Ivan, Sheba, and Kraden accidentally put the whole world in peril while investigating the buried ruins of the Venus Tribe.
Ivan considered his problem as he walked through Kalay's streets, heading back to the castle. Master Hammet had placed him in charge of organising a new caravan to Lalivero. Previously, this had been impossible; a caravan to Tolbi was difficult enough, thanks to the high tariffs Babi had imposed upon all imports, but taking it to Lalivero was made impossible by the fact that Babi charged tariffs once again on all goods moving through Gondowan gate to the southern continent.
However, Babi was now dead, and the driving force behind Tolbi's need for resources-the construction of Babi Lighthouse-was gone. Iodem, who had taken over rulership of Tolbi after Babi passed on, had promised Kalay caravans a special exemption from tariffs at the Suhalla Gate. This made trade with Lalivero a possibility, and the thought of expanding the trade routes still farther practically made Hammet drool.
Unfortunately, there were still issues to consider. For example, typically, shipments of silks and other commodities travel across the Karagol Sea by boat. This worked very well if you were sending your products to Tolbi itself. However, the caravan was in fact skipping Tolbi and heading straight for Lalivero. It therefore made more sense to travel by land. The passage to the north was too long, and was in any case still blocked by the landslides caused by Mount Aleph's explosion, but there was still Gondowan Cave. Although generally considered too monster-ridden for travelling use, it had quieted down significantly in the three years since the Elemental Lighthouses were lit, and Ivan felt confidant that himself and a small group of guards should be able to keep the caravan safe. On the other hand...
His train of thought was interrupted by a familiar voice up ahead. He was too far to make out words, but he recognized one of the voices that he heard from over by the castle gates. He smiled as he approached and began catching traces of the conversation.
"...personal friend...renowned scholar...back in my day..."
Ivan could barely restrain his laughter as he approached the two quarreling figures. The taller, one of the palace guard, was trying his best to calm down the shorter, who was belligerently demanding entrance.
"Kraden!" he yelled joyously as he walked up to the pair. The old man turned around just in time to find himself wrapped in a large bear hug. He made a surprised sound as the breath was momentarily forced out of him.
"Ivan!" he shouted in surprise as he was released. "By the gods, you've grown!"And so he had. When they had last parted, Kraden had stood a head taller than the young man. Now, a scarce three years later, the blonde youth towered over the old scholar. Admittedly, Kraden was by no means a tall man, but this rate of growth still seemed incredible.
"Well, of course I have! It's been three years, man! What have you been up to?" Ivan asked.
"Alchemy may be unlocked once more, but there still plenty for this old scholar to do! Right now I'm doing research on the ancient tribes who built the Lighthouses. In fact, that's why I've come to Kalay."
"Let's talk about it inside, Kraden." Ivan said, turning towards the palace gates. "It'll be much more comfortable there."
Ivan poured a goblet of wine for Kraden as they sat within the palace's great dining hall. Kraden took it happily and thanked him.
"Now, Ivan," Kraden began, "When we traveled across the world, we encountered evidence of the Great Tribes from before alchemy was sealed away, correct? The temple in Contigo showed that the Jupiter Tribe once lived there, and Lemuria and the Mars Tribe are both still alive and active. But outside of the lighthouse and Gaea Rock, nowhere did we see any evidence of a Venus Tribe."
"And now you've found some?" Ivan ventured, taking a sip from his own cup.
"I most certainly have!" Kraden said excitedly. "Last week Sheba sent word from Lalivero, informing me that some labourers had stumbled across an ancient tomb of unknown design. I suspect that it was built by the Venus Tribe!"
"And where do I fit into this?" Ivan asked. "Not that I'm not happy to see you again, of course."
"Ah, now we arrive at the crux of the matter!" Kraden was becoming more and more excited, and it was showing. He was beginning to gesticulate wildly as he spoke, causing the wine in his cup to spill onto the table. "The tomb is completely sealed shut! No matter what they try, the Laliverans can't get in! Sheba tells me it is held closed by powerful Earth psynergetic enchantments, far too powerful for her alone to break. This is what convinced me that it was an artifact of the Venus Tribe; who else would have-"
"-the command of Earth to do something like that. I see what you mean. And you want me to help you break it open?"
"Precisely!" Kraden shouted. "Jupiter psynergies are opposed to Venus, so you and Sheba working together should be able to open it."
Ivan considered. "It could work...and, by happy circumstance, I am leading a caravan down to Lalivero in less than a week. You could ride down with us, and while we're down there we could see what we can do about your tomb."
"Capital!" Kraden exclaimed, raising his cup. "It'll be just like old times, eh?"
"I sure hope so." Ivan said, raising his own. They clinked their cups together and continued drinking.