Lokan (aka Nikolai)
Lokan is a vagabond. He has been on the road for the better part of a decade, to learn about the ways of the world. He appears to have no home, and few social bonds, though he is well-traveled, and has much knowledge of the outside world, and the people who populate it. He has a hearty appetite, and is rather fond of drinking contests. He is a bit of a risk-taker, and has a larcenous streak. Lokan is a hirsute, tallish man of average build with unruly brown hair and piercing hazel eyes. When asked of his past, Lokan says he remembers nothing beyond being a five-year-old lad. He remembers being adopted by a woman named Danifa, who gave him his name, and made him part of her clan of wanderers. Sometimes, the clan engaged in criminal activities ranging from highway robberies to the occasional burglary in nearby villages. The clan taught Lokan how to read people and survive in the wilderness, and instilled in him a moral code, such as it was. Robberies and burglaries almost exclusively victimized the wealthy - people they reasoned could afford the loss. The clan rarely condoned the murdering of people as it would incite a mob to hunt them down, and there was rarely a justified reason to do so. They opted instead to knock out victims, strip them naked, and cover them in mud and leaves for a laugh (and practice in making camouflage). Regardless, many would-be heroes were killed by the clan because they decided to attempt to challenge it. Having absorbed the lessons of his clan-mates, Lokan set out on his own at 15 to learn more about the ways of the world. To his dismay there were much greater evils in the world than he had known. One day, while traveling through the woods, Lokan encountered another band of people who lived on the Big Road, but with which he had previously established a rapport. The band's leader, a man named Nikolai, told Lokan that a band of Kochmak raiders had recently destroyed the nearby village of Vladykino, and drove its population off into bondage. Peculiarly, the nomads left the Vladykino mill intact, despite the fact that it was the richest property around. Nikolai also said that the miller was subsequently taken prisoner by the archbishop who owned the village, ostensibly for engaging in dark deeds. In exchange for sharing this news, Nikolai asked Lokan to tell him and his men what he discovered about the fate of the mill and the miller. Lokan found the story interesting enough to learn more about it. He traveled north to Vladykino, and investigated the abandoned (though intact) mill, where he found some starving animals, a dead vasilisk, and a suspicious-looking sack of human bones. The miller was not around, but Nikolai told him he was taken to the archbishop's summer estate at Malinka, two more days' travel north. Lokan went to Malinka, but got there after sunset on the second day, and found its gates locked. Rather than try to sneak into the estate, he found some crabapples growing outside the gate, ate a few, and climbed up into the tree to sleep. The next morning, Lokan was awakened by the sounds of Vera's hoofbeats, and the footfalls of Bjorg - a volot. As this was the biggest person he ever saw, Lokan flung a crabapple at Bjorg, to which the big man responded by picking Lokan up, and tossing him back into the tree. Lokan missed his handholds, and went head-first into the trunk. The next thing Lokan knew, a small, white-haired man with a bandage over his eyes was bending over him, with his hand on his head. His hand exuded warmth, which permeated Lokan's body. The rider of the horse heaved a sigh of relief, and the giant began to profusely apologize for not knowing his strength. The rider, Yuri Barolov, explained that he was on a mission to track down raiders who had burned down his village, Vladykino, and enslaved his family and his paramour. The others present - the white-haired healer Innokentii Fedorovich (Kesha), and Bjorg the volot, had volunteered to help him on his quest. These three also told Lokan about the miller Zbigniev Dragutinovich, how he milled bones into coins, and how they captured him and turned him over to the archbishop for justice. Grateful to these people for saving his life, but also eager for adventure, companionship, setting things right, and seeing opportunities for profit because of what they told him, Lokan joined the group forthwith. The traveled south toward Vladykino, for two days. On the first night, while they were camping, they were beset by a huge swarm of mosquitoes. Yuri tried to lead them away on his horse, but Bjorg, in a renewed bear's service to the party, provoked them by tossing around boulders and flaming trees, which had the effect of nearly killing Kesha and Yuri's horse, Vera. Lokan comported himself well by killing masses of bugs with his whip. Finally, Bjorg managed to finish off the remnants with another big rock. After arriving in Vladykino covered in bites, Yuri set to looking for horseshoes to replace the one Vera lost. Lokan took the opportunity to inspec the mill once again. He found things unchanged, but decided to release the starving animals from the barn, hoping to give them a chance to fend for themselves. He managed to entice the pigs to follow him back to Vladykino. The following day, two more of Yuri's companions, Fedor and Alden, reached Vladykino and joined the rest of the group. Alden had the air of being a kindred spirit, and immediately took matters concerning the pigs into his own hands, slaughtering one, and beginning to roast him. Once the first pig has been cooked, and newly-arrived Alden has caught up on sleep, most of the group hit the road - Yuri did not want to let the raiders get too far ahead of them. As Bjorg needed nearly a whole pig just to himself, and Kesha had business to take care of in the burnt-out village, Yuri told them to catch up, and that he would leave marks to follow. Unfortunately, neither Kesha nor Bjorg are mounted, and as it turns out, that is the last Lokan saw of either of them. On the second day out, the companions run into Nikolai and his band, who invite them to share their fire. Yuri inquires about the raiders, and Nikolai tells them that they likely went to the great city of Udyn, on the Udena river, where a major slave mart is located. He asks the companions to reciprocate for the news, and Lokan, who has a debt to pay, prompts Yuri and Fedor to tell Nikolai about the fate of Zbigniev and his mill. The way forward proved difficult, and the companions were soaked by frequent downpours, and became mired in deep mud. They did manage to find the remains of a Kochmak encampment, which Yuri had apparently espied before. The party took a rest there, but at night, a pale white woman emerged from the woods and headed toward them, all while singing haunting songs. Lokan and the rest quickly broke camp to get away, but in their hurry, they lost their way. The next day, wet, and out of food, they sent Alden forth to bring back some game. He soon returned, but bloodstained from head to toe, and leading a cow instead of carrying a deer. Lokan quickly guessed at what had happened, and under questioning, Alden admitted that he killed and ate a homesteader, and drove off one of his cows. Yuri and Fedor were furious, and told Alden that they will not be able to travel with him if he ever does something similar again. Lokan quietly told Alden later that he needed to control his urges, and that he should not confirm society's stereotypes about wolves. That night, the white woman came upon their camp again. Lokan was on watch, and he managed to wake the rest of the party, but the white woman, beguiled the rest of them, asked who killed her husband, and after Alden confessed, she ordered him into a nearby stream, and then tried to drown him. Lokan was the only one who resisted her beguiling voice, and tried to drive her off with his whip. He may have succeeded in distracting her enough to let Alden return to his senses. For some reason, she decided not to pursue him, and merely said that he would now be a curse unto his companions, and then left the scene. Fedor later revealed that she was a rusalka. The next day, the party's fortunes improved. They caught some game, and began to travel in the right direction. Soon the rains stopped, and in a few days, they found themselves along the banks of the mighty Udena River. Espying a fishing village along the banks, Lokan and Yuri entered it, hoping to find food and information. Alden was left behind with Fedor to watch over him. There they were entertained by the headman Erken, who told them that the City of Udyn, where the raiders drove the captives, was very close by. Lokan tried to engage the host and other village elders in a drinking contest, but as Bahites, they did not drink much, and the evening ended amicably, although after all had gone to bed, Lokan sneaked Fedor and Alden into Erken's house and fed them, which may have caused the cow sale to fall through. The following day, the companions arrived in the Kochmak city of Udyn. At the gate, the keeper explained the laws they had to abide while there - they could not openly carry weapons or ride horses, they had to stay in the Gaalite quarter on the other side of town, and they had to wear ribbons that identified themselves as part of a religious minority. Ultimately, the companions made their way to the Nart Quarter and found a place to bathe. Alden found a useful youth who introduced them to a Norik monk - Hegumen Mitrofan. The hegumen bought their cow, gave them a place to stay, and allowed Yuri to unburden his sins, while also warning him that the rusalka's curse weighed heavily upon him and Alden's other companions. In response to Yuri's querying after paid work, Mitrofan also told them about the situation in the local cemetery, which was beset by unclean creatures. If they could drive them off, Yuri and his companions might make a bit of money, if the parishioners were feeling generous. Lokan, who was getting a little overwhelmed by the stifling piety of the atmosphere, asked if the hegumen was aware of any criminal groups in town, because they may have useful information about the captives. Surprisingly, the hegumen did not seem offended. He told Lokan that his niece Agapia delivered alcohol to an establishment frequented by members of the Banu Tabar, and that she could lead them there. Mitrofan did warn the companions to stay out of trouble, because if they got mixed up in criminal business, he could not and would not protect them. Agapia led the group into the main city, and from there, to an establishment by the central souk which was frequented by the Banu Tabar. There, the party encountered Berke Bolat, a local tough. After Lokan tried to speak to him in a criminal argot, but claimed poverty when Berke demanded drinks for his companions, the tough took Lokan outside, ostensibly to beat him. In the alley, Berke instructed Lokan on the local etiquette, but then actually offered him information, though demanded a hefty payment for what he knew. After Yuri paid, Berke told the group that the captives were being housed in a caravanserai on Slave Island, in the middle of the river; that many had been sold, though many remained; that the young women captives were immediately separated from the rest upon arrival, and sent to the other bank of the river; and that an envoy of the Grand Prince of Kliakva had arrived in the Nart Quarter shortly after the raiders. Armed with this information, the companions returned to the Nart Quarter. Fedor earlier expressed a desire to return to Malinka, having gotten Yuri to within striking distance of his goal. Alden had gone off to send his friend off in style, so Lokan with Yuri and new friend Agapia went off to the guard the cemetery, as they agreed with the hegumen. That night, some grave robbers dressed as undead entered the premises from an underground tunnel. In the resulting tussle, they wounded Yuri with a poisoned knife, which left him paralyzed till the next morning. As it turned out, they were after the water from a holy spring within the cemetery grounds, and they stole Agapia's cauldron, which contained the liquid, before fleeing through the tunnel. Lokan and Agapia followed the grave robbers through a dark underground tunnel. When he later informed the hegumen about it, Mitrofan surmised that it probably went under the wall and into the main city. The following day, Lokan and his companions paid a visit to the Grand Prince's envoy, Zinovii Surikov. Zinovii was ill, and being treated by the Fogarma physician Yaakov bar Asher, who became interested in the companions. But Zinovii told the party members that he was in town to find out what transpired with the raid. He knew that Yuri's overlord, Prince Trofim of Ladeisk, would likely blame his archrival, the Grand Prince, for conniving with the Kochmaki. But Zinovii said that his master had nothing to do with the raid, and offered to grant the companions his master's protection if they find proof that exonerates him. Lokan asked for a letter of introduction to the amir's daughter, as he heard that a rich reward was in store for anyone who made her laugh. Zinovii promised this as well, provided that the party gives him what he wants. Lastly, he introduced them to his own servitor - a rooster shapeshifter named Anatoly Frolyn, who would help them in all their endeavors. Later in the day, along with Lokan and Anatoly, Yuri visited the Kochmak camp outside the city walls. There, they engaged in various contests to try to learn more information, but ultimately, after Anatoly bested the Kochmaki's wrestling champion, the daughter of the clan's bey, Zhuldyz, told them that the raid was paid for and organized by a certain Yaqub, a lord from the other side of the river. The companions returned to Zinovii with this information, but he told them he needed it in writing in order for it to matter. That night, Lokan, along with Yuri, Anatoly, and, surprisingly, Yaakov, return to the cemetery. It is not attacked that night, but the companions discover another underground tunnel. They also find that both the new and the old tunnels are now blocked with newly built walls, though the builders left easy-to remove blocks in the edifices for easy access later. The following day, Yuri led Lokan into the city, to see what could be learned about Yaqub. At the docks, they were pointed to a man named Mamoun, who ferries slaves on and off Slave Island. For a prince, Mamoun revealed that Yaqub is actually a fire-breathing zilant, who lives under a hill on the other side of the river. Armed with the new knowledge, Yuri and Lokan returned to their benefactor Zinovii, who in the face of the group's efforts, relents, and granted them a letter of introduction to the amir's daughter, which Hegumen Mitrofan later read. Lokan then asked the hegumen to absolve his sins, but when Mitrofan learned that the vagabond was unbaptized, he told him that he first needed to be received into the faith. which absolves all and sundry, regardless of which kindred they belong to. Lokan and Mitrofan made plans for the baptism to take place on Nedelia, two days hence. Later that night, Yuri and Anatoly removed several sarcophagus lids, and set them up as traps to drop on potential grave robbers who might go through the "back doors" of the walls they constructed. Lokan tried in vain to find valuables in the open sarcophagi, and then played the lookout behind the font. After waking late the next morning, Lokan returned to the docks with Yuri and Anatoly. The companions wanted to find Mamoun again, in order to hitch a ride to Slave Island, or to the other side of the river. Instead, the party was confronted by a group of armed men who claimed that they are in the service of Vizier Ilyas bin Umar. The party willingly surrendered, and was taken to the Udyn citadel. Here, they were confronted by the vizier himself, who told them to forget about going after Yaqub, as this would endanger the well-being of the city. For emphasis, the vizier also brought out Alden, who was apparently found drunk in a ditch after a multiple-day binge. The companions refused to promise that they will relent in trying to free the prisoners, so Ilyas orders them all to be thrown in the dungeon. Yuri, however, volunteered to go in by himself - he was the one aggrieved by the raid, after all, and he successfully persuaded the vizier to release the rest of his companions. When they returned to the Nart Quarter to tell Zinovii what happened, the boyar asked if they showed the vizier the letter he had written. Zinovii then surmised that the vizier was in cahoots with Yaqub, and refused to allow the party to confront the serpent because he wanted blame for the raid to fall on his master - the Grand Prince. Lokan then had a long heart-to-heart with the newly-found Alden, and revealed certain things about his past to him. Perhaps as illustration about how to live, Lokan invited him on a stroll to collect materials for a True Cross, which the vagabond later intended to sell. After having collected some wood toward this purpose, the two ran into Agapia behind the tavern, and then accompanying her to the graveyard for their nightly vigil. They are then unexpectedly joined by Yaakov, who had been looking for Zinovii, and found him gone. At the graveyard, Alden and Agapia took the lead telling their life stories, while Alden and Lokan took the lead in keeping watch. At dawn, Lokan told Alden that he was suspicious of Yaakov, and wanted to test whether he was a spy by sending him to the docks, and observing what would happen to him. He convinced Agapia to accompany the physician, to make him easier to spot. Lokan and Alden then returned to the monastery, where, as it turned out, the hegumen was preparing to baptize him. At the ceremony, Lokan chose the Gaalite name Nikolai, and the hegumen praised him as a religious seeker, helper of his friend Yuri to free his family, and one who was helping the Gaalites of the Nart Quarter to chase away grave robbers. He then presented Lokan with the proceeds of collections, both at the Holy Veil monastery, and at the larger Irii Church. The hegumen did attempt to appropriate part of the proceeds as a baptism fee, but when Lokan protested, the hegumen relented, though he did ask the companions to leave the monastery, as their further presence their endangered the monks and other Gaalites. He was also critical of Lokan's abandonment of Yuri. He did agree to lend Lokan and Alden a pair of monk's habits as long as they promised not to try to cross the river, or attract the vizier's attention. Lokan and Alden then went to the docks, and observed Yaakov and Agapia, who seemed to be under the observation of the vizier's soldiers. The two then slipped away, and returned to the monastery to collect their things. There, they met the hegumen, who was just returning from the citadel, where he attempted to vouch for Yuri in order to have him released. Although the vizier was initially willing to do that, as long as Yuri agreed to swear to give up his mission, the stubborn cossack refused to do that, and was thrown back into the dungeon, probably for a long time. The hegumen told Lokan and Alden that attempting to free him now would be a fool's errand, and they ought to just leave town and save themselves. Along with the hegumen, they also met up with Yaakov, who was upset that the two failed to meet him at the docks earlier. He also lost Agapia when they were returning - the girl just gave him the slip. Lokan felt that abandoning Yuri to his fate was unjustified without making one last attempt to free him, so along with Alden and Yaakov, they headed into town to see him, and were immediately arrested at the gate. The soldier took them to the citadel, where they were interrogated by the vizier himself. It soon became clear that Yuri had escaped, and the vizier suspected the three of aiding him, and of knowing where he had fled to. They were thrown in the dungeon, and Lokan ended up in Yuri's cell, where he sought in vain to find signs of what happened to his friend. One by one, all three were taken from their cells, and brought in for more questioning where Ilyas ibn Umar tried to trip them up and incriminate each other. He also resorted to torture, as a result of which Lokan lost two fingernails. However, they all seemed to have stuck to their story, and eventually, the vizier decided to release them due to lack of evidence. Lokan asked for recompense, and surprisingly, the vizier acquiesced, and gave them a sum of money in restitution, after apologizing for having to lean on them hard - something he had to do as a high official charged with the city's security. After the ordeal at the citadel, the three companions decided to head back to the Nart Quarter to celebrate their release. They paid for a night at a hostel near the monastery, and some light entertainment in the form of drinking and the companionship of the owner's nieces. After initial enthusiasm, Alden grew suspicious of the girls, and slunk off to sleep in a loft by himself, but Lokan sent him the jilted girl, as well as his own, for company. The following day, Lokan and Alden woke up early in order to prepare for their trip out of the city. Lokan wanted to get supplies for their expedition to Yaqub's as well as a trip to Berke's for information, but Alden wanted to procure a special weapon to which a demon was bound. The morning was taken up by trips to two smiths, and both times, Lokan had to check his companion from making bad decisions. He persuaded Alden to accompany him to the main city, where if they could locate an alchemist, he could perhaps purchase the weapon he was seeking, instead of getting into altercations with common people. After leaving a message for the still-slumbering Yaakov to meet them at the tavern haunted by Berke, Lokan led Alden in the main city, and proceeded to search for an alchemist shop in the center of town. He located a place marked by an oil lamp over the entrance, and there, he met the proprietor, Peyman, who called himself a fire sorcerer. Lokan's main reason for coming here was to purchase supplies that might aid in their fight with Yaqub. After some haggling, he succeeded in purchasing ointments of fire resistance (which he tested for their efficacy), and a vial of paralyzing poison, which he had wanted since the encounter with the grave robbers their first night in the Udyn. Subsequently, after leading Alden to this same shop, Lokan went off in search of Berke. After treating the brawler with due deference by immediately buying him a drink, and then paying a fee for the information, Lokan learned that Berke helped transport Yuri and Agapia out of the city after Yuri's escape, and that the latter had been brought to Shatkal - the same village Zinovii had gone to. Lokan also paid Agapia's ransom, so that Berke's people would release her, and bring her to the village as well. As they parted, Lokan enquired whether Berke would be interested in overthrowing Udyn's rulers, to which the member of the Banu Tabar replied that although he had no love for them, he did fine under their rule, and in any case, lacked the requisite allies to accomplish that task. After collecting Alden from Peyman's shop, Lokan led him out of the city. The two of them proceeded toward Shatkal, though they soon found that they were being watched or followed by some nomadic Kochmak riders. Lokan made an attempt to lose them in the woods, and finally, after trudging through mud and rain for several hours, they made their way to the village gate, where they found Yuri working on mending the fence. Soon, Agapia also arrived, apparently after Berke's henchmen dropped her off near the village. Anatoly had apparently been out hunting and watching the village from the woods (to make sure no one went to inform the vizier of their presence), but he had not returned by sundown, and Zinovii, nervous about his absence, sent Lokan and Agapia out ot investigate. They trailed him through the woods, only to find that he had been taken captive by some Kochmaki, who are encamped near the village. Lokan and Agapia returned to inform Zinovii of what happened, and he made a snap decision to flee, fearing they would also be taken captive. In a rowboat (for which they traded the two remaining horses), the party crossed the Udena, and camped out halfway up the embankment, to avoid detection. The following day, Lokan, along with Agapia and Yuri, headed out to scout out Yaqub's lair. They discovered an abandoned, burnt-out village on a hilltop, but after Lokan found a large footprint outside the settlement, he bumped into its owner - a large, hairy humanoid. Thinking that Lokan's companions harmed its progency, the creature bashed Lokan on the head with a spiked cudgel, becoming the second giant-type creature to nearly kill him by bashing him on the head. After Agapia healed him to save his life, Lokan came too, but his head injury lingers, making it hard for him to concentrate. Yuri intimidated the creatures into backing off, and then Lokan convinced them to parlay. In exchange for his bear trap, and a garrote he manufactured, the Chwee told the group about where Yaqub was (under the next hill, where the river bends), his size (enormous), as well as the character of his servants (some furry snoutheads, but also others), his children (serpents, but also maybe humanoids), and also about the recent arrival of female captives. Though his companions were somewhat put off by his size, the fact that the Chwee said he had much treasure and magic sparked Lokan's imagination. When the scouts returned to camp, they found a foreign priestess named Augusta de Urbino there. Zinovii suspected she was a spy for the vizier, and Alden wanted to kill her, but she recounted her encounter with Anatoly at the main Kochmak camp, and the fact that she knew some details about his early life made Zinovii more apt to trust her. Apparently, she had confessed their erstwhile companion and given him last rites after he was condemned to death by the vizier. Lokan was inclined to take her on, because she healed the injuries he sustained from the Chwee. The following day, the group headed out to explore the approaches to Yaqub's hill. Soon they sighted the vizier's mounted soldiers, hiding underneath the eaves in the gulley surrounding the hill. Lokan and Alden decided to sneak past them in wolfman form, but were discovered, and attacked. Lokan dispatched one rider, and tried to hide from the others, but they rode down his companion, so Lokan howled to drive them off. Agapia arrived just in time to save his friend's life, and then, they looted the fallen soldier, as they discussed how to best get past his comrades. Lokan then called for the party to retreat and regroup, and it was decided that the party should pull back, to draw the soldiers out, so as to find an opening to sneak in. The plan worked, as six riders tried to overwhelm the party, but they were driven back by Alden's howling. Lokan brought one soldier down with his whip, and he was then taken captive. He revealed that they were preventing the party from getting in, but did not know or want to get in themselves, and were actually planning to leave before dark, when the serpent was due to return. After watching the soldiers sailing back toward the city on a raft, the group advanced to Yaqub's hill, and soon discovered a cave, hidden by an illusion that made the entryway look like the hillside. However, they were themselves discovered by slitherings - fat, fiery snakes that crawled out of the cave and gave chase. These were cut down, and then, the party entered the cave, and slew a few more slitherings. There, the party discovered a burnt spot covering an inscription. It contained a riddle that Yuri figured out, and he asked Agapia to hold a torch to the verse, and the stone moved to reveal a spiral staircase in the back of the cave. The party descended to find a long regular passageway that ended in a door. But Lokan failed to warn his companions about possible traps, and when Alden moved to inspect the door, he set off a pendular scythe trap, and an alarm system. Lokan then helped Yuri hold up the scythe after the door opened, so that the rest of the party could run inside. Here, they confronted Yaqub's dogheaded guardians. Lokan made it past the shooters, helped subdue their commander, and helped Yuri fight off the shooters. Subsequently, he interrogated the commander with Augusta's help, but did not manage to get much information from him, although he got badly bitten while trying to bind the commander's muzzle with wire. Subsequently, he investigated a curious moving statue, which he helped destroy, and picked a locked door that concealed a mill mechanism. That mechanism was very reminiscent of the mill back in Vladykino. Roaring from outside the room indicated that a serpent had returned, and ZInovii with his servant Yushko came running past the scythe to rejoin the rest of the group. Under pressure to find another way out, but also interested in finding what secrets the lair concealed, Lokan, after killing the dogheads' commander, decided to try to open the other doors they had found. Behind them, an empty room with a falling panel trap (that nearly killed him and Yuri), a room with an artifice connected to pipes that released a poison gas (that nearly did the same), a room with curious cauldrons attached to barrels of liquid, and a library were discovered. As the roaring died down, the party settled in to rest in the library. The chiming heard nearby in the night were then connected by Agapia and Augusta to the triangular room, which they determined to be a rotating clock mechanism. After rising, Lokan continued to search for secret tunnels, and discovered a panel in the back of the library, which he subsequently opened in the course of moving pieces in a chess set found in the same location. The panel opened, but Lokan was immediately attacked by a small dragonoid that appeared out of nowhere, and poisoned him. He was apparently later joined by two dogheads firing shots from the hallway, but the rest of the party fought him off, and helped resuscitate Lokan. Subsequently, along with Agapia, Lokan descended the stairs toward what smelled like a kitchen. At the bottom of the stairs, they surprised a servant boy who dropped his tray and called for the cook. The cook tried to use magic to freeze Agapia, and took Lokan for a doghead guardian, but objected to his presence in this part of the lair. He escorted the pair back up to the library, and seeing it occupied with enemies, decided to breathe fire on them, and then to fireball them. Though he killed himself in the process, he also nearly burned up Lokan, Alden and Augusta, as well as the library itself. Lokan used his last reserves of strength to struggle to his feat, and then looted the cook's burnt corpse to compensate himself (finding a few coins, and a earring in the process). The party then settled down to recover from their travails. Despite the multiple near-death experiences of the past several days, Lokan started to consider himself lucky. After a rest in the library, Lokan accompanied the rest of the party into the lower part of the lair, where a kitchen, workrooms, servants' quarters, Yaqub's bedchamber and throne room, and quarters from captive women and their children, among whom Yuri's betrothed, Svetlana, was discovered. Lokan helped open or break various locks into these rooms. He then participated in questioning another of Yaqub's sons, Nuri, who was guarding the prisoners. Later, he participated in a confrontation with Nuri, who burnt his bonds in the bath, where he was aided by a bannik. Here, he almost met his demise once again, for Nuri, like his brother Hakim, was a fire-starter. After being healed by Agapia and Augusta, Lokan decided to search the kitchen for oil, in order to grease the rungs of the shaft in the throne room, in case Yaqub chose that way of entering the lair. He sniffed out some cooking oil, as well as several salves, which turned out to be magical palliatives for burns, and applied them to his own damaged skin, as well as that of others. He then prepared the party to confront Yaqub in the fountain room with all the supplies he had acquired in Udyn - the fire resistance salves, and the paralyzing poison. When Yaqub did appear, he helped lead the successful assault, paralyzing the monster in his human form, and then finishing him off in his serpent form, while sustaining only minor burns. He was splashed with the serpent's blood in the course of the battle, however, and developed some sort of magical connection with the beast, despite the latter's demise. Augusta later dissolved the link, but possibly not entirely. After Augusta used her knowledge of artifices and music to decipher the puzzle of the levers and pipes, and opened a portal to Yaqub's treasure chamber, Lokan, and the spirit of Yaqub, were glad at finally finding the hoard. But after another confrontation with the bannik at the pool, Lokan prevailed on the creature to tell them how to lift the enchantment on the captive women, and in exchange for releasing it, the creature told them that they had to throw the treasure into the pool. That was a grave disappointment, but Yuri was insistent that the treasure had blood on it, and tying a rope around the chest with money yielded no results, so reluctantly, Lokan agreed to throw in the chest without the possibility of retrieving it. That did the job, but Lokan made Yuri promise him to accompany him on a treasure hunt after they brought the captives home. After this was done, Lokan worked with her friends to trap the men inside the organ room so as to incapacitate them with poison gas. The vizier then made a deal which involved allowing the party and the prisoners to return to Ladeisk in his ships. After arriving, Lokan met with the local prince, and began to investigate local criminal organizations, which seemed rather small and weak in comparison with the Banu Tabar in Udyn. However, he met with some toughs from among gangs associated with the leatherworkers and dockworkers, who soon revealed to him that a chicken at a nearby village had laid a golden egg. Lokan regathered most of his old companions, and along with two new friends, Vanya and Vasya, traveled to the village of Sitnitsa. He found that the egg was jealously guarded by the chicken's owners, but a local wise woman tried to tempt him and his friends into cracking the egg in order to receive a much greater treasure. Her story sounded like a tall tale to Lokan, but he had decided to try to steal the egg in order to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. Lokan is currently in the village of Sitnitsa. He appears in Chapters 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23.