Four members of the Kollian army—a brawler foot soldier, a fighter sergeant, a wizard strategist, and an oracle doctor—are summoned for a special assignment. They learn of their complicated orders through Veit, the emperor’s slimy chief adviser.
Emperor Denicus Koll wishes to start a new military campaign, but his superstitious beliefs force him to wait until he hears of positive portents and signs from the Oracle at Senis. A squad of four men has been dispatched to carry an amulet, recently unearthed on an expedition in the southlands, to the Oracle. Veit is suspicious of the loyalty of these men, however, and the party is sent to shadow them. If they prove to be untrustworthy or traitorous, they are to be “dealt with” and the party is then to complete the original mission of obtaining the Oracle’s prognostications. Artemis cleverly deduces the next logical step and wonders who is assigned to follow and “deal with” them if it should come to that, but he keeps his misgivings to himself for now.
Less than a day into their week-long journey, the party discovers that the first squad has been set upon by bandits. Three are already dead and the fourth is executed before their eyes. A short skirmish between the bandits and the party leads to the death of all three bandits. Celmar located and secured the amulet. Later, the party discovers that they are indeed being followed by a third squad of Kollian soldiers, and the next morning the party sets about vexing their pursuers by breaking a wheel on their horsecart and setting it ablaze.
Arriving in Senis a few days later, the party learns that their reason for traveling there, the Oracle Carabatos, has been imprisoned by the Templars, a faction in Wystmere. Traveling to that city a week’s journey further west of Senis, the party learns some of the politics there and seeks some helpful advice from Jalmis, leader of the Guard, a faction that opposes the Templars. From him they learn where Carabatos is likely being held and endeavor to free him through guile (ie, accidentally drugging the warden).
With Carabatos freed, they wisely decide to vacate Wystmere. The Oracle says he must have a bloom of the White Gem flower to perform his prognostications, and after a minor misadventure that nearly leaves the party as permanent tree-from residents of a druids’ grove belonging to the Guard, they obtain the necessary flora.
Carabatos experiences a vision and tells the party that not only does Denicus Koll’s new military campaign appear doomed to defeat, but only death awaits the party on their return to Koll. However, it appears that someone within the party has the capacity to fulfill the prophecy of the return of the Dread Lord from hundreds of years ago, and his compatriots will become his lieutenants. The party learns that they should seek more information from the Library of Rall Tamon in Senis.