Stab the body and it heals, but injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime.
The night comes and rest beneath something other than open, often inhospitable skies, our party now sleeps in a small room of the gate-fort’s inn. Restless in her eagerness to once again explore civilization, Tanna the scout slips away to seek out other denizens of the dark. But this is a small community, duty-bound and regimented, so she finds nothing of particular notice. When she returns to the elvish trance that is her people’s form of sleep, her dreams are troubled things, showing her creatures living in shadow. Is it real or part of her sickening imagination? In this other realm, the Lady of the Wood tries to protect the young elf, but Tanna continues to turn away from her light.
The next day, the party of Chosoan ambassadors make their way toward the Kou Empire’s capital of Echizen, following their local guide, Chouko and his wagon. The journey is interrupted by armed warriors – ronin – who wear Kou emblems, incomplete though they may be. Their demands are strange — half of our party will be permitted to pass by, but half must remain as a ‘security measure’. We argue for our freedom, showing our passports granted by Kou gate guards, but the warriors will not yield. They draw their weapons in a threatening manner and then attack breaks out. We are also ambushed by their comrades — who are not well uniformed but in the rags of bandits. But this group seems to have underestimated us, for we defeat them handily. There are survivors from their band and we learn they were no more than a group of brigands taking advantage of travelers. We take survivors to law enforcement as we enter the outskirts of Echizen.
The areas surrounding the capital are lowland and west, some areas even swampy. We are stopped at the entrance again, much as we were at the kingdom walls, and asked our identification and business. Chouko, his men and wagon are allowed by, and they aim for the Blue Sun Inn to stay. While Kaleth is attempting to translate and explain our diplomatic mission, she feels herself forced to reveal her true identity — that of a dragon-borne. The guards react with shock and nerves, immediately acquiescing to nearly everything Kaleth asks.
Treated now like feared royalty, we are escorted to the more noble regions of the city, even to the enormous palace itself. We are to meet a higher personage of the royal household who is housed in a wing of the palace, who will — it is presumed — be able to help us in our initial diplomatic process. This person turns out to be Dradiira Despath, a Drow and well-known to most in our party. It was she we first encountered when landing to shore after passing through the Storm Wall. It was she that first told us she was a refugee from her own people and took sanctuary with our colonists, bestowing on us knowledge of the islands, a map of the region, and a ring of invisibility. And it was she who disappeared from our colony when the settlement was attacked by werewolves.
Now, apparently Dradiira is an important person within the Kou Empire, accompanied by her human major-domo (main servant). We are not sure why she has established herself here, but it can be presumed to having provided the Empire some very important duty. While she is reacquainting herself with us, however, Adam Westin and Tumdrum both sense something is off, and cast ‘divine sense’ at the Drow. Through their magical senses, they now see that Dradiira and her servant are “fiends”.
While trying to digest this startling information, Dradiira, oblivious to their findings, offers us all sleeping quarters. Not wishing to be separated, the group requests one large room they will share, feeling more comfortable, they say, in bedding down together. Kaleth and her retainer Millie, however, decide to sleep in a chamber on their own.
During the night, Tanna again experiences disturbing visions. This time, she sees something hovering over Adam, something following him, covering him in storms. When she tries to touch this influence, her hand passes through an opaque mass that dissipates. The rest of the night passes quietly.