Astrid returned to her research for the next several weeks, hoping to learn more about the Silver Mount and the secrets the League seemed so intent on discovering. Yet on coming to the townhome to rest one evening, Astrid was again surprised by a visitor. Yet this one was no League agent, but in fact a young dragonling.
The dragonling, Irthelia, had been sent by Choral and Aszrogal to fulfill an old pact between the red dragonflight of Iskaron and the Rogarvia family, where each ruling member was served by a draconic companion.
Astrid found this intrusion unwelcome but, in many ways perhaps, not unexpected. Once more, her family (and Choral in particular) had sought to carve a destiny for her without her input. Irthelia, it seemed, was not much more excited about this prospect than Astrid, but insisted she should stay for the time being. Nonetheless, Astrid crafted a sternly worded letter of rebuke and inquiry to her great-x-grandfather and returned to her study.
Meanwhile, in Fort Ramgate, Thorgur spoke again with Queen-in-Exile, Rarrel Greathammer, demanding an explanation for the Kraggodan envoys who were allowed to traipse into Fort Ramgate without even the slightest harassment – save that which he had dealt out to the previous one himself.
Queen Greathammer explained that the dwarven refugees in the city were playing a dangerous game, for any sign of military build-up or aggression would cause political problems for the Nirmathan and Molthuni governments – if not provoke a war between the three states. So, she explained, the envoys were allowed to come, make their demands, see the refugees put on a show of fear and hiding, and return to Kraggodan with nothing to report – least of anything to reveal the Queen’s plans to retake Kraggodan.
Thorgur accepted this policy, albeit with reservation (if only because his new pursuit was to exact violence, not abate it), but agreed to leave further envoys to their own devices.
The Other Side of the Fence
Weeks later, Hudson completed his training with Hibok, and the Initiative plotted their next course. As Malam had last been seen in the Molthuni port city, Korholm, it seemed a perfect place to start their search.
All loose ends in Absalom and Fort Ramgate for now resolved, the Initiative boarded the Titanis and set off for Korholm. They traveled for several days before landing in the dessicated Witherbark Forest. After landing, Hudson, whether out of excitement to help his old friend or out of some temporary affliction of the mind, forwent all proper efforts to disguise the Titanis from any passers-by. Orin, however, noting this, did not bring notice of it to his companion, as a gunslinger’s pride is not to be trifled with. Instead, the gillman cast an illusion, disguising the ship from anyone passing by along the path as no more than another row of the endless sickened trees that populated Witherbark.
The Initiative soon arrived at Korholm. As they were heroes of some renown from a war whose losing side they were about to mingle with, the party elected to disguise themselves as mere travelers. Stowing their weapons safely out of sight, they entered the city and found themselves a nearby inn.
The innkeep proved of little use, however, not being eager to gossip about his customers to unknown travelers. Orin chose to drop the subterfuge of their disguises, hoping to win by intimidation what they could not by innocent interrogation. Yet the innkeeper recognized the sight of a dwarven warrior, a noble fighter, and even a handsome wizard – albeit bearded – and was likewise upset to discover the use of such provocative magicks in his inn. Refusing further questions, he instead asked the heroes to depart – and they did.
Yet outside the inn, they were again recognized, this time by troublesome city guards. Seeing that speaking to their leader and bargaining for information in return for a quick departure, the party effectively turned itself over and allowed themselves to be taken to the city’s military leader: First General Lord Duraga Steelsworn.
Duraga was not much suited to conversation but recognized the value in ridding himself of Nirmathan war heroes. And so he acknowledged that a band of strange travelers, carting a large crate, had indeed been seen about Korholm in recent months. He mentioned their exchange of currency to obtain Razmiran coin, and his knowledge that they had already left. He referred them to the dockmaster, with orders to their escort to ensure the dockmaster cooperated, and dismissed them. The dockmaster was as forthright as he could be, revealing that the Technic League had chartered a ship bound for a distant port.
Back on the Titanis, the Initiative decided the League’s next likely destination was to be Xer, the obvious port on Lake Encarthan’s coast in distant Razmiran. Knowing now that the League was on the move and prepared for travel, they surmised further that it was, in fact, returning to Starfall in Numeria. And the most obvious waypoint, their most obvious goal in Numeria’s borders, was the distant town of Hajoth Hakados.