Elsewhere in the Splintered Lands, a certain dragon was entertaining a visitor.

Selena basked on a small plateau in her cave, gleaming from the light pouring in from a hole in the ceiling. The light seemed to make her green scales all the more vivid, as though each scale was an emerald in itself. She scratched an idle design in some settled dust as she spoke to a cloaked figure. Her telepathic voice was a pleasant alto, if slightly stiff. “I understand you have a very important investigation to carry out, but I don’t quite see why you had to come to me about it.”

“Resources, my dear dragon,” the cloaked man said. “I hear you’ve been sponsoring those who can bring you one of Cros’s golems for inspection. I am willing to perform that exchange with you.”

If Selena had eyebrows, one would have arched. The ridge above her right eye did that instead. “That’s well and good, but do you happen to have one of these golems on hand?”

That seemed to catch the man off guard. “Not at this moment. I wanted to make the proposal to you first and see if you were open to the exchange.”

“Fair enough. Still, you do realize that claiming one of these golems is no simple task, don’t you? I’ve sent several people out to secure one for me, and most of them came back empty-handed. Two of them didn’t come back at all. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme.” Selena tapped her claws on the plateau, not bored out of her mind but not fully engaged either.

“Believe me, I know.” The cloaked man shifted his weight, his earlier bravado apparently falling away. “Still, I would like to try and bring you one. I believe that, together, we could crack some of Cros’s code, so to speak.”

“Perhaps we could,” Selena said with a nod. “I’ve noticed that you haven’t asked why I don’t just go out and grab the golems myself. It’s not the most common question, but it comes up when my would-be couriers fail.”

“Because I understand that a dragon can’t just leave their den without drawing some suspicious looks in this day and age,” the cloaked man murmured. “Not that that stops certain dragons from going out and doing it anyway, but I know you use discretion.”

That made Selena arch her eyebrow ridge all over again. “I put up with your charade because I understand wanting to be discrete, but now I wonder. Remove your hood.”

“Fine. I suppose I couldn’t stay mysterious forever.” The cloaked man removed his hood, revealing a pair of golden horns and flecks of golden scales along his face. “Greetings, Aunt Selena. I am Eion, son of Neo.”

That caught Selena off guard for a good second. “Come again?!” She shook her head and exhaled a small puff of smoke as she collected herself. “What has Neo gotten himself into this time?”

“A human.”

“Very funny.” Selena huffed. “Well, I am pleased to finally meet my dear nephew, but I do wish Neo would have told me what he was doing sooner. I suppose I set a precedent for him.”

“You have a Dragonkin daughter, don’t you?” Eion asked. “My father mentioned her briefly, but it didn’t seem that he knew much about her.”

“Indeed. Her name is Ayla. If you would like some leads on where to find Cros’s constructs, you may visit her in Brinmer,” Selena said. “She’s in a position to hear a lot of interesting information. I’m sure you’ll know her when you see her. The resemblance is clear.”

“Hopefully there’s only one red-scaled Dragonkin in Brinmer,” Eion said through a sigh. “Still, thank you, Aunt Selena. I hope I can return to you with good news soon.”