The Shifting Sands of the South

Musings of Desdemona 5

My head is still aching… I feel a bit slow, but that's more the end of my past few days, I'll pick up where I left off.

It feels as though so much time has passed, but also none at all.

It has seemed to be the concensus of the group that Triumph and that that biting wind of hospitality, her second, Edge, are likely Exalted. Amir immediately says we should call for a Wild Hunt. SIGH May the Unconquered Son's dogs bless him for his optimism, but I don't think he always thinks things through. Adjib will be working further on that as he intended to provide Triumph our answer in regards to the job and see if she can actually benefit us in that venture.

Just prior to this though we tried to catch the slippy cutthroat that works for Fallen Times. I fell back behind Iron and Einar as we were making our way to Adjib's, but that swarmy, mangeled tooth man was already on to us. I almost felt silly until Einar sent his hound out to try and catch him… the "hound". He's lucky people didn't try to kill the poor thing on the spot, instead it created chaos, the bald bastard got away (may the gods spit into his next drink), and the cheeky bastard blew me a kiss before being lost in the crowd. Currently… we are not doing well on our ventures.

With Adjib and everyone else off to do their own things I decided to hit up the bars with my best man Quiet Viggo to see if I could find more about the cutthroat, maybe capture him, but at the end I just want more information to help us get to Fallen Times.

Well he found me well before I found him. I need to set up stealth games again as clearly I am losing my touch… and I do not like to lose. I wanted him alone, between myself and Viggo we could take him, I KNOW it… but he was too good for that. Instead I managed to convince him that I wanted to join Fallen Times, unfortunately that meant leaving Viggo behind and following him through the city so he could lead me to Fallen.
Halfway through the alleys I know I couldn't follow the whole way as that would leave me stuck with Fallen, no way to reach my friends, and I feared I would be found out soon enough.

What a fight!!! I haven't one like that in such a long time. He managed to stab me, but it was nothing, and he was certainly worse for wear… then the dizziness began… That Bastard, that fucking BASTARD had poison on his blades! I want to call him a coward, but he is way too intelligent for me to give that disservice. So while I managed to have him we were both losing. He was bleeding out and I was being taken by the poison faster than I would have liked. I needed the antidote… grimacing I asked him to shed his clothing in a desperate hope to find the poison, when that did not work I tried to search him body. By the Unconquered Son's TEATS if the last thing I felt in this world was that disgusting man's balls in my hand there would be hell to pay.

I managed to scream for the guards just as the soft darkness took me.

*******************

The moon was so beautiful and full! Walking through the tall grass it softly brushed against my chest as I made my way through it. The air was cool, the breeze whispered through my hair, but it was perfect. Never had I felt more at peace. Then… a voice… a voice I felt I knew but could not place…

Not yet

No. Please. I'm happy here!

******************

I woke up in a bed at Spice of Life's clinic. Of course she was the creater of the poison that had gotten me and I had been making my way to her clinic, but the poison was too strong for me to do it on my own. She was kind and attentive. When I asked after the cutthroat she let me know that he died there on the streets. GOOD. If it hadn't been disrespectful I would have spit right then and there to show how I felt for that man.

Not being able to lie further I told her that we would be going after Fallen and beseeched her to give us some aid. Committee support, poison, information, DAMNIT SOMETHING.

2 Vials. She gave me 2 vials of the poison that she had just cured me of. I sent a message to my crew to let them know I was alright. In retrospect I should have sent a different runner to Adjib's, but I was so tired. I needed to let them know I was okay and to ask them to wait for me so we could all go after Fallen together…  but so tired….

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Excerpts from Records of Amanirenu Part 5
Session 5

 

<meta />

Ascending Air 7

 

While we were discussing things earlier, it was revealed, through others’ observations, that Edge was likely a lunar exalt, and Triumph a solar exalt. This would be consistent with other observations, and would also imply that they are personally very powerful, in addition to being in a powerful position. Another reason to be very careful around them, and another reason to despise them. It also revealed that I was lagging behind my fellows in this department; I had completely missed such signifiers. Something to improve upon in the future.

 

Amir suggested immediately calling for a wild hunt, though I fear he has not completely thought through the consequences of this action. This is not a thing that can be called off if it produces results we don’t like, nor a thing that can be used with half measures. Despite explaining this, Amir was adamant in his opinion, but agreed to follow the group’s consensus to wait.

 

I returned to the theater to deliver our groups affirmative response, but because everything with this woman must be difficult, one cannot deliver even the shortest messages without an appointment, and one cannot have an appointment without bringing a gift. I reluctantly made an appointment with their secretary and went about other business.

 

Triumph Over Thorns had earlier implied that she could make it easier to attack and kill him if we needed, but I thought it might be good to do more research on our target, just in case. I set out to plot a map of likely locations for his base. Through researching where, and with how many men, and with what materiel, Fallen Times attacked these caravans I was able to make an educated guess as to where he was based. My plots lead to a protected canyon that I would otherwise believe had no means to support the amount of men we believe he has. However, there were no other locations that fit better, and no single location that fit all my criteria. This leads me to believe he has access to some other resources that we don’t know about yet. 

 

I went to see Triumph with this information. Edge again insisted that I come with an appropriate gift, and would not budge until I had done so. We got into an argument, such as one can with Edge being so taciturn. She convinced me that I needed to treat Triumph like a foreign potentate, and I agreed to play the game. In the middle of it though, I was frustrated enough to ask flat out why we were here; to ask why if they both were so far above us why they needed us at all. She was unable to give me a satisfactory answer. I am beginning to suspect there is some sort of magical geas or taboo that prevents such action, though I do not know for certain. Something else to study. Wary of sorcery, like I had been the first time, I again gave her a token of my gods rather than one of myself. She seemed to accept it all the same.

 

We talked briefly of the job, and she revealed that she could bait him, that she could lure him into the city so that we could kill him. Why she chose to withhold this information in the first place is beyond me. I told her we would strongly consider it. She estimates his troops to be at a strength of several hundred or more; as well she and Edge both believe my hypothesis on his location to be correct, but seem to have not known about it before. I believe they were telling the truth as well, though perhaps they had to maintain his secrets as part of whatever compulsion they are under. I also asked if she knew his allies within the Committee. She answered in the negative, but gestured briefly towards a coin and a scroll; more motivation to strike against the two men as I had planned a before, and more information regarding the Committee’s or at least Triumph’s prohibitions.

 

I have a few new goals now, or refined ones. I still want to eliminate Fallen Times, but I would endeavor to do so while capturing as much of his resources as possible, or failing that, denying as much of his resources as possible to others in the committee. I would endeavor to do the same to Coins in Shadows and Scrolls Over Moonlight. Of course this dovetails nicely with the desire to find Coins’s wealth and steal it while he is still fearful and hoarding.  Something to think about for tomorrow.

 

I also need to continue my self improvement, the last few days have shown me where I am lacking, and I should rededicate myself to fixing that.

 

As well, there is the matter of Fallen Time’s guild benefactor, a problem for Cool Winds certainly but also most likely to become a problem for us. It is a problem I would like to get out in front of.

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Excerpts from Records of Amanirenu Part 4
Session 4

 

<meta />

 Ascending Air 6

  We had another day of gathering and sharing information. Desdemona shared the things she learned yesterday with the rest of the group. Through this, she revealed she feels strongly about name and reputation, and the work that goes into maintaining them. It occurs to me for as much as we all spend time together, I know relatively little about the inner lives of my friends; I should resolve to find out more about them.

  Amir also related what he found out during his investigations. Some people in the guild take issue with his activities, but for the most part he is treated as part of the status quo. He also revealed that some high ranking guildsman is backing Fallen Times financially and politically, and is doing so secretly.  Apparently they also have enough pull too keep their involvement secret.

He also learned that Silk banner is working for a guild merchant named Ivory Shard, a guildsman of questionable reputation. A further stakeout revealed nothing terribly interesting.

Somehow I was convinced to entertain Triumph Over Thorns invitation, and accompanied the rest of the group to her theater.  She was imperious, and her second Edge was rude and disdainful, though I’m not sure why I expected her attitude to improve. She demands gifts of everyone she meets, even those that she requests call on her. Amir took issue with this later.

The meeting went as well as could be expected. We bickered amongst each other while she watched. She pried into our personal lives. She used some sort of sorcery upon me as well, to force me to divulge more than I was comfortable speaking of. Altogether unpleasant woman. When we finished, Amir was so insulted by his treatment he threatened to take his gift back, Edge threatened to kill him for it. Thankfully the situation was deescalated, but it certainly cemented my poor opinion of her.

Triumph Over Thorns also wants Fallen Times dead, and is willing to pay us to kill him. We bickered in front of her, then we went back home and bickered some more. 

Desdemona was the only holdout at this point. She repeated several times the phrase “insanity is doing the same thing multiple times and expecting different results” despite the poor fit of the saying. In addition to it being a rather flippant dismissal of our concerns, which I thought was in poor taste, it didn’t actually fit the situation at all. We are not attempting a strategy which has been tried before; and even if we give that it was, the result we want is the same one that we had. We want a return to the status quo, a less powerful and less ambitious Committee. 

She eventually gave in. She was upset and frustrated by having to do so, but oddly would not accept compromise either. It was not the way I wanted to end my evening, but I must admit when things are out of my control.

I resolved to tell Triumph Over Thorns we accepted her offer the next day, though I am loath to work with the woman.

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Forsaken's Journal 2 & 4
Session 002, 10/25/2019; Session 004, 12/6/2019

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Session 2

Sathea took me to meed someone called Grandmother Bright. I've been a lot of places, but none like this!  Peaceful and calm. We don't stop to enjoy the scenery. We're here for answers. We must speak to Ivory Sky.

Through her skill with a pen Sathea has secured us a meeting. 

Meeting went well, now we have a mission from Grandmother Bright. To bring the "monster" Fallen Times to heel. I've culled monsters, this will be no different.

Back to Adjibs for some food, and to share information. OH! Food!

We decide that the best course of action is too find out who is trying to kill Wei'ren. 

Oh look, he has fresh legumes! 

-

Session 3

n/a

-

session 4

Apparently while Sathea and I were on a scav trip Desdemona "met" Fallen Times. Tells us about how he "helps" people, sounds shady to me. Fallen Times wants the Committee under his control. 

Amir has discovered some useful information through his network of contacts. Fallen Times has a Guild benefactor. Which would explain why he spares their caravans.

We have a meeting. Triumph over Thorns wishes to see us. We're met by Edge. A very interesting individual. I would not choose to cross blade's with her.

I must give up something personal. So I gave them my Arm band. Yes the one wrought from the gold looted and melted from a dozen battles and taken from the dead owner's thight. A perfect fit for my beefy arm. It seems to do.

The food and wine were adequet but not as good as Grandmother Brights snacks, nor Adjib's

there is a whole lot of talking and I don't get most of it, but it sounds like we're to kill this Fallen Times. Which was already our goal. Will we be able to find his camp? Will he fall for an ambush? One things for certain, he will die.

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From the Journal of Sathea Ravenshadow, pt. 4
Session 004, 12/6/19

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Upon returning to Adjib's estate, First & I learned that the rest of our motley crew had been incredibly busy (& in some cases, incredibly stupid) while we were scavenging. The new information seemed endless, & it opened multiple paths of action for us to pursue.

The most revelatory pieces concerned Fallen Times, as he openly disclosed his plans to Desdemona during their tryst. Our suspicions were confirmed- he has been seeking to consolidate power, & exploiting a Committee ritual surrounding dueling to kill off his rivals. Although Fallen Times has a mysterious high-ranking Guildsman patronizing him, Amir assured us that no feathers would be ruffled by his removal. After Einar shared that he & his badger had bathed, we agreed as a group to accept Triumph Over Thorns' invitation to meet at her theatre. Neither Desdemona nor Adjib were thrilled with that decision, as Des had been rudely rejected by the staff previously. Yet they acquiesed to the group's desire, & I think both were secretly excited at the prospect of confronting the one who had slighted Des' honor.

At the Rose Petal Theatre, we were greeted with an air of indifference, & only presenting our invitation diffused the hostility between Des & our greeter. Yet it was the entrance of Edge & Triumph Over Thorns that floored us all. 2 unbelievably gorgeous women, draped in moonsilver. I was immediately enthralled by their presence, & although I brought one of my most prized possessions to deliver (a ring that mirrored one my mother wore), I would have given them anything they asked. We began to trade questions, with no one truly revealing their motives or truths. Triumph Over Thorns did emphasize her desire to see Fallen Times dead. Our meeting ended in near bloodshed however, when Amir perceived Edge as slighting him & attempted to engage her in a swordfight. Luckily, Einar was able to stop him, & we returned without incident to Adjib's house.

There, perhaps still under the sway of the mythical pair, I blurted out my belief that they were anathema…triggering calls to bring the Wyld Hunt. IMBECILE. I have never left myself so vulnerable as in those moments, & thankfully cooler heads prevailed. I would not have been able to exist with myself had I brought those fiends back into my life. Our discussion then circled to how we would proceed, & after much passionate discourse, we settled on ambushing Fallen Times, & attempting to scatter his army. As we pour over maps of the deep desert, searching for possible locations for the rest of his men, I cannot help but wonder if we made the right decision…. 

 

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Descending Iron's Journal Logs 5
Session 005, 1/3/2020

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Ascending Air 7

My wife told me to be careful this morning, I told her I would do my best. She has been on edge since I told her the group aims to bring down Fallen Times. I also make sure that she stays alert for any unsavory characters as I have been followed recently.

Einar and Desdemona agree to help me catch the cutthroat. This would have had several benefits primarily being the removal of one Fallen Time men, if we had capture him alive he could have questioned him. Personally he is making me paranoid and I worry he may strike us first. The plan was that Einar and I would walk ahead to Adjib's estate while Desdemona stayed back stealthy follows us keeping a looking for the cutthroat and we would corner him. During walked Einar subtly let me know something was wrong and had me go on head. Later I found out Cutthroat was following Desdemona. A few minute later I see Rend the badger causing a scene in a large crowd. It seems he notice our trap fled. 

 Adjib meanwhile made an appointment to see Triumph over Thorns for the following day to tell her our decision. How many offering does lady need? Apparently the staff mention offering for their meeting. We spilt up for that afternoon, I do a bit of work in the forge and I decide ask round the desert nomads about the area around the city.  

Ascending Air 8

When I arrived at Adjib's home I found him pouring over maps says that can't be right. He was looking for Fallen Times base of operations. I share what I learned from the nomads with him and it seemed to confirm his guess is right. I suggested that we go the guards for support but it the consensus was against idea in ​​​favor of an ambush. Desdemona did not show this morning I hope she didn't into trouble. 

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Musings of Desdemona 4
Session 004, 12/6/2019

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Well that went as well as trying to catch a sand snake in a puddle of oil. 

I tried, for better or worse I tried. My way of life is as changing as the sands. Sometimes it's new crew, a new mission, new lovers… New regency. I felt that clearly the old way wasn't working so why not give Fallen Times his shot. I'm sure it would benefit my personal business and worse case if it didn't then we get asked to take down the new regime. More work, more favors owed, but who am I to say what benefits everyone. 

This being the first time I've had people outside my crew to call friends I agreed with them. We may not always see eye to eye, but why start a new relationship by smashing it to the ground. 

Einar was almost adorable. He knows I work caravans, but doesn't know my full work and as such likely thought I would be severely negatively impacted by this new change. I wouldn't, but let's keep that here in my journal for now, yeah? 

We finally went to meet Triumph and while knowing it could have gone better I really don't feel badly about it. She's the type of person that smiles with her whole body, but her eyes feel dead and calculating. Just because it looks like honey does not mean it will taste as such. However, we appear to have acquired a new useful person if we can make her put aside the nastiness of our meeting. Her second though, Edge, I don't think I'll ever like that one. Full of herself, rude, but I at least appreciated that she doesn't mince or sugar her words as her lady does. I appreciate straightforwardness. 

Ah well. A new day will come, hopefully with more action. I'm getting tired of all the long talks… My whole body itchs to either have the sands moving under my ship or a sword slicing the air. 

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Log of Einar 004
Session 004, 12/6/2019

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Month: Ascending Air

Day ?: My men are good, but they are unable to find any information about <u>Silk Banner</u>’s client regarding the raw goods. For 4 days they trailed him and found out that he is the most boring man in Chiaroscuro. He only goes to work and back.

I expect tonight’s dinner will be a long again and I doubt even a river pull them from the table talks. If we do get out to see <u>Triumph Over Thorns</u>’, my company shall not be a source of embarrassment. While <u>Zeeza</u> finishes his lessons on court courtesies I don my thickest leather smock and bath <u>Rend</u>. It does not go well.

The three of us arrive at <u>Adjib</u>’s and sure enough I have missed the action. Adjib’s security have let a “messenger” through and <u>Desdemona</u> has gone and fucked our prime suspect, <u>Fallen Times</u>. She said that he admitted to the killings and said that they were justified through the right of challenge within <u>The Committee</u>. Fallen Times believes that The Committee should no longer be divided between them but instead united under a single leader…. Let me guess, him. BING FUCKIN O! He wants it all Des gives more info about him and it sounds to me that he is doing “great” things for people in need when they are at their weakest from a system that he helps shape and the favor that he provides seems to always be a triviality for him but a great boon for the person. They leave happy and loyal and his he now has spent nothing but gains them. His cook that he gained this way will most likely thwart any poisoning attempts. Des seems to be very keen on him giving that our first meeting we had the same ideas about him and his tactics, but after their ‘meating’ she seems to support him as the a possible leader for The Committee. I try and get a read on her, but I don’t think he has done anything to her, but this change is strange as we both deal with caravans. She apparently went alone to meet with Triumph Over Thorns as well will gifts form Adjib and <u>Descending Iron</u> and was turned away. The three of them have not handled it well. I don’t feel like this meeting we have as a collective will be very peaceful. I better not have bathed Rend for nothing.

<u>Amir</u> has found Silk Banner’s Guild sponsor, a man by the name of “<u>Ivory Shard</u>”. Amir says that The Guild members are even suspicious of lump’s meteoric rise to the rank of merchant prince as if overnight. He has also discovered that there is a Guild operative that is backing Fallen Times, and the fact that Amir is unable to have the identity revealed to even him means that the person is of one of the two ranks above him. This is undoubtedly the reason Fallen Times has not hit Guild caravans and is able to identify them. While he was briefing us on <u>Coins in Shadows</u> I was distracted by Rend, most unfortunate because a heist might be fun, I know <u>First and Forsaken of the Devouring Wind</u> would be down.

 

By the powers of The Unconquered Sun and The Five Dragons we did something as a group we stopped playing tea party and … well we as a whole shit the bed with this one, but next time, next time is our time to shine. We arrive and some of us are certain that if we are dicks that this will be just swell… it’s not. Triumph’s second <u>Edge</u> is there to greet us after we bestow our price of admission. Mine was the necklace that was made while I was a child from the local stones of The Oasis of Five Paths. Rends gift was that he was bathed and would give his best behavior. She deems our gifts worthy and we are seated and to First’s delight there is more food. When Triumph arrives her presence is palpable and I am in love with this gifts idea. She even wears jewelry made of ‘moon silver’? Is it the same as my flask. She has not only got people to give them loved items but their story. She did not have to do any digging into us for we just gave it freely before even. Getting to the appetizer of the meal. Very clever. The discussion was of questions and answers, and the question that seemed to raise the most trouble was when and if we would make a unified decision as a circle.

Something is not right and Adjib spills more details than he wanted and Amir tells a half lie to what ends I am unsure. This is the point that Amir thinks he will leave with his gem that he bestowed. Edge appears to steam, no really as if you were looking at her over the across the desert sands. FUCK Amir does not see from his vantage point, maybe because his head is in his ass. He is not a fighter and the fact that he is calling his body guards to attack shows that they are a bigger weakness than maybe even he knows. Just as Edge shifts her weight towards her blade I am able to grab Amir’s wrist and convince him that it is better to leave the gem than to also leave a hand. I let go and give a bow to Edge and the door that Triumph left to at the start of this fuckery. I would love to speak to her again about the committee positions, as that is the only way to have a simple dual to solve our problems. I hope this has not burned a bridge for all of us.

I don’t know why, but we head back to Adjib’s and most of the group is fuming. I for one can think of how Amir also became a better trader, as his left hand wouldn’t know what the right was doing neither would his enemies, but I would know, it would sitting in a box being lazy, or maybe it would be Edge’s fetish not that she has a fetish for cutting hands but she would put a rope on it then it would be a fetish? We pretty much anything being bound by rope could be involved in a fetish….. I have no idea where the conversation in going around me. Amir is so adorable he tried to stand and intimidate me HAHAHA. Oh you… He’s still mad that he almost went from Hands: 2 to Hands: some. Adjib brought up a good point that attacks from Fallen Times are coming from a central location, maybe my Oasis? He agreed to lend me a detachment of his archers to accompany a group of my men to investigate the Oasis and Fallen Times’ camp outside of the gates. Good thing that Amir still has his guards, just in case of this getting hairy they can always give him a hand. Damn it, Einar focus.

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Triumph Over Thorns: A Letter to Desdemona #1
Session 002, 10/25/2019

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Desdemona,

The city is in mourning and those most deeply affected have been exhausting themselves to show their support for our mutual friend, Spice of Life. I myself considered Desert Rose one of my dearest friends, and felt an inexorable shock at her passing. It is in my capacity as such a friend that I found myself just minutes ago drinking tea with Spice, and doing my utmost to relieve her staff of their burden, however temporarily I managed it.

You may imagine my surprise, then, to have such a somber interlude interrupted by the demands of a stranger. I had been under the impression that close friends of our dear Spice understood her need for both time and space to grieve, however; a woman who introduced herself to my guard as Healer Wài-ren – and who gave your name at the door – seemed to either lack or have no empathy for this basic understanding.

Given your reputation and how highly Spice speaks of you, I believe perhaps you were not aware such an attempt at a meeting was taking place. You may be pleased to know I did not allow Healer Wài-ren to speak with Spice, and sent her on her way as quickly as I was able. I must confess to some measure of frustration at the interaction, and although it’s likely an overstep, I suggest you look towards exercising caution with this individual – you never know how the locals will react to rudeness or the disrespect of mourning customs.

I do apologize for reaching out in such a manner before having the pleasure of making your acquaintance. If you would like to discuss the matter further, or have other needs I may be fit to attend to, you should schedule a meeting at The Rose Petal with the usual provisions at your earliest convenience.

Triumph Over Thorns

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Descending Iron's Journal Logs 4
Session 004, 12/6/2019

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Ascending Air 6: Continued…

There was a meeting to share everything we learned with the others. We decided to visit Triumph Over Thorns. In order to meet with her she demand an offering of a personal nature. It wouldn't if she is a sorceress or something. The theater was a lovely building the Bitter Rose would have fit quite well here.

At the meeting Triumph over Thorns was wearing Moonsilver jewelry! I ask where is got it from is said Edge gave to her as a gift. Edge would say where she acquired it from and yet and another reason I don't like her. I wish had access to the that metal, I would love to play with it. I remember seeing Moonsilver years ago it always seems so alive in when lights shines on it.  Oh there was a lot back in front talk I was paying too close attention to but it seem to go in circles. I suggest a question for a question and it seems that moved things along. Triumph confirmed a few things we shared a few things, Edge stood slight behind her. Things when fine I guess till the question of who we will side with. She promised a favor if we side with her. Things broke down with her and Amir. He lied, she caught him and Amir said that we did promise truthful answers. As we were leaving Amir went to grab his personal item and Edge issue a threat. Both prepared for combat but Einar intervened by staying Amir's hand. Amir left his item on the table.

Back at Prince Abjib place, after some debate we reached agreement that Fallen Times has got to go. I agreed with this course of action because I believe that Fallen Times' ambition will lead him to challege the Tri-Kahn and cause far more trouble the future than I want to deal with. Sathea Ravenshadow believes the Triumph and Edge are anathema, Amir wants to call the Wyld Hunt which seems fine by me but the others are firm against it fearing change in the balance of power. 

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