AT THE END OF THE WORLD OR THE LAST THING I SEE: in which the tables turn on two siblings and Helli invents under duress

It was hard to say what was worse, the eerie lack of zombies in the city or the black beam of darkness pouring into Csipherus from above. While not having the zombies around did make our stealth operations easier, it also seemed very worrying– we hadn’t solved that problem, so it could only mean they were up to some other, worse objective. On the other hand, the black beam of light, slowly opening up into a dome over the city was blatantly bad. I did not want that to finish doing whatever it did.

“Oh, that’s right,” Zeno said as we pondered our next objectives in the face of all this terrible stuff, “Harry had suddenly come around to the idea we should be doing things.”

“Yeah,” said Harry testily, “because the Mage’s Guild told me.”

“I,” Felegum cut in, perhaps to diffuse an already tense situation, “wonder about the dragons.”

“Yeah!” Zeno said. “What about those two!”

“We don’t know a lot,” Harry added.

“No,” Tem said, “we know about the dragons.”

She proceeded to remind us that they were probably agents of Tiamat and that this was exactly what her order had been established to prevent. There was even proof–

“Wait, I have a question,” Zeno broke in. “Who said something about a ‘queen’? Because that feels fairly recent.”

“The head of the wardens at the Mage’s Guild seemed pretty insistent,” Harry said, rubbing his forehead. In some ways, it must have been nice not to be able to have anything talk to you that you didn’t give the all-clear to, but in other ways it had to be pretty painful to have people requesting access to your thoughts all the time.

“So the warden said ‘our queen’,” Felegum repeated. “Not a dragon.”

“Right,” Harry said. “The warden said that ‘worshippers of our queen’ had tried something similar in the past to what we’re seeing here.”

“So you said ‘it looks like the Melding’,” Helli continued, “and that’s when Tem said ‘oh’.” A pause, then: “I’d also like to start building some weapons, because I’ve got an alchemist in a spider body.”

Tem paid this last aside no mind. “Tiamat is clearly working to bring chromatic dragons to the conduits.”

“Well,” said Zeno sheepishly, “except the one we left in charge, yeah.”

Calcryx, yeah. I mean, he was being pretty accurate here, we had done that.

“What.” Tem’s eyes narrowed. “Was this the druid’s idea?”

I had to think about it. I really could not remember whose idea it had been. I know I’d asked the goblin matriarch if it was chill that we took Calcryx and she’d been happy to oblige, but yeah. Calcryx had also just been a very cold, angry dragon sitting on a starter hoard back then. It hadn’t seemed like she would have become so big a problem so soon.

That was another problem I was not anxious to think about.

“Anyway, what the warden was telling me about the last time this happened with the dome,” the other dragonborn continued, “was that this whole process took weeks.”

That meant we had some time, but even so, I didn’t want to risk it. Conversation turned to the teleportation circle in the city.

“Do you think Nisbit knows where it is?” Zeno asked Helli.

I snorted. “You don’t need a dead guy, you have me.”

I could guarantee that I knew more of the city than some dude who’d croaked what, four hundred years ago? The teleportation circle was near the northeast of the city– we were currently holed up in the northwest– and I could get us there no problem. Beyond that, we also could do some recon work to figure out more of what was going on or drop Kalends off at the Thoth temple colony.

“I don’t know why you keep wanting to put me somewhere,” Kalends said, turning to me. “Like I’m some thing and not a thinking person who can make decisions for himself. I’m not something you can just ‘place somewhere’ and forget. Like an old person!”

I tried to explain that we were going to be running headlong into danger and all my remarks fell on deaf ears. “We’ve had no luck trying to get in touch with the Calendar! So they’ve gone to ground! So what? I don’t know where you can go that’s safe here and try as hard as I can, I’m not a good healer, okay? I can’t fucking fix this!”

My fist slammed into the wall of Bacchus Jolly and it didn’t even hurt, I was so angry.

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” I said quietly, and then the pain crept in. “I know I’m a shitty healer.”

Tem made a humming sound. “You could always wait for his legs to atrophy.”

“No,” I said, “and you are the worst.”

“I just want a chair with wheels,” Kalends groused.

“I can see what we can do,” said the gnome shackled to a set of spider legs.

“We?” Kalends repeated. This was the voice he reserved for things colossally going sideways. “What is that spider thing?”

“His name,” Helli said as the legs maneuvered her around, “is Nisbit.”

Kalends looked at me, no longer livid at me but just deeply concerned for our remaining gnome. “Has she gone mad?”

I shrugged. “I mean, she hasn’t slept for days.”

“I know.” His eyes were wide with the emphasis of someone who had been around to witness a small person pursuing her strange goals nonstop while slowly losing control of her language.

We split up. Helli and Lankin would stay back at Bacchus Jolly with Kalends where Helli could continue working on her inventions (and hopefully also make something for Kalends to be mobile with). The rest of us would head to the teleportation circle and to do some recon. I still felt antsy about it all, though. We had to strike while we still had time, not just wait around for it to get even worse than it already was.

The five us went east toward the center of the city to do the recon part of our outing. The dark pillar coming from the pyramid was completely black, though pulses of energy occasionally shot up through it. Again, all signs that things were bad and required more action than just sitting and commenting on how bad it was.

We made it back to the square we’d I’d taken everyone at first, by that nice cafe that had the books and dead people. Leaving Felegum and Tem below, Harry, Zeno, and I climbed a building to get a better look at what was going on in the distance.

The good news was that we finally found out where all the zombies went. There they all were; all of them, from the look of it, in lines circling around the pyramid, almost like they were waiting for something. It was a stunning mass of mostly organized undead milling in front of the entrance.

“Well, a frontal assault is right out.” Zeno sighed.

We watched the zombies for a moment longer, and Harry and I were able to pick out a pattern: there was a single-file line leading up to the pillar of darkness, and then it pulsed about at the same time as the line moved forward.

Almost like zombies stepping forward into something, somewhere.

A transport across a desert. Maybe across another plane.

I put my hands on my hips. “Well, how the hell am I supposed to get in there and put to rest like, fifty thousand undead?”

Even if what Milto’s tablet had said was true, that there was a way to reverse the zombie process, then tons of Csipherians were going somewhere where maybe that power couldn’t reach them. I was losing people and I was losing time.

The gold of the pyramid was shrouded in darkness and if there were any dragons around I didn’t see them.

But I was still too annoyed to quit. “Honestly!” I hissed. “So many people to rebury! And that’s on top of rebuilding my city!” The workload was going to be staggering and it was only getting worse the longer we left it. “Ugh!”

“Well,” Zeno said, “at least we know we really can’t go back this way. Maybe we’ll go through Harry’s head again.”

Harry said something about needing Kalends, but like what, were they going to form a mind palace chain or something? I doubted it.

“Do zombies even have souls?” the monk wondered.

“Darling,” our resident zombie expert said, “there are only two things on this planet that have souls. Cats and beautiful shoes.”

There was a pause in which two things happened.

One, Harry gave Zeno the most disappointed look I have seen him give someone in a while who wasn’t Tem or me.

Two, there was a sudden crackling of lightning and a terrible cry.

It was like a soul screaming out in anguish (a sound with which I was very familiar), but it was so loud and so intense that you couldn’t help but lose yourself in it, confused and disoriented– was the sound coming from without or within?– almost like a hangover hitting you at once. But beyond the dizziness, beyond the pain, was a single clear image.

Above the pyramid, about two-thirds between us and the structure, were two spheres wreathed in red lightning. For a brief moment, a blue-purple energy crackled from one of them and blue wings unfurled.

Then they were gone again, the whole set-up vanished in an instant.

I had my broom in my hands, ready to fly off, eyes trained where the spheres had popped into existence.

They’d been betrayed. Whatever they thought was going to happen, I could pretty much guarantee that it wasn’t this. Atarka felt about as useful to bargain with as a thunderstorm or other natural disaster, but Ojutai was intelligent and canny. If we could make him an ally–

I waited. Nothing.

We descended the building and Harry and Felegum went up again later to try to catch another glimpse of the red lightning cages. It wasn’t like I’d be able to break them out on my own. We needed someone uncommonly good at magic, and that was either Felegum or Zeno.

The monk and the monk returned, no sight of the red spheres.

Zeno conjured up a small illusion of what it had looked like for Felegum’s edification. “It looked kind of like this.”

Felegum beheld the illusion intently. “I’m not sure. It reminds me of a few things, but I’d need to think on it more.”

“I bet Ptarmigan could break it,” Zeno said casually.

Felegum was halfway between laughing and being really offended.

“So you can do it, right?” I cut in.

He sighed. “Well, it’s not like they’re there right now. And they’re like, a hundred feet in the air.”

Zeno posited that what was making the magic on the cages on was either something that the spellcaster (my bet, personally, was the lich, since that red lightning seemed to be his handiwork) was either concentrating on or had an item cooked up to manage. “So,” the bard continued, “either we hit someone on the head or maybe there’s something to destroy.”

“Maybe they’re keeping it in the hoard!” Felegum’s enthusiasm was contagious, except to the few people who did not know what we were talking about.

Zeno had approached me at an earlier time to ask me about the treasures that lay under the central pyramid of Csipherus– probably all the city’s riches, also the part of the information that Kalends had entrusted to me– and I’d been relatively assured that he could keep the secret on the down-low. But–

“What,” Tem said. A statement.

“Wow, Felegum.” I slow-clapped. “Way to tell everyone my stuff.”

“Now is the time!” said the loose-lipped mage, and proceeded to explain his suspicions.

Basically, when Kal had been captured by the Red Eyes, he’d been on a mission to figure out what in the actual hell was going on beneath the pyramid. Definitely a first-class mission for a first-class operative. Anyway, he’d found that the Red Eyes had been amassing a gigantic hoard of gold and other precious items and that they appeared to be trying to make them magic somehow. Also, there was a bit about collecting the gem-like hearts of otherworldly insectoids, both metal and very gross.

Helli and Lankin had been there when Kalends had divulged this information and I’d vouched for them– Helli as a fellow professional and Lankin as a Lankin– but I’d needed someone with expertise in magic to figure out what the hell the Red Eyes were doing with the riches of my city below the pyramid, ostensibly collecting this all without telling either of the dragon sibs about it.

So, the next night, I’d brought it up with Felegum and thanks to his frankly insane understanding of both dragon stuff and the conduits, we figured that not only did some draconic presence seem to be key to operating a conduit (which maybe made sense considering, you know, dragonpriests) but that part of that powering source or necessary magic came from the dragon’s hoard.

I didn’t even know that dragon hoards were magical. I figured, probably contained magical stuff, that seemed likely, but magical in and off themselves? Groundbreaking.

Anyway, the working theory seemed to be–as best as I could remember it– that the Red Eyes had originally signed up the lightning duo to help power their conduit. However, they were also enchanting the hoard to act as a kind of fill-in for the dragon– so that they wouldn’t necessarily need a dragon to be working with them to be able to use the conduit.

With the dragons being immobilized like this and likely being used for their magical power, I guess we had our answer for how the Red Eyes were proceeding.

Felegum also explained this to the two people who didn’t know, the dragonborn.

“So, I’m thinking the hoard is worth a look,” Zeno said.

“If it’s the crux of the spell, then the Red Eyes are definitely there.” Felegum sighed.

“Maybe,” the bard said, “they’re feeling confident.”

This was also why I liked Zeno– prone to action and willing to hope things turned out better than we thought.

Anyway, next on our list of things to visit was the teleportation circle. My hopes for this were not up: the Guild in Paripas had said long ago that it had been scratched out, and two years of disuse probably had not done it any favors. But Felegum wanted a look to see if there was anything that could be done.

On the way, the city was quiet, much quieter than I’d ever heard it.

When we got to the teleportation circle, it was indeed pretty deeply scarred. The scar was so deep that it went through three or four tiers of stone beneath the circle and the entire platform it stood on had collapsed.

“Hmm,” Felegum appraised the circle. “It looks bad.”

“Can’t you just–” Zeno made some vague magical flowy motion– “move earth?”

“It’s more than just moving the earth,” the mage explained. “I’d have to re-cast this spell for one year to re-establish the circle.”

“Man.” The bard sighed. “Too bad we weren’t doing anything for two years.”

The circle had been in one of the shipping areas around town, terrible for pickpocketing, but efficient probably for trade. Felegum asked me if I knew anything about explosives and I didn’t.

We had a long walk back to Bacchus Jolly, looking for the red crackling of the lightning, but we did not see it again.

Instead, what we did see was a more and more manic Helli. Kalends and Lankin were ensconced in a safe corner as she whirled from workspace to workspace amid a mess of springs.

I peered at her work. “Wow. This is just like the clockwork mouse from before, but many.”

Helli responded in excited gibberish. She did seem to earnestly be trying to talk (good) but the fact remained that, despite many attempts, nothing made sense in any language any of us knew (bad).

“She needs to slow down,” Zeno said and offered her his flask of infinite bourbon.

Helli, meanwhile, just continued to skitter around. This was not pleasing to the Zeno, so he cast a spell. This one I recognized, having had it cast on me once and having witnessed it cast on a bunch of kobolds at a different time.

Helli seemed to pause for a moment, but then shrugged it off and went back to work.

Zeno sighed.

I asked Kalends, who was in a chair that looked suspiciously like an invention mid-progress, if he was okay.

“I’m fine,” he said huffily, clearly unfine. “I’d be better if I could move.”

On further inspection, the chair– while having the trappings of being potentially able to move at some point– was just a stationary chair with wheels tacked onto it. “Ah.”

It was at this point that Tem grappled Helli. Ordinarily, you’d think that this would be the end of it– gnome completely subdued by dragonborn– but this was a gnome who had been attached to spider legs haunted by a dead inventor and who’d been running on negative sleep before that.

The spider legs grappled Tem right back, and then dragged her across the floor as they propelled Helli between tasks.

“I’m pretty worried about her,” Kal said in an undertone.

Lankin perked up. “I can kill her?”

“No,” both Kalends and I said.

Felegum, now frustrated with this, cast his Tongues spell so that he could try to speak to Helli in her gibbering state and instead hit the contraption. I was not sure if anything happened there, or if he too got to enjoy speaking to Nisbit. I could only gather that the gibberish did not seem to change despite his comprehension of other things.

Also, Tem did not stop being pulled around by the legs.

“Why are we stopping Helli?” Felegum asked, watching this.

“Because she can’t stop on her own?” Harry offered. “Can someone cast Sleep?”

He looked at me.

“Set can,” Felegum affirmed.

“Uh.” I had been hoping that this wouldn’t come up and honestly it hadn’t, but ever since a little before Tormani I’d given up on Sleep as a spell since everyone–well, Awk at the time mostly– had been so deadset on waking up the people I sent to dreamland. It was annoying, and I figured that I could do the same thing with the pommel of my dagger without using a spell. Also, it allowed me the headspace to figure out invisibility, which was frankly much cooler. “No.”

“I still have this ring,” Harry said, referencing the ring that made him have to endure annoying magical shenanigans from Paripas. He moved toward Helli.

Conveniently, she exhaled and collapsed before he could put it on her. Neither Felegum nor I had the heart to tell him that she’d have to attune to the ring probably before it would do anything, but we definitely had one of those shared does-he-know-no-don’t-tell-him moments.

Tem attempted to rescue Helli from the legs, but once again this proved fruitless. I edged my way in there to make sure that Helli was okay, and to the best of my medical abilities, it seemed like she was. She was still breathing and she just looked deadass tired.

“Everyone, leave her alone,” Harry said, sweeping out an arm to make space for her. “If this is a path she wants to go down, then it’s a path she can take.”

It took a lot– and I regard this as a major growth moment for me– not to ask why Harry had been so adamant about ditching the robe and not letting Felegum make his own decisions about that, but I refrained. Wisely.

I took advantage of the moment to check out what Helli had been working on. It had reminded me of the mice from before, but on closer inspection, these were more lithe and had wings. “Oh!” I exclaimed, holding a prototype up, thoroughly charmed. “She’s just making bugs. Typical Helli.”

“Is it?” Felegum said, inspecting one.

I shrugged. It was her style, but a little different. Like, still the same chef but cooking their way through someone else’s recipe, if that made sense.

“We need,” Harry said, “to make c–“

I tuned him out. Probably he was going to go on about making contact with gods-only-knew-who or waiting for Paripas to lift a single finger and not actually solving a problem again.

It was getting late, so I went over to Kal and asked if he needed assistance getting out of the chair and back into a bed roll. He said in no uncertain terms that he did Not, but obviously he was not just going to walk out of the not-moving chair himself, so eventually we worked it out to me lifting him up and out of the nonfunctional chair’s clutches.

“I feel weak,” he muttered. “I hate it.”

“You feel weak,” I gasped, straining to carry his relatively lightweight body from one place to another. “Don’t even start. Of all my friends, I am like the least cool or strong. Don’t tell them that,” I added.

“Yeah, well,” he said as I finally set him down in the borrowed bed roll. “Kheryph and I have bonded over having no legs.”

He said this in a smug way, with Kheryph curled once again around his neck like expensive jewelry. Suddenly I felt my separation from my lizard companion keenly.

“O-oh yeah?” I spluttered. “Watch this. Kheryph, hey.” I took out a piece of jerky and dangled it over his head like Oaurrgr had shown me to. “Do your trick.”

Kheryph, obligingly, flared his neck frills.

I felt very smug. “How about that?”

Kalends petted Kheryph and then settled into sleep. I wasn’t about to separate that duo, especially not when Kalends clearly needed the comfort but…not going to lie, I was a bit jealous.

Harry took up a post watching over Helli as she lay slumped over the table, which meant that, as Kalends was in my bed roll and my usual sleep spot had been the table, I had to find a new spot to pass out. I curled up by a boarded-up window and tried to imagine the stars waiting outside.

I fell asleep praying to a god of second chances about a dragon who might deserve one.


It was not particularly comfortable sleeping against a wall, but it seemed to do the trick. I wasn’t feeling as bad as I had been before, so maybe I was just finally getting used to being uncomfortable at this point. I checked on Helli in the morning and found that she was still asleep seemed okay.

Things did boil over between me and Kalends, though.

“Why do you keep talking about putting me somewhere, like I’m old and need a home?” he yelled at me.

“I am just trying to keep you safe!” I yelled back. “I don’t know if you noticed, but I cannot protect you! Oh my god, I just miss my friend.”

“Yeah? Well, I miss being respected,” my friend fired back. “And look, Set. How would you feel if someone kept insisting on making all your choices for you? You want to save the city. Well, you’re not the only one who cares about it and would be willing to die for it. Have you thought of that?”

I clenched and unclenched my hand. It hurt now, for real. “Yeah, I’d be pissed. But like, fine. If you say I’m not allowed to be a martyr and sacrifice myself needlessly, then you can’t either. You have to promise me you’ll try your best to stay alive.”

Kalends made a face like he’d swallowed something sour. “Ew.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Not fun when it’s turned back on you, huh?”

“No, it’s not,” he admitted, “but fine, I can promise that.”

“Okay,” I said. And we were good. That’s the great thing about best friends, that you can do that, fight it out and then be okay after.

The verdict was still out on me and Harry. Though he did find some wheels that were missing on Kal’s chair and attached them. Felegum wheeled the finished (sort of) product over to Kalends to test that it worked.

“Kal,” Felegum said, “you’ll like this.”

“Ooh,” Kalends said, clearly thrilled. “Let’s paint it black.”

“I have some black fabric,” I said. And we were off, seizing the bolt I’d secured earlier and making this now-functional wheelchair very boss looking.

Helli woke up around noon, and the first thing she did was ask for coffee.

Zeno took out a fancy-looking cup that he’d gotten in Paripas and wordlessly prepared the coffee. He, equally wordlessly, added an ample splash of bourbon to the proceedings.

Tem cleared her throat. “No.”

But she was not as intimidating as she’d perhaps hoped to be, because Zeno continued to add a little extra dollop of bourbon to the mixture while making eye contact with Tem the entire time.

Helli was still in the chair and when asked if she’d like perhaps to leave it, she just sighed, shrugged, and said, “The legs don’t have arms.”

This was true, but did not exactly provide an answer to the question.

“I wanted to make the wheelchair first,” she said, possibly to the alchemist. “Oh, where’s the wheelchair?”

It was at this point that Kalends and I wheeled by, testing the stealth and badass factors of the draping. I’d also added some cool calligraphic action too, where the words themselves almost looked like pictures.

“Helli,” Zeno said in that concerned voice that could only mean that something was drastically wrong, “are you okay?”

“Maybe?” she replied.

“Are the legs trying to hurt you?” Felegum asked.

Helli noticed me and Kalends wheeling around and seemed thrilled. Somehow in this expression of relief and joy that the wheelchair had been finished, it came out that Nisbit could see through Helli’s eyes, and that this was part of why they’d been able to create so many things.

Felegum sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Are you being held hostage by the legs?”

“Well,” Helli considered it, “yes.”

Felegum then took the opportunity to introduce himself to Nisbit via Helli. It did not seem to go super smoothly, since he was talking directly to Helli, a person we’ve all known for months, and also calling her by this rando’s name, but she accepted with grace.

“He says hi,” Helli said, then winced.

“So he’s the guy from the tomb?” the mage asked.

Helli exhaled patiently, perhaps relaying a message from the alchemist himself. “The guy from the elaborately constructed sarcophagus.”

“Does he need eyes?” came Zeno, conversationally. “Because we have some.”

“Want eyes, Nisbit?” Helli asked.

There seemed to be a lot of back and forth on the eye issue.

“He wants arms,” Helli sighed again.

“Yeah,” Zeno replied, “but what about eyes?”

There was another awkward pause.

“Maybe,” Helli said delicately, “later.”

“So you need arms?”

“I’m going to make arms for him.” A pause, this time with emphasis. “Later.” She shook her head. “So he’s stuck in the contraption, and we’re going to make some stuff and then I’m going to make him arms. But first, we need to finish these dragonflies.”

“But why are you making bugs?” Tem asked, picking one up and turning it over. It was beautiful, but not something immediately obvious as to how it helped us.

“That’s right!” Helli turned to me. “Set, do you have any animals or fertiziler here?”

This time it was me who was awkward. “Not for a while,” I said carefully. We did have farms– never miss an opportunity to pull out my prize book on irrigation in arid climates– then I explained that after the plague had struck, the families and citizens of the city had had to resort to some fairly terrible things when their food ran out. “So, no.”

“What about,” Helli continued, gesturing, “getting stuff from the sewer?”

I could see where she was going with this and I liked it, but I shook my head. “Yeah, we can get to the sewers but who’s pooping anymore?”

We’d have to find materials for explosives another way.

On the heels of this disappointment, though, Helli revealed the trick to her dragonflies: they could travel long distances bearing a message. Helli had finished work on two of them, meaning that there were two people we could reach out to to get help.

“Yeah,” Helli said, presiding over her work. “I have no recollection of yesterday.”

“Tem,” Felegum asked, “have you talked to your people?”

Tem thought about it. “I talked to them in Harry’s dreamworld.”

“Yeaaaah,” Zeno said, trying to find a nice way to say it. “That probably wasn’t real. Sorry.”

Tem took a moment to process this and also to think through the limits of Helli’s device. “I’ve been traveling for years, though,” she said. “Would this still be able to get to them?”

Helli didn’t see why it wouldn’t. The only catch, of course, was that this was a one-way message. Whoever we sent it to would get our appeal, but we wouldn’t know if they’d come or not unless they actually showed up. So, one of the dragonflies was given to Tem, so that she could use it to contact her people and let them know that we needed help.

That left one dragonfly.

Helli, who had made it, suggested Pinjin, because Pinjin was a boss. This was true. However, Pinjin was also potentially really far away from us with not a very fast way of getting back to the city. As much as I wanted to support Helli in this, I also didn’t really see why or how Pinjin would get back here.

So you know, I suggested someone else. Who maybe could teleport to off-the -map places and who seemed relatively mostly friendly to us. Or at least, keeping the world at large safe via us.

Also happened to be into irrigation.

“Sure,” I said, brushing it off like it wasn’t a big deal. “I definitely can write a message to Milto.”

I waited until everyone was onto their next tasks– Harry and Lankin making another warehouse run (I’d asked him to look out for bows and arrows for Kalends, since I guess he was into archery now and I was trying to be a supportive friend instead of a shitty one) and Tem writing the other dragonfly letter to her mysterious Order– and then sat down and got to work.

And by got to work I mean low-key panicked. Of course I wanted to be the one to write Milto, but like, what did you say to a guy who had been cool two years ago as he kicked you out of his shop but maybe had potentially worked things out by now with his ex in Paripas?

I steepled my fingers over the sheet of paper the dragonfly could carry. I just had to be cool. Just be cool. Easy.

I picked up the pen and immediately set it down again.

I could not just be cool. This whole thing was in fact the opposite of me being cool. Me being cool would have been swinging back into Janwald, setting my clearly excellent Agriculture in Arid Climes tome down on his shop desk and saying I heard he liked irrigation, against a backdrop of everyone else making a huge deal about how cool we were saving the world from certain undead extraplanar destruction.

Now I was just going to be that rando with a lizard who’d disappeared a while back and was hitting him up for favors. Not my finest look. Sylla Plumeria probably was not doing that.

I breathed out in a long, aggravated exhale. But this was for the city. And who was I, I thought, once again going for the pen, if I wasn’t prepared to give anything, even my own pride, to save this place?

And so, I wrote in my most elegant cursive:

Yo Milto,

It’s Set. We’re not dead– not all of us– and we need your help. That thing we talked about in your shop when you made us drinks? There’s one here in Csipherus. Probably things are bad where you are; stuff happening here’s the reason why. We suspect fixing this one will fix the others. The circle here’s scarred out, but maybe you know another way. You always were pretty clever. Please come if you can, we need all the help we can get.


P.S. I have been taking good care of the cloak.

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