Viorr rummaged in the satchel hanging on his chair. “I represent an element of the King’s Citadel known as the Dark Lanterns,” he said. “We perform certain… intelligence-related… duties for King Boranel. We need adventurers of skill and action who can bring a rogue agent back to us—alive, if possible. If you’re willing to swear to keep secret what you’re about to hear, I’ll tell you more.”

“I’m sorry—I can’t take that oath.” As Valith uttered these words, the grizzled captain raised an eyebrow.

“Why would that be?”

“I can’t maintain secrecy if it would in any way help the cause of evil.”

A slight chuckle made its way past Viorr’s lips, although one could see that this comment had actually gained his respect. He clapped a bony hand on Valith’s armored shoulder: “Son, let me tell you something about evil. I’ve been fighting evil, in one guise or another, since before your father ever managed to get close enough to your mother to conceive you. Nobody takes evil more seriously than us, whether that evil comes in the guise of foreign spies, warforged terrorists, or even the corner wizard peering a bit too deeply into his scrying mirror. Throughout the Last War we kept greater evils away from Breland’s borders than any army was capable of taking on. Evil does not simply march at you in the battlefield, son—oh no, it’s much more insidious than that. And I can tell you that although you may think you were fighting the good fight during the War, the evil I am sending you after is a greater threat than anything you have faced so far.”

As his tirade ended, the guard captain backed down slightly. “So, do you understand the need for secrecy? Can you handle this responsibility?”

Valith, finding no residue of evil emanating from the man, nodded his consent. “Yes, sir.”

“Very good. Now… One of our best agents, Lucan Stellos, disappeared two days ago. Yesterday, a high-security vault we maintain here in Sharn was compromised, and a powerful magic sword was stolen…”

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