Stepping through the portal, they found themselves in a small lobby area inside the Great Citadel, the central administrative building of the Collegium Maleficos. An assistant to the Superior Quartus quickly greeted them and ushered them into a private room. As the assistant closed the door behind them, seated at the head of a great table was Ricven Tarmikos, Superior Quartus of the Collegium Maleficos.
Ignoring protocol, Serine bombarded him with questions, inquiring as to how and why they were brought to Horizon. Unfazed by her breach in etiquette, Ricven began to ask them how they had sealed the rift in Thog Tahrir, and how many members of their group had magical abilities beyond Marduke and Serine. Branan spoke up and said that he possessed the magic of music, although others rolled their eyes at this suggestion. Ricven, however, seemed to agree with him, and questioned him about his involvement with the group.
Quietly and quickly, Ricven’s assistant made his way over to where he was seated, and whispered something in his ear. Taking a moment to gather his thoughts, Ricven looked at Nerryn and asked her if she had met up with Carmo back at the Great Library. Nerryn confirmed that she had met up with Carmo, and as she was doing this, Ricven interrupted her and told her that she would have to leave her locket behind in Horizon for the unforeseeable future. Angered at this sudden revelation, Nerryn demanded that he return her locket, but he refused, saying that it was too powerful for her to be carrying around. After a tense discussion, Ricven offered to have Carmo instruct her in the safe keeping and handling of the locket, although he did not guarantee that she would receive it back even after completing this training. The locket, Ricven said, contained the power to unlock deep and dangerous secrets about her past, memories that he was confident she was not yet ready to hear.
A silence fell over the room and was eventually interrupted by Ricven’s assistant, who asked them if they had any additional questions for him (he was, of course, a very important man.) They asked him how he was able to bring them to Horizon, but he would only tell them that he had been watching them as they traveled from Glitterhaegen to Forge, and that he had been intrigued by not only their adventures in Thog Tahrir, but by the way their friendship had helped them persevere in the depths.
Ricven then asked them if they’d be willing to perform small tasks for him—Serine wondered aloud what they could do for him, and he assured them that there were many missions they could undertake for him should they be interested. Ricven told them that many fine items arrived at Horizon via Dockside, and he would love to occasionally obtain some of those items without anyone else knowing. Incredulous, Branan responded by saying that surely a man of his stature was already able to obtain such items without any need for their help.
Pulling out a large bottle, Ricven popped the cork and passed it over to Serine. He told them all that it was an exceptionally old and rare bottle of Elven scotch. After getting over their initial apprehension, he implored them to take a sip, and they all did. The drink elicited many different emotional responses, and Ricven questioned each of them about the feeling that the drink evoked in them. Focusing in on Nibil, who had said that the drink had made him feel very happy (a feeling that he was not accustomed to), Ricven asked him about his past, and learned that Nibil was the prime suspect in the death of the gnomish headmaster of the Gnomish School of Magic. Ricven let it slip that he was aware of the headmaster’s “alleged” death, and that Nibil should continue to keep a low profile as there was a bounty on his head.
Feeling a moment of courage, Branan asked Ricven about how the High Druid was doing, although Ricven only seemed to have disdain for her. Just as Branan was about to inquire further, Ricven’s assistant stood up and told them that it was time for them to leave—the Superior Quartus had many more important things to do than to answer all of their tiny, unimportant questions. He hustled them out of the room and back through a portal that deposited them back near Dockside. The group decided that they needed to speak in private, so they headed off to find a place where they could unpack the meeting they just had…