Charon and Thriatos return from their meeting with the emperor and starts packing their gear according to the task they have been given. However, their plan is not to follow the emperor's orders and as they may need further assistance they decide to let ex-seneschal Horacio join them. Secluded in the estate laboratory the two explain their plan and Horacio is torn between following his lust for power and a more careful voice. The situation suddently becomes very tense as they discover consul Callissios to be in the room, disguised as a servant.
The consul goes straight to business with the three mages: in return for his aid to maintain the appearance that they are following the emperor's orders he wants them to travel to a graveyard city in northern Menokh. Their task will be to find an artifact which at any cost is to be kept away from Savvas, whom Callissios suspects of being behind much of the current tumoil in the Empire. Callissios suggests they take the artifact to the dragon they encountered 6 months ago as he is certain no one would try to claim it from the beast. After a short negotiation between the three they agree to the task and the consul binds them by a blood oath to keep their word. He then teleports himself from the room.
As they begin to pack for their journey they realize the consul had already cast a spell to disguise their appearances. To avoid getting into trouble with the servants of the household they decide to leave immediately, which, translated from wizard time, corresponds to a few hours later. They bring the two undead servants Victor and Jamal with them as they might be useful.
Meanwhile Horacio is trying to gather more supplies to last for the rest of their journey, which goes well - but he inadvertedly attract the attention of another mage. The mage follows him through the city and wants to introduce himself when the three finally meet up, but as a fire mysteriously erupt among the barges the mage is forced to leave. The three mages hurries away and accepts a very steep price to leave the city at once.
Night soon falls, but troubles aren't over. They awake to find the barge crew attempting to go on shore and after a brief interrogation a fight ensures during which the crewmen are all killed. They hurriedly attempt to use rocks to lower them to the riverbed and put Jamal to push the barge onwards as they go back to sleep.
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