Why do I bother spending weeks making elaborate plans? It's all for naught. Someone will always ruin everything anyway. And by "someone" I mean Commandant Blank. He knew I was having a peace summit and just couldn't leave well enough alone. He decided it would be an excellent time to throw a crazy party. I may have let it slide and written it off as another of his acts of idiocy, but he had to involve my son and create a nuisance in my city.
So, I left my summit and shut down the party. It had to be done. I dragged Blank to the summit, seeing as he was *supposed* to be there in the first place, but quickly sent him away with Leif and the human ward of the Verrik representative. Leif will never understand why Gannen and I tolerate Blank in our Empire. Leif wasn't around 22 years ago, and I doubt I'll ever be able to fully explain to him the kinship of adventuring. Blank was essential in bringing back the Hora Quan Empire. Without him, none of this would have happened. Without him, I wouldn't have Gannen.
So, anyway, after I sent Blank away, I left to double-check on dinner and get Gannen. He had to make an appearance at dinner. It would look bad if the delegates who came to the summit never saw him, after all. Gannen seemed less than thrilled to see me. I know he doesn't like these dinners, especially now. We argued a little about why I'd had to have this summit anyway and why he had to go to this dinner. Unfortunately, we both knew he had to go.
I wish I could say that dinner went off without a hitch, but of course it didn't. Blank and Soern had to go launching themselves out the window. I could have probably laughed that off and been fine, but then some guy burst into the banquet hall and started ranting about harrid. After some confusion, I figured out that his name was Stavros. He lives in Skaraven, where they've apparently been having a lot of problems with the harrid lately. I told him we could discuss the matter further after dinner, and order once again reigned supreme.
Soern returned, followed shortly by Blank, Anika, and a teenage boy. Soern and Blank then decided it would be a good idea to start loudly telling a story about Anika and the boy (Janan, apparently Blank's son) "hooking up" on his boat and somehow lighting it on fire. Yes, they decided to interrupt my dinner and bother my guests with this. If they're mad at my daughter for something, they could have come to me in private. I felt myself growing increasingly angry at Blank. Why does he insist on making my life even more complicated than it already is? I was about to explode. I was shaking with anger, about to just let Blank have it. Gannen must have sensed this and reached over and held my hand. It was a comforting act, and it was a restraining act. I looked over at Gannen and he slightly nodded, letting me know everything was fine. I calmed down. I invited Blank and Soern to take their seats again, effectively putting the subject to rest for the time being.
At the end of the evening, Gannen and I talked to Soern, who has been trying to arrange a meeting for awhile. Apparently there's something not-quite-right with the Heart of the Sea (though he doesn't quite know what). Whether this is related to the giant incursion last year remains to be seen. Soern thought we should try to find another artifact tied to the Heart (like the Aur Xica).
Consulting Ghalib, we discovered that there are at least four, though the only specific one he knows about is a magical cup. It's a relic of power and can heal, kill, and answer questions. (Note to self: Healing ability could be useful) Unfortunately, he doesn't know where the cup is.
I'd love to go myself, unfortunately, that's out of the question at the moment. Instead I formed a task force. Leif and Halden are going. They have got to work through their problems with each other. And even if they don't, if they're away at sea, at least I won't have to deal with the problems between them for a time. Besides, adventuring together might bring them closer. I've also sent Janan. I don't want him near Anika. Sending him away on a boat accomplishes that. I'm also sending Aed for some additional magical talent. I'm sending Stavros to give him a chance to prove his loyalty. I will be more than happy to assist him with his problems once he helps us with this. I've also sent Kheriim, the human ward of the Verrik, to give them a chance to prove their honest intentions. They'll be going with Ax.
I've given them the only leads we have. I suggested they talk to Taevin Brightfind. He's good at finding things. I also told Halden he could talk to Halas as an absolute last resort. Hopefully these kids are as talented as I think, otherwise, we'll be needing a lot of pearls.