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Althea Amberhearth sat at her usual spot in the Black Crab tavern. Few windows and a scarcity of candles meant the establishment rarely rose above dim light. Probably so that the customer base would fail to notice the numerous stains littering the wood floor. A shame the lighting did little to stymie the stench, as the sickly sweet scent of old ale trickled into the young woman's nose. She idly flipped her loose, blonde braid from one shoulder to the other and glanced back toward the wooden door. Still no sign of her traveling companions. Looking down at the table, she slowly pushed the cup of cloudy water away from her. No, she would abstain from drinking anything here. The Black Crab was a place better suited to meeting contacts rather than dining or drinking. Althea cast furtive glances about the pub, noting the numerous individuals bearing black leather armor and heavy scars. Indeed, not her usual crowd, but thankfully no one had bothered her since she arrived. Althea plucked her small prayerbook from her pouch and flipped to the silk string bookmark.
"Helestria, light of life and mother of hope, guide my path on the journey ahead. May my journey be fruitful and my bounty plenty," she recited, closing her eyes in sober thought. The church set her upon a most unsettling quest. Tasked with recovering an artifact from an abandoned shrine of Helestria, Althea was to inquire about the shrine in the adjacent village of Sapila. Supposedly the people there had become increasingly isolationist over the past few years, but rumor got out that they possessed a holy relic. Now it was Althea's duty to determine whether or not these claims held water.
She heard the tavern door creak open at last and, looking back, Althea waved to the newcomers. At last her adventuring party arrived.