MATERIALS FOR PLAYERS TO THIS THREAD
A Crimson Shore, Background Information For ACT I
Welcome to the Crown’s Isles! A vast set of interconnected islands centered around one larger “jewel”, the Island of Xiladros. Named for it’s resemblance to a Crown, these isles are an important part of the Known Realm and of the Celn Empire. The Crown gives shelter between the sister cities of Cellione and Cillandar, as well as a place for various markets to sell their sea wares. Many of the inhabitants are native to the southern lands, and many native to Cellinor. This makes the Crown a place of diversity but breeds superstition as many different races and cultures converge here. Not much attention is paid to the Crown’s Isles as little seems to change from beyond the Great Western Sea. However, that is about to change. And with change comes to a new destiny for those willing to go after it.
This is the situation your party finds itself in. You are essentially, in a moment before the storm, both literally and figuratively. This moment has been outlined for you in “Dispatch to the Crown’s Isles”. Somehow, each of you has come to the Ring of Islands just off the Coast of Cellinor Major, for various reasons. Most of them will have related to trade, to seamanship of one kind or another. But, more nefarious things happen in the Isles and maybe you’ve been a part of them. These isles are after all, teeming with those who have secrets to hide. Just be careful to keep them to yourself, you wouldn’t want a High Inquisitor to begin an Investigation! Perhaps, you are a Celn yourself, or perhaps a member of the southern tribes. Regardless of your background, one thing that each of you has in common is that you have all shown interest in one day attempting what is known as the Great Odessey, the until now unsuccessful attempt to cross the Still Waters to the Unknown West, and return. One such attempt is told in tales in local taverns. It is the Tale of the Sea Drake.
Adventurers in the thread of A Crimson Shore, must be willing to explore a brave new world. They may decide to work with the King perhaps as sworn SHIELD members, or decide to work without him. They may find alliances abroad they wish to align themselves with, fight against, or battle for. Many potential choices await them, with both adversaries and allies waiting to see where their ultimate motivations will lie.
Please read the following brief narratives and determine how you came to the Crown, and came to be on the island of Xiladros. If you are not a member of the Celn Nation, or a member of the Southern tribes, then you must have a really good reason why you are there. The more exotic your character, the rockier path you may have or simpler depending on how those in the Isles perceive you. I advise you to read the Celn Gazetteer prior to character creation.
Good luck, and welcome to what hopefully will not be a too Crimson Shore!
The Many Faces of A CRIMSON SHORE
The Dread Pirate Roberts– The “DPR” is a pirate with a mission. He has his sights set not on infamy but of fortune. Listen long enough, and he’ll tell you of his true love. He’s willing to let the adventurers into a deal for a share of the King’s Lady, but he’s got another plan to get rich. Will it get the party into trouble?
Fleet Commander Trunilan- Trunilan is commander of His Majesty’s Southern Fleet. He sails aboard the flagship, The King’s Vengeance. Trunilan is tasked with keeping the peace, and maintaining order in a very inhospitable realm. Does he have other orders?
Edward Rooney-A merchant in a place where doing business isn’t easy, New Alpha. Rooney specializes in items hard to get. His prized possession is his cat, Primordia. Rumor has it that Primordia was once the personal property of Malorus the mage, a reknowned wizard in Cillandar. What Rooney wants, he gets. Does the party have something he wants?
Radagar Motzu-Rad is a prisoner aboard The Black Scream. His story is found in A Crimson Shores’ thread. Rad is a wizard, but that wasn’t his first calling. He’s a castaway from his own land. But what he knows may just be able to help the party.
Elad-A prisoner and slave of the Sasser Empire. Elad was a simple villager/warrior of the Atah’uan. At least he was, until the raid. The last surviving member of his tribe, Elad watched them die a slow horrible death aboard the ill-fated ship he was found in. Now, he has a rage within him so deep, it can be hard to control.
Jethro Q’Lamour- Known for such favorites as “Why Is that Tavern Eating My Friend?” and “The Ballad of My Loquatious Colleague”, Jethro was a bard of the Realm. Like his uncle, he too believed wading into battle was the way to make the best song. Unfortunately, Jethro was killed on the beach by sahaugin during the salvage of The Black Scream. Today, this isle is now known as “Song Island” and it is said that if one stands on the beach, he or she can actually hear the sounds of Jethro playing his lyre.
Canton- As Canton often says, “Nobles sometimes come in packages not recognizable as Cillandrial Fashion.” A unique swordsman and wizard in his own right, Canton fights in the elvish fashion. His swashbuckling ways are only matched by his love for Cillandar and for the Realm of Cellinor. He’ll help any damsel in distress in any pirate town in the Crown’s Isle, but don’t let him hear ye talk ill of his homeland.
Schultar- A troubled past brought Schultar into the company of pirates. Being a half-ogre already means that one is going to have an incredible background, but in this case, it gets better. Schultar was mentored by a member of the Order of Silver who had lost his way in the dogma of it all. In so doing, he past on a pure knowledge to Schultar, one that exists without the corruption of the church. But now Schultar has met someone who has lost his faith. What will Schultar believe now?
Roscoe Leegallows-Roscoe is a Halfling whose life, like the Crown Isles, seem to be engulfed by water. Roscoe’s childhood brought him to a life of difficulty, until one such event with water changed everything. Constantly searching for stronger magic to feed from for his spells, Roscoe keeps his secrets and his backpack close at all times.
Portia Treeleaf-Portia has a “borrowing” problem. She’s aware of it, she just doesn’t understand why it’s a problem for anyone. Portia is often called upon to investigate matters for the adventurers, that is, if she can be found.
MacGruber-An awkwardly jovial Orst trader, MacGruber has a knack for getting things and having them taken away. It seems like just when his “ship” has come in, it’s sailed again. MacGruber was last seen sailing off the cliffs in the Hydra’s spine.
Mr. Joshua, Mr. Matthew-Two leading pirates of the Crimson Fleet, these two cutthroats have both been slain by the party after two important runins. Mr. Joshua led the assault of their caravan, before being strapped to the coach and plunging to his death. Mr. Matthew however led the attempted sabotage of the King’s Vengeance in order to start a war between Cellinor and Orstland. Luckily however, the party was able to thwart this attack. What other members of the Crimson Fleet are out there, and what plans do they have for this group?
Swanson- A pirate who often traveled with them in their early days. Swanson is now on the lamb, but his whereabouts have been partially discovered. He is the bearer of the last gold coin, and if the party can get to New Cellione in time, perhaps they can get it back and take the King’s Lady Treasure for themselves.
Chanku- An Orst captain who is not very happy with the DPR. Chanku lost a lot of merchandise because of Robert’s mistake and he wants reimbursement, or Roberts’ head.
Calhoun-Known collectively on the Revenge as “Mother”, Calhoun has a tendency to get into business he shouldn’t. Whether this is good or bad for the party remains to be seen.
Inigo and Montoya-Often upset about their father dying, Inigo and Montoya are Roberts’ most loyal shipmates.
The Black Scream-An alien ship of unknown origin. The Black Scream borders between myth and horrifying reality. Is it real, or just a story told in pirate bars?
The Revenge-Robert’s ship.
The King’s Vengeance-Flagship of his majesty’s southern fleet. Trunilan’s ship.
The King’s Honor-The personal convoy ship of Lord Borindin himself.
The Skinny Wench- Aye, the Skinny Wench did you say? That ship belonged to the Admiral Benbow, that old bastard. He was a Celn Captain turned pirate. His ship was supposed to have been sunk by a Celn man-o-war last season. It’s a shame too because it was made in the fashion of a merchant’s trader ship, and could easily be converted back. It would make a perfect pirate vessel, nearly unrecognizable with a pinch of disguise. I don’t understand why it would be marked on this part of your map. The battle should have taken place much farther south. Unless….”
The Six Gold Coins, A personalized introduction for Ben, Jesse, Tavish, David and Brittany
ACT 1 Intro, A Crimson Shore
“It was the best of times, but it was the poorest of times”. Pirate life seemed that way, especially out here in the Lightforsaken Crown Isles. The old pirate’s saying couldn’t help but remind you of the Isles themselves. To the North, the Isles harbored warm waters and humid climes, but the serpentine cluster of islands resembling a crown’s many gems, weaved south in the Great Sea down to Orstland, a frigid and white knuckled place to be in Winter. Then there was the company here, if you could call keeping one eye open while you slept and two eyes watching for drawn cutlasses while you were awake company. If you weren’t spilling your ale down the frontside of your favorite tavern wench, someone else was probably trying to spill your blood.
You can almost remember that night, the night the weather took a turn for the worse, but your station took a turn upwards. Well, that’s what you thought at first!
The drunken iron-runners and Orst shippers with their filthy guttural speech (so less civilized than the Celn tongue!) made the roars of the rising sea and whipping winds sound leagues away as evening turned to eve’ in the Mostly Orst Cantina; your home away from home out here in Xendros, a way point for nearly every conceivable walk of life imagined. First, there were the Celns of course, traders and adventurers, pirates and even an occasional lawman happened in some nights. Although this would give who was on the take away, that apparently didn’t matter out here to the Governor. After all, he was most likely on the take too! You had your occasional half, minotaurs, and those bastard “dragonmen”. Always itching for a fight so you had to think before reminding one they weren’t going to share a spot with you at the communal tables. Of course, as the name suggested, here too was the Orstmen from the South, pale and large, they just didn’t seem to fit in anywhere, even with their own kind. Many said that they’re ancestors came from a grotesque breeding between orc, and man, or perhaps even giant as well. Flame knew that there was enough of their kin further South. Of course, other rumors abounded that they were in league with the Ketians, maybe even Ketians themselves! Whatever their history was, they were goliath men, with arms more robust than their brains. They made great sailors and ships though. And nary a Celn lad had learned to sail without their navigation methods and equipment. Thankfully, the Two Kings Truce was still honored at this time with Orstland and their King. Business was booming, especially for your kind, and you supposed you could look over their hideous smell for a few extra coins in your pockets.
Of course, you had all kinds of other drinkers here on a night like tonight, a night where the cold and the wind directed you to the light nearest the King’s Wharf. Through the salty fog. To the sign that read “Mos TlyOrst Cantina”. Rumor had it that the first customer to try his ale became so enraged at it’s bad taste that he hacked the sign into pieces. Hitchens, being the self-respecting, Cillandrial custom hating, pirate hoarding, ale selling innkeeper that he then was, killed the man on the spot and used his own limp hands to put it back together complete with hammer and nails. It must have been harder’n it looks to use a dead man’s hands to nail a sign back together, because that’s the way it got redone, and to this day, that’s the way it’s been.
But no other customer was as interesting in the Mostly Orst, than the Halfling. Between the Halfling guild and the Orst trade, any man or woman with a desire for profit could earn plenty, as long as they could stay alive to collect payment for services rendered. The Halfling was a big part of that trade, but that was another story.
On that night, it was more about WHO was in the bar, rather than what. And who became mighty important to other stories as well its been said. There was Boldore, a giant hulk of a brute. A fighter by trade, you reckoned he was still buying his armor one piece at a time. Must have cost a fortune too. Halflings, those little troublemakers, loved each other’s company though and on that night there were a few of them with their “full pints” as Hitchens liked to call ‘em. Two however, stood out. One, a certain Roscoe Leegallows seemed more interested in something in his pack than his meal you recall, and another was a girl. Portia Treeleaf, her name was. She was showing off something to her Halfling pals, and you were just glad that whatever it was, it hadn’t been yours. Had it?
Talk that night was typical. Tales of the Still Waters to the East where ships went but none returned. Tales of the Southern Frozen Sea where ships’ Captains simply knew not to go and never dared unless the currents caught them, and stories about that weren’t told anywhere, because well, no one wanted to hear em.. Tales of fortunes made, and fortunes lost, all while the wind pounded the clapboard siding and the bells Dinged and Donged from the masts, while the ships in the wharf creaked back and forth in their moorings.
A man in Cillandrial garb sat nearest to the bard that night. You hadn’t recognized him before, but when he walked in tonight you noticed he had a certain way about him. He shook hands and greeted Hitchins in the Cillandrial fashion and took a seat by the fire, as if letting the bard know that he might begin. You caught the name, barely. Canton it was. Soft hands clasped his mug. This was no commoner.
And the bard himself. Well, well. Here was an interesting fellow. You hadn’t heard this tale in a few years. It was the Battle of Carr Alpha! The story of how Lord Commander Flemin saved the Cairn region from an invasion of Trebians, led by the actual princess of the cowardly northerners, along with the blighted creatures they had used to assault the castle. A decade of King’s time hadn’t diluted the memory of this incredible victory for the Realm. After all, once Alpha had become established, it opened up the North didn’t it? Aye, it did! Alpha was said now to rival Cellione in it’s populace, spreading the Realm’s order and Flame’s law to the uncivilized in a huge region. It was a terrific telling too. An easy one to tell on a night like this, as the Lords who once founded that valley had never been found in the dead or living what that survived the seige. Nevertheless, this bard was talented. You wondered if the rumors were true, that he was INDEED related to the one and only Tuatha Ulreicht. Now that must be a story!
Finally, of course, there had been Swanson. That rat scum. If only Lady Fortune, (May the Flame protect you from the Fate of Greed) had sent him to the loo in that instant!
That was the way things were that night, and then they changed, quickly! A march of steps up the planks, clinking of armor. A hand grabbed you, and the voice, so steady, but insistent.
“Ever heard of the King’s Lady?” it said. But looking around, you couldn’t see anyone. You were about to answer the Greenie who would ask such a thing, when it spoke again. This time, you looked right in the direction of the voice, but couldn’t see a thing!
“Take a coin, lads, and know that the story is true!” said the voice again. Turning around, you looked again where someone should be but saw no one! Then, on the table next to you appeared 6 gold coins. Things happened so fast, but you remember that each coin had different numbers, and neither were identical except for a similar marking, the mark of Celline, the mark of the Queen! But this mark had only ever been made once on a coin. And those coins were now lying at the bottom of the Orst Sea! How in the…?
Portia and Roscoe who had walked by just then grabbed one. Boldore setting down another gallon of ale, saw one and scooped it up. The bard thinking it was a tip snatched up two, but ol’ Swanson not seeing it in his tip jar, snatched one out of his hand. The pirate! Finally, Canton, who had been about to leave, walked by at that instant and seeing one of the coins roll off the table, grabbed the last with interest. Each of you holding a coin, turned to look at the others, and knowing that a Celn Fool and his Coin are soon parted, you immediately stuffed them in your pockets.
The rest was a blur to some extent. You remember the door being flung open, the words of magic read from a scroll by a man bearing the Tree of Awakening on mage’s robes, sounds of “Get down!” as crossbows pointed into the sitting area right in your direction. The rage of the wind and pounding rain as lightning flashed in the doorway of the Morstly Orst. You remember a figure appearing behind you, a grissled old man, who shouldn’t have been there, the SHIELDs led by a member of the Order of Crimson walking briskly towards him, and you. The man’s final words to you spoken in haste but in a whisper, “The King’s Lady was not lost entirely. Her mighty treasure was salvaged. By me! Each coin gives a part of what you’ll need to find her. Rescue me this night, and I’ll give you the last of what you’ll need! If I’m hung, the treasure will be lost forever!”
“Stand aside, scum! Lest you find yourself in league with a traitor to the Crown of Cellinor!” yelled the Flamist. “Carter Burke! You are hereby Inquisitioned and found guilty of crimes against the King and Realm!!! Step forward and speak no ill words of magic, placing hands behind your back, and imbibing no potion or curative!”
“Of course, my lads! Of course….” Said the man they called Burke as calmly as if he had been asked to step out of the loo.
Quickly, one of the Shields locked iron clasps around his wrists and jostling him this way and that they led him from the warmth of the bar into the dreary night. As they exited the Inquisitioner looked around the bar, to the crowd and finally towards you. While watching you intently, he spoke to the innkeeper who was behind him. “Hitchens, clean up this Ket Hole, before all these leeches of the Flames’ good order suffer a similar fate. Those who do not live in the Light, are not meant for it’s protection when the Darkness comes for them!” With that they went back into the night from which they came, the gilded Tree of Awakening of their shields placed over their backs the last image you saw as they stepped out into the rain.
And that was the beginning of this life you had come to know. The greatest treasure ever assembled in Celn modern times was to be your supposed reward for risking your life to save Burke, just hours before his public execution. You still aren’t sure why the others did it. But the coins were unmistakable. They had certainly come from the King’s Lady, the flag ship named after Borindin’s bride, killed by the Dragon Gulgol herself. Years ago, when the nation was still new and fragile, Cellinor had loaded a treasure in her cargo to rival the greatest of Kasille, in order to secure a treaty with the Orst King. However, when she went down in stormy seas, the Orsts accused the king and Nobility of Cillandar with treachery and deceit. How could the King prove the treasure was sent, if it was at the bottom of the Great Sea?? Although the war with Orst was brief, it cost many lives and the truce agreed to thereafter always felt like more of a stalemate than anything else.
There in the dying light of the fire of the Mostly Orst, you assembled and agreed to the deed.
Burke may have been rescued later that morn, while the darkness still held the Sun at bay, but he didn’t make it long. In route from the prison, he gave his last dying breaths and there must have been honor among pirates, at least for Burke, because, as promised, in his hand you found his coin. On it’s Queen Side, was written the starting coordinates for Xendros, the initial clue.
This would be it! You would all be rich. That night, you took shelter in a sleazy town off the craggy shores of a fishing village on the Northern Side of the Isle. There, you toasted your good fortune, and in the morning promised that the coins would be laid down by each member of this new fellowship, so that the treasure hunt could begin. You were fairly certain that not a member fully trusted the other, but Burke had been clever. He knew that one among six could never risk attacking the others, nor could any one of you find the treasure without the rest.
That night, you slept with a stomach full of stew and a head full of treasure, but alas! In the morning, Swanson was gone! He had taken his coin and his clue with him. Although you searched and searched, you’ve never found anything that led you to him in person or where he had gone, except the occasional rumor here or there. But always, you are too late. You still remain together, needing each other yet each keeping your coin out of view of the other, lest they’ll know your clue and won’t be in need of you anymore. Thankfully, the storm covered much of your handiwork that night, and although you are wanted men and women, the Realm seems to have a hard time knowing who it wants for the successful prison break of Carter Burke, Traitor to the Realm.
You never thought you’d find Swanson again, until one day you heard of a job that sounded perfect. Put food in your belly, ale in your parched throats, and maybe, just maybe help you put a dagger in Swanson’s gut.
The gold wasn’t going anywhere.
You just had to find it.
And to do that you needed to find Swanson and the last of the six gold coins….
The Tale of the Sea Drake
How Captain Hariklon’s Vessel Sailed West, and Possibly Returned.
Sorn Littleknot found himself one night, amongst the other men, all filthy from fish grime and raunchy, stupid and ignorant but for the most part hard working and trustworthy enough to do their share of the netting. They sat atop the bow deck, in a soft and mild-mannered wind, and not a sight or sound among the waves. They were making good timing, returning to the Grand Harbor from a very successful catch. Smiles were plentiful. The next year would be a good one, that is until they drank their coin away in Cillandar.
The crew of the Staunchion had just hauled in one of their last nettings, gutted and salted the load. Stored below with the Captain, happy and drunk, no doubt dreaming of the coin he’d earn back. Here he was, only several weeks now removed from seeing his new child, born whilst he was at sea.
For some reason, as he looked around, he knew. Knew that tonight would be the one that Garolin, the old dwarf, most senior of the “working crew” as the Haulers liked to call themselves, would tell the Tale of the Sea Drake. It was Sorn’s first voyage to sea. He knew Garolin was said to have been involved in the Sea Drake somehow. He wondered, how much the old dwarf had really been; he had never heard him mention it before. The telling of this tale, as with all good Celn tales needed a setting worthy of it’s inspiring power to send chills down a sailor’s spine. It was said to only be told properly while at sea, and he knew Garolin was as superstitious as the rest of the Celns. That old fool had kept them waiting purposefully for nearly 10 months. Patient bastard! Sorn was sure it would be tonight….
The wind lightly flapped the sails above, and every so often the clicking of metal on the boon was heard along with a gentle splash upon the oaken planks at the water line.. The boat listed side to side, and Garolin began…
“Captain Hariklon was a stout man. Brave in words and deeds.”
“So said the men who had sailed with him.”
“I know ….because I sailed with him. Yes, that’s right laddies! Not much to look at now am I, but yours truly sailed with Hariklon himself! And I can tell you every word you’ve heard of the man’s character is true! Hariklon was tenacious! He was mean spirited. But, he was also brave as a trek to the Ketian Hells. If he told you he’d do something , well shit lads, he did it.”
“And so, when word came to the docks that he was attempting to build a vessel that could sail West, nobody doubted him, and some even eagerly joined or attempted to; some just gave him coin, investing in the future riches he’d return with. Well, when it came time to pick his crew, he had his pick of the lot too, he did.”
“Bet that’s why you didn’t go, eh Garolin!” smirked Troubidor. Troubidor was an officer of the vessel, in charge mostly of overseeing the proper treatment of the ship, but he spent too much time with the Haulers and for that they nicknamed him Traitor.
“Ay, Traitor! They turned me down. Turned me down because I had a wife and child though not on account of my tiller being too long like you’d have guessed, you arse! None could go that were a father…”
Troubidor didn’t seem to see that coming, and had no reply. Garolin went on.
“That is, until Hariklon returned from the West one night. Of course, his men didn’t do much talking then. Mostly gnashing. Gnawing. Biting. And ripping…”
“What do you mean, Garolin? The Sea Drake never returned!” This time it was Derg Moromit, a small, but hairy Halfling that did much of the tinkering on netting in the water. “No craft has ever returned from the West!”
“Ah, yes, that’s right. The Sea Drake never returned. The Inquisitors made sure it didn’t return officially. Boys, I tell a lot of tales, but this is the only one that could get me hung. And that’s why I won’t mention again, and if anyone asks, it won’t be me you heard it from.”
“Sure, sure Garolin. Now we’re all spooked. Great night for it too.”
“Let me ask you this Derg…how many of you remember the Great Fire of 65?
Nods all around.
What do you remember about it, exactly?
Dispatch to The Crown’s Isles
Introduction to A Crimson Shore, Level 0/1
“Xiladros? The inner-most of the Crown’s Isles?”
“Yes, m’lord. Xiladros.” Trunilus was aware that the King knew this Island as well as any other in his empire. This was often how Lord Borindin responded to news he was not yet ready for. Obviously, Borindin would not take the news of the attack well.
“And how many of the First have been sunk?”
“M’lord. They’ve ALL been engaged and are reported to be at the bottom of the Bay of Xiladra, Sire. From what I gather of the surviving reports, but perhaps…”
“No,” sighed the king. “No, Trunilus. The Men of the First do not abandon post! They do not taper off! They do not give half reports. They are the Lights upon the Sea. The First is gone. Gone, our finest and fastest from Cellione.” The King paced the room as he often did during these briefings. His ceremonial sword clinking at his side. Borindin was known for hating to wear this “trinket” as he called it. But such was the custom of the Nobility in Cillandar. And although King, even he was not above such Celn traditions, ‘Wyrm Slayer’ or not.
“And how many of these alien vessels were there Trunilus?”
The pacing stopped. Trunilus knew that this last piece of information had not been delivered to his majesty yet. He knew it would be one of his first questions and did not know how the king would take it. Would he be glad for only one ship sailing from the unknown West or would it have been better to hear of many more needed to sink his entire fleet of swift, shallow keel ships? He decided that hearing that only one unknown ship, capable of sinking an entire fleet of his majesty’s best battle ships, was perhaps the worst news he could bring to the king. He braced himself.
“ONE! ONE SHIP DID THIS TO OUR FIRST??”
“MLord, that is the report I have Sire. All accounts sent to us through the mage report that the vessel bore a red flag emblazoned with a black ring. The sides were armored in some strange fashion with metal, the bulwark was vast Sire. Unlike anything we have seen amongst the known realms, even on the Eastern Bays. We believe this ship may be from….the West.”
“The West?” Borindin’s eyes locked onto Trunilus. “What evidence do you have of this?”
“m’Lord, it was reported to have been sighted first on the outer rim of The Clasp. Several villages there are not heard from, our timetable tells us the ship came first from the Still Waters.”
“ONE SHIP! ONE SHIP from the West. An alien to us? Even to the Lords of the Frozen Wastes! Crossing the Still Waters of the West, engaging us in combat, sinking Cellinian vessels without provocation?”
Here, at last, Trunilus was glad to take a step back. Motioning to another man to step forward, Trunilus said, “mLord, that is not entirely true. The initial reports you received may have been exaggerated between the sender and receiver. “Ignotian was a Lighted Commander of Thirty Four just two summers since. He is here to brief you with more up to date information, Sire.”
Ignotian was dressed in traditional Celline garb, not that of Cillandar. Borindin had seen this man at some function or other, perhaps had even appointed him to his post. As Ignotian approached he pulled back his tunic to reveal the Branded Tree required of Borindin’s most trusted forces. Borindin nodded. “Tell me…” the King said simply.
“M’Lord, I will be brief. Our most accurate investigations of those who witnessed the Sea Battle lead us to believe that the alien vessel may have damaged or destroyed several villages along the outer rim of The Clasp. However, the initial confrontation between our Lighted First and this craft may have been provoked by our own vessels. Witnesses report that the Drake II was seen approaching the vessel, and may have fired a first volley.”
“How can this be!?? My decrees have been clear. Even the Nobles have sided with me in court! There is to be…”, Borindin’s eyes caught sight of Trunilus, as his fist slammed down on the wooden map table. Pegs and miniatures of various ships and forts went flying. “WHO MANS THE HELM OF THE DRAKE II, TRUNILUS?”
Trunilus looked passively at the King, his lips quivered. “Sisipherus, Lord”.
“Darkness take him!!” roared the King! “That worm. He was assigned to The Wheel during his last miscompliance!”
“Yes sire, that is true but some years ago The Inquisition deemed him a waste of military might and ended his punishment after four turns. Belloran himself saw to his branding and vouched for him during the Ceremony of Light. He was assigned to the First, and only recently took command when the Commander took ill with Sea Fever and died last Winter.
“Yes, now I remember…. That was the festival of the last Challenge.”
“Correct Sire. It would appear then, as though Sisipherus fired an initial volley of fire pots along the port side of the vessel, presumably held at anchor along Xiladros’s southern coast. We do not know what initial contact was made, but the exchange was quick, it could not have occurred more than a couple of minutes after the ship was within shot-put. Once the pots landed aboard the unknown vessel, bay doors of some unusual design opened all along, underneath the decks of the craft. Large black tubes of some design protruded out. Explosions broke holes into and tore into the Drake II. Our secondary ships came into assist, but apparently the vessel was able to draw anchor, turn to Starboard and open bay doors on the opposite side, with the same magic, sinking all of the Drake’s support in one volley, Sire.”
“Light take us….” Borindin whispered…”And the vessel, Ignotian?”
“M’Lord, all reports suggest it was injured. A smoke emitted from it, and it was sighted pulling closer into Xiladros’s inner bay at a titled rudder lying low in the water, most likely for repairs.”
“Repairs you say? Then, there is a chance! A slight chance to stop it…”
“M’Lord?” Ignotian said, but Borindin was not talking to him. Here, others rose. A man in fine Cillandrial plate rose, quiet for the duration, this man had sat behind the chair of a giant wingback in front of the King’s Grand Fireplace. Others were dressed in the Flame’s tunic and mage robes as well, he made an indication for Trunilus and Ignotian to take their leave. All was silent as the two commanders left the chamber.
Borindin turned to the man in fine plate mail. “Kruger?”
“Lord. We knew it was but a time before the Sassers were able to sail past the Still Waters. Clearly the time is at hand. You must direct resources to the West, away from your searches. We cannot avoid the Darkening if we are invaded, Sire.”
“Kruger. We won’t need to defend Cillandar from the Sassers, if they don’t know they’ve made it here! We must stop this vessel before it travels West. We will never have the man power to defend the Sister Cities from the Western Seas and we need all hands resisting the forces from the South right now on the Frontier. If Sasser invades, we must pull inland. There is no other plan. The Carrs will have to hold if it comes to siege. We cannot allow the Heroes to fail. This is the plan Kruger, we’ve discussed all this! ”
“Sire, we have been in many battles together. You granted me my life in the Battle of Heroes. I have branded myself and serve you wholly. I beg you to allow me to speak freely.”
“Go ahead, Lord Kruger.”
“M’Lord! This blasted search for the Heroes is MADNESS! They do not exist Sire! They are but images on coins and tales for the young! You will not hold the Darkness at bay by sending “your Lights” out to find these individuals anymore! You are stretching our resources too thin! We are at war with the Southern Lands. The Ketians infiltrate us not for the Heroes but to undermine our Kingdom. To remove you from power! You must listen to reason, Sire! We must prepare for war. It is coming. Darkness comes with it. Help me prepare for it!”
“Kruger. It is of no consequence if you believe the Heroes will rise, or if the Ketians search for them. We must protect our borders so that we have the time we need. We must prevent that ship from coming from whence it came. “
“But sire, how do you suggest we attack this ship with the simple forces we keep at Xiladros. The Second and Third are no match for the power we saw. Even though the ship is damaged! By what timeline do you think we could stop it? We do not have a portal in place in Xiladros, our nearest fleet is hundreds of leagues away. The only manpower we have is Outpost 34. The barbarians there do not care of the affairs of state, only your image on coin. By the time we launch an adequate response from Celline, the ship will be repaired, and beyond our sights, back from whence it came. It will give the news of what it has seen. An invasion will be imminent. We must begin the preparations for it.”
“You are thinking too large Kruger. I have told you these “resources” I invest in are just as valuable as mail, and steel and steed. You under estimate the power of loyalty. I dare say you are beginning to sound as beleaguered as Belloran!”
“We must simply divert a group that we can rely on to sabotage the vessel. If we can keep the ship from leaving until we can send a force equipped with magi, we can then fully disable the craft and use it to our advantage. We can keep the Sassers in the Dark for now, and perhaps those aboard can give us valuable information we need as well.”
“But who would be willing to do such a mission M’Lord?”
“My contacts in 34 know of one such group, we are sending the dispatcher now…”
Introduction, A Crimson Shore ACT III
Found by your party in an as yet to be determined way….
Message to Governor Canton of the Royal Colony of New Cellinor:
His Majesty, Lord Borindin, Slayer of the Great Wyrm, Bringer of Light, and King and Lord of the Mighty Celn Empire bids you well among the strange isles of the Eastern Sea beyond the Still Waters. It is well known to his Majesty the sacrifices you have made in order to carry on the work of the colony, to explore and report and to adapt to the demands of the colonial lifestyle you find yourselves in, especially among the dangers that dwell there.
It is furthermore known that within your thriving colony, you have now turned both a profit and begun to establish a foothold among the natives that dwell there, and the monsters that roam the seas and islands. His Majesty has been informed of the many dangers and perils it took for you, and your good sea-mates, Duchess Portia, and the Ordered Knight Fritz, now commander of his Majesty’s forces in the East to have made it past the Still Waters, Isles of Dread and to carve out the colony there.
As you well know this venture is not simply a discovery expedition, or an enterprise to expand the wealth, but is a matter of the utmost urgency to the protection of the Crown and Realm and as such his Majesty himself will soon be sending an envoy, bearing the official seal and branded by the King, with certain secret affairs of Lord Duher, Commander Luger, and Ordered Officers Bearclaw and Flemin.
Although the magical correspondence afforded us is limited, we have understood your latest dispatch to include reports of both piracy against the crown by local natives as well as possible espionage among the inhabitants of the colony. Other reports of stranger beasts are as you know well documented throughout the wilds of our goodly realm in all areas, and as such, we bid you caution. As to the inhabitants in and outside the colony that may bid you harm, should you find and Inquisition said spies, it is ordered that you keep these criminals for the special envoy being dispatched. More orders will be given at that time.
As briefed at your departure to the East, be wary of Sa’rasin exploration. We know these usurpers to be well equipped, and should you encounter their ships, you are commanded to engage them until they are destroyed. Our previous reports that these isles first founded by the first expedition were unexplored by our Eastern enemies may have been inaccurate. We recommend immediate palisade strengthening.
As always, should the colony fall into enemy hands, it is expected that you will honor the King with a complete destruction of these notes and decrees. Nothing is more important than the protection of Celn interests on this good Lighted Earth.
Lord Taryn, Duke of Carr Alpha and Senator of the Cillandrial Council
- A casket of the season’s best Dying God ale is en route along with the envoy and comes with his Majesty’s best wishes to your health.