She landed in a weed-strewn knoll, taking Human form and rolling into a crouch behind the cover of a pair of bent birch trees. Sliding her weapon free from its mount on her back, she began to make cautious, scrupulously stealthy progress toward the broken stone wall that separated her from her intended victims. Beyond, knelt in front of the low flames of a modest campfire, was a trio of gnolls engaged in their dinner, all sloppy smacks, noisy gulps, and rank belches.
One of those gnolls, Grash Gnawbone, thought for a moment that he smelled something sweet in the air, and he dropped his bloody horse leg to the ground when he saw the thousands of hairs on his forearm stand up and dance with a sudden static charge. A heartbeat later, a flash of lightning cracked through air overhead and found the campfire, sending burning cinders of splintered wood like deadly shrapnel into the three gnolls. As Grash found his feet, he realized that his two companions lay dead before him, his left arm was torn free at the elbow, and a human female with long, flowing silvery hair dropped down from atop the broken stone wall to land where the campfire once stood.
The gnoll turned to run, but crashed headlong into the chest of an enormous silver dragon! He fell to the cold earth below and spun in crippling fear, clawing with his right arm and left stump to escape the onslaught of the dragon and his human companion. Then, with a sudden jerk, Grash was lifted by his left leg twenty feet into the air, spun so that he could see his reflection in the large, dark eye of the silver dragon.
“You will tell us all you know about the assassination in Imperia, Grash,” the female human said, leaning against the stone wall and crossing her arms. Grash was frozen in fear, and the icy breath of the silver dragon was causing him to shiver even more than he would have if fright had been the only factor.
“Grash knows nothing.”
“Grash lies,” the dragon said, his voice a soft thunder of its own, trembling deeply, as a dam holding back a flood of rage.
“Tell the truth, and you will be spared,” the woman added. “Lie just once more, and I will feed you to my dragon friend.”
Grash trembled as he heard a low, angry rumble from the dragon’s throat. The woman told Grash that Argentum takes a long time eating. “He savors every bite.”
“Grash… Grash knows… something.”
“We thought as much,” Electria said, gesturing for Argentum to drop the gnoll to the ground. As Grash landed, the terror of the moment overwhelmed him, and everything went black…
Three days ago, at the Old Wolf’s Inn
- Haagen Castille arrives at the Old Wolf’s Inn in Ouldengaard, Imperia for his traditional, monthly palaver with Nathan Gellar, Alen Wilder, and Kogatana Sunagi, but is surprised to find, seated at their usual table, The Emerald Knight, Sir Kelvan Oakburne, and Sir Jaregan Dwinley, Commandant of the Imperian Academy of Arms and Haagen’s commanding officer.
- Sir Oakburne passes Haagen a thick, round disc of silver with a faintly glowing crystal embedded at its center. He asks Haagen if he had ever seen the metal disc before, and when he honestly answers ‘no,’ Sir Oakburne reveals that they found the magical device hidden in the topmost drawer of Haagen’s armoire in his quarters at the academy.
- Sir Oakburne informs Haagen that a plot has been discovered, thanks largely to information obtained from Wendell Gates in the Castillands, which implicates the Hellbrood, the cult of witches and warlocks to which Haagen’s father, Baron Elrick Castille, belonged. The plot appears to be to assassinate a member of the royal family during the Grand Tourney that was scheduled to take place a week from then.
- The disk, according to Sir Oakburne, is some sort of a long-distance communication device which may allow the demons that pull the strings of the Hellbrood to take direct control of the minds of those who come into contact with it. Sir Oakburne expected to catch Haagen in a lie regarding the nature of the device or his knowledge of it, and thus be forced to slay the young knight-in-training. Fortunately, for both of men, Haagen was completely innocent.
- Haagen is finally accepted by Sir Oakburne and transferred on the Emerald Knight’s orders to serve as his personal squire. Haagen is now a member of the Emerald Order of Knights. Together, Haagen and Sir Oakburne traveled from the Old Wolf’s Inn to the Farseer’s Tower in Eastgates, where Haagen’s sister Elucia’s quarters were currently being searched for another device like the one they found in Haagen’s room.
Three months ago…
- Electria descends from Draconia to an uncharted island off the western coast of the continent, where she was met by six other dragons. Among the dragons were Argentum and Thoron, the Dragon King. They were gathered together to initiate Electria into the Thranosian Order as a Valkyrie. This was to be Electria’s Proving.
- The first phase of the Proving involved five of the dragons, in human form, forming a circle around Electria (also in human form) and Daggerclaw, a Brass Dragon who Electria had to best in combat while Daggerclaw was in his true form and Electria remained in her human guise. After a difficult fight, Electria used cunning to distract Daggerclaw, sending particles of sand into the air and using her shocking grasp ability to render the sand into droplets of molten glass.
- The second phase of the Proving had Electria in her true form fending off four of the five remaining dragons in their human guises. In the aftermath of her successful Proving, they were gathered at a tavern in Kaselon, where Thoron officially recognized Electria as a Valkyrie of the Thranosian Order. Electria is bestowed the surname Bolten by Thoron.
- Gildwyn the Gold and the Gray Dragon, Onaga, arrived (in human form) to congratulate Electria, but also to get her to travel with them to visit Dragonskull Castle, where the Prophet Inzaeus had begun to have more clarity in his prophecies. Gildwyn explained that an assassination attempt would take place in three months’ time in Imperia, and that within the band of men sent to give chase after the assassin would be the one prophesied to bring about the destruction of Wyrmshadow.
Three days ago, at the Farseer’s Tower
- Kogatana Sunagi and Alen Wilder, sellswords in the employ of Sir Kelvan Oakburne, enter the Farseer’s Tower and seek out the quarters of Elucia Castille. Unwittingly, they discover Elucia in a state of undress, which adds further insult to the fact that Alen had been given orders by the Emerald Knight to search Elucia’s quarters.
- Elucia, in a fit of rage, storms off to find the Headmaster of the Farseer’s Tower, Ozymaris Locke, so that he could prevent Alen and Kogatana from entering her quarters and searching through her belongings. However, when Elucia was turned away by Ozymaris’s personal staff due to his preoccupation with his personal apprentice, Silas Vale, Elucia went on a rant decrying the Farseer’s Tower as ineffectual due to everyone’s obsession with the Headmaster’s favorite student.
- While Alen remained outside in the corridor with Elucia, Kogatana executed the search and found another metal disc just like the one they found in Haagen’s quarters at the Imperian Academy of Arms earlier that day. Alen leaves to find Sir Oakburne while Kogatana prevents anyone from entering Elucia’s quarters. When Alen returns, it is with Sir Oakburne and Haagen Castille, Elucia’s twin brother.
- Sir Kelvan enters Elucia’s quarters and disables the magical device, which Haagen realizes has some sort of protection magic that caused Sir Kelvan a great deal of pain while he approached the metal disc. When Sir Kelvan asks Elucia whether she has ever seen a device like this before, she says ‘yes,’ showing Sir Kelvan a drawing she did of the view of her sister Desire’s sepulcher.
- The sepulcher was a massive metal disc with a large blue gem at its center. Haagen explained that when members of the Castille family died, the disc was magically lifted and the deceased were buried in stone crypts that lay beneath. Sir Kelvan enlists Alen Wilder to take the disabled device south to the Castillands and place it on the grave of Desire Castille. He was to then return to report what happens thereafter.
- Kogatana is told to use his newfound connections in the seedier parts of Imperia to seek out any sign of a local group that may be in collusion with the Hellbrood in their plot to assassinate a member of the royal family during the Grand Tourney…
Two days later, at the Emerald Arena in Ouldengaard, Imperia
- Sir Drogyn Martok and Sir Nathan Gellar are sparring in the practice area of the Emerald Arena when an errant sword strike finds a stone object buried loosely under the soft sandy floor of the arena. Nathan unearths the stone to determine that it had a narrow cleft carved into it, wherein the parts to assemble a special crossbow were hidden and buried. As the two young men wondered aloud about the origins of the weapon, they notice the approach of a young Drao warrior.
- The Drao addresses Nathan by name, informing him that the Drao who was killed by Sir Edal Bauer at the Grand Tourney years earlier was his father, and the Drao girl that Nathan killed (in self defense) was his young sister. The Drao, who never offered his name, questioned Nathan’s honor for having killed a terrified young Drao girl, and he does not believe that it could have been in self defense. He leaves the two men and disappears into the shadows.
- Later, in Sir Oakburne’s chambers, Drogyn learns that the crossbow was an assassin’s weapon, able to fire a quarrel farther and more accurately than any normal crossbow ever could. Sir Oakburne wants Drogyn to forgo his own exhibition match at the Grand Tourney in order to serve as the personal guard of Prince Aren Koslov. He informs Nathan that rumors have spread that the son of the Drao famously slain by Sir Bauer was back in Imperia to challenge Nathan at the Grand Tourney. By order of Emperor Koslov, Sir Gellar would face this unnamed Drao warrior as the Grand Tourney’s finale.
The next morning
- The Princess of Quae Elfien and her entourage arrive unannounced and unexpected at the southern gates of Imperia in the early morning hours. Sir Oakburne has been made aware that Baron Elrick Castille is among the revelers that have accompanied the young Elven princess the long way north to Imperia. He orders that the Emerald Guard don the tabards of the Emperor’s Color Guard and perform parade duty to oversee the official royal greeting in Reignton later that morning.
- Sir Oakburne reveals that his agent, Kogatana Sunagi, discovered a plot to use hidden access points at the Emerald Arena to subvert the security patrols. These plans were written in a letter in Elvish, found in a locked box with a cache of Castilland coinage depicting the profile of Haagen Castille. His meeting with Sir Drogyn is interrupted by Drogyn’s squire, who comes in to inform Sir Oakburne that there is a visitor in the courtyard that demands an audience with him.
- As they make their way to the courtyard, they discover Electria Bolten (whom none of them know) presenting her captured Gnoll, Grash, who ‘has something he wants to tell you…’
The next session of The Duskreign Prophecy will occur on Friday, October 21st at 9:30 PM!