Wednesday, October 29, 2014

(The Mooshae Islands) Halls of the High King

Music streamed in perfect harmony from the assembled bards. Some of the most renowned minstrels and singers in the Realms had come to perform for King Tristan Kendrick and herald his new Queen. Many of the most powerful lords and family leaders of the Moonshaes had turned out for this joyous celebration. Rich foods were conveniently placed about for the guests as black-tied servants toiled about serving drinks on silver platters and taking orders.

Jerit McCaugh stood beside the plaza’s center north pillar watching the party. He and the rest of the group presented the document they procured from Panthras inviting them to Calladyrr, it was their angle on gaining access to the party; but Shar insisted they not announce their intensions. Deloche and Angelian had serious reservations on using their foreknowledge in setting up a trap for the iron cult and their plans for ambush.




In the moonwell grove outside Aithe, surrounded by clawing cadavers Jerit dove for the fleeing man catching him by his iron-grey cape. Scrambling, the cape tore off causing Mack Snome to lose his balance and fall into the yielding underbrush. The Dernall Forest too was at risk of being tainted just as the moonwell was causing the iron-like undergrowth to slash and rip flesh. Crawling up to Mack, pinning his arms to the ground Jerit looked intensely into the eyes of anti-paladin’s squire searching his soul, defining him.


Around Jerit and Mack groups of undead who had answered the Dark Druid’s call mindlessly attacked every living man and woman in the moonwell grove. This included any Iron clerics of Bane who did not have the chance to hide themselves from the undead before falling victim to the summoned hungry cadavers. Elsewhere in the din of combat, Jerit could hear Harsk cry out in pain- it sounded like a death cry as swarms of crawling skeletal claws overwhelmed the dwarf

Working quickly Jerit bespoke truespeech to name his prisoner, with it came a geometrical form unique for Mack Snome as well as his constellation; Jeirt must know each in detail if he hoped to bind Mack Snome’s spirit.

*******

“My liege, I present to you Lord Danrly and Lady Natalia Bladesemmer from Waterdeep,” a stately gentleman announced, the pristinely groomed man was well practiced in courtly means. Many people turned to see the prestigious Waterdeep couple, Danrly with his wife Natalia who was once head of the Umbrusk House before the godsfall.

“My Queen,” Danrly said going down to one knee, Natalia at his left and just slightly behind repeated the gesture. “As a gift to your union, I bring a suit of mithril platemail for your queen. Made from finest ore of the north and forged by our finest crafters so that the Queen may be protected… when not at your side of course my King.” As he finished he smiled at King Kendrick but offered a wink to the Queen. The magical suit of armor was filigreed with gold and rare crimson silver; it was shaped and contoured for a woman. It was forged to offer protection while not surrendering the queen’s curves and physical beauty under dull bulky plates. This produced laughter but was soon replaced with awes as the suit of armor walked itself to the gift tables, turned and stood still as a statue.



“The cult of Bane causes so much death,” Shar said to no one in particular, first it was Meghan, the merchant, and now Harsk- this had to stop. “So much death.” Shar said again before drawing himself inward in prayer.

“How much longer?” Agenlian asked her words were flat and resolute. “They know we are on the hunt, they will accelerate their plans.”

To this the pact-druid answered. “It takes time to pact with and bind a new spirit. It is said in my early teachings that one must know thy self before one can know, and thus bind, another.” Deloche’s look became grave, “then there is the challenge of binding a hostile spirit…”

They each turned to Jeirt who had painted a binding circle and was sealing the pact.

 *******
  
On a tor outside Callidyyr, hidden by magical darkness Ord stood among Arnivon the anti-paladin, and Halamather, his oldest friend overlooking the People’s Plaza. The People’s Plaza in Calladyrr was surrounded by twenty foot tall marble pillars that held up a grand roof but was otherwise open on all four sides. It was the Queen’s wish that they have the ceremony out where the Ffolk can see and embrace their new queen.

The music was faint but Arnivon could discern the melody the bard’s were playing. “The Rose and the Queen,” the anti-paladin said. “I hate that song.”

“It is because you are tone-deaf Arn now mount up.” Ord said curtly. Ord was under stress as of late, not only was there a team of adventurers fucking everything up but it was impossible to move the time table. The plan was to strike at the wedding, and Ord could not change that. “Leave everything; take only your weapons and armor or your Pegasus may fail to navigate the plaza under the weight.”

Arnivon had never considered this before but then had never tested the black Pegasus under these conditions. It would take an amazing feat of flight as it was, flying in between the pillars and out while he deals a death strike to the King. As the anit-paladin removed his pack and saddle bags Halamather fell deep into spellcasting giving Arnivon and his mount invisibility, swiftness in flight, and deadly precision with the Cauterizer.

“Your legacy will be written today Arnivon, when historians chronicle the Risen Cult of Bane’s dominance of the Moonshae’s, they will say it began this day.” Halamather said. Only you will not be here to enjoy your fame Halamather thought to himself.



  
In Jerit’s mind he walked Mack Snome’s path and shared in his memories in order to completely bind the evil man’s spirit and to gain some insight and benefits for the struggle ahead.

Mack Snome was an aquantance to the new Bane during the godswar during which he rose in power over the course of the year, gained training under Giller Kull and Randal Flagg, murdered Lormo Agundar after which he was recruited by Arnivon a fallen paladin of…Illmater. Fast-forward to the present…

“I have it! I know where they intend to strike next,” Jeirt McCaugh said coming out of his reverie with the spirit of Mack Snome appearing alert and rested. “they intend to kill the King of Alaron!”

*******

Shar Auvryndar was on the wide flat roof of the People’s Plaza magically hidden from view; he was the link
by which everyone could magically communicate with each other. Fifty feet below Shar’s location Jerit McCaugh was present in the plaza amidst the partygoers; Deloche, Dashiell, and Catrina were posing as small Ffolk waiting in the long line of guests; and Agenlian and Cren Tosh were the floaters around the plaza and would respond when and where needed.

He was just about to ask everyone’s status when a clout from the back of the head knocked Shar to the roof surface and dangerously close to the sloped edge. Turning expecting to see an opponent Shar saw none, he waited for the death strike but none came. Then came the screams from below.

*******

Arnivon, mounted on his black Pegasus, swooped in from a low pass over the People’s Plaza to fly through a field of countermagic that caused the Pegasus to revert back to a figurine. The anti-paladin, while surprised, adjusted in a complicated dismount and landed within five steps of the king.

The Queen screamed as guards reacted moving to form a ring around the royal couple. Just then the floor of the plaza began to buckle as black thorny vines wormed out of the ground grapping and pulling everyone as venomous vines begin to slow everyone. Then a fireball explodes destroying all the wedding gifts in a sudden rush of fire and heat, all except one.

Arnivon recovered and came for the king, cauterizer leading the charge. Just as the anti-paladin took his first step several arrows came from different directions, each king's guards men had aimed for a vital organ but each was  harmlessly deflected aside by the anti-paladin’s armor.

*******

Jeirt reached and touched the magic of his pact with the spirit of Mack Snome. He was once a paladin in service to Illmater… It was just the information he needed to address the anti-paladin by his truename.

*******

Shar recovered from the unexpected blow and stepped off the roof. Using his innate magical ability of levitation Shar lowered himself to witness the chaos below. Still invisible Shar watched as the black-tie servants smashed wine bottles and turned their silver trays into shields- iron ring members. Using the jagged points of the bottles the iron ring rogues began to work in deadly precision attacking the king’s guards before they could form a defensive ring around the king.

Deloche, Dashiell, and Catrina immediately called upon their abilities to counter the vines and to fight the iron ring; forty feet from them Agenlian, Cren Tosh and Jerit were slowly closing in on the King’s dias, fighting thought people not all of whom were friendly.

Then Shar saw Cauterizer, the blade held out even and straight.

*******

The King reacted with hereto unknown swiftness and drew his sword in defense against the anti-paladin. Metal ringed out as the two blades clashed but it became more than a clash of weapons and armor- it was also a contest of wills and faith.

*******

From the blackened gift table the Queen’s Armor, a gift from Danrly Bladesemmer, moved toward the Queen- the noble himself gone in the chaos. The armor looked like an attack form but when the gilded armor came into contact with the Queen it disassembled into its component parts and then reassembled itself around the Queen.

*******

Shar sent volleys of magic missiles into the fray careful not to target one of the Ffolk trying to clear a path for…

*******

Jerit could see the king and the anti-paladin fighting, many of the king’s guard were either dead or overwhelmed by iron ring thieves. Violet magic missiles cleared much of the way to the defense of the king but the terrain and general chaos made the distance for Jerit, Cren, and Agenlian seem far indeed.

Another fireball erupts but it’s blast radius was cut short by Agenlian’s strange alchemy. Then a odiferous smoke begins to drift off the black vines blanketing the floor with black wafts of gas.

*******

Jerit could see that even without benefit of a shield the king was matching the anti-paladin strike for strike. However with a shield… Jerit fell back and took Harsk’s shield off Cren Tosh’s back. The half-elf looked at him briefly then understood. Agenlian hastily smashed an oil upon the shield before Jerit hailed the Queen.

“For the King!” Jerit said tossing the shield to the Queen who was close to the King’s fight with the anti-paladin. Jerit was not close enough to employ his truename. 
  
*******

The Queen Regent Cherillyn Kendrick however did not catch Harsk’s shield as much as deflected it at the King. The act caused King Kendrick to unnecessarily block the missile giving the anti-paladin the opening he needed to bring the Cauterizer around in a deadly arc.

*******

“It is done.” Halamather said to Ord. “The king is dead and Cherillyn is Queen of Alaron praise the Iron Hand.”  

*******

A week later Jerit McCaugh, Deloche Silvermane, Dashiell, Catrina Nesher, Agenlian, Cren Tosh, and Shar Auvryndar stood in the court of Cherillyn (Anteos) Kendrick, Lady of Caladyrr, and Queen of Alaron. A week of mourning was observed for the deceased King and as her first decree as Queen Cherillyn named her wedding day as a day of remembrance for the Ffolk who had suffered.

“Please stay. I have need of you in Dultann- the Iron Ring are still a threat...” Queen Cherillyn implored. “The seven of you would be my small council.”

“We cannot.” Shar said evenly. “fate calls us elsewhere.” Behind the drow arcanist the six other’s nodded their agreements. This day had been seen coming.

“Is there anything else I can do to repay your heroics?” The Queen asked.

To this Shar answered. “I hold you to your promise that the sword used to kill the king will be destroyed.”

“You have my word upon my crown.”

But had Meghan heard these words or had Shar began is path of Inquisitor earlier they would have heard these seven words as they were- lies.





2 comments:

Gordzilla said...

Very impressed James, this has been a good read.

James Caruso said...

Thanks! The death of meaghan was meant to be the catalyst for Shar in taking an inquisitor level. :) and the introduction of the Cauterizer, his nemesis