:: Dungeons & Dragons - The Threshold Party - Time in and around Glantri City ::

Time in and around Glantri City

In the streets outside, the glowing orbs of Continual Light which had remained covered during the day were being unveiled to illuminate the canals. Lana jumped in a gondola to return to the Watertower Inn. An enchanted hourglass in the entrance hall indicated that the time was around a quarter past the hour of six, leaving just enough time for dinner before the theatre. She lost no time heading for the lift and pulled on the rope marked 'Crystalview Tower Roof'. She was rewarded with the sound of a distant bell and a great deal of clanking. After a few minutes she stepped out and ascended a short flight of stairs into the dining area. It was still the early evening so she had her pick of tables and opted for one from where the sun could be seen setting. The view from the roof was astounding and the transparent dome surrounding the area protected against the chill of the evening winds. The city stretched out before her eyes, just like the model she had viewed in Ekystra's studio. The Crystalview Tower dominated the surrounding area and from it she could see across the rooftops to Glantri's other great towers, to the port and the farmland and hills on the south side of the river. The city walls were lost to her view once the sun dropped behind them but by that time she had given an elegantly dressed gentleman her order and was eagerly awaiting the arrival of her food.

To begin she was given the choice of one quarter slice of Blackhill Melon or Averoigne Onion Soup. After that, the options were Lamb or Venison in Red Wine, Chicken glazed with Giant Bee Honey, freshly caught Giant Bass or the Inn's speciality: Troll Steak du Chef (recommended very well done unless the diner was exceptionally hungry). Ever the gastronome, Lana opted for the Troll Steak. A selection of vegetables and freshly baked breads were provided in addition to Averoigne wine. The service was quick but even so Lana felt she would have no time (or room) for dessert. Curiously, her food and drink were brought by a four foot tall individual covered from head to foot in ill-fitting cloth robes. A mask obscured most of its face but its gnarled chalky coloured hands and the red glint of its eyes in the twilight betrayed the fact that it was clearly not human.

Pressed for time, Lana paid and returned to the elevator, casting a wistful glance toward the stand of cakes and pastries she was passing up. Hurrying to the Metropolitan Theatre she felt as though she had overindulged. Her arrival at the theatre was a little late but she managed to find her seat on the first balcony before the play began. Beneath her was an area where those unable to afford a seat were standing to watch the performance.

Curtain time

The play was delivered in highly poetic Glantrian so she failed to understand a great deal of what was said. In addition many of the jokes were lost on her however the plot was easy to follow and the actors gave tremendous expression to their lines so she could at least feel the emotion behind their words.

The Abduction of Lady Sinaria focused on the daughter of a Prince, who was not named but simply referred to throughout as 'The Prince'. On her wedding night she was whisked away by a magical wind - the actress was levitated and spun around while screaming wildly. Her husband-to-be, a dashing young wizard by the name of Johan, travelled to the Plane of Air (a mist crept over the stage obscuring the floor, prompting all the actors to fly or levitate) to determine what had become of his bride. After a number of dramatic encounters and a few comic interludes involving a trio of Invisible Stalkers who would constantly bump into one another on account of being invisible (Lana doubted that the voices she heard were actual stalkers). Along with Dort, his faithful but slow man-at-arms, Johan traced the being which had abducted Sinaria and learned that it had carried out its task at the behest of an Ethengarian cleric.

There was an interval during which she decided to limit herself to some fruit and another glass of wine. Comparing her plain attire to what others were wearing, she felt underdressed and found herself wishing that her new Glantrian gowns were ready.

The second half of the play shifted to Sinaria - a spirited young woman held captive by a fat cleric (the actor was made up to look grotesque) who appeared to want to take her as his wife then sacrifice her to his demonic master - called simply The Great Creature. Sinaria attempted to escape with her magic but the cleric cast a Silence upon her. She then almost managed to escape using her considerable wits but was betrayed by one of the cleric's other wives. Just as all seemed lost and the cleric was about to defile her Johan and Dort arrived. Dort cut down the cleric whilst Johan stood between Sinaria and The Creature, who arrived as his cleric died and appeared to be played by a genuine Ogre wearing fierce face paint. The play had been well acted throughout but this final battle was incredibly convincing. The Creature seemed to be genuinely trying to kill Johan and when Johan cast a spell that caused the Creature to rise from the ground and burst into flames the death cry sounded very real indeed. The flames raged briefly then there was nothing left.

The play concluded with the happy marriage of Johan and Sinaria, drawing cheers and applause from the crowd. "Romantic, wasn't it?" said a voice behind Lana in Thyatian, as the audience began to disperse. "Forgive me," said the middle aged but handsome owner of the voice, "but I find it difficult to believe that such a beautiful young woman did not have a companion for this evening."

The voice belonged to a wealthy trader from the Thyatian province of Tel Akbir, who offered to take Lana for a drink. After a short while of pleasant conversation and trading reports of the ongoing War, Lana graciously declined the stranger's offer for fear of ulterior motives and retired to enjoy her lodgings back at the Watertower Inn.

Out into the wilds

The following morning, recalling the map she had viewed in the Monster Hunters' Union which had shown the location of the area of the Black Mountains known as the Wendarian Reaches, Lana decided to take her carpet north for a few days. Curiously, the outlying lands were reported to be rife with randomly appearing monsters - might these have been appearing spontaneously from somewhere? Keen to investigate, Lana felt reassured that her flying carpet would keep her out of the reach of most foes on the ground. In any event she needed to kill time while waiting for Karnus to return from his errands; some monster hunting would provide an ideal distraction.

After breakfast and having stowed her belongings in her Bag of Holding (including around half her substantial haul of new furniture, mainly the smaller items such as footstools, desks and chairs; the larger pieces such as beds, chests and wardrobes she had paid the Movers' Guild an exorbitant fee to transport to Karameikos on her behalf) Lana unfurled her carpet on the steps of the Watertower Inn and sped on her way north, following the Vesubia River to avoid getting lost. For most of the morning she flew through pastureland which was empty and unremarkable; then at midday she spotted a hulking, reptilian form ambling along the opposite riverbank - a many-headed hydra. It seemed the reports of random monsters were true, even close to the capital. Lana assaulted the beast from afar with a lightning bolt and several spreads of amber shards, then closed to rain daggers and finish the combat. As the creature died it stretched its many maws wide, emitting noxious green gas yet this proved incapable of reaching Lana on her carpet. Once the gas dissipated, Lana landed and removed some of the beast's fangs to perhaps use as future spell components.

Flying onward until sunset the landscape became more vivid - entire fields were filled with intensely colourful flowers (she would later learn these were called 'tulips') and small canals branched off from the main river, leading to oddly-shaped constructions - squat towers with whirling appendages designed to turn with the wind. This, she guessed from a map she had viewed in the Karameikan Embassy, was the region of Bergdhoven.

Lana camped that night in a gully by the side of a field of flowers, slumbering beneath her magical blanket of defence before rising the next morning to fly onward. The day's travel proved uneventful and by early evening the fields of tulips gave out and the landscape returned to pastureland. Slopes loomed to the faraway north and east which she hoped might be the foothills of the Wendarian Reaches. She presumed she was now entering the Principality of Aalban, its landscape marking a sharp contrast to that of Bergdhoven; to Lana's surprise the tulips and wind-towers were replaced by ... chewed and hacked carcasses?! The bloody corpses of sheep and cattle lay ripped and strewn all over the landscape. Something had passed this way and butchered the livestock out of malice, not even caring to feast on the remains.

Altendorf

As the sun was setting the carpet reached the village of Altendorf, and Lana had no difficulty booking a room at the village's only inn. Here a great number of farmers had gathered to drown their sorrows at many of their cattle and sheep having been decimated. Lana commiserated the local folk on their losses before retiring to bed. Her rest didn't last long - as night fell, cries went up throughout the village. Lana threw open the shutters of her window and gazed out across the rooftops of the many smaller dwellings. Dozens of dark, winged forms were flitting through the streets carrying helpless villagers. There came a savage snarl and one of the creatures leapt onto Lana's windowsill, right in front of her. She blasted the creature with phantasmal cold - causing it to stiffen and fall backwards from the window to land in the alley below.

The village square could be seen from the window and with a few words of magic, Lana illuminated most of it with Continual Light. The dark-winged creatures shrieked with annoyance, refusing to draw near the radiant globe which provided a safe haven for the villagers. Lana cast several spells about her person - among them Fly, Mirror Image and Shield - and descended into the streets to assist the locals in driving off the foul creatures. An Ice Storm managed to take out a number of the creatures which had clustered together, then Magic Missiles and Amber Shards took out a few more. With their morale blown, the remaining creatures gave cries of defeat and flapped off into the night, heading in the direction of the mountains to the west.

To her frustration, Lana would later learn that these creatures were called Darkwings (or "Dakkvinks" going by the local pronunciation) - rare mountain-dwelling creatures, sought after by the Monster Hunters' Union in particular, whose premises she had visited only days before. Indeed, the creature she had phantasmally incapacitated would have made a perfect specimen to hand to the Union in an undamaged state. Lana was left kicking herself and feeling that she had missed the bleeding obvious.

The Second Banner

As the carpet continued along the river the next day, the glinting of sunlight on weapons caught Lana's eye - half a mile or so away, a group of soldiers were engaging monsters of some description. Excitedly, Lana made a beeline and the creatures came into view - around a dozen ashen-skinned humanoids bearing black metal blades, half of them astride enormous hellhounds. The Army remained at a distance of around a hundred feet, loosing arrows at their foes yet this appeared to have no effect other than to send up ash and smoke on impact.

Not wishing to disrupt what might be a carefully planned military operation, Lana remained at a distance and observed from afar, but as her curiosity got the better of her she decided she would help out. As her carpet drew near, she noticed that the soldiers were all mounted on fierce looking chargers and wore chainmail covered with blue and white tabards bearing a Dragon Rampant. There were two score soldiers in total. The ashen creatures' details could be made out also - their bodies largely featureless but covered in grey ash, their heads resembling skulls in whose eye-sockets flames could be seen dancing.

While Lana invoked a Confusion effect on the monsters, the soldiers drew back their bowstrings again, remaining spaced apart from one another. Lana was only able to affect a small number with her Haste spell, but centred the effect on the individual who had raised his sword - presumably the leader. At this point the monsters charged forward - apart from a single Hellhound who stayed put, swaying slightly from side to side. Two others - one mounted and one not - charged at one another and their black blades clashed. The soldiers remained calm, ignoring the foes directly in front of them to keep the draw on their chosen targets. The signal was given and arrows filled the air. Again, many of the grey skinned creatures were hit to no visible effect - several arrows found homes in the flanks of the Hellhounds however causing genuine injury. Lana watched with satisfaction as one soldier who had been in the area of her Haste effect, having already planted one arrow in the Hellhound at the centre of the circle, whipped out another arrow and hit it again. The beast howled in anguish.

Seeing several of the creatures clustered together, Lana summoned an Ice Storm in their midst - catching four in the searing cold. Elsewhere, the ashen creatures were hurling themselves at the soldiers. Any time a soldier's blade or mount's hoof struck one of the creatures it exploded, sending up a choking cloud of ash. A few soldiers collapsed to the ground, barely able to defend themselves while they coughed to clear their lungs. Another was forced to throw himself from his saddle as his steed was engulfed in flames from a nearby Hellhound.

To one side of the carpet, Lana saw a soldier rolling on the ground, attempting to put out flames on his tabard with one hand while holding a Hellhound at bay with the other. She had a horrible flashback to watching the brave young Forester Dallus die in the Coliseum of Thyatis City. She hurled Magic Missiles at the Hellhound but proved too slow - the youth died, engulfed in flames. The fire-breathing beast stood, but was despatched by arrows from the deceased's comrades.

To her horror (but immense curiosity from a magical point-of-view) Lana noted that the explosive clouds of ash and smoke were coalescing back into solid, humanoid form - the black blades reappearing in their hands as they did so. What manner of creatures were these?

She proceeded to conjure an Earth Elemental but as the gigantic figure rose from the ground she sensed something was wrong ... stupidly, she had cast her spell within the area of magical Confusion which would remain in effect for another minute at least. She felt her own spell competing with her to control the Elemental. She concentrated hard and at last secured control, directing the earthen giant toward the largest group of humanoids. The commander of the troops was bellowing orders whilst laying into one of the menacing beings - unlike the others, his weapon seemed capable of harming the creatures. The other troops had gone on the defensive, manoeuvring their steeds to encircle and distract their foes, drawing attention away from injured comrades. The Elemental reached its destination, readying itself to attack. Nearby troops looked wary and some drew their bowstrings but cheered when the walking mass of soil and stone stooped to swipe at one of the ashen creatures. The thing staggered and stiffened, then jerked before collapsing in on itself. Its weapon fell from its grasp and disintegrated, becoming cinders on the ground. The instant before collapsing however, the flames in its eye-sockets blazed forth, blasting the Elemental and appearing to hurt it badly.

The commander of the troops succeeded in running through one of the creatures and the resulting flames harmed him too when his opponent imploded in a thick cloud of smoke and dust. The Elemental continued swinging at its terrifying foes and with every attempt one more was destroyed, drawing progressively louder cheers from the troops. With every one that went down the Elemental was burned and grew weaker. All the monsters broke off their attacks against the soldiers and ran across the field of battle to attack the Elemental. Their blows had little effect though one of the black blades managed to hew a chunk from the Elemental's leg. Most of the troops had backed off to give the Elemental room to swing its massive fists. The commander had ridden into the melee and was doing his utmost to divert attacks away from his force's potential saviour.

Four or five opponents had been destroyed. The last remaining Hellhound vented its fiery breath and through her mental connection Lana felt the Elemental's agony mixed with something that might have been fear. The echoing bellow it gave was clearly pain and this spurred the nearest troops into action. One managed to open a long wound along the hound's back but not before it released another gout of flame and the Elemental's earthen form crumbled. The commander managed to put paid to another one of the humanoids but was himself now badly burned. Five foes remained - a Hellhound and four of the strange fiery beings.

In desperation Lana invoked a Hold Person effect, but it came as no surprise when none of the humanoids were affected. She might as well have tried to catch smoke with her hands. In the meantime a number of soldiers and steeds had set upon the remaining Hellhound, which was summarily trampled then decapitated. The commander received a glancing blow from one of the black blades, responding by planting his own sword into his foe's abdomen then collapsing as the resulting flames hit him in the chest.

With three opponents remaining, Lana directed a Magic Missile at each. All survived the impacts but were badly wounded and decided enough was enough - spying a gap in the troops, they dodged through the opening and fled for the hills. The soldiers were inclined to let them go however Lana lowered her carpet to ground level and released a Lightning Bolt which obliterated all three once they were clear of the troops.

The surviving soldiers cheered as Lana brought the carpet about to face them, then hopped off. She could not help but notice how badly the men were injured.

"Bandages!" She looked around expectantly. "Who here has bandages? Do any of you understand me??"

"Ja, ve understand you Fraulein," spoke the commander who was dragging himself to his feet, wincing from the pain of his wounds and burns. Despite the obvious agony, he stood straight, clipped his heels together and practically shouted, "Sergeant Niklaus Stutrich of Prinz Jaggar's 2nd Banner at your command. I and my men thank you for your most timely assistance." His speech was comprehensible, lying somewhere between the Hattian dialect of Thyatian and Common Glantrian.

Lana moved among the troops using her healing skills to try and patch the nastiest gashes the creatures' black swords had inflicted. A total of eight soldiers and two horses had been killed. Two other steeds were so badly injured that they were quickly and efficiently finished off by the troops, who displayed not even a flicker of emotion at this work.

For the most part Lana's healing skills were put to good use, apart from one unfortunate incident when she tied a bandage too tightly, drawing a howl of pain from the soldier whose wound she was attempting to close. He was reprimanded by the Sergeant for his outburst. "Be QVIET. Men serving Prinz Jaggar do not vimper like dogs. I am sorry for his veakness Fraulein. Please do not zink zat zis reflects on ze rest of us."

Lana conversed at length with Sergeant Stutrich who informed her that the unit was on a week-long patrol of the western bank of the Vesubia, and would proceed as far south as Altendorf before returning to the town of Leenz. Beyond that he could say little, as he was not permitted to disclose troop movements with non-military personnel. He did however reveal that the dragon emblems so prominently emblazoned on his mens' tabards were the crest of House Ritterberg - the rulers of Aalban.

When asked about monster sightings in the area:-

"Not many recently. Zee monster attacks are becoming less feekvent. Zey began last sommer all over Glantri but Aalban, Bergdhophen and Boldaphia ver zee vurst. Prinz Jaggar brought in troops fom all opher Glantri before zee vinter and zanks to his brilliant command ve haf von many phictories over zee monsters and stopped them getting further south. Before vinter zer vas a new monster every day. Now ve see battle only vonce or tvice a veek. Large groups like zis are fairly vare. Ve did face a giant last veek but zat vas no problem. I haf fought zee undead, giant vorms zat burst fom zer ground, men of living rock und a vite dragon. I haf heard from other officers zat zere haf been Vyverns, Manticores, shapeshifters, Gargoyles, Golems and strange creatures, the like of vitch novon had seen before."

When Lana expressed sympathy for those who had fallen in combat:-

"Zey fought and died as zey are trained to do. Zer families vill be generously compensated."

And when expressing regret for the battle not having ended sooner:-

"Fraulein, vithout your magic ve all may haf been lost. Zee creatures ver obviously not vulnerable to vepons vithout an enchantment. I am fortunate to haf a magic blade avarded to be by zee Prinz. My men ver not so fortunate. It is not zee first time zat such a zing has happened. Ve are trained to contain such things until vizards can be brought in to support but ve ver not prepared to find so many at vonce."

Since the troops were continuing south on their patrol, Lana offered to deliver a report of their findings (in addition to her own account of the Darkwing attack on Altendorf) to Leenz in the north - directly up the river trail so there was little prospect of getting lost - where Sergeant Stutrich expected that the Captain of the 3rd Banner would wish to send a report of the fiends to one Captain Breuer at Fort Nordling, a military base further north where the Second Banner was based and which served to protect the free territories north of the Principality of Bergdhoven. Prince Jaggar was Viceroy of the Fort, despite it not being located within Aalban. Lana was happy to oblige and sped on her way, reaching Leenz after just a few hours of flight. She delivered her report to the local military and rested overnight within the town walls, then the following morning her interest was piqued when she heard mention of Schloss Ritterberg - the nearby home of the Von Drachenfels family who were well-respected in the area. There was even a statue of an staff-bearing individual by the name of Morgaithe von Drachenfels at the centre of a fountain in the Leenz town square.

Excited at the prospect of meeting the family of famous dragonslayers, Lana flew west on her carpet and by early evening was approaching an enormous, fortified structure which could have passed for a military fort. Schloss Ritterberg occupied a mountainside position, its grand and imposing architecture appearing to have been carved right out of the hillside. Lana's enthusiasm waned when a number of forms detached from the battlements - gargoyles. The magically animated constructs closed at speed to engage her, their claws and fangs bared in readiness to do battle. Deterred, Lana had no option but to adopt evasive manoeuvres and was eventually driven away, the gargoyles giving relentless chase behind her. It seemed the Von Drachenfels family were not inclined to receive guests, or their gargoyles were permitted to decide for them. For hours the constructs continued their pursuit, as the carpet and its disappointed passenger were driven further and further away.

Hours later Lana surveyed the skies behind her and was relieved that she could no longer make out the gargoyles' flapping forms - they had broken off their chase and returned home. About time too, she thought, resolving that she would make Prince Jaggar's acquaintance at some future point. Looking ahead, the carpet's present course would cause her to intercept a sole figure riding a pristine white pegasus. Lana closed the distance and called a greeting to the rider. This was an ageing woman in fine robes with resplendent red hair. The traveller indicated that Lana was in the presence of Lady Sinaria, the Countess of the local region. When asked whether she was in any way connected with the Von Drachenfels the Countess responded curtly that she most certainly was not and was descended from a noble Flaemish family; if any offence had been caused this was graciously overlooked. The day was growing late, therefore the Countess indicated that Lana would be permitted to return to her nearby home - High Sonden. The pair returned to her castle where Lana was treated to a lavish meal and Lady Sinaria listened with interest to her guest's accounts of her encounters on the way to Glantri City and other findings as she had travelled through Bergdhoven and Aalban. The tone of the meeting remained civil throughout. The following day, after a night of uninterrupted rest, Lana took to her carpet and the two females parted company on polite terms.

Reunion

It was an easy task to locate the Vesubia River and follow its course back to Glantri Cityt; after only two days of easy flight Lana's carpet was flying back over the northern slums and city walls into the capital proper. She delighted in the fact she was now fully licensed to pilot her carpet within the city, and was not approached by any of the constabulary. Over a week had passed since she left the city, therefore she hoped her companion Karnus would have returned from whatever mission his instructor had bestowed upon him. She lost no time seeking out the address Betula had provided. Locating the residence in one of the well-to-do northern wards, Lana stepped up to the front door and knocked politely. As she awaited a response, she wondered whether Karnus would even be at home - he might still be outside the city, or he might have been at the Great School or out griffon-riding. To her pleasure the door opened. There stood a man whom Lana did not immediately recognise - he seemed far older than Karnus, yet the blue robes and familiar grey streak (now more pronounced) through the otherwise dark hair at his temples gave her companion away.

"Karnus!" Lana stood beaming in the doorway.

One side of the man's face twitched as he regarded her with the expression one might give a one-time acquaintance who by all accounts had died. He blinked slowly in the morning light. Then, as if acting of its own accord, his hand grasped the handle of the door and carefully returned it to its former state of being closed. Lana was left facing an expanse of reinforced oak.

Inside the dwelling, Karnus leant against the door and stared into space. Moments passed. He recalled the dark menaces he had faced within the bowels of the Great School before graduating, triumphantly, as a true and worthy wizard of Glantri. Those tortures, all terrifying in their own ways, paled before the spectre which now lurked outside his home. Could one of his fellow students be playing a prank? Surely none would be so spiteful...

Determined to confront his demon rather than run from the fight, Karnus opened the door. The familiar figure was still there.

"What in the Known World happened to you Karnus? You look so old!"

"It..." Karnus mouthed the words, which refused to make sound as he accepted the reality of the situation. "It IS you."

Lana nodded vigorously. "I came calling around a week ago, did Betula not mention?"

Karnus stared into space before giving a half-shake of his head. "I only returned a short while ago. Besides, Betula keeps her own company most of the time and my attendance is required at the Great School - we see little of one another."

"That's right, the School - I got your letter! How are you getting on with that?"

Karnus appeared unwilling to divulge any specific detail but indulged his friend with a gentle smile. "Well, thank you. I passed my Test, which was perilous, meaning I graduated as a wizard around a month ago. I received my diploma from Etienne D'Ambreville personally." He reviewed this last statement. "Well, more or less personally, after a fashion."

Lana clapped her hands. "That's wonderful news, I am pleased for you." She wondered what hardship her companion had endured to win the School's recognition. Putting such thoughts from her mind she glanced down at the doorstop. "Are you going to invite me in?"

Karnus seemed unable to process this request. "Is it vital that I should?"

This question took Lana aback. "Not really. I suppose we could go for a walk instead."

Karnus nodded. "Yes, let's get some fresh air. Relatively fresh, I mean." Inclining his head toward the nearby canal he stepped outside, closing the door behind him. It seemed to secure itself without needing to be locked. "What's that you're carrying?"

"Oh!" She proudly unfurled the flying carpet, where it hovered at Karnus' feet. "This is what brought me here, can you believe I crafted it myself?" Lana brimmed with pleasure as her friend inspected the craft before favouring her with an appreciative nod. "I even have the required licence from the House of Ministers. Shall we go for a ride?"

The two stepped onto Lana's carpet and set off along the nearest waterway. With more than one passenger the device travelled more slowly than Lana was accustomed to and dipped slightly from time to time. Nevertheless she felt pleased that Karnus was the first person besides herself to ride the carpet. As they skimmed along the canals in the bright daylight the pair exchanged stories of recent encounters and little by little Lana got the impression Karnus had not changed so much as she had been worrying; at least some part of her friend was still there. Who knew what other changes lay beneath the surface. One thing which was notably different was her friend's voice. A new calmness underlay his tone, which at times was mesmerising to listen to. Evidently he had progressed significantly not only in the ways of magic but in other unknown ways also.

"Tell me," Karnus asked after pleasantries had been traded for some time. "What brings you to Glantri? Are you here out of idle curiosity, or for a particular purpose?"

"A purpose," Lana said unhappily. "I was keen to see the Principalities with my own eyes so I would have come eventually but if I'm honest, I am here at Teldon's bidding."

"Teldon?" Karnus' expression indicated that he didn't quite follow. "He asked you to come here?"

"To locate you, yes," she confirmed. "Your presence is required in Karameikos."

The blue-robed mage's eyes widened. "Impossible," he scoffed. "Teldon's pet projects are no longer my concern. He can't expect me to come running when he calls - doesn't he see how unreasonable that is? My commitments to the Great School, my studies, they simply won't permit -"

"Karnus please," Lana implored. "I don't know what Teldon's planning but it's big and he asked for you to be included, and his request has been approved by Duke Stefan. You've evidently settled here but your homeland needs you. Won't you come back with me one last time, for Karameikos' sake?"

"I owe Karameikos nothing," Karnus said flatly, after thinking for a while. Then the creases of his brow appeared to soften slightly and he regarded his friend solemnly. "But since you travelled all this way I will consider your request."

Lana smiled. "That's all I can ask of you."

Read the next instalment - Departing Glantri

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