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Arythea and Goldyx interrupted their conversation and turned to watch the Councilman emerge from the room where he had been all day – and all the previous night – nursing his new patient. The Elf’s high brow was drippling tiny droplets of sweat, and his hands trembled nervously.

Out of respect, the Drakona Sorcerer hesitated to ask about the prognosis. As for Arythea, she did not really care – as a Moonborn, empathy was not quite her strong suit – but she was first to ask regardless. “So… how’s he doing?”

Councilman Gentian sighed as he slumped down on the nearest chair. Before answering, he closed his eyes and took a few breaths to collect himself. “Your fellow Mage Knight, Krang, is not doing well. He will recover, rest assured, but… he will not be able to join our next battles.” He sighed. “Much to the detriment of the Council’s plans. I will have to report about this…” He extended his hand on the small desk before him to grab a nearby quill and piece of parchment.

“What happened to him, anyway?” Arythea asked.

Before Gentian could answer, Goldyx spoke first. “Tell her all about it, Gentian. Considering the situation, someone has to pick up Krang’s work from where he left off.”

Gentian nodded. “I agree. Arythea, Krang was investigating why Orcs, of all of the Land’s factions, seem to have joined Volkare’s army. He was on his way back from a mission, and he had important information to report to the Council, when, apparently, somebody saw through his disguise and fired a venomous arrow right into him. It damaged vital organs, though not completely beyond repair. I was able to recover the arrow. It is a curious one – very small, yet very deadly. At present… Krang isn’t able to carry a conversation at length, but what I understood is that he knows precisely who hurt him.”

“Somebody defending Orc secrets with very un-Orcish ways. Huh.” Arythea mused aloud.

Gentian nodded. He wrote a short line on the parchment, only to stop and shake his head sadly at it the next moment. “Enough of this for now.” He sighed, pushing the parchment away. “Arythea. Tell me of the East.”

The Moonborn paced closer to the Councilman. “Well, as was to be expected, Aeradon has finally realized we’ve ditched him.”

Gentian looked confused for a moment. “When you say we, you mean…”

“The Blood Cult.” Arythea quickly specified. “So he’s trying to beef up his numbers with massive invasions into Elemental territory. Again, this is quite predictable, as that has been the Dark Crusade’s core strategy for almost a century now. But there’s a twist this time.”

“Of course.” Gentian nodded. “These last few years, with most Magestone gone and the Empire busy at war with itself, the Elementals have had time to heal their wounds and recover much of their lost power.”

“Well, yes, there’s that... but I was referring to something else.” Arythea bit her lower lip, one of her sharp fangs showing.

Gentian’s eyes widened. “It’s about to happen, isn’t it? The mana storms were a sign…”

Goldyx put a clawed hand to his forehead, almost as a signal that the new subject of the conversation was those petty fights between humans and elves that ancient creatures like the Drakona have no desire to understand. He pictured himself later that day sitting with Tovak, the two of them together wondering why so many in the Land ascribe so much spiritual power to the soul of a man who devoted his entire life to furthering himself and himself alone – the advances made under his rule a mere byproduct of his lifework, and never his ultimate goal.

Arythea cleared her voice, seeking the best delivery for her next words. “Tezla has chosen his next two Avatars. And they seem ready to join the faction war. I guess I need not tell you what manner of destruction will be unleashed upon the Land the moment two all-powerful Gods start fighting. It’s almost as if they were trying to lure us East…”