Chapter 10: Opportunities and Threats

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Session Number: 63
Date: Sunday 15 August 2010
Venue: Fergus'
DM: Craig (Densial takes over for the Elondel / Kharag part)
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr7 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Emily Ftr3/Rog5 (Densial) (kills: 1 ogre)
Feren Rog8 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal8 (Craig) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz8 (Densial) (kills: 1 ogre)

XP Awarded: TBC

Troll notices that the ogre's potion has a wax-covered stopper bearing the impression of a spider. Troll stows it and asks Vale and Jakardros to identify a few doors.

The narrower corridor to the southeast leads to a turret. The expansive corridor to the south leads to the fort's main doors. Adjacent to the west is the armoury, accessible through a door in its north wall. The doors off the west corridor open into guest quarters, another turret, and storage.

While Vale is describing the layout, he stops midsentence and glances over his right shoulder. "To me, to me!" he cries.

Rowaine moves up in support of Vale, peering through the half-open door to the barracks and holding her axe at the ready. "Ogres!" she yells.

"Have they got hooks?" asks Arrian.

"Yes!"

"I suggest we RUN!"

Jakardros sees multiple ogres close by through the partially open door, trying to be sneaky. He bends his bow twice; the second missile strikes the lead ogre. He then steps towards the door, vacating his vantage point. Shalélu moves towards the door. Her arrow also marks the ogre. Emily continues west, past the open armoury door, approaching the barracks' west double doors. They are wide open. She sights down an arrow, ready to shoot. Vale hefts his battleaxe in two hands, eyeing the wounded ogre. Arrian moves closer to Vale and augments his already considerable might with Bull's Strength. Feren exits the workshop. He yells at Emily: "Anything down there?"

"Not so far," Emily replies, switching between possible target entry points.

Feren moves carefully past the armoury door. He peers in and sees racks of weapons and armour along the walls. There is an odd-shaped corner in the southwest and a large bench in the room's centre. Pikes, long swords, quivers and other weapons stand in racks or lie on the floor. Many wooden-hafted weapons lie discarded on the floor, snapped in two. Feren moves to Emily. Troll moves inline with the eastern door and casts Fiery Burst just past the lead ogre. The spell catches both and they burn. The ogre nearest Troll staggers and falls. The surviving ogre advances, smoking. Vale steps forwards and chops the ogre's right flank before it has a chance to swing its hook. His heavy blow hits home.

"Haaar - meat come to ME!" challenges the ogre. Its hook savages Vale's left arm.

Rowaine kicks in the right-hand door and steps towards the ogre behind. Her imithrium axe, heavier than Vale's, cuts a slashing gash into the the ogre's chest but the brute stays up. Jakardros' next arrow bounces off armour. Shalélu fires two arrows from one bent bowstring. The arrows fly true but fail to penetrate. Emily moves past Feren and fires through the doorway. Her arrow lodges in the back of the ogre's neck. Its hook clangs noisily to the ground as it topples.

The party compare these ogres to the 'artiste'. They are about the same size, their equipment looks a little shoddier but not horribly so. For most purposes they are indistinguishable. Arrian searches the two corpses while Troll's Detect Magic is active. Besides their hooks and three silver pieces, he notices that the ogres wear helmets that are far too small, held precariously in place with foreign leather straps. Their steel breast- and backplates are ridiculously inadequate for their barrel chests. Arrian collects the armour and helmets for later inspection.

The western corridor has two guest rooms and a broom cupboard. Feren peeks through the keyhole in the sturdy, iron-bound door at the southern end of the corridor. It is dark within. He hears the sound of dripping water. He glances behind him, beckoning Emily closer. She joins him with her sunrod and Feren opens the door. Beyond is a circular stone room with a fifteen foot high ceiling. A ladder is attached to the right-hand wall. Water streams down through a trapdoor in the ceiling, pooling on the floor before the ladder. The ladder's middle rungs are smashed. Feren scales the ladder listens at trapdoor above. Through the drips on his face he can hear heavy rain pelting down above. He opens the trapdoor and is soon drenched by the torrential rain. It is almost dark outside. He climbs up, leaving Emily's sunrod below. A rampart leads to another circular turret to the east. Feren checks his bearings, figuring the distant tower is the same one he looked upon previously from a similar tower. A large circular structure stands in the centre. He climbs back inside, closing the trapdoor after him. He closes the door to the tower, drying his feet to avoid leaving wet footprints on the flagstones.

fort_rannick_ground_04.jpg

It is now around half past six in the evening. Although worried that they have still not found Enok, Arrian wonders about time and resource to continue on. He retraces the party's steps, checking the human-sized bodies. None of them appear to be their friend. Arrian again weighs the group's responsibilities to Enok against their responsibilities to Turtleback Ferry. He advocates heading to the dam. The party head downstairs through the caverns to the wing and transport to Elondel.

Denz takes over :-)

When the party appear in the tower, Elondel materialises and pulls Rowaine and Troll aside.

"I'm glad you've returned," Elondel says in a tone suggesting urgency. "Sir Veketh has been asking for you every quarter hour or so." Rowaine immediately transports to the monastery while Feren and Vale receive healing and Feren receives more tea.

Neither Arrian nor Feren have any access to Elondel's functions.

Rowaine materialises beneath the temple at the monastery. Sir Veketh stops his pacing and looks upon her. He looks worried.

"You're back," the dwarf says. "Good. We have important visitors. What do you know about Troll?"

"Sir?"

"Never thought I'd see it happen. We are being visited by royalty from the elven household. They have specifically asked for you, Rowaine, and your friends. They have mentioned Troll as well."

"How many there are?"

"More than I am comfortable having here!"

"Warriors?"

"There are some. They have been nothing but diplomatic, but are putting a bit of a strain on our resources. We can't turn them away - they're peaceful visitors after all. Shortly after you left a lone elf visited, asking questions. Not ten minutes later, trumpets… Fanfare… Suddenly, the elven queen is here, staying in my room."

"Have they asked what they want?"

"No! They have said they are passing through, but she has plonked herself down and she doesn't look like she is leaving any time soon. A couple of advisors have asked for you, your friends and Troll. Why do you think they are asking about him?"

"I don't know, but it worries me."

Sir Veketh witnessed the public falling-out with Elysia's entourage.

"The queen has made a request to see all the students before she travels on her way and I get the feeling she's not going to do that before she has seen you all."

"I would always bow to your authority, of course, but were it me… I know Troll and I don't know these visitors. They are elves… I smell a trap. I think it would be wise to keep him away from here. Troll is currently in his tower, I think I need to talk to him and make it stay that way."

"Very well, I'll see if I can stall her."

"I'm very happy to talk to the queen, especially given that she wants to talk to all students. Although technically I'm not a student here, and neither is Troll. I can just say that Troll is indisposed, which he is, but I don't want them to lay hands on him and possibly bring bloodshed to our home."

"I find it difficult to believe that a gaggle of elves would frolic on up to a dwarven monastery and start a fight. We're outnumbered, but it wouldn't go well for them. However, you know Troll and his story much better than I. If you think that's the way it might go…" Sir Veketh absently grips his warhammer's haft.

"I hope not."

"If Troll has wronged, then he has to answer for that."

"I don't believe he has."

"I don't either, but the statement still stands."

"Very well then, at the very least we should meet with them and discuss what they want. It may not be to do with Troll at all."

"She calls me young!"

"Sir, you are…"

"Only compared to her!"

"Has she been asking to see every student in person?"

"She has asked to see the students, yes, but her advisors have surreptitiously hinted that they are particularly interested in you and your party. There have been questions about when you will return, so she can move on."

"This is unprecedented!"

"It's not right."

"What do you believe her motive is?"

"Her ways are as far from mine as they get. You may as well ask me what a tree is thinking."

"Hmmmmm. I propose that I return and bring a number of our party and seek an audience. My intuition says that we leave Troll where he is in his tower. Does that seem prudent, Sir?"

"Anything to get her out of here. Classes have been suspended, all the teachers are on guard, the kids have been confined to the dormitories. We need to get past this!"

"I will speak to the others. If I can be of any other assistance, you need but ask."

Rowaine returns to the tower and gathers the others.

"We have company…"

"How are we getting there?" asks Feren.

Troll replies. "The same way we got here."

"Arrian," asks Rowaine, "do you know of the queen?"

"I know OF Queen Raewyn…"

The elfqueen is hardly ever seen, even by her ilk. The king died many years ago. She has three children. The elven monarchy respects the church and is influenced by her teachings and advice, but the crown is in no way ruled by the church.

Arrian offers to speak the queen in his capacity as Corellon Larethian's priest. Troll grants Feren and Arrian transport rights to and from Kharag.

"Take Feren to the monastery?" asks Rowaine. "He has proven himself useful, but I don't know where his loyalties lie."

"Feren, what was your relationship to Elysia?" asks Arrian. "A servant?"

"I worked momentarily in her employ."

"Are you known to the court?" asks Arrian.

"Mildly… I have meet the queen before and know her in more of a sense than a typical elf knows her."

"How did that happen?"

"I went to school with her children."

"Feren, would you please excuse us?" asks Rowaine. After Feren leaves the room, she eyes the rest of the group. "We've known Feren for a couple of days. He has just said that he works for a faction that we have had words with before, and not kind words. We need to get back to the monastery. I don't think Feren should be there."

Arrian and Rowaine return to the monastery and walk to the manse. Two elven guards stand outside. Arrian greets them in elven, offers a blessing and requests an audience with the queen. The guards stand aside and an older elf bearing the symbol of Corellon Larethian steps outside.

"Your party seems incomplete," the elf says. "Return when you are all here."

"We are not going to be here any time soon," Arrian says calmly. "If the queen wishes to speak to us…"

"We can wait." He closes the door. Rowaine and Arrian walk away and find Sir Veketh.

"Sir, did the queen arrive in the company of her clerics?" Arrian asks the dwarven patriarch.

"One of her advisors is a cleric." Arrian remembers the symbol on the elf he spoke to. "They are about forty strong all told - those that I can see," adds Sir Veketh, pointing out a couple of elves atop the monastery's defensive walls.

"This feels like an invasion!" blurts Rowaine.

Rowaine makes to return to the tower to arrange additional food and supplies. "Perhaps the elf will speak to you alone," she says to Arrian.

Arrian returns to the manse and meets the elven cleric.

"Young brother, let's walk," the elf says. They walk through the fruit trees surrounding Moradin's temple.

Arrian begins. "You might like to know that the queen turning up in such large numbers is somewhat of a worrisome sight to my party and these dwarves."

"I would imagine that you and your friends are not the only ones perplexed and worried about the situation."

"It seems you are interested in Troll. At this point, without knowing more of your purposes, I do not feel it is safe for him to be here."

"I see your problem. I'm sure many would. I do not know why, but the queen is somewhat resolute in this matter. I would suggest that her wishes are important to instate."

"that may well be so but there are things more important than a queen's wishes. Namely, that we follow the good path. The queen, like any other elf, must submit herself to honesty and the good."

"Easier said than done… Our influence with the queen is great, be assured of that, but in this matter we have no say."

"Can you at least pass on to the queen that I would like to speak to her, and that the rest of my party will not be showing up without an audience with her?"

The elf's eyes narrow slightly. "I must say I have heard of you, but I have not heard that your skills were such that you could blackmail a queen. But if you feel that is the right manoeuvre, I will pass on your message. If you so choose."

"Sir if you choose to describe my actions as blackmail, that's your choice. I know Troll. He is a good elf that I do no want to place in unnecessary danger."

"I think your skills are less than you believe them to be. You have told me that you will not present your party to the queen until you have had a personal audience with her. Is that so?"

"I don't need a personal audience. I do need some way of knowing that my friend is safe, that the queen's purposes are not to wish ill upon him. However that happens."

"I think you are out of your depth in this negotiation."

Arrian allows a measure of exasperation into his voice. "I don't have a choice. I don't get to choose the depth I am negotiating in. I am compelled to act as our god leads me, and I don't believe that our god would be happy with me advising my friend and my party to return to the monastery at this point. I act in all good will. I have no political or personal interest in this. I am not trying to be difficult, or gain anything except my friend's safety."

"I cannot say that I am willing to tell the queen that she has to give up meeting your party. Like I said, our influence within the royal family is great… It would be very very expensive for me to take your wish to the queen."

Arrian pauses for just a fraction of a second. "I understand. Let me think on this. May I get back to you?"

"Of course."

Arrian returns to Elondel.

"Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!" Arrian swears under his breath. "Double fuck! The priests are corrupt! That priest just asked me for a bribe to pass on a message to the queen!"

"That's hideous!" Rowaine exclaims. "Is that kind of thing normal?"

"Absolutely not! It is against all that Corellon Larethian stands for!"

"What are the queen's terms?"

"I was not allowed access to the queen, and I was told that to get a message to her would be very expensive…"

Rowaine huffs. "So we need to turn up with unnamed people until she is satisfied that some nebulous group are all there. We don't even know who she wants!"

"I think we know who she wants," Arrian says.

"You can't just…" Rowaine says. "For goodness sake!" Ask if you want something, don't go on being underhand about it!"

"I wonder whether she is doing anything here…"

"You think she is being manipulated?"

"I don't know…" Arrian says. "I do know she is seldom seen… Maybe I have already talked to the person in charge." He turns to Feren.

"Where were you to meet Elysia?"

"I was to travel to her home after my task was complete."

"How far away?"

"Many weeks by foot."

"Damn," Arrian says quietly. "I would really like to speak to a cleric I trust!"

"So… are we leaving to see the queen soon?"

A spark of an idea enters Arrian's mind. "Would the queen be well disposed towards you, Feren?"

"I did go to school with her children…"

"I would like to get a message to the queen. Perhaps she would see you where she would not see me… Would you be willing to take a message?"

"Yes… Would you be coming with me?"

"No. I have been denied access to the queen."

Rowaine and Arrian agree that there is no way Troll is going to the monastery as things stand. Feren will attempt to talk with the queen. Rowaine will travel with him ("I'm not letting him into my monastery alone!") but will stay out of sight.

Feren transports to the monastery, Rowaine escorts him towards the manse. On the way he sees Princess Ethalyn, youngest daughter of the queen. She is wandering along with a bodyguard in tow. The diminutive elfmaid spots Feren and runs at him, jumping into his arms for an extravagant hug.

"Hello," Feren says awkwardly.

"Hi Feren, how are you? Mother's been so worried… Where have you been? What have you been doing?" The princess interrupts her monologue as she notices Rowaine. "Ooooh, you're pretty!"

"Calm down, Ethalyn. I've been good… Now wh.."

"Where have you been? Tell me all about it!" Ethalyn points at Rowaine's stowed weapon. "That's shiny!"

Lady Rowaine, at your service." Rowaine kneels and bows.

"That's a sharp sword. Will you let me use it? Mother doesn't let me play with swords."

"You have a lot to learn," Rowaine says with an almost imperceptible smile as she stands. "This is an axe."

"Where's your mother?" asks Feren.

"In that building there!"

"Can you show us?"

"I s'pose… She's not very happy at the moment."

"Has she been stressed lately?"

"Yes! She's been really worried about something. I don't know what, I don't know why."

Ethalyn takes Feren's hand and tugs him towards the manse, talking inanely. She barges past the guards outside the door, somehow sweeping Feren and Rowaine along with her. The guards seem supremely unequipped to deal with the brash girl.

"Mother! Mother! I found Feren and a pretty lady with a sword!"

The old elf sits at a desk surrounded by papers, the queen stands behind him. Immediately a well-muscled elf warrior appears between Rowaine, Feren and the queen. He looks as if he knows how to use the sword at his belt, and knows how to get to it quickly. Rowaine inclines her head. Feren recognises him as Kylen, captain of the queen's personal guard.

"Hey Kylen, how've you been?" Feren says.

"Thank you sir."

"May I please address the queen?"

"Don't think so sir."

"My queen," Feren says.

The queen steps back into view. "Feren. Are you well?"

"Very much so. And you?"

"Good to see. You must be Rowaine," she says, her eyes turning to the paladin.

"Indeed I am, your highness."

"A smaller amount than I had originally expected…"

"Your daughter was most persuasive," Rowaine replies diplomatically.

"Ethalyn, come sit with me." The princess drops Feren's hand and moves demurely to her mother's side.

"I expected to see more of your friends," the queen reiterates.

"You strike at the very heart of the problem," Rowaine replies. "Who did you expect to see?"

"Well, I understand that you and your friends are instrumental in the work being done at the fort south of here. I am interested in meeting them."

"Fort Rannick?" Rowaine says, somewhat incredulously.

"Yes. Word is swift among the elves."

"Word is swift and accurate, your highness. Indeed we do have business there. Is it near where your kingdom lies?"

"No, not really. But does merit some interest to us. We would be pleased in seeing the matter resolved."

"Then I believe our interests cooincide. Having a fort full of ogres is in nobody's interests. We are working to rectify that."

"How goes the fight?"

"It is wet and hard work. We have dispatched nearly a dozen already. There are many more places we have not yet been. I don't think that the hard work is done yet."

The queen turns to her cleric advisor and captain, dismissing them. "Feren, go and get yourself and Ethalyn something to eat. Run along, now."

"I am at your service," Rowaine says, bowing.

"I am interested in meeting your party. I would appreciate that occurring… swiftly. I have other business to attend to. I am not a priest or priestess, I follow the religion as much as I need to."

"Pardon me if I appear rude or if I am overstepping my bounds, but may I know your interest in a fort that is presumably a long distance from your kingdom?"

"My interests are somewhat similar to many of the nobility in the region: stability, trade, things that may be a little beyond your years, young paladin. It would do my realm well to see other realms doing well. There has been a lot of distance recently. I would like that to go away."

"Surely this is a matter for one of your vassals?"

"I'm just passing through."

Ferg: do a sense motive on that!

"Your highness, anything that my party can say, I can say. What do you wish to know of the fort?"

"I often find that meetings in person with all concerned are … more enlightening. My time is short." The queen looks away.

"Very well. I will see what I can do." Rowaine departs and returns to Elondel, gathering the party.

"I suggest we go. We will not make any progress until they get what they want. But… it has to be on our terms as well. If we take Troll, I want him under heavy guard.

"Why are they here?" Arrian asks. "There is only one reason they can be here. They're not here because of something that happened thousands of years ago that's no longer a threat. They're not here for the fort. I think they're after the towers. We have confirmed to them that we have a method of transport between the fort and here that is almost instantaneous. If they know what the towers can do it would be a huge boon to control them. Anyone that controls Troll controls the towers. I can't think of any other reason for them to be here."

"Could it be that they simply want Troll confined? Imprisoned? Dead? That's my worry."

Arrian thinks for a moment. "Did you say that the daughter said her mother was worried?"

"Yes."

"That goes against what I'm saying. One does not become stressed when presented with an opportunity, one becomes stressed when worried about a threat."

"Maybe the arachtria?" Rowaine asks. "Perhaps they want Troll's help?"

"It could be that the only way they see to defend against the arachtria is to have Troll under control. Imagine: someone with the responsibility for a kingdom, and their security is in the hands of someone like Troll. It would be very tempting to make sure of what that person is going to do."

One Troll to rule them all…

"I don't know the elven mind like you do," admits Rowaine. "You may very well be right. All the more reason to protect Troll. However, I cannot see this situation resolving until they get their meeting."

"Where? The temple basement?"

"That's a good idea. That way, Troll might be able to get away quickly. It cannot be in the manse."

"Even there, one Charm Person and the game is over."

"Troll is pretty quick to pick up on that sort of thing. If he spots that, then he gets himself clear. We can deal with the cleanup afterwards - diplomatic or otherwise."

"So, offer the queen a meeting in the temple basement."

"Yes. She gets the meeting she wants, and Troll has a bolthole…" Rowaine pauses, thinking. "Can Elondel project an image of Troll in that room?"

"Troll can stay in the tower!"

"If all the queen wants is to see and hear Troll and hear his story, I'm happy for her to know those arrangements. Troll is too important as a free individual."

"I'm worried that the queen will make Troll an offer and the game is over."

"I don't think Troll will be swayed by money. Yes, he might be swayed by women, he does have a a family lineage to ensure, but I don't know if the queen knows that. I think we need to set up a meeting under those circumstances."

"It's hard to see another way forward. Frankly, we can't keep Troll from making bad decisions."

"He is his own man."

"The one thing in our favour is his dislike of elves."

"…and he's been raised well."

"Well… Somewhat stuffily… He never really had to learn to figure out the good in a situation."

"Let's talk to Sir Veketh and set up this meeting."

Rowaine finds Troll and discusses the plan.

"What? Did you just sell me out?" says Troll. "Yeah, alright… I'm not happy about it."

"You will be in the tower."

"Yeah, well, these are elves. They have strange magic."

Arrian looks at Rowaine. "The only problem is, whatever the queen wants, she effectively has a monastery full of captives."

"I think she'll find that things will go mightily bad for her if that's the way she negotiates."

"If a single person in the monastery were to be threatened, what would Troll do?" asks Arrian.

Rowaine looks at Troll. "He would capitulate," she says with certainty. "So what do we do? Just go away, deal with the problems we already have? It's an option, a better option than having the towers compromised."

"There is a difference beween the good a citizen does and the good a queen does."

"She might just want a cup of sugar for all we know! If the meeting is below the temple, we can limit what she can threaten."

"Hmmmm," Arrian muses. "A meeting in a subterranean room with one exit requires quite a lot of trust from her as well. It's quite a good indicator of how desperate she is."

"At the moment her gatekeepers aren't acting desperately. They may simply say no."

"I think we should all stay in the tower and have illusions present. There's no point in risking anyone we don't have to."

"Doing it the former way does paint Troll as somehow special."

"I think they already know that."

"I want to front up to her."

"OK…"

Arrian and Rowaine discuss the plan with Sir Veketh. The dwarf and Rowaine return to the manse and are admitted to see the queen.

"You have returned, somewhat fewer than I had anticipated."

"Your Highness," Rowaine begins, "you will have your meeting."

"Good, it's settled."

"The meeting will be underneath Moradin's temple."

"Interesting. And wise."

"The people that you request will be made available."

"Good. I am busy… Matters of state press… Soon."

"When would you like to meet?"

"Ten minutes."

"Very well."

"Chop chop, young paladin, plenty to do…"

"Someone from the monastery will show you the way."

"Be warned, I do not wait for many."

"We will not keep you waiting."

Along with Sir Veketh, the party assemble: Feren, Arrian, Rowaine, Emily, Vale and Jakardros physically present, with illusory images of Troll and Shalélu who remain in Elondel. The queen soon enters, accompanied by the cleric and her captain. She addresses those present.

"Hmmm. I see you all, well done, jolly good show. I see you all well…" The queen's gaze lingers upon Troll. "I notice your friend appears to be a little … not quite there. I'd like to meet him in person.

Rowaine intercedes. "Your highness, Troll is here in every aspect that is required. He can see and hear you just as well as you can see and hear him. Please understand that it is for his and other people's safety that this is so."

The queen ignores Rowaine. "Come forth, young elf. Hurry up now, I don't have all day." She continues to badger Troll, who visibly shakes with rage.

"Your highness," Rowaine says in a cool voice, "Troll's image will disappear if you press this point."

"I think not. Come forth young elf, your queen commands you. Hurry up, I don't have all day."

"Your highness, you are not his queen. Troll, feel free to terminate the image whenever you wish."

Troll's image disappears and he transports into the room. The tension is palpable in the queen's escort, poorly disguised hatred flickers in their eyes.

Rowaine keeps her eyes on the foreigners. "Troll, these were not the terms…" The queen takes several steps forward towards Troll, examining him.

"Interesting, had to see to be sure… I never thought I would be the one to see the Roulae and the Royal blood mixed thus, such as it is. Still, if it is to be, it is to be… Look at me, look at me…" She reaches her hand towards Troll and cups his chin, lifting his head and turning it from side to side.

"You have a tower?" the queen asks. Troll nods, strangely subservient. Rowaine is the only one close enough to see that his eyes are filled with tears and his hands are shaking.

"Good. There is one in my kingdom, I would have it activated. Plenty do do. Good job. I will see you again."

"A tower?" blurts Rowaine. "Your highness…"

"Matters of state, must be gone…"

"Who knows about it?" asks Rowaine. "Who must we speak to?"

"Speak to Feren, he'll find his way. Good luck with the ogres. I expect you'll need it. I would speak with the Silver Hand before I leave." She speaks hushed orders to her aides and they leave. As the party disperses Alython's eyes fall on Feren and he silently mouths "We must talk." Feren nods and heads in the same direction as the priest. Rowaine spies the exchange, quickly deciding to ignore it, her mind obviously on other more important matters.

Rowaine and Sir Veketh follow the queen at a respectful distance into the manse. Elves are everywhere, collecting belongings. The queen leads them into Sir Veketh's quarters.

"Your life is interesting, young paladin. Well done so far."

"The life of a paladin is often interesting, your highness."

Queen Raewyn turns to Sir Veketh. "My shoulders are heavy with weight. I find myself in the uncomfortable position of having to be honest. Not normal for a queen I grant, but neither is what I have to deal with. I have armies at my command, I have vast fleets, entire peoples and religions to ensure the survival of, yet my burden is not as great as that of looking after the displaced of our most precious. Still, someone has to take up the charge and I grant you that. Well done, I must go now."

Her eyes fall on Rowaine for a second. "Ward your charges," she says, then looks away in haste, gently smoothing her dress. "…They are important to Us."

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