Blood of the Throne Part 1

16 March (Spring) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
7pm, Fireday

After spending the evening planning, it appeared that the group had determined to head towards the Silver Hills and investigate the movements and rumors of ogres.

There was a choice of two different routes of travel. Across land to the town of Portage, then across the river and overland towards the city of Industal, the capital of Xar-Taken. Then from Industal overland through the province of Soulvon to the Silver Hills province. At the border of the Silver Hills province was a town called Raidal where the road split, leading southeasterly back to the river and a port town called Isisre, or northeasterly to the capital of the province, the town of Vashtar. Or they could take a shallow water boat which could sail directly from Aerie City to the main river, and then sail upstream to Isisre, and from there along the trail to Raidal and then Vashtar.

8pm, Fireday

It appeared that many of the group were in favor of using their ship to sail upstream to Isisre. Thoughts turned to just how ready the boat was. Sails and rigging were not a problem as all of that had been fixed while the party was establishing Farhills.

The “shipwrights” that Blend had commissioned to repair the Lioszephyr had spent a few weeks under the watchful eye one of Blend’s “co-workers” in the merchant guild, and had refitted all the ropes, pulleys, and sail that needed repair. At least the normal ones (they hadn’t seen the special sails).

A crew however, was something they did not have. At least 14 sailors would be needed (7 per watch) in order to sail the ship “normally”. Several avenues were available for hiring a crew; hire sailors from Blend’s guild, hire regulars off the docks, or inquire of the King if any sailors were available.

Aeron had been researching ways to decrease the crew compliment for the airship. "Sailors are not the most forthright of professions…and sailors from Merchant Blend’s guild are an especially scurvy lot. There are multiple ways we can crew the ship without an actual crew. We can summon unseen servants to crew, or animate the rope to control the sails, we can fix the sails and create a flask of winds to push us the right direction we can create a Captains Hat that makes the captain so good he doesn’t need a crew) or command undead sailors)…if we can find an appropriate priest. All it takes is money…and the right perspective.

“While I have very little in regards to coin and currency, what I have as far as magical talent is at your disposal.” Frederick briefly grinned. “Though, to tell the truth, the hat does sound particularly fantastic."

Perhaps one or more of these methods would prove fruitful during the course of the next day.

17 March (Spring) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
8am, Starday

The night passed, and the morning came, with no solid resolution on the group’s method of travel.

Before turning in for the night, Nitram sought out Merchant Blend, “I think our best option is to find a crew that you trust from your organization. While I’m sure trust might be a hard target to measure by, at least you should be able to control them, or they need to fear us. We shouldn’t need them for long, I expect, just to get us to Xar-Taken. While I trust the king, I’m not sure I would like what he might do if he found out we had a hold full of constructs. I assume one of the magic users can ward off the hold while the crew are on board. Do you think you can find enough men that fit the requirements?”

“I think that might be possible,” Blend nodded. “I’ll see what can be done. Give me a couple of days.”

Aeron addressed the party, “I know that Merchant Blend can find a crew of exceptional moral character to man the ship’s rigging…but how will they react when they realized the deck planks were coated in mithral…or that the ship can fly? And even if they don’t strip the ship or form a mutiny…how much of the treasure will they demand? We should exhaust other options first before defaulting to a large crew."

“How many deckhands do you know that have seen or even heard of mithral, much less able to identify it?” Blend countered. “As for the flying part, we restrain ourselves to using the ship’s more mundane modes of transportation.” Blend had learned enough sailing during the “lag” time preparing for the ogre assault in the spring that he could fill in as a crew member or helmsman.

“I was going to say that…at least the second part” Nitram agreed. “I see no reason why we need to fly the ship to Xar-Taken. I thought the whole point of learning to sail and researching different ways to control the ship’s rigging was so that we were able to sail the ship on water anyway. I do agree that we should try to find an alternate means of controlling the ship, but hiring a crew seems more likely the longer we wait. As far as payment goes, we will agree on a price before we leave. They really won’t have much leverage to renegotiate against all of us and the cargo, especially if they threaten to walk off. I’m sure you’ll figure an alternate method to work the sails by then.”

Nitram spent a little time at Farhills, focusing on ensuring its defense in case the Grey Riders came back through while he was gone. The additional troops were integrated into the defenses and patrols were extended along normal routes as well as an additional patrol to the southwest along the border. He managed to get several training sessions with Kael. Most nights he worked on communicating with Serre. Things had been progressing along that front, but he currently found the matter stagnating. The ranger agreed with Aeron, that he should get a war saddle and asked the wizard to craft one for him, providing coin and materials to make it happen. As Serre was still increasing in size and strength, Nitram decided to journey to Aerie City a little earlier than planned.

Once there, he worked with the Griffon Riders to improve the communication between him and Serre. He spent some time looking for a masterwork spear or lance as well as someone to craft quickdon straps onto his heavy shield. Once the Riders felt Serre was ready, Nitram spent all his time practicing riding the flying creature. I’m assuming he can fly with Nitram before they leave for Xar-Taken? At least, until the rest of the group showed up for their foray into the Silver Hills.

19 March (Spring) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
10am, Moonday

It had taken Blend the rest of the weekend to procure the eight sailors that he felt they needed as a minimum. Blend had not told the sailors anything more than their destination (Isisre), and that they would have to bunk on the deck.

Nothing about wizards, bards, griffons, or brutemen, to list a few of the things that may raise an eyebrow.

Blend glanced at a map he had acquired while waiting at the dock for the rest of the group.

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Frederick approached Blend, a tired smile of greeting on his face.

Much of Frederick’s spare time had been consumed by his need to re-learn the Old Tongue. Though at least twice a week, Frederick made the rounds of the local pubs, taverns and other gathering spots in order to hone his craft. His performances were generally well enjoyed, save for the one week where an old man began to yell at him midway through the land shark tale. The elderly sod was quite adamant that the land shark was nothing more than the drunken ravings of a madman, and at one point stooped so low as to throw tomatoes at Frederick. The crowd, thinking this was a part of the performance, cheered and clapped wildly.

“Good morning, Blend. How has the day treated you thus far?”

Blend studied the bard, emotionless eyes giving nothing away, before answering. “Fine. Everything is ready. Just waiting for any last minute preparations and we can be underway.” He still did not understand Frederick’s purpose or why he decided to stick around. Nitram was easy to figure out, having his crusade and all. Aeron much the same, except it was knowledge he was pursuing and not ogres. Frederick was pursuing knowledge as well, but Blend did not understand why he didn’t just go to a library. The eladrin, Rumil, was a mystery as well. He seemed young, by elven standards, but Blend knew he was probably older than everyone in the group, with the exception of Aeron. Maybe some rite of passage required by his people? Still, the two newcomers’ lives had almost been cut short numerous times already. Just by being around. Blend gave himself a mental chuckle. Perhaps he should be asking himself the same questions.

Blend saw Shylent approaching the dock. She stopped just short of Blend and sat herself down on the edge of the planks, legs hanging over the edge. She appeared to be eating a turnip. And had painted her face with blue and silver chalk lines.

Nitram left the “perch” riding on Serre’s back. He liked the saddle Aeron had crafted for him and hoped, doubtingly, that he wouldn’t have to use its enhancements. They circled up around the towers, lifted by the air rising of the stone buildings. “This is amazing!” he thought, still not used to flying like a bird – or griffon, as the case may be. Once they were high enough to avoid notice, Nitram guided Serre toward the docks. Having scouted the area on foot several days earlier, he knew where their flying ship was berthed.

Diving rapidly from the river side of the ship, as if on the attack, Nitram aimed Serre well short of the boat. The wind whipped past him so quickly, he could barely hear anything but a rushing sound. He hoped the speedy descent was short enough that it didn’t alarm too many people. Halfway there, he spotted the merchant on the dock, talking to Frederick. It looked like Shylent was there too. Did she paint her face again? he thought incredulously before rubbing his eyes to make sure. As he neared the river, he pulled Serre out of the dive, the griffon’s broad wings spread out like a sail, slowing their descent and speed. Blend turned to see what was all that noise was behind him, just in time for Serre to make two flaps of his wings and gently settle down on the ship’s deck. Once the dust had settled from the wing blast, Nitram smiled and said, “Are we ready to go yet?”

Of course, the merchant completely dismissed the dramatic entrance without a word, and barely an expression on his stony face.

After a minute or two, a page brought Nitram’s horse.

Aeron stood on the stern castle of the ship and surveyed the activity on the deck. Watching the rapid descent of Lord Nitram on the griffon, Serre, was an excellent test of the new arcane war saddle. As Nitram did not fall to his death, Aeron considered it a successful test. The dramatic landing of Lord Nitram and his griffon seemed to temporarily distract the crew from their duties in the rigging. After a few minutes the crew returned to preparing the ship for departure. Once the sails were set and Merchant Blend took the helm, Aeron muttered a few mysterious words and a light breeze rose up in the exact direction of Isisre. Aeron turned to Merchant Blend, “We are in luck; it appears a fair wind favors our journey. Let me know if you need anything.” Aeron then descended into the hold to work at his arcane laboratory.

Cragthor waited until everyone was on board the ship before pulling in the gangplank and untying the moorings. Once this was done he nodded at Blend. Cragthor then walked around the ship, inspecting the actions of all the new recruits. It appeared that he was either silently intimidating or assessing them, or both. When Cragthor was satisfied he went up to the helm and sat on stool off to Blend’s left side and slightly behind.

The crewman Ishmayl approached Blend and began to converse with him about the journey to Isisre. “With this favorable wind that has arisen, we should gain an extra mile an hour sailing sir, reducing our travel time from 16 hours to 12. I am concerned with our late start however. Leaving at 10am just before lunch would put us near the Isisre docks around 10pm, which would mean sailing in the dark for four hours. Not an impossible task, but one that river sailors are not fond of, unless intimately familiar with the area.” Ishmayl waited for Blend’s assessment of their journey.

Blend listened to Ishmayl’s advice. The sailor was more seasoned than him and knew what he was talking about. Still, Blend wanted to test the mettle of the crew he had hired and observe them performing in a situation they were “not fond of.” “Your advice is appreciated and well-tempered,” Blend told the veteran. “However, I would like to put into port this evening as opposed to mooring the ship along unknown and potentially hazardous shores. Additionally, the best way to become more comfortable at a task you are not fond of is to practice it. What do you think?” Blend waited for Ishmayl’s reply.

After a little over an hour, the ship reached the main river and turned into the current upstream towards Isisre. Aeron was required to re-appear and refresh whatever magics he had cast to ensure the favorable breeze. Portman the sailor looked slightly puzzled, and held his finger into the air after licking it. After a few moments of considered concentration while adjusting sails, he started nodding and laid his finger alongside his nose, winking at Marine, who winked back and kept climbing the rigging.
Morning turned to afternoon, which turned to early evening. The Lioszephyr had passed several barges and small cog ships traveling downstream towards Portaghe. The weather was warm and refreshing for an early spring day, and there had been no hint of clouds at all.

19 March (Spring) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
5am, Moonday

There was about five hours left to get to Isisre, four of which would be after sunset.

As the sunlight waned, Aeron returned to the deck and stood on the bow of the Light Wind, casting magical glowing lanterns ahead of the ship to help Merchant Blend guide the ship through the last few hours of darkness before docking at Isisre.

As Aeron, peered into the inky darkness he struck up a conversation with one of the rough looking “sailors” that was busy repeatedly throwing a weighted knotted rope into the water and calling back to the helm. The sailor called, “Five knots…” Aeron asked the sailor, “Shall I call you Ishmael? Aeron lit his bullseye lantern and hung it over the bow railing. The powerful lantern struggled to light the distance between the ship and his floating magic lanterns 170 feet ahead. Ishmael took another cast of the rope and called out, “Four knots…” Aeron peered forward towards their ribbon of light. The deep night and murky water fought to suffocate the beam of light. Aeron continued his conversation with the sailor, “Ishmael, have you ever sailed under such poor visibility?”

Ishmael nodded and began to speak…his eyes still searching the water, “Aye, one mornin I was sailin on the Dragon Sea in a ship about this size when a thick fog rolled in the likes of which you would not believe. The fog stayed as thick as a blanket for a full ten days. It was on the eleventh day of sailin through pea soup without a spoon.” Ishmael leaned forward on the bow rail, his elbows poking through the patches on his once-fine captain’s jacket. “Couldn’t see yer patch in front o’ yer eye, heh heh. Couldn’t hear nothin’, neither, as if yer voice left yer lips and got stuck right off. Lookouts couldn’t see nothin’, couldn’t hear nothin’, couldn’t do nothin’. Ol’ Blind Queque, tho’, he was a treasure beyond price durin’ that time. Queque was a strange–un. Skin as dark as ebony, an’ six foot tall if he was an inch, covered from his bald head to his calloused feet with tattoos from across the Unconquered Kingdoms. He didn’t speak much an bein’ used to listenin’ more’n the rest of us, he wuz hearin’ things we never’d of caught. It was him what saved our hides from what could’a been a turrible crash.” Ishmael called out another measurement, “three knots…” to Merchant Blend at the helm, and then continued his story. “It musta been after noontime, tho’ one couldna see the sun to tell by, that Blind Queque hollered to the lookout. Ship to starboard!’ He’d heard the waves lappin’ at her hull, and could tell ‘em apart from our own sounds. The first mate come up and stood by Queque, and the three of ‘em, the mate, the lookout, and Blind Queque, maneuvered our ship through them cold, gray waters. After a bit we could hear the crew of the other ship hollerin’ orders, too, to keep from rammin’ us broadside. We had some near misses, one I remember where I could see the flag on the back o’ other’n’s hull: Wensharian. Figgers, I thought to meself; those wizzirds ain’t smart enough to have a blind man on crew fer just such a sitiation!…no offince wizzird.” Ishmael went back to casting the rope into the dark waters and Aeron pulled up his magic hood. Aeron’s face took on hawkish features as he looked deeper into the darkness ahead of the ship.

Frederick poured over his books in his cabin, oblivious to what occurred outside. The Book of Kells stayed by his side, a comforting presence.

Rumil quickly realized he was no fan of sailing. He knew only two sensations through life – the firmness of the forest ground and the utter freedom of flight. This – well, this was neither. The boat rolled under his feet in the way the ground rumbled before a great beast. Oh how he longed for the hours to melt away.

During the times he wasn’t uneasy, he practiced calling forth his inner fire – allowing it to boil to the surface and then suppress it again. It was a technique he learned from the elders – and would serve him well in battle, shaving off seconds and giving him an edge over his enemy. He also took time to get comfortable with his new sword and bow. They felt better, balanced – as if the weapon could sense where it wanted to be before he did. The elven masters have outdone themselves again. If he lived to be 700, he would never grow tired of holding the greatest elven instruments of war.

Rumil realized that he was beginning to admire Aeron’s skills. While Rumil could summon power from within – Aeron seemed to be able to bend the weave to his will. An odd thing to witness – especially with this versatility this mage displayed. Perhaps this elf would see fit to provide Rumil with his one desire – his ability to craft was impressive.

The crew wasn’t totally pleased about sailing on through the darkness, and one of them, possibly Jake, made warding signs against evil with his fingers, but then he heaved ho along with the others. After a few hours, as Ishmayl stood at the bow along with Aeron, he pointed out the gleam of the river lighthouse at Isisre in the distance.

Isisre was a walled city, and one third of her wall extended out into the waters of the river. There were two massive gates along the wall, a western gate and an eastern gate, that during the day would open to allow the passage of boats and ships mainly from Rivendeep and Highkeep city. Ishamyl pointed out that the eastern gate was for inward bound traffic, and the western gate was for outbound traffic. The river harbor inside the wall was large enough to hold twenty seagoing ships, although there was never ever that many there, being mainly river traffic and all.

In the rotating beam of light from the lighthouse, the crew and owners of the ship could see two small river barges, and a medium fishing sloop anchored out slightly off midstream, waiting to go into Isisre in the morning. A small rowboat with tow oars to a side and a small pilot house was heading towards the Lioszephyr.

19 March (Spring) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
10pm, Moonday

Ishmayl spotted the rowboat approaching and called back to the helm, “Boat or the port bow! Aye, it must be the ol harbor masta and the riva pilot. Ready the anchor and the gold. It’ll cost us dearly to lower the harbor chains at this hour. Les you wantin to spend the night midstream.” Aeron, not wanting to stir up suspicion, descended into the hold and pulled some tarps over the golems to conceal them from a cursory inspection. Aeron patted Merchant Blends shoulder and whispered to him as he descended the stairs, “With the right coin, perhaps you can convince the Isisre welcome wagon to forgo the inspection and guide us into the harbor. The hour is late and I am keen to tie-off quickly at the docks and find our beds for the evening.”

Nitram, to no one in particular, asked “I wonder if King Kashue or Sage Saesarius let them know we would be coming tonight. Did we let them know when we were leaving?”

Much to everyone’s dismay, there was no way to convince anyone to open the gates at night. If they even started opening the city watch would turn out and the noise would awaken and scare the populace. No, people sometimes managed to bribe them to stay open a few minutes to let people in, or stay open longer to get out, but when closed, they were closed for the night.

It appeared to Blend and Aeron that the “Isisre welcome wagon” would be inclined to let them go to the front of the line in the morning, with the right persuasion.

“Standard watch then?” queried the ranger before finding a place to lay his head. “I am willing to take first or second watch. I am still fresh and it is not so dark that I cannot see – one way or another.”

Rumil waited for direction, picking out a place to rest and meditate later when not on watch. “Corellon, grant me a speedy relief from this wretched vessel. I was meant to be in the forest or the air.”

Aeron eyed the crew on deck. “It may be wise if we all stayed awake tonight. Accept this spell to keep the sandman at bay. Aeron said a few arcane words over the party He then descended into the ships hold. “I’ll be at the arcane laboratory finishing Initiate Rumil’s bladed belt and take the dawn watch in the crow’s nest.”

Nitram perked up at the mention of a blade. “What’s a bladed belt?”

Those on watched enjoyed a peaceful evening on the river. The calm rippling past the anchored boat made for a pleasant and idyllic backdrop to the night air. The slow rotating glow from the lighthouse, mingled with the partial moon produced a shimmering upon the waters that stretched from shore to shore.

As the morning sun rose in the east, faint drifts of spring mist gathered in patches upon the face of the water. Soon, the rattling of large chains was heard, and the eastern gate began to open, each half of the gate pulling back along the inside of the city wall. The vessels that had moored prior to the arrival of the Lioszephyr made their way through the gate, and shortly after that the small row boat signaled that it was the Lioszephyr’s turn. The gates were wide enough that two ships could have sailed in side by side, but the harbor master preferred to bring them in one by one. As the party’s ship reached the eastern gate, the sound of the western gate opening could be heard.

Once through the gate and inside the walls, it was apparent that the harbor of Isisre was wide enough across for even the Lioszephyr to tack around in a complete circle, should she choose to. In the center of the line of docks was five empty slips, and a man standing at the end of the center dock was waving a flag to guide the Lioszephyr in.

Isisre was an old town composed mainly of faded earthen and stone blocks. Newer buildings lined the harbor, while older stone fortifications loomed over the town.

Most of the boats in the harbor were local fishing boats that went out into the river and cast their nets during the day. There were several river barges that plied their trade between Rivendeep and Isisre pulled up near some of the warehouses.

Once the Lioszephyr was docked, an official requested permission to come aboard and discuss the docking fees.

Blend considered the crew’s performance at docking the ship in the harbor and between the other slips. Most of the crew were nodding in satisfaction.

Aeron’s spell had allowed the elves to spend the night in quiet reverie. Aeron used the time in the arcane laboratory to complete a specially commissioned belt that Initiate Rumil had requested. The belt appeared as a studded leather belt, the silver studs resembling the star of Corellon. The belt had the remarkable ability, that when removed, would became a weapon or choice. More importantly, though, it kept Initiate Rumil’s pants from falling about his ankles. This was deemed by all as the much greater function of the belt.

“Thank you Aeron. Your skills are truly a gift. This belt does Corellon justice.” He then proceeded to somewhere a bit more private and quiet, before the entire crew awoke, and practiced summoning the belts inner blades – long, sword, curved, straight, anything he could recall practicing with as a defender. This was truly a remarkable item. It gave the defender the full range of options and all without drawing attention to the wearer. It certainly was more appropriate than his current belt and professed his faith in Corellon as well. Once he was comfortable he knew the command words – he returned to the main part of the deck.

Nitram happened to see Rumil practicing, purely by chance, and was mesmerized by such a wondrous item. Once Aeron was done studying his spells, Nitram discussed with him the creation of another belt for the ranger. He hoped he would have time to buy the required materials in Isisre.

Frederick thought that the belt was pretty darn spiffy, but did not wish to discuss a belt of his own with Aeron. For one, it seemed rather impolite for him to do so, as he had just finished making the belt for Rumil, and was no doubt going to craft one like it for Nitram as well. Also, Frederick simply had no need for such a tool. In his opinion, weapons were more for warning people away from fights, rather than for fighting. Anything that could not be solved by the appropriate combination of magics and muses was not something that Frederick wanted to engage in. Not that he couldn’t, mind you. It was simply not his cup of mead.

As the sailors were securing the ship to the dock, Nitram greeted the official, “Good morning. I am Nitram Tam. We are emissaries of King Kashue, sent at the request of Sage Saesarius. What is the charge for a diplomatic vessel here is Isisre?” diplomacy check to get a reduced rate, if not a waived rate
the ranger wondered if anyone in Isisre even knows who Sage Saesarius is.

“Well sir, the usual fee for a ship of this size would be 10 gold” the official replied. “I’m sure we can waive that fee once it’s been confirmed by the Duke or one of his people” the very short official added, looking up at Nitram hopefully.

Frederick came out from his cabin, having returned to it to fetch his gear. He moved to stand a respectful distance from Nitram and the official, but close enough to be able to hear their conversation. If any assistance from him was required, he wanted to be able to respond quickly. The Book hung in a sash that Frederick had slung around his neck.

The short official, who introduced himself as Meddlen, inquired if the group had a place to stay, how long they would be here, and if they needed a carriage summoned to take them to the duke’s residence?

Nitram nodded, “I’m sure we can make that happen once we speak to the Duke. I don’t think a carriage is necessary, but directions would be greatly appreciated.” Nitram turned to the rest of the group, “Does anyone want to go with me to meet the Duke? If not, we can meet at the north end of town in a couple of hours. I’m sure some of us may want to look around town before we begin the journey. We won’t be able to make it to Vashtar today anyway due to the slight delay getting into the harbor this morning.”

The ranger looked expectantly at the official for the directions to the Duke’s residence and asked the duke’s name.

Nitram was told that the current Duke was called Duke Otho Domitius, and was an elder cousin of the king of Xar Taken, Morganth X’avier. The Duke was a single man, and was granted the stewardship of the Isisre out of respect for his age and family ties.

Meddlen explained that the port of Isisre would normally held by the crown prince, Prince Kristos X’avier, but some years ago, the king decided to fortify Vashtar as the province capital, in order to stand against the ogre resurgence and protect the populace. Against the king’s better judgment, Crown Prince Heraklus and several royal advisers convinced the king that Vashtar should become the fiefdom of the crown prince instead of Isisre. That was some thirty years ago.

It appeared to the members of the group that Nitram’s efforts at diplomacy had hit it off real well with the gossipy nature of Meddlin, and it appeared that Nitram may have made a new friend, as Meddlin insisted on escorting the group to the duke’s residence.

After leading the group through the lower part of the town near the harbor, Meddlin brought them to the hills overlooking the water and the older part of town. This was where the nobility and the wealthy lived. The duke’s castle sat across a stone plaza about 150 feet from a large Imperial Temple. The courtyard to the duke’s castle was guarded by four sentries dressed in half-plate and wielding ceremonial, yet functional, urgroshes.

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Nitram listened to Meddlin’s tale of the Crown Prince Heraklus and tried to put the lineage together in his head, unsuccessfully. “So, Crown Prince Kristos and Crown Prince Heraklus are brothers? Did Kristos then take over Vashtar or did Heraklus get it? Do you know what the argument was for changing the Crown Prince’s responsibilities – was Vashtar that much more esteemed a prize or was this the result of something more internal?”

Meddlin replied to Nitram’s questions somberly. “Well Heraklus was in charge of Vashtar right after he and the advisors got the king to change the posting. Vashtar is where the line is held against the ogres, and it was thought that having the crown prince rule there instead of a trade port showed more support for the people, and the fact that the king took the struggle seriously. And this was true indeed, the silver hills province needed the attention. Heraklus ruled there for about 25 years and did a great job of defending the kingdom. About five years ago he fell to an unexpected ogre attack in a normally safe patrol area. Very startling. Since then the young Crown Prince Kristos, his brother, has taken over. He is doing okay, and the people love him, but he is young.”

Frederick thought this sounded unusual, but could not place his finger on why it did. It wasn’t as if he were overly familiar with the area and its peoples. Still, he paid attention and tried not to be a bother with questions. There would most likely be a library or bookshop that he could explore later.

Nitram thanked Meddlin for his clarification. When the group reached the duke’s residence, the ranger hailed the guards, “Good morning. I am Nitram Tam. We are emissaries from King Kashue, on behalf of Sage Saesarius. Is Duke Domitius available to speak with us?”

Aeron replied to Meddlin, “How unfortunate to hear about Crown Prince Heraklus demise. By chance, was he near Land’s Edge when he fell? The watch there has done a historically poor job of controlling the ogres…despite the best efforts of notable fey, as Badar-Ren. I suppose it was only a matter of time until the violence spilled over into the Xar-Taken provinces.”
After Meddlin shared the local lore, Aeron summoned his horse, Magus, from a small stone token to ride to the Duke’s residence.
As he rode with the group Aeron spoke with them, “If young Prince Kristos has recently ascended he may be eager for retribution for the murderer of his dead brother and will likely support our foray into the Silver Hills.”
As they traveled slowly onward Aeron added, “The road will be dangerous. If anyone wants a bladed belt, such as the type I made Rumil, just accompany me to the city shops this afternoon to procure the materials.”

“Well, since you’re offering, I’ll take you up on it.” While it was not something that Frederick prioritized, an additional edge in combat should never be turned down.

Nitram couldn’t restrain himself from looking askance at the elf as he spoke of the ranger’s family friend. “Is it possible that he knows Bandar-Ren? I may have to ask him later.” It had been a while since he thought of his family and what was his home. It was still too new for him to completely conceal the sadness and then the anger that struggled to overwhelm him, but he did a decent enough job of it – he thought. He couldn’t feel his hands tightening on his horse’s reins, but his hands hurt when he finally let go. Serre cocked his head, looking sideways at his friend, and let out a screech.

He was back to normal when he heard the wizard mention the belts. “I will also accompany you, mon frère. That belt is truly a work of art.”

Blood of the Throne Part 1

Unconquered Kingdoms xLucix