The Kalarian Precipice - Chapter Six



The Kalarian Precipice - Chapter Six

Coral of white crunches underfoot as Sela steps downwards. Above, evenly spaced holes within a contrasting basalt ceiling provide shafts of natural and welcome light. The staircase eventually winds to the right, before terminating at a door. The face of it is constructed from further coral, but unlike the steps has retained a most natural and organic form. Knobs of bulbous matter, fingers that reach and intertwine, all congealed into one. At the center, a clear faceted stone some inches across, shines like a dewdrop upon freshly laid snow.

“Nice,” the dwarf observes.

The pitchling waves a hand as if greeting an old friend, making herself known to the presence of the jewel before the entrance swings open.

Your eyes fall upon the cavern within. A place threaded with the duality of darkness and light. Here, pillars of the cliff’s raw material are woven with veins of white. Some are coral, others appear to be pale rock not dissimilar to that which Jeovanna scratched at many hours ago, in the corner of a boulder-blocked cave. Here and there, hanging from the walls, slippery plantlife adds tones of green, brown and red to the scene. At last, some color! The smell of salt, the sea alongside fresh and decaying seaweed tickle the nose.

Throughout of confines and perimeter of the space, numerous shadow-filled passages lead off. Some at ground level. Some at head height. Others up higher, well out of reach.

In the center of the space you see what looks like a dais. Formed of coral of course, it is cylindrical and stands several feet high. Around the girdle, like stones in some ancient crown, small gems are set and happily sparkle.

Then she turns.

On the other side of the dais a woman swings her arms wide and rotates to meet your eyes. Her face though old is beautiful, wise, and set with eyes darker than a moonless night. Long tangles of black hair fall beside pale features, as though she too were once formed of the very coral that surrounds you. There is no doubt in your mind that this woman shares Sela’s blood. Though dressed in little more than a once-white flowing gown, she has a presence fit of a queen, and a voice that hums with both knowledge and mystery.


The excitement on her face is unmistakable.

“If it is true, and it is Immel you seek, then here I am, and so very pleased to see you. Do not be afraid, come, sit, rest, for as long as you wish you remain you do so as our guests.”

A thin white finger is then beckoned at Sela, who hurries over to Immel’s side.

“Dear thing, would you please tell Cila to prepare some sustenance for our visitors? They must be famished.”

Her eyes move back to you then, perhaps sensing a little anxiety.

“Magaw? Is that you? Well well, you too are welcome then, if you promise to behave. Perhaps there is even hope for you... yet. Your present company is far more congenial than the usual.”

The skull hovers near the entrance, clearly nervous about entering this area. Moving up above the group’s heads he replies, “Immel, I will not think less of you should I not be welcome here this day, and to the darkness return…”

She cuts him off then. “No. Magaw. You may enter also, on one understanding. A breath of trickery or hostile movement within these walls, and you will be returned to your mines as nothing but dust. You were witness and partaker of allowing these fine creatures access here, so now I’m afraid, you are as much of this as they are. Behave, and all will be well. You have my word.”

Magaw nods in response. For now the truce will continue.

Immel waves for the rest of the group to enter. Around the cavern there are small boulders of black and white upon which to perch, and also serve as tables during this gathering.

“Please come, sit! Tell me what you seek, strangers. The mines are an unkind place as you’ve most probably witnessed, so if any of you should need the work of a healer, say so now.”

<Feel free to make insight checks on Immel, and deception should you wish to conceal any truth behind your purpose in visiting the mine area in general as we go along.>
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First Post
Jeovanna tilted her head to one side at the sight. As a resident of Kalair, the idea of queens and monarchs in general is something related to fairy-tales and ancient stories. But perhaps they are in one of those stories today. Ever since descending into the mines, signing those contracts- their lives have taken a dramatic turn.

"It's okay. We have a healer," Jeovanna replied. It did not matter that Carthum was perhaps exhausted of spells- they did not need to tell a stranger that. "But thanks."

The whole scene is crazy! Jeovanna takes it all in, as suspicious as ever, but perhaps the majesty of the situation distracts her. Perhaps she had spent too much time trying to memorize the path bac.

No physical danger yet, none that she can see...



First Post
Behave, hmm? And that was directed towards them as well, she imagined, not just Magaw? The tiefling's golden eyes were wide with excitement, and she did not even try to pretend otherwise. She would move to take up a spot on one of the strange boulders without any noticeable hesitation.

It was not that she had forgotten the ranger's words; his senses were strange, his intuition coming from some dark place in a way that was perhaps familiar, but she was too excited by circumstances to worry too much. This was what they had tried to find, what they had been *sent* to find, she was sure of it. She'd gesture for Magaw to join her! Hadn't he helped them up until now? Strange events made for strange bedfellows. And there were stranger down here than the floating skull and his mysterious background.

"This is unlike anything I've ever seen," Metea breathed in excitement, having quite forgotten herself. "How far are we, from Kalair?"


First Post
"Lady Immel," Otiroth can already feel any control over this situation has been wrested away... but that is alright. Immel seems in control of matters enough, "thank you for admitting us. As you alluded, the path to get here was trying indeed. Ending up someplace as this is... stunning, to say the least."

Indeed, it seemed to have stunned his comrades!

Otiroth was in the same situation as Jeovanna, in that 'royalty' was not a thing that really existed to them. The council was a far cry from the majesty of lady Immel. But Otiroth was an apprentice to a mage, and so he knew a little something about showing proper respect. Or sucking up, depending on the mood of his master. A brief, respectful more than awed bow to the pitchling woman, but he was not quite as eager as Metea to instantly take a seat... though he would head in that direction.

"We seek," a pause, then, as if he wondered if Annit should answer, "a way to help our people."

It was no different, really, than what they had told Sela. There was no sense in telling the truth to one and lying to the other.

It is a long walk, literally or otherwise. Carthum's heart beats heavy in his chest- oddly enough, he does not seem nervous, persae, but there is still tension there. This must be what Suru intended. These gems and coral were like an underground sun.

They were doing more than following his sister's whims, he was certain of that.

Carthum was happy to let Otiroth do the talking- there was nothing the fire-eyed sorcerer enjoyed more, after all. And secretly, he could not help but feel a flash of pride at Jeovanna's words, as well.

What a strange orc he was!

Metea would be always within arms reach during their stay down here, he would make certain of that!


First Post
At the Throne of the Lady

Dain seemed content to say nothing and instead to watch and listen. His sword had not relaxed, nor had his vigilance, since entering the surreal throne room of Immel. you hold court in a similar fashion, atop a throne of roots and moss within a damp cavern deep in the the bosom of the earth?

His eyes darted from one speaker to the next, whether they were his comrades, the floating skull and the dwarf, or Immel herself.

<Insight check = 23>
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At the Throne of Immel

Slowly and gracefully, Immel circumnavigates around her dais with quiet steps, working her way a little closer to the newcomers. Her offer of healing turned aside, she smiles at the group. “A healer among you, wise indeed you have been.”

The tiefling is in good spirits, and the elderly woman seems to feed off this, grinning back to Metea. “Not so far from Kalair dear, in terms of feet and marching distance. Yet, we might as well be on the other side of the known world when it comes to a way of life, or reason for being. My people have lived here, secluded and uninterrupted by the goings on of sunwalkers for as long as I might remember. Very few know of us and our ways, we are protectors of great significance, yet also insignificant to the eyes of most. We fulfill our duty for the lands, and above have several… what you might call… friends. Yes, friends, though we have never really met except via divination or other secretive arts.”

Annit, stood near the back of the group nods at the wise lady’s words. “My family too, are protectors. I am honored to meet another,” she says quietly.

“Likewise,” Immel responds.

A set of dark fey eyes moves to Otiroth then, so polite and respectful in his introduction. “A way to help your people? You are brave young man, as are all of you. Your very being here speaks of worthiness. Before we begin, I must ask you all to make a promise to me. That of us, and how you came to reach us, never be spoken of or revealed, not even to those you trust, please. Above, there are many who would enjoy nothing more than to wipe our race from the face of existence, and destroy all that many generations have worked so hard to preserve.”

She beckons then, and points at the coral dais.

“If we have an understanding, then please, come and stand around the Well of Lorica. Together we will surround it and join hands in peace. Look to the waters below, but I must request of you not to touch the sacred ripples within, lest they melt skin from bone and soul from mind.”

Magaw clears an invisible throat.

"Oh yes Magaw, forgive me. Unlike the others, you may exclude yourself from this should you wish, or otherwise, perhaps allow yourself to be in physical contact some other way."


First Post
Metea does not hesitate in the slightest. "We will not speak of your people to those above," she replies.

A pitiful fate indeed, for the pitchlings. But Metea can appreciate their position, can appreciate the concept of persecution, even if she herself had not experienced the worst that could be.

Those above? The people of Kalair? They thought themselves quite cosmopolitan, but thoughts and actions were often not fully in line.

And Immel? She promised more secrets. Secrets that Metea's patron desired.

For indeed, her patron was not above or below.

Jeovanna & Carthum: At the Throne of Immel

Carthum nodded in agreement with his sister. His ultimate loyalty was to the church of Suru; they would know about the demons and undead in this mine, but the fey were not an existential threat of the same order.

He could not pretend that he was thrilled about what was to come, but he had faith that this was meant to be. Let them see, then. Who had not read old stories of magical wells and oracles? This was more likely to be something worthwhile. What was the point of a trap at this stage?

Jeovanna as well, seemed doubtful, but they had come too far to back down now. The woman licked her teeth, then just nodded slowly. So be it. Let them try.


First Post
The Well of Lorica? Now that was intriguing. Otiroth would not pass up a chance to view that. His mind flooded with questions, but better to wait and observe than ask them right off the bat, perhaps. There was still etiquette to consider, after all.

He joined the others, those that were willing at least, around the Well.

It was a risk, yes. But so was all they had done since they had signed those contracts. If they were struck down, then Kalair would not miss them. If they found some information that could help Kalair... it could change the course of the city.


First Post
Dain - At the Throne of Immel

Dain watched as the group began for form a circle around the well, taking hands...or touching bones, in the case of Magaw.

Devil's arse! They're going to do it...and so I must as well. I ken that we will survive this together or perish as one. Essithea, do you laugh at me or are you held in a rare moment of suspense? This queen is a sovereign of fey, and I know that there are many such creatures in this place...she is not without some power. Annit seemed to trust her, finding affinity with a shared cause.

Sheathing his sword somewhat reluctantly and with more flourish and noise than was required, Dain stepped forward to join the others at the well.

But he wasn't happy about it. "Heroes or fools. It is a fine line." He muttered.

He shot Metea a glance when the Tiefling promised to keep quiet about the fey. Could she keep such an oath?


It is almost an other-worldly experience, looking down into the waters of Lorica's Well. Crystal clear liquid sits dormant and still, some feet below the dais’ lip, as though reflecting some imagined sky of cloudless blue. Like chaotic stars, tiny flecks of color glitter upon the surface from time to time, a rainbow smashed and it's dust floating atop. White coral encases the captured sea in a shaft of white, which looks to lead down for at least ten yards, though it is hard to say for sure.

At the bottom, one might expect to find sand formed of broken coral and dark seaside cliffs, but the reality is more interesting by orders of magnitude. Red, green, blue, clear, orange and beyond, a full spectrum of color is piled within the depths. Gems! Some rough and pure as though recently dislodged from a miner’s claim. Others are cut, reflecting and refracting, sharing their light within and around one another.

The dwarf’s eyes are wider than a cat’s at midnight, his jaw dropping at the wondrous collection, submerged, so close yet so far from reach.

“Ohhh,” he exhales in nothing but awe.

As you join hands, and Magaw makes his cranium available to touch as part of this respectful ring, Immel begins to speak.

“Dear friends, my people are one with both sea and land, the chaos of endless movement and the solidity of stone. Years ago, a young woman named Lorica was a gifted soul who made the greatest of sacrifices, to plunge her body, skill and power into the sea. It is said that her fate was not as anticipated, that she survived and lived on, becoming a spirit of the ocean for what remains of time. Piece by piece, one treasure after another, she swam upon the bed of our sea collecting and rescuing what you see here today. This, is what remains of the sacrifices of sunwalker’s laws. Magic, tossed like refuse to a place never assumed to meet with the touch of the living... ever again.”

“Here, in her well, one can find all that her magic will allow you to see, if you try. Do not let thoughts of greed or wealth cloud your mind. Think not of your pains, anxiety or misconceptions. She invites you to look, upon the water’s surface, and see what it is that you are chosen to witness, if anything.”

Joined as one you stare atop the waters, your mind drifting slowly as the world retreats, leaving only reflections dancing before you.

Upon the pool’s surface an arm comes into view, strong and chiseled with a well-defined yet strangely feminine musculature. It pushes down with great strength, plunging an oar into lightly rolling waves, as a small boat leans from side to side with the weight of force. She curses, in a Gnollish tongue then, as a current catches the vessel and threatens to drag it far off into the unknown. To the left lie black cliffs, so familiar, and to the right an endless expanse of sea.

The shouts of colleagues fill the air, somewhere to your back and raising the alarm. “There are more!” Yes, Otiroth’s voice. Before you, over some dusty dune, a wall of pincers, stingers and legs rushes ahead to catch you in it's poisonous razored front. The reddened and sun-soaked arm of a ranger draws his sword now half-filled with opalescent blade-carved symbolism. They come. He stabs, slashes and strikes over and over again, until he hears a woman’s scream.

A tiefling ducks beneath hanging branches and pushes through undergrowth of the wildest green. Her feet slosh upon mud, sticky and heavy, as rain begins to once again fall. The darkness of a forest crowds you, forever attempting to trip, grab and entangle as one step at a time, you plow on and on through the thick of a monsoon.

Finally, all becomes darkness in the black shadow of a tear upon the earth. Overhead, a burning sun radiates an ever present searing pain. Dressed in little more than rags, withered and breathing shallowly, the green-skinned priest smiles to you.

“Well, get on with it then.” The voice of Magaw, somewhere to your side, as Carthum lifts a small metal canister and grips a stopper of cork between a half-orcs teeth. He moves to the hole then, and smiling, pours the contents down into the jaws of the earth.

Between grains of burning hot sand at your feet, shoots of grass begin to push forth, as a cool breeze moves to settle upon your face. Turning, you see Jeovanna, Metea, Otiroth, Carthum, Dain and Magaw, all watching in wonder as The Sands gradually fade from view.

You awaken in a small room, walls ribbed in white coral between basalt’s random cracks. It is soft, the seagrass you have slept upon, and at your feet lie all of your possessions, just as they were when you arrived. At the one exit to this space, Immel stands, smiling and pleased to see you all coming around. The aroma of food wafts upon you. A timber tray placed in the center of the room, loaded with edible weeds, berries, and crispy-skinned freshly grilled fish. A rare delicacy in any part of Kalair.

“Please rest as long as you need,” She says quietly. “One could never have known Lorica to speak with such a loud voice. Some hour you have been here now. Eat and do as you must, and as you prepare yourselves for what lies ahead, we will talk. You have many choices to make. All of you.”

Annit sits up and looks upon her fellow explorers. The dwarf snores peacefully. Magaw’s head rests at the end of Metea’s “bed”. Everyone seems well enough. Did they too, dream of a way forwards? The rogue’s was clear. As painful as it shall be, Annit knows now what she must do.
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First Post
Metea went to the well with a clarity of purpose. Knowledge. Secrets. Understanding. All of it was too wonderful to pass up, and more beautiful than any gemstone.

Lorica's sacrifice had brought beauty of the highest order; something that made cut gems pale in comparison.

As for the visions? They swam through Metea's senses. She did not know if the others saw as she did, but she believed they must. She could not look away to meet their eyes. Instead, she met their minds through their shared vision, for the deeper they fell into what the well told them, the more she knew the vision was the same for all of them.

Darkness, then, but it did not feel sudden or abrupt, but instead a part of the end of the vision. Metea could still feel rough bits of leaves and ferns in her tailfeathers, and sitting up, she'd actually reach back to see if the mud of the jungle still lingered there. But, no. It had indeed been only a vision.

Only. That was not the right word!

Metea meets Annit's eyes briefly, before getting up and moving slowly around to check on the others. Particularly her brother, nudging his shoulder anxiously.

Visions. Prophecy. Danger and dust and debris and destiny! Their path, the path they had been shown at least, was fearsome...


First Post
Dain - Visions

Dain came back to the world with a start, the words of Immel seeming to come at first from far away and then suddenly exploding in his ears. He was to his feet in an instant, vestigial pincers still floating before him. His sword was halfway from its scabbard before he regained his senses.

Thrones and bones…the crown has fallen…Essithea? I have traveled but never moved, time bends within me…I am no one, a locked chest full of voices and prophecy…the key is death and despair...all is a riddle falling into shadow...

Returning his sword to its home, Dain looked at the others. He was wild eyed, his hair unbound and falling like a mane around his shoulders. With his tattered armor, ripped and burned, he looked very different than the young man who had entered the mine only a day or so before.

“Visions can take time to gain meaning.” He said quietly to Immel, as if she needed such instruction. Visions were nothing new to him, whether induced by mushroom, plant, madness, or magic. “But we have all seen together. And so, now…we are bound by it.”

He saw that Annit had a look of new purpose about her. It fit her well. The others, too, had their souls lifted within them and he looked at each in turn. “We should eat. Let the images fade and our senses awaken.” Heeding his own advice, he approached the table of food. He tied his hair back, and used some water to clean his hands and refresh his face. Then he began to eat.


First Post
"Food. Yes," a sensible idea.

Jeovanna's thoughts were perhaps more straight-forward than her comrades', but that did not mean they were necessarily simpler! No, she was thinking plenty, even if from the outside, she seemed unphased by what had just happened.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Prophecy could be tricky. Uncertain. Try to prevent it and alter it with one hand, and take its true meaning in the other. But at the same time; it was a symbol of hope.

The Sands were a disease? Could they be healed?

It would take a great healer to do that.

Great healers indeed.

A monumental goal. A vision of flagellation and hope! Was gentle Metea right all along? Praise Suru, for our fates to be intertwined!

Carthum's eyes blinked open, and he smiled up at his sister, squeezing her shoulder. He was okay! A vision of himself wrecked and wracked by trials, but it only filled him with even greater resolve. Prophecy indeed was ever changing, but to heal the Sands- it was a prophecy worth seeking! And they had, perhaps, seem some sliver of what they needed. A search in the waters, in the deep forests... and a potion!

Despite himself, Carthum's eyes flickered towards the perfume-selling sorcerer, and an actual laugh split the half-orc's face for a moment. "Hope!" He declares. Was there anything more delicious?

Well- a bit of fish might be!


First Post
There were no dreams, after the vision. Or perhaps the vision itself had been the dream. Otiroth did feel oddly refreshed, though. He sat up as the others began to stir, and nodded solemnly to Lady Immel.

An hour. It felt as if they had been away for longer. His blood burned, as if there was still a harsh desert sun beating on his back.

As if his blood still boiled and burned.

They had a long path ahead of them, and they would need to discuss it in time. But first thing was first. Did Otiroth smell- fish?

As a rare gourmet treat, it was unusual enough to shake away the fear of their future. They were strong, they had proven it! And there were beings both great and small, within their comprehension and without, that had put in their lot with their path. They would not be so easily turned aside!


“The Sands, those horrible things...” Immel speaks as though convincing herself. Surely she has experienced recent visions too, in whatever personal imagery and interpretations were offered up to her.

“I know not exactly, what Lorica might have shared with each and every one of you, but I know now for certain that her wish is to guide any of those that might listen. Whatever threat The Sands have born, it is not a plague which will limit a ravenous appetite to those above, or those that might be deserving. They come, for us all. They come, attracted like sharks at the scent of blood, to take the power that Kalair’s people have frivolously chosen to cast aside.”

She turns then, to face away from you and stare into the central chamber which houses Lorica’s Well, as she continues to speak.

“By your side in this union, I have seen things which call into question the very beginnings of our existence. Hard to chew, I must say, but the invisible dealings of ours with those above are falling into place. They expressed a probability, no matter how slight, that strangers of their affiliation might venture here seeking knowledge and tools to prevent a people’s early demise.There are no less than three places within these cliffs that you might have found questions, answers, and the beginnings of a path, and still, it is here that your choices have led you. This, I am pleased of, and grateful for.”

Immel turns and once again smiles upon you.

“It is likely that none of you asked for this, but one does not look in the usual places to find greatness. Whoever your friends are above, there was purpose and great consideration in their trust of you. I can not lead anyone to where they might go. I can not possibly foretell what tragedy or glory is to unfold. All I can do, is tell you what I know, and point perhaps, in a few directions that might be of value in your considerations. I will twist no arms, nor will I fall to my knees and beg. There is a reason for this day, and I have not the power to fully assume an understanding of it.”

“One with the sea and earth, my people are connected to the beginnings and very formation of the land that defines our Marix Isle. In old tales, it is thought that our earth's life began covered by waters, trapped beneath a dark and lifeless sea. Then, a fissure opened within the seafloor like an infant’s first breaths, and the magma of creation’s heart spilled out and forth, up and onwards into the light of day to climb beyond an ocean’s reach. Somewhere in what is now The Sands, it is thought that the entrance to creation’s breath might still be found, a tiny speck of the oldest of lives, an oasis within a rolling and desolate mass of sun-soaked stone, beaten by the ages into nothing but well… sand.”

“The scales are tipped against finding such a place, but soon, the earth must be reunited with the life and wonder that it has in turn, blessed us with. Our land must be fed, healed, before this disbalance of forces carves an irreversible path. Someone, some time on a not so distant future day, some way or another, must heal that which made us, all of us, possible. None, one, some, or all of you must venture there. Either way, what has begun today will have an ending.”

“If the visions are true, a return to Kalair and a northward journey by land could very well be met by violence in the extreme. The creatures of The Sands are sunwalkers, and every day draw closer to that which they ultimately seek. You could be lucky perhaps, and make your way through, over the mountains and into The Sands beyond. Alternatively, we might have something to help brave souls reach The Flat on the eastern shores, but from there, whether by land or sea, a journey will be largely… uncharted.”

Were these visitors just pieces in a greater riddle, or was it true, that among them there were those who would see to this… first hand?

“Do not rush your thoughts on this,”
she finally adds, “but of all of you, there will be at least… one.”

Annit rubs her forehead with a hand, before placing her head between her knees and gritting her teeth. She should have guessed. No solution would come so easily. This had barely begun. Whatever life had been before, was soon to be gone. Had her father known? Had her vision been true, that she would see him but one last time? To everyone else, you get the impression that her visions might have been something quite different to your own.

The dwarf exhales deeply then. “Heavy. So bloody confusing. Your pool fo’ sure showed me family, on the surface, who now desperately need my help. My brother might be gone but Hollob’s balls I’ll not abandon what remains. Then battle. Raging and furious war as my hillside brethren fight to protect their home. I won't forsake em.” He stands then. “I can't. But first Ms Immel, your fish. I can barely restrain myself from that glorious smell!”

“Please, help yourself,” Immel gestures towards the meal.

The rogue lifts her head, a teary eye looking to Dain before she turns to the dwarf. “Together for a while longer then, you and I dwarven friend, we will return to Kalair. I know my part in this now. It's inescapable, like a new reality untwined right before my very eyes.”
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First Post
Dain walked slowly over to Annit, offering her some of the food as well as a flask of water. "Winding tracks through the woods can look faint and hopeless, but more often than not they find their way to a larger path." He knelt down beside her. "Whatever you doesn't have to mean certainty. Visions are rarely clear, I..." Dain knew he was rambling more than offering solace and he retreated from Annit. The truth was, he would miss her, whether he chose to admit it or not. "...if you need aid, you need only ask."

You should have kissed her, you squirrel arse. No memory and no balls! Must I dream of Essithea forever?

For Immel, he had only a silent nod. Of thanks. Of anger. Of many other things besides, for he was young and his heart was a tumult of emotions. But his face did not betray much. He had learned to live with uncertainty from the moment he awoke without a past.

So back to Kalair. To gather supplies before their quest to follow their visions for the sake of the land and the people.
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First Post
Jeovanna looked to the others; a grim nod to Annit. She approved of the woman's choice to follow where she believed her path took her. Still, they would miss her bow and her blade on the road.

The dwarf, as well, had a family waiting for him. That was good. They could help nurse him back to his proper strength and dimensions, and he could warn them of the coming dangers.

Jeovanna did not rue the reality of a trip into the wastes above, a trip into inevitable death. The mines had been more deadly than they expected. The Sands, even moreso. But perhaps their delve through stone and fire had tempered them.

There was a reason she had not gone back to her own family. To her own pack. Let this trip be her final penance.

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