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Where Dragon's Dare!


Three Leaves DM
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You have all been adventuring together for a while, at least a couple of years. I am going to let you fill in the blanks as we go so feel free. Tandal the Troubador is a  sidekick character. (Tasha's book) he may or may not accompany you as you see fit. He has been here at the Inn the last three times you have come here looking for work or just to rest. Each time you are here in the Bowl Kathra has gone to the wizards tower to see the wizard but has never gotten in the front door. but she is stubborn.

so here is the beginning of our story...

 

Chapter I

Mornings come late in the Bowl, bringing with it the veiled fog and mist from the cold mountain heights that surround the great depression, a mist which rolls into the warm ancient crater to blanket the terrain and the deep lake until the sun finally appears over the peaks and the mist burns off. The air in the bowl is temperate year-round, which is why the farms do so well, feeding all who live and leaving much to sell at market to the caravans from the Three Leaves who need fresh food for their long journeys.

 

This morning the sky turned pink as the gates to the Bowls single city were opened to allow the merchants access. It would be a few hours still before the greatest markets would become crowded but still there was much bustle even this early

 

Verslun was small as cities go and while the wall was not really necessary it was how things were done. This wall in particular would never stop and army it was barely eight feet high and there were no towers, in fact Verslun didn’t have an army only a small guard to keep the peace. It was also not a crowded city at least at any time between he noon hour and the late afternoon, for it was those hors when the markets were opened and business was conducted.

 

Versun had come into being when the merchants who used the bowl to travel back and forth through the Bowl to the Three Leaves realized that they didn’t really need to make the full journey, that they could actually meet with one another  at a central location to trade and do their business. A market was built, and soon shops came into being and services, warehouses and all the things that go along with trade. Verslun was a trade city, The trade city. The only people who lived there were the residents who had settled to run the market. There were no inns, only restaurants and ale houses. The merchants and travelers had to lodge outside the city.

 

The Three Leaves Inn was not your typical inn. It was huge for one thing. It was three stories, the first of brick the upper floors of stout timber. Inside where two Tap rooms, a ball room, a larges dining room and several small private dining rooms. There were three common bunk rooms furnished with twenty bunk Beds in each in the massive building. The upper two floors held sixty-four private rooms of various sizes and costs. The owners and staff lived in an attached house the size of a normal inn. The stables, of which there were three, could stable over a hundred mounts both equine and exotic.

 

The whole estate was located about a mile from the city gate and was the only place visitors to Verslun could rent rooms.

 

The stable boys had started their day a few hours earlier. Two of the three stables were full and the third only had capacity for twenty or so more mounts. It was the high season for trade. Caravans from each of the Three Leaves had been rolling in for the better part of the week and the Inn was almost full. This was the time o the year when the Traders brough their big order through to fill the market and they met, to discuss trade deals and place orders. It was the busiest time of the year and where the Bowl made almost three quarters of its wealth each year. But Traders who had come. Caravan Guards, camp followers, and all sorts who trailed along hoping to pick up a scrap or two or even deal some illicit wares no real trader would touch.

 

And then there were the adventurers.

 

Benny was hauling a bucket of oats for a big warhorse when he spied Jaff and Crelly standing at the far end of the big barn peering around the corner, Crelly crouched her head barely poking out to see what was over there, Jaff standing above her and leaning over, also doing his best not to show himself to anyone who might be around the corner.

 

“Aya, Wotcher looking at?” Benny recoiled as both his fellow stable hands pulled back and spun on him shushing him fervently. They made room for him to join them as they returned to their spying. Benny moved up and took his own spot and looked around the corner. What he saw was like nothing he had ever seen before.

 

The young woman was dressed scandalously. First of all, she was barefoot in the big corral where they walked the mounts. She wore loose fitting trousers which stopped mid ankle with wide bottoms that were shaped like bells. To cover her torso she wore a  sleeveless tunic of some sort that was wrapped, not buttoned or tied with laces, just simply wrapped around her torso and held in place by a thin cloth belt which was not buckled but simply tied. She had  jet black hair that was short and unruly and she held a thin sword.

As Benny watched the woman, girl really, probably only a few years older than them, take very precise steps and make intricate moves with the sword and her empty hand which she held with her fingers straight and tightly together except for the thumb tucked into her palm. It was mesmerizing. To Benny though it looked like she was dancing.

 

“Damn if it doesn’t look like she’s dancing out there.”  Tandal the Troubadour turned from the taproom window where he had been watching Renn, and the kids watching her, train. He walked over toward the table were the two Dragonborn and the Fairy knight were eating breakfast. “And she does that every day at dawn? No matter where?”

 

Brarga grunted something that may have been a yes and nodded. “Well,” the fairy said around a mouthful, “unless we are doing something else of course,”

 

Tandal spun a chair around and sat folding his arms across the back. He started to reach for some bacon but saw Yimtac glaring at him. He pulled his hand back empty, “What?”

 

“Yimtac didn’t care for your song last night,” Seelia, said as she buttered some toast. “It did have some questionable bits, you know.”

“Well, if you would let me travel with you on your adventures, I could write better songs and you could get a much bigger name, if you ever got a name.”  Tandal glanced around looking for something to change the subject, then it dawned on him. The dwarf wasn’t in the taproom. “So are all of you going to the tower again?”

 

“And what if we are?”

 

Tandal jumped at he voice so close behind him. He looked over his shoulder at the very dwarf he had just looked everywhere else but behind himself for. “Ah…erm.. I just thought that if you were going that I’d like to tag along. Maybe…”

 

The intense look one Kathra’s face caused his voice to drop off.

 

 

 

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"Och! Relax, Singer, I don't bite," Kathra said, wide grin breaking across her bluff, striking features, as she clapped him on the shoulder. Tandal could feel the casual strength in her calloused hand. A jade green eye winked. "'Less you ask real nice."

The dwarf woman cast an appreciative glance at Renn going through her morning routine through the window, then claimed her own place at the table, plucking down a wooden platter with her breakfast. A pewter stein, from which wafted the scent of warm, sweet cider and a bowl holding a messy mix of eggs, sausage, bacon, cheese, and potatoes, liberally seasoned with herbs and spices. Her head was freshly shaved, hair the vivid hue of molten metal remaining at the crest twisted into several thick braids. Her dark teal arming doublet was freshly laundered, seeming to strain against her burly, densely muscled figure.

"I don't mind if you'd like to accompany us, Tandal. Song and music makes a road seem shorter," Kathra said between bites of breakfast and sips of cider. "Though I doubt you'll find much to craft a tale with. We go. We knock. I make a request for aid to purge the Dead King and his unliving horde from Land's End... We receive only silence and then we go." If her low, pleasant voice didn't sound bitter, then was a hint of irritated exasperation. "I'll get his attention one day, even if its to tell us to sod off, " she added with cheerful determination. "Who knows, perhaps with a troubadour such as you with us, it will be this time. If not... well, it's a pleasant enough journey, at any rate." 

She glanced up from her nearly empty bowl, peered into her nearly empty stein, then glanced over at Tandal. "You have a horse? If not, you can ride behind me on Anvil, but it'll be rough for one not used to riding a war ram."

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"I can do you one better my sweet lady," Tandal said reaching into his doublet. When his hand reappeared it was hold in a small red stone.

 

"Dedicated to the Tower." He glances at the two dragonborn across the table, "See, I can be useful." 

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"BAH!"

 

There was a clunk as Seelia slammed a mug that would be one-handed to anyone but her down onto the table. Dark brown fluid sloshed around the bottom of it. The pixie's 'morning brew' that roused her from the stickiness of the night's dreams.

 

"We don't need HELP for the Dead King!" she declaimed, shaking a fist at Kathra. "He's DEAD! We should just ride into Land's End like the heroes we ARE! Swords drawn!"

 

She yanked her rapier from its sheath at her side and waved it at the ceiling vengefully.

 

"Teeth bared! Eyes FLASHING with defiance at the endless waves of the undead! Screaming battle cries!" She swished her sword around, then pointed it at Kathra. "That's how the battle will be won! Lets go TODAY! In fact...oh..."

 

Her eyes focused on the stone in Tandal's hand abruptly and she leaped across the table; her wings buzzing in mid jump to give her enough of a boost to cover the distance. "...that's really pretty! What is it? Can I have it? What is it?"

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Tandal chuckled "It is a hearthstone anchored to the Wizards tower. According to the one whom I acquired it from these red stones, very rare by the way and expensive, are the only way to get into the tower."

 

"Inside?" Brarga spoke for the first time since sitting down.

 

"Yes, inside." Tandal nods spastically obviously pretty pleased with himself.

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"Hmm," Brarga pushes his empty plate aside and looks at Seelia. He gives her a nod pointing at her plate back across the table. "We have talked about this before Seelia, Kathra's former home is too far and we do not have an army. Hearthstone, not withstanding it would be ill advised to simply appear on the doorstep, with out a proper reconnaissance, to see what we would be up against. We all agreed to seek the wizards aid."

 

He switches his gaze to the troubadour, "So, since that is so very, very rare," Brarga's sharp claw points at the stone, "how did it end up in your possession?"

 

Tandal looked abashed "Umm... payment for... services rendered?"

 

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Yimtac grinned toothily as he took a bite of the sausage on his plate, "What sort of services, and should we be on the lookout for an angry jilted lover or husband?" 

 

He chuckled and sighed, "I guess you are coming along on our visit. I will only warn you once. Behave yourself better than you are used to doing. Oh, and no songs about us, for now. Not until you get the details right."

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"What did the singer do now?" Renn closed the door to the yard and leaned her sheathed sword up against the wall, walked to the table while combing her hair with her fingers. She sat and pourd a mug of cider fromthe pitcher onthe table, "Did he confuse things in another song?"

 

"I did no such thing and the services in question were confidential, and a gentleman never betrays his confidence. Suffice to say I have the stone and I give it to you free and willingly." He sets the red stone in the center of the table. "And i promise to get the details right and make you all heroes in the process."

 

 

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Kathra slapped a broad palm over the red stone before the spritely fairy could snatch, flashing her a vexing grin. Seelia pouted, flourishing her blade menacingly, though the dwarven warrior didn't flinch. "Aye, I'll hold on to this for the moment. Harder for the Wizard to ignore us if we show on the other side of his gates, that's for sure."

Kathra helped herself to the rest of the cider, drinking with gusto as she looked about the table. "You lot do the singer a disservice. If not always precise, Tandal's songs are not so bad, and have some familiarity with truth. Second cousins, twice removed, perhaps." She winked at the Troubadour's disgruntled grunt. "Heroes forge themselves, Tandal, with their deeds and actions." She dipped her head gravely towards the Feyknight, but mirth danced in her green eyes. "Singers and Troubadours are the ones who let others know of them."

Kathra wiped up the rest of breakfast from her bowl with a crust of bread, finished her cider, then rolled her shoulders and sighed with satisfaction. "Since our journey to the Wizard's Tower this season will be so much shorter, thanks to Tandal and his discrete services, does anyone need to take care of anything today before we head to the Center Stone?"

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"I do not."  came the baritone reply from Brarga, and he nodded.  "We should check our gear, and prepare for the journey then.  While it may be shorter, there's no telling what we'll find inside, so as normal, be prepared."

The former soldier let out a sigh, and looked to each of his friends and comrades, then lastly to Tandal.  "That includes you,too now."

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Seelia stomped her tiny foot on the table as her stone-grabbing ambitions were thwarted. The wood under her foot shimmered slightly and grew little green shoots that curled around and sprouted buds that might one day become leaves. The fairy's wings, beating agitatedly already, speed up into a low droning hum and blurred out as she lifted off from the tabletop and headed for the stairs up to the bedrooms to collect her things.

 

"MEFY!!" she shouted as she went. "BRING MISTER PANTS!"

 

A white bird, much too large to be a gull or pigeon, dropped from the rafters. It was gripping in its claws a dilapidated doll made of stuffed fabric wearing a miniature pair of pants. More details couldn't be discerned, as the bird zoomed up the stairs and off to the side, following Seelia.

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In short order the motley band of misfit adventurers gathered with various mounts and  packs of what they considered essential gear. It was still relatively early though the servants and waggoneers were bustling to ready for the short trip to the city.

 

The adventurers gathered out behind the oversized Inn and Brarga produced the red stone. He gave Tandal a baleful glance, “Singer, is there any specific command or anything to make it work?”

 

Tandal looked up from where he was trying to untie a knot at the neck of his cloak, “Uh… no just concentrate on it at least I gues…”

 

The world flipped and the party, minus their mounts and baggage were standing in a stone room that smelled of spices. The room was lit by six glowing balls that floated about six hands above their heads. The balls moved in a slow circle about the perimeter of the chamber casting light equal to a well-made torch. The chamber was of some dark stone, very smooth, strangely enough it was Yimtec who identified it and not the dwarf who was somewhat lacking in the science of mining. “Looks like Ryolite, that’s a stone formed by volcanos. Its like granite.”

 

There were no doors but, on either side, directly across from one another were stairs of the same stone which curved around the wall in opposite directions both ended in narrow balconies, each opposite the other which held open doorways. Through the doorway to their left a man passed and stood on the landing, in his hand a ball of light like those that circled the chamber.

 

The man was older and dressed as a servant. He also looked vaguely familiar. He raised the light and studied the beings below him.

 

“Hmph. Which of you bears the red stone?”

 

Brarga hold up the stone.

 

“Hmph. Alright come up here the rest of you will have to wait outside.”

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Brarga looked to the others and then back to the man who'd beckoned him.  "Very well."  He wasn't the best negotiator by far, but he knew their plight, and why they had come to seek an audience.   if nothing else, he would be his usual blunt and honest self.   Clad in his armor he was what most would consider imposing, but against a powerful caster, he knew it best to not assume that would be true.  

He looked to the other members of his party, "Stay together, and try to avoid causing trouble."  The fact their mounts, supplies and and everything save what they had on them had simply vanished, well that was disconcerting, but he had faith they'd be fine, and returned to them when they left.

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Kathra was irritated. While she didn't expect to reclaim Land's End for the living in a day or a month, or even a year - it had been ten years already, and was willing to spend ten more, a hundred even, if that was what it took to cleanse of the restless dead - this was the closest she'd come to speaking with the Wizard. It was galling to be made to wait even longer, if the rest of them even got to meet him.

She wasn't too concerned with leaving their mounts behind. Anvil, her loyal War Ram whom she had summoned through the strength of her Vow, was far smarter than any common beast. He would keep the rest of the mounts together and in good order, though unfortunately, he was too far to commune with through their spiritual bond. She glanced around the smooth stone room, frowned up at the arcane orbs of light - handy that, no worries of running low on oil or torches or candles.

"Oi!" the brawny dwarf woman called out with firm cheer, taking a step to follow Brarga, one gauntleted fist on her hip, the other resting on the pommel of her warhammer. "If the Wizard can speak with one, surely he can speak with two, aye? Or more? I've been coming to his Tower nearly each season without fail to seek an audience with the renowned fellow, with my companions often accompanying me."

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Seelia launched up off her horse and hovered near one of the light orbs, curious about whether or not they were hot. When Brarga was called ahead, she glanced over at him, and the representative of the Wizard. For a wonder, she seemed to adjust immediately to the idea that only the dragonborn was being invited. Strange conditions and magic obligations were things she innately grasped. Only one who had the stone could see the Wizard? Fine.

 

But there were always loopholes.

 

The pixie cut her eyes towards the entrance to the chamber, where a white raven was perched atop the slumped figure of Mister Pants, watching over the room. Seelia didn't say anything aloud, but Mefy cawed and flew across to land on Brarga's shoulder. He clacked his beak a couple of times then, and waited to be carried in. Brarga knew enough by now to know that so long as this bird was with him, Seelia was almost as good as with him as well.

Edited by SalmonMax
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Yimtac smiled, "Excuse me, but we are a party. Where one goes, all go. Simple enough. If you are worried about us attacking or taking advantage of the wizard in some way, please, we can figure something out to guarantee it won't happen. If not, I don't see what the problem is." He drew himself up to his full height, and sighed. "I'd even be willing to hand over my weaponry for now, if that will help."

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The servant paused as the others spoke, then narrowed his eyes as the raven flew to the dragonborn's shoulder. 

 

"The custom is he, or she, who bears a Red Hearthstone, may gain audience with the wizard. You should have been instructed of that when you were granted the stone."

 

Tandal bites his inner lips as he hunches down and slips toward the rear of the party.

 

"Was this not done?"

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Brarga shook his head.  "No, it was not.  I would like to include my party, and if need be, I will leave behind my weapons as well."  His axes and shield were on his back, much as they normally were when he wasn't using them.  He knew Tandal was likely hiding in the back.  He could only hope there would be no penalty for however he'd come by the stone.

 

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The servant looks back and forth between the members of the party then focuses back on Brarga, "Weapon? What?"  The man looks confused, "Ha" he scoffs, "Your weapons are of no concern but its troubling when instructions are not followed. No matter. All of you may come, watch your step"

 

Without another word he spins and retraces his steps deeper into the tower leaving the party to race after to catch up. The follow the sevant up many more stairs back and forth,  sometimes going up sometimes down. the journey is somewhat confusing and in the end none of them really know what floor they are on or where they are facing. The servant stops outside a plain wooden door and glances at them. "Ready?"  The Party straightens their dress and brush their hair from faces making themselves presentable and then acknowledge the servant who proceeds to open the door and ushers them inside.

 

The room is a comfortable sitting room a huge fire place dominates one wall. Opposite thaat wall is a stretch of floor to ceiling case full of scfrolls books and other paraphernalia. scatters around the room are various chairs, lounges, and sofas set about small tables in not particular order. At one of the small tables sitting opposite each other, are an old man with a long white beard dressed in evening robes and a slender elegant female Elf, from her features  a High Elf, between them is a game of Kings and Castles. They are looking intently at the board.

 

"What is it Pruss?" Asks the elder human without looking up.  The elf does look over at the party.

 

The servant, Pruss apparently, clears his throat, "Guests, master." Pruss glances atthe elf and purses his lips disapprovingly.

 

The old man moves a piece on the board, "Hmm see how you like that." He sits up straight and looks over at the party, his brow furrowing. 

 

" Hmm... Lets see, Brarga the bold, Yimtac the creationist, Renn the driven, Kathra the vengeful, and Seelia the manifest. Interesting. So what took you all so long?"

 

 

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Brarga had been about to say that the Wizard was a hard man to gain audience with, but he didn't.   Like as not, Tandal was part of the party, at least for this particular outing.  It wouldn't do for him to be left out.   "Your pardon, but there is another here.  Tandal, who has been a friend to us, though he hasn't joined our adventures is here as well."   it was done out of good intentions.   A small part of him had a feeling the Wizard was seeing if they'd mention him, or not.
 

"As to your question, we didn't know how exactly to get here.    Our friend presented a way forward on that front, and here we are.  Perhaps is wasn't the normal way, but it did work.  I do apologize if proper forms weren't followed."

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Kathra gave Tandal an exasperated glance for his lack of disclosure in how he acquired the rare red hearthstone. But is had brought them a long step towards her goal in requesting the Wizard's aid in cleansing the befoulment of Land's End, one way or another. She planted her feet and squared her shoulders, hands fisted behind her back, prepared to stand comfortably during the audience with the Wizard, not wanting to risk damaging his furnishings with her armored bulk, if he even offered them the respite.

She nodded in satisfaction at the Wizard's beard. It was a fine beard, long and full, though in her estimation it could use some understated rings, bands, or other accessories. The dwarf woman arched an appraising brow the svelte elf, who seemingly hadn't deigned to acknowledge their presence. She shook her head with a faint grin. Many elves were the very pinnacle of arrogance and condescension from her experience, for some, it was merely a façade, and others, there were anything but.

"Aye, we hadn't been aware of the proper protocols. But why have a front gate if you don't ever going to answer travelers passing by or those seeking you?" Kathra asked in cheerfully mild reproach. "'Specially since your august self seemed to be expecting the likes of us. You know why, I at least, having been seeking your attention?"

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When summoned by name, Seelia whooshed forward and did a little pirouette in the air fast enough to fling a little ring of glittery stuff out from her hair before she came to a halt.

 

"Great Wizard it is I, Seelia the manifest! I would say I am at your service, but I am not! I am at the Queen's service who has placed me at Brarga's service! But you can obtain my services indirectly if you obtain HIS services directly! It's kind of a LOOPHOLE, you see. It's complicated, but I'm sure you follow it because you're the Wizard!"

 

She grinned. "You know, I'm something of a magician myself."

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The Elf, her gaze on the pixie, touched the playing board and the pieces faded away, "We should finish our game later, your busy."

 

"As you wish your Majesty."

 

The elf stood and with a gesture and a magical worded faded from view much as the playing pieces had.

 

The Wizard rose and they all noticed that he was short, probably not even five and a half feet tall. "To answer your question first Kethra, I have a gate so crazy adventurers wont try climbing the tower and getting hurt. As for expecting you, the lot of you , or most of you," he glanced at Tandal, "anyway, have been showing up at the door several times a year for several years now. And yes I know why your here."

 

He walks over to Brarga, holds his hand out, "Stone, please?"

 

Brarga places the stone in the outstretched palm. The wizard closes his hand and takes a deep breath. When he opens his eyes eh looks at the singer. "Hmph Madam Casdel's stone, how on Tellus did you get her to give it to you?" Then he lifts his open hand, palm out and shakes ,"No nevermind, I'm sure it will end up in a song somewhere down the road."

 

He walks up to each of the adventurers and gives them each a red stone, once he passes them out he holds up the original, "I'll return this to Madam Casdel myself." now to business."

 

With a gesture a chairs move from around the room to one for him and one for each member of the group. "Please sit and I wish each of you to tell me what it is you wish of me."

 

 

 

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Kathra's brows rose as the elf faded from view. An elven queen. She'd been more than just friendly with several elves, but never royalty. She nodded her thanks to the Wizard for the dedicated stone of her own, closed her fingers about it, then gave Tandal a wry, disappointed shake of her head, vibrant orange braids of hair swaying. The densely muscled dwarf woman gave the delicately carved and filigreed chair that shifted behind her a hesitant, dubious glance, but at the Wizard's wave of exasperated assurance, she tentatively sat down on the edge. It seemed to hold her bulk, armor and all, without issue, not even creaking.

"I make no claims to knowing my companions reasons, Wizard." With her free hand, Kathra unconsciously fingered the fine torc of adamantine and mithril encircling her throat. Her voice held the banked heat of forge fire. "For my part, I seek a means to cleanse Land's End of the Dead King and his horde of restless dead. Even if it means sinking Land's End into the endless sea and carving it from the mountains anew." 

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Brarga accepted the new stone graciously. He didn't have any grand desires,  he was in this quest to help his friends.   "I ask no grand favors.  I ask that you help my friends with their requests.  If your direct intervention isn't an option for you, I'm certain you have your reasons.  In that case I'd ask your Direction on how best we can proceed with our goals.  Good advice from a vantage point we ourselves cannot see from can lead to a strategy for victory just as assuredly as force of arms or magic."

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