Crime Pays

Chapter 1 - Session 1
Setting out from Shou Lung
PCs: Mouse; Partuur; Tempo; Toshiro
Locations: Matisi (village in Chin Tung Province of Shou Lung)
NPCs: Yingjie (the bully); Kirioshi (Yingjie’s grandfather); Kihei Zaicho (aid to lord Ko); Ko Mei Kho (merchant lord); Hu Sen (venerable hairy man)

In which Partuur and Mouse get their butts kicked by a drunken bully - and the party is hired by the merchant lord Ko Mei Kho to escort the venerable Hu Sen to Nathan, a Shou community south of Athiisar. The party starts travel East along the Silk Road.

Hu Sen
Hu sen   body   small

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Chapter 1-Session 1.5
Are we there yet?

Hu Sen laughed hysterically when Toshiro Timone woke up screaming and scrambling from his bedroll. While Mouse attempted to talk him down out of a chalknut tree, Partuur scooped up a large thunderbug out of Toshiro’s bedroll.

“Harmless,” Partuur said, watching the little bug walk up and down his arm. “But they like warm bodies and dark places.”

“I know. I was the warm body!”

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Chapter 1-Session 1.6

The road to the unknown West passed by a long, deep blue lake. The lake has a name, and Hu Sen knew it, but of his escorts only Tempo was paying attention. Toshiro assumed he’d hear it again when Tempo added it to a song or poem.

But the name didn’t matter as much as what was in the lake: a long serpent, its scales a brownish red, its body ten feet in diameter, high and long enough to block the road while still keeping most of its body apparently in the lake. Mouse was initially excited about finding the blue dragon until Hu Sen knocked him on the head and told him this wasn’t blue.

The serpent, speaking in an ancient version of the language of Shou Lung, demanded the answer to a riddle before it would let anyone pass. Tempo quickly rose to the challenge, although he was stumped for quite a long time. Partuur was sure the poet would end up eaten.

Once Tempo beat the riddle, the serpent slithered into the lake — a process that took five full minutes, because it was a big serpent.

It was only then that the group discovered Hu Sen was missing.

While most were distracted by the serpent, Hu Sen, by this time of day already red-nosed from the flask he kept between Mouse’s shoulder blades, was distracted by a nymph that appeared at the edge of the forest. He clambered down and scampered off after her.

Fortunately, Mouse is pretty good at tracking. With Toshiro riding on his back, Mouse thundered through the forest until they spotted Hu Sen about to climb into a hole in a tree. The old man was rescued, although he didn’t see it that way.

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Chapter 1 - Session 2
Finding the Blue Dragon

PCs: Mouse; Partuur; Tempo; Toshiro; Ka’Rak; Drasak
Locations: City of Zindalankh along the Brightstar Lake
NPCs: Vallarim (Blue Dragon Lord of Zindalankh)

In which Ka’Rak, gladiator slave owned and cherished by Vallarim, loses a gladiator bout against life-sucking Netherillian gladiators and is banished by Vallarim for his defeat – and the party joins with him and Drasak to travel East toward Athiisar.

Vallarim – Tyrant of Zindalankh
Blue dragon

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Chapter 2-Session 1
In which an assault begins with throwing Toshiro through a roof.

Toshiro was juggling knives in the tavern while Tempo sang “It’s Raining Elves” when a brute squad muscled through the doors. “Brother, isn’t that Mouse?” whispered Toshiro out the side of his mouth.

“And Partuur, and KaRak. Looks like they’ve all landed on their feet since we arrived in Athiisar. They must have heard about the rumors about that stinking fog over here.”

After passing around his hat amongst the revelers in the tavern and collecting a few coppers, Tempo led his brother over to where their friends had settled down.

“Don’t worry about the strangers, little ones,” began Mouse, “This is Keladry. She’s okay for an elf.” Tempo nodded at the fascinating woman. “You already know Drasak.”

“Indeed,” smiled Tempo, “but I didn’t know about you all joining the guard. What’s that about”

KaRak shrugged his shoulders. “Seemed like a good idea at the time. Brute Squad seemed like an easy enough grift. But we’ve heard a lot about some interesting goings on in the Shambles.”

“So you’re not here on business? I sense that Sheila, the owner, will be relieved. She’s been watching you since you walked in.”

Mouse ran his fingers through his bushy hair. “Nah. I heard from a city guardsman that the Beggar King has some treasure buried under the Shambles. Then KaRak found out that the Beggar King hasn’t been seen in a while; there’s something about a demon and dark rituals. All connected with this weird fog.”

Toshiro frowned. "That fits with what Tempo and I have heard. If you guys are interested, we could have a look and see what’s going on.


After scouting the area of the Shambles where the Beggar King holds sway, the company decided that storming the front gates with the requisite guards at the gate was too costly. Toshiro was outvoted when he suggested that they pick the locks at the back alley and sneak in that way. Instead, they climb to the roof of a building across the street from the enclosed compound. Partuur and Mouse grab onto Toshiro and hurl him across the gap. Windmilling his arms wildly as he flew across the street Toshiro easily cleared the space to the other side, rope unwinding behind him. He landed heavily on his feet and the rotting boards of the roof gave way. Toshiro found himself dangling a foot off the floor, hanging by the harness tied around him, in a dimly lit room filled with boxes and kegs and barrels. Cutting the harness free, tying it securely to a beam and then hiding in an empty crate was the work of a moment, which was all to the good considering the sounds of people rushing up the stairs outside this room.

Rooftop archers spot the adventurers on the other side of the street and begin to take position for what they correctly see as a coming assault. KaRak stands on the edge of the roof and bellows a war cry. Kaladry swings hand over hand on the rope across to the other side, hauling another line with her. Tempo takes careful aim and fires an arrow directly into one of the guard’s feet. When the archers return fire, the hail of arrows flies across the gap and one grazes KaRak, who instantly blinks out and reappears standing behind the archers. One of the guards, who has an arrow in his boot trips on it and falls over. Drasak calmly makes his way to the other side of the rope and projects from his clenched hands a throbbing coruscation of visible sound. The archers see the wave miss them and smile, but only until they realize that they weren’t the target. The wave slaps into the roof tearing a small hole in it, but then, an instant later, as the sound echoes in their ears, the roof begins to buckle, groaning heavily. The wounded archer rolls into the depression and the others struggle to maintain their footing.

Below, hidden in the crate, Toshiro pokes a hole in the crate and watches as ragged men climb up the stairs into the room. On the roof, Mouse, Partuur and Kaladry struggle to climb onto their feet.

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Chapter 2- Session 2
Getting the Drop on 'Em

Toshiro recognized the thieves as “the dog men,” a group of scalawags and ne’er-do-wells. He waited until the entire troop but one had run through the door before leaping out and garroting the hindmost. Ouside, Drasak drops flames from the roof on the thieves as they leave the building before dropping down and taking on a pair of thieves who go in the wrong direction.

On the roof, Kaladry, KaRak and Mouse choose their targets carefully and, after decimating the guards on the roof, take to the ground to deal out death to thieves on the ground.

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Chapter 2- Session 3
New Friends, Same Old Slapstick

Leaning over the guard who had passed out from his garrote, Toshiro and his brother Tempo looked smug. When the guard came around Timone smiled and suggested, “You wanna change sides or die?” Tempo always was a quick judge of character and the guard nodded vigorously. “You’ve got to pay better than the lady I’ve been working for. She’s crazy evil.”

When the adventurers had gathered and counted noses, they discovered that Charlie the Tuna had joined their ranks. Charlie was a ubiquitous rogue that always found his way into lucrative situations. The new recruit introduced himself briefly as Toshiro, Kaladry and Tempo rifled through the boxes in the storeroom.

“I am Demetrius Ronin. My parents moved here after their caravan on the Silk Road was destroyed. Haven’t seen the Beggar King in a long while. Been takin’ orders from some evil witch. I’m more than ready for a lateral move professionally.”

Toshiro showed everyone the beautiful white wolf hide and a broken blade from a sword that was engraved with cryptic runes. Kaladry sighed, “That blade looks interesting. All I found were these.” She showed everyone a leather case filled with silver tools of all sorts.

“I’ll give you the blade for the thieves’ tools. You don’t have any need for them anyway.” Toshiro’s obvious lust for the tools was impressively unfeigned.

“Sure. I think I recognize the writing on the blade.”

Ka’Rak impatiently stood next to a door. “Anytime you guys are ready. We’ve got people to meet and places to see. Or people to kill and places to loot. Something like that.”

Ka’Rak, Partuur and Mouse pushed through the door. A weaselly little bookkeeper type squeaked and barreled through the trio, punching Ka’Rak so hard that everyone heard the crack of ribs. From our newest recruit, Demetrius rang a cry, “Stop him. That’s Arturo the bookkeeper. He’ll warn the people upstairs.” With that as the battle cry everyone ran after the fleeing miscreant.

When Drasak made it to the top of the stairs he saw Arturo slipping through a secret panel. “Get the nimmer (a thief of the lowest order) up here; we’ve got a secret door.”

Toshiro pulled out his brand new thieves’ tools and a twist of his wrist caused the panel to pop open a fraction of an inch. Slipping his fingers into the space, he pulled at something and then brought a spear around from the other side. “Trap disarmed. Who wants a spear? But the door won’t open. I think there’s something barring the door. We need a more forceful method of entry.”

Ka’Rak smiled. “That’s my cue.” He took a step back and then hurled himself at the door, but the popping sound came from his shoulder as he bounced off the door. Mouse rammed the door and broke it open neatly.

Demetrius roared and charged into the room, even while something from behind them at the stairs attracted the attention of Charlie the Tuna. Demetrius saw the witch in the room beyond, pulled out a sword and stabbed through the soft midsection of a guard. “Hey, Lady! I quit.” Demetrius brandished his terrible sword and, with a crack of thunder,pulled a second sword from the first.

Ka’Rak, seeing Arturo, the guy who cracked his rib, pushed his way in next to Demetrius. Rats swarmed from the wall and one leaped at his face. Ka’Rak flailed at the rat that had grabbed his face while Drasak ran into the room and began blasting away at rats. Arturo ran into the room beyond. Ka’Rak, blind and staggering, a rat hanging from his thick brows, stumbled into the next room and took a wild swing which hit nothing but air. Another rat leapt onto his sword arm and bit into muscle. Ka’Rak’s scream split the air as he thrashed at the vermine swarming around him.

Timone fell to a withering blast from the witch and Drasak’s fierce attacks were met with resistance that brought him to his knees.

In the other room, a vile tentacled creature swelled up the stairs. Charlie Tuna hid in the shadows behind the door and stabbed at the creature as it came into range. Toshiro threw a poisoned dagger into the beast’s craw. Kaladry fired into its soft midsection, but when Charlie the Tuna ran it through with his short sword, the creature folded in on itself.

Partuur fired mystic bolt after mystic bolt, hurling healing in each direction wildly as his partners fell about him. Drasak, Mouse, Ka’Rak, Timone. All fell to their knees again and again from the attacks of the henchmen and the Witch, but Partuur healed, shining in the dim room with the glow of inspiration, and encouraging his friends to shake off their wounds with stories of great valor and heroic sacrifice. Surprisingly enough, telling stories actually helped.

Demetrius swung his sword in a cleaving arc that froze the air into shards of shrieking ice and took off the heads of three soldiers, but the follow through was messy and Ka’Rak, Tempo and Drasak also fell. When Tempo fell, life blood flowing weakly from his several wounds, the party cried out and he gained a single point of life that kept him from true death.

Partuur screamed in rage and shouted at Tempo to rise like the glorious heroes of old. Tempo staggered to his feet and shot a final vengeful arrow at the sorceress witch. The arrow screamed through the air and punched through plate and leather to strike at the wicked thing’s tiny heart. As she choked her last breath, Demetrius felt a cold chill run up his spine.

Emptied of enemies,the room offered very little of interest. Toshiro sneaked up the stairs, studying each floorboard and the door at the top for traps. He peeked through the slats on the ramshackle door and saw what he took to be the beggar king on a pile of pillows flanked by a pair of guards.

Drasak decided to check out the witch’s room, which was a veritable abattoir of necromancy and fetid horrors. A human head, crudely decapitated,a faint susurration of breath leaking from its livid mouth, stared at Drasak with pale dead eyes. Drasak withdrew from the room, the taint of unnatural evil clinging to his skin like nitre.

Demetrius walked into the room grandly and introduced the adventurers as emissaries from a thieves’ guild from a distant town. When the troupe marched in, the beggar king transformed before their eyes into a little girl, the two guards, only manikins. A trap door sprang open beneath Mouse. The careful plan degenerated into a disaster, so Charlie Tuna threw a dagger that lodged in the little girl’s back, causing her to fall forward heavily, her hand reaching for the bolt hole. Tempo rushed to her, and singing a children’s song soothed her into a careful wakefulness.

With a mixture of creepy suaveness and allure, Tempo convinced the little girl to tell all she knew. With tears and sniveling, the little girl admitted that several enemies waited below, that dark magics were in play, and that any attempt to rescue Mouse was doomed to sure defeat. Demetrius looked at the rest of the adventurers and growled, “Bring it on.”

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Chapter 2 Session 4
Out of the Cage and into the Fray

Ka’Rak spidered down a rope through the trap door to try to catch Mouse, who was trapped in a cage battering his way out frantically. Just as Ka’Rak caught up to the cage by swinging arm over arm alongnt eh suspension chain, Mouse broke through a shaft, and the bottom of the cage fell off, hurtling him to the ground. But Mouse landed lightly and looked up for Ka’Rak to join him next to the prisoner pens.

Tempo Timone dropped down the secret passage and found himself on a ledge that led to an alcove where a phalanx of hobgoblins waited for their onslaught. A giant gorilla was chained to a mechanism at the far end, and below the ledge, Tempo could see slave pens filled with a dozen prisoners. Tempo weighed his options and rushed forward and fired his greatbow into the throng, striking one of the hobgoblins in the thigh. Demetrius leapt to the ground and rushed forward, charging, swinging his sword. Toshiro Timone climbed down the ladder and turned in time to see Tempo’s great shot, so Toshiro drew his hand crossbow and fired at the same hobgoblin his brother had wounded.

As adventurers climbed down the ladder and took position on the narrow ledge, Tempo fired again at another hobgoblin and wound it. When the hobgoblins attempted to fire back, the two wounded fellows fell to their knees as the arrows in their bodies tripped them up.

Demetrius focused his will and became transparent. His swashbuckling charge took one poor monster by surprise when the hobgoblin looked down to find a sword thrust through his midsection.

Panicked by the fighting, the gorilla broke through its restraints and rushed at Demetrius. Armed only with its over-sized fist, the beast smashed Demetrius in the chest. As Demetrius fell, he sliced through the achilles tendon of a hobgoblin that had turned to flee. Drasak Anar projected a beam of terrible energy that finished off the dire beast.

Below the fighting, Ka’Rak reached the slave pens and braced his shoulders against the bars. With a grunt, Ka’Rak wrenched the bars apart enough for the captives, a noblewoman, Constance, and her handmaidens, to escape. Not to be outdone, Mouse squeezed through the bars and pried apart the bars in the next cage, freeing a wise sage named Loralass and her apprentice. The freed prisoners were in chock and could barely speak, so Ka’Rak and Mouse decided that their skills might be of more us in the melee. And, no, their decision to leave the other prisoners in their cells had nothing to do with suppurating sores or the lack of any mention of a reward from the noble.

Demetrius rose to his feet and thrust his rapier at the gorilla, piercing trough a bicep and making the beast scream in rage. Demetrius puffed out his chest and cried, “I’ve decided. I am not a hex blade. I am not a sword mage. I am a Hex Duelist!” He brandished his swords and laughed maniacally. Toshiro, a little freaked out by the pronouncement slipped behind the gorilla and garroted the ape. It sank to its knees, its fingers tearing at the cord around its neck, before sinking heavily into death.

Partuur‘s voice rang out clear and inspired us. “Quickly, ”/campaigns/crime-pays/characters/keladry-ascolat" class=“wiki-content-link”>Keladry Ascolat, I have formulated a foolproof plan. The doorway is a natural choke point. If you position yourself before the door, anyone coming through will face a withering hail of defensive fire and. . ." Ka’Rak, sprang up the ladder, pushed aside Kaladry and ran through the opening into the next cavern. Partuur looked up at unseen and un-hearing gods and muttered something under his breath. Toshiro couldn’t be sure, but thought he heard the word “bull,” criminal slang for a blunder.

Ka’Rak rushed through the door, head down and arms pumping, following the fleeing hobgoblins. When he paused, he found himself standing before cobbled stairs leading to a cave where a dozen armed creatures faced him. A withering hail of arrows from goblin bows flew at him. When one of the wicked barbed arrows pierced his shoulder, Ka’Rak disappeared with a puffing sound, and re-appeared standing next to Orliss, a goat-looking Dragonborn, who leaned heavily on a lever, dropping a portcullis that closed the room off just as Mouse rushed into the cavern.

Partuur’s careful strategic plan in tatters, Tempo rushed into the cavern and, seeing Ka’Rak in trouble, fired an arrow into goat-boy, Orliss. Toshiro rested his hand crossbow on a crossbar of the portcullis and shot a goblin archer in the eye. With his free hand, Toshiro threw a sparkling cloud of dust into the room which materialized into the illusion of an ugly minotaur bearing a rugged and notched great axe. The hobgoblins who found themselves suddenly standing next to a new enemy were confused at who to attack. Kaladry added to the confusion by slowly beginning to glow until she flared with a bright splendor that blinded her foes.

Tempo yelled, “Mouse! Duck!” Mouse turned and saw Tempo nodding, so he shrugged his shoulders and ducked, just as three hobgoblins simultaneously swung their short swords over his head. Ka’Rak shook his warhammer and it suddenly sprouted a hissing serpent around its head. Ka’Rak swung the warhammer and his startled enemies fell before its arc, one hobgoblin never to rise again. Mouse swung his heavy halberd and cleaved into two of his opponents, slicing through one’s jugular.

Orliss saw his minions dropping like minions and flung up his hands to curse his closest foe. A wave of fire flamed at Ka’Rak and the brave hero fell against the wall unconscious. Kaladry saw her close friend fall and screamed in rage and terror. Her empathy flew out of her in a virtually visible cloud of energy and engulfed Ka’Rak in a warm and fuzzy blanket of love. Ka’Rak opened his eyes and climbed to his feet, leaning heavily on his warhammer. Orliss saw the foe he had just cursed rise, so goatboy turned to flee, but Ka’Rak flicked out his warhammer and caught Orliss on the back of the head. When Orliss fell forward on his face, Ka’Rak knew that the creature would never cast spells again.

Demetrius cast a bolt of energy and a goblin archer was blasted against a wall with a sickening crunch of bone. Demetrius laughed in triumph, but the laugh that started on the ouside of the portcullis ended on the inside, as Demetrius teleported next to his foes. Toshiro continued to take out archers with his crossbow. Drasak employed etheric energies and shoved one hobgoblin against the wall heavily, so that Keladry could take out the monster with her attack.

Partuur’s fierce attack bloodied one enemy and Mouse’s charge finished the creature off. A single goblin archer stood quaking. Instead of dropping his bow, he raised it shakily at Ka’Rak. Ka"rak reached over, plucked the weapon away from the little goblin and hit him over the head with his fist, driving the goblin’s head into its chest.

After Mouse had raised the portcullis and the entire party gathered together, Partuur looked around at the dozen dead bodies around him. With a profound shrug and sigh, Partuur grinned. “Not as precise and carefully planned as I would hope, but satisfying nevertheless. Perhaps next time, we can actually plan something out before we rush into a mess.”

Ka’Rak was busy trying on Orliss’ boots.

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Found in the Slave Pen

The following persons were freed from the slave pens of the Beggar-King:

(1) Baroness Lady Constance and her two ladies-in-waiting, Alicia and Laurel. Dressed in tattered finery, the Countess and her servants were abducted from her barge as it passed the warfs.

(2) Lorilass, and ancient sage, and Neveril, his lovely half-elf apprentice. Sickly to the point of death, the sage has to be carried to freedom if he is to escape.

(3) Crox, an aging dwarf tinker.

(4) Two miserable human beggars, Nox and Pox, covered in weeping sores. The relate that the other beggars have been taken away by gnoll and infernal touched slavers for gold to fund the gang wars against the other Thief Guilds.

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Chapter 2 - Session 5
Rats!

Climbing down the ladder to the underground cove, Toshiro squeezed through a crevice and into a chamber with a huge rat idol at the far end. The bronze idol’s eyes glinted in the gloom. Toshiro slipped along the walls carefully studying the terrain for traps, seeing only rough holes in the wall. Keladry stepped soundlessly next to him. “I see no traps.”

Mouse stepped trough the crevice, carrying one of the beggars released from the slave pens. “No need to take chances; let’s try bowling with beggars.” Mouse slid the surprised beggar along the floor towards the idol. Except for some bleating, nothing happened.

“Good enough for me.” Toshiro checked the idol for traps and then pried one of the idol’s eyes loose. A brilliant red ruby dropped into his fingers. It was cold like ice, but as red as pomegranate seeds. the skittering from the walls was all the warning he had.

Dimitrius was in the opening. “Rats! Get out!” Toshiro squealed like a little girl and slipped the gem into his coat pocket and ran, scrambling up the ladder like a ferret. Rats poured from the holes in the wall and rushed forward as a unit towards the fleeing rogue.

Keladry threw her hands around her in a defensive swing and a flurry of snow and ice covered the ground, stunning the swarm of rats around her. Partuur stabbed at the ground with his gua doa, slicing the rats as Toshiro continued to make high pitched bleating noises. Ka’Rak kicked and stamped at them as they passed, taking out an entire swarm, but Mouse’s halberd did the most damage when it struck into the center of a swarm and its thundering crash exploded flinging dead rats about like shrapnel.

In the chamber above, the swarm of rats finally find their target, Toshiro. Partuur swung about wildly and the rats turned on him too. The rats climbed over Toshiro and Partuur, biting, tearing, ripping. Toshiro fell to his knees and then fell flat, as he was engulfed by a wave of rats. Partuur fell alongside him. Suddenly, without any signal that they could detet, the rats gave up their fierce attack, but Tempo and Mouse continued to slaughter the vermin in a blind rage.

Dimitrius’ voice from the chamber below rang up into the room above. "Hey guys! The rat idol is starting to move. Tempo pulled the ruby from Toshiro’s shirt pocket and dropped it down to Dimitrius. Dimitrius took aim and hurled the gem at the idol. As if magnetically drawn to its place, the gem flew back into its socket.

Tempo stood over his brother, and Mouse stood over the fallen Partuur. “His death shall be avenged,” whispered Mouse.

“My brother is gone; and I shall never be whole again,” cried Tempo.

“We’ll loot the bodies later,” stated Dimitrius. “First we need to find out what’s going on.”

The party ran up the stairs to see a terrible sight. The Beggar King was caught in a nimbus of coruscating energies. Living skeletons clattered about him and sprang to defend him as the party entered the chamber. “Help me,” croaked the Beggar King."

“Oh, we’ll help you all right,” shouted Dimitrius. Piercing shards of ice and magic flayed the skeletons and shattered the walking bones. The skeletons swung scimitars of rusted iron at the party, but feebly, connecting only haphazardly. One skeleton, as its arm shattered, buried its sword in Dimitrius’ shoulder. Tempo screamed a note in rage and shattered a skeleton, even as Dimitrius’ wound closed from the raging melody.

As Mouse swung his halberd about, cleaving skeletons, Ka’Rak’s maul punched through the magic aura and threw the Beggar King across the room. The magic fire in the hearth immediately went out, but its heat and sound were replaced with a horrible tearing growl from above. The Beggar King smiled sadly, “My end is not unwelcome. But you must now face a greater challenge than you thought to face.” With that, the light in his eyes went out. Dimitrius looked about him. An elderly mage, Lorilass, freed from the slave pens tottered forward. Crox, a dwarf tinkerer steped next to him. “It is the voice of a dark creature, a fiery and terrible menace,” the sage croaked. “We shall be of little help, I fear, but we are all the strength left of the captives you freed. We shall stand next to you. And if it is the will of the universe that we should die next to you, so be it.”

Dimitrius grinned, “O-KAY, then! Let’s do this.”

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