Ahr’tur Llewellyn sighed in defeat. The gemstone was cracked. This once priceless relic that he’d been sent to recover from the Thieving Thieves of Thieverton (And that really was the group’s unimaginative name) was broken and worthless now that it had a crack in it. Thus, he was out of a paycheck. He’d have to work double shifts for the next week at the office to earn back expenses and…

He came home, late that night, defeated and dismayed.

Slowly, he made his way through his house, trying to be as quiet as possible so as to not wake his wife. Of course, as he passed the kitchen, there was a rattle of glass that made him stop.

A pause, then there was running of tap water from the sink. He turned to look, and saw his daughter, Nahgi, home from Mystryal for summer break. Their eyes met for a moment, and then she asked, “What- it really wasn’t an ancient alien conspiracy, was it?” Her voice sounded dry- naturally, she was still holding a full cup of water- but slightly amused.

“No,” Ahr’tur shook his head at his daughter, before pulling out the worthless gemstone from his satchel bag. “I had to recover this lump of rock from some stupidly named bandits. Then I find out they broke the damned thing stealing it in the first place and that makes it worthless now.”

Nahgi stared at the rather large rock. “Is that the-?”

“Ruby Heartstone of Kyiahlnah’s Crown? Rumored to have something to do with her Changeling army?” Ahr’tur nodded. “This is a piece of history right here… Or at least, it was. It’s worthless with the crack in it. Won’t even channel the slightest magic charge properly now.”

“Huh.” Nahgi continued to stare for a moment before taking her time to drink down the cup of water. Then, she said, “Okay, I can see why they wanted you to take it in the middle of vacation then.” Ahr’tur’s heart started to feel lighter hearing that- “But I’m guessing since it’s broken then the whole trip was just about worthless?”

“Er… yeah,” Ahr’tur sighed, hanging his head down. “The people who hired me refused to pay me for a broken rock.”

“Then I’m still mad that you went when we were planning to go on a trip,” Nahgi said flatly, placing her glass on the counter next to the sink. Ahr’tur’s heart felt like it was weighted down- “But I’m more mad at the people who hired you and refused to pay you. That thing belongs in a museum! Broken or not, seriously!”

Ahr’tur looked at the cracked gemstone in his hand, and smiled faintly as an idea came to him. “Hey, um… I know we don’t have too much vacation time left, but…” When did talking to his own daughter become so difficult? “Do you want to take a trip to the Relheim museum and see if they want to buy this off of us?”

Nahgi considered that for a moment, then said, “If we get a chance to try out that awesome mac ‘n’ cheese? Sure.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Ahr’tur smiled.

“We can talk more tomorrow then,” And with that, Nahgi turned to head back to her bedroom, “G’night, dad.”

“Good night, Nahgi,” he smiled, and headed to the bedroom. It would be another three minutes as he was settling into bed before he remembered that his daughter hadn’t lived at the old Manor for a few years even before she started going to Mystryal. That was when his eyes snapped open as he woke up from a pleasant dream to the harsh reality that was the fact that he was hanging upside down from a giant ancient statue depicting the Flame Princess herself. “…Damn it,” He hissed as he realized that there was a Changeling nest right below him.

A nest whose eggs looked ready to hatch at any moment.

Nearby, the “Thieving Thieves” sat around a table, on which lay a vast number of artifacts, one of which was the very still functional-and-intact Ruby Heartstone of Kyiahlnah’s Crown. It’s arcane magics pulsed and glowed with the power to compel any Changeling or Pyromander within its sight to do the bidding of the person who owned it.

In the Cataclysm War, Kyiahlnah had used it to mass recruit a vast portion of her army’s more unwilling members. And now these blasted thieves- no, Cultists- were trying to use it to much the same effect.

As nice as that dream was, maybe Ahr’tur could make it more a prophecy of things to come. There was no way he was going to leave that Heartstone intact after all of this… this…

This heartless group of brain washers and their insane cultist plans.

That Heartstone was not going to survive the night. And then he was going to have a nice long talk with Nahgi about how he was going to retire from this thankless job once and for all.


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