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The Dungeon Dive

It all started with a rock. Well, more specifically, a crystal. A mana crystal.

The Order of Gilded Caps, one of the Grand Spore’s most decorated and celebrated knightly orders, found the crystal while on an expedition into the Huldenberg Protectorate. Perhaps the crystal had been smuggled out of the Talon Isles and its bearer fallen victim to some unknown fate. Perhaps it had been deliberately planted inside the Protectorate. Perhaps it was simply misplaced. Only history knows that truth.

Likewise, how word made its way back to the Talon Isles, no one’s quite sure. But make its way, word did—all the way to the chambers of the Elrana. Naturally, the council accused Mycandon of thieving its rightful property. The Huldenberg Protectorate leveled the same claim against Mycandon and Talon Elrana since the crystal was discovered in its own territory. And the Gilded Caps claimed rightful ownership based on the longstanding Mycandonian law of “finders, keepers.”

Missives were sent, tempers were stoked, and threats were made until, finally, the three nations sent delegations to deliberate on neutral ground—the Slumbering Dragon Tavern.

The emissaries sat themselves down at the Huldenbergian roundtable. Svenya Frostblood kept a watchful eye on the proceedings from behind the bar, while Ragart—ever eager to occupy a seat as close as possible to the center of attention—joined the delegations. But Ragart would end up making himself a far more pivotal participant than he likely imagined at the outset.

The three nations wasted no time on pleasantries, proceeding straight to their usual bickering and cajoling. The arguments chased their own tails for hours on end, everyone so engrossed that none noticed Ragart’s absence until he sauntered back to the table, more spring in his step and gleam in his eye than any of the delegates were accustomed to or comfortable with.

You see, Ragart had decided that if the nations were going to carry out negotiations at his tavern, then those talks would happen on the tavern’s terms—that is to say, Ragart’s terms. And he’d set those terms by filching the crystal, taking it down into the ruins of Vemer, and hiding it away in some old nook or treasure chest or what have you. Since words had resolved nothing, action would: whichever nation retrieved the crystal would gain lawful custody.

Did the Elrana’s delegation succeed in asserting their “rightful” claim? Did the Protectorate conclusively establish its territorial sovereignty? Or did Mycandon make off with its shiny prize? No one actually remembers anymore—it was just a mana crystal, after all, and not even a particularly valuable one. Its ultimate provenance is frankly inconsequential compared to the precedent it set.

Since that fateful meeting, the Five Nations have settled their differences by sending representatives to the Sleeping Dragon not to debate but to compete against one another, delving into Vemer in search of lost riches and immortal glory. The Adventurers’ Guild, once a loose association of wanderers and ne’er-do-wells, became the arbiters and overseers of this renowned international institution: the Dungeon Dive.

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