a plan to infiltrate Al’iikbad’s castle, “the fortress of the darkened sun” with a clever ruse. Malmöl and Goltheiron allowed themselves to be bound and gave their weapons over to their “captors.” Daylen, Gylek, Solgrin and Aegishand played the part of bounty hunters bringing prisoners before Al’iikbad seeking a reward. It took a lot of smooth-talking and a bit of luck, but the party made their way through the main gates.

The party was escorted inside the fortress and made to wait in a central chamber while the guard captain announced their arrival to Al’iikbad. While they waited Goltheiron experienced a vision of sorts. It was like an out of body experience, but he saw from the perspective of another… he stood in the body of someone else, a very familiar body… He found himself standing in Al’iikbad’s throne room, at the sorcerer’s side, and he saw the soldier enter the room to herald the capture of Goltheiron and his squire. At that moment Al’iikbad turned to Goltheiron and said to him “they are coming for you, my son.” At that very instant the paladin realized that somehow Al’iikbad had reanimated his slain body left on Noruld despite himself coming back to life on Dalun.

Battle was joined, Daylen used a spell to make the guards flee, and the rest of the party engaged a massive animated beast summoned from Al’iikbad’s twisted dungeons. After destroying the beast they moved into the throne room where Goltheiron squared off against his undead self. The moment his undead form was struck down Goltheiron collapsed and he experienced another out of body episode. He found himself before the gates of heaven having his actions and sins read back to him. Ultimately the guardian at heaven’s gates deemed Goltheiron’s work incomplete and rejected his soul sending him back to Noruld. When he returned, Goltheiron’s undead form had vanished as though reality had decided which Goltheiron would remain.

Finally Goltheiron rose, took up his sword and declared judgement upon Al’iikbad: death. The party engaged the sorcerer who had many magical augmentations in place and wielded powerful death magic, but was ultimately slain. When his body collapsed to the ground his physical form broke apart leaving behind naught but ash. A smokey light of energy escaped from the smoldering remains and spiraled towards the ceiling where it erupted in a dark flash. The party searched the chamber for valuables, didn’t find much, and chose to escape before reinforcements arrived.

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Portents & Portals
More of Noruld is revealed

Upon arriving to the stone gate and tower at the mountain pass the party quickly learned that whoever is supposed to be manning this passage has vanished. Aegishand and Daylen snuck ahead to have a look and using magic discovered a vile glutton spirit had taken up residence in the fort. The two engaged the creature, but quickly called for help. Solgrin and Goltheiron needed to lift the bars of the great gate so that they could get through while Daylen cranked the gate winch on the opposite side. Once the party surrounded the creature they were able to take it down. Goltheiron banished the remaining spirit with his newly won holy longsword, Qel’alas.

After investigating the redoubt the party discovered a flag belonging to a group of warriors known as “the Peregrines,” vassals of Lord Kallad. Goltheiron explained that while the Peregrines were not part of the Ainugrand they had common causes and it was uncharacteristic of them to simply have abandoned their posts. There was no sign of a battle, great use of magic hanging in the air or any indication as to where the warriors would’ve gone. Ultimately the party decided to open the gates of the pass and continue their journey North.

Daylen questioned the travelers as to where they came from and where they were headed. They explained to the bard that they hail from a Southern territory and every year they make a pilgrimage of sorts to Airunal. This year they are bringing a gift called “the Cloak of Winter” which is said to be a magical cape with the power to manipulate the seasons. The party also learned that the acting commander of the Ainugrand has apparently changed since Goltheiron was last on Noruld, but the travelers from the South did not know the new commander’s name.

Later that night Gylek offered to use magic to divine the location of Goltheiron’s mother, Lady Golhina. Goltheiron agreed and the scrying spell was cast. Just a moment later the two were looking into a pool of holy water beholding, Goltheiron’s mother, Lady Golhina hiding amongst some rocks in the desert overlooking a mighty city. Goltheiron identified the city as Ghazdeshdar “the fortress of the darkened sun,” the seat of Al’iikbad’s power. The party gathered round and discussed their fate here on Noruld and it was decided that with tomorrow’s light they would teleport to Ghazdeshdar and meet up with Lady Golhina.

The party did just that and when Daylen completed the teleportation spell they arrived in, rather, above Ghazdeshdar. They fell to the ground hard and were immediately set upon by Al’iikbad’s men. A battle was joined in the streets of the city and many enemies were slain; any who tried to run were struck in the back. After the fighting the party made off into the nearest alleyway to take cover. They evaded a number of guard patrols and moved to hide in a nearby abandoned building. Upon entering they were discovered by none other than Lady Golhina herself.

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