Blades at Dawn

Seeing Them Off
mothers always worry

Syral waited a little while after her son went to his room for the night, then sought out her daughters. They were in their room, already in their nightclothes and talking away in hushed voices she could hear through the door. She knocked to be polite, then opened the door and entered. They went silent almost immediately.

“I need you to do something for me,” Syral said in her best mother voice, standing by the door with her arms crossed loosely under her breasts. The girls glanced at each other and then back to the shifter. “When does the ship leave?”

Amirah at least had the decency to blush. S’Jet stiffened. “What ship?”

“The one you’re helping your brother get. When does it leave?” The girls stared at her in tight-lipped silence and Syral sighed. “Just tell me. You’re not in trouble.”

“We don’t know what you’re talking about,” S’Jet continued, although her voice wasn’t quite as strong as a moment ago.

“I look young, that doesn’t mean I am. I know he’s going to go; I just need to know when.” Her son was too much like her and Miria to sit still and keep to his promise. Syral had been foolish to demand it of him, but she’d been acting foolish quite often lately, it seemed. That still didn’t mean he wouldn’t be in heaps of trouble when he came home.

Amirah sat down on her bed and tugged at her sister’s nightclothes to get her to do the same. S’Jet plopped down. “He asked us not to tell.”

“And we’re the heads of the House now,” S’Jet added, although she didn’t look so much like a head of state as a child wiggling her way out of something. “It’s our decision.”

Syral rubbed at her forehead. “Yes, and if this were a House affair you’d be right. But this is family business, and I’m still one of your mothers and all I want to know is when my son is sneaking away on a ship.”

“But if we tell you,” Amirah continued, “you’ll stop him. And he said he could find Mom.”

“I know.” Syral sat down in the chair near their beds. She wanted nothing more than for Luc to find a way to bring Miria home. If he brought this man back, and he could tell her where to find her mate’s soul, Syral’d be gone in a second. Every lead she’d tried to follow so far had ended in failure; this could very well be their last chance. But the danger was too great, and if she lost her son because of it she didn’t know what she’d do. “I know,” she repeated, sounding tired even to herself.

Silence hung between them, heavy as a curtain, before Amirah leaned in and whispered in her sister’s ear. They muttered a few moments between each other before S’Jet finally spoke up. “In the morning. He leaves in the morning.”

Syral stood and kissed them both on the forehead. They were good girls, if terrible secret-keepers. “Thank you.”

“If you stop him we’ll never speak to you again!” Amirah called after her as she opened the door. Syral glanced back and smiled, then left the room.

-

The early morning breeze blew crisp off the ocean, and Syral stood away from the quay overlooking the loading of the giant man o’ war. Her daughters hadn’t told her which ship Luc was taking, true, but the contingent of marines rather gave the game away. At least they were supplying their brother and his companions with plenty of support.

She kept out of sight easily enough, although her fingers itched for her daggers each time she saw the masked man calling himself Adasunu. Perhaps this man wasn’t really Tex—she could accept that. But she didn’t believe for a second that he wasn’t here using her city and family for some plot of the Magister. Tex demanded she stay out of his life and yet here he was, messing with hers. If anything happens to my son, I will hunt you down and kill you.

Sir D’Orinda’s presence calmed her a bit, though. He’d survived going into the Underdark to bring back Miria’ sword, and though she was sure he had his own reasons for joining in her son’s quest, she was grateful. At least they would have one person with his head on his shoulders. Luc took after his mothers too much, and she’d learned the hard way not to trust Drow.

Shouting echoed across the docks as the final preparations went underway. Sailors climbed through the rigging as others hauled cargo aboard, and marines got themselves out of the way. She stayed in her hiding place until the last of the crew finished loading the supplies, then stepped out to watch the ship depart. Little figures moved back and forth across the deck, too small for her to make out who they might be, but she gave a small wave nonetheless before slinking back into the shadows.

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A Plan Manifests, A Ship is Boarded
Nethri's Story

Adasunu waited outside the Temple of the Raven Queen, pacing back and forth. “Where are they?” he wondered. It was well past eight, the sun already fully in the morning sky. Few people passed by the temple this early, but Adasunu couldn’t risk any chances. Sticking to the shadows, hood still pulled over his distinctive ears, he waited. “Something will have to be done about this,” he thought. “Drastic changes for my Blades are sure to come.”


Luc was up early, eager to get a head-start on the day. Adasunu had asked for a morning meeting to explore options at the Raven Queen’s temple, but he knew the chances lay better in asking the local historians and librarians. “That ego-driven Drow can just wait for me,” rationed Luc. “I’ll just make sure I’m there before midday. Technically it will still be morning.” Splashing water over his face to wake himself up, Luc mentally sifted through the information he had come across. The sword was connected to the Raven Queen, but was actually part of the deceased god, Nethril. The sword trapped or captured souls when it struck them. He needed to know where they could go and figure out a way to get to wherever they went. His mother could help him with that last part.

As he left House D’Urban the town bells rang, signaling eight o’clock. The sun was peaking over the city walls to the east, casting long shadows along the ground before him. A cool morning breeze stirred his cloak as he passed the Guardhouse, Lieutenant D’Ouros already hard at work sorting through the morning assignments. Luc waved as he strode by, drawing a welcoming smile from Bren. “He’s a good and loyal man,” admired Luc, “Well respected, too. Maybe I’ll join the Guard after I find Mother.” A pair of songbirds chirped overhead as he made his way through the city streets towards the library.

“Today is going to be a good day.”


Nethri cracked his back as he slipped out of bed, a gratifying shudder rippling through his body. Craning his neck, stretching the muscles into compliance, he lumbered over to his dresser. Pulling out his robes, he pulled them over his night clothes, tying them off with the satin belt. One last pop of his back sounded with a quick jerky motion.

“There we go,” said the Dwarf with a sigh.

He entered his dining area to the smell of grilled bacon and Meiri’s scramble – a mixture of pheasant eggs with diced ham and sausage, fried together with fresh peppers and onions from the morning market. A hint of garlic to be discerned, which told Nethri one thing – Meiri was in a good mood. Her cooking was always a reflection of her moods; the better they were the more spices and flavor made it into her meals. Luckily for Sir Nethri, she wasn’t prone to bouts of sadness.

“Splendid breakfast, Meiri! Will you stay and join me this morning?”

Meiri poked her head out through the kitchen entry, her face aglow. “’fraid not this morning, Sir Nethri. I have much to do, and your clothes won’t wash themselves! So much earth cakes into that fabric. You did enjoy yourself quite well, didn’t you?”

There was a teasing reprimand in the older maid’s voice, which caused Nethri to chuckle. “Ay, that I did, that I did. Well then, I will not keep you.” Meiri bowed quickly before returning to her duties. Nethri picked up a fork and plunged it into the egg scramble and began shoveling the delicious morsel into his mouth. Specs of food fell and littered his beard, adding to the childlike immaturity of eating that Dwarves are infamously known for. Not that anyone every said so much about it in the presence of one. Unless you wanted a thorough beating.


The town bell chimed in the distance as Nethri approached the steps of the temple, the tenth and final ring echoing through the streets. Adasunu emerged from the shadows of a nearby building, striding confidently up to the Dwarf.

“You’re rather late for a morning meeting, Sir Dwarf,” said Adasunu dismissively. “Can’t be helped, I guess, with those legs of yours. Now, if you will just go inside and get what we need…”

Nethri ignored the racial comment, mostly because he was ignoring the Drow. Glancing around, he asked, “Where’s Luc?”

“…stay and wait for him. Hmmm? Oh, who knows, you Lencians seem to share a lot in common,” batting away the question with his hand. “So, if you’ll be heading in. We are pressed for time, you know?”

“Not without Luc,” Nethri said, forcing a short, cold laugh. “You are aware that I am not a disciple of…her. They won’t let me near anything of importance in there.”

“Foolishness! You are of the Houses. Certainly your can use your substantial influence to get what needs to be gotten.”

“Aye, that I am. But I don’t get a particularly warm feeling-” Nethri stopped short in his sentence, looking past the Drow. Coming from the north was the young D’Urban, looking like he was in no particular hurry. “Aye, Luc! Glad ta see you here.” Turning back to Adasunu, Nethri beamed, “Now we can head in – together – like companions should.”


The interior of the temple mirrored what Nethri imagined the realm of the Raven Queen would always be – dark, desolate, essentially empty, and not very inviting. He closed his eyes quickly and thanked Dumathoin for his blessing; Nethri couldn’t imagine having been blessed by her. As they entered, the door clanged behind them. Startled, they spun quickly, Nethri’s hand reaching to the Dawn Rune on the front of his armor. Before them stood a man, a priest by the looks of it, who greeted them cordially. He exchanged a few words with the Drow as Nethri concentrated as the sparse number of people inside. Aside from the priest, there were only four others. “Might as well ask.”

Nethri approached a man sitting alone, near the entrance, who seemed to be silently praying. Getting closer, Nethri understood why he was alone; the man reeked of feces and urine, a foul-smell that enhanced the tattered heap of a being that was before him. Clapping the man on the shoulder, Nethri engaged him in conversation. “What is it you ask for?”

“For deliverance from this horrid world.”

Taken aback by the morbid answer, Nethri tried to perk the man’s attitude. “Surely your life is not as bad as it seems. What troubles you?”

“Everything.”

Standing up, a whiff of the man’s stench knocks Nethri back, causing bile to rise in his throat. What Nethri saw caused him to stagger back again. Where there were supposed to be eyes, empty, vacant holes stared back. “Oh, um, well…” Nethri paused and recollected himself, “…would you happen to know where the temple library is?”

A pitiful moan escaped the man’s throat. “Why would I care where that is?”

“I, uh, dunno. Maybe historical references and maps interest you?” Nethri replied, slightly befuddled.

The man’s head dropped in his hands. “Why am I tormented so? Please, just end the pain!” Sobbing quickly followed as he slumped back into the pew.

Unsure of what to do, Nethri hesitated a moment before turning from the man. “I should just leave. There are no answers here.” He was quickly joined by Luc who had been examining the walls around the perimeter of the interior. “Find anything, D’Urban?”

Luc shook his head as they headed to the front door. Apparently both of them came up empty-handed. Just before they reached the threshold Adasunu appeared at their side, though he seemed distracted. Luc and Nethri didn’t seem to mind.

Once outside, Adasunu asked if they had found anything, to which they both replied they hadn’t. His own suggestion stymied, the Drow started issuing orders again. Nethri sighed and took a step back; the sense about Luc was evident.

“…and once we locate some adequate supplies we should be able to…“

Coolly, definitively holding his temperature in check, Luc addressed the orders of Adasunu, “I’ll have you know that I’ve already taken action to learn about the Raven Queen’s domain. If you’ll just accompany me to the library –“

“…board a ship and be on our way.” Adasunu paused briefly. “Now, what would a library know about such things? Just do what I tell you and we’ll get this taken care of. Besides, you don’t have time to dally on such things.” The berating felt similar to that of a mother and her think-headed child. Nethri took another step back.

“I’m not sure why you’re here exactly, Adasunu,” replied Luc, through gritted teeth, “nor why you’re a part of the Blades?”

“Well,” the Drow admonished, “there has always been a member of the LFD in the Blades. And seeing as how Stormlit isn’t here right now, that duty falls to me. Besides, what would you do without me? You need someone to help you along.”

Luc’s temper was boiling close to its limit. ”There are no more Blades. They’re all gone. Kalleron, Kaela, Katryol, Stormlit – they’re all gone! Gone, not here, it’s just me, there are no more Blades!”

“Don’t be silly. You’re here, I’m here, Sir Nethri is here. We’ll do well as long as you listen-“

“Whoa, don’t bring me inta this,” stammered Nethri.

“Who put you in charge?! What makes you think this is your problem?!” shouted Luc, completely lost in a rage. “What makes you think you know everything?”

Adasunu stood stoically at Luc. “I am here to help you. You are too young and quick tempered. And you are not decisive. Leader’s need to be constantly relied upon. You run back to your mother’s skirt at the first sign of trouble. You do not trust yourself enough to be a leader.”

“And you are too arrogant to be one,” chimed Nethri.

The Drow turned upon the Dwarf, but said nothing. Nethri simply looked on, with a slight shrug.

“Ok, Luc, I will take the Dwarf and retrieve your documents from the library. Can you use your influence to secure transport for us? We will meet at the docks in two hours to leave on the afternoon.” Nethri gave Luc a slight nod. Luc, still fuming, closed his eyes and inhaled deeply before slowly exhaling. His shoulders relaxed and he lifted his head up, staring at Adasunu.

“Fine.” With that, Luc returned to the Houses, hoping his family could assist in the matters of transport.

“Come, Sir Nethri, if you care to learn about where we are heading. If that is of interest to you?”

With a grunt, Nethri followed Adasunu to the library.


Syral Confrontation


The docks were bustling, with sailors and Marines scurrying about like ants. The massive vessel, The Avenger, dominated the harbor. An enormous warship, House D’Urban had apparently spared no expense for you Luc’s journey. But the chaos unsettled Nethri, the efficiency of the locale abysmal. Men ran around, barking orders at one another, curses flying in response. Crates were being hoisted up with a jumble of ropes and pulleys. Planks bowed under the weight of men moving ballistae onto the decks as the tethered sails cracked in the sea breeze atop the wooden masts. Nethri sat back and took in the sight, impressed that no one was killed beneath a crate. While standing there a familiar voice found him. Turning, a Rogue bounded before him, waving his hand wildly. Sir D’Eirene greeted his former companion and informed him that he would be assigned to the voyage. After some casual catch-up, and a brief inquiry about Maaya D’Ulrich, he bounded off, leaving the Dwarf as he was. “What a peculiar fellow.”

The Captain bellowed and the crew rushed up the planks. Nethri grabbed his shield and slung it over his shoulder before picking up his craghammer. Reaching the upper deck of the ship, the scene became a compact version of the docks. It was the same number of people bustling about, just in a tenth of the size area. Nethri groaned and headed to the lodgings. Inside was just as impressive with wide corridors and roomy sleeping quarters. Dropping off his ancillary gear, he headed back topside just in time for the departure.

Moving out of the harbor and into the wide ocean waters, the ship took off, accelerating casually as the winds picked up. As they moved further and further from Lencia, the ship continued to accelerate, to the point where it felt like the vessel was flying above the waters. The unnatural speed with what he was traveling upset Nethri’s stomach and he had to hurry to the railings to pay his respects.


After a few hours had passed, Nethri became accustomed to the speed at which he was traveling, as did most of the sailors and Marines. A rush of wind passed over his barren scalp, making him glad he routinely shaved his head. Some of the longer haired men ate as much hair as they had breakfast. “Troublesome thing, hair,” thought the Dwarf.

The journey became almost relaxing as the crew established a routine. Adasunu was busy observing the Wizards and their propulsion ritual, and Luc was tending to the tomes from the library. Things were calm.

“Somet’in’ on da aft, ’proachin’ fast!”

The warning bell signaled from the crow’s nest atop the mast. Sailors jumped into action immediately, as the Captain issued more orders. “Increase the speed! Wizards, put s’more wind in those sails!” Two of the Wizards stood up to join their cohort. Grabbing the rail in front of them with one hand, they raised their other toward the mail sail. It stretched as the riggings groaned under the strain. The ship jolted and picked up speed.

“No good, Captain! She’s still gainin’!”

Another order and another Wizard joined. The sail stretched further out beneath the addition of more magical energy. The vessel lurched once more, but still they were gained on. Another Wizard, then another, and another until the ship was racing along at fifty knots. Sailors and Marines alike grabbed a hold of anything to make sure they did not fly off the deck. But still they were gained upon.

“Brace fer impact!”

The warning came too late as four massive tentacles rose out of the sea and wrapped about the ship. The ship crashed back into the water as it had begun hydroplaning at forty knots. The sudden stop had thrown most of the crew to the ground, sprawled in all manners of unmanly positions. From the starboard side aft, a gushing of water and clacking of jaws could be heard. Nethri looked on in horror as the head of a giant kraken emerged above the upper deck, the peak of its mantle reaching the highest point of The Avenger’s main mast. Crew leapt out of the way as its arms crashed down upon the deck, causing panic and havoc.

Nethri stood up and steadied himself. Removing his shield and unsheathing his craghammer he hesitated at the sight. Grown, battle-hardened men, screamed like helpless women, scurrying about like ants who just had their home smashed. “Useless, good-for-nothings!” Nethri bee-lined for the tentacle closest to him, his battle-plan formulating with each step. “Take out the tentacles if you can, but work to the head; that’s where damaging it will be the most effective.” Just as he reached the first tentacle though, it slid away from the ship. Behind him, he heard Adasunu shout.

“You’re welcome!”

“Damn incompetent ‘lock!” screamed Nethri, watching his prey slide further down the boat and out of his reach. “What’d you think you’re doing!?” But the yelling fell on deaf ears, Adasunu already casting spells at another tentacle. “By Dumathoin’s hand, I can’t even yell at the bugger.” Infuriated, Nethri stormed across the deck to a tentacle on the starboard side, frustrated at his escaping prey.

Luc was closer to the aft, keeping another tentacle at bay, while Marines manned the ballistae and fired at the creature. Aiming proved futile though as the ship rocked and heaved under the will of the kraken. The tentacle Luc was fighting seemed to be toying with him, teasing him closer and closer to the edge of the ship. His feet slipped and he had to concentrate fully on maintaining his balance to save himself from being hurled overboard.

Nethri reared back and brought down his craghammer with a massive amount of force, just as the ship lurched. The weapon passed through air and shattered the rail of the deck. “Damn ship’ll go under if we don’t get this thing offa us.” Catching his balance, the Dwarf raised his shield against the slimy tentacle. The blow sent him sliding back, but no damage was done. “Damn, that was close!” Nethri, trigger his Dawn Rune on his breastplate, surrounding himself with an aura of power. Suddenly the tentacle shot up, black smoke trickling off of its surface; Adasunu’s spell had struck.

“That’s twice, Sir Nethri. Are you sure you’ve fought before?”

“So help me, if this kraken doesn’t kill you, I will!” The Runepriest swung again at the meaty part of the tentacle, his gemmed craghammer biting into the soft, squishy flesh. The kraken clacked loudly from the aft, clearly disapproving the strike. The tentacle came crashing down on the hull of the ship and Nethri dodged, rolling out of the way, making his way closer to the rear of the vessel. As he sprung to his feet, he heard the swoosh of ballistae flying through the air. The sound they made as they settled into the spongy flesh of the tentacle was similar to the sound a child made slurping up the juices of a peach. The kraken clacked again, withdrawing wounded limb back into the water. “Three more to go.”

Surveying the chaos on deck, Nethri was stunned he could not locate Luc. Glancing all along the upper deck, from port side to starboard, there was no Fighter, no swords capturing the sunlight, no glint of armor basking in the melee. Then he heard Luc’s voice, yelling at the beast, but it seemed far away. Tracking the sound, Nethri found him, struggling against the same tentacle he had been keeping at bay, hovering twenty feet above the ship’s deck.

“Again?!” exclaimed Luc, “Why am I always grabbed by things?!” He quickly sheathed his shortsword, freeing a hand to grab the riggings. With his longsword, he struck at the beast, repeatedly plunging the blade deep into the tentacle. The kraken, unfortunately, seemed to be alright with this arrangement.

Adasunu weaved another spell and sent it upon the kraken, striking it where a gaping wound had been carved by Luc’s ferocious strikes. Luc cried out in astonishment, “What are you doing?! I’m right here!”

“You can thank me later!”

The kraken clacked louder, making almost a high-pitched whine, before striking the ship a heavy blow. The ship tilted hard to the left, throwing sailors through the air. Adasunu teleported toward the central mast to brace against lurch of the ship. Nethri moved himself over to the port side where a few of the Marines had managed to tie down a tentacle. The Dwarf’s eyes widened at the prospect of pain he was going to inflict. As he readied his strike, the tentacle broke free of its bindings and wrapped around Nethri, who immediately lowered his stance. “Not today, beast!” The Dwarf matched the pull of the kraken and stood his ground. In the proximity of the kraken now, Nethri bashed with his craghammer, causing the clacks to increase. “Well, this is convenient!” As he continued to pummel the tentacle, the Marines finally managed to hit the head of the kraken with the ballistae, sending a quiver through the creature that Nethri wish he hadn’t felt. Then, without warning, the tentacle unlatched and moved further down the aft, over of the Dwarf’s reach. “What the…?”

“That’s three!” shouted Adasunu.

Not wanting to waste a moment on thanks, Nethri ran toward Luc. The Fighter was starting to lose consciousness and had already lost one of his swords to the frothy sea below. Closing his eyes, Nethri searched for Adasunu’s vitality. Finding it, he increased his concentration.

“Sacrifice.”

Withdrawing a small portion of the Drow’s life force, he shifted it toward Luc, careful to direct the flow into him rather than the kraken. The transfer complete, Luc’s eyes slowly opened. He was about to say something when he suddenly was dropped beneath the crest of the ship. The tentacle, now free of an object, went after Adasunu. The Warlock teleported away just as the limb would have grabbed him. Landing safely, he focused on the nearest visible part of the kraken and slung a spell at it. The beast clacked again as it pulled the tentacle back into the safe confines of the sea.

“Two down. We might win this!” Nethri, reinvigorated, ran to the edge of the ship to check on Luc. Luckily, he was treading water. Unluckily, the kraken wanted him back. The Dwarf quickly cracked the diamond in his cincture and sent the opaque mist in Luc’s direction. “Make it…make it.” Luc inhaled the mist a second before the tentacle wrapped around him and pulled him back in the air. Satisfied, Nethri turned to Adasunu to monitor his life force. As he was about to sense it, the Drow disappeared, teleporting again right toward him. Startled, Nethri waited for him to reappear, but heard nothing but a splash behind him. Looking back into the seawater, the Dwarf saw the Warlock, floating precariously close to the kraken. “Damn thing doesn’t even know how to use his power! What kind of fool teleports off a ship?!”


Adasunu knew the kraken sensed his presence in the water. He also knew he didn’t have much time. Thinking quickly, he conjured a shadow as the tentacle came crashing down upon him. As Nethri looked on in horror, the Drow disappeared beneath an explosion of blue, frothy water.

“Ah, solid footing. Much better.” Turning around Nethri saw the Drow on the other side of the ship, a grin evident even through his masked face. “I’ll say, that was pretty ingenious, even for me!” Nethri stood, mouth agape, as the Warlock brushed some pellets of water from his soaked robes. “Now, now, Sir Nethri, gawking won’t get anything done. Let’s be rid of this beast and be on our way.”

Nethri stood there a moment trying to comprehend what he just witnessed. Surely the Drow was lying in the sea, perhaps even stuck to one of the tentacles. But instead, he was walking over the deck as though nothing happened at all, weaving a symbol in the air so nonchalantly that Nethri began to doubt that he even saw him in the water. If it wasn’t for the water dripping from his robes, he was pretty sure he could convince himself otherwise.


Refocusing on the battle at hand, Nethri spun back toward the tentacle grasping Luc and struck with his craghammer. The tentacle writhed out of the way, and thrust Luc into the path of the blow, forcing Nethri to adjust and abandon his strike. “I can’t do anything as long as Luc is in the way.” But Adasunu could. Another spell shot out from the Warlock’s hands as the kraken clacked again. Nethri, sensing his usefulness dwindle at the fight with the tentacle, reassessed his position. He was close enough now to the kraken’s head, which still loomed over the aft of the ship. Luc was still thrashing in the tentacle and Nethri, sent a stream of vitality to sustain his life force.

The Dwarf rushed to the kraken’s head and brought his weapon just below the right eye of the beast. Clacking sounds rang out beneath Nethri as the creature circled from the starboard aft to the port aft, dodging the Marines ballistae attacks and proving troublesome in its pursuit. Nethri leapt across fallen cargo and dodged a barrel as the kraken clacked again, the tentacle to Nethri’s right sinking back into the ocean. “One more and then we’re done with this foolishness.” As he prepared to engage the monster an impish creature bounded up next to him, taking a place alongside the rail.

“A friend to help you out!” shouted Adasunu.

“I’m going to kill him…,” muttered Nethri, well beneath his breath.

The captain of the Marines was still barking orders, encouraging his men to continue the assault. Another bolt from the ballistae hit its mark, causing the kraken to shudder. The clacking sounds started to slow and grow fainter, as were the movements of the monster.

Off the starboard side, Luc could be seen being picked up and dropped constantly into the sea, each blow to the kraken seeming to release the unfortunate fighter, but the great beast refused to let him escape to the safety of the ship. Nethri struck repeatedly with his weapon, a brownish-green ooze expelling from the gashes in the mantle. Behind him was Adasunu, continuing to berate the kraken with spells. “Gotta admit, we made a good tandem,” thought Nethri.

Luc fought back from the brink of death in the kraken’s grip, showering the last tentacle with blow after furious blow, ooze jettisoning everywhere. The tentacle squeezed tighter and Luc knew he wouldn’t have more than one strike left in him. “Better make it count,” thought the Fighter. With the last of his strength, he hurled his sword towards the Kraken’s head, aiming for a wound newly opened by Adasunu.

The kraken reared and let out a low bellow before it started to sink. Tips of its tentacles pierced the surface of the water only to fall harmlessly back into the sea. Nethri, recognizing what was happening, rushed to the side of the ship Luc was on and spotted the young D’Urban floating, face down, near the hull. Quickly drawing on some of his life force, Nethri pushed it on Luc’s floating body. A second passed before his arms flailed wildly trying to keep him afloat. Grabbing some snapped rigging rope, Nethri lowered it down to Luc.

“Hurry up an’ grab it, lest you be taken under with the kraken!”

Willing his fingers to tighten, Luc managed to take hold of the rope and secure himself. With a strained effort, Nethri managed to hoist Luc up and over the railing, where they both collapsed on the deck, breathing heavily. Around them, sailors were already taking note of the damage and issuing repair team to various spots around the ship. Nethri opened his eyes at the sound of water-logged leather boots approaching.

“Well, that was fun. Now, if you two will stop lying down on the job, we Blades have a town to reach.” A sword clanged to the deck beside them. “Oh, and you dropped this.” With that, Adasunu spun on his heel and walked off.

“I’m gonna kill him.”

Nethri nodded in agreement.

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First Impressions
Nethri's Journal

My tail of Luc didn’t quite go as smooth as I would have liked. The foolish boy got himself into a bit of trouble down in the Slums. That wouldn’t have been so bad, except for what followed…

A strange man, a Drow Warlock it turned out, was waiting for him there. Whether Luc was meeting him or not, I do not know, but my suspicions are high on the lot. The Drow, Adasunu is his name, strikes me as powerful, vastly intelligent, but arrogant as a leathered ol’ smith. Haven’t seen that much pompousness since Rynehorn tried to talk his way into a seat. Clouded judgment or lack of clarity or lacking people skills; I don’t care what the excuse may be.

The worry though, would have passed, but the blasted Drow kept hinting at an on-coming battle, and sure enough, when we stepped outside, he gets accused and we get sucked in. The bastard clearly pissed off someone, and now we have to pay. And, to top it off, he kept running away! He doesn’t even fight! He just wiggles his fingers and disappears. Coward.

After Luc killed the beast attacking us (and I might fine strike he lay down!), this Adasunu feller started barking orders at the poor lad. By my beard, it was painful to watch D’Urban suddenly being ordered around like a basset hound. Well, I felt a twinge somewhere for him, I’m sure.

We decided to seek out some information about the RQ tomorrow. Great, huh? I’ve always wanted to see the inside of her place… It’ll be like walking through a dark nothingness with no hope of salvation. At least I imagine so. Meeting sometime on the ‘morrow. Don’t know what time, our fearless leader never said. But I won’t push myself too hard to find out.

Better he wait and stew.

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Season 2: 2
Kraken

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Season 2: 1
Draegloth

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Bar Fights and Hidden Faces
Nethri's Story

Nethri looked on as the young man left the comforts of the Highborn estates. Pulling his cloak tighter over his armor, the Dwarf waited for man to round the first bend of buildings before heading out himself.

“Heading out, Sir D’Orinda?” Lieutenant Bren D’Ouros was on duty this afternoon at the Guardhouse entrances that linked the Highborn estates to the rest of Lencia. A fidgety man with sunken eyes and a balding scalp rarely saw trouble on the southern gate, for which he was both happy and bored. He had not excelled in matters of trade, as his brothers had, and found greater glory in the prospect of captaining the Guard. He had worked swiftly through the ranks, earning Lieutenant four weeks shy of his twenty-seventh birthday. He was respected for his uncanny attention to detail, and it was this detail that Nethri was relying on.

As Nethri continued to approach the gate the Highborn Lieutenant straightened even higher, trying to look as dignified as he felt. As the Dwarf passed, Bren added, while nodding nonchalantly, “Take care in the streets, Sir D’Orinda. Rumors stir that there is unrest in the slums. Sir D’Urban just left to attend to the disruption there. He’s a good boy, that one.”

“Ay, he is. Thank you for the warning, but do not worry; my business takes me elsewhere.” With a curt nod of the head, Nethri strode out into the streets of Lencia. Making sure to disassociate himself from the young man’s destination, he circled around a different direction than Luc. Then, once out of the sight of the officer’s quarters, he quickly hastened around the buildings heading toward the slums. “Knowing where he is headed will make this quite easier,” thought the Dwarf. “And knowing the hot-headed D’Urban, he’ll head right to the source.”

It didn’t take Nethri long to reach the slums. Situated just east of the docks, the slums provided a locale where sailors could spend their free time once their ships put in. Full of malcontent and dubious characters, the slums policed themselves, though on occasion, their problems would overflow into the main thoroughfares of Lencia. Any riot in the city‘s history almost always originated due to some discourse in the slums. It was like a festering wound on the pristine face of Lencia. Not that any city was truly above having a lower class.

Keeping to himself, Nethri passed numerous taverns and bars, though at midday, most were quiet. As he passed broken windows and creaky signs, a flash of steel caught sunlight, pulling Nethri’s attention to a small alleyway. “Only one person around here is foolish enough to brandish his weapon in daylight, sheathed or not.” An exasperated sigh escaped from Nethri’s lips. “Are all the youth of the Houses this naïve?” Hurrying to the corner of the building, he peered around just in time to see Luc enter a rather dismal establishment. The sign announcing the name had been removed, leaving two rusted chains hanging lifelessly in the air. A combination of vomit and urine hung in the air, mixing in with the salt from the ocean. Sliding to the nearest window, Nethri spotted Luc taking a seat at the bar, between a particularly rude-looking man. “This should be interesting.”

It was not long before trouble had been made for Luc. His mannerisms didn’t quite mesh with the locals, and he stuck out regardless of what he tried to do. The patrons in the bar picked up on this immediately and gave him the cold shoulder, with which he was fine. Unfortunately, not all of them left him alone, and he was incredibly unlucky to choose to sit next to the one who wouldn’t. Luc’s reluctance to adhere to the local flavor had earned him a bit of disdain from the man to his left, enough to the point where he purposely spat on his traveling cloak. Repeatedly. Luc’s temper had lessened due to his meditation practice, but the brashness and gall of the man had pushed him to his limits. With a stern voice, Luc asked the man to desist in his action, prompting a crude laugh.

“Wha’re you gonna do, boy?” replied the man, his arrogance shining brightly on his face. With that, he spit a wad of tobacco on the front of Luc’s cloak in the ultimate sign of defiance. Luc had had enough, and with a quick movement, hit the vagrant square in the face with the hilt of his sword and returned it to its sheath. The man fell forward, crashing onto the surface of the bar, sending a few mugs to the floor where they shattered on impact. Immediately stools could be heard scrapping against the wooden planks of the floor as everyone in the room stood up. Luc turned around, eyeing the crowd, not making a move. Behind him, he could hear snickering, followed by the sound of spit, which landed promptly on his boots.

“That’s it! C’mere!” raged Luc, and he wheeled, grabbing the two men by their shoulders and crashing their heads together. A sickening thud was heard, but it was drowned in the roar of the crowd. People lunged at Luc, swinging wildly with their fists, glad for action. D’Urban took the blows with ease, misguiding and sidestepping nearly every man who attempted to engage. So thrilled with the prospect of battle he did not notice the Dwarf enter the room. So excited after throwing a man through a window he did not sense the Dwarf standing next to him. Not until the aura overtook him, coupled with the crash of the craghammer on the floor, did Luc notice Sir Nethri D’Orinda.

Nethri stood before the crowd in the bar, power emanating from his powerful body. His mighty craghammer, adorned with runes and gems, rested in front of him, the Dwarf’s hands grasping the handle. He stood, resolute, and was an intimidating sight. Sheepishly, Luc dropped the man he was holding, who quickly scurried away, like a roach when candlelight caught it. Luc bowed his head, embarrassed. Nethri’s gaze fell over the patrons of the bar, and they understood his silent meaning, quickly making for the exit. The owner even took refuge in the backroom, leaving only young Luc to face the Dwarf’s wrath alone. Or nearly. In the back end of the room, standing at a table tucked away in a dark corner, was a masked and hooded figure.

The figure addressed Luc, motioning him over. Nethri, suspicious of the intentions, maneuvered his way around the barroom, sampling the drinks left behind. As Luc and the figure conversed, Nethri listened closely to the muffled voice. The speech sounded male, with a hint of Elvish tongue, though he couldn’t be sure through the mask. “Why the secrecy of his face?” thought the Dwarf. He continued to browse the drinks, continuing to move closer to the man, eventually standing between him and the young D’Urban.


The man’s name was Adasunu, and he was a friend of a companion of Luc’s, associated through the organization, LFD. Luc didn’t take this information too kindly, and the abruptness with how this man treated D’Urban didn’t help. In fact, the arrogance of the masked man left a sour taste in Nethri’s mouth. Wanting to learn more about him, Nethri concentrated on the man’s soul, hoping to glean a bit of information about his intentions, alignment, and motives. Upon doing so, a strange, almost unwelcome feeling overcame Nethri; like he was being judged in the same manner.


Adasunu tried to be friendly with the Dwarf, allowing him to assess his character like those religious zealots so often do. He even tried to strike up a conversation, but was met with a series of stern, unemotional, “Aye’s”. Clearly the old pincher didn’t trust him. That was not his worry, however, for he had come for the friend of the LFD. Eager to begin their journey together, Adasunu allowed the grumpy Dwarf to accompany his new group so long as his stubby little legs would allow him. Fortunately, he was armed and appeared battle-hardened, something that would come in handy quite soon. He could feel the approaching kinsman and knew the scent-finder would easily track him hear. The only question that remained was to fight or flee.


The purpose of the formation of the group was simple in Luc’s mind. Gather a party of able fighters and seek a way to restore his Lady mother, Miria. The Raven’s Tooth was essential to this, though he did not know how. Nethri was along for his intellect and knowledge regarding the artifact. Adasunu apparently had connections to his mother and her companions, making him a potentially comforting source for the man’s troubled thoughts. At least, that is how Luc hoped it would work.


As the three stepped out into the fading daylight, Nethri noticed a brown rat with white splotches of fur, scurry past. The aura of the rat was too strong for its species, and Nethri felt a pull of magical energies surrounding it. “That is not like anything I have seen in the streets before…” thought the Dwarf. With the constant implications of battle given off by Adasunu, Nethri let his instincts take over, removing his shield and spinning on his heel. “There is no one around. This would be an ideal time for an ambush.”

As if on cue, a figure approached them. Her skin was a dark hue of purple and her features smooth, almost ageless. Nethri’s teeth grinded and his lip curled as she approached. “Drow!” he thought. Her demeanor was accusatory though, and her ill-temper wrath was directed at one person among them – Adasunu. Calling him a ‘traitor’ and a ‘renegade’, among other, less flattering things, she traced an arcane symbol on the ground with her foot while simultaneously unsheathing her weapon.

That’s when Luc emerged from behind Adasunu. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Ah, the young D’Urban is saving me the trouble of infiltrating his House! How unexpected. Lolth will be pleased to know I’ve captured you too.”

The mention of Lolth infuriated Luc and he leapt into action, moving quickly to the woman, brandishing his swords.

“Careful, you fool, she isn’t alone!” screamed Nethri. He braced his shield for an expected pincer attack, but it never came. Luc charged head in to the woman, blades flying in the setting sun. Nethri sent out another aura of protection just as Luc reached the woman.

She grinned at the enraged Luc before calmly posing a question as she deflected his blows. “What’s that old saying, ‘You can catch a fly with honey.’? Well, I prefer a draegloth’s web!”

Loud rapping could be heard over the wooden shingles of the tavern, creating a dangerously synced harmony. Nethri looked up, shield raised, as an enormous draegloth crested over the roof. Its two large claws clicked and clacked in unison, as its head twitched from each morsel of prospective prey. Its head craned to the side before it leapt to the ground, landing alongside the Dwarf.

“Dumathoin, guide me.” The impact of the massive claw echoed off of Nethri’s shield, the tear of bone on iron screeching in his ears. As the draegloth pulled back its arm for another powerful swing, Nethri passed his hand over the gem on his breastplate, sending out a third protection aura. “I must keep the aura going as long as I can, or we won’t survive the night.” Another heavy blow pushed the Dwarf back and he spread his feet to secure his base. Shifting his weight to his back leg, Nethri swung his craghammer in a wide arc, figuring the greater range on contact was worth the lessened damage. The draegloth turned away the strike with relative ease. Risking a glance over to Luc, he saw the warrior trading blows with the Drow. Adasunu had retreated across the ally and was weaving signs of his own in the air. “Hmph, a magic-user.” Suddenly Adasunu’s arms shot forward as if projecting an unseen force and the Drow bent over in pain. Nethri closed his eyes on focused on the Drow’s energy. “No damage, but…a curse?! The magic-user is a Warlock?!” The reading cost the Runepriest though, as claws raked across his exposed forearm. Twisting away from draegloth, Nethri focused on Adasunu, seeking out a piece of his vitality. Finding it, he latched on.

“Sacrifice.”

The Runepriest sent out a wave of power, encompassing the three companions. He felt strength return to his body and the flow of blood from his forearm became staunched.

The Drow had now moved away from Luc, sliding enticingly close to Nethri. The draegloth, likely on a silent command from the Drow, abandoned its pursuit of the Dwarf and headed toward Adasunu. Realizing the tactician was likely the Drow, Nethri opted to bring her down first, hoping that once the head was severed, the body would follow. As he neared the woman, a wisp of black shot out of her and passed him. She then smiled as he heard a faint popping sound behind him. Suddenly darkness, deeper than onyx, fell around Nethri, a darkness his eyes could not adjust too. Caution came next as he maintained the aura and retreated from the woman’s last know position. After a few steps, the darkness broke, the soft patting of the Drow’s boots telling him she was still within. Luc soon emerged as well, scrambling from the dense black cloud.

As soon as he was out, he became wrapped in a thinly-threaded sticky substance, expelled from the draegloth. With simplistic ease, the creature yanked Luc off his feet, dragging him across the ground, pulling the exasperated Fighter to its side. Luc struggled against the thin, membrane-like substance to no avail. Two quick strikes left Luc managed to cut himself out of the threading with his good sword arm and hobbled away, gripping his limp, right arm.

Nethri reached down to the cincture on his waist and grabbed the diamond within the leather holster. Cracking it with a hard rapt from a gem on his glove, a faint opaque mist wafted out hanging briefly in the air before the Runepriest. Nethri motioned to Luc, the mist twirled and spun, encircling the battered warrior, replenishing some of his vitality and sealing his wounds. He sent out another protective aura and moved in close to the Drow once more. This time his swing was on target, aimed squarely for her flank. He grinned in anticipation as his mind prepared to activate the rune on his weapon. Just as the blow landed however, the Drow disappeared. “What?! Where did she…?” Laughter behind him answered his questions.

“Is that it, Dwarf? You move too slow; your age shows.” Just then she screamed and bolted to her left. Twenty feet behind her stood Adasunu, the air shimmering around him. He nodded and moved out of the way as the draegloth lashed out.

With the draegloth focused on the quick-footed Adasunu, Luc and Nethri moved in to corner the Drow. Luc struck first, peeling away flesh from her upper arm. She was bleeding profusely now, though she seemed focus on the task at hand. She sent out another shadow manifestation, this one appearing behind Luc. Nethri’s aura halted its attack, but could not prevent the darkness that erupted on its expenditure. Completely engulfed in darkness once more, the Dwarf relied on his sense of hearing to sense where the woman was. A slight sound of a pebble scrapping against the stone inlay in the road provided him with all he needed to know. Confidence brewing, he turned his craghammer over in his hand as he lunged, burying the weapon’s head squarely on her chest. He immediately activated another rune on his armor shifting the aura surrounding him.

“Deny.”

Sensing his vulnerability within the cloud, he hastened out, using the housing to his right as a guide. Ahead of him, he saw Adasunu move through the doorway into the building. “Ah! Moving through the small doorway where the beast cannot follow. Good idea.” The draegloth followed though, undiscouraged by the impediment, teleporting through the entrance and cornering the Warlock in the tight quarters of the room. “Damn.”

Nethri waited patiently for the cloud to dissipate. Luc, understanding the risks within the dark cover, exited as well, closer to the tavern entrance. The move proved to be a mistake. As soon as he began to collect himself, Luc became entangled in webbing again. The draegloth had ensnared him from inside the building and started to pull him in.

“How the…? Seriously?!” exclaimed Luc.

With Luc and Adasunu in the building engaged with the draegloth, Nethri was left alone with the Drow. Her breathing was heavy, and she held her hand across her chest where Nethri struck. Blood began to seep through her shirt, baptizing her leather tunic. Her mouth curled into a snarl as she readied a blade in her hand.


The Drow shifted her weight trying to ease the pain in her chest, moving her crippled arm away from the Dwarf. She contemplated her next move, appreciative of the removal of the Fighter. The cloud of darkness had faded, fully revealing her position; it didn’t matter since the Runepriest had already struck her. Her shadow spell was spent, too, meaning she was left fighting hand-to-hand. Turning her sword over and over in her hand, a thought jumped into her head, “If I can just make him miss.” With that, she sprinted toward the Dwarf.


“Damn, her movements are still this quick?!” The Drow had caught Nethri off guard with her aggression. She ran in low, taking aim at his calf. Nethri slammed his shield to the ground to stave off her attack, bracing for the blow. It never came. Instead, she slid past the shield and Dwarf sinking her blade into the flesh of Nethri’s torso. He bellowed in pain as the sword turned inside before being swiftly withdrawn. Clutching his side, his hand covered in blood, Nethri knew he didn’t have much time. Activating a rune on his armor to restore his vitality, a thin aura formed around him. Stabilizing his stance, Nethri swung his weapon. His recent wound caused him cringe, pulling his blow short of its target. Suddenly his heart pulsed violently, and his muscles reacted in response. Instinctively, he followed through on his strike, blind to the pain in his side, and brought his weapon down squarely on the Drow’s skull. The crunch was sickeningly sweet.


Adasunu leapt over the bar, putting a barrier between him and the draegloth. Weaving another curse symbol, he pushed it on the beast. Luc, managing to cut himself free once again, moved to the flank of the creature. Luc struck quickly with both his blades, chipping away at its bony flesh. Ignoring the blows, the draegloth proceeded on the Warlock. Unexpectedly, the creature roared, sensing the fall of its companion. Enraged, it lashed out ferociously at Adasunu, splintering the bar between them. Agilely the Warlock dodged, maneuvering toward the door, stepping outside by an oncoming Nethri. Luc, taking full advantage of the beast’s rage, unleashed a flurry of strikes, cutting into the beast, causing strips of flesh and chipped bone to fall to the floor.

As Nethri entered, a large claw punctured the wall to his left. Brittle pieces of shattered wood brushed across his face as he readied his craghammer. A dull hum radiated from one of the gems as it resonated, escalating into a barely audible, high-pitched whirl. With an upward swing, Nethri sought to break the jaw of the draegloth, but its reflexes proved too quick in its heightened state. With his right ribs openly exposed, Nethri feared the next blow would be his last, when suddenly his heart violently pulsated again. Blood rushed through his body as muscles reacted to the immense flow of energy with renewed strength. Nethri felt his own reactions heightened and turned his upward swing immediately into a downward smash, breaking the scapula of the draegloth. Luc, continuing his assault from behind, severed a hamstring, causing it to collapse backwards. Spinning with his second blade in hand, Luc struck at the nape of the neck. His blade bit into the flesh, sinking deep on initial contact. His momentum carrying his sword arm through the motion, the blade maintained its course, slicing completely through the whole of the neck. The young D’Urban had managed to decapitate the creature in mid-freefall.

Adasunu entered the building, dragging the body of the Drow. As the three, newly forged companions looked down at the bodies a silence overtook the room. Adasunu was the first to speak.

“You two did rather well during that little altercation. I am proud to have you as part of the Blades. Really, though, you should tend to the bodies so no one expects anything.”

“You are proud to have us?” remarked Luc.

“As a matter of fact, I am. But let’s not fret too much over such trivial details. You two work on disposing of the bodies while I tend to the door. Hurry up now, won’t you?” Luc turned to Nethri, a look of utter confusion on his face. All Nethri could do was shrug, as he bent down and grabbed the Drow’s feet. “And you need to hurry. I hear there’s a church dedicated to that Raven Queen goddess or some such in the city. I think quickness would prove to be most…fortuitous.”

Luc cursed under his breath. “Where does he get off issuing orders? And what makes him think we are his Blades?”

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Communion
Nethri's History

Nethri’s body rippled with a power resonating from deep within his soul. His shoulders stiffened as his focus cleared. Once the connection became established, Nethri searched within his mind for his god.

“I am here, young Nethri. You have spoken the ritual correctly, as I knew you would.”

Nethri filled with elation at the compliment.

“Pay attention, Hallowstrike,” the lack of mockery caught Nethri by surprise as his heart swelled again. “The sword is not the Queen’s, as you may have guessed. She is not worthy of such a power as she was not meant to be a goddess. No, the sword is a relic of the god she overthrew to achieve her position; Inistrad is remnant of the god Nethril, the one she usurped. It is his power that resonates within the blade and it is his power that traps the souls of those it’s slain.”

“Who was the Raven Queen?”

A small chuckle resounds within Nethri’s mind. “She was no more than a powerful mortal, favored by Nethrul. Her beauty enticed him, and she lay with him countless times, learning his secrets. She approached the other gods when the time proved fortuitous, and, with our aid, overtook Nethrul and acquired his position.”

“Then what is the sword? Does it serve a greater purpose?”

A long pause made Nethri nervous. He felt twinges of pain within his mind as his intentions were explored. As the pain subsided, he felt calm return. “As one of his last acts, Nethrul crafted the blade with a sliver of his own essence. It is his being that harnesses the souls of the slain, extracting them from the bodily vessel and preventing their passage to the plane of non-existence. The true purpose of the blade remains unknown, but it grows with each soul it captures. For this reason, we seek the sword, to ‘rectify’ the error of its creation.”

Nethri nodded in understanding. “How can I help you?”

“There are worshippers of the Queen who must be sought out. She still guards the passage of the souls and they can help guide you more than I. Take caution, young Dwarf, for her minions will begin to seek you out. You must not allow the Queen to reacquire the blade; no matter the cost.”

“Do not fail me, Hallowstrike.” The vengeance and fury could be felt in his voice. “Now, return.”

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Lencia Politics
Nethri's Story

The group reappeared back in Lencia, must to the amazement of those involved. Nethri lay prone on the hard cobble road, the others strewn about the area. Maaya collected herself and hurried to the unconscious Dwarf. “Good, he’s breathing at least,” she thought. Lying next to him was his pack, unlatched with the top flap open. A glint of light was lost in the deep onyx of the sword’s handle, and excitement filled Maaya. Quickly grabbing the sheathed weapon, before anyone noticed, she hurried off to her House, hopeful that her redemption was at hand.


Nethri shifted on his feet. Standing before the Lords and Ladies of the Council was trying for anyone, but in this particular case, it wasn’t what made the Dwarf nervous. Sir D’Aubry was currently presenting the Raven’s Tooth to the Heads of the Houses. Seeing the artifact leaving his possession was painful, but he understood the reason for the maneuver – he just didn’t agree with it.

However, as the twin sisters of House D’Urban, S’Jet and Amirah, accepted the sword, mixed emotions swirled within the Dwarf. Pride in his accomplishments mingled with irritation at his shortcomings. The sword was his and was ripped from his grasp. But his agitation was tempered by the knowledge from his god that his path would cross with the sword once more.

The ceremony concluded and Nethri chose to take his leave. Back to his room in House D’Orinda, Nethri sought comfort in his deity’s grace. A quick communion with Dumathoin gave him guidance and he headed back out. The historian of the Dawn War needed to complete one more task – the confirmation of the sword’s authenticity.


The echoes of the knock ricocheted off the entry walls. Simon strode down the stairs with the kitchen servant trailing behind him. A breeze entered through the balcony window, causing the drapes to billow as they passed. Another knock quickened the old butler’s steps. Reaching the wooden door, he smoothed out the creases in his shirt. Presentation must always be maintained. Opening the door, Simon bowed low, welcoming the guest.

“Sir Nethri. Welcome to House D’Urban. We welcome your presence. Please, follow me to the sitting room.” He moved to the side, allowing Nethri to pass inside. Leading him to the room to the right, Simon motioned to a large, cushioned seat. “If you will, Sir Nethri.” Moving his robes about his feet, the Dwarf sat down. “The Dames of the House will be down momentarily. Do you have need for anything?”

Nethri shook his head as his fingers clutched fiercely at his robes, “I am fine.” His eyes willingly left Simon as the servant took his leave and fell upon the object of his summoning – the Raven’s Tooth. Before him, propped in a wooden mount, was the sword, just within his grasp. “Do not be foolish…” The words rang loudly in his ears.

“Welcome, Sir Dwarf.” Nethri turned up to see Dame S’Jet and Dame Amirah standing in the entry to the room. S’Jet strode forward and addressed the Dwarf, “I see you have found what we summoned you for.” Nethri’s eyes darted back to the sword before returning to the Dame. “We thank you for your efforts in retrieving our Mother’s sword, but we must ask, why was this sword so important to your Houses, Sir Nethri? What could you possibly want with such a thing?”

“Simply, Dame D’Urban, I am a purveyor of historical artifacts, especially those from the Dawn War. My research spoke often of Inistrad, the sword’s true name, and the history of the sword intrigued me. When the opportunity arrived to seek it out and learn more about the artifact, I leapt to the chance. Though I can not be absolutely sure that what lies before us is indeed Inistrad. However, my god has provided me with means to ascertain its authenticity.” Nethri paused a moment before continuing, “And given the state of House D’Urban, and the ‘disappearance’ of Lady Myria, House D’Orinda felt it would be a sign of mutual benefactors.”

The twins exchanged worried glances with one another before S’Jet peered over her shoulder. In the corner of the room stood Syral and Sir Luc D’Urban, eyeing the interaction between the Dames and Dwarf. With an approving nod from Syral, S’Jet turned back to Nethri. She motioned to the sword on the wooden mount, “If you will, Sir Dwarf.”

Nethri tried hard to conceal his eagerness, though he was sure it was quite visible. Standing up, he pushed his robes to the side and strode to the sword. Planting his feet before the mount, he outstretched his hands, holding them above the sword. Relaxing the muscles in his forearms, he felt the power flow through him. Closing his eyes, the words of the ritual given to him by Dumathoin became clear.

“Sovd yegnor i cau”

Communion

Nethri’s body relaxed and his arms fell limp at his side. Staggering on his feet, Luc moved quickly to catch him. Moving him back to the seat, Luc set the Dwarf down. Looking up at the others in the room, Nethri’s eyes flutter open. A look of satisfaction grows across his face.

“It is what we thought it is.”

Luc, eagerness rushing him forward, asked, almost pleadingly, “My mother – how can we get her back?”

The hope in his voice panged Nethri deeply. Shaking his head, eyes solemn and downtrodden, he regrettably replied, “There is little I can do from here. You must speak with someone with higher divine affiliations than I. And I am hesitant to say you should look no further than the Church of the Raven Queen.”

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Season 2
There will be a new dawn

Bladespartdeux

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Adventure Journal of Luc Urban, entry 14

Nothing has made sense since Nightchill killed my Lady Mother. It’s only been two weeks and I still can’t believe it. At the very least, S’Jet and Amirah are speaking to me again, but…

Everything is in disarray. The House elders have locked themselves in their rooms, and I’ve seen the matrons in fervent discussion for the past week, although they always fall silent as I pass. Amirah and S’Jet never leave each other’s side, and are overwhelmed with visitors carrying messages from the other Houses. I offered my help but they refused. They should know they can confide in me.

And Mother…

Mother left with Katryol only a few days ago. She said she had to escort some Eladrin to the Myinns, but she doesn’t remember anything after she arrived and it began to snow and she was told to drink some strange liquid. But Katryol didn’t return with her to explain why she’s suddenly my age, and she can’t really explain it, either. She says she woke up like that, and she also mentioned Tex. I really think he hates her. But at any rate, Mother shouldn’t be my age. She walks around like it’s nothing, but everyone stares and she’s been staying in the mansion a lot more than usual. It’s…distracting, to say the least. Why has everything gone wrong?

At least Raven’s Tooth has been returned to us. Thanks to the work of the other Houses, who went down into the Underdark and retrieved the sword at great loss to themselves. D’Ouros, D’Inana, and D’Auber all lost someone. I should make amends somehow.

I wish Kalleron and Kaela were still in the city, but Aunt Shira and Uncle Sucaeva took them home more than a week ago. They would know how to handle everything. And Stormlit could help me focus. I’d even welcome Katryol’s crude jokes right now.

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