A few days journey brought the party to the outskirts of Lycon, a city nestled in rich farmland cleared from forests around the City Mother. Here, Yves Marshstrider took his leave of the party, to return to looking after his own interests. As the party turned to approach the city, they discovered that it was impressively fortified, but poorly defended. A huge (though not particularly tall) earthwork ringed the outlying farms around the city, while Lycon proper was sheltered by a stone wall at least 80 feet tall and thirty feet wide. The city grew out from an isle in the middle of the river that held an old Floran fortress, an eminently defensible position. But the earthworks were entirely unmanned, and the walls seemed to be watched only by sleepy old sentries who offered little challenge. The whole of the city had been denuded of its men of fighting age, as Lycon had answered the cal of Cantorhill, and sent their armies north. The City Guard that remained consisted of raw recruits and those too old to march off on another campaign.
Though the city seemed largely undefended and indefensible, the party took the time to establish themselves within the city, selling what was of value and resupplying themselves. They took rooms in the Bear and Goblin, and split off on their various errands. Hilallum and Amata took pains to ensure that the egg was safely watched at all times during this. Vikram, unworried for his own safety, went into the city by himself only to be accosted by two tiefling thugs who insisted that he accompany them immediately to see a Lord Gaer-Cennath. Vikram declined, only to be answered by a blade to the gut. Vikram escaped into a crowded thoroughfare with a display of his eldritch power, and the thugs seemed disinclined to pursue.
Vikram made his way back to the Bear and Goblin, and promptly collapsed into a bed. His restorative rest was momentarily disturbed by an old man who came to their rooms, asking after sellswords to look for his missing grandson. After a brief interview, Kinaa dismissed the old man, saying they had no time for such errands.
At dinnertime, when all had returned to the inn, Vikram was approached by another tiefling, another agent of the Lord Gaer-Cennath, though not one of the thugs from earlier. This agent made a much more diplomatic request for Vikram to attend to the Lord at the sign of the Hanged Prophet. Vikram was invited to bring along any company he liked. The dragonborn were unwilling to leave the egg unattended to accompany Vikram, but Kalyani and Narayan were curious enough to go along.
The sign of the Hanged Prophet turned out, unsurprisingly, to be a nest Loyalist tieflings, complete with chains adorning the walls. Lord Gaer-Cennath informed Vikram that the Oracle of Ripenso had prophesied that Vikram would be the one to discover a way to straighten the Ways Between the Worlds, to bring about another Conjunction. Moreover, the prophesy implied that he would do so soon. The Lord proceeded to demand of Vikram that he stay to receive the support and cooperation of the tieflings in his research. Vikram protested, saying his travels were helpful in his researches, but the Lord insisted, eventually making it clear that this offer was not, in fact, an offer. He threatened to destroy everybody that Vikram loved in an effort to leave him with fewer distractions. At this, an angered and frightened Vikram left the inn with his companions, leaving behind a Lord who seemed convinced that Vikram would reconsider.
Just outside the inn, Vikram told the Narayan and Kalyani that it seemed he had no choice but to accept the Lord’s “proposal” for his own safety and the safety of the group. Narayan startled and frightened Vikram further by wondering aloud whether the Lord’s threat extended to Vikram’s wife and child.
The discussion was interrupted by the smell of burning and the sound of an army on the march, the signs of a rapid and largely unexpected approach of an army. The time the party had taken in Great Strimaya and their encounter with Sunhand had given the Sargothine Army enough time to reach Lycon just behind them. The fall of Lycon had begun.