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City of Strangers: The Godsmouth Heresy

Game Master James Keegan


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The Godsmouth Cathedral- Bottoms District, Kaer Maga
It is fast approaching midnight, the appointed hour of your meeting with Cryptsmistress Valanthe Nerissia. You approach the Cathedral, a gothic structure perched on the cliff's edge above one of the gigantic faces carved into the Storval Rise. A gravel path leads into the nave from the north and south. At the north entrance, a bed of thornless black roses have been planted in the center of the path while the south is flanked by rowan trees. From within the branches you can hear the call of the whippoorwhills, waiting to guide the departed to the Boneyard.

Each of you have been contacted by the Cyptsmistress to carry out a discrete duty-
Detressa:

Spoiler:
Since being ordained, most of your duties have been caring for the... less stable clergy in the east wing off the nave and maintaining the Chapel of the Mad Prophet therein. On some nights you have also had the duty of transcribing High Priest of Fate Mahajan Sandeep's observations of the moon, which he makes from the east bell tower. But now you have heard that bodies have gone missing from the Godsmouth Ossuary below the cathedral and the Cryptsmistress has asked you to join the expedition- since you are not a custodian of the Ossuary you are above suspicion in this matter and your sister believes this is an opportunity for you to take on greater responsibility in the church while keeping an eye on the freelancers Valanthe has hired. The Cryptsmistress will be meeting the outsiders at midnight in the shrine of St. Feodric- she bid you wait there for them while she retrieves some supplies.

Kua:

Spoiler:
Warden Hammerfell, the Duskwarden's grizzled dwarven guildmaster, has asked you to assist the Pharasmin's with a disturbance in the Ossuary. As part of the deal for lending you out, you will need to map the level below the Ossuary. No Duskwardens have been allowed in prior to this and the Warden is always eager to add to their knowledge of the dungeons below Kaer Maga. The map doesn't need to be meticulous, but it should be functional. He also reassures you that the church will be paying you quite well for your time. You are to meet the Cryptsmistress at the Cathedral, in the shrine of St. Feodric.

Yang:

Spoiler:
Having spent some time working closely with the Pharasmins, you've become privy (if purely incidentally) to some of their problems. The foremost being that bodies have begun to disappear from the Ossuary. Several days ago, Crystmistress Nerissia took you aside and requested that you assist in tracking down the culprit "as a way of ensuring continued good faith between us." Since you already know about the problem and none of the priests on hand are experts on matters of the arcane, she is willing to pay for your services and your silence. She asks you to meet her and the rest of the freelancers in the Cathedral, in the shrine of St. Feodric.

Badang:

Spoiler:
Working at the Bloodbrothers puts food on the table, sure, and a good brawl is always satisfying but the Lord in Iron craves more than nonlethal combat in a tavern full of roughnecks. Gorum demands war! Carrying battle to the enemy (whoever that may be), with blade bared and a snarl on your lips! And so the last few weeks at the tavern you've been restless, enough that Tarj Halfhand pointed you to a black-robed woman sitting silently in the corner. "Work for you, boy,"said the dwarf, gesturing with a mutilated hand,"The Cryptsmistress needs some heads split and I said you're the man for it." While the Pharasmin priestess didn't explain things quite that way, she did say that she needed a strong swordarm that can keep their mouth shut for an expedition she's putting together. The Ossuary has been losing bodies of late and she can't trust her own to look into it. For some coin and a promise that you'll see some action, she's invited you to meet her and the rest of the freelancers she's gathered at midnight at the shrine of St. Feodric in the Godsmouth Cathedral.

Uwais:

Spoiler:
So far Kaer Maga has yet to disappoint. Though Waya grows restless at times in the vast enclosed sections known as the Ring, there are very few that deign to insult you or consider whether they can bring you back for a reward. Everyone minds their own business here and your new friends in the Freemen have done a lot to help you and Waya get settled in. It's from them that you hear of an opportunity for work: Cryptsmistress Nerissia has put out a call for able souls looking to earn some coin. It's also an opportunity to help the Freemen rise in the church's esteem. When you spoke to that tall, forbidding woman in black robes, she told you that she is assembling a team of "outside help" to look into some disturbances in the Ossuary. The pay is good, so long as you can keep quiet about the job. The team is meeting at midnight in the Cathedral, at the shrine of St. Feodric.

Sister Mara:

Spoiler:
It was only a week ago that the message spell from Cryptsmistress Valanthe Nerissia reached you; she explained in as few words as possible that bodies have gone missing from the Godsmouth Ossuary in Kaer Maga and Brother Vadim of the chapel to Saerenrae recommended you for your unique abilities and hatred of the undead. After a long and winding hike up the Halflight Path, guided by taciturn Duskwardens you found yourself in the infamous City of Strangers. From what you've heard there is an entire District, "Ankar-Te" where zombies and skeletons and their masters are free to roam the streets... and that's only the beginning. As foul as some of the practices may be in this chaotic city, it is also free and open with peoples of every race and nationality bumping shoulders and living side by side (or often one atop the other). Regardless, the Bright Lady's work must be done and at midnight in the Godsmouth Cathedral's shrine to St. Feodric you will find out just what that work will entail.

You enter beneath one of the large iron candelabras lighting the nave. Running east to west is a plush purple carpet layed between row after row of wooden pews. At the far western end is a dais holding the altar and a great hourglass as tall as a man, filled with red sand. Above that is a rose window depicting Pharasma's aspects: Reaper, Midwife and Prophet. On the eastern side are two open doors leading to small shrines flanking a set of double doors Detressa, these double doors lead to the cells for your order. Any of the grey-robed acolytes in the nave can direct you to the shrine to St. Feodric, which is the southernmost shrine.

The shrine is a long rectangle, lit with candles. At the north end is an open prayer book on a lectern while to the south stands a stone statue of a stern looking man holding a mace before him, a bed of black roses growing around the statue's base. The Cryptsmistress has not arrived yet- perhaps you are a bit early.

Okay, feel free to make introductions.


An hour before the appointed meeting time, Detressa pads quietly from her cell towards the shrine of St Feodric. Once there, she kneels in the front pew and bows her head in prayer, the cowl of her black clerical robe pulled up. Her heart is filled with both fear and hope for what lies ahead, and she prays for the guidance of the Goddess that she may know the right path and do her order proud.

Spells prepared, updated in profile.


Male Human (Tian-Shu) Wizard (Transmuter) 2

Yangzhun drags his large bulk into the shrine of St. Feodric, leaning heavily on his quarterstaff and breathing heavily (and with more than the occasional wheeze). He still wasn't entirely used to the massive weight gain that accompanied the hemotheurgic arcane rituals, having only completed them a few months prior, but the increased power was more than worth it.

As enters the shrine, he notices only one other present besides the acolytes in the nave, an individual in the front pew in a position of prayer he has seen the priests of Pharasma use in the past. From the back, it is difficult to determine if the figure is male or female, especially with the clerical robes hiding its frame.

Coming closer to the figure, Yang interrupts the individual's apparent prayer. In heavily accented Common, he asks, "You are here to meet with Nerissia, too? Or are here in her stead?"


Detressa hears the man’s wheezing and heavy footfalls echoing off the stone and marble of the chapel as he approaches, but she keeps her head bowed as she finishes her prayer, confident that no one who wished her harm would make it this far into the Cathedral – surely this is one of the freelancers that the Cryptsmistress spoke of – and a Bloatmage if she is not mistaken.

At the man’s question, she stands and pulls back her cowl to reveal her thin, pale face, large dark eyes and black hair tied back into a long plait that disappears down the back of her robe. A silvery comet symbol hangs at her throat. She studies the obese man for a moment; between the dim light from the candles and the man’s bloated features it is difficult to tell his ethnicity, although his accent suggests he hails from somewhere far from Varisia.

“Cryptsmistress Nerissia shall be with us shortly,” she answers after a moment in a soft level voice that nevertheless carries in the stillness of the chapel. “I am Detressa Venci.”


Male Human (Tian-Shu) Wizard (Transmuter) 2

Yang leans on his staff. "Nihao. Hello. My name is Chen Yangzhun. Most call me Yang. I guess it is easier for their tongue."

Yang looks to a pew, and sits himself down. "You are here because of the missing bodies?" he asks, keeping his voice very low for the last question.


Male Halfling Wolf Shaman Druid 2

The gentle padding of feet announces the entrance of a large wolf. Once the initial shock of seeing a wolf in the cathedral has passed, people notice the halfling striding next to it, a calming hand upon it. After a moment of looking at the grandeur of the place, Uwais leads Waya towards the agreed meeting place. He gives a silent nod to the others already there, then takes a seat in one of the pews to wait. Waya lays down quietly next to him.

Running to work, will make prepared spell list in character sheet either during lunch or after work.


Male Half Orc Duskwarden 2

Kua walks into the cathedral with his eyes sweeping over every surface, taking note of any nooks or other shadowy crevasses. Once he's reached the head of the pews where the others wait,he gives a nod and takes a seat.

Looking over to Uwais, "A fine looking beast." Kua extends his hand carefully to Waya and gives the wolf a pet if it seems amicable.


Detressa nods curtly in response to Chen’s question, then glances over at the new arrivals, trying to hide her surprise at the sight of the wolf.

What an odd bunch, she thinks.


Male Halfling Wolf Shaman Druid 2

"Not only fine-looking - simply a fine animal," Uwais says, watching Kua pet Waya. He looks over the large half-orc, weighing him in his head. He doesn't say anything else.

Waya lifts her head to meet the pat, sitting regally as though she deserved every bit of attention she received.


A few more minutes pass in silence. Finally, Detressa speaks. “Well ... perhaps some duty has delayed the Cryptsmisstress. I’m not sure if we are all here yet, but as it appears that we will be working together, we should know who everyone else is and what their specialty is. I am Detressa Venci from the Cathedral here, I am a priest sworn to Pharasma’s service.”


As Detressa introduces herself, a young raven-haired woman quietly enters the chapel. Dressed in black and red leather with the symbol of Sarenrae prominently emblazoned on her left breast, the woman's most striking feature is a rough scar that stretches from the bridge of her nose across her right cheek to her jawline.

"Sorry I'm late. I'm Sister Mara, of the Order of the Vigilant Flame," the scarred woman says by way of introduction. She lowers her voice discreetly as she continues, "I understand you're missing some bodies."


“That is the gist of the problem,” agrees Detressa quietly. A priest of Sarenrae ... the Cryptsmistress must suspect the possibility of undead... Unconsciously, Detressa puts her hand to the holy symbol at her throat and shivers slightly beneath her robe.


Male Half-Orc Rogue 1

As Badang entered the threshold of the shrine of Pharasma, he noted the assembly of people already present. A duskwarden, a bloatmage, cleric, inquisitor and druid.
Interesting group, I must say, heh. Must be the same reason as I. Now, where's that Cryptsmistress?

Badang sits down next to the bloatmage, lightly at first, testing the pew's stability. Confident it will hold, Badang extends a hand in greeting.

Good evening, here for the job, neh?


The door to the shrine opens one more time, but instead of another freelancer it is the Cryptsmistress herself. Valanthe Nerissia is a tall woman of mixed Varisian descent as her ash blonde hair attests. She is dressed simply in a black cloak with white trim, Pharasma's holy symbol on a chain around her throat. She nods curtly before standing at the front of the shrine, facing St. Feodric. The Crypstmistress holds a rectangular chest, the contents tinkling like glass against glass as she walks.

"All of you have been asked here to provide a service for the church.", she begins in low voice that nonetheless carries in the quiet shrine. "As I have told each of you, the vessels of the departed are being stolen from the Ossuary. This cannot be allowed. It stands to reason that none of the clergy are above suspicion, so I have been told to assemble a capable group of outside help. There is a sealed door in the Ossuary leading further beneath Kaer Maga: it is my belief that whatever is stealing the remains has come from there. It will be your job to enter that door and discover the source of the thefts."

"I will stress one last time- your silence about this matter after tonight is of the utmost importance. If you need incentive, we are offering a generous fee: 600 gold coins to divide amongst yourselves. Should you clear the entire complex of threats monstrous and mundane, I will provide an additional 300 gold coins to divide amongst yourselves. In addition, any valuables you find therein will be yours to keep, so long as they are not sacred to the church. Should word escape of this matter... well, it won't will it?"

She sets down the chest and begins removing vials of liquid, each stoppered and labeled. She pairs them off- one vial of clear liquid to one vial of blue liquid.

"To ensure your success, we are prepared to give each of you a vial of holy water blessed by the goddess and a potion to heal wounds.", she says before pulling out a long chime of silvery metal. "Sister Detressa, I shall entrust you with the chime of opening- this chime may be sounded five times and five times only to open sealed doors in the complex below the Ossuary. Be advised that you should keep one in reserve in order to return to the Cathedral- we will not open the doors again, no matter how insistently it is knocked upon."

She looks at the assembled group.
"Are these terms agreeable?"


Male Half Orc Duskwarden 2

Kua gives a nod of his head. "Those terms sound just fine, Cryptsmistress. Is there anything else that you can tell us of these disappearances? Was there ever a trail left? I can take a look arond the area and see what I can find. It may give us some insight into who or what we are dealing with."


Kua wrote:
Kua gives a nod of his head. "Those terms sound just fine, Cryptsmistress. Is there anything else that you can tell us of these disappearances? Was there ever a trail left? I can take a look arond the area and see what I can find. It may give us some insight into who or what we are dealing with."

The Cryptsmistress shakes her head to Kua's question.

"Nay, Duskwarden, I fear even you would be hard pressed to find a trail, much less any of our priests. In this instance our diligence in the Ossuary has worked against us: without dust or dirt on the floors, it is almost impossible to find tracks left by the thief. It is through process of elimination that we have decided the vaults under the Ossuary are the source. It would be impossible to drag the bodies from the Ossuary, up the stair from the Unnamed King and through the Cathedral without being noticed."


Male Half Orc Duskwarden 2

"Hmm, I see." Kua nods in acceptance of her answer. "When would it be appropriate for us to begin our search of the vaults?"


Male Human (Tian-Shu) Wizard (Transmuter) 2
Badang T'Unggul wrote:

As Badang entered the threshold of the shrine of Pharasma, he noted the assembly of people already present. A duskwarden, a bloatmage, cleric, inquisitor and druid.

Interesting group, I must say, heh. Must be the same reason as I. Now, where's that Cryptsmistress?

Badang sits down next to the bloatmage, lightly at first, testing the pew's stability. Confident it will hold, Badang extends a hand in greeting.

Good evening, here for the job, neh?

Having been in Kaer Maga for some time, Yang is familiar enough with the concept of hand shaking, and grips the man's hand more firmly than may be expected.

"Shi de. Yes. I am here at the Cryptmistress' request."


Male Human (Tian-Shu) Wizard (Transmuter) 2
Warden of Doors wrote:

The door to the shrine opens one more time, but instead of another freelancer it is the Cryptsmistress herself. Valanthe Nerissia is a tall woman of mixed Varisian descent as her ash blonde hair attests. She is dressed simply in a black cloak with white trim, Pharasma's holy symbol on a chain around her throat. She nods curtly before standing at the front of the shrine, facing St. Feodric. The Crypstmistress holds a rectangular chest, the contents tinkling like glass against glass as she walks.

"All of you have been asked here to provide a service for the church.", she begins in low voice that nonetheless carries in the quiet shrine. "As I have told each of you, the vessels of the departed are being stolen from the Ossuary. This cannot be allowed. It stands to reason that none of the clergy are above suspicion, so I have been told to assemble a capable group of outside help. There is a sealed door in the Ossuary leading further beneath Kaer Maga: it is my belief that whatever is stealing the remains has come from there. It will be your job to enter that door and discover the source of the thefts."

"I will stress one last time- your silence about this matter after tonight is of the utmost importance. If you need incentive, we are offering a generous fee: 600 gold coins to divide amongst yourselves. Should you clear the entire complex of threats monstrous and mundane, I will provide an additional 300 gold coins to divide amongst yourselves. In addition, any valuables you find therein will be yours to keep, so long as they are not sacred to the church. Should word escape of this matter... well, it won't will it?"

She sets down the chest and begins removing vials of liquid, each stoppered and labeled. She pairs them off- one vial of clear liquid to one vial of blue liquid.

"To ensure your success, we are prepared to give each of you a vial of holy water blessed by the goddess and a potion to heal wounds.", she says before pulling out a long chime of silvery metal. "Sister Detressa, I shall entrust you...

Yang stands and nods his agreement to the arrangement. "Your issue is ... interesting to me, and I agree with your proposition."

Without waiting for anything else, Yang immediately begins peppering the Cryptmistress with questions. "Do the dead people have anything that is the same? I mean, do they share common information?"

Yang also looks over the vials of liquid. "The blessed water to me makes me think you suspect walking dead. Is there evidence of this? Might it be the makings of a ... what is the word ... golem?"


The priestess nods.
"We suspect necromancy, since it is the most logical explanation and the simplest to carry out, as opposed to a golem. Had one the skill and desire to craft such a... servant, it is a simple matter to attain the materials within Kaer Maga without disturbing our crypts. The stolen remains were in various stages of decay: every body interred in the Ossuary is whole and cared for according to the deceased's wishes. No common ancestry or history has been remarked upon."


Detressa takes the silvery chime with a nod.

“Cryptsmisstress, what course shall we take should we discover a member of our own order is behind these crimes?” she asks, a hint of hesitation in her voice.


The Cryptsmistress takes a deep breath, but her voice remains neutral and level.
"Should that occur, Sister, our superiors would prefer they be taken alive if possible. Should they resist with lethal force, however, you are authorized to pronounce your own judgement."


Male Halfling Wolf Shaman Druid 2

Uwais rises from his seat, Waya rising with him. He approaches the Cryptsmistress. "In the event that we lose the chime, is there another way out of the catacombs? That could very well be the way that this threat came in, as well."


"None that we are aware of, which is why I suggest leaving a charge of the chime in reserve for when you wish to leave... and not misplacing it while you are exploring."


"Your offer of compensation is most generous, Cryptmistress," Mara says quietly. "And you can be assured of my silence and my Order's silence regarding this matter."

"I assume you would like for us to begin our investigation immediately, but I must ask: Do you have any thoughts as to how long you expect us to be down in the Ossuary? I don't know about my new companions, but I currently only carry enough provisions for a couple of days. Do we need to purchase more before we descend into the depths?"


"The pace and duration of your investigation is your own affair, Sister Mara. If you require time to assemble provisions, we may meet again in the morning but no later than that."


Male Half-Orc Rogue 1

No wonder you want it kept silent Cryptmistress. When bodies start going missing in a supposed 'elite' resting place would sure make people think twice. Nevertheless, your gold is sufficient to make good on my acceptance..and secrecy.


The priestess' face remains a stern mask.
"Precisely. Do you have further questions or shall we reconvene on the morrow?"


Male Half Orc Duskwarden 2

"Unless you're paying up front, I'm ready to go now."


Male Human (Tian-Shu) Wizard (Transmuter) 2

"No more questions; I will go when it is wished."


“I will certainly endeavour not to lose the chime, nor to squander its magic,” speaks Detressa sharply to Uwais. She then turns back to the Cryptsmisstress. “I am ready,” she says simply.

Is the potion a potion of clw?


"If the others are ready to enter the Ossuary, then so am I," Mara says, bowing her head respectfully to the Cryptmistress. "May the Everlight guide our steps."


Male Half-Orc Rogue 1

I do not have any objection if we were to go now. I am ready to descend.


Yes, a vial of holy water and a cure light wounds potion. Keep in mind, you won't be able to return to resupply so if you change your minds and want to grab something before heading down, this is your only chance for a while.
The priestess nods her assent.
"Follow me, then."

She leads you out of St. Feodric's chapel and out of the Cathedral proper, under the Ring's vaulted ceiling and the many lanterns of Bottoms district to a closed door behind the Cathedral. Using a large iron key, she pulls open the door and leads you outside.

The air outside is much clearer and easier to breathe than within the walls of Kaer Maga, though the Cinderlands leave it quite dry. "Watch your step.", advises the Cryptsmistress as she descends the winding stairwell carved into the Storval Rise. The stars shine above in the clear night sky and to the southwest you can see clear to the distant lights of Korvosa. Winding down the stair, without a railing or retaining wall, you finally reach the mouth of the Unnamed King, the entrance to the Godsmouth Ossuary. Once more your contact withdraws the iron key from her robes and opens the large doors inside the mouth. You are ushered within.

The Godsmouth Ossuary is seen by few save the Pharasmins and the dead- even were one of your relatives layed to rest here, you would not be permitted beyond the mouth itself. The air is fresh and dry, the halls opulent and well-kept. Flameless magical torches light the halls, illuminating bodies wrapped in the finest linens layed to rest in the stone niches in the walls. Not a bit of dust or a single cobweb blemishes the solemn crypt.

The Cryptsmistress brings you to another large stone door with a bronze seal bearing the symbol of Pharasma.
"This is your entrance to the sealed levels and this is where I leave you to your mission. Sister, sound your chime and end this insult to our faith."

I'm assuming Detressa sounds the chime.
The mithral chime sounds a clear note and sends it echoing throughout the catacombs. The stone door grinds open despite long years of disuse. Within, a stone spiral staircase descends into the earth.
May I have a marching order please?


Male Half-Orc Rogue 1

Eager for battle, Badang volunteers for frontline assignment. He hopes someone who likes to get their hands dirty to join him.


Male Half Orc Duskwarden 2
Badang T'Unggul wrote:
Eager for battle, Badang volunteers for frontline assignment. He hopes someone who likes to get their hands dirty to join him.

I'll go beside ye where room permits. Otherwise, I'll stand behind you. My eyes adjust easily to the dark, so depending on how the pharasmins light their crypts, it may be prudent for me to scout ahead in areas.


Male Halfling Wolf Shaman Druid 2

Uwais climbs atop Waya, his head bouncing up and down with every step she takes. "We'll stay behind," he says. "Waya can move quickly if need be."


Waya sniffs the dusty, stale air of the stairwell and sneezes. Uwais can feel her muscles tense beneath him.
The spiral stairway take up most of the ten foot by ten foot shaft, leaving small gaps near the corner difficult even for a halfling or gnome to slip through. Beyond what light spills in behind you, the shaft is pitch black.


Male Half-Orc Rogue 1

Badang pauses awhile, knits his brow in concentration and casts light on a bullet he withdraws from his belt pouch, which he holds aloft.
10 min duration - 20 foot normal light, 20 foot dim light


Male Half Orc Duskwarden 2

Kua crouches down next to Waya then goes flat onto his belly with his head hanging over the edge of the spiral stair case, switches to dark vision and peers into the shaft.
Perception check 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25


You're looking down the center, right?
Kua:

Spoiler:
You can see that the shaft descends to the limits of your vision, at least 60 feet. From your vantage point the way down seems unimpeded.

Marching order thus far- Badang, Kua, space, space, space, Uwais/Waya.


Male Human (Tian-Shu) Wizard (Transmuter) 2

"I am sorry but I will be slow for you. I will go near the rear."

Yang casts his own light spell on the end of his staff as he leans against it and drags himself along. He will go second to last, hoping not to hold up everyone too much.


If it's alright with Detressa, Mara will take up position behind the cleric and in front of Yang.

From her position near the center of the group, Mara calls upon the blessings of the Everlight to cause the symbol of Sarenrae on her leather armor to glow with a warm radiance. (Cast Light on the symbol on her armor, will renew the orison as its duration expires - at least we'll be a well-illuminated group.) With that done, she draws her hanbo from her belt and follows her new companions when they descend the stairway.


Male Half Orc Duskwarden 2

The stairwell is clear as far down as about sixty feet and that's as far as I can see. It continues down deeper than that though.

Kua lowers his voice Maybe I should creep down a bit further to take a look?


Kua wrote:

The stairwell is clear as far down as about sixty feet and that's as far as I can see. It continues down deeper than that though.

Kua lowers his voice Maybe I should creep down a bit further to take a look?

Descending only a short way, Kua can confirm that the shaft's bottom is approximately sixty feet below.

So: Badang, Kua, Detressa, Mara, Yang, Uwais/Waya. Good to go?


Works for me.


Male Half Orc Duskwarden 2

Ready


Warden of Doors wrote:

I'm assuming Detressa sounds the chime.

Indeed she does.


Warden of Doors wrote:
Kua wrote:

The stairwell is clear as far down as about sixty feet and that's as far as I can see. It continues down deeper than that though.

Kua lowers his voice Maybe I should creep down a bit further to take a look?

Descending only a short way, Kua can confirm that the shaft's bottom is approximately sixty feet below.

So: Badang, Kua, Detressa, Mara, Yang, Uwais/Waya. Good to go?

Good to go.


Waiting a silent count of sixty seconds after Badang casts his spell, Detressa follows his example, casting a similar spell of light on one of her own sling bullets. She then slips it into her belt pouch within easy reach, as an easy to retrieve backup should Badang and Mara’s lights expire.

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