Savage Sun of Athas

The Would Be Sorcerer King

The party made their way through the bowels of the ziggurat, going through the eerily quiet dark hallways of black and dark gray granite. Coming to a small room they found a bound figure on the floor. It was Captain Duran, the very Templar officer that they had spoken to and warned about the potential disaster which happened at the gladiator games. Removing the gag from his mouth he said he warned his superiors and was promptly made a prisoner. He immediately wanted to know what happened.

After hearing the group’s tale he implored that they let him free. He needed to rally what Templars he could. He was convinced that there are good officers and men but they are simply following orders. Some are confused and lost with the transition of Tyr becoming a free city. But there are a few, mostly men of command, that pine for the days of serving a sorcerer King, and retaining their position of power and authority over citizens and slaves. The group freed him and Fen Rocktunnel offered to guide him back to the arena.

The group pressed on. Slowly traversing the ziggurat working their way up. They finally came to a room holding King Tithian, flanked by several guards. They stuck and a pitched battle ensued. As many of the guards fell, King Tithian began to cast an elaborate spell that was abruptly cut short. An elongated form akin to a large black serpent broke through the floor. A multitude of legs propelled it, with folded wings on its back, and its mouth housed rows of fangs. The dragon beast bit Tithian in two.

It hissed in a rasping dark voice, stating that it was indeed Kalak transformed. With his past ritual interrupted, he lay in a state of torpor. He reached out to Tithian’s mind and planted a seed. The idea of becoming a sorcerer King took hold, and Tithian began to follow in his footsteps. But Tithian would not be transformed into a Sorcerer King. Kalak used Tithian to complete the ritual, slaying thousands, and providing enough life force to complete Kalak’s transformation.

The party threw themselves at the beast and finally slew it. The form burst into a bubbling froths of black energy and seeped into nothingness. Taking the head of Tithian, ensuring Tyr knew that its would be sorcerer King was dead, they trudged upwards and emerged from the top of the ziggurat.

The Templar captain had managed to get many rank and file Templars under his command. Rounding up the traitorous officers, they eventually brought order to Tyr and began the sad task of seeing to the dead and injured. Weeks passed. Captain Duran was elected as general of the forces of Tyr, but under the command of the Senate. Tyr had enough of kings. It would be lead by a senate as a republic. FOr day to day affairs of cleaning the streets, providing order, and the daily needs of Tyr, an elected council of seven would be charged with overseeing these duties.

The group enjoyed their fame as heroes, but it was short lived. Tyr needed to heal and the group took to aiding where they could and what befitted their talents. The Open Hand Trading company fared very well and the party had comfortable lives. Yet one day, Simic disappeared. His belongings still in his room. The only hint was that there were rumors that persons from Balic were seeking him. Maybe he had decided to travel back to Balic and face his family, or maybe taken against his will. A small mystery and something for another tale.

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A trade house, a gladiator competition, and a ritual.

The Open Hand Trading Company began its start as the group moved into the newly acquired residences and toured the ground warehouses. Naomi began her preparation to enter the competition, while Dekra Blueheart began coordinating with her longtime friend, Fen, the excavation work in lower Tyr. All the while the remaining members of the group fretted about the sudden gladiatorial games in Tyr. The new found knowledge of sorcerer kings prolonging their lives through a sacrificial ritual worried them.

Simic strongly suggested that they approach the templars, or at least one they would trust. The group decided to speak with one of the old captains that they had dealt with in the past. The same templar captain which was contacted about exposing the slave gang in Tyr. The company decided that if he was forthright in bringing that to the attention of the noble senate, he’d likely do the same if this was a true threat to Tyr.

The captain listened dourly to their tale of exploring the ancient elvish ruins, and learning of the secrets that the sorcerer kings used to prolong their lives. The group plainly spoke that they were concerned with the suspicious nature of Kalak’s body never being recovered, something foul might happen at the gladiator games. The captain stated he would talk to those he thought appropriate, however many of the templar guards would be providing security for the event. With it happening the next day, he was unsure what could be done but said he would make sure that the other templar officers knew that something sinister might happen at the arena, and to be vigilant.

That evening Dekra returned and stated they had made a lot of progress in the past few days under the ziggurat. Interestingly, they also found a small side tunnel that went into the lower levels of the arena. It led into the base of the creature pens. As it appeared to have been deserted decades ago, she suspected it might have been used to throw events in the past. Possibly, to sneak in and poison creatures within the pen, making them weaker for spectacle fights.

The following day the group rallied around Naomi to cheer her on as she entered the tournament. Tyr was practically empty. Nearly everyone was at the arena or outside it. Templar presence was high and the group was unable to spot the captain they spoke to. However it was very likely he might be overseeing security on the other side of the arena. The group entered the arena and began to watch the games. As promised, King Tithian oversaw the games from his pavilion on the steps of the ziggurat.

Naomi took the field for her events an excelled. Throughout several events, in between the death matches of criminals, she finally won the citizen event. Even though it was a series of bloodless melee, the crowd adored her fights. After her victory she was escorted to the lower bowels of the arena to clean up and be presented to King Tithian for congratulations.

The group in the arena caught sight of a group of elves shifting through the cheering crowd behind them, with none other than Lismuuk leading. As Naomi was entering a ramp leading under the arena, approaching from the opposite direction where the party sat was another group of humans, roughly pushing their way through the crowd. The group in the stands noticed that these humans had necklaces with a gristly trophy, a single severed toe.

The group charged into action, leaping down towards Naomi. Both the elves and human gangs produces short swords, slings, and hand crossbows. A pitched fight broke out with onlookers scattering. In moments though the brawl was overshadowed by something else.

King Tithian stood and began chanting and gesturing. Dark, yellow, billowing smoke poured from his mouth and seeped down the steps of the ziggurat. It churned forth and seeped over the lower stands of the arena, slowly climbing higher. The people trapped in the fog began choking and gasping, collapsing in heaps. To the group’s horror, they finally noticed that only a pittance of templars were now in the arena. The two main gates were shut and remained closed as the crowds vainly tried to open them.

Simic cast a shimmering bolt of light towards King Tithian. At first he appeared unharmed, but then coughed up a small amount of blood. He hunched over, continued chanting and fled up the steps of the ziggurat. At the top he stepped inside flanked by several guards. The poisonous smoke still swirled around the arena as the heavy stone doors to the ziggurat slammed shut.

The company ran as quickly as they could to the lower arena levels and made their way to the secret passage, fighting off any pursuers. Breaking through the thin stone on the floor of a lower pen, they entered the narrow tunnel and followed its path. A path that lead right below the ziggurat foundation.

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A desertion, a fugitive, and a business offer

The company set out to Tyr however after setting up camp for the night, they awoke to find most of their provisions and Lazarion gone. Following his trail, they tracked him back to the small town of South Ledolpolis. They found him that evening in a tavern, singing to a raucous crowd, and in a good mood. He claimed he was going to return to the group catching up with them on the road to Tyr. Tempers were short but the consensus was to rest for the evening and discuss it further the next day.

Leaving the tavern, Simic noticed two men leave along with them suspiciously and head off to another direction. The group wanting to know what business the men were into, followed and stumbled upon them along with a gang of men-at-arms. The men claimed there was a reward in Balic for Simic, dead or alive. A fight broke out and the group was victorious, letting one bounty hunter escape with his life and a warning not to follow Simic.

The following day Lazarion spoke of his addiction and need for regular consumption of an alchemical concoction. In addition Simic explained his past. He was actually from a very well to do family that ran a prominent theater in Balic. He became friends with some individuals that offered him training in the preserver form of magic. In return he helped them arrange a meeting with a local Balic noble using his family’s status. At that meeting there was an assassination attempt and Simic was forced to leave the city as he was considered part of the group of traitors.

Eventually they arrived at Tyr and the following day were approached by a merchant, Haakar. Word had gotten out that the company was in possession of a large amount of metal bars and silver coins as they had exchanged it into ceramic pieces. He was seeking partners for a business venture. He intended to expand and purchase a larger warehouse, including a small villa for himself and another residence the group could use. Hakaar was offering them to be silent partners in his trade broker business.

Asking around, the group found that Haakar was indeed an up and coming merchant that had done fairly well for himself over the years. Unmarried and no children, he intended to remedy that but admittedly said he needed funds to secure more warehouse space. Aside from offering a more permanent residence, and a more solid proposition for making money in the long term, he claimed he could also offer standing with Tyr’s merchants. He would bring some legitimacy to their status as having roots in the mercantile affairs of Tyr.

They agreed and plans were set in motion to purchase the residence and warehouses, and form the Open Hand Trading Company. During that time the group also heard about a new gladiatorial event that would be happening in three days. Members from House Lanto were to fight for their freedom in the event. House Tslaxia was bringing in gladiators from outside Tyr to win their freedom. These events will be death games, which had an air of excitement in Tyr. Along with these martial fights would be a bloodless tournament for local citizen gladiators.

The thoughts of blood rituals that the sorcerer kings used to prolong their life nagged at the company’s mind. So many people called together for an unusual public spectacle under the shadow of the ziggurat. Did King Tithian seek to replace Kalak as a new sorcerer king?

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A cache of elven treasure and discovery of rituals for sorcerer kings.

The company took to exploring the ruins and came upon many creatures and undead. After several combats they finally stumbled into a long room filled with coffers holding bars of silver and copper, with the occasional small rod of gold. Among a pile of silver pieces was a steel longsword. The group found an enchanted alchemist bag and a magical figurine that would transform into a kank pulling a small cart. Additionally a wrist charm of beads that appeared to be infused with arcane power was obtained.

As they explored further, they discovered another chamber with the walls etched in ancient elvish script. The engravings described the existence of the Dragon’s Ankh. This was a stone crafted symbol fed through ritual sacrifice of sentient beings. Every 300-500 years this ritual needed to be be done to feed the wielder of the ankh souls. Upon completing this dire task, it would grant them near-immortal life and magical powers. Most ritual details would be kept on a handful of large stone tablets.

Not all of the rituals would be the same, but all shared the same key point of ritual sacrifice. If enough were killed using a special ritual, the wielder of the ankh could transform into a dragon.This ritual would require thousands being sacrificed, and an arcane focus of immense size.

The elvish script went on reaffirm the legend that the group had all known, that long ago a great dragon arose and was fed through the life force of Athas itself. Regardless, the adventurer’s realized that this was likely the key to a sorcerer king’s immortality and power. Also this possession of knowledge by the elves was likely the very reason they were hunted down, their elvish citadels of knowledge razed, and forced to become nomadic people. They knew truth of the sorcerer kings’ power.

The group gathered their well earned treasure and set about to return to Tyr.

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A silt cutter, a new comrade, and a buried chamber.

Exploring further in the ruins, the party came across a small cache of coin and some items of magical power. Taking what they could they returned to Altaruk to inform others of the good news. Grateful for slaying the creature, the leader of Altaruk informed the group they could offer an escort to nearby docks that ran silt ships, and that they could help arrange travel for the company.

Securing a silt cutter the party traveled east. It was not without incident and the craft was attacked by a large predator, but it was successfully defeated. During the trip the group got to know the crew and became especially acquainted with a human named, Simic. The craft continued to the small town of Southern Ledopolis, however tragedy struck. The captain, a long time traveler of the silt estuary passed away in his sleep, apparently finally succumbing to the buildup of fine silt in his lungs.

At South Ledopolis, the other crew member left ship, leaving Simic in possession of the craft. Despite a few years on board, he realized his knowledge of navigation was too poor to successfully captain himself. He’d be dependent on another person taking command and likely demanding a majority share in the silt cutter. When he heard of the expedition the group was taking to find buried coin, Simic threw his lot in eagerly with them.

The company resupplied and headed south combing for information on a more exact location of the landmark they sought. After talking with residents in a small hovel, and to others rescued from slavers the adventurers met in a chance encounter, they were finally confident of being able to find the landmark. A few more days journey and they came upon the odd stone formation that looked like a hand reaching up to the sky.

Waiting for the sun to set, the group followed the instructions constructing a funnel filled with the right amount of sand, and began pacing off a set number of steps. Monitoring the movement of the shadow based on time recorded by their crude sand timer, they found the direction and location needed to dig.

The surrounded terrain was worrying some for Naomi. The approach to the stone formation was hidden somewhat as they had traveled there in a dry riverbed. The area around the stone hand was a wide plain. However it was dotted with large boulders and piles of rocks, certainly enough cover for a group to approach with stealth. Nonetheless, they found the potential location and began to dig.

For some time, nothing was found. The group’s hearts sank some as all around them were dozens of holes leaving just empty pits of sand and dust. The hidden caches of coin and treasure apparently dug up. Then they struck a hard surface. Working quickly they soon found a crack in a straight line of stone, and clearing further discovered a large rectangular stone slab. Apparently it was sealing some manner of a buried chamber hidden well beneath the sand.

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A melee with elven raiders and slaying of a Thrax

A honed, lean imposing elf came forward and introduced himself as Ryjas. He asked the accompanying guards if they were getting a share of treasure as mercenaries. When the accompanying guards from Altaruk looked confused, Ryjas said they have no quarrel with them and would offer them safe passage. The lead guard told the adventurers they had accompanied them to hunt down the thrax, not fight in their battle against raiders. They said they’d continue on to find the lair and would wait until dusk, then ride back to Altaruk. Then they solemnly rode off leaving the group behind.

Ryjas began to account for the current events buzzing around in Tyr. House Lanto was rumored to be involved in trading slaves, and House Tsalaxa was also involved. Further rumors that a mul, dwarf, and human warrior women were involved, along with an extremely pale half elf man. His chieftain, Lismuuk had then heard of the Toecutter gang talking to the same dwarf in the Warrens, warning her to not get involved with their slaver affairs. Only they had ignored the warning and freed some abducted slaves anyways.

Lismuuk was sure he knew who they were and saw an opportunity to get some leverage with House Tsalaxa. He had approached the house and stated he could take care of the group responsible for not only marring their name by exposing their involvement with slave trade, but also the ones responsible for stealing their trade logbook.

Lismuuk had his men scour the Warrens to find out more and came across Jeila. With some threatening, she stated the details of her rescue and the exploration of old elvish ruins finding information on the sand funnel. This further convinced Lismuuk where the group was going and likely that the stone cypher the group had was real.

Lismuuk had ordered Ryjas to not only take back their heads but also recover the stone seal. Ryjas thought it folly to hunt them down, and better to just to follow and ambush them once they had made the excavation. He has no interest in wanting to kill the party. All he wanted was the stone cypher.

While Ryjas admitted he’d only speak this out of earshot from Lismuuk, He also felt Lismuuk had gotten himself in trouble with House Tsalaxa by using the stolen trade log book. It was better for Ryjas if Lismuuk sweat a while. So he again demanded they simply hand over the stone disk.

The party answered with steel, alchemical magic, and psionic fury. After a pitched fight, the group was bloodied, without mounts, but victorious. With half of his men cut down, Ryjas called for a retreat and the runners fled with the neverending endurance that only elves possessed. Wounded, the group limped back to Altaruk.

As the sun set and dusk settled in, they reached the small outpost. No one there had heard any word of the guards that accompanied them. None of them had returned from scouting the thrax lair. The group wearily rested and decided to strike out the following day to continue their hunt for the thrax.

The next day they came across the bodies of the guards killed by some type of beast. They continued tracking the thrax and were attacked by wild creatures. Carrying further on, they finally found a ruin and a likely lair of the thrax. Inside they discovered and fought the horrible creature, along with a handful of salt zombies serving as its thralls. Taking the head of the monster and burning the body, the decided to explore the ruins further to discover what else was within the ancient stone rooms.

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Altaruk, hunting ground for a Thrax

The group peeled off from the other merchants and headed southeast towards Balic. During their travel they noticed a group in the distance that were mounted, but seemingly left their mounts and began following on foot. The next few days of travel were uneventful and the party arrived at Altaruk, a small trading post. Their hopes were that in Altaruk they could arrange a sand skiff to travel faster down the Estuary of the Forked Tongue.

In Altaruk, things were exceedingly quiet. Asking the locals, they found out that the small outpost was plagued by a Thrax. This cunning undead creature was brazen enough to enter the walls of the keep at night and drain the life of the occupants. The party decided to offer their aid in ridding the community of this monster, and with a few mercenary guards in tow, headed out to try and track down the undead beast.

In the hilly and boulder-laden desert, they managed to pick up the trail of the Thrax, likely having its lair in a southern range of mountains. While travelling they were suddenly waylaid by a group of a dozen elves, all armed with thick hide armor, bows, and hefty weapons. An imposing figure came forward and sneered, “Lismuuk has tasked me with bringing him your heads and the stone amulet.” *

*- Recent events in Tyr and a trade logbook stolen

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The freeing of captives and an old dwarven friend

The company decided to go through with attempting to purchase slaves. That evening they were met by an agent from House Lanto at a local tavern. Following him through several back alleys, they arrived at a merchant’s shop. Led down into a cellar they passed through a concealed door and entered Under Tyr , the labyrinth-like catacombs that lie beneath the city. After a short jaunt of several twists and turns, they came to a rectangular chamber that held a number of bound, blindfolded women flanked by several guards.

Feigning a haggling conversation, the party got into position and struck, slaying all of the merchant guards save one. An intense argument broke out as the group struggled with the situation they were in. The lone guard pleaded for mercy and would help get them safe passage to the surface. He was not only from a group that worked for House Lanto, but also from House Tsalaxa. The guard stated that if they let him go, he was content to just part ways. Surely if all the slavers never returned from this exchange, both houses would be after the group. Additionally, they would likely have to kill the merchant of the shop where they entered the catacombs, another body left in their wake. To the disgust of some of the party members, they all finally agreed to the guard’s terms.

Freeing the women, they made their way back to the cellar of the merchant. Enroute a figure slipped out of an overhead tunnel opening and viciously stabbed the remaining guard to death. The diminutive figure stepped forward and embraced Dekra. She was an old friend and one of her stone crafter guildmates, Fen Rocktunnel. The fellow dwarf was one of the surviving members from Kalak’s Night of Blood, a horrible event where King Kalak had nearly two thirds of the city craftsmen killed in a single night. Their only crime was being the talented tradesmen that had worked on the mysterious ziggurat after its completion.

Since that night, Fen has been exploring Under Tyr. She is convinced that there is a secret entrance to the ziggurat and an answer to its purpose. During the year she was exploring, she had discovered gangs from the Warrens working with House Lanto (with the apparent assistance of House Tsalaxa) to smuggle abducted citizens out of the city to be sold as slaves. Fen was convinced that killing the captive guard was fitting justice for perpetuating the banned practice. She offered another route to the surface and would help them get the women to safety.

The group decided the best course of action was to go directly to the city templars. Talking with the district garrison captain, he required that most of the women along with the party make sworn statements. Late into the evening they all recited the high notes of their discovery of slavers by rescuing Jeila, running into the Toecutter gang, and finally meeting representatives from House Lanto. The possible connection of House Tslaxa was especially troubling. This was a merchant house for a city-state. The templar captain demanded the company stay within Tyr. This had to be brought up to the noble senate and likely they would all have to give testimony while the noble council decided an appropriate response to dispense justice to the houses involved with this slavery ring.

Early in the morning and dead on their feet, Fen offered them a safe place to rest. She expressed her concerns for Dekra’s safety. Surely these powerful merchant houses would not take this sitting down and likely seek a permanent means to silence all of them. She implored Dekra to join her efforts. With enough coin and several workhands, she was certain she could excavate into the lower ziggurat. She was convinced it held something, as it was rumored King Tithian had all but abandoned any responsibility, spending most of his time within the odd structure.

The company decided their course of action was clear. Leave the city that day and try to make their way to the hidden cache of treasure. With enough coin they could return and likely be able to better reinforce their position with men at arms and bought influence. Further, the coin would help with aiding Fen’s efforts to investigate the ziggurat further. Late in the afternoon, riding newly bought crodlu, the group slipped away from Tyr and tagged along with a few merchants making their way south.

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The hunt for street gangs and a slaver ruse.

The company began to investigate any known watering holes frequented by the Toecutter gang in the Warrens and stumbled upon the Dry Well tavern. At the bar the group learned that House Lanto was responsible for the illegal movement of slaves to other city states, although they could not get any direct evidence of the Toecutters being involved with abductions. The following day each party member split off to do different tasks.

Naomi went to House Lanto and posed as an agent for Raam, seeking to purchase high quality slaves for her lord. Originally she was rebuffed from a house representative, however another house merchant overheard her conversation and quietly agreed to a viewing of their illegal wares later that evening. When she left, she observed a poor tradesman approach. The man threw waste at the main house trader, crying out that they were murderers and would not stop the 2 Piece Movement.

Lazarion decided to drop off a letter through a courier to Jeila in the Warrens. The contents of the letter stated that the group would personally find those responsible for abducting her and bring them justice. As he left to conduct other business, he heard conversations spreading throughout the various districts related to the 2 Piece Movement. Eldra, its leader, was dead. She had slipped into a wasting sickness two days prior and finally died. While no one could state for certain, poison was suspected and likely some members of the craft guilds, merchants, and trade houses were responsible. Lazarion, taking the news of Eldra’s death to heart, decided to do a performance in the Warrens with a song that honored her and the 2 Piece movement, with the residents especially moved by his performance.

After his performance, Lazarion continued to House M’ke, intent on leaving a written report for Nawab Lucero. At the gates of the complex we was stopped and Oadim personally came out to meet him. Fuming Oadim confronted him about the infiltration of a merchant meeting weeks prior, the slaying of guards, and theft of a trade logbook for House Tsalaxa*. While Oadim had no direct proof, the apt description of the thieves and their sudden departure from the house was more than enough evidence for him. Oadim stated they were not welcome and could no longer fulfill any requests for the Noble Lucero under House M’ke’s banner.

Meanwhile Dekra Blueheart, rather impressed with the old architecture of the Dry Well, returned to study the tavern more. She was approached by Toecutter members and they unsubtly suggested she stop asking about slaves and abductions in the Warrens. Rumors were abound in the Warrens that the party was seeking justice and striving to be champions for the common free citizens of Tyr. The Toecutter gang would not stand for any interference in their criminal activity. Understanding this threat, Dekra sought the remainder of the group to tell of the warning she received.

Armed with new information on House Lanto, Naomi sought out the opinion of the group. They all agreed that help from the templar authorities was the most prudent. Naomi went to a local templar’s office and the captain of the guards for the district demanded more proof before they could make any arrests. House Lanto was a long established tradehouse from a respected family and the templars simply could not make such accusations without more evidence that slaves were actually being sold.

* Note

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Rumors of gangs and dead kings

The group accompanied Jeila to the Warrens and her family. Relieved of her return, they offered the company a simple dinner and spoke of events in Tyr. Crime was always part of the Warrens in Tyr, but with the death of King Kalak things have escalated. Jeila’s family claimed that the Toecutter gang was at the center of most underworld activity in the Warrens. Jeila is sure the Toecutter gang took her, but when pressed. She was unsure. She did notice that the tradehouse which took her out of the city was also careful not to mention which merchant groups they represented by blindfolding her until they were well away from Tyr. However she did manage sneak a glimpse of a green inix emblem when she was in the lower cells of the tradehouse.

The group decided to spend some more time conversing with locals in the area to hear what rumors they could. They ended up in a tavern with an eclectic clientele. Between tradesmen, former slaves, and low level templar guardsmen, tongues began to wag freely when pitchers of broy were flowing. The party found some interesting tidbits of information

  • The Toecutters are one of 3 gangs in the Warrens. The* Eye Gougers* and Skull Splitters are two other gangs. All are vying for control of the Warrens and spreading seeking to be more active in other parts of the city.
  • One templar guard complained bitterly that there was more order when King Kalak was in control. He admitted to hearing of rumors the Kalak’s body was never found. The rebels made an assassination attempt in the stadium but Kalak escaped to the ziggurat. When Tithian pursued and found a sealed chamber that Kalak hid in, it was empty. Others said this was just a wild rumor. Again it’s a statement made by someone that heard it from someone else, that was a tale told from another. No one still has ever come forward to say they were at hand when the chamber was open.
  • Many of the templars did complain that King Tithian needs to be more active in ruling the city. He seems engrossed in studying the great library or deep within the bowels of the ziggurat. Some grumble that Tithian seems keen on finding out some knowledge that Kalak knew.
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